Transportation Improvement Conference Agenda

Please use this page to learn more about the sessions at the 2023 Transportation Improvement Conference. Each session has a title, description and speaker. Click here to download a print agenda. Full attendance is eligible for 6.5 PDHs if attending all sessions (including the pre-session).

Tuesday, March 7

Pre-sessions are optional sessions before the official start of the conference and are included with registration. The roundtable is exclusively for emerging professionals but everyone who registers for the conference is invited to attend the "Leadership from the Ledge" session.

  Pre-sessions brought to you by the ACEC WI Emerging Professionals Committee
Emerging Professionals Roundtable (9:30 - 10:30 a.m.)

Emerging professionals (those in the first third of their careers) are invited to discuss any topics in a small group environment. This is your opportunity to talk to others along the same career path and make lasting connections.

Leadership from the Ledge: What Hostage Negotiators Know about Communicating Under Pressure (10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.)

Speaker: Dan Oblinger, Leadercraft

Do you know when to use your listening and negotiating skills to get the best from your clients and team? Join a communications expert to learn about the basis of emotional communication and how it relates to trust. Discover how improving your communications skills will improve your internal and external leadership opportunities. This session is open to everyone but will be of particular benefit to new project managers and emerging professionals.

Learning Objectives:

  • Discover how to use emotional communication, trust and empathy in your communications.
  • Learn practical tips for resolving conflict and making stronger agreements.
  • Understand the importance of communication skills in leadership development.

Conference Opening/Creating Equity in Transportation Design (2:00 - 3:15 p.m.)

Speakers: HDR & MnDOT

The Minnesota Department of Transportation and HDR’s Strategic Communications Team partnered together to create and implement an outreach program focused on creating fun, interactive and inclusive ways to connect and collaborate during a major highway construction project near downtown Minneapolis. The goal was to creatively educate, inform, and celebrate the project benefits that would soon be coming to these communities. From the beginning, it was clear that the project would impact neighbors and users far beyond the immediate construction area. Furthermore, with the shadow of the historic community divide the original roadway made, MnDOT made a commitment to make deeper connections with the surrounding community during construction through authentic and multicultural engagement. This unique strategic engagement partnership brought a fresh perspective to outreach, allowing the team to better inform and involve all audiences and community members, making the four years of construction a better experience for local businesses, residents, community services, commuters, and travelers alike. Join our speakers to learn more about the project and find ways you can implement some of these equitable and inclusive engagement strategies on your projects!

Learning Objectives:

  • Review what unique steps the team took to partner with the community.
  • Understand how these outreach efforts were vital to the success of the project.
  • Discover how similar efforts can be applied to your projects.

A1. How to Build an Ethical Society
Speaker: Richard Kyte, Viterbo University

For the past few years we have been experiencing severe political and social disruption. But it is a mistake to look only at recent causes. The tension has been building in our society gradually, over the past two hundred years. Scientific and technological advances have been making the world better, decade by decade. But technology has costs. It gives us power and freedom, but it erodes our social connections. As a result, we have longer life expectancy, less poverty, less famine, but more anxiety and burnout. The answer, if we want to live in an ethical society that maximizes the well-being of everyone, is to work within our organizations and communities to intentionally develop strong social connections.

Learning Objectives:

  • Review the root causes of societal changes and the effects on ethics.
  • Discover how the past few years have accelerated ethical changes.
  • Learn the importance of developing strong social connections to create an ethical world.

A2. Scope and Fee Negotiations with a Hostage Negotiator
Speaker: Dan Oblinger, Leadercraft

This is an unscripted dive into the power of negotiation.  Work with a hostage negotiator who specializes in working with engineers!  Bring your most challenging situations in working with problem clients, colleagues, and C-suite executives, and see the right way to think and act in critical conversations.  If you ever wanted a hostage negotiation expert to coach you through life's messy situations, this is your chance!

Learning Objectives:

  • Discover an effective and practical definition of negotiations for engineers in a technical AND business environment.
  • Experience a highly capable framework of managing emotions and conducting discovery to see how people decide and how we can generate cooperation. 
  • Apply principles of agreement, peace-building, and uncovering hidden information to situations in YOUR world.
  • Learn the two truths about Scope Creep that will radically change how you see Scope and Fee negotiations and boost the profitability of any project you manage.
Networking Reception (4:30 - 6:00 p.m.) *Sponsorsed by Spann & Associates*

Wind down after the day and meet other attendees. Each attendee will receive a drink ticket and appetizers will be served. It's a great way to continue networking!

