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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 - Jan/Feb 1999

Along the Road

Policy and Legislation

"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 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.

FHWA and NHTSA Partner for Driver History Initiative

FHWA and NHTSA awarded $1.2 million to nine states in fiscal year (FY) 1998 for a new driver history pilot program. The project will aim to detect truck and bus drivers who have a history of multiple traffic convictions.

The states, which include California, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin, will use the money to design, evaluate, and upgrade automated systems for recording traffic convictions and exchanging driver safety information among courts, police, and licensing agencies. These changes include eliminating inconsistencies and delays in their electronic reporting systems and modifying their conviction deferral programs, which now allow drivers to avoid sanctions for breaking traffic laws.

These states met both agencies' selection criteria and were awarded grants ranging from $28,000 to $300,000. This funding was authorized for FY 1998 and for subsequent years through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).

This driver history initiative is designed to make America's roadways safer.

DOT and NAFEO Sign MOU to Support Black Colleges

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Rodney Slater and National Association For Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) President Dr. Henry Ponder signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to support transportation education initiatives and to make college campuses safer.

The MOU, which was signed at the first National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week conference, will expand the role of those HBCUs participating in initiatives such as the Garrett A. Morgan Technology Futures Program and will support transportation internships and other programs, including safety programs set up to increase seat belt use and reduce the incidences of drunk driving among students.

The MOU also includes $2.1 million in new funding for FHWA's Summer Transportation Institutes, which introduces promising high school students to careers in transportation.

The increased funding was one of several actions announced by an FHWA task force on HBCUs and other minority institutions of higher education (MIHE). The task force, which was established in 1996, was designed to increase participation of HBCUs and MIHEs in FHWA programs, particularly research and technology programs. Other task force initiatives that will be implemented include establishing partnership agreements in each state or territory where HBCUs and MIHEs are located; setting goals for the participation of HBCUs and MIHEs in research and technology; and increasing the number of transportation institutes and internships.

Plain Language Required on Jan. 1

President Clinton's directive gave agencies a deadline of October 1 to use plain language in new letters, forms, or other documents that explain how to obtain a benefit or service or how to comply with a federal requirement. By January 1, all government agencies must use plain language in all proposed and final rulemakings published in the Federal Register, unless they propose the rule before that date.

Management and Administration

FHWA Provides Emergency Funding to States

Alabama and Florida each will receive an initial allocation of $2 million in emergency relief funds for repairs on federal-aid highways that were damaged by hurricane Georges, and Ohio will receive $23.8 million in FHWA emergency relief funds for repairs on roads damaged by severe storms and flooding.

The $4 million in emergency relief funding for Alabama and Florida can be used to repair damage to federal-aid roads and bridges in those states. Repair work will include: reconstructing damaged bridges and pavement surfaces; establishing roads; removing slides and debris; and replacing signs, lighting, and guardrails.

In Ohio, the funding will permit emergency relief funds to be used for work necessary to repair damage to roads in 19 counties.

FHWA money is awarded after the President or Governor of a state issues a formal emergency proclamation. The state must then file a preliminary damage assessment for its highways and bridges on the federal-aid system. The state gets reimbursed for emergency work that is already completed and receives funding for other necessary repairs to correct severe or unusual damage.

DOT Encourages States to Apply for Funds

As trade and economic activity between the United States and the border countries of Canada and Mexico increase, two programs have been put into place to provide resources to help manage commercial and other traffic. The programs, the National Corridor Planning and Development Program and the Coordinated Border Infrastructure Program, which were established under TEA-21, provide up to $140 million to states in fiscal year 1999 and up to $140 million each year over the remaining four fiscal years (2000-2003) of TEA-21 for a total of $700 million. DOT encourages transportation officials to submit applications for up to $140 million in funds to plan improvements to national highway corridors and to upgrade border facilities.

The National Corridor Planning and Development Program gives DOT the authority to allocate money to states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) for coordinated planning, design, and construction of highway corridors. The Coordinated Border Infrastructure Program is designed to improve border infrastructure and transportation telecommunications. This will facilitate the safe and efficient movement of people and goods at or across the U.S.-Canada and the U.S.-Mexico borders.

The full criteria of the application process will be published in the Federal Register. Applications must be submitted within 60 days after publication of the criteria.

