Every Innovation Starts With A Conversation
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New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) is one of several state transportation agencies to employ A-GaME user groups to enhance their use of innovative subsurface investigations. A-GaME technologies help enhance reliability by optimizing geotechnical site characterizations for project design and construction. 

Moreover, as part of a recent highway reconstruction project on Interstate 40, the agency has employed multiple Every Day Counts (EDC) innovations. 

Learning from A-GaME user groups 

During their implementation of A-GaME, NMDOT has engaged with industry groups that were created in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), transportation agencies and various committees. Each group meets once a month to share information and discuss a specific method of improving the accuracy of subsurface investigations. 

There are three user groups for each of the core areas promoted by A-GaME: CPT (cone-penetration testing), MWD (measurement while drilling) and geophysics. Each of these groups is supported by, but not officially affiliated with, committees from several organizations. These institutions include the Deep Foundation Insitute, Transportation Research Board and American Society of Civil Engineers. Each user group allows members to learn more about a particular technology. This, in turn, helps members expand upon their own areas of practice. 

“Attending the MWD user group allows me to hear about the successes as well as challenges that others have run into while trying to implement MWD,” said Melissa Bates of NMDOT. “Prior to attending the webinars, I realized that these methods had some advantages; however, applying the methods in a practical way could be difficult. Without these presentations, it was sometimes difficult to find practical technical resources meant for geotechnical engineers that were up-to-date and had the appropriate level of technical background. The user group makes using these methods feel less intimidating.” 

NMDOT utilizes EDC innovations 

The agency recently used several Every Day Counts (EDC) innovations on an Interstate 40 reconstruction project. The implemented technologies include Digital As-Builts, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), e-Construction and 3D Modeling for Construction. 

The 3D modeling software NMDOT used allowed the agency to gain a better understanding of the area and enhanced their planning abilities. Furthermore, they used UAS, also known as drones, alongside the 3D model to double-check the installation area and roadside qualities. With both of these innovations deployed in tandem, the combination resulted in a digital as-built model.  

Once construction was completed, the agency used a rover to compare the grade to the original 3D model. NMDOT concluded that the difference between the model and the final grade were within 1/100th of a foot.