Along the Road
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.
NHTSA Unveils "10-Year-Old Child" Crash Test Dummy
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently unveiled a new crash test dummy that it will use to evaluate the growing number of safety seats and boosters made for children weighing more than 65 pounds (30 kilograms). The "10-year-old child" dummy is the latest addition to the agency's family of test dummies and is the best tool available for measuring the risk of injury to a child seated in a higher weight restraint system in the event of a vehicle crash.
The new test dummy was developed in concert with safety seat requirements updated to keep pace with the latest scientific research and new child restraint systems. The dummy will provide never-before-available information about the risk of injuries to children's heads, knees, and chests. The final rule issued in February 2012 by NHTSA amends the current Federal standard to include car seats and boosters specified for children weighing more than 65 pounds (30 kilograms) and up to 80 pounds (36 kilograms). Incorporating the use of the dummy for the first time ever in compliance tests enables researchers to evaluate how well the new systems manage crash energy and whether the seats' structures stay intact during impact.
The announcement about the new test dummy follows NHTSA's 2011 issuance of more stringent recommendations for the safety of child seats. The recommendations encourage parents and caregivers to keep children in safety seats with harnesses for as long as possible, up to the height and weight specifications of the seat.
For more information, visit www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS.
Public Information and Information Exchange
Washington's Trail Project Achieves Greenroads Certification
The Meador/Kansas/Ellis Trail project in Bellingham, WA, recently received Greenroads silver certification for sustainable roadway design and construction, the first-ever project to do so. The Greenroads Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization that advances sustainability education and initiatives for transportation infrastructure.
The city of Bellingham incorporated many sustainable elements into the project's design. Innovative materials include recycled porcelain aggregate made from 400 crushed toilets that were diverted from the landfill, as well as recycled asphalt and concrete aggregates, porous pavements that naturally treat runoff and provide effective storm water management, and low-energy LED street lighting. The project also added landscaping, bike lanes, sidewalks, and a pedestrian bridge to connect multimodal facilities in the area.
The project represents the culmination of the Greenroads Foundation's 5-year process to research, develop, and implement a sustainability rating system for the roadway industry. The Greenroads Rating System is a collection of best practices that address water and environmental issues, community impacts and access, and construction practices and materials. The foundation assigns a project score based on points earned by meeting 11 requirements and achieving 37 optional credits. The score translates into one of four certification levels: bronze, silver, gold, and evergreen. Globally, 14 projects currently are pursuing Greenroads certification.
For more information about this project, visit www.cob.org/features/2012-02-16-greenroads-cert.aspx. For more information about Greenroads certification, visit www.greenroads.org.
USDOT Report Underscores Need for Investment in Transportation
A new report, 2010 Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions & Performance, points to a sizeable gap between current spending and projected levels of investment needed to maintain U.S. surface transportation systems. This biennial report to Congress provides information on the physical and operating characteristics of the highway, bridge, and transit components.
The 2010 report projects that $101 billion, plus increases for inflation, is needed annually over the next 20 years from all levels of government -- local, State, and Federal -- to keep the highway system in its current state. The report also identifies significant opportunities for investments to improve the current state, which could total up to $170 billion a year. The report shows that in 2008, all levels of government spent a combined total of $91.1 billion on highway capital improvements.
Transit systems also require an increase in funding levels. The Conditions & Performance report projects that between $20.8 billion and $24.5 billion is needed annually over the next 20 years to attain a good state of repair for the Nation's transit systems and to accommodate expected growth in ridership. By contrast, all levels of government combined spent just $16.1 billion on transit capital improvements in 2008.
For more information, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/2010cpr.
FHWA to Launch Web Site for LPAs
Local public agencies (LPAs), which include city, county, and municipal departments of transportation, will soon have a new resource to help improve understanding and compliance with the requirements of the Federal-Aid Highway Program. By September 2012, FHWA will launch a new Web site, "Federal-Aid Essentials for Local Public Agencies," which will house an online library of informational videos and related materials.
The videos are approximately 4-8 minutes long and provide basic information on a variety of Federal-aid program and project responsibilities, including finance and civil rights programs, environmental and right-of-way issues, project development, and project construction and contract administration. The Web site will offer companion resources for each video topic including transcripts and links to related manuals, forms, contacts, and regulations.
FHWA will update the site regularly, adding new features to accommodate LPA needs and requests. Throughout the summer, FHWA is sponsoring several presentations and expositions to demonstrate the site's features.
Upon its launch, the "Federal-Aid Essentials for LPAs" Web site will be available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/federalaid/.