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Public Roads - July/August 2014

July/August 2014
Issue No:
Vol. 78 No. 1
Publication Number:
Table of Contents

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.

Secretary Foxx Visits I-95 Express Lanes Project

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently visited the 95 Express lanes in Fort Lauderdale, FL, to tour the progress of the project’s second phase of construction. The $112 million second phase uses $105 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act). Secretary Foxx was joined by U.S. Representatives Alcee Hastings, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Lois Frankel of Florida, along with other State and local officials.

Florida’s express lanes project on I–95 has reduced travel congestion and doubled rush hour traffic speeds on this busy route.

The first phase of the project, completed in 2010, established two express lanes in each direction of I–95 from SR–836 to the Golden Glades area. Construction included modifications to shoulders and ramps, improvements to stormwater drainage, and installation of electronic signage and tolling equipment. Data from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) show that with these updates, rush hour travel speeds on this perennially congested route increased by 200 percent in the general lanes and 250 percent in the express lanes.

The second phase of the 95 Express project, which began in 2011 and is expected to be completed in spring 2015, will convert 13 miles (21 kilometers) of free high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to variable-rate toll lanes. An additional lane is also being added to create two variable-rate lanes in each direction. These additional improvements are designed to reduce traffic congestion from the Golden Glades Interchange in Miami-Dade County to Broward Boulevard in Broward County.

Funding from the Recovery Act enabled FDOT to begin this project 5 years earlier than planned, and the innovative use of design-build contracting--which accelerates project delivery--is helping it progress even more quickly.

The project features an electronic toll system with costs varying based on the volume of traffic at the time drivers enter the express lanes. The tolls are less when traffic is light, but increase as the lanes become more congested. In addition, express bus service using new low-emission buses will be available along the corridor, expanding transportation options for residents.

By combining transit, technology, travel-demand management techniques, and tolling, this innovative project will reduce traffic jams along the route and offer improved trip-time reliability for thousands of drivers each day.

For more information, visit

Bridge Project Is a Model for Employing a Diverse Workforce

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx joined Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn for the recent opening of the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge on I–70 over the Mississippi River. Construction of the bridge, a joint project between Illinois and Missouri, began in 2010 and is considered a model of workforce diversity.

Small, minority, and women-owned businesses completed nearly 20 percent of the work, well above the Missouri Department of Transportation’s disadvantaged business goal of 13 percent and a record high for the region. In addition, 22 percent of the project’s skilled workforce were minorities--another record high for the area and well beyond the goal of 14.7 percent.

“Missouri and Illinois should be applauded for their reliance on small and disadvantaged businesses throughout this project,” says Federal Highway Acting Administrator Greg Nadeau. “The project . . . helped strengthen small businesses on both sides of the Mississippi.”

Here, attendees at the opening ceremony of the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge between Illinois and Missouri view photo displays of the construction. The use of small, minority, and women-owned businesses and skilled labor for the project set a regional record.

An estimated 40,000 drivers will use the bridge daily, a figure that is expected to grow to 55,000 per day by 2030. The project relieves area congestion by redirecting I–70 traffic across the new bridge, leaving the nearby Poplar Street Bridge to carry I–55 and I–64 traffic more safely and efficiently.

The bridge is the largest of 37 projects comprising the $700 million New Mississippi River Bridge project. Approximately 80 percent of the construction costs for this $229.5 million portion of the project were covered by Federal funds.

Standing at 400 feet (122 meters) above the river, the bridge is two-thirds the height of the neighboring Gateway Arch, the signature feature of St. Louis, MO. With a total length of 2,770 feet (844 meters), the new bridge is the third-longest cable-stayed bridge in the United States, and among the top 50 in the world.

For more information, visit

Technical News

SHRP2 Announces Recipients of Third Round of Funding

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) recently announced the recipients of funding under the third round of the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2). Organizations in 31 States will receive funds for project implementation and technical assistance.

