Innovations in Infrastructure: Necessity is the mother of invention


With 42 percent of the major urban highways in the U.S. congested and the problem only predicted to increase, there is a great need for our road and traffic systems to be modernized to prepare for and accommodate this congestion. Fortunately, cities around the nation have started utilizing technological solutions to help alleviate some of these mounting transportation frustrations.

A few ways engineers and manufacturers will be able to ameliorate these problems through traffic signal synchronization, talking cars and future road construction, as illustrated in this infographic on “Technology and the Future of America’s Infrastructure”. one example of how this is happening right now is in Los Angeles, where magnetic sensors were set up across the city to send real-time traffic data to a central command, which adjusts the timing of traffic signals based on congestion. This process took more than 20 years to complete, but has reduced travel times by 12 percent while increasing average speeds by 16 percent.

Cities like San Francisco and Seattle are implementing electronic signs and sensors to reveal available parking spaces in order to help alleviate parking space related congestion. In Pennsylvania, the Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has created a new web application called Traffic Signals Asset Management (TSAMS), a pre-populated database that consolidates information about 8,700 traffic signals located on state routes to improve the management of traffic signals.

Recently the U.S. DOT announced its commitment to using technology to make transportation more accessible through programs like the Accessible Transportation Technologies Research Initiative (ATTRI), which seeks technology-based solutions to improving transportation accessibility and mobility.

Each of these innovative steps forward are promising to the future of our nation’s transportation system. To read more about innovative solutions across different infrastructure sectors, check out ASCE’s #GameChangers report.

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