MassDOT Innovation Webinar Series

Don't miss this opportunity to learn about the latest innovations in transportation. The Innovation webinar series covers a range of topics related to technology and other innovations, including cross-agency collaborations and partnerships.   


Measuring Food Access to Improve Public Health
Thursday, September 28, 2023 • 9:00 am • Register for webinar
Link to Final Report from the research study

Food access is important due to its impact on public health outcomes.  This webinar will discuss a recent MassDOT study on measuring food access to improve public health. The study used a metric for food access which was based on the square footage of supermarkets that can be reached within 10 minutes travel time walking, biking, or driving, and within 30 minutes travel time by walk/transit.  An equity analysis using Lorenz curves showed that food access is most equitable by driving, and there are significant inequities for people that do not have access to a car. A regression analysis using the gradient boosted model, a machine learning method, found gaps in food access for each transportation mode while controlling for community characteristics. The residuals of the model revealed which communities have the lowest food access relative to other similar communities within the state, and found food access gaps in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Finally, focus groups with representatives of community organizations revealed the complex ways that transportation and socioeconomic factors interact to affect food accessibility. This research provides a quantitative method to identify gaps in food access and insights for where policy interventions would be valuable for improving food access.

PanelistsDr. Eleni Christofa & Dr. Eric Gonzales, UMass Amherst; Derek Krevat, MassDOT

Using Mycofiltration Treatment for Stormwater Management
Thursday, June 15, 2023 • Link to session recording

This enlightening webinar delved into the potential of mycofiltration, an emerging, low-cost technology for stormwater management. Utilizing mycelium (fungal webs) as biological filters within organic matter and soil substrates, mycofiltration may significantly improve water quality within MassDOT transportation projects.  It highlighted a research project aimed at defining mycofiltration treatment design, operational parameters, and its integration into MassDOT's Best Management Practices. Key discussion points included a review of the relevant literature, identification of suitable project types for mycofiltration implementation, and a cost analysis of materials, installation, and maintenance.
Panelists: Kate Kennen, Offshoots, Inc.; Robbin Bergfors, MassDOT

Post-Fire Damage Inspection of Concrete Structures
Thursday, May 18, 2023 • Link to session recording
Link to Final Report from Phase I of the research study  
Link to the Research Summary from Phase II of the study

This informative webinar explored the findings of the Post-Fire Damage Inspection of Concrete Structures research project that focused on enhancing visual inspection protocols for assessing fire damage in tunnels. The study aimed to develop a better understanding of post-fire conditions and improve the safety and resiliency of MassDOT-owned tunnels.  The webinar discussed the experimental phase of the project, which involved heating various materials, such as concrete, steel, and aluminum, to specific temperatures and conducting residual strength tests to determine strength and stiffness loss. The presenters shared key findings, including visual and mechanical data, that have been consolidated into a comprehensive post-fire checklist for qualitative and quantitative assessment of post-fire events. The outcomes of this research will be used to populate the fire section of MassDOT tunnel inspection guidelines and improve the overall post-fire inspection process.
Panelists: Dr. Simos Gerasimidis, Associate Professor, UMass Amherst; James Viglas, UMass Amherst; John Czach - Director of Tunnels, MassDOT

Effectiveness of Bike Boxes in Massachusetts
Thursday, April 27, 2023 Link to session recording   
Link to the Final Report from the research study

This informative webinar delved into the world of bike boxes and their effectiveness in Massachusetts. Bike boxes provide a designated space for bicyclists at the front of traffic queues, improving visibility and predictability for both motorists and cyclists. However, despite the widespread implementation of bike boxes over the past decade, the impact of their design on motorist and bicyclist behavior remains unclear.

