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 U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.
USDOT Turns over TSA Reigns to Homeland Security
On March 1, 2003, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) moved out from under the umbrella of USDOT and now is managed by the Department of Homeland Security.
TSA, the creation of Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta and Deputy Secretary of Transportation Michael P. Jackson, was established on November 19, 2001, when President George W. Bush signed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act in response to September 11, 2001.
"Creating TSA was by far the toughest, most challenging, and most satisfying endeavor I've ever undertaken," said Secretary Mineta. "Starting from a blank sheet of paper, we created an agency of more than 60,000 employees that is truly fulfilling its goal of protecting Americans as they travel across our country, and beyond."
Under Secretary of Transportation for Security Administration James M. Loy reported that TSA met 36 mandates set by Congress, including screening all passengers by the agency's first anniversary and all baggage by December 31, 2003. TSA is one of 22 Federal agencies being transferred to Homeland Security, the new Cabinet-level department led by Secretary Tom Ridge.
New Law Requires Headlights in Work Zones
On February 20, 2003, the Pennsylvania Acting State Transportation Secretary Allen D. Biehler announced that the Commonwealth's law now requires motorists to turn their vehicle headlights on when traveling through work zones, one of many new safety initiatives that Pennsylvania will adopt this year.
According to Biehler, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT) is supplying all of its county maintenance forces with new signs to be placed at the entrances of most work zones to remind motorists to turn on their headlights. Municipalities and utility companies will use the new signs on many of their larger projects, particularly on high-speed roads.
According to PENNDOT, violating the law is punishable by a fine of $25 when signs are in place. PENNDOT will work closely with the Pennsylvania State Police to enforce the new law.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
Management and Administration
High-Priority Project Approved in Louisiana
In January 2003, the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Louisiana Division Administrator Tony Sussmann approved the Record of Decision (ROD) for the LA-1 highway project, representing a landmark effort in environmental streamlining and contributing to more efficient movement of both foreign and domestic oil supplies.
With the signing of the ROD, FHWA formally approved the environmental impact statement (EIS) for a $520 million improvement to LA-1 that calls for the construction of approximately 26 kilometers (16 miles) of four-lane, elevated highway from Golden Meadow to Port Fourchon, with a fixed high-level bridge at Bayou Lafourche in Leeville, LA. The project will replace a substandard two-lane road that is unreliable during Gulf storms and heavy rain events, and will maintain a critical link to the south Louisiana port that plays a large role in the shipment of oil.
As a result of prioritized environmental streamlining, the ROD was accomplished in approximately 3 years, which is about half the time it normally takes to process a project of this magnitude located in such an environmentally sensitive setting. FHWA and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LA DOTD) quickly resolved complex impacts involving wetlands, fish habitat, and marsh vegetation through close collaboration with other agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
According to LA DOTD Secretary Kam Movassaghi, LA-1 traverses the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary, one of the most diverse and fertile habitats in the world. "This marshland, which is part of America's wetlands, is a national treasure," he says. "No less important is that LA-1 is the access to another national treasure—the oil and gas reserves in the Gulf."
For more information, contact Michele Deshotels at LA DOTD at 225-379-1226, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Bill Farr at FHWA at 225-757-7615, email@example.com.
Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development
New Group Evaluates ITS Technologies
A new global working group, International Benefits Evaluation and Costs (IBEC), facilitates the exchange of information and techniques to evaluate the costs and benefits of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) throughout the world. The purpose of IBEC is to streamline international collaboration on techniques for evaluating ITS technologies, providing a focal point for discussion and debate on areas of interest to the international community and encouraging effective use of this information by decisionmakers.
Before the formation of IBEC, collaboration centered on a number of successful benefits, evaluation, and costs (BEC) sessions at ITS World Congresses held in Torino, Italy (2000); Sydney, Australia (2001); and Chicago, IL (2002) that were organized by ITS America and European ITS specialists. Now as a unified organization, IBEC will formalize the role of BEC session-planning at future ITS World Congresses, including the 10th World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems scheduled for November 16-20, 2003, in Madrid, Spain.
Transport Research Laboratory Limited, an independent center for excellence in surface transport issues, is providing the Secretariat function, with funding from the United Kingdom's Department for Transport. ITS America organizes U.S. participation with assistance from the USDOT ITS Joint Program Office and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a federally funded research and development facility managed by the California Institute of Technology for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Membership is free and open to anyone with an interest in evaluating ITS technologies and services around the world and sharing data on evaluation techniques, results, and lessons learned.
