Along the Road
Management and Administration
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.
VDOT Awarded $1.15 Million for Bridge Research
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) $1.15 million under FHWA's Innovative Bridge Research and Construction (IBRC) program to use innovative materials on three new Virginia bridges. Virginia is the only State to receive more than $1 million from this program in 2006.
VDOT, through its research division, the Virginia Transportation Research Council, will use the money toward replacement or building of new bridges on Route 1302 on Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay, Route 65 over Staunton Creek in Scott County, and Route 28 in Bristow.
The Tangier Island bridges will replace two timber bridges that are difficult to maintain. The new bridges will have steel trusses with innovative, fiber-reinforced polymer decks that have undergone extensive lab testing at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Tangier Island has no facilities to provide highway maintenance, so using durable components will reduce the long-term costs of transporting crews, equipment, and materials from the mainland.
The new bridge replacing the current structure on Route 65 will have deck panels made of precast, full-width, full-depth, prestressed concrete, which lends itself to rapid construction and thus less traffic disruption during construction. VDOT will replace the Route 28 bridge with a structure that features self-consolidating concrete in the drilled shafts supporting the structure. This innovative concrete can eliminate undesirable voids in the material as it hardens.
The IBRC program helps State and local governments incorporate new materials and other technologies in bridge work to reduce traffic congestion and maintenance, increase savings and productivity by lowering life-cycle costs, and generally enhance safety.
A complete list of the grants is available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/ibrc/awards.cfm.
USDOT Celebrates "Nationwide Ride to Work Day"
On July 19, 2006, more than 50 USDOT employees celebrated the 15th annual "Nationwide Ride to Work Day" by riding their cruisers, sports bikes, and even one hand-built chopper to work. The celebration by motorcyclists is not to be confused with "Ride-to-Work Day" sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists.
On "Nationwide Ride to Work Day," motorcyclists are encouraged to ride to work to demonstrate that motorcycles can be an economical and environmentally friendly form of transportation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and USDOT, more than 80 million cars and light trucks are used for daily commuting on the Nation's roads, and about 200,000 motorcycles and scooters are a regular part of this mix. On "Nationwide Ride to Work Day," the practical side of riding becomes more visible as a larger number of the Nation's 8 million cycles are ridden to work.
"Nationwide Ride to Work Day" helps demonstrate how motorcycles make parking easier and help traffic flow better. Studies have shown that across equal distances, commuting motorcyclists reach their destinations in less time than those using automobiles; that motorcycles and scooters consume less resources per mile than automobiles; and that they take up less space on roads.
Regional University Transportation Centers Named
USDOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration has designated 10 universities to serve as regional University Transportation Centers (UTC). The universities were chosen as the result of an open competition outlined in Section 5402 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). Each regional UTC is authorized under SAFETEA-LU to receive up to $2 million in each of fiscal years (FY) 2007 and 2008, and $2.2 million in FY 2009, which must be matched dollar-for-dollar with non-Federal funding.
The following universities were named regional UTCs: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (region 1), City University of New York (region 2), Pennsylvania State University (region 3), University of Tennessee (region 4), Purdue University (region 5), Texas A&M University (region 6), University of Nebraska (region 7), North Dakota State University (region 8), University of California (region 9), and University of Washington (region 10).
The UTC program was initiated in 1987 with the mission "to advance U.S. technology and expertise in the many disciplines comprising transportation through the mechanisms of education, research, and technology transfer at university-based centers of excellence." UTCs are expected to work collaboratively with USDOT and to provide leadership in making national and regional contributions to solving immediate and long-range transportation challenges.
Mary E. Peters Appointed USDOT Secretary
On September 30, 2006, the U.S. Senate confirmed former Federal Highway Administrator Mary E. Peters as the 15th U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Her new responsibilities include maintaining a safe, reliable, and efficient transportation system, while leading an agency with almost 60,000 employees and a $61.6 billion budget that oversees air, maritime, and surface transportation missions.
