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Virginia’s Tie to National Work Zone Awareness Week

This year, PILLAR is celebrating 20 years of ethical commitment to the well-being and safety of the public through transportation asset management.  During our two decades of work, we’ve partnered with transportation departments and roadside workers at both the state and national level and witnessed their tremendous dedication firsthand.  To celebrate PILLAR’s 20th anniversary, recognize our excellent partners, and remember those who lost their lives in work zones, PILLAR made a donation to the National Work Zone Traveling Memorial.  

The Work Zone Traveling Memorial is an integral part of the National Work Zone Awareness Week and is inscribed with more than 1,600 names of individuals who lost their lives in America’s roadside work zones.  Our donation will support memorial visits in locations all over the country and bring awareness to the importance of safety for roadside workers.

Because safety is an integral part of PILLAR’s mission, we observe National Work Zone Awareness every year.  We’re proud to partner with the national leader in work zone safety awareness, VDOT’s Bristol District.  In 1997, VDOT’s Bristol District spearheaded the country’s first Work Zone Awareness Week.  Bristol’s idea quickly gained traction and by the next year, VDOT launched a statewide campaign to encourage both employees and the public to reduce safety hazards to roadside workers.  Thanks to the hard work and dedication of leaders in Virginia’s transportation sector, a national campaign was launched just two years later in 2000. 

Virginia’s leadership toward work zone safety has made America’s work zones safer.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, the number of work zone fatalities has decreased in the United States every year since 2002.

The Work Zone Traveling Memorial will stop in Virginia during National Work Zone Awareness Week April 11-15, 2022.  This year and every year, PILLAR is proud to support respect and safety in America’s roadside work zones. Please follow these 8 tips on navigating highway work zones.

8 Points to Follow When Navigating Highway Work Zones

  1. Expect the unexpected
  2. Follow the signs
  3. Don’t tailgate
  4. Don’t speed
  5. Never change lanes in a work zone
  6. Focus and minimize distractions
  7. Be patient
  8. Know before you go by dialing 511 for traffic information

For additional information on work zone safety and distracted driving please visit these links:

Virginia DMV General Distracted Driving

National Safety Council Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Drive Smart Virginia’s Distracted Driving Outreach and Education Toolkit

National Work Zone Awareness Safety Week Information

Handheld Personal Communication Devices Policy Information

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Meet the PILLAR Team Online and In-Person at Upcoming Events

Over the next few months, members of the PILLAR team will be on the road at various tradeshows and conferences. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about the company’s approach to infrastructure asset management and how it can help organizations save time, save money, and save lives.

Our unique approach merges technology with specialist expertise to maximize efforts, justify budgets, and reduce risk, thereby delivering greater sustainability and longevity of your transportation assets.

The PILLAR team would love to share more information with you. Make sure to say hello if you see us in person or online at one of these upcoming events.

If you’d like to discuss ways to save time, money, lives, and face (by preventing public outcry in the case of a disaster), contact us to schedule a meeting during one of these events at info@pillaroma.com or (276) 223-0500.

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Virginia State Highway Performance Ranking Leaps to #2 Nationally

The PILLAR Team congratulates the Virginia Department of Transportation for earning the nation’s #2 best highway performance ranking. Virginia operates the third-largest DOT network in the nation and handed in an impressive 19-position improvement in the 26th Annual Highway Report from the Reason Foundation.

Virginia moved up the ranks in several areas, including improving 24 positions for capital and bridge disbursements, improving 15 positions for maintenance disbursements, and improving 17 positions for urbanized area congestion.

Cost-effective Maintenance & Operations

Virginia’s highway system is considered one of the most cost-effective highway systems in the country.

“States with high ratings typically have better-than-average system conditions (good for road users) along with relatively low per-mile expenditures (good for taxpayers),” according to the Reason Foundation annual report.

PILLAR has been a trusted partner of VDOT for nearly 10 years, serving as its contractor for Statewide Maintenance Consulting Services.

“The PILLAR Team is proud to support VDOT in its continuous quest for excellence through best management practices and innovative transportation management solutions,” said PILLAR President Mark Boenke.

How PILLAR partners with VDOT

PILLAR supports VDOT in several ways, providing information that will save time, money, lives, and credibility.

