Experts Talk Transportation
An Interview Series Exploring New Trends and Approaches
Experts Talk is an interview series with technical leaders from across our transportation practice, focusing on some of the most pressing concerns and disruptive trends affecting the industry today. Each interview illuminates a different aspect of transportation infrastructure planning, design and delivery, including:
- Technology Planning & Integration
- Emerging Mobility
- Alternative Project Delivery
- Sustainability & Resiliency
- Project Planning
- Infrastructure Design
Check back regularly to gain insights from specialized experts and thought leaders behind our award-winning, full-service consulting practice. Contact HDRTransportation [at] hdrinc.com (HDRTransportation[at]hdrinc[dot]com) for more information.
Technology Planning & Integration
Integrated Project Management Information Systems
New tools and workflows are streamlining the development of project dashboards and other PMIS tools that help project leaders better deliver infrastructure. Platforms like QuickBase help bring existing systems together in a single source of truth for projects. Project controls experts Brad Robinson and Brandon Joy share how creating a central source of data from many sources is keeping projects connected and informed.
Project Controls and Data-Informed Decisions
Modern project controls tools offer owners a comprehensive and current understanding of project progress, improved data-informed decisions and the ability to better anticipate and mitigate risks. Miloš Vasiljević explains how these tools are enabling owners to be more proactive and describes how integrations with other disciplines are creating exciting possibilities.
Return on Investment for Digital Delivery
As transportation agencies explore the possibilities of digital delivery and BIM for infrastructure, the question for many is “Are we going to get our money’s worth?” Transportation BIM leader Alexa Mitchell and economics director Chris Williges share the answer (a clear yes) and more insights from 18 months of rigorous research into the costs and benefits of applying new digital delivery tools on transportation projects.
BIM and 3D Design in the Field
3D design is fundamentally changing the way that transportation projects are delivered. Nationally recognized BIM expert Alexa Mitchell explains how the technology will affect those using new applications in the field, what designers and owners need to know and the benefits of these new models.
Staying Up to Date on ITS
Modern technology keeps us safer, gets us to destinations more efficiently and causes less harm to the environment. Joey Yang, director of HDR's transportation technology practice, shares the background of intelligent transportation, its trends and where it's going from here.
Transportation Systems Management and Operations
Systemically using creative TSMO strategies can improve transportation infrastructure, and planners and engineers can find ways to do more with less — and do it smarter. Senior transportation project manager Matthew Volz talks about how to find efficient ways to handle transportation problems and inefficiencies.
All-Electronic Tolling for Managed Lanes and Toll Roads
As electronic tolling technologies have developed over the last decade, transportation professionals are seeing a switch from manual toll collection to all-electronic tolling collections. Engineer Phil Riggio answers four questions about the advancements taking place in AET for managed lanes and toll roads.
Integrated Bridge Systems
Engineers developing intelligent transportation systems or structural health monitoring for bridges today need to constantly leverage emerging technologies to enhance public safety. We asked engineer Michael Whalen how the advanced technologies used in today’s integrated bridge systems benefit both the public and owner-operators.
Power Optimization to Prepare for Zero Emissions Rail Vehicle Technology
Electric and hydrogen-fueled trains are arriving in the market and transit systems and railroads are exploring decarbonization. Rail vehicle technology expert Marcin Taraszkiewicz shares how optimizing power requirements can help owners and operators prepare for this zero emissions future.
Rail and Intermodal Facility Electrification
Transitioning an intermodal railyard or other rail facility to green energy involves infrastructure changes that require time and planning to properly implement. Sustainability and power expert Will Kirby explains what owners need to know about electrification of these facilities and how to start the journey.
Developing Statewide Electric Vehicle Marketing Plans
Encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles is critical for states as they install infrastructure and seek to reach emissions goals. Communications expert Katie Angell explains why widespread EV education plans are needed, how and when to start one, and important elements for communities to consider.
Wireless Power Transfer and Electric Vehicle Applications
Wireless power transfer offers the possibility of sending power to electric vehicles through the air, with no cord, no cable, no plugs. Electronics systems expert Thomas Stout explains how some transportation agencies are already using this technology and why all planners should be paying attention.
