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Public Roads - July/August 1997

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.

NexTea Supports President's "Welfare to Work" Initiative

The Clinton administration's proposed surface transportation bill will support the effort to move people off the welfare rolls and into jobs, Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater said on May 20 at a White House ceremony recognizing companies that have developed programs to hire welfare recipients. "One of the biggest barriers facing those moving from welfare rolls to payrolls is finding transportation to jobs, training, and support services," said Slater. "Our proposed National Economic Crossroads Transportation Efficiency Act of 1997 (NexTea) addresses this need by supporting flexible, innovative transportation alternatives to get people to where the jobs are." The secretary noted that while more than half of the welfare recipients live in central cities, two-thirds of new jobs are in suburbs. Barely one in 20 welfare recipients owns a car, and almost 20 percent live in rural areas without public transportation.

Nebraska Highway-Rail Crossing Bill Advances

Nebraska Legislative Bill 255 designates the Department of Roads as the agency responsible for grade- crossing safety and requires the department to establish a grade-crossing safety assessment process no later than 12 months after the effective date of the legislation. The intent of the legislature is to consolidate in one state agency the state role regarding highway-rail crossing safety, maintenance, design, improvement, relocation, and consolidation.

Technical News

Record for Foundation Load Testing Set

On Feb. 18, 1997, a world record for foundation load testing - almost 135 meganewtons (15,000 tons) - was set by LOADTEST Inc. at the state Route 20 bridge over the Apalachicola River near Blountstown, Fla. The new record shattered the previous drilled shaft mark of almost 65 MN (7,300 tons) set with Osterberg Cells at a Georgia test site in 1996. For the record-setting load test, LOADTEST used three 865-millimeter-diameter Osterberg Cells installed on a single plane near the base of the 2.75-meter-diameter, 38.7-meter-deep drilled shaft. The load test was part of a research program developed by Florida Department of Transportation District 3 Geotechnical Engineer Bubba Knight.

Public Information and Information Exchange

DOT Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Through ceremonies and open houses at U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) facilities throughout the nation on May 19, DOT celebrated its 30th anniversary. At DOT headquarters in Washington, D.C., exhibits of DOT projects and services were set up inside the building and in the central courtyard. In his remarks to the headquarters staff and visitors, Secretary Slater, citing several statistics and examples, said, "And there's plenty to celebrate. For in 30 years, we have come together as a family to make, as Lyndon Johnson asked us to do, a transportation system worthy of America."

"Live" Crash Highlights Operation Lifesaver

On April 22, 1997, the Department of the Navy's Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind., and Indiana Operation Lifesaver staged a "live" car/train crash with emergency response. This event, attended by the FHWA Indiana Division Office, dramatically depicted what happens in highway/rail grade-crossing crashes. The crash offered local emergency personnel the opportunity for a "real-life" training exercise. A production videotape is being made on the highway/rail grade-crossing crash, and the tape will be used in local schools for raising awareness of the dangers of such crashes. Also, national and local media representatives were present to videotape this rare opportunity to record first hand the deadliness of highway/rail grade-crossing crashes.

FHWA and LTAP Provide Work Zone Safety Course Briefings

The FHWA regions and Local Technology Assistance Program (LTAP) centers have collaborated to begin briefing trainers from FHWA's regional and division offices, LTAP training coordinators and program administrators, and state and local trainers. The briefing sessions will inform participants about the "Work Zone Safety Inspection Training Course" (adapted from the National Highway Institute course of the same name) and about extending the training to construction work zone inspectors.


Hughes and Lind Become FHWA Division Administrators

On March 24, Acting Federal Highway Administrator Jane Garvey announced the selections of Andrew H. Hughes to be administrator of the Mississippi Division and of Bruce A. Lind to be administrator of the Nebraska Division. Hughes leaves an assignment as the assistant division administrator in South Carolina. He also held other FHWA positions in Atlanta, Ga., and Columbia, S.C. Lind was the assistant division administrator in Oklahoma, and he previously served in Santa Fe, N.M.

Malone is DOT's Deputy Chief of Staff

On April 4, Secretary of Transportation Slater announced that Jerry L. Malone was selected to be deputy chief of staff for DOT. Malone was formerly the chief counsel for FHWA. Prior to coming to FHWA in June 1996, Malone was a partner in the largest law firm in Arkansas - Friday, Eldredge & Clark of Little Rock.


European DIVINE Concluding Conference Is in Rotterdam

The second DIVINE Concluding Conference will be held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Sept. 17-19, 1997. DIVINE (Dynamic Interaction Vehicle Infrastructure Experiment) is a cooperative international research program of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to study vehicle-infrastructure interaction. The study ended in October 1996, and the first concluding conference, which focused on North American and international situations, was conducted in Ottawa, Canada, in June 1997. This second conference will examine the findings of the study in relation to European policy issues and technical matters. The conference will begin with a half-day overview of the DIVINE project, followed by three half-day sessions in which the vehicle, road, and bridge aspects will be separately examined. For more information, contact Boudewijn Hoogvelt at TNO-Road-Vehicles Research Institute, Vehicle Dynamics Department, P.O. Box 6033, NL-2600 JA Delft, The Netherlands; telephone +31 15 269 64 11; fax +31 15 269 73 14; or e-mail to