Secretary Peters brings a unique perspective to her role as the Nation's Transportation Secretary, having spent her career working on transportation issues in the private and public sectors, including leading both Federal and State transportation agencies. Over her 20-plus years in transportation, Secretary Peters earned a reputation as an innovative problem solver, a force for safety, and a strong advocate for effective use of taxpayer dollars. As the Transportation Secretary, she intends to fight congestion across all modes of transportation, improve safety, and address strains on traditional sources of transportation funding.
In 2001, President George W. Bush asked Peters to lead FHWA. As FHWA Administrator from 2001 to 2005, she placed special emphasis on finding new ways to invest in road and bridge construction, including innovative public-private partnerships that help build roads faster and at less expense. She also was a strong advocate for using new technology to reduce construction time, saving taxpayer money and resulting in safer, longer lasting roads and highways.
Policy and Legislation
New "Stars on Cars" Rule Helps Consumers Evaluate Safety
Manufacturers will now display the Government's star safety ratings on every new vehicle with a price sticker, according to a new Federal rule. Administrator Nicole Nason of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Ohio Senator Mike DeWine announced the rule in Washington, DC, on September 7, 2006. The rule calls for an expanded window sticker to inform consumers of the safety ratings of new vehicles.
The rule requires that window stickers on new cars display NHTSA's star safety rating beginning with the 2008 model year. Consumers will be able to measure the safety information by the number of stars on the sticker. The new vehicle price stickers will contain NHTSA safety ratings in three areas—front and side crash and nondestructive rollover tests. All three tests use the five-star rating, with five stars being the safest.
"Senator DeWine, a strong advocate for highway safety, has done a great service for consumers by demanding that vehicle safety information be included on the sticker," says Administrator Nason. "By making safety a selling point, it is my hope that this rule will encourage...faster development of these kinds of technologies."
NHTSA safety ratings can be seen at www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ncap. The "Stars on Cars" requirements are available at www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
FHWA's Enhanced Night Visibility Reports Now Available
FHWA's Visibility Research Program works to enhance safety by studying new, cost-effective practices and technologies to improve visibility along roadways.
The program recently completed a multiyear effort known as the Enhanced Night Visibility (ENV) project. To date, FHWA has released 16 of the planned 18 volumes in a series of reports documenting the ENV project. Some of the issues covered in the reports include visual performance during nighttime driving in clear weather, rain, and snow; evaluation of discomfort glare during nighttime driving in clear weather; the influence of headlight beam characteristics on discomfort and disability glare; detection of pavement markings during nighttime driving in clear weather; comparison of near infrared, far infrared, high-intensity discharge, and halogen headlamps on object detection in nighttime clear weather and rain; and characterization of experimental vision enhancement systems.
For more information, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/humanfac/envseries/index.cfm.
MoDOT Selected to Test Hybrid Bucket Trucks
The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is the first government agency in the Nation to test a new energy-saving, environmentally friendly, diesel-electric bucket truck. MoDOT expects the Utility Hybrid Truck Pilot Program to demonstrate the vehicle's ability to cut fuel costs and smog-producing emissions in half, while also reducing maintenance costs, minimizing noise, and providing an alternative power source during emergencies.
Highway departments use bucket trucks to lift maintenance workers in the air to install signs, fix traffic signals, or replace streetlights. A conventional truck must remain running at a work site to operate the hydraulic arm that moves the bucket. New technology, however, enables workers to shut off the hybrid truck's engine at the work site, which significantly reduces emissions and saves fuel. With biodiesel fuel costing an average of $2.45 per gallon (as of November 2006) in Missouri, MoDOT could potentially save $2,665 per year per vehicle by replacing conventional trucks with hybrids. Statewide, MoDOT's fleet contains 106 conventional bucket trucks.
"We look forward to learning more about how these vehicles will compare to the conventional trucks in our fleet and how they can help us make the best use of taxpayer dollars," says MoDOT Director Pete Rahn.
