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.
"Every Day Counts" Initiative to Rely on Partnerships
In November 2009, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez announced the launch of an initiative to reduce delivery times for highway projects, accelerate the deployment of innovative technologies, and reduce the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) environmental footprint. One of the main strategies that FHWA will use to achieve the initiative's goals involves establishing and/or enhancing partnerships and facilitating the sharing of information within the transportation community.
Partnerships and information sharing are especially critical to accelerating deployment of innovative technologies. FHWA plans to bring together Federal agencies, States, universities, and the private sector to leverage resources, knowledge, and expertise to move innovation forward. Many innovative approaches, such as accelerated construction practices, have proven to yield dramatic improvements in the delivery of highway projects, save money, and increase safety. The Every Day Counts initiative aims to break down barriers to innovation deployment and push market-ready innovations into the mainstream to benefit road users across the country.
Working through partnerships with organizations such as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), National Association of County Engineers, The Associated General Contractors of America, and State departments of transportation (DOTs), Every Day Counts will leverage the industry's collective ingenuity, innovation, imagination, and inventive capacity.
For more information or to share ideas related to the Every Day Counts initiative, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
FHWA to Participate in International Research Collaboration
In October 2009, FHWA joined the Forum of European National Highway Research Laboratories, an international organization representing the interests of more than 30 research and technical centers in Europe, Israel, South Africa, and, now, the United States. The forum engages in road engineering research on topics such as safety, materials, environmental issues, telematics (that is, the convergence of wireless technology, global positioning systems, and onboard electronics in automobiles), and economic evaluations.
Michael F. Trentacoste, associate administrator of the FHWA Office of Research, Development, and Technology, accepted the membership offer on behalf of FHWA. Joining the forum supports the agency's goal to build international relationships and institutionalize cooperation in transportation research. FHWA received strong support for its application from national laboratories in the Czech Republic, France, and the Netherlands.
The Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center will manage FHWA's participation, which includes developing a research capabilities framework that provides a platform for future international collaboration. FHWA also will participate in research coordinators' meetings three times a year to identify opportunities for collaboration. Initial activities might include sharing plans for research and completed research results, implementing the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) results, and identifying targeted projects for future collaboration.
New USDOT Council to Promote Department's Safety Focus
Secretary of Transportation Ray H. LaHood convened the first meeting of a newly formed USDOT Safety Council in October 2009 to coordinate safety efforts across the Department's 10 operating administrations. The council's goals are to further enhance the focus on safety throughout the Department and to improve the impact of USDOT's crosscutting safety programs.
Chaired by Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari, the council includes the heads of each of USDOT's operating administrations: FHWA, the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Maritime Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, and the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. The Safety Council will serve a broad-based leadership role and help break down organizational stovepipes, facilitating an even stronger safety culture.
Now Available: Report on Designing for Safer Speeds
The University of Connecticut, funded by the Connecticut Department of Transportation through the Connecticut Cooperative Transportation Research Program, recently studied how physical characteristics of the roadway and the roadside environment affect actual vehicle running speeds. The study also looked at how observed vehicle speeds relate to motor vehicle crashes.
Researchers observed vehicle speeds using radar speed guns at about 300 sites in urban, suburban, and rural areas across Connecticut at locations without horizontal curves or traffic control devices to impede traffic flow. They also noted roadway and roadside characteristics, such as lane width, onstreet parking, and the aesthetics or beauty of a road environment, which an earlier study suggests decreases speed, and developed statistical prediction models to learn more about how free-flow vehicle speeds, roadway and roadside characteristics, and crash incidence and severity relate.
The resulting report, Designing Roads That Guide Drivers to Choose Safer Speeds, demonstrates that through careful, intentional selection of roadway and roadside design elements, it is possible to influence the running speed of traffic on a road. The factors associated with higher average running speeds are wide shoulders, large building setbacks, and residential locations. The factors associated with lower average speeds are onstreet parking, sidewalks, and downtown or commercial locations. According to the report, drivers seem to take cues from elements of the roadway and roadside environment to decide how fast to drive, independent of the posted speed limit and other considerations that might be important to the community for reducing speeds.
For more information, visit www.ct.gov/dot/LIB/dot/documents/dresearch/JHR_09-321_JH_04-6.pdf.
