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.
Management and Administration
USDOT Rises in Best Places to Work Rankings
USDOT significantly rose in the Partnership for Public Service's 2010 The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings released in September. The Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organization, surveys civil servants to produce rankings of employee satisfaction and commitment. USDOT saw one of the greatest improvements in the index among large agencies, with a 15.8 percent increase over 2009, placing 26 out of 32 in the 2010 survey.
USDOT officials credit the rise to focusing on the competencies of first-line supervisors in the areas of effective leadership, empowerment, employee engagement, and ethics. Further, an employee satisfaction goal was included in all Senior Executive Service performance plans. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood led the improvement efforts by holding townhall meetings with employees and asking agency administrators to meet regularly with employees to focus on leadership development and internal communications, and to create tailored action plans, which include measurable benchmarks for their agencies.
USDOT also achieved its highest response rate ever with 67 percent of employees taking the survey. The Federal Government's overall response rate was 52.2 percent.
For more information on the survey, visit http://bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/rankings/overall/large.
FHWA Issues New Guidance on Pavement Friction Management
In June 2010, FHWA issued a new technical advisory, Pavement Friction Management (T 5040.38), that provides guidance to State and local highway agencies on managing pavement surface friction. The new advisory supersedes FHWA Technical Advisory 5040.17, Skid Accident Reduction Program, issued in December 1980.
The advisory outlines the purpose of pavement management programs, which is to minimize friction-related vehicle crashes by ensuring that new surfaces are designed, constructed, and maintained to provide adequate and durable friction properties. Pavement programs also aim to identify and correct sections of roadways that have elevated friction-related crash rates and to prioritize the use of resources to implement these programs cost effectively.
The advisory covers topics such as measuring pavement friction using testing equipment, identifying and classifying roadway locations with elevated crash rates, prioritizing projects for improving pavement friction, determining the appropriate frequency and extent of friction testing on a highway network, and assessing the effectiveness of a friction management program. The advisory also lists additional reference materials.
For more information, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/pavement/t504038.cfm.
Public Information and Information Exchange
Massachusetts Announces Sustainable Transportation Initiative
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) recently launched a comprehensive environmental responsibility and sustainability initiative called GreenDOT. GreenDOT has three primary goals: (1) reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; (2) promote healthy transportation options such as walking, bicycling, and public transit; and (3) support smart growth development.
GreenDOT calls for MassDOT to incorporate sustainability into all its activities, from strategic planning to project design, construction, and system operation. Currently, the transportation sector generates more than one-third of the total GHG emissions produced in Massachusetts. The initiative sets a goal of reducing those emissions by more than 2 million tons (1.8 million metric tons) by 2020.
The GreenDOT initiative outlines a range of measures to help achieve the reductions. In cooperation with regional planning agencies, MassDOT will balance highway system expansion with projects that support smart growth and promote public transit, walking, and bicycling. Examples include transit and rail projects, complete streets planning with bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, and investments in greener, more efficient fleet vehicles and renewable power.
For more information, visit www.mass.gov/massdot.
Initiative Encourages Communities To Be "Walk Friendly"
FHWA and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) recently launched Walk Friendly Communities to encourage communities across the country to support pedestrian safety. The program will recognize communities that are working to improve a wide range of conditions related to walking, including safety, mobility, access, and comfort.
At the core of the program is a comprehensive assessment tool that evaluates community walkability and pedestrian safety through questions related to engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, evaluation, and planning. Based on a community's answers, the tool evaluates conditions for walking and provides feedback and ideas for improving pedestrian safety.
"We're very excited to see cities and towns across the country commit to making pedestrian safety a high priority through the Walk Friendly Communities program," says Gabe Rousseau, bicycle and pedestrian program manager with FHWA. "This program will help them understand their communities' specific opportunities to improve safety and reveal creative ways to address pedestrian safety concerns."
The national launch comes on the heels of a successful pilot in which nine communities tested the application and online assessment tool.
For more information, visit www.walkfriendly.org.