Preparing Communities for Electric Vehicles
Communities are embracing the potential of electric vehicles to help meet air quality and emissions goals. Zero emissions mobility expert Rob Mowat discusses the need for community preparedness plans and explains why smart community leaders should begin working on this now.
Funding Strategies for Zero Emissions Fleet Conversions
Fleet owners across the U.S. have embraced the possibilities of converting their vehicles to zero emission fuels and now are exploring how to pay for it. Financial expert Eric Rouse discusses the role of financial planning in fleet conversions, funding options and why it makes sense to start the process now.
Connected and Automated Vehicle Microsimulation
What impact will connected and automated vehicles have on transportation agencies' infrastructure? Senior traffic engineer Mike Forsberg shares how microsimulation holds almost limitless potential to help agency leaders make better-informed decisions.
Electric Fleet Charging Infrastructure Design
Converting a fleet to all-electric involves a lot more than buying new vehicles and accepting the charge they provide. Engineer and project manager Sean Everett explores how to design infrastructure and operating protocols that match the right charging strategy to manage electric demand and ensure a smooth transition.
Impact of Autonomous Vehicles on Urban Transit
Autonomous vehicles expected to play an ever greater role in public transit options, improving access and boosting services for citizens. What are the impacts for government agencies, and what about others who share the roads? Josh Sikich, a transportation technology program manager explores that and more.
Implications of AV/CVs on City Development
Emerging technologies, such as automated and connected vehicle adoption, can maximize land use and minimize long-term maintenance costs due to high-density development. Transportation planner Justin Robbins discusses how these disruptive technologies could reshape the way that cities are planned.
Alternative Project Delivery
Benchmarks for Success in Alternative Delivery Procurement
Success on an alternative delivery project begins with a holistic view that looks beyond initial award value to consider the final tally. Doug Jackson shares how to better measure the success of procurement, explains current challenges in alternative delivery and discusses how improved risk management is changing the project delivery landscape.
Leveraging Innovation in Infrastructure P3s
Interest in public-private partnerships is growing as a method to deliver needed infrastructure. Gail Lewis, a leader in project finance and strategic planning, discusses the latest trends in funding and financial strategy behind these complex arrangements and shares how to get the most value from transportation P3s.
Construction Management on Major Transportation Programs
Effectively managing the construction process on complex transportation programs is critical to keeping projects on schedule and within expected budgets. Tom Horkan explains how a strong construction management approach can mitigate risk, support program goals and provide strong on-site advocates for owners.
Risk Mitigation for Transit Construction
With many opportunities for major transit projects to veer off course, a good construction manager is critical to managing risk and avoiding unforeseen impacts to project budgets or schedules. Construction manager Justin Garrod shares how a proactive and collaborative approach on projects can best manage risk on transit infrastructure.
Life Cycle Risk Management for Complex Infrastructure Programs
Today's large and complex transportation programs come with a huge number of unknowns and uncertainty. Managing those through ongoing and robust risk management can help owners and program leaders make better informed decisions to stay on schedule and budget. Learn more from risk management and value engineering expert Jose Theiler.
Demystifying Program Management for Owners
Asset-intensive infrastructure capital programs need services that are flexible and adapted to the unique needs of each owner and program. Erin Slayton, our transportation program management services director, shares wisdom on tailoring resources suited to each owner’s situation and sheds light on how to approach program management to achieve its potential.
Mega Project Management for Signature Bridge Delivery
Designers of important, signature bridges also must be able to develop innovative solutions, coordinate multi-national design teams and execute comprehensive quality plans throughout the entire delivery process. Project manager and engineer Jeff Han talks about using highly technical teams to manage quality and risk on large-scale projects.
Accelerated Bridge Construction
Applying the techniques used in accelerated bridge construction to some or all structural members can expand design possibilities while safely accelerating delivery. If speed is the highest priority, senior bridge engineer Nick Burdette explains how we can replace bridges very quickly, sometimes in as little as a weekend.