Connecticut Department of Transportation
Policy and Legislation
New Guidance on Public Sector's Reporting of GHG Emissions
In October 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order committing Federal agencies to report and reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by setting 2020 reduction targets. Drawing on its experience in creating GHG reporting protocols primarily for the business sector, the World Resources Institute (WRI) consulted with agencies from all levels of government to develop an accounting framework suitable for U.S. government operations. The standard, called the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Public Sector Standard, is intended to be a flexible management tool to help government agencies meet multiple GHG emissions reporting objectives. The standard also will serve as the basis from which implementation requirements for the Federal executive order will be further specified.
According to Stephen Russell, an associate at WRI leading the standard's development process, "Globally, the government sector is responsible for a huge volume of greenhouse gas emissions, and the executive order sets an important milestone and example for the management of these emissions."
The guidance emphasizes the operational control approach for inventories (that is, only accounting for emissions from those activities that an organization controls) and offers guidance on how to account for leased buildings and vehicle fleets. The standard also recommends that local governments consult the Local Government Operations Protocol for guidance that is compatible with the Public Sector Standard and specific to city, county, and municipal organizations.
For more information, visit www.ghgprotocol.org/the-public-sector-works-with-ghg-protocol-to-develop-a-new-standard.
Public Information and Information Exchange
Washington, DC, Opens East Coast's Largest Bike Transit Center
In late 2009, the east coast's largest bicycle center and the Nation's most state-of-the-art bike facility opened its doors in Washington, DC. A project of the District Department of Transportation's Bicycle Program and Mobis Transportation Alternatives, Inc./Bikestation®, the facility is the latest in a string of bicycle transit centers springing up across the country.
Bikestation Washington, DC, is located outside Union Station near the U.S. Capitol, which enables commuters to take public transportation to the station, pick up their bicycles, and ride to work, shopping, or entertainment. The facility can house more than 100 bicycles in its 1,600-square-foot (149-square-meter) freestanding, ultramodern glass and steel design.
According to a high-ranking USDOT official, Bikestation Washington, DC, is "a model of the sustainable, livable mobility this Nation needs now."
For more information, visit www.bikestation.com/washingtondc.
Georgia DOT to Focus on Solicited Public-Private Partnerships
Legislation adopted by the Georgia General Assembly in 2009 mandates that all public-private partnership projects be solicited by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) -- meaning the department will no longer pursue unsolicited proposals. Instead, projects must be specifically identified and private sector proposals specifically requested by GDOT. In light of this legislation, GDOT decided to focus its entire program on a solicited process and not pursue six unsolicited proposals received prior to the legislation's adoption.
GDOT officials believe that by focusing on solicited projects only, they will be able to advance the partnership program more systematically and in accordance with the department's overall transportation plans. As required in the legislation, GDOT created a new division to manage the partnership program and anticipates initiating a solicitation for its first public-private partnership project by summer 2010.
For more information, visit www.georgiaP3.com.
APWA Announces New Certification Recipients
The American Public Works Association (APWA) announced that 20 public works infrastructure professionals earned credentials as Certified Public Infrastructure Inspectors and eight public works fleet professionals earned credentials as Certified Public Fleet Professionals in November 2009.
The APWA inspector certification program promotes the creation and maintenance of quality infrastructure in communities by advancing the knowledge and practice of construction inspection. Likewise, the public fleet certification program ensures individual competency and promotes excellence in fleet management. APWA's credentialing programs aim to benefit the public works industry and communities by providing recognized standards that lead to an improved workforce and delivery of services.
For lists of certified professionals and more information about APWA's professional development initiatives, visit www.apwa.net/certification or contact Certification Manager Becky Stein at 816-595-5212 or email@example.com.
Diverging Diamond Interchange Wins Best Innovation of the Year
The science and technology news magazine Popular Science recently selected the diverging diamond interchange (DDI) as one of its "2009 Best of What's New: 100 Best Inventions of the Year." The interchange earned a spot in the engineering category for its "new pattern for beating traffic," according to the December 2009 issue.
The DDI design improves both safety and mobility by minimizing signal phases and more effectively serving left-turning motorists. FHWA estimates that the diverging diamond configuration, first implemented in the United States in Springfield, MO, in June 2009, makes possible more than 600 left turns onto a freeway per hour per lane -- double that of an ordinary interchange in which drivers cross oncoming traffic. Benefits of the DDI also include faster and cheaper construction compared to other interchange types. FHWA's Office of Research, Development, and Technology played a major role in identifying, evaluating, and assisting the Missouri Department of Transportation in constructing the Springfield intersection design featured in the magazine.
For more information on the Springfield DDI, including an animated demonstration of how to drive through the interchange, visit www.modot.mo.gov/springfield/major_projects/Greene/I-44andRoute13.html.