T What is ACTT?
he unprecedented increase in traffic volume and
increased funding levels, coupled with an aging Founded in 2002, ACTT is a process that assembles
infrastructure, has caused highway construction a team of “best in field” national leaders in common skill
activities to intensify in recent years in an attempt to sets and delivers them to state project sites for structured
accommodate the ever-increasing traffic demands. workshops hosted by state highway agencies planning major
Historically, highway construction time has been extensive construction projects. National and local counterparts meet
and construction operations have further compounded to review project details, targeting innovations and solutions
traffic congestion, particularly in our nation’s larger cities. that reduce construction time, save money, improve safety,
Motorists are displeased with both highway construction elevate quality, and help agencies meet or exceed project
time and related traffic congestion. Although highway goals.
construction is unavoidable, excessive construction time Powered by federal, state and industry partners committed
must be avoided because it is costly and exposes highway to cutting construction time and curbing congestion for
workers to traffic and the motorist to substandard conditions customers, the ACTT process is taking root as a standard
longer than necessary. practice. In the early strategic planning of highway projects,
More than half of states have realized the benefits of enterprising planners, managers and engineers have seized
accelerated highway construction by participating in the the initiative to draw national experts to their own ACTT
Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer (ACTT) workshops with the sole purpose of fast-tracking quality
program. Started by the Transportation Research Board construction.
(TRB), American Association of State Highway and ACTT workshops have been project-specific and have
Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the Federal Highway focused on single highway project or multiple projects along
Administration (FHWA), ACTT brings State highway agency the same corridor. Over the course of the workshops to date,
staff together with national experts in a range of skill sets millions of dollars and years of delays have been shaved off
for a three-day workshop. At the workshop, participants of highway projects, with projects ranging in size from those
identify innovative approaches to reducing time, costs and with $1 million budgets to those projected to cost more than
congestion for a planned highway project while improving $2.5 billion. While some of the workshop recommendations
safety, quality and roadway performance. have been project specific, a large portion could potentially
26 | The NAWIC IMAGE.org April/May 2008
be applied to future projects. The ACTT Management workshop for the $360 million I-40 Crosstown project in
Team has captured all workshop results and made them Oklahoma City — and that was just in the design phase of the
available electronically at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ project! A breakdown of recommendations and the resulting
construction/accelerated/. savings is provided below:
• Complete early geotech investigations. Early geotechnical
Who Can Participate? investigations exposed a layer of questionable material in the
All states can now join in the success of ACTT by holding vicinity of the depressed section of the Interstate. Adjustment
their own accelerated construction workshops, with the of the proposed grade has produced approximately $10
assistance of their FHWA division offices and the Accelerated million in savings due to reduced excavation costs, retaining
Construction Management Team (ACMT). This team will help wall changes and drainage system modifications.
states plan, organize, and carry out workshops, which are • Eliminate cast-in-place wall design. This was incorporated
now eligible for Federal-aid funding. in all possible areas. The change to mechanically stabilized
“The ACMT will help states incorporate ACTT into select earth (MSE) walls produced a savings of approximately $1.5
major reconstruction and rehabilitation projects, boosting the million.
rapid transfer of fresh technology solutions, minimizing risk, • Use full closures and combine closures. Elimination of
and potentially saving construction time and dollars,” says the Western Avenue detour saved approximately $1 million
Jim Sorenson of FHWA’s Office of Asset Management and due to the length of the detour and the two at-grade railroad
a member of the ACMT. “Our goal is to spare motorists and crossings that can be eliminated.
communities from any avoidable construction-related traffic • Have pre-established borrow sites. The department
disruption, while helping agencies deliver state-of-the-art secured and stockpiled fill material as local conditions allowed.
roadways that meet the demands of our increasingly mobile Additionally, cooperative efforts with the City of Oklahoma
society.” City enabled the department to secure approximately
Factors to consider when selecting an ACTT project include: 600,000 cubic yards of material from a city construction site.
• Does the project involve major reconstruction and/or Cost savings were in the range of $1.8 million.
rehabilitation work that will begin over the next four to six • Remove eastbound frontage road between
years? Pennsylvania and Western. Removing this element
• Is there an urgent need to accelerate construction? resulted in a savings of $1.5 to $2 million.
• Are the project limits or boundaries still fluid? “This was a worthwhile and beneficial effort,” says
• Is the project team open to innovation and willing to consider ODOT Project Development Engineer John Bowman. “The
and apply fresh concepts? process was well defined and structured and does not need
To assist states in planning an ACTT workshop, a changing.”