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Wednesday, March 8

Morning Session (9:00 - 10:15 a.m.)

Speakers: Chris Klein, ACEC WI; Glenn Fulkerson, FHWA; Secretary Craig Thompson, WisDOT

Hear from the leaders in transportation in Wisconsin and learn about upcoming initiatives from each organization.

B1. Accommodating Freight on Wisconsin Roadways
Speakers: Joseph Coughlin, WisDOT & Matt Regnier, KL Engineering

Any engineer or planner who works in the State of Wisconsin will develop a deeper appreciation for freight and OSOW coordination after attending this session. This presentation is intended to provide the audience with an overview on WisDOT freight accommodation guidelines. The session will include workflows for your projects to keep them on track, as well as providing a deeper understanding of how WisDOT has handled freight with recent project examples.

Learning Objectives:

  • Develop an understanding of the freight/OSOW permitting process.
  • Understand the design and check vehicle accommodation requirements per the FDM.
  • Provide project examples of freight/OSOW accommodation.

B2. WisDOT FDM 11-46-10 Curb Ramp Design Updates
Speakers: Gary Corcoran, WisDOT & Jim Blackwood, raSmith

WisDOT is in the process of updating the curb ramp design section of the Facilities Design Manual. This presentation will cover the proposed changes to the section and how those changes should be applied to the plan development process.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn what updates have been made to the curb ramp design section of the FDM.
  • Gain insight into how the changes to the FDM will affect the plan development process.
  • Learn about new curb ramp design tools added to the FDM including blended transitions and curb extensions.

B3. Environment Process: The Horizon is A-Changin’!
Speakers: Jeremy Ashauer & Kathie VanPrice, WisDOT

Hear about a host of environmental process items, including:

EPDS staffing has changed in the last year and so have responsibilities. Updates on who is doing what will help you understand who you will be working with.

Environmental document templates have been updated. The latest versions will be showcased.

Environmental document type and documenting impacts for projects with relocations being evaluated with a Categorical Exclusion type document has changed. You need to know what is now being required to determine the document type and properly document the impacts.

Contractor use of the right of way and temporary interstate access has become an issue for projects during construction. Learn ways this can be avoided during preliminary engineering and environmental document preparation.

NEPA and WEPA requirements for document HISP projects are no different than any other project. Learn the importance of properly documenting HISP projects.

The Transportation Separate Storm Sewer System (TS4) and the Transportation Construction General Permit (TCGP) requirements have changed. Updates to help you comply with the new requirements will be discussed.

Numerous changes and updates have occurred in water resources process and procedures. Learn about the reissuance of the Transportation Regional General Permit (TRGP), stream mitigation opportunities, and even some possible aquatic connectivity updates.

When it comes to hazardous waste, you need to know what goes where.  Learn about hazardous waste and mandatory disposal items vs. what the contractor is responsible for. There are new specifications for creosote contaminated soils and lamps and ballasts and bulbs (universal wastes) that you need to apply to WisDOT projects also.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn what relocations mean to the determination of the appropriate environmental document type and need for including proper information in the environmental document
  • Understand how to take into consideration the potential use of the existing right of way or possible temporary right of way access uses by the contractor and ways to account for those possibilities during preliminary design and environmental document preparation.
  • Understand that HSIP environmental documentation is no different than documentation for any other project.

    B4. Construction Lessons Learned
    Speakers: Eric Arneson & Elizabeth Miller, WisDOT

    This session will discuss recently implemented and developing construction innovations that will improve the efficiency and accuracy of record keeping and field documentation. Technologies to be discussed include: e-ticketing, e-finals, contractor data packets, Autodesk Cloud, and various digital delivery tools (mobile lidar, AASHTOWare Project, Mobile Inspector, OnStation, etc.)

    Learning Objectives:

    • Overview of current construction administration technologies and e-construction tools.
    • Lessons learned from implementation and use of e-construction tools, processes, and technologies.
    • Overview of implementation plans and in-development technologies and tools.

    B5. Bureau of Structures Update
    Speakers: Aaron Bonk, Jason Lahm & Laura Shadewald, WisDOT

    There will be 3 main topics covered in the BOS Updates session – 1) An update on the Standard Plans Initiative, 2) A Review of the Design Build Pilots from BOS’s Perspective, and 3) WisDOT’s Piloting of UAS/Drone Bridge Inspections.