A Penny Saved is A Penny Earned

PILLAR utilized its mobile LiDAR and conventional and traditional survey methods to gather dimensions on overhead signage that needed replacing in VDOT District 1. By defining accurate dimensions, PILLAR determined the existing support structure could be utilized for the new sign, saving significant time and money for VDOT.

Creating Efficiency from Field to Office

PILLAR georeferenced plan sheets to locate the position of pipes along the I-95 corridor in Caroline, Spotsylvania, and Stafford counties for VODT’s Fredericksburg District Office. This enabled VDOT field personnel to easily locate pipes when performing inspections. Ultimately, saving time and money.

Environmentally Friendly Asset Management Solutions 

PILLAR helped the VDOT Staunton District save $12.9 million in mitigation projects and nitrogen-credit purchases, also earning the district the Environmental Stewardship award. The efforts allowed VDOT to reallocate money to other critical needs throughout the district.

The project used an innovative approach. It took PILLAR’s LiDAR-based mapping for mowing management and helped save the district millions annually in converting interstate rights-of-way into pollinator habitats.

What PILLAR can do for you

What sets PILLAR apart is our CAPE approach.

That’s our Collection, Assessment, Planning, and Execution (CAPE) approach that intersects technology with our expertise to tailor asset management plans for program funding, public outcry, and improved services.

We advise state agencies and provide plans that avoid potential pitfalls and save money.

“Our staff augmentation helps improve knowledge and experience to achieve a high maintenance rating program (MRP) with average scores in the low-to-mid 90s,” Boenke said.

Contact PILLAR today to get started on improving your maintenance and performance rating.

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How to Calculate & Classify Mowable Area with LiDAR

Your agency has a lot of ground to cover. Literally. Municipalities and departments of transportation have acres and acres of land that need to be managed.

PILLAR can help assess the best way to tackle ground that might have to be mowed or best left unmowed and calculate the total mowable area and frequency or necessity of that upkeep.

This practice can help save your agency valuable cash, up to millions.

Mowing Frequency

Knowing what you need to maintain frequently and where to cut back can save millions in costs. Your agency will save in labor and equipment costs and heighten the safety of workers in high-traffic areas.

Certain areas benefit from a less frequent trim. Cutting tall grass and cutting back brush can improve visibility but may only have to be maintained once a year instead of cutting every few months.

The environmental benefits differ as well. If acreage is classified as an environmental benefit, your agency can receive credit toward mitigation and pollution reduction projects, such as pollinator or stormwater run-off programs.

When you contract with PILLAR, you’ll receive a full assessment of best practices.

How PILLAR Calculates & Classifies Mowable Area

PILLAR helps you get a better sense of what is needed for the land you manage.

We use image scanning and Mobile LiDAR, which can accurately inventory acreage that should be added to the total calculated mowable area. Additional access to land plats can help us determine if you can earn environmental stipends for mowing less frequently.

Our services also include an assessment of the terrain, so we can work with you to determine the types of equipment needed and the time and frequency required to maintain that acreage. That information also helps us parse and configure mowing patterns/swaths for full mows or partial mows.

After all the data is collected, we will work with your geospatial system of choice to integrate and normalize your mowing data.

The PILLAR team has more than 100 years of combined experience working with and for municipalities and departments of transportation. We know how to help classify environmental benefits and safety requirements needed to maintain your areas and keep the public safe.

Case Study

PILLAR was able to help Staunton earn $12.8 million in credits for pollution mitigation from our assessment of mowable acreage. Their practices earned them VDOT’s Staunton District’s Environmental Stewardship Award.

Learn how we can help you. Contact us today.

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Endangered Bat Species and LiDAR: PILLAR Technology is Mapping Conservation Efforts

PILLAR works with departments of transportation, environmental, and engineering firms to better understand the condition of infrastructure in challenging environments. LiDAR (mobile light detection and ranging) is an advanced technology that goes beyond just providing detailed maps: the data can be used to influence critical decisions to protect critical wildlife habitats.

PILLAR’s recent project at a bridge in southwestern Virginia highlights the effectiveness of LiDAR for mapping conservation efforts and managing transportation infrastructure.

LiDAR Applied to Wildlife Conservation: A Case Study

Scientists learned that the endangered gray bat and the more common big brown bat, were using this man-made structure for roosting purposes, yet engineers needed to assess the bridge’s operating conditions and schedule routine maintenance. Gray bats are listed by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) and the US Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) as endangered, and upwards of 10,000 gray bats find refuge in the bridge from April through October as a maternity roosting site.

