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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Public Roads - Autumn 2018

Autumn 2018
Issue No:
Vol. 82 No. 3
Publication Number:
Table of Contents

Along the Road

Public Information and Information Exchange

Along the Road is the place to look for information about current and upcoming activities, developments, trends, and items of general interest to the highway community. This information comes from U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let’s meet along the road.

FHWA Updates Transportation Planning Resource

FHWA’s Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program has updated The Transportation Planning Process Briefing Book: Key Issues for Transportation Decisionmakers, Officials, and Staff (FHWA-HEP-18-005). The briefing book provides an overview of transportation planning for government officials, decisionmakers, planning board members, transportation service providers, interested stakeholders, and the public. The updated publication replaces the 2015 version of the same name and reflects recent changes in Federal legislation concerning transportation at the metropolitan, State, and nongovernmental levels.

Effective transportation planning affects environmental resource consumption, social equity, land use, economic development, safety, and security. The report covers the basics and key concepts of metropolitan and statewide transportation planning, along with references for additional information. Part I provides a broad introduction to the planning process while discussing transportation planning and its relationship to decisionmaking. Part II presents short descriptions of key products of the transportation planning process.

The publication, along with a collection of related resources, is available electronically.

For more information, visit

Supporting Active Transportation for National Parks and Partners

Traveling to or exploring national parks by foot, bicycle, or other nonmotorized mode provides visitors with opportunities to experience natural, cultural, and historical places in new ways. The National Park Service (NPS) recently published a new resource, the NPS Active Transportation Guidebook, which aims to assist and inspire parks and their partners to identify and pursue opportunities that enhance active transportation to and within national parks.

Infrastructure and programs to support active transportation modes offer a broad range of benefits to parks and surrounding communities, including helping to better manage vehicle congestion, promoting resource preservation, supporting economic development in gateway communities, and accommodating current and increased visitation by providing alternatives to driving.

The NPS developed the guidebook with technical support from the USDOT’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, and in collaboration with FHWA and bicycle and pedestrian professionals, transportation experts, park staff, and other partners. The guidebook covers a number of topics and strategies to support walking and biking in national parks and surrounding communities, from planning and deploying infrastructure such as pedestrian pathways and bike lanes, to evaluating and improving safety for active transportation modes, to offering activities and programs that provide park visitors the opportunity to bike or walk.

Volpe Center
Bicyclist traverse the Natchez Trace Parkway, part of the National Park Service, which extends 444 miles (715 kilometers) from Mississippi to Tennessee.


While the guidebook is geared toward national parks and their partners, the information, examples, and resources presented may also help representatives at State and local agencies and other organizations think creatively about expanding active transportation in their communities.

For more information, visit

NGA Issues Road Map for Curbing Crashes


In 2016, 39 States reported an increase in traffic fatalities. Nationwide, there were 37,461 traffic-related deaths, the highest number since 2008 and a 5.6-percent increase from 2015. Crashes in 2016 resulted in an estimated 4.6 million injuries and economic losses of more than $430 billion.

In early 2018, the National Governors Association (NGA) released a report with strategies aimed at trying to help States curb roadway crashes, deaths, and injuries. The report emphasizes the need for States to improve how they address safety issues across various agencies that build roads, police the highways, and respond to crashes.

State Strategies to Reduce Highway and Traffic Fatalities and Injuries: A Road Map for States highlights steps governors can take to improve coordination and strengthen existing efforts across State agencies, for example, in areas ranging from automated speed enforcement in school and work zones to post-crash emergency response.

NGA developed the road map through research and consultation with senior State officials and other national experts and partners, including the Governors Highway Safety Association and the National Safety Council, and with the support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report helps States identify and implement proven countermeasures to reduce crashes and injuries. The report notes that States face challenges in reducing traffic fatalities and injuries as well as identifying the causes of nonfatal injuries. “To address these challenges,” the report says, “States must coordinate State highway safety planning; enforce State policies and laws on traffic safety; and pursue cost-effective, evidence-based, data-driven safety interventions.”

For more information, visit

National Governors Association

USDOT Runs Safety Campaign for Railroad Crossings

In early 2018, the Federal Railroad Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ran a national railroad grade crossing safety campaign, “Stop. Trains Can’t.” The campaign was part of USDOT’s ongoing effort to increase public awareness around railroad tracks and reduce crossing deaths and injuries. Campaign tactics included Web banner advertisements, radio spots, and infographics, as well as sample social media posts and press releases.




The campaign, which ran for 5 weeks from February 26 to April 1, 2018, is the latest in a 3-year focused effort to reverse the uptick in railroad crossing fatalities. Although overall rail incidents have been on the decline for the past 10 years, railroad-crossing fatalities have spiked in recent years. In 2016 alone, 266 people died at railroad crossings, a 16-percent increase from 2015.

Railroad crossing incidents and fatalities are a long-standing problem, but they are easily avoidable. Trains cannot swerve, stop quickly, or change direction to avert collisions, so motorists must be prepared to stop at crossings and proceed cautiously. It can take a freight train traveling 55 miles (89 kilometers) per hour about the length of 18 football fields to come to a complete stop after emergency brakes are applied. In addition, by law, trains have the right of way.

For more information on the “Stop. Trains Can’t.” campaign, visit For safety tips for motorists and pedestrians at railroad crossings with and without warning signals, visit

Creating Inclusive Safe Routes to School

Students with disabilities are a key group to include when developing and implementing a Safe Routes to School program. On average, one out of every seven students has some type of disability.

To help schools plan and develop a program that considers and meets the needs of students with disabilities, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership released Engaging Students with Disabilities in Safe Routes to School. The publication describes the benefits of Safe Routes to School for students with disabilities, strategies for including students with disabilities, important components of inclusive Safe Routes to School programming, considerations for students with different kinds of disabilities, and ways to partner and build resources.


Safe Routes to School National Partnership
In Eugene, OR, the city’s recreation program provides a variety of adapted bikes to school districts for bike education programs that include students of all abilities.


Students with disabilities can benefit greatly from Safe Routes to School programs, which provide invaluable tools that support healthy lifestyles, bolster physical activity, and promote independence. Developing a program that is welcoming for students with disabilities broadens a program’s reach, ensures all students can receive the benefits of the program, and enables students with and without disabilities to enjoy each other’s company and learn safe and healthy habits together.

For more information, visit

Safe Routes to School National Partnership