Office of Safety Innovation and Cooperative Research (SICR)

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Email Joe Horton
(916) 654-8229

What We Do

  • Roadside Safety
  • ITS America Coordination
  • Crash Testing
  • Lean Construction
  • Roadside Safety

SICR Branches

Pete Zaniewski, Chief

The Cooperative Research Programs Branch is the focal point for Caltrans’ participation the following National Programs: Transportation Research Board (TRB) Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP2) Standing Committee on Research (AASHTO SCOR) Research Advisory Committee (AASHTO RAC) National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Hazardous Materials Cooperative Research Program (HMCRP) National Cooperative Railroad Program (NCRRP) Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) Innovational Deserving Exploratory Analysis (IDEA) AASHTO Innovation Initiative (AII) Transportation Pooled Funds (TPF) Highway Synthesis

Is the national research contact for the Department (TRB, NCHRP, pooled fund and other nationwide programs). The Branch coordinates Caltrans’ participation in the annual TRB meeting in Washington, D.C., as well as other TRB sponsored conferences and workshops on a wide range of topics; standing committees and task forces; electronic databases/networking and field visits. On a routine basis, the Branch works with departmental management on official opinions for various national research issues that are objective, interdisciplinary and multimodal.

The Cooperative Research Branch is involved in a variety of programs and activities that are designed to support dialogue and information exchange among researchers, practicing transportation professionals and others concerned with transportation. We have access to an extensive portfolio of services with opportunities for information exchange on current transportation research and practice; management of cooperative research and other research programs; analyses of national transportation policy issues and guidance on federal and other research programs; and publications and access to research information from around the world.

Bob Meline, Chief

Roadside Safety Research Branch

Our branch responsibilities include evaluating the crash worthiness of roadside safety technology such as barriers, guardrails, crash cushions, bridge rails, sign supports and other hardware. As part of this evaluation, the branch conducts full-scale crash tests on roadside safety hardware designs developed by Caltrans to assure that these designs comply with applicable crash performance criteria. Our Roadside Safety Research Group Laboratory is ISO 17025 Accredited, as required by Federal Highway Administration. Our branch also evaluates the crash worthiness of proprietary hardware developed by others to assure that such hardware is acceptable for use on state highways. We also coordinate with other roadside safety research organizations such as Pooled Fund and NCHRP projects on national and international roadside safety topics. Finally, the branch provides support to Caltrans Legal in tort liability cases by conducting crash tests and providing technical assessments and expert witness testimony, as well as technical support to other Caltrans division and districts.

John Jewell, Chief

Crash Testing Operations:

Evaluates roadside safety hardware for crashworthiness on behalf of the Highway Safety Features New Products Committee. These evaluations are done through the comparison of test results (or lack of test results) with various crash testing guidelines. Products are also compared to each other in order to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.

Ensures the quality and integrity of the Caltrans’ Crash Testing efforts. This is a group effort in coordination with the management of the Roadside Safety Research Group. Special effort is made to confirm that the quality of the deliverables for each of the crash test projects is done to a high standard.

Supports Caltrans’ Legal Division by offering technical support in the form of product research, potential crashworthiness Q and A, guidance on crash testing for Caltrans Legal, and expert testimony.

Justin Unck, Chief

The Safety and Infrastructure Research (SIR) branch manages research projects for the Divisions of Right of Way and Land Surveys, Maintenance, and Equipment (Customers). SIR staff work with Customer representatives to identify research needs and develop plans for conducting the research. We also work to secure funding, execute and monitor the contracts, and manage the research efforts. Typically, the SIR branch collaborates with the Advanced Highway Maintenance and Construction Technology (AHMCT) Research Center at UC Davis to complete the research for our Customers, but we also work with other facilities in California such as Sacramento State University and UC Riverside. Although research can cover any topic, in recent times our Customers have placed a focus on snow fighting efforts, work zone safety, maintenance operations efficiencies, and advanced surveying equipment and methods.

Snow Fighting Efforts
The Safety and Infrastructure Research branch has a number of research tasks that focus on developing and evaluating new technologies to create more efficient and safer snow removal operations. This includes developing a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) based-system fitted to snow equipment that helps operators clear the State’s seasonally closed snow routes in the spring. The SIR branch also evaluated and documented the Epoke machine, a sander/spreader that increases efficiency in de-icing and anti-icing operations. We also are involved researching the newest technologies and techniques that help provide for safer and more efficient avalanche mitigation strategies.

Work Zone Safety
Design, develop, field-test, evaluate, and implement safety equipment such as longitudinal crack cleaning and crack sealing machines, remote control mowers, and work zone intrusion alarms into Caltrans maintenance and construction operations to reduce highway exposure risks of field personnel and increase safety in maintenance and construction work zones.

Maintenance Operations Efficiencies
One of the goals of the Safety and Infrastructure Research branch is to help Caltrans Maintenance improve the efficiencies of their operations. This is done by evaluating new equipment, researching operation best practices, and developing relationships with other State Departments of Transportation (DOTs). Research has included having a Peer Exchange with multiple state DOTs to determine best practices on using Automated Vehicle Location to improve winter maintenance operations, as well as evaluating or developing new equipment such as pothole patching machines, litter vacuum machines, and construction cone placement/pickup machines.)

Advanced Surveying Equipment and Methods
Evaluate and integrate technologies such as Mobile Terrestrial Laser Scanning and Small Unmanned Aerial Systems into Caltrans surveys workflow to reduce exposure risks of field personnel, facilitate rapid project delivery, simplify asset management, and expedite large scale photogrammetric mapping of Caltrans projects.

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