A cluster of gray bats roosting under a southwestern Virginia bridge.

The Virginia Department of Transportation along with biologists from Stantec Consulting Services, entrusted PILLAR to accurately survey the bridge with noninvasive LiDAR technology and collect data on the structure, while also preserving the bats’ habitat and wellbeing. In approximately one hour, PILLAR engineers had safely completed their survey, and biologists studied about 200 gray bats in their natural habitat.   

Experts from PILLAR teamed with biologists from Stantec to survey the bridge accurately and quickly without disrupting the roosting areas of the gray and big brown bats.

A Positive Impact

Noninvasive and accurate, PILLAR’s approach using LiDAR and its proprietary Automated Feature Extraction System (AFES) safeguards sensitive ecosystems and wildlife habitats while collecting the required data. This data then helps officials develop environmentally sensitive approaches to infrastructure maintenance planning.

Contact us at info@pillaroma.com or (276) 223-0500 to discuss PILLAR’s mobile LiDAR solutions and how next-generation asset management technology can enhance your next survey project.

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Work Smarter by Aggregating and Normalizing Your Asset Data

Technology has made creating a geospatial inventory of transportation assets far more accessible than it used to be. However, this asset data may be accumulated from many different sources and may have been collected using disparate techniques and technology, resulting in data that is formatted differently.

The inability of different systems to talk to each other often means that municipalities and departments of transportation frequently resort to recollecting data they already have because of a siloed department structure. This is costly and limiting.

But PILLAR can solve this problem. We can aggregate and normalize data from many different sources (from paper to pdf to complex databases) and departments, giving your organization far greater flexibility and eliminating the need for costly recollection of data you already have.

Getting started

PILLAR will gather all the data files you have already collected, identify what technology generated the data, then audit it and identify a storage solution for optimal visualization for the end-user. We determine goals and help create visualization tools that provide decision-makers with accessible information at their fingertips.

We will get your data into a format that will allow your organization to analyze your data and compare it to other information sources layering artificial intelligence over top of “Big Data.” The resulting enhanced database will allow you to make more informed decisions based on more complete and interconnected information.

In addition, a point cloud analysis powered by PILLAR AFES (automated feature extraction system) will let you provide asset data across your organization, integrating databases and streamlining processes to cut time and share costs.

We’ll help you create a truly useful geospatial inventory of transportation assets that can help determine your priorities, focusing on getting the best return on investment.

Contact PILLAR today so we can get started aggregating your data.

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Mobile LiDAR Improves Safety By Reducing Need for Work Zones

Transportation surveyors are frequently exposed to significant danger from traffic as they work to collect the asset data required to maintain, build, or repair infrastructure.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that transportation incidents accounted for 76% of roadway work zone fatal occupational injuries between 2011 and 2017. In 60% of these transportation events, the worker was struck by a vehicle in the work zone.

Clearly, roadway operations and maintenance require a safer, accurate, and efficient way to collect infrastructure asset data.

Reducing Traffic Exposure with Mobile LiDAR

A Mobile LiDAR scanning system is the efficient way to inventory transportation assets and their condition at highway speed, eliminating the need for a static work zone that impedes traffic flow as surveying staff conduct their work. Instead, Mobile LiDAR collects data from a vehicle driven at posted speed limits and creates a digital 3-D representation of existing road conditions within the right-of-way.

Mobile LiDAR scans the conditions of infrastructure assets like pavements, guardrails, mowing acreages, bridges, highway signs, and more. Mobile LiDAR takes transportation asset management to the next level, collecting massive amounts of data with speed, precision, and cost-efficiency. Complete surveys in a fraction of the time it takes with traditional survey methods and yield higher quality data for optimal operations and maintenance plans.

Advantages of Mobile LiDAR

  • Easily identify the location of all your transportation assets.
  • Gather robust data while mitigating exposure to dangerous working conditions for employees.
  • Avoid the extra cost and man-hours that come with work zones.
  • Reduced exposure to road accidents and other roadway related injuries.
  • Advanced collection methods ensure accurate asset data and rapid data extraction.
  • Integrate asset data with existing databases and workflows.

Minimize Employee Risk and Maximize Productivity With PILLAR

With advances in surveying technology, the transportation industry is investing in innovative asset management solutions to improve operational efficiencies, optimize budgets, and ensure employee safety in the field.  