Technology for Tracking Freight Yields Savings And Improves Security
To help develop safer and more secure technologies for tracking freight, the USDOT Office of the Secretary and ITS Joint Program Office teamed with the FHWA Office of Freight Management, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the State of Illinois to launch the first electronic air cargo manifest and security system in the United States. The recent completion of an operational test shows that the new system could bring security benefits and cost savings to future freight movements.
Formally known as the Electronic Supply Chain Manifest (ESCM) system, the technology was designed, managed, and analyzed by the American Transportation Research Institute. ESCM incorporates technologies that enable positive identification of the persons responsible for tracking the movement of cargo within and between transportation modes. Although the test focused on trucking and aviation, the technologies also have potential applications to rail and marine operations. More than 200 people are enrolled in the system, representing nearly 40 companies.
The project began almost 2 years before September 11, 2001, and one of the more important findings of the test is that appropriately designed security systems can improve business processes dramatically. Using the ESCM system, cost savings per transaction during the test ranged from $1.50 to $3.50 depending on the type of business, with greater benefits expected when combined with other systems for managing business. The ESCM security system automatically matched cargo with handlers, known shipper information, and origin and destination data.
The final report from the operational test is available on the Internet at www.its.dot.gov. The American Transportation Research Institute offers additional information on the ESCM system at www.cargosafety.net.
Meet the New Mobile Asphalt Lab
The new and improved FHWA Mobile Asphalt Pavement Mixture Laboratory hit the road this spring with an array of state-of-the-art technologies and the goal of promoting long-life asphalt pavements for the 21st century.
New equipment and technology in the mobile lab provides data for performance-prediction models and supports new procedures for pavement design through advanced mixture characterization. Cutting-edge equipment for fabricating core specimens features dual-bladed saws and a coring shaft that can be used to make correctly sized specimens for the simple performance test using a dry process.
Lab technology includes video imaging equipment that can measure fine and coarse aggregate properties and equipment that detects infrared, which can be used to determine saturated surface dry condition, aggregate absorption values, and apparent specific gravity. The laboratory also runs conventional hot-mix asphalt tests, including volumetric testing for SuperpaveTM mixtures and in-place density measurements. Advanced testing of performance-related specifications and other innovative contracting practices can be performed as well.
Along with bringing new technologies for asphalt pavement directly to locations throughout the United States, the staff who operate the lab have the following goals: developing, testing, and evaluating specifications for predicting the performance of Superpave; supporting efforts by State highway agencies to ensure that construction materials and practices are high quality; and resolving issues with transportation partners related to the implementation of new pavement technologies and construction specifications.
Once a State requests a lab visit, the trailer will travel to the designated highway construction site, where lab staff will use the trailer's equipment to test local materials. After the site visit and lab tests, the staff will prepare and present a report with feedback on the test results during a closeout meeting.
For more information or to schedule a visit, contact your local FHWA Division Office, Resource Center, or Leslie Myers at 202-366-1198, firstname.lastname@example.org.
FHWA Shares Benefits of ITS Technologies in Work Zones
The Work Zone Team at FHWA recently published a report examining the applications and benefits of ITS in work zones. Intelligent Transportation Systems in Work Zones: A Cross-Cutting Study shows how departments of transportation (DOTs) in Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, and New Mexico used ITS technologies in their work zones to monitor and manage traffic, including providing traveler information and enhancing incident response.
Information covered in the report includes how the States selected the systems that they used, the design and operational characteristics, lessons learned, and the benefits experienced using the systems. The report also profiles other ITS-related products, systems, and techniques for work zones. As part of an ITS Special Study Series, the report was preceded by a brochure last year and will be followed by more detailed case study reports and an implementation guide that are under development.
Access the report online at www.itsdocs.fhwa.dot.gov/jpodocs/repts_te/13600.html. For more information about the content of the report, contact Tracy Scriba in the FHWA Office of Transportation Operations at 202-366-0855,email@example.com. To request a printed copy, call the ITS/Operations helpline at 866-367-7487, or send an e-mail message with shipping information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FHWA Launches New Peer-to-Peer Program on Traffic Control Devices
With more than 1,000 pages of standards, guidelines, and options, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) can be challenging to use. FHWA recently established a Peer-to-Peer Program on Traffic Control Devices (P2P TCD) to supplement the MUTCD by offering users a peer exchange for assistance and answers to questions related to traffic control devices. This service is free, provides answers to questions, and eases complexities resulting from the multitude of unique settings and circumstances found throughout the Nation's transportation network.
P2P TCD makes it easy for local, county, regional, or State agencies to request assistance and locate information. Users may e-mail requests and questions to P2P@fhwa.dot.gov or call toll-free at 888-700-PEER (7337). Upon receiving requests and questions, the P2P coordinator matches an agency with a transportation professional who is experienced and knowledgeable in the relevant technical area. The peer, in turn, contacts the agency to work out the details of the assistance to be provided.