MoDOT is field testing the hybrids for 18 months at district offices in Joplin, Kansas City, and St. Louis, placing the hybrid trucks in service along with comparably sized conventional trucks to assess performance, reliability, and business benefits. The hybrids and baseline conventional trucks are equipped with monitoring devices to compare the emissions and fuel economy of each type of truck.
Public Information and Information Exchange
USDOT Offers T3 Webinar on ITS Decisionmakers' Resources
What are the benefits of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) applications? What are the costs? What are the lessons learned in deploying these applications? Online resources are available to help answer questions like these. Sponsored by USDOT's ITS Joint Program Office and ITS Professional Capacity Building Program, an online Talking Technology and Transportation (T3) session shows ITS professionals how to use databases to answer these questions.
The T3 session, titled ITS Decisionmakers' Resources , shows participants how to use databases and other resources available from the ITS Applications Overview (www.itsoverview.its.dot.gov). The T3 seminar provides a Web-based tour of the ITS Benefits Database (www.itsbenefits.its.dot.gov), the ITS Costs Database (www.itscosts.its.dot.gov), ITS Deployment Statistics Database (www.itsdeployment.its.dot.gov), and the ITS Lessons Learned Knowledge Resource (www.itslessons.its.dot.gov).
The session involves a conference call and simultaneous webcast hosted by Joe Peters of the ITS Joint Program Office, and features presentations by Rob Maccubbin , Barbara Staples , Steve Gordon , and Firoz Kabir . A scripted introductory session is followed by a "live" demonstration of the Web sites in which presenters respond in real time to questions from participants. The session is free of charge and is available to both Federal and non-Federal personnel by registering online at http://www.pcb.its.dot.gov/res_t3_register.asp.
If you have questions, please contact Craig Austin of the PCB Program at 617-494-3440 or T3@volpe.dot.gov.
ITS Applications Report Now Available
Older adults, people with disabilities, and individuals with lower incomes often experience challenges accessing transportation services such as public transit. These populations need flexible yet dependable routes and schedules, readily available and reliable traveler and system information, a single fare payment method that is convenient and easy to use, and transportation that is safe and secure. ITS technology can help public transit providers meet these needs.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA)'s Office of Mobility Innovation and the ITS Joint Program Office have recently released, in print and online, ITS Applications for Coordinating and Improving Human Services Transportation: A Cross-Cutting Study . The study examines in depth the use of ITS technologies to improve transportation operations and coordination, information dissemination, fare payment, and safety and security. Included are lessons learned and keys to success in all stages of evolution of ITS technologies: planning, design, implementation, and evaluation.
For more information about the report, contact Michael Baltes of the FTA Office of Mobility Innovation at 202-366-2182 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Yehuda Gross of the ITS Joint Program Office at 202-366-1988 or email@example.com. To order a free printed copy, contact Karen Facen of the FTA Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TRB Transportation Research Electronic Circular Reaches Century Mark
The Transportation Research Board's (TRB) Electronic Circular series has posted its 100th title to the TRB Web site. The series, which started in 1998, is generated by TRB's Technical Activities Division committees with the guidance of senior program officers and other staff.
The 100th title, Transportation Research Circular E-C100: Linking Transportation and Land Use: A Peer Exchange, is the proceedings of a national land use peer exchange that took place July 12-13, 2005, in Boston, MA. The online report includes descriptions of ongoing land use activities, successes, new activities that agencies may be interested in pursuing, and obstacles to the successful coordination of land use and transportation activities.
Linking Transportation and Land Use: A Peer Exchange is available at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/circulars/ec100.pdf.
History Preserved on Iowa DOT Web Site
Over the years, the Iowa Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT) has collected an eclectic mix of historic, transportation—related images. Now, electronic copies of more than 2,300 photographs and glass negatives, some dating back to the late 1800s, are available on Iowa DOT's Web site at www.iowadot.gov/historic_photos.