The announcement marks the beginning of work on five new SHRP2 Solutions, which join the nine products previously offered. In the third round, 15 projects were selected under the GeoTechTools solution, 11 under Freight Demand Modeling and Data Improvement, 9 under Pavement Renewal Solutions, 8 under Identifying and Managing Utility Conflicts, and 5 under Precast Concrete Pavement.

SHRP2 products provide innovative technologies and processes to help meet the most challenging transportation needs. Forty-eight States and the District of Columbia now are engaged in the SHRP2 Implementation Assistance Program.

The program also announced the fourth round of SHRP2 products that will move from the research phase to implementation under the assistance program. Twelve solutions within the four focus areas of renewal, capacity, reliability, and safety will be available.

For more information, visit

Public Information and Information Exchange

Report Recommends More Investment in Transportation

dep3USDOT recently released the 2013 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions & Performance, which confirms that more investment is needed to maintain and improve the Nation’s highway and transit systems.

The report is based on 2010 data and estimates that all levels of government would need to spend between $123.7 billion and $145.9 billion per year to maintain and also improve the condition of roads and bridges alone. In 2010, Federal, State, and local governments combined spent $100.2 billion on this infrastructure, including $11.9 billion in Recovery Act funds.

The study uses the International Roughness Index (IRI) to determine overall pavement condition. Pavements with an IRI value of less than 95 inches per mile (150 centimeters per kilometer) are considered to have “good” ride quality. According to the report, travel on pavements with good ride quality rose from 46.4 percent in 2008 to 50.6 percent in 2010. This increase represents the highest 2-year jump since the metric was introduced in 1995. Although the report shows that overall pavement and bridge conditions have improved in many areas, the improvements have not been uniform across the system.

The investment estimates for roads and bridges are based on ranges, which is new to the 2013 report. The higher ends are based on State-provided forecasts, which were used in past reports--they average out to an annual growth of 1.85 percent per year. The lower ends presume vehicle miles traveled will grow at an average annual rate of 1.36 percent per year, which is consistent with the average annual growth in the past 15 years.

Conditions & Performance is a biennial report to Congress that provides information on the physical and operating characteristics of the highway, bridge, and transit components of the Nation’s surface transportation system.

To view the report, visit

Video Series Shows How “FHWA Works”

FHWA recently launched a video series that demonstrates how the agency is helping States and local governments build highways faster, safer, and more efficiently than ever before. The videos detail how FHWA is saving taxpayers time and money while providing jobs that benefit communities and boost local economies. Two videos are currently available through FHWA’s Web site and YouTube™ channel.

The first video in the series is titled “FHWA Works: How the Federal Highway Administration Moves America Through Our Public Lands.” The video explains how the Office of Federal Lands Highway builds and maintains the transportation infrastructure in national parks. From pedestrian and bicycle trails to roads and bridges, FHWA works with many other agencies and partners to move the public in and around the country’s national parks and forests, wildlife refuges, tribal lands, and military installations.

The second video, “FHWA Works: Building Bridges Faster and Better to Save You Time and Money,” shows how FHWA is working closely with State and local partners to build bridges faster and safer using accelerated bridge construction techniques. The video explains that accelerated construction techniques can minimize or even eliminate traffic jams, detours, and delays, while saving money and stretching highway budgets further.

As shown in this screen capture, the second video in the “FHWA Works” series demonstrates how the agency is using accelerated bridge construction techniques to speed building and minimize disruptions.

The “FHWA Works” video series is available for viewing at and at FHWA also shares the videos on its Facebook and Twitter accounts.

USDOT, IACP, States Partner on Drive to Save Lives

USDOT and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) recently announced a new road safety partnership, Drive to Save Lives, which includes State police and highway patrol officers from more than 40 States.

More than 33,000 deaths occur each year on the Nation’s roadways. Highway fatalities rank as one of the top 12 causes of death in the United States and the leading cause of death among teens. The goal of the united effort is to reduce highway fatalities by 15 percent in 2014.