FHWA Recognizes Roadway Safety Projects

The 1998 FHWA Administrator's Biennial Safety Awards competition winners were announced at a ceremony held in November during the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' meeting. The award honors organizations that have made outstanding efforts to produce a safer roadway environment. The winners are as follows:

  • Best Overall Commercial Vehicle Safety Award: New York State Department of Transportation.
  • Best Overall Operational Improvements Award: Georgia Utilities Coordinating Council.
  • Safety Improvements Award: California Department of Transportation, District 5.
  • Commercial Vehicle Safety Improvements Award: Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Drive Smart Virginia, Chesterfield County School Systems, and the Virginia Trucking Association.
  • Operational Improvements - Most Resourceful in Engineering Award: California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), District 7.
  • Operational Improvements - Most Effective Use of Enforcement Award: South Dakota Department of Transportation.
  • Program Planning, Development, and Evaluation Award: AAA Michigan and Lincoln, Neb., Public Works Department, Traffic Safety Section.

FHWA Announces $495 Million for States in Highway Discretionary Funds

Forty-seven states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico will receive a total of $495 million in FHWA discretionary funds for infrastructure projects. The funds will be made available to states for projects in six categories:

  • Construction and improvement of roads formally designated as scenic byways.
  • Interstate maintenance.
  • Interstate completion.
  • Repair of deficient bridges.
  • Construction of highways on public lands such as national parks.
  • Ferry boats and terminals to facilitate movement of people and goods across inland and coastal waterways.

For a table listing the states that received allocation of funds and the amount of funding allocated, visit the Web site at:

Technical News

HITEC Releases Reports on Seismic Isolation Devices

The Highway Innovative Technology Evaluation Center (HITEC), a service center of the Civil Engineering Research Foundation (CERF), has released technical evaluation reports for eight seismic isolation devices. These devices represent innovative types of bridge bearings that will help bridges to withstand earthquakes.

The California DOT (Caltrans) and FHWA requested that HITEC evaluate the devices to validate the performance data for these technologies. The outcome of the studies determines whether engineers could use the devices on new bridges or even on existing bridges.

All seismic isolation and energy dissipation device manufacturers worldwide were invited to participate in the evaluation program. Seven vendors submitted eight isolators for testing. Each device was tested to evaluate stability, response to earthquake simulations, and fatigue and weathering effects.

The isolation systems that completed the evaluation program were:

  • Dynamic Isolation Systems, Elastomeric Bearings (#40369).
  • Earthquake Protection Systems, Inc., Friction Pendulum Bearings (#40370).
  • FIP-Energy Absorption Systems, L.C.C., Slider Bearings (#40367).
  • R.J. Watson, Inc., Sliding Isolation Bearings (#43068).
  • Scougal Rubber Corporation, Highway Damping Rubber Bearings (#40373).
  • Skellcrup Basc, Isolation Elastomeric Bearings (#40376).
  • Tekton7 Inc., Steel Rubber Bearings (#40365).

Copies of the reports for each of the technologies may be purchased by calling (800) 548-2723 or (703) 295-6300, or by sending an e-mail message to


FHWA's OTA Uses Ground-Penetrating Radar in Alaska

In October, FHWA's Office of Technology Applications completed bridge deck surveys in the Anchorage, Alaska area and on the Alaska Highway in the Yukon Territory of Canada using ground-penetrating radar (GPR). The purpose of the visit was to demonstrate the GPR technology in instances where deck inspections can be difficult, such as on bridge decks with asphalt overlays and waterproof membranes. Previous methods involved destructive testing or removing the overlay.

The GPR system, which was evaluated and enhanced by the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP), is made up of radar antennas mounted on the bumper of a specially equipped van. The radar antennas emit short, timed pulses of radio-frequency energy into the bridge deck. When the pulses move from one material to another - such as from an asphalt overlay to a concrete bridge deck - part of the energy echoes back to the surface. A computer inside the van records how "loud" the echo is and how long it took to return to the antenna. The raw data are then analyzed by a software program and a report is generated.

This method is much less time-consuming than other methods, and engineers using the GPR technology on the Alaska bridge decks completed the survey in a matter of minutes - a fraction of the time required using other methods.