Sustainability & Resiliency
Creating a Vision for Sustainable, Future-Ready Airports
Leaders of growing airports hope to enhance their economic and social benefits while at the same time reducing harm to the environment and the community. Environmental scientist Esther Chitsinde explains how this can be achieved by setting and pursuing sustainability goals, prioritizing customer experience and investing in innovation.
Adapting Coastal Infrastructure to Protect Communities
Coastal communities today face an array of challenging conditions, including erosion, flooding and recurring severe weather events, all compounded by ongoing sea level rise. Engineering expert Brent Moore and coastal modeling expert Adam Keen address how coastal structures can mitigate these risks, with resilient and context-sensitive designs. They discuss how communities can assess risk for sea level rise and address aesthetic concerns on new and historic structures.
Bridge Asset Management through Rope Access Inspections
Regular bridge inspections are critical, and rope access is a valuable option when conventional methods aren't practical or possible. Industrial rope access inspection lead Erin O'Malley has worked on hundreds of structures across North America and shares why bridge owners turn to rope access inspections, why the special skill is important and how the practice is changing bridge design.
Sustainable Bridge Design
From planning to concrete selection, sustainability can be incorporated into the bridge planning process. Bridge experts Rob Richardson and Don Nguyen have been at the forefront of sustainable bridge design, and they discuss funding considerations, sustainable certifications and how true sustainability is achieved by balancing the three E's: economy, ecology and equity.
The Economics of Sustainability and Resiliency
Resiliency and sustainability planning makes good financial sense — just ask an economist. Pamela Yonkin, ENV SP, has decades of experience performing economic analyses of transportation projects and shares what projects benefit from resiliency planning, the benefits provided and how economics is intertwined.
Seismic Resiliency in Bridge Design
Using seismic analysis in bridge design and retrofits can create safer, more sustainable structures at similar construction costs. Bridge engineer Kuang Lim, who's worked on some of the most recognizable bridges in the nation, explains why seismic considerations are important, even outside of earthquake-prone areas.
Durable Airfield Pavement Solutions
With increasingly tight budgets for airfield pavement construction, renovations and repairs, it’s vital to ensure that new pavement is durable. Senior airfield paving engineer BJ Skar discusses how to tailor projects to each unique airfield and create pavement projects that will serve airport facilities for decades.
Building Transit Agency Brands
A strong and appealing brand can help transit agencies reinforce their importance in today’s transportation landscape. Strategic communications expert Samantha Dubay shares how the branding process sets the right expectations for agencies and their customers, leading to improvements in ridership and operations.
Obtaining and Implementing IIJA Funds for Railroads
Using funds from the U.S. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, freight railroads have the chance to finance previously unfeasible improvements. Federal Railroad Administration expert Cat Dobbs explains the new federal funding and how railroads can access it to make important safety improvements, while ensuring that they can successfully execute grant agreements once awarded.
Crafting the right freight plan can make real improvements to a region's economy, but it requires finding the right balance between freight needs and community needs. Freight planner Keith Bucklew explains the important components of a freight plan, the technology that is disrupting freight logistics and how short-term planning can be flexible enough to address supply chain problems.
Data-Informed Equitable Engagement
Harnessing publicly available data can uncover and analyze the unique needs and characteristics of communities, improving public engagement and better reaching traditionally underrepresented groups. Strategic communications experts Chelsea Collinge and Sabrina Colón share how this approach improves project understanding and leads to better, more informed planning and design.
Environmental Justice in Transportation
Public transportation projects play a critical role in providing equity and can determine whether an entire area is accessible to everyone or not. Environmental justice principles provide a way for minority and low-income persons to be an integral part of the planning process. Cathy LaFata explains the environmental justice process and shows why it's important to project success.
Expediting the Infrastructure Environmental Review Process
Finding efficiencies to expedite the review process can help important infrastructure projects advance quickly and remain viable while maintaining the needed emphasis on environmental protection. Environmental experts Diane Nulton and Taylor Horne explain federal programs such as NEPA Assignment that states can use to streamline reviews, the benefits of these programs and how to best implement them.
