Earlier this month, the American Society of Civil Engineers identified 13 new projects as creators of Infrastructure Games – groundbreaking projects and programs that represent the latest innovations in transportation, water and energy infrastructure. Located across the country, these projects take advantage of the latest practices, principles, and technologies to build and maintain infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and tunnels more efficiently, safely, and at a lower cost. Four of these Gamechangers include the construction techniques currently used by transportation departments that could change the way civil contractors operate. They are: Permission Concrete Sensor System by Purdue University photo / Erin Easterling The Indiana Department of Transportation uses a Concrete Sensing System developed by Purdue University researchers to determine how long concrete should mature in the maturation process. By leaving the sensors inside the concrete for an extended period of time, engineers can study the effectiveness of their work over time, in contrast to the traditional test period of just 28 days. The system also connects to INDOT when concrete needs to be replaced. The team tracks concrete strength development in real time through measurements of wetting, hardness, compressive strength, and other properties. So far, INDOT researchers and engineers have integrated the sensors in three highways and the Purdue team is also working with the Federal Highway Administration on a nationwide, pooled fund study to implement the technology in other states. Researchers say the policies could save millions of dollars annually and reduce traffic. Team leader Luna Law, associate professor at Purdue University’s Lyles School of Civil Engineering, said in a statement. Unmanned bridge inspections The permission granted by the Michigan Department of Transportation to remove sediment around the bridge infrastructure by fast-moving water is a major cause of bridge failure, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation. The agency has identified more than 400 bridges on the state’s highway system and nearly 1,200 bridges on local roads that are “extremely critical” and need careful monitoring during rising waters events. A typical scanning inspection involves the inspectors launching a boat and checking the bottom of the canal with metal rods, tape measure or sonar devices. During high-flux events this can be a dangerous mission, according to MDOT, and this is where an unmanned surface vehicle could come in. The department uses a device that looks like an autonomous boat, called an Unmanned Deck Vehicle (USV), to inspect it. Bridge distances exceed what would normally be possible during a human dive. The 4-foot-long USV, called EMILY, uses cameras and sonar technology to investigate conditions around the bridge before determining whether a crew member needs access to the water. “The use of the USV is safer and less labor-intensive than traditional inspection methods for detection of bumps,” said Chad Scrocke, MDOT research project manager, in a press release. A recycled pavement granted by TechniSoil Industrial of Newbaugh, California, is a recycled road material created by mixing recycled plastic with recovered asphalt pavement. The company grinds the existing road and mixes a polymer material with the reclaimed pavement, then immediately repurposes the recycled material back onto the road. Neo uses 150,000 plastic bottles per mile to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90%, lower 84 truckloads per mile of asphalt waste haul and new asphalt, and provides an opportunity to return to traffic the same day. Additionally, Neo’s roads are expected to last three times longer than asphalt and be five times stronger than conventional materials, according to the ASCE. Highway Worker Protection Vehicle Permission granted from the North Dakota Department of Transportation Self Impact Protection Vehicle is used to protect construction crews from other drivers on the road who may not care about the construction site or lose control of their vehicle. In 2019, there were 261 accidents associated with the North Dakota Highway Action Zone, resulting in 64 injuries and two deaths. The autonomous vehicle will improve safety in work areas by removing the driver from the shock protection vehicle during normal operation, according to NDDOT. The technology, developed by Kratos Defense in partnership with Royal Truck & Equipment, has transformed the existing NDDOT truck into an autonomous vehicle. The autonomous vehicle is monitored and controlled by a human-driven vehicle and will automatically follow it behind construction equipment without endangering the driver.