Many of the images in Iowa's archival collection are one-of-a-kind and include photos of the early interstate system, snow removal, line painting, Iowa officials, early Iowa history, the Adopt-A-Highway program, Iowa DOT facilities, roads and streets, city streets and buildings, pipelines, bicycles, road building, the slipform paver, rivers, trains, horse-powered vehicles, vintage motor vehicles, the Lincoln Highway, aviation, interurban railroads, streetcars, and buses.
The mission of this project is to make these resources available to the public and to preserve the collection for future generations. The original physical archives (most are glass negatives) are extremely susceptible to damage from handling and remain inaccessible to the public. Therefore, the primary purpose of the Web site is to provide access to the images in the form of digitized copies. Due to the sheer volume of photos, only a limited number currently are offered on the Web. Additional images will be added as resources permit.
Visitors to the site will be able to select thumbnail images to be moved to a "lightbox" (similar to a shopping cart on a retail site) to be examined further and/or downloaded. Images can be downloaded for noncommercial use without obtaining permission. To use any images commercially, permission must be obtained in writing from Iowa DOT officials.
MaineDOT Honored for Memorial Bridge Campaign
On August 15, 2006, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials awarded the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) a National Transportation Public Affairs Skills Award for "overall excellence in a public affairs campaign." The EXCEL Award was presented for MaineDOT's public education campaign on a 3-month closure of the Augusta Memorial Bridge.
According to MaineDOT Commissioner David Cole, "We are learning that larger, more complex infrastructure projects can be done faster, better, and certainly more cost-effectively if we use full, rather than partial, closures. However, full closures can be successful only if the public is informed."
Judges for the competition noted, "This was an outstanding program for a reasonable budget with a good mix of strategic thinking, community relations, and creative development." The campaign included radio spots, print ads, email alerts, and ongoing interaction with community leaders, major employers, downtown businesses, and the media.
American Safety Council Releases First Online Advanced Driver Improvement Course
The American Safety Council recently released the Nation's first online Advanced Driver Improvement (ADI) course, which has been approved by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The 12-hour course is required for Florida drivers whose driving privileges have been suspended due to excessive points, court order, or habitual traffic offenses (non-Driving-Under-Influence-related). The course assists drivers in developing alternative driving behaviors to those that resulted in their driving-privilege suspension or revocation. Participants are taught through various techniques to accept responsibility for their actions, understand and identify the consequences of continued poor driving, and develop a plan to avoid future difficulties.
To apply for a hardship license and restore driving privileges in Florida, drivers are required to enroll in a 12-hour ADI course. When students enroll online, they are immediately sent enrollment letters, which in most cases can be used to apply for their hardship license. Then, when drivers successfully complete the course, most are eligible for the full reinstatement of driving privileges. Course completion certificates are mailed to students automatically when the course is successfully completed.
"Bringing ADI school online lets Florida drivers capitalize on cutting-edge technology that provides innovative education and has proven to be very effective," says Bob Proechel, president of the American Safety Council. "Not only is a 12-hour course easier to retain in shorter increments, but also it enables people to take the class without transportation or childcare costs. Plus, there is no faster way to get back your enrollment letter, and ultimately, your license."
The course is available online statewide through the American Safety Council's Web site at www.ADISchool.com. For additional information, please contact the American Safety Council at 1-800-732-4135.
American Safety Council
NHTSA Releases 2005 Traffic Fatality Counts and Injury Estimates
NHTSA recently released 2005 fatality statistics for motor vehicle crashes. According to NHTSA, the total number of fatalities rose 1.4 percent from 42,836 in 2004 to 43,443 in 2005, while the rate of fatalities was 1.47 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up from 1.45 in 2004. The new data suggest that the increase in vehicle fatalities comes from the rise in the number of motorcycle fatalities and increases in the number of pedestrian fatalities over the previous year.