As a transportation asset management firm, PILLAR houses advanced technological solutions like Mobile LiDAR, drone aerial collection, street level imagery, and geospatial inventory to locate your assets and identify their condition. Our robust approach to asset management merges technology with specialist expertise to optimize, develop, and execute tailored asset management plans to secure O&M funding and improve the service level of all infrastructure assets.

Partner with PILLAR today and discuss with our experts to figure out the best way to augment your staff safely, reduce traffic interference in your communities, and collect transportation asset data quicker and more accurately than ever before.  

Contact us at info@pillaroma.com or (276) 223-0500 to discuss our Mobile LiDAR solutions and more.

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Transportation Asset Management: A Vital Tool In Community Resiliency Efforts

In recent years, local municipalities and the federal government have invested millions to make their cities more resilient and prepare for natural disasters, along with mitigating the imposing threats of climate change. Local and federal governments are realizing the critical role transportation infrastructure plays in assisting in disaster and climate adaption efforts and are searching for ways to increase community resilience, improve aging infrastructure, and decrease flood risks with transportation asset management.

Investing in Resilience and Sustainability

In 2017, the City of Miami passed a $400 million general obligation bond, with half of the investment funding community resilience, disaster, and climate relief efforts. This includes reducing flooding risks, mitigating rising sea levels, enhancing public safety, and improving infrastructure. As of March 2021, there are 7 on-going projects in the city to assess transportation assets and improve infrastructure.

In February 2021, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded a $1.1 million grant to the Miami Conversancy District in Dayton, Ohio to protect communities from flooding and upgrade Dayton’s levee system. The grant is matched with a $276,254 local investment, all focused on supporting key infrastructure improvements in the Miami Valley.

Challenges of Resiliency Planning and Disaster Management

From mitigating flooded roadways to effectively planning emergency routes, community resiliency plans start with a comprehensive and accurate assessment of all transportation assets, including pavement condition, stormwater management systems, bridges, tunnels, signage, medians, and guardrails—just to name a few. 

A significant challenge for most asset management and disaster prevention systems is the lack of a reliable infrastructure asset collection, leading to delays in response time. In terms of the cost to human lives and properties, delays can be hazardous for disaster management agencies. A robust asset management and analysis system is required to ensure that the asset condition is properly assessed, so accurate insights for improving the asset are found.  

With lives at stake, effective transportation asset management requires industry expertise and next generation technology to make informed decisions based on data.

PILLAR’s Mobile LiDAR collects massive amounts of data with speed, precision, and cost-efficiency. This system helps us complete surveys in a fraction of the time compared to traditional survey methods. As a result, higher quality data is collected to develop effective emergency response and community resiliency plans and secure appropriate budgets for repair and ongoing maintenance.

With Mobile LiDAR’s fully Automatic Feature Extraction System (AFES), data can be instantly extracted and integrated with existing databases – increasing efficiency, transparency, and better planning.

BE PREPARED WITH PILLAR

Municipalities across the nation are using transportation asset management data to better prepare and protect their communities against natural disasters and the imposing threats of climate change. This is where PILLAR comes in. Equipped with the best asset management experts and advanced technology, PILLAR efficiently collects transportation asset data, accurately assess asset conditions, develops, and executes asset management plans to maintain and optimize their performance against climate change and natural disasters.

As a transportation asset management firm, we help organizations save time, money, and face (by preventing public outcry in the case of a disaster). Partner with us today and help the communities that you serve be more resilient.

Contact us at info@pillaroma.com or (276) 223-0500 to discuss your asset management plans with a PILLAR expert.

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Your Technology Guide for Geospatial Asset Collection

Geospatial technologies increasingly allow engineers and experts to evaluate assets quickly and accurately. Since the Department of Labor introduced geospatial guidelines for professionals in 2010, new methods and approaches have emerged with promising results.

Explore these technologies and their diverse applications below. Learn how advanced firms like PILLAR can help you evaluate assets, collect data, and improve infrastructure with these various geospatial tools.

Static LiDAR

Collecting assets inside buildings, through intersections, on bridges, and on the ground—Static LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) measures and records asset data at a precise, granular level. The efficiency and methodology of Static LiDAR provide increased clarity for more complete and valuable data.

Since the information stored details your assets accurately, Static LiDAR applies best for transportation and construction applications, improving asset insights and decision-making for operations and maintenance planning.