To become a peer on an informal basis, participate in the MUTCD Discussion Area at http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/threads.cfm. To learn more about P2P TCD, visit http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/tech_p2p.htm or contact MUTCD Technical Expert Fred Ranck, email@example.com.
Public Information and Information Exchange
Department of Energy Recognizes FHWA-Sponsored Web Sites
The U.S. Department of Energy recently recognized the family of FHWA-sponsored Web sites housed on the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) as "Web sites of the Week."
FHWA sponsors PBIC through funding provided by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). The PBIC sites receive more than 40,000 visitors each month and are recognized as important sources of technical information for professionals and advocates dealing with pedestrian and bicycle issues.
Among the family of sites, www.pedbikeinfo.org provides users with general information on bicycle and pedestrian safety, and more than 2,500 photo images available for downloading. Other sites that provide additional information and updates for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transportation experts include www.walkinginfo.org, which features information on pedestrian safety and pedestrian-friendly facilities; www.bicyclinginfo.org, which focuses on bicycling issues; www.walktoschool-usa.org, which covers the October 8th "Walk to School Day"; and www.iwalktoschool.org, which focuses on "International Walk to School Week" activities occurring worldwide.
John Fegan, FHWA's bicycle and pedestrian program manger, comments, "The PBIC Web sites provide up-to-the-minute technical assistance on nonmotorized transportation issues to professionals and advocates in a user-friendly format."
Georgia Uses FHWA Tool to Assess Regional Incidents
On January 23, 2003, FHWA's Georgia Division hosted a meeting of the Metro Atlanta Traffic Incident Management task force to conduct a self-assessment using the FHWA Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Self-Assessment tool. The workshop was one of the first in the Nation to use the tool to address regional issues in incident management and reduce clearance time and resulting congestion connected with nonrecurring incidents. FHWA developed the TIM Self-Assessment tool as a way to help meet one of its "vital few" priorities, congestion mitigation.
During the day-long session, more than 30 participants—representing operations, fire, law enforcement, and highway assistance partners with city and county agencies and State DOTs—reached a consensus on the status of each assessment area. Prior to the workshop, members of the task force had completed self-assessments for their individual agencies. The results of the self-assessments were compiled, analyzed, and presented during the workshop to provide a snapshot of the region's approach to incident management.
"Completing the self assessment provided a perspective on how each member agency perceived where we are as a region," says Georgia DOT State Traffic Operations Engineer Carla W. Holmes, P.E., "gave us guidance on what is needed for a viable, sustainable regional incident management program, and helped us establish a baseline against which we can measure our progress as we move forward." The session identified gaps in strategic planning, educated the regional partners on nationwide best practices, and established a framework for continuing regional, interagency cooperation.
Since the workshop, the participants have drafted an action plan based on the assessment areas, and the Georgia DOT has agreed to print a field guide to incident management for distribution to all first responders in the Atlanta region. One of the next steps will be to convene an executive session to showcase results and proven benefits to agency heads.
For more information about Georgia's self-assessment, contact Mshadoni Smith in the Georgia Division at 404-562-638, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forum Identifies the Value of Preventative Maintenance
The Western Pavement Maintenance Forum in Industry Hills, CA, recently brought together more than 200 road surface and materials experts and other transportation professionals to address the economic necessity for State DOTs to practice preventative maintenance. Attendees learned that delaying preventative maintenance for 1 year reduces the service life of the pavement by 4 to 6 years. Also, every dollar that remains unspent on preventative maintenance results in a cost of $7 to $11 in future rehabilitation costs.
The California Department of Transportation and the California Chip Seal Association (CCSA), a nonprofit organization, hosted the 2003 forum. The agenda focused on binders, aggregates, and seals, and included topics such as chip seal, slurry seal, microsurfacing, cape seal, quality control, and other topics related to pavement preservation.
Presentations covered materials and techniques, testing and sampling, funding, and pavement management systems.
For more information about pavement preservation, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/preservation or contact FHWA Senior Construction and System Preservation Engineer James Sorenson at email@example.com. For information about the 2004 CCSA forum, visit www.chipseal.org.
Survey Reports on ITS Deployment
Preliminary results from four surveys tracking ITS deployment now are available online at www.nawgits.com/jpo/02survey_prelim. The main focus of the surveys was to examine trends at State highway agencies in disseminating information to the public through Advanced Traveler Information Systems (ATIS). FHWA surveyed more than 2,300 agencies and had a response rate of 90 percent.