    Learning Objectives:

    • Review the current status of using the Standard Bridge Design Tool is and how to go about gaining access to it for use.
    • Discover how BOS has used drones for in-service bridge inspections and how they may be able to utilize this technology in their own workflows moving forward.
    • Learn what BOS has seen from the two pilot WisDOT Design-Build projects and potential areas of improvement by all involved.


    Networking Lunch (11:40 a.m. - 1:20 p.m.)

    Attendees will gather for lunch. WisDOT regions and will have designated tables so attendees can meet with them. After lunch, attendees are encouraged to move around the room to network and to check out the sponsor posters as well.

    C1. Understanding the Railroad Coordination Process
    Speakers: Joanna Bush, Mead & Hunt & Kristen Sommers, WisDOT

    Gain insight into the railroad coordination process, the people and agencies involved, what triggers different complexities and timelines within the process, and how you, the roadway designer, can ensure successful and timely coordination on your project.

    Learning Objectives:

    • Help designers understand the railroad coordination process, how it varies depending on the project and its impacts to the railroad as well as the timelines associated with each of the typical types of projects.
    • Provide a background on the role of the various entities and agencies involved in a project requiring railroad coordination.
    • Provide guidance on preparing a railroad project submittal package and a railroad real estate submittal package.

    C2. BIL Grants, BIL Grants Everywhere!
    Speakers: Paul Chellevold, SRF Consulting & Jessica Wagner, WisDOT

    There are a plethora of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grants available to the transportation sector and just as many municipalities seeking firms that can assist them in applying for these grants. You will learn about the grant programs so you can determine where your firm could provide needed services. You will develop an understanding of how WisDOT fits into the grant application process and the parameters for assisting the Department in acquiring grant funding for WisDOT programs. You will get an opportunity to hear a presentation about the WIS 175 Reconnecting Communities Pilot grant application development process. This will be an opportunity to learn about the important aspects of what should be included in a grant application and project scope.

    Learning Objectives:

    • Learn about the many opportunities for grant work available to your firms to assist the you in determining the best fit for your company in assisting grant applicants with application preparation.
    • Understand the process for becoming a firm to be considered to do work for WisDOT when grant applications for projects and programs opportunities become available.
    • Learn how the grant application for the WIS 175 Reconnecting Communities Pilot grant program was developed and the important considerations in assembling a grant development team.

    C3. I-40 Hernando de Soto: Critical Actions for a Critical Find
    Speaker: Aaron Stover, Michael Baker

    On May 11, 2021, a partial fracture of one of the tie girders of the Hernando de Soto Bridge’s arch span was found during a fracture-critical inspection.  The severity of the fracture led to the immediate closure of the bridge and greatly impacting the traveling public.  This event quickly gained attention across the country from the public, media outlets and politicians alike. This presentation will cover the activities undertaken during the inspection and three phased repair the structure, as well as challenges faced and lessons learned, so the bridge could be re-opened to traffic on August 2, 2021, just 83 days after the fracture was initially discovered.

    Learning Objectives:

    • Understand critical design and management techniques used to expedite repair and re-opening of the structure.
    • Discover the importance of fracture critical inspections and the role of NDT testing for T-1 steel members.
    • Learn repair techniques and design considerations for restoring capacity of the tie girder under full dead load of the structure.

    C4. I-94 East-West Project Update
    Speakers: Jeff Bauer, Jacobs & Joshua LeVeque, WisDOT

    WisDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are continuing an environmental and engineering analysis of the I-94 East-West Corridor. The project covers approximately 3.5 miles of Interstate 94 between 70th Street and 16th Street in Milwaukee County. The project includes one existing system interchange (WIS 175/Brewers Boulevard) and five service interchanges (70th Street/68th Street, Hawley Road, Mitchell Boulevard, 35th Street, and 25th-28th/St. Paul Ave.) This segment of I-94 opened to traffic in 1961-1962. I-94 is a major east-west freeway link across the northern U.S. and is a critical link in Milwaukee County's freeway system, connecting the Marquette and Zoo interchanges. In addition to serving long-distance travelers and regional and national freight movement, the study area freeway system is an important commuter route supporting the regional economy. The purpose of the I-94 East-West Corridor study is to address the deteriorated condition of I-94, obsolete roadway and bridge design, existing and future traffic demand, and high crash rates.

    Learning Objectives:

    • Review the project history/origin, purpose and need.
    • Develop understanding of the EIS process through this project example.
    • Gain from lessons learned for future projects.

