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Public Roads - Fall 1996

Editor's Notes

FHWA Highway Problem-Solvers

by Azim Eskandarian, Nabih E. Bedewi, and Leonard Meczkowski

In a recently produced videotape about the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC), the narrator refers to the TFHRC researchers as highway problem-solvers. Indeed, most folks at TFHRC and throughout the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are "professional highway problem-solvers." That is, they are directly involved in: (1) developing innovative solutions to specific problems, or (2) eliminating obstacles to enable state highway agencies and other FHWA partners to solve specific problems, or (3) transferring information and technology around the world to help others solve specific problems.

Every article in this issue deals, in one way or another, with solving problems and with the FHWA's quest to continuously improve the efficiency and safety of the nation's highways.

In "Eight Steps Toward a Smarter' National Highway System" and "Smart Road, Smart Car: The Automated Highway System," we take a look at how information and technology are being linked to maximize safety and efficiency and to increase highway capacity without building more roads. "Congestion Pricing" is a concept to reduce the problems created by traffic congestion. "Epoxy-Coated Rebars" protect against the problem of corroded reinforcing steel in concrete bridge decks. FHWA's "New Nationwide Seismic Bridge Design Training" will enable bridge designers to overcome the problems they have had in applying the standard seismic analysis and design requirements. "Aftermath of the Kobe Earthquake" and "Intelligent Transportation Systems in Japan" provide some insight about how the lessons learned and innovations of other nations can be applied to deal with problems and requirements in the United States. The articles about "WesTrack" and other "Test Roads" discuss efforts to develop better engineered roads, and "The Promise of High-Performance Concrete" is stronger and more durable bridges.

Feedback From our Readership Survey

It has often been said that good communication between partners is the key to a successful relationship. That's why at Public Roads, your partner in highway problem-solving, we are continuously soliciting your comments about the information in the magazine, your suggestions for articles, and your ideas for making the magazine more useful to you.

Last year, to gauge how well Public Roads was meeting your needs, we conducted a readership survey of all readers who regularly receive the magazine through the mail. We are gratified that the results generally confirm that we have been moving on the right track, and we appreciate the sense of direction provided by the survey respondents to guide us as we strive for continual improvement. Now it is our turn to provide some feedback to you and report some of the most significant results of the survey. These results are from about 700 respondents -- 40 percent of the survey audience:

  • 90.5 percent of the respondents said Public Roads meets their needs well or very well.
  • 44.2 percent had no specific suggestions for changes to better meet their needs, but 14.6 percent wanted the magazine to cover more information and/or topics.
  • For 38.6 percent, Public Roads is the primary source of information on highway research and technology. For 49.6 percent, it is one of the three primary sources.
  • 85.4 percent read at least part of all four issues per year. Of the respondents who do not read all four issues, 67.7 percent cite lack of time as the reason.
  • 87.8 percent said the design changes since 1992 have made the magazine more interesting, and 83.2 percent said they now read the magazine more as a result of these changes.
  • 87.7 percent said the expanded scope of the magazine made it more interesting, and as a result, 84.4 now read more of the magazine.
  • According to 27.7 percent, the key weakness of the magazine is that it is too general, and 21.4 percent would like to see more focus on research and technology.

Again, I extend my sincerest thanks to the participants in this survey.

Bob Bryant