In this webinar, the presenters shared the results of a comprehensive study that investigated motorist and bicyclist behaviors as well as the effects of bike box design in Massachusetts. The study included an inventory of 91 bike boxes with varying design characteristics, an analysis of historic crashes, and field studies at 11 bike box locations in Boston and Somerville. The webinar discussed the key findings from this study, including the majority of crashes being attributed to noncompliance with control devices, lower motorist compliance rates, and inconclusive results regarding the impact of design features on user behavior. Additionally, the presenters examined the need for further research to understand user behavior at bike boxes, relate behavior to safety outcomes, and develop outreach and education efforts to support bike box effectiveness.

Panelists: Dr. Eleni Christofa - Associate Professor, UMass Amherst; and Violet Wilkins - Transit Coordinator, MassDOT Highway Design

Uncovering the Root Causes of Truck Rollover Crashes on Highway Ramps
Thursday, March 23, 2023Link to session recording  Link to presentation
Link to Final Report from the research study

Highway ramps are hotspots of truck rollover crashes. Such crashes often block the entire ramp and cause severe congestion. Understanding the major causes of ramp truck rollovers is critical for developing effective countermeasures. This webinar highlighted research which utilized drones to collect ramp traffic videos at seven high-risk ramps and developed a model for vehicle detection and several other algorithms for tracking vehicles, extracting vehicle trajectories, and identifying high-risk events such as unsafe and last-minute lane changes. A thorough review of literature and best practices on reducing ramp truck rollovers was conducted and crash narratives of all ramp truck rollovers between January 2015 and February 2022 in Massachusetts were reviewed. The locations and types of traffic signs, slopes, and curve radii of seven identified highway ramps were also obtained and carefully investigated together with the trajectory analysis results. It was found that over 95% of ramp truck rollovers are single-vehicle crashes and speeding is the predominant cause. Based on the analysis, some practical and specific safety improvement recommendations are provided. During the webinar, the presenters provided an overview of the study and discuss some of the preliminary findings, followed by Q&A as time allows.

Panelists: Dr. Yuanchang Xie - Professor, UMass Lowell; and 
Bonnie Polin - State Safety Engineer, MassDOT


Understanding Asset Management Systems Utilized by Municipalities in Massachusetts

Thursday, February 16, 2023.   Link to session recording.
Link to Final Report from the research study

This Innovation Series webinar discussed the findings of a recent study on the current state of pavement management systems (PMS) in Massachusetts. This study's comprehensive literature review and internet-based survey of local and regional agencies have provided valuable insights into the various PMS software programs currently being used in the state. The webinar explored the potential of using a unified PMS software for Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Regional Planning Agencies (RPAs) in Massachusetts, and discussed the obstacles identified in achieving MassDOT’s goal of having an overall idea of the pavement condition for both state and local roads in the state.

Panelists: Dr. Walaa Mogawer - Professor, UMass Dartmouth; and Derek Krevat — Manager of MPO Activities, MassDOT

A Pavement Marking Inventory and Retroreflectivity Condition Assessment Method Using Mobile LiDAR

Thursday, February 2, 2023.    Link to session recording    Link to presentation     
Link to Final Report from the research study

Pavement markings are a vital transportation asset and traffic control device that facilitates safe and predictable driver behaviors. Pavement markings’ effectiveness depends on their condition, particularly during nighttime and adverse weather. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has recently released Revision 3 of 2009 Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which includes new provisions for maintaining minimum levels of retroreflectivity for pavement marking. Regulatory compliance poses a challenge, as conventional visual inspection methods are labor-intensive, and the results can be subjective. There is a pressing need for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to develop and implement an effective, efficient inventory and reliable retroreflectivity condition assessment method for pavement marking.   MassDOT has been actively pursuing new and more durable marking materials with reliable nighttime visibility. It has recently completed a research study achieving two goals: 1) to utilize emerging mobile light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data and develop an automated method for the localization, classification, and retroreflectivity condition assessment for pavement markings and 2) to investigate the feasibility of identifying deterioration trend of retroreflectivity conditions. The outcomes of this study have demonstrated the developed automated, LiDAR-based methods were able to accurately and efficiently inventory pavement marking and accurately and repeatably assess the corresponding retroreflectivity condition, and surface material completeness. This webinar will present the technical details of the research study and discuss future research and implementation plans for innovative pavement marking management.
Panelists: Dr. Chengbo Ai, Assistant Professor, UMass Amherst; and Neil Boudreau, Assistant Administrator of Traffic and Safety, MassDOT 


