The Innovations, Developments, Enhancement and Advancements (IDEA) Program

The program provides a protocol for technical evaluation of earth retention systems. The framework is the first step in developing a technical review program, that will replace the current HITEC program.

Download IDEA framework developed by the FHWA

The Highway Innovative Technology Evaluation Center (HITEC) program was initiated over 20 years ago. This evaluation program was used by state agencies to improve their transportation infrastructures and by manufacturers to improve their products. Earth retention is now a mature technology. Over the last two decades techniques to retain earth have evolved, particularly those that are based on mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) concepts. The viability of MSE structures in state transportation applications is no longer in question and other ERS methods have been developed.

The goal of the IDEA program is to

  • foster further innovation with proven ERS technology;
  • encourage the development of new technologies, and;
  • improve the methods by which the technologies are delivered to projects on the ground.

The IDEA program is intended to provide a consistent framework to propose changes to standard practice that owners may take advantage of by expanding ERS innovations in their projects. Towards this goal, the IDEA Program has been developed to provide guidance for three tasks:

  1. the technical evaluation of earth retaining systems;
  2. the use of reports of evaluations by transportation agencies; and
  3. archiving and maintenance of reports of evaluations.


The Highway Innovative Technology Evaluation Center (HITEC) is a nationally recognized, first-stop service center and clearinghouse for implementing highway innovation. HITEC conducts impartial performance evaluations for market-ready products where standards or specifications do not exist. HITEC accepts both “high-tech” and “low-tech” products and/or technologies that are intended for use in any aspect of the highway community including design, construction, operation, or maintenance.

When a manufacturer is introducing a new or innovative technology, it is often necessary to demonstrate the product to many, if not all, owners, builders, consumers, state agencies, etc. to prove that it performs as claimed. This practice is inefficient, time consuming, and often costly. To overcome these barriers, HITEC facilitates the conduct of consensus-based, nationally accepted performance evaluations of new or innovative technologies for the highway industry through its simple and highly effective collaborative process.

The Collin Group was the principal investigator for the HITEC evaluation of rammed aggregate piers and has provided HITEC like evaluations for Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, Virgina, and West Virginia on mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) systems.

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