Oregon DOT Completes Highway Application

Oregon DOT has completed the first application of fiber-composite strengthening materials on a highway bridge. Both carbon and glass fiber composite materials were used to increase the load capacity of the bridge over Horsetail Falls Creek on the Historic Columbia River Highway.

The project was completed in three weeks and the cost was less than $35,000 for 52 linear meters of beam strengthening for shear and flexure and for the installation of fiber-optic strain gauges in all six of the girders.

The new design procedures, which involve gluing fiber-reinforced polymer composites to concrete beams to strengthen them, were developed and adopted by Oregon DOT.

Public Information and Information Exchange

FHWA Releases Highway Statistics

FHWA has released the 1997 edition of Highway Statistics, an annual publication that presents data on the nation's highway system. This comprehensive report is a valuable tool those interested in America's roads and infrastructure.

Since 1945, FHWA and its predecessor, the Bureau of Public Roads, have published this document, which contains statistical data on motor fuel, motor vehicles, driver licensing, highway-user taxation, state highway financing, highway mileage, federal aid for highways, highway financing data for municipalities and other units of local government, and even certain tables and charts from the 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey.

To obtain a copy of the report, write to the Office of Highway Information Management, FHWA, Room 3306, 400 7th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590, or visit the Web site at:

1998 Excellence in Highway Design Awards Announced

FHWA announced the winning entries in FHWA's Excellence in Highway Design Competition. The competition recognizes exceptional designs of highways, highway-related facilities, and projects that improve the highway experience.

More than 2,000 entries from federal agencies, state and local governments, design firms, and other designers that have completed extraordinary highway projects were submitted. The winners of the Excellence Awards were as follows:

  • Urban Highways: Long Island Expressway/Seaford Oyster Bay Interchange Improvement Project; New York State Department of Transportation Region 10.
  • Rural Highways: Interstate Route H-3, Hawaii Department of Transportation.
  • Major Structures Over $10 Million: Columbus Front Door Project, Columbus, Ind.
  • Major Structures Under $10 Million: Portland Avenue Bridge, City of Beloit, Wis.
  • Environmental Protection and Enhancement: (tie) Falcon Nest Boxes, Virginia Department of Transportation; Leif Erikson Park Rose Garden, Minnesota Department of Transportation.
  • Historic Preservation: Main Street Bridge, Pen Yan, N.Y.
  • Highway-Related Projects: The Grasshopper Bridge, City of Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems: The AZTECH Partnership, Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Intermodal Transportation Facilities: Sunset Transit Center / U.S. Route 26 - State Route 217 Interchange, Oregon Department of Transportation and Tri-Met.
  • Highway Improvements on Publicly Owned Land: George Washington Memorial Parkway Reconstruction, Federal Highway Administration's Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division and the National Park Service.

PCI Announces 1998 Design Award Winners

1998 PCI Design Award Winners

The Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) announced their 1998 Design Award Winners in October. Two of the winning bridge projects involved FHWA: the Louetta Road Overpass in Houston, Texas, and the Carpenter Road Over Metro North Rail Road in East Fishkill, N.Y.

The Louetta Road Overpass was a co-winner in the category of "Best Bridge With Spans Greater Than 135 Feet." The goal was to create a high-performance concrete (HPC) bridge using U-shaped simple-span pretensioned concrete beams. The design used precast prestressed HPC in the superstructure and substructure of the overpass, resulting in a stronger, more durable bridge that had the same cost as a typical concrete bridge. The bridge was engineered and is owned by Texas DOT.

The Carpenter Road Over Metro North Rail Road was co-winner of the "Best Bridge With Spans of 65 to 135 Feet" category. The goal was to replace the deteriorated bridge over a two-track railroad right-of-way and increase underclearance of the bridge. This project was awarded the Harry H. Edwards Industry Advancement Award, which is presented annually to honor the precast concrete project that "shows superior creativity and innovation, thereby advancing the technical expertise of the industry and providing new ideas with great potential for additional applications."

The engineer on the project was J. Muller International, New York, N.Y. The New York State DOT, Region 8, owns the bridge. See related article in Public Roads, September/October 1998.