“How–To” Guide for State Highway Agencies (Publication The Louisiana Department of Transportation and
No. FHWA-IF-05-038) is available at http://www.fhwa.dot. Development (DOTD) reports similar results. The DOTD
gov/construction/accelerated/sop.cfm. The guide includes awarded the contract for its I-20 rehabilitation project
background information about the ACTT program and details in West Monroe in August 2005, and construction was
on how to plan and hold a workshop. Also included are completed in March 2006. According to District Construction
sample workshop agendas and lists of the various ACTT Engineer Marshall Hill, the ACTT process offered a number
skill sets and their team leaders. Skills sets cover such areas of benefits to the DOTD, with the agency adopting several
as design, contracting, financing, construction, right-of-way/ recommendations from the workshop. The changes, along
utilities and the environment. The ACMT maintains a national with an incentive to construct expeditiously, reduced the
roster of skill–set experts and assist states in setting up a construction timeframe from 225 proposed to 125 actual
skill–set team for a workshop. days. i
Success Stories For more information about ACTT, please visit the Federal Highway Administration’s
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation realized an web site at www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction/accelerated/.
estimated $15.8 million in savings as a result of its ACTT
“Over the course of the workshops to date, millions
of dollars and years of delays have been shaved off of
highway projects, with projects ranging in size from
those with $1 million budgets to those projected to
cost more than $2.5 billion.”
— Compiled by MDH Article Source: www.fwha.gov
April/May 2008 The NAWIC IMAGE.org | 27
Who created the Interstate System?
The concept of an Interstate system as we know it was first described in a 1939 report to Congress called
Toll Roads and Free Roads. The report said the country needed a toll-free express highway network. Thomas
H. MacDonald, Chief of the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads, and Herbert S. Fairbank, Chief of the agency’s
Division of Information, prepared the report. The ideas expressed in the “free roads” portion of the report
evolved through further study and experience before approval of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, but
the Interstate System began with MacDonald and Fairbank.
Why is President Dwight D. Eisenhower called the “Father of the Interstate
Although the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944 authorized designation of a “National System of Interstate
Highways,” the legislation did not authorize an initiating program to build it. After taking office in January
1953, President Eisenhower made revitalizing the nation’s highways one of the goals of his first term. As an
army Lieutenant Colonel in 1919, Eisenhower had accompanied a military convoy across the United States
and saw the poor condition of our nation’s roads. Later, during his World War II stint as commander of the
allied forces, his admiration for Germany’s well-engineered Autobahn highway network reinforced his belief
that the United States needed first-class roads.
As a result, Eisenhower formed internal committees to study the idea, enlisted the nation’s governors to
offer suggestions, and met with members of Congress to promote the proposal. When legislation failed in
1955, observers predicted that in the presidential election year of 1956, the Democratic Congress would
not approve such a significant plan sought by a republican president. Nevertheless, President Eisenhower
continued to urge approval and worked with Congress to reach compromises that made approval possible.
The President signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 on June 29, 1956. Through the remainder of his
years as president, he searched for ways to solve the problems that plagued the program in its early years
and pushed for continued work on the Interstate System. His leadership in promoting the 1956 Act and
moving the program forward on schedule has earned President Eisenhower the title, “Father of the Interstate
How long is the Interstate System?
Currently, the Interstate System is 46,876 miles long. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 imposed a
statutory limitation on the Interstate mileage that would be built with Interstate Construction funds under the
new program (41,000 miles at the time). Later legislation increased the limitation to 43,000 miles, of which
a total of 42,795 miles has been used. Separate legislation allows the Federal Highway Administration to
approve additional mileage if it meets full Interstate standards and would be a logical addition or connection.
Beyond the 42,795 miles, this additional mileage is not “chargeable”—that is, it is not eligible for Interstate
Construction funds under the 1956 Act, as amended, although the state may use other Federal-aid funds to
help with construction.
Who built the Interstate System?
The Interstate System was built under the principles of the federal-aid highway program, which was
established in 1916. The federal government made Interstate Construction funds available to the state
highway/transportation agencies, which built the Interstates.
Who owns it?
The states own and operate the Interstate highways. The one exception is the Woodrow Wilson Memorial
Bridge (I-95/495) over the Potomac River in the Washington area. The U.S. Bureau of Public Roads built the
bridge under special legislation approved by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in August 1954. Although
the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia operate the bridge, it is owned by the Federal Highway
Administration. When the first span of the replacement bridge, now under construction, is opened, the old
bridge will be removed. The states will own the new Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge.
What did it cost?
The final estimate of the cost of the Interstate System was issued in 1991. It estimated that the total cost
would be $128.9 billion, with a federal share of $114.3 billion. This estimate covered only the mileage (42,795
miles) built under the Interstate Construction Program. It excluded turnpikes incorporated into the Interstate
System within the mileage limitation and the mileage added as a logical addition or connection outside the
limitation but financed without Interstate Construction funds. In all, federal-aid legislation authorized a total
of $119 billion to pay the federal share of the cost of Interstate construction.
28 | The NAWIC IMAGE.org April/May 2008