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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Public Roads - March/April 2014

March/April 2014
Issue No:
Vol. 77 No. 5
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.

Tribal Transportation Fund Provides Millions for Safety Projects

USDOT recently announced that 183 tribes will receive $8.6 million for 195 projects to improve transportation safety on tribal lands. This is the first year that funds from the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Tribal Transportation Program Safety Fund have been awarded since the program’s creation in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). FHWA received 240 applications requesting a total of $27.2 million in assistance.

Tribes will use the funds for safety planning, engineering improvements, enforcement and emergency services, and community education. Congress created the program because tribal roads and other transportation facilities are statistically among the most hazardous in the Nation because of poor physical conditions.

Grant recipients include the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, which will receive more than $525,000 for improvements to the intersection of U.S. Highway 62 and Coffee Hollow Road, which is the entrance to Sequoyah Schools, the Cherokee Immersion School, and the Head Start and Early Childhood Center in Cherokee County. The project includes new traffic signals, better signage, and improved acceleration and deceleration lanes to smooth traffic flow and reduce the likelihood of crashes.

The Navajo Nation, which extends into the States of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, will receive almost $295,000 for new software to improve the collection and sharing of electronic crash data.

The Native Village of Chuathbaluk in Alaska will receive $100,000 for “Good Samaritan” shelters. The shelters are a pilot project to create safe havens with emergency supplies and heat for people stranded by vehicle breakdowns or impassable rivers near the remote villages of Chuathbaluk, Aniak, and Napaimute.

For more information, visit


Technical News

Administrator Mendez Celebrates Opening of Innovative Bridge

The new Memorial Bridge connecting Portsmouth, NH, and Kittery, ME—shown here near the end of construction—is the first truss bridge in the United States built without gusset plates.


Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez joined New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, New Hampshire senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, and Maine senator Susan Collins, as well as other State and local officials, to celebrate the opening of the new Memorial Bridge connecting Portsmouth, NH, and Kittery, ME.

The innovative new Memorial Bridge is the first truss bridge in the United States built without gusset plates, which typically connect bridge beams, or trusses, together. Instead, the metal sections are all uniform in size so they fit together like puzzle pieces through a process called splicing. The steel portions are finished with a metalized coating expected to last 40 to 50 years without requiring maintenance. A lift bridge, the new structure features a modern control house with windows that provide a 360-degree view to enhance visibility for operators and improve safety.

The bridge cost $90 million, with $79.3 million coming from Federal funds, including a $20 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant.

One of three crossings over the Piscataqua River between the two cities, the new Memorial Bridge replaces an old structure that was permanently closed to traffic for safety reasons in July 2011. Typically, 12,100 vehicles use the bridge on a given day. The reopening of Memorial Bridge means that residents and visitors, including bicyclists and pedestrians, once again have a direct route to and from downtown Portsmouth and Kittery.


Public Information and Information Exchange

Now Available: Performance-Based