Transit Capital Investment Grant Funding
Competition is high to secure discretionary grants from the FTA, with more eligible projects than available funding. Experienced transit project manager Mark Fuhrmann explains the Capital Investment Grants program, shares insights on creating successful applications and describes the biggest hurdles for agencies pursuing these grants.
Planning and Environmental Linkages
Planning and environment linkage studies are becoming increasingly popular with state and local transportation agencies, but are still fairly new. Many agencies are wondering when it makes the most sense to use this tool. PEL experts Gina McAfee and Jason Longsdorf explain the basics of PEL studies, when to consider using them and how the approach can benefit project schedules and funding.
Transportation Agency Staff Augmentation
Transportation agencies face continued challenges with staff recruitment and retention, at the same time that infrastructure funding is growing. Former FDOT executive Brian Blanchard shares how staff augmentation can help bridge this expertise gap and the benefits agencies can discover.
Pragmatic Design of Airport Terminals
Airport designer Robert Feteanu understands that each airport has unique needs for its terminal space and passenger processing. He shares lessons in meeting passenger expectations culled from decades of work on some of the world's largest airports.
Intermodal Freight Terminal Optimization
Engineer Chad Hewitt has managed the design and construction of intermodal freight facilities and gate systems across North America. He explores how intermodal facilities can improve the efficiency of existing yards, addresses trends in sustainability and offers examples of new options for supply chain flexibility.
Realistic Signature Bridge Visualization
Aesthetics are integral to the design of signature bridges, and understanding how the structures will fit into their environment is critical. Transportation project designer Jimmy Vincent shares how his artistic approach and experience helps realistically depict projects in the planning stages, improving designs for their communities.
Parametric Bridge Design
In the same way that an Excel spreadsheet updates on input changes, parametric design updates 3D geometry and the supporting engineering analyses, live and in real time. Structural engineer Michael Roberts explains how this powerful process allows designers and owners to quickly identify and explore the impact of decisions, to create better bridges.
Form Finding for Signature Bridges
Signature bridge projects can be opportunities to reconnect neighborhoods and create a unique sense of place, but the challenges can seem intimidating. Bridge designer Michael Fitzpatrick explains how he finds consensus, shapes solutions and weaves aesthetics with community features to design structures that evoke the character of an area.
Performance-Based Practical Design
Each transportation project has a unique purpose and needs, and performance-based practical design helps agencies find the most cost-effective solution to the specific challenges of a project. Transportation planner Jon Markt shares how agencies can seamlessly incorporate this efficient approach and get the most out of it.
3D Design and Deliverables
As 3D design tools have become more commonplace in the transportation industry, some organizations and agencies are exploring and adopting the use of 3D models as the binding legal deliverable for projects as well. Highways Director Will Sharp discusses this sea change in project design and delivery and its implications for stakeholders.
Optimizing Airport Construction Safety and Phasing Plans
Engaging stakeholders early and encouraging flexibility can head off problems on airport projects, says aviation expert Joe Grubbs. He describes strategies for getting stakeholders involved in the development of construction safety and phasing plans, and he explains how doing so can help mitigate any potential disruptions.
Holistic Airport Design
Every airport project, no matter the size or complexity, should take into account how it will affect and be affected by all other aspects of the airport, says veteran aviation architect Kevin Ashton. He explains why collaboration and a big-picture approach are needed to achieve the best, most cohesive design in airports.
Movable Bridge Solutions
Expert Rob Moses' innovations have influenced the design, inspection and rehabilitation of more than 200 bascule, swing and vertical-lift bridges, and other movable structures, including retractable stadium roofs. He talks about the emerging technologies that will impact movable bridges and the operations and maintenance schedules that make them unique.
Bridge Innovation through Collaboration
The most successful innovations are born through smart collaboration, when unique perspectives join together toward a common goal that benefits all team members. Learn from Tammy Heffron, one of our regional bridge leaders, about the keys to a successful collaborative process and how to grow ideas into solutions.
Bridge Design Innovation
“Because we’ve always done it this way,” is not part of bridge engineer Manuel Carballo’s vocabulary. We talked with him about how bridge design is evolving and how innovative design is dependent on the people who drive it.