Wisconsin DOT Demonstrates Effective Recycling

The Wisconsin DOT has completed a research and demonstration project to show highway builders and local officials how waste products can be recycled effectively into the nation's highways. Materials used in the project included a crushed kitchen sink, bits of broken glass, bottom ash from power plants, and steel and foundry slag. The materials were blended into the base course for the reconstructed eight-mile segment of highway between Cambridge, Wis., and County Highway BN in eastern Dane County, Wis.

Mann Bros. of Elkhorn, Wis., is the prime contractor on the $6 million project.

Wilson Bridge Design Unveiled

The Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which is funded and owned by FHWA, will be replaced with a new, 12-lane, twin-span bridge. The new design was unveiled in November, ending an 11-month design competition. The winning design was jointly created by two firms: De Leuw, Cather & Co and Steinman, Boynton, Gronquist & Birdsall.

Winning design for new Woodrow Wilson Bridge - view of draw bridge open.

The Wilson bridge is 36 years old, is comprised of six lanes, and was built to handle 75,000 vehicles a day. The bridge is deteriorating under the weight of the 190,000 vehicles that cross it daily. The new design will have 12 lanes and will be able to accommodate around 275,000 vehicles a day.

Some of the work on the new bridge is due to begin in late 2000 or early 2001. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2006 and is estimated to cost $1.8 billion.

Winning design for new Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project


Betsold Heads Innovative Pavement Research Foundation

Robert Betsold, FHWA's former associate administrator for R&D, has assumed the responsibility of executive director of the Innovative Pavement Research Foundation. Betsold retired from FHWA in November 1998, after more than 30 years of service.

Betsold earned a bachelor's and master's degree in civil engineering from the University of Massachusetts and a master's degree in public administration from American University. Prior to his position as associate administrator of R&D, he served as Director of the Office of Implementation, Director of Safety and Traffic Operations R&D, Managing Director of the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, and Deputy Associate Administrator for R&D.

Dennis C. Judycki, associate administrator for Safety and System Applications, was designated as acting associate administrator for research and development. Judycki will continue with his responsibilities as the associate administrator for safety and system applications.


Free Course Offered: Using the National ITS Architecture for Deployment

The National ITS Architecture is sponsoring a comprehensive, three-day training course designed to explain the roles of architecture in the systems engineering process. The class will also address the differences between logical and physical architectures, and how to use that architecture to solve local and regional problems.

The course is taught by Lockheed Martin and Odetic, the team that developed the National ITS Architecture for U.S. DOT. The free, hands-on class is conducted at DOT's computer facility at DOT headquarters in Washington, D.C. The course will be held on Feb. 9-11; Feb. 23-25; March 9-11; March 23-25; April 13-15; May 11-13; and June 8-10. To register, please contact Lee Simmons, Manager, National ITS Architecture Program, ITS Joint Program (202) 366-8048, or e-mail:

Second International Symposium on Highway Geometric Design Calls for Papers

The Transportation Research Board and the Forschungsgesellschaft fur Strassen und Verkehrswesen (FGSV) is announcing a call for papers to be presented at the June 2000 symposium, to be held in Mainz, Germany. Interested authors are invited to submit abstracts on research, policy developments, and innovative practices related to highway geometric design.

Abstracts are due by Feb. 28, 1999. Entries should include the paper's title; author's name; author's mailing address, telephone number, fax number, and e-mail address; and a brief narrative description of the objectives, scope methods, results, and conclusions of the work to be reported. Abstract submissions should not exceed one typed page and must be submitted in English. Authors will be notified of acceptance of their abstract by May 15, 1999. Full papers must be sent by August 15, 1999.

Send abstracts to Ingrid Anderson, Midwest Research Institute, 425 Volker Boulevard, Kansas City, MO 64110-2299. For more information visit the Web site at:

Missouri DOT and FHWA Sponsor Midwest Equipment Innovations '98

Exhibitors at 1998 Midwest Equipment Innovations Show.

A multi-state maintenance equipment show was held in St. Joseph, Mo., to showcase new innovations. These innovations, developed by DOT field employees, were designed to improve general operations. The conference, which was sponsored by FHWA and Missouri DOT, was the first of its kind in the region. More than 60 inventions from four states - Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska - were on exhibition. Such inventions help DOT employees work more effectively and efficiently. - Missouri DOT