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx joins members of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in New Orleans, LA, to announce the Drive to Save Lives road safety partnership.

State police and highway patrol leaders from the IACP Division of State and Provincial Police will lead a sustained, data-driven effort over the course of the year focused on increasing the use of seatbelts, reducing speeding, and targeting impaired and distracted driving. Another major element of Drive to Save Lives is officer safety. Traffic-related incidents are the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths of law enforcement officers. The campaign also will include enforcement actions against operators of commercial motor vehicles for unsafe driving.

Although the nationwide campaign is working toward a 2014 goal, the partnership will be an ongoing effort to prevent highway fatalities. To follow the campaign on Twitter, search for hashtag #Drive2SaveLives.


Drivers Concerned About Speeding on U.S. Roads

NHTSA recently released the 2011 National Survey of Speeding Attitudes and Behaviors, the third in a series of surveys that focus on speeding in the United States. Speeding-related deaths nationwide account for nearly a third of all traffic fatalities each year, taking close to 10,000 lives in 2011. Research has demonstrated a strong correlation between drivers’ attitudes toward speeding and other driving behaviors, and actual traffic outcomes.

Survey results show a broad range of perspectives among drivers. Four out of five drivers believe that increased use of speed cameras in dangerous or high-crash locations is a good idea. Almost half of all drivers, 48 percent, say that it is very important to take action to reduce speeding on U.S. roads.

However, despite acknowledging the safety benefits of speed limits and reasons drivers should follow them, 20 percent of drivers surveyed agreed, “I try to get where I am going as fast as I can.” Of those surveyed, male drivers admitted to speeding more compared to females, and drivers with the least experience behind the wheel, 16- to 20-year-olds, admitted to speeding more frequently than any other age group.

To encourage safe driving practices among teens, NHTSA recently launched its 5 to Drive campaign that challenges parents to discuss five critical driving practices with their teenage drivers: No speeding; no cell phone use or texting while driving; no extra passengers; no alcohol; and no driving or riding without a seatbelt.

For more information, see the 2011 National Survey of Speeding Attitudes and Behaviors at For details on the 5 to Drive teen driver safety campaign, visit


NHTSA Initiative Promotes Safety Technologies

dep6In an effort to reduce deaths and injuries on the Nation’s roadways, NHTSA recently announced its Significant and Seamless initiative. The initiative calls for NHTSA and the automotive industry to aggressively accelerate technological advances that could improve safety.

The Significant and Seamless initiative addresses the areas in highway safety where the industry can fast-track existing technologies to achieve the greatest safety benefits. The initiative emphasizes three promising areas of technological development and challenges both the automotive industry and the agency to determine the extent of the potential safety benefit--and ultimately to put these life-saving technologies into widespread use.

The first area of focus is seatbelt interlocks, which would prevent a vehicle from being driven if the driver and passenger are not properly buckled. This could increase belt use from the current national level of 86 percent to nearly 100 percent and save thousands of lives a year.

The second is to develop a Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) that can accurately and reliably detect when a driver is above the legal alcohol limit and prevent the car from moving.

The third advance is Forward Collision Avoidance and Mitigation (FCAM), a sensor-based vehicle technology that could detect the potential for a forward crash with another vehicle or pedestrian before it occurs and alert the driver to take corrective action to avoid the crash. This technology also could automatically apply the brakes to assist in preventing or reducing the severity of crashes.

NHTSA selected these technologies because they have great lifesaving potential, and their combined effect could decrease the death toll on highways.


Correction: In the article “Where the Water Meets the Road” in the March/April 2014 issue of Public Roads, the caption for this photo should have read: “A truck towing a camper is disembarking from a ferry operated by the Inter-Island Ferry Authority at the Hollis Terminal owned by the Alaska Marine Highway System. FHWA funding has played an important role in the success of this ferry service in rural Alaska.” We regret the error.