The results of the survey showed that Web sites are the most widely deployed method of disseminating traveler information and that the use of e-mail also is expanding rapidly. Other data collected from the survey projects that 511 deployment will increase three- to five-fold by 2005 and that the use of kiosks to disseminate information will be one of the fastest-growing methods by 2005.
Currently, 46 ATIS systems exist in 27 States. All 46 systems disseminate road information, and 25 of them also distribute traveler and tourist information. Ten systems provide transit information, and a total of six systems disseminate all three types. Information most often distributed includes road closures, work zone and construction events, and weather.
The FHWA ITS Joint Program Office (JPO) sponsored the surveys, which were conducted in 2002, and presented the results at the 2003 annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board. The survey results are in a slide presentation developed by ITS JPO Program Assessment Manager Joseph I. Peters.
For more information on the surveys, contact Joe Peters at 202-366-2202,firstname.lastname@example.org.
Report Looks at the Worst Commuting Days in Washington, DC
Published in November 2002, the FHWA-sponsored report, An Analysis of the Worst Commuting Days in Washington, DC, examines traffic in the Nation's capital. Now available online, the report shows how using a traveler information service before getting into the car could affect the commute for travelers when traffic conditions are at their worst.
Previous research using the Heuristic On-Line Web Linked Arrival Time Estimator (HOWLATE) methodology showed that the benefits of accessing traveler information before a trip multiply with increasing congestion. The HOWLATE methodology examines and analyzes how using a traveler information service could affect a commuter's trip on DC's worst commuting days.
Using archived travel times, HOWLATE reconstructs simulated driving trials by a pair of habitual commuters, one who uses a pre-trip Advanced Traveler Information System (ATIS) and one who does not. For the purpose of the report, FHWA defines ATIS as a notification-based service that selects routes and departure times. In simulated yoked trials, the two subjects conduct identical trips. Researchers pulled data on travel times from the archives of the SmarTraveler Web site (www.SmarTraveler.com) for every 5 minutes from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. for each day.
Researchers determined the 10 worst days based on several measures—travel times, cost of travel disutility, travel expenditure, late and early schedule delays, on-time reliability, and just-in-time reliability—by sorting them for the non-ATIS user for the morning and evening peak periods. A combination of incidents, bad weather, and high demand contributed to making travel difficult during the 10 worst days.
Analyses of the worst days showed that the effect on a commuter who does not use ATIS is high and that using a traveler information service before the trip can help mitigate the adverse effect on trip predictability, cost of travel disutility, lateness risk, and late and early schedule delays. The results reflect travel for the entire Washington, DC, network, but an extension of the study will examine the effect that traveler information services can have on other congested corridors.
The final report is available on the USDOT ITS Web site at http://www.its.dot.gov/index.htm.
Mineta Announces Winners of Student Poster Contest
On May 12, 2003, at the Travel/Transportation Conference and Exposition in Washington, DC, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta announced the winners of the 2003 National Transportation Week Poster Contest.
The contest is an annual event designed to encourage students to explore their views on transportation, their vision for the future, and careers in transportation. This year, students in the fifth grade were invited to enter artwork that represented their thoughts on the theme "Transportation...It Keeps America Moving."
Robert Rodriguez from P.S./I.S. School 187 in New York, NY, won first place. For submitting the prize-winning artwork, he received a $200 savings bond, and his school received a $500 award. Heriberto Bajo from San Simon School in San Simon, AZ, earned second place, and Zachary D. Guerrero of Gibson Elementary in Corpus Christi, TX, submitted the third place entry.
To view the winning posters or learn more about National Transportation Week, visit www.ntweek.org/posters. Also see the inside back cover of Public Roads.
Secretary Mineta Names Whitmer Deputy Chief of Staff
In February 2003, USDOT Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced Martin T. Whitmer Jr. as the new deputy chief of staff, replacing Vincent T. Taylor who became the assistant secretary for administration at USDOT in January.
"Whitmer has helped the Department move forward on many important issues," Secretary Mineta said, "most notably surface transportation policy, safety, energy, and environmental stewardship."
In addition to serving as deputy chief of staff, he also will serve as the Secretary's point person on the reauthorization of TEA-21 and the energy bill.
Whitmer joined USDOT in March 2001 as the Secretary's policy assistant, advising him on highway, transit, energy, motor carrier, and safety issues. From 1997 until 2001, Whitmer was the vice president of government relations for the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, where he directed legislative and coalition activities that helped enact TEA-21. Whitmer served as a lobbyist for the Laborers' International Union of North America from 1994 to 1996. In 1993, he worked for the National Rifle Association and former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX). Whitmer earned his undergraduate degree in government at Georgetown University and received a joint law and master's degree from the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.