Mobile LiDAR

Mobile LiDAR scans roadways and other infrastructure assets with extreme accuracy and cost-efficiency. With a vehicle traversing highways, roads, and bridges, Mobile LiDAR provides detailed data on elevation, pavement conditions, guardrails, road signs and more:

  • Street and highway conditions
  • Landscape and transit elevation
  • On-the-ground data
  • Bridges, tunnels, slopes, and fences

Transportation and construction managers find great utility in this powerful mapping method, covering up to 50 miles of right-of-way every day.

Aerial Collection

Using planes and helicopters, aerial collection captures exansive plots of land by scanning and storing data without street-level detail.

Helpfully, anyone can access aerial collection data in their state since each makes this information public. While it is less detailed than LiDAR data (which most states do not publish), this format is used across industries:

  • Mining
  • Gas and Oil
  • Agriculture and Forestry
  • Infrastructure and Utilities
  • Emergency and Disaster
  • Construction Sites
  • Corridor Mapping

When you use this broad data in combination with sharp LiDAR collection methods, you’ll benefit from a global and granular assessment of your assets.

Drone Collection

Data on some assets can by difficult to collect. In some cases, data collection would block accessibility to the asset itself, present a safety issue or is simply inaccessible.. Drone collection offers a way for companies to still collect miles of asset data and related functions in the following industries:

  • Mining
  • Gas and Oil
  • Agriculture and Forestry
  • Infrastructure and Utilities
  • Emergency and Disaster

Speed through Asset Collection with PILLAR (and Save)

Committed to client safety and satisfaction, PILLAR provides quick, quality data to infrastructure professionals, by tailoring the data collection solutions and recommendations for public project improvements. Our meticulous approach promises accuracy and efficiency, and our extensive expertise means clients save time and money through our proven asset management process.

Contact PILLAR at info@pillaroma.com or (276) 223-0500 to leverage our advanced technologies and optimize your operations and maintenance plans.

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Why You Need a Geospatial Asset Inventory

Knowing the location, material, condition, and context of all your geospatial assets requires full-scale understanding. Without this global and granular view of your assets and infrastructure, it’s difficult to support decisions intended to improve assets, manage maintenance, and more.

Learn some of the most important reasons you need a geospatial asset inventory including emergency management, compliance, and development.

1. Asset locations alone are too limited in detail.

While identifying the location of an asset is essential, it’s not enough for proper evaluation and maintenance planning when material, condition, and context are left out. Geospatial technology such as Mobile LiDAR, delivers massive amounts of asset data quickly and accurately. This data is critical for optimizing asset lifecycles, pinpointing infrastructure needs, and budgeting public improvements.

2. Geospatial information integrates into existing systems.

The need to share data with many collaborators and managers has exploded as companies merge databases, share information, and combine research. Easily accessible geospatial asset data helps various departments, organizations, and stakeholders access the data they need to leverage asset insights and optimize its operations and maintenance programs.

3. Asset inventories serve many needs, functions, and organizations.

Data is a renewable resource. Once collected, your asset information can be used and extracted for new, increasingly useful applications. With the source data and extracted assets, various partners, agencies, and departments can benefit:

Moreover, to gain access, these participating organizations can share costs, furthering your budget’s reach.

4. Advanced technologies offer value and savings.

LiDAR technology and aerial collection capture large amounts of data while saving time and money on staffing crews to survey the land. Mobile and compact, these collection methods can extract asset data in mere hours and days rather than the weeks or months it might take less experienced, equipped teams on the ground.

5. Observe conditions and assets remotely.

With the data PILLAR captures for clients using Mobile LiDAR and imagery, engineers and crews can see and explore the field without stepping foot out of the office. Without the need to deploy a professional to report conditions, decision-makers can simply determine the best courses of action to save time, resources, and energy.

Automate and Streamline Asset Inventory Collection

Though some organizations and professionals struggle to coordinate such an inventory, others have found success with automated extraction methods, time-efficient technologies, and data integration abilities.

PILLAR, for example, uses automated collection and extraction processes that save time while informing maintenance and operations. Even after collecting your assets with next-generation technology (AFES, or Automatic Feature Extraction Systems), we can integrate your data within your existing GIS software.

Give your organization the complete picture of your assets and share your budgetary costs with other departments to save money and do the public good.

Contact us at info@pillaroma.com or (276) 223-0500 to discuss your assets with an expert in geospatial technology.