Every Innovation Starts With A Conversation

The National E-Ticketing Task Force launched in October 2021.

Forty-three state DOTs have already signed on to implement e-ticketing programs as part of this current round of the federal Every Day Counts (EDC-6) initiative, putting e-ticketing on track to being the No. 1 deployed innovation in the program’s 10-year history. Does that mean the Task Force’s job has already finished? Hardly. While conditions may have aligned to propel this initiative forward, there is much disparity in the scope of programs DOTs are developing, as well as among the private sector businesses in the transportation construction materials supply chain.  

“Some forward-looking contractors jumped on [to e-ticketing] before we did,” said Aaron Chamberlain of CalTrans, the largest DOT in the nation, speaking as a panelist for a November 2021 webinar on the topic and lauding these early adopters. “But others are waiting for us to develop a full set of specifications before they even look into it. It’s a broad spectrum of contractor willingness.” Similarly, Kat Weisner, with FWHA, noted in the same webinar that some state DOTs are running pilots with just one type of material, while others are establishing broader programs. 

The webinar, “Practical Implementations of e-Ticketing on the Ground,” was presented by the National Asphalt Paving Association and moderated by Task Force Strategic Adviser Greg Nadeau. The session featured reflections on e-ticketing in action from representatives offering federal (Weisner), state DOT (Chamberlain), supplier (Mike Wills, Granite Construction, Inc.) and contractor (Dan Ganoe, Lindy Paving) perspectives.  

The panelists identified numerous e-ticketing benefits that were apparent from jump, with safety topping the list. “If we can make the environment safer for road inspection staff and our contractor partners, that’s what we’re going to do,” said Chamberlain. Wills pointed not how e-ticketing not only minimized risk of COVID-19 exposure, but also risks of accidents and mishaps around trucks on the move.  

Reduced paper generation, handling and storage is another key benefit. “We have a job in Sacramento that has 700,000 tons of asphalt being placed on it and we estimated that the number of tickets [for that one job] would fill an 8x8x4-ft. room,” said Wills. “You’re printing four copies of an asphalt ticket and then just storing it forever. It’s hard to get data off that ticket later,” he added. “Data dies with the paper ticket,” agreed Ganoe. 

Nadeau led the group to detail other benefits, including greater operational efficiencies and enhanced strategic analysis. He and Chamberlain also spoke of the value digital transformation in general has for the much-needed recruitment and retention of engineers and specialists for state DOTs. “We know there’s a perception [among college students] that ‘I don’t want to work for the state; they are in the Stone Age,” conceded Chamberlain. “Our new leadership is prioritizing innovation and technology. We used to joke about being on the cutting edge of 1979 because our contract payment system still ran on Cobalt. Now, we’re upgrading everything…replacing that paper legacy with something completely digital.”