FHA Offers Roadway Sustainability Evaluation Tool

Much to the chagrin of those forced to drive through unending construction zones during rush house, highways require a lot (and we mean a whole bunch) of maintenance. Bridges need to be supported, pot holes need to be filled, and Waterbury’s mix mister has needed updating since the day it was built.

Luckily for more contemporary project managers, and state DOT agencies, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) recently began operating a ‘self-help’ website to aid in the design, construction, and upkeep of federally funded highways.

This resource is called INVEST, which stands for Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool. It is a “free Web-based collection of best practices designed to help transportation agencies integrate sustainability into their programs and projects,” according to the FHA website.

INVEST was first launched in 2011 as a beta-test, and is now available as INVEST 1.0; which takes into account new sustainability factors found to be missing during the pilot tests. Agencies who have begun to use INVEST include the North Central Texas Council of Governments, and the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Like CTLS, the resource aims to help states improve the overall sustainability of their roadways be understanding social, environmental, and economic factors which dictate the continued success of a large roadway. Over 60 characteristics are used by the program to suggest “best-practices” for individual projects needs and wants. By continuously updating their criteria with new improvements and changes within the system, project managers can track their progress towards a more sustainable transportation infrastructure.

Dan Lamers, Senior Program Manager for North Central Texas Council of Governments said that “It showed us that we had done a great job thinking more sustainably, but it also pointed out things we had not considered, such as improving the connection between asset management and planning and addressing infrastructure resiliency to natural hazards such as flooding,”

When the Ohio DOT was looking to improve its Innerbelt Bridge project, they turned to the INVEST system, as well. “When ODOT embarked on this project, we challenged the prospective design/build teams to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability,” said project manager David Lastovka.

The FHA says:

“Available online at www.sustainablehighways.org, the INVEST Web site offers visitors the opportunity to take a guided tour through the site and learn about sustainable highways and how to integrate sustainability best practices into projects and programs. Visitors can also browse the complete set of INVEST criteria or use the “Score” option to evaluate the sustainability of their own projects and programs. Additional resources include a glossary of sustainability terms, a list of frequently asked questions and answers about using INVEST, and information on FHWA’s Sustainable Highways initiative. A recording of an October 2012 FHWA Webinar introducing INVEST is also available.”