Rock Slope Stabilization Method Wins Award
The George Washington Memorial Parkway in Arlington, VA, recently received an award for its innovative rock slope stabilization design from the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists (AEG). AEG recognized the project as the 2010 Outstanding Environmental and Engineering Geologic Project for its cost-effective solution to achieving the dual goals of protecting the traveling public from rockfalls and preserving highway aesthetics.
In 2002, when failure of a 35-foot (10.7-meter)-high, 240-foot (73.1-meter)-long cut slope along the parkway released several large pieces of rock onto the shoulder and travel lanes, FHWA officials with the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division (EFLHD) began exploring options to stabilize the slope. The project resulted in an innovative approach called "rock gluing," which involves injecting polyurethane resin grout into fractured rock mass to bond individual blocks into a continuous, more stable mass.
AEG selected the project for the award because the innovative rock gluing technique can have broader applications. EFLHD already has used rock gluing as a practical solution for other projects and will continue to use the technique in the future.
Report Quantifies Transportation Projects' Impacts on Economy
According to a recent report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), the annual value of transportation construction in the United States will surpass $120 billion in 2010 -- higher than other industry sectors, including farming ($97.5 billion) and coal mining ($29.8 billion). ARTBA released the 100-page report, U.S. Transportation Construction Industry Profile, in October 2010.
The report states that money invested in 2010 in employment and purchases for the transportation construction industry will generate more than $380 billion in economic activity. That is nearly 3 percent of the Nation's gross domestic product. The report also observes that transportation construction supports 3.4 million American jobs -- 1.7 million directly involved in construction and related activities and 1.7 million in sustained spending by transportation construction employees, firms, and agencies throughout the U.S. economy.
In addition, the report notes the important role transportation infrastructure plays in making all kinds of other economic activities possible. For example, industries such as tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, and retailing and wholesaling are all dependent on the work done by the transportation construction industry to move goods and services. The report also includes State-specific data.
For more information, visit www.artba.org/economic-profile.
USDOT Holds Second National Distracted Driving Summit
On September 21, 2010, USDOT held the second national Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, DC. Leading transportation officials, safety advocates, law enforcement, industry representatives, researchers, and victims affected by distraction-related crashes gathered to discuss challenges and identify opportunities for national efforts to prevent distracted driving.
Major focuses included enforcement efforts, outreach to young drivers, and invehicle technologies. Also at the forefront of the discussions was the recent release of interim data from yearlong pilot enforcement programs in Hartford, CT, and Syracuse, NY. According to onsite observations and surveys at driver licensing offices at the pilot sites, hand-held cell phone use has dropped 56 percent in Hartford and 38 percent in Syracuse to date, and texting while driving has declined 68 percent in Hartford and 42 percent in Syracuse.
On the day before the summit, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced new regulations for drivers transporting hazardous materials. The posted rules ban commercial bus and truck drivers from texting on the job and restrict train operators from using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. The Secretary also identified more than 550 U.S. companies -- employing 1.5 million people nationwide -- that have committed to enacting anti-distracted driving policies for their employees in the next 12 months.
For more information, visit www.distraction.gov.
FHWA Develops Online Work Zone Training Compendium
FHWA recently created an online Work Zone Training Compendium, which details opportunities for highway work zone training and provides guidance materials. The compendium is available at www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/outreach/wz_training/index.htm.
The online resource includes current training courses, materials, and contact information related to work zones. For each class, workshop, or training opportunity, the compendium lists the title, description, format, length, provider, cost, target audience, and contact. Similar summary information is included for each of the guidance documents and reference materials. The information is available on the Web site or by downloading a spreadsheet from the site.
FHWA created the online compendium to serve as a one-stop source for work zone information. The site organizes relevant training and reference materials in 10 categories: design for work zones, inspection of work zones, intelligent transportation systems, law enforcement, management of work zones, nighttime work zone operations, short-duration work zones, traffic control in work zones, worker safety, and work zone guides and documents.
In addition to the compendium, FHWA recently added new work zone resources on worker safety to its Web site at www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/workersafety/index.htm.