Oct 18, 2004

Partnering for quality

Highway leaders join forces to ensure the use of high-grade construction

In areas as diverse as urban freeway projects, high-performance bridge construction and everyday road reconstruction, highway quality partnerships and worker training and certification efforts that aim to ensure the best results for roadway projects are helping highway agencies across the country better meet the needs of their customers. And with today’s highway users looking for increased mobility and less congestion, these efforts are becoming not just desired but essential.
To further advance these quality initiatives, and to provide information and guidance to highway agencies looking to begin a State Quality Partnership (SQP) or a training and certification program, the National Partnership for Highway Quality (NPHQ) will host a Summit for State Quality Partnerships & Workforce Training and Certification on Nov. 16-17 in Dallas.
NPHQ brings together state, federal and highway industry leaders to encourage the use of quality practices that will improve safety and service for highway users. Members include the Federal Highway Administration, the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials, the Associated General Contractors of America, the American Traffic Safety Services Association, the Foundation for Pavement Preservation, the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies and the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association.
The summit will feature sessions on such topics as starting and advancing an SQP, motivating stakeholders to deliver quality on the job and launching training and certification programs for highway agencies and industry. Such training and certification programs help ensure a well-qualified and skilled work force and are vital to the overall quality equation. The summit also will introduce NPHQ’s new, two-tiered accreditation program for SQPs.
States with active SQPs include Maryland and New Jersey. The New Jersey Quality Initiative (NJQI), for example, works to promote implementation of quality principles and practices throughout New Jersey’s transportation industry. Founded a decade ago, the multimodal NJQI encompasses such areas as highways, transit and telecommunications. An NJQI transportation summit held this year featured 30 sessions on topics such as utility coordination, context-sensitive design and alternative contracting methods.
Maryland’s SQP, known as the Maryland Quality Initiative, was founded in 1994 when the Maryland State Highway Administration recognized the need to address quality at all levels and in all areas of the highway community.
This commitment to quality has paid off with such initiatives as the Canal Parkway Project in Cumberland. The $48 million, two-lane parkway extends for 1.8 miles and has opened access to the region, sparked public and private investment in Cumberland and solved a 60-year bottleneck of traffic.
Partnerships have been key to the Cumberland project’s success, with stakeholders including the National Park Service, CSX Transportation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the city of Cumberland and the Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority.
The project finished on time and under budget, while incorporating such context-sensitive design elements as the construction of a bicycle and pedestrian trail. Working together as a team enabled the many stakeholders to successfully tackle challenges such as railroad right-of-way issues and hazardous material sites, achieving a final result that complements the history and landscape of the region and better serves the community. The project was awarded a Gold Award as part of NPHQ’s National Achievement Awards in 2003.

About the author

Templeton is the executive director of the National Partnership for Highway Quality.