Motorcycle fatalities rose 13 percent from 4,028 in 2004 to 4,553 in 2005. Almost half of the people who died were not wearing helmets. The number of pedestrian fatalities increased to 4,881 in 2005 from 4,675 in 2004. NHTSA is investigating the increase in pedestrian fatalities in 2005 to determine the causes.
The report, Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Fatality Counts and Estimates of People Injured for 2005, is available online at www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/nrd-30/ncsa /ppt/2006/810639.pdf.
New Jersey Governor Unveils $74 Million Pedestrian Safety Initiative
On September 18, 2006, Governor Jon Corzine announced the creation of a 5-year, $74 million initiative to improve pedestrian safety throughout New Jersey. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), Department of Law & Public Safety, and Motor Vehicle Commission will implement a three-pronged strategy to encourage motorists to share the road with pedestrians.
"This initiative is designed to improve New Jersey's driving culture and enhance pedestrian education so we can increase the safety of our streets," says Governor Corzine. "Investing in engineering improvements, enforcing pedestrian safety laws, and changing the way we educate drivers will help ensure that our communities are...safe [places] to walk."
The initiative addresses pedestrian awareness, driver behavior, and roadway conditions that amplify crash risks. The State will use the funding for projects to improve the safety of intersections and sidewalks, implement traffic mitigation measures, enhance education and enforcement efforts, and develop planning and technical guidance. The initiative is funded from existing money in the Transportation Trust Fund.
The $74 million initiative includes the Pedestrian Safety Corridor Program, the Safe Routes to School Program, and the Safe Streets to Transit Program. It also promotes improvements in planning, enforcement of pedestrian safety laws, distribution of grants for enforcing pedestrian laws, establishment of a statewide taskforce on traffic safety, development of a statewide driver education curriculum, and incorporation of pedestrian safety laws into the Motor Vehicle Commission's tests.
Nottingham Named Surface Transportation Board Chairman
On August 14, 2006, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) announced that FHWA's Associate Administrator for Policy and Governmental Affairs Charles D. ("Chip") Nottingham was sworn in as its newest member and designated its new chairman by President George W. Bush.
Chairman Nottingham's oath of office was administered in the office of USDOT then-Acting Secretary Maria Cino in the presence of the current STB members, W. Douglas Buttrey and Francis P. Mulvey. As STB's fourth chairman, Nottingham will serve a term of office ending December 31, 2010.
Prior to joining STB, he served in the FHWA associate administrator position for 4 years. In 1999-2002, he served as chief executive officer of the Virginia Department of Transportation, where he managed a workforce of 10,500 and the third largest State-maintained highway system in the Nation. In 1995-1998, he served as counsel and chief of staff for Congressman Tom Davis and chief of staff for Congressman Bob Goodlatte. Prior to his appointment at FHWA in 2002, Nottingham served as counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform.
In taking the oath of office, Nottingham said, "I am deeply honored to have been nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as chairman of the STB. Our Nation's economic health and quality of life depend on our ability to improve our transportation infrastructure. I look forward to working at the STB and to addressing these infrastructure and other critical issues."
Robert Sumwalt Named NTSB Vice Chairman
Robert L. Sumwalt was sworn in as a member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on August 21, 2006. His term of office will run until December 31, 2011. President George W. Bush also designated him as vice chairman of the NTSB for a 2-year term. Prior to coming to the NTSB, Sumwalt was manager of aviation for the SCANA® Corporation, an energy-based holding company.
Sumwalt was a pilot for 24 years with Piedmont Airlines, Inc., and then US Airways, logging more than 14,000 flight hours and earning type ratings in five aircraft before retiring from the airline in 2005. He has extensive experience as an airline captain, airline check airman, instructor pilot, and air safety representative.
A trained accident investigator, Sumwalt participated in the NTSB's investigation of the crash of USAir Flight 427 in 1994 near Aliquippa, PA, and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada's investigation of the crash involving Swissair Flight 111 off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1998. Sumwalt is a graduate of the University of South Carolina.