Impact of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) on Road Safety and Implications for Education, Licensing, Registration, and Enforcement

Thursday, November 10, 2022   Link to session recording     Link to presentation
Link to Final Report from the research study

Learn about the research that was undertaken to investigate the impact of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). ADAS are rapidly being developed and deployed, with an increasing number of new passenger vehicles equipped with advanced ADAS. These systems promise to improve safety by assisting drivers. However, there exists a critical gap in our understanding of the potential impacts associated with driver over-reliance and disengagement in vehicles equipped with ADAS.

This research involved the development and evaluation of approaches to improve drivers’ understanding of ADAS functionalities and the role and responsibilities of the driver. This included an experimental driving simulator study to examine the impact of training on drivers’ mental models. The outcome of this research includes an understanding of manufacturer offerings of common ADAS technologies in late-model vehicles, an examination of drivers’ understanding and perceptions of ADAS technologies, and evidence that targeted training may increase drivers’ understanding of these systems.

Panelists: Dr. Anuj Pradhan, Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst; and Sara Lavoie, Deputy Chief of Staff of Strategic Projects & Initiatives, MassDOT

Detecting Subsurface Voids in Roadways using UAS with Infrared Thermal Imaging

Thursday, October 20, 2022. Link to session recording    Link to presentation
Link to Final Report from the research study

This webinar presented new research which validated an innovative method to detect roadway subsurface voids based on infrared (IR) imaging combined with unmanned aerial system surveying. The ability to detect voids before pavement collapse occurs is crucial for maintenance and replacement purposes. The failure of culverts and drainage piping underneath roadways creates sinkholes that represent a safety hazard to the traveling public and result in costly repairs and traffic inconveniences. Routine inspections of culverts are hard to perform and require expensive and time-consuming techniques such as drain cameras or ground penetrating radar. As part of this validation, laboratory and field tests were necessary to develop mission critical information that marked IR imaging’s current performance and solved issues that characterized this technique. Advanced image post-processing techniques were also developed to improve the detection accuracy of IR imaging, showing that thermal photogrammetry can detect roadway subsurface voids that are representative of failing culverts and drainage pipes. This research developed a more accurate nondestructive evaluation approach for assessing the conditions of real-world underground structures that are crucial for their inspection, maintenance, and management.

Panelists: Dr. Alessandro Sabato, Assistant Professor, UMass Lowell; Dr. TzuYang Yu, Professor, UMass Lowell; and Jason Benoit, Special Project Engineer, MassDOT Highway Division District 3

Evaluating the Safety Impacts of Flashing Yellow Permissive Left-Turn Indications in Massachusetts

September 22, 2022.    Link to session recording     Link to session presentation
Link to Final Report from the research study

The 2009 edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) introduced the flashing yellow arrow (FYA) as a permissive left-turn indication. In the past decade, Massachusetts has begun implementing this traffic control device through a statewide retrofitting project at over 350 traditional protected-permissive left-turn traffic signals. This webinar presented a before/after implementation safety impact analysis, including a thorough benefit-to-cost analysis. The analysis evaluated the economic benefits of installing FYA signals, yielding a range of benefit-to-cost ratios across the three typical FYA treatment intersections (3-way with one FYA, 4-way with one FYA, and 4-way with two-or-more FYAs). The economic benefits suggest that the FYA signal retrofits should be widely implemented, regardless of intersection type. Overall, results provided overwhelming evidence that the FYA reduced the average annual number of injury-related crashes and led to a lower economic cost of injuries in all three of the treatment types of intersections investigated. This webinar also highlighted ongoing work investigating the impact of specific infrastructure elements at FYA intersections.