    C5. Bats and Bees and Butterflies, Oh My!
    Speakers: Jennifer Gibson, WisDOT & Stacy Rowe, WDNR

    Come learn about the latest developments in the classification and regulation of state and federal endangered species. This session will provide an overview of state endangered species regulations, including the Incidental Take Permit/Authorization and Endangered Resources Review processes, as well as up and coming topics. Also learn about the federal regulatory changes for bats and how WisDOT is modifying practices for compliance, plus WisDOT’s involvement in pollinator conservation agreements.

    Learning Objectives:

    • Learn about tools and resources to comply with the state and federal endangered species laws.
    • Understand key changes in federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation and environmental commitments for bats.
    • Understand WisDOT’s involvement in pollinator conservation agreements.


    D1. I-94 Reconstruction Design-Build Projects
    Speakers: Keith Farquhar & Scott Hasburgh, Mead & Hunt

    This presentation will offer a case study of two design-build interstate reconstruction projects in Minnesota. The first project used a best-value procurement to address needs on approximately five miles of I-94 from St. Michael to Albertville. The second project used a low-bid procurement with design alternatives to address needs on approximately 15 miles of I-94 from Monticello to Clearwater. MnDOT prepared a preliminary layout for each project and allowed for innovation using an Alternative Technical Concept process. Substantial changes to the preliminary layout were introduced for each project, resulting in both advantages and challenges during delivery.

    Learning Objectives:

    • Discover factors to consider when evaluating projects for design-build delivery
    • Learn about various approaches to procuring a design-build project
    • Review best practices on the use of Alternative Technical Concepts to allow contractor innovation.

    D2. Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan
    Speaker: Kaleb Vander Wiele, WisDOT

    Kaleb Vander Wiele is from WisDOT’s Division of Budget and Strategic Initiatives and is WisDOT’s Transportation Electrification Project Manager. Kaleb has served in a variety of roles at WisDOT that have allowed him to focus on regulatory issues and policy development. In his current role in the Division of Budget and Strategic Initiatives he has been tasked with leading WisDOT’s effort in preparing for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program. Kaleb’s presentation will focus on WisDOT’s initial efforts in preparing to support the conversion to electric vehicles.

    Learning Objectives:

    • Review the department’s ongoing collaborative efforts and partnerships to support the conversion to electric vehicles.
    • Highlight WisDOT’s Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan which will guide the department in administering $78.65 million in federal funds to support the construction of electric vehicle charging stations.
    • Discuss Wisconsin’s Alternative Fuel Corridor system and the deployment of the Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan.

    D3. Beltline Flex Lane - Implementation, Testing, and Beyond
    Speakers: Jason Koster & Elizabeth Schneider, WisDOT; Joe Urban, Strand Associates

    Last summer the Madison Beltline Flex Lane became the first implementation of active traffic management utilizing dynamic part-time shoulder use in the state of Wisconsin. Come attend and learn about the construction, implementation, and how this successful system has been operating!

    Learning Objectives:

    • Review of the implementation phase of the Flex Lane including installation and testing.
    • Learn how the Flex Lane is maintained and operated.
    • Discover the ongoing operational benefits of the Flex Lane.

    D4. Public Involvement:  It’s a Brave New World
    Speakers: David Hunt & Melissa Kok, WisDOT

    Public Involvement is always an exciting field to learn more about. See a demonstration of the latest version of WisDOT’s proposed standardized project website. Learn how the revised WisDOT FDM Chapter 6, Public Involvement will make your PI project development easier. Hear about the latest and greatest techniques to right-size your project public involvement efforts

    Learning Objectives:

    • Hear about, see, and learn how the neat bells and whistles available on the new WisDOT project website will help you in spreading the word about your project. Get an understanding of how this improved website expands the functionality available and greatly improves the user experience.
    • Understand the flexibilities now included in Chapter 6 of the WisDOT FDM to assist you in right-sizing your project-level public involvement efforts
    • Develop a concise Public Involvement Plan for your project.

    D5. Cost Estimating Trends
    Speakers: Jill Fehrman & Fred Schunke, WisDOT

    The course will provide the attendees an opportunity to learn where estimating tools and guidance are located as well as receive information on current bidding trends.

    Learning Objectives:

    • Examine recent trends in unit bid prices and discussion of tools to use for developing estimates.
    • Learn the latest estimating guidance and tool updates.
    • Understand expectations and guidance when responding to justification emails.

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    WisDOT Design Awards (3:55 - 4:45 p.m.)

    Emcee: Dan Tyler, WisDOT

    Conclude the conference in style! The WisDOT Design Awards recognize the best transportation projects from around the state. Cheer on the winners as we highlight engineering designs that really made a difference.