Panelists: Francis Tainter, Research Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst; and Jim Danila, Assistant State Traffic Engineer, MassDOT

Tools for Crash Data Analyses and Developing the Massachusetts Strategic Highway Safety Plan

April 7, 2022.  Link to session recording.     Link to session presentation

This Innovation webinar session gave an overview of the ongoing work of developing the Massachusetts Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). A Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) is a statewide-coordinated safety plan that provides a comprehensive framework for reducing highway fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads. The SHSP identifies a State's key safety needs and guides investment decisions towards the strategies and countermeasures possessing the greatest potential to save lives and prevent injuries. For Massachusetts Strategic Highway Safety Plan, 14 emphasis areas have been identified, such as Lane Departure, Intersections, Pedestrian, Bicyclists, Speeding and Aggressive Driving and Safety of Workers on Roadways. Subject matter experts from across the state have been convening to develop action plans to reduce fatalities and serious injuries in these 14 emphasis areas. In addition to discussing the SHSP, this webinar also provided a live demo of the IMPACT data tool developed by MassDOT. This tool, which is being used heavily in the SHSP data analysis, is a great one-stop resource for accessing and analyzing all motor vehicle crashes in the Commonwealth.

Panelist: Bonnie Polin, State Safety Engineer, MassDOT


Developing Improved Load Rating Procedures for Deteriorated Steel Bridge Beam Ends

November 19, 2021. Link to session recording

This Innovation webinar session discussed a study which  provide improved evaluation procedures for structurally deficient bridges where corrosion is the common cause for steel bridge deterioration. The research methodology was organized in three phases that each employed real corrosion data. This work included an experimental program, extensive computational simulations, and parametric analyses and analytical work to develop a new proposed set of equations for the assessment of the remaining capacity of corroded beam ends. The experimental program was conducted in the Brack Lab at UMass Amherst. 

Panelists: Alex Bardow, PE, State Bridge Engineer; and Matthew J Weidele, PE, MassDOT, Bridge Load Rating and Overload Engineer.
From UMass Amherst: George Tzortzinis, Researcher; Simos Gerasimidis, Assistant Professor; and Sergio Brena, Professor.


Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) for Wetlands & Storm Control Monitoring

October 15, 2020. Link to session recording    
Link to Robin Grace's and Melissa Riley's presentation
Link to Henry Barbaro's and Matt Lundsted's presentation

This session included presentations on two pilot studies that were conducted by the MassDOT Highway Division in collaboration with the MassDOT Aeronautics Division, on the use of sUAS for environmental monitoring. The first study investigated the use of sUAS with multi-spectral sensors to assist with wetland construction compliance and long-term monitoring. The second study evaluated the effectiveness of using sUAS for inspecting Stormwater Control Measures (SCMs).  The presentations discussed the type of data collected in these studies, the data collection processes and protocols, and the integration of these data with information from other sources for documenting current conditions and changes over time. The session will also cover the benefits and strengths of these new technologies, as well as potential challenges.

Panelists: Dr. Scott Uebelhart & Robin Grace, MassDOT Aeronautics Division, Drone Program; Melissa Riley, MassDOT Highway Division, Environmental Compliance; Henry Barbaro, MassDOT Highway Division, Stormwater Management; & Matt Lundsted, Comprehensive Environmental Inc.

Capital Improvement Initiative - Cross-Functional Collaboration for Project Delivery

October 14, 2020.   Link to session recording.     Link to presentation.  

This webinar discussed the steps MassDOT has taken to streamline project delivery from Procurement to Contractor Notice to Proceed (NTP), with the creation of four workstreams in partnership with MassDOT shared services divisions.  The presentations and discussion focused on the Agile process, workstream operational structure, findings and accomplishments to date.

Panelists: from MassDOT: Patricia Leavenworth, Chief Engineer; Joseph Foti, Deputy Administrator & Chief of Operations; Michael McGrath, Assistant Administrator of Construction Engineering; Bryan Pounds, Manager, MPO Activities; Esther Nganga, Data Analytics and Process Improvement Analyst – OPMI; Meghan Haggerty, Highway Chief of Staff; & Tracy Osimboni, Highway Process Improvement Engineer

Universities Exploring Community Transportation 

October 8, 2020.   Link to session recording 
Link to Cheryl Kiser's presentation
Link to Nina Silverstein's presentation
Link to Sarah McAdoo's presentation      Link to Nathan Taber's presentation

This session highlighted three recent collaborative efforts between academia and transportation that focus on how access to transportation affects the health and quality of life of older adults, people with disabilities, and low-income individuals.

Panelists: Aniko Laszlo, MBTA; Dr. Nina Silverstein, UMass Boston; Cheryl Kiser, Babson College; Dr. Sarah McAdoo & Nathan Taber, UMass Medical School

MassDOT's New Design Criteria & Design Justification Process

October 6, 2020. Link to session recording.       Link to presentation

This session will review the new Engineering Directive E-20-001 - Controlling Criteria and Design Justification Process – released in January 2020 that applies to all projects led and reviewed by MassDOT. Criteria for Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities expand on MassDOT’s previous guidance to help build a network of high quality, high comfort facilities for users of all ages and abilities. 

Panelists: from MassDOT: Jackie deWolfe, Office of the Secretary; Andy Paul & Andrew Wilkins, Highway Division

New Tools to Characterize Geotechnical Site Conditions 

October 1, 2020. Link to session recording.      Link to presentation

This session discussed the FHWA’s Every Day Counts (EDC)-5 effort known as the “A-GaME”, which is establishing a new standard for enhanced site characterization. Site characterization plans are required for all MassDOT construction projects, regardless of design status, project type, or project scope. Effective site characterization is critical for recognizing potential problems that may affect design and construction and for ensuring safe, well-performing and cost effective projects.

Panelists: Jennifer Rauch & Pete Connors, MassDOT Highway Division; Mary Nodine, GEI Consultants

Standards & Design for Stream Crossings & Geomorphic Compatibility

September 24, 2020. Link to session recording.      Link to presentation

This session focused on the latest technical developments in the MassDOT Highway Division's approach to stream crossings and resilient design using the principles of fluvial geomorphology. It also shared experiences that are expected to guide future innovations for providing resilient, cost-effective, habitat-friendly stream crossings in Massachusetts. 

Panelists: Tim Dexter & John Pierce, MassDOT Highway Division; Roy Schiff, Milone & MacBroom; Matthew Lundsted, Comprehensive Environmental Inc.

Managing, Analyzing, & Tracking Materials through LIMMS

September 17, 2020. Link to session recording.      Link to presentation

The Laboratory Information Materials Management System (LIMMS) is a highly efficient software ecosystem, which uses a system of computers, electronic identification tags, and cloud servers to track, manage, analyze materials. LIMMS allows MassDOT to perform data analysis on its construction materials like never before, for the purpose of discovering and modeling useful test data, making informed conclusions, and supporting decision-making.  The presentation provided an overview of the LIMMS project timeline from conception to implementation. Global and project functionality were also reviewed including how materials inspection, sampling, and testing is performed in the system. Finally, the LIMMS data analytics capabilities were also discussed.  

Panelists: Richard Mulcahy, Megi Martini, & Alana Geary from the MassDOT Research & Materials Laboratory

MassDOT, MassWildlife, & MassDER: Partnering for Resilient Infrastructure & Ecosystems

September 10, 2020.   Link to session recording.  
Link to Tim Dexter's presentation   Link to Carrie Bank's presentation 
Link to David Paulson's presentation

This session highlighted MassDOT's partnerships with the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (MassWildlife) and the Division of Ecological Restroration (DER) and showcased recent innovative examples of how disparate agencies can work together towards common goals and the furthering of each other's missions. 

Panelists:  Tim Dexter, MassDOT Highway Division; David Paulson, MA Dept of Fish & Game, Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (MassWildlife); Carrie Banks, MA Dept of Fish & Game; Division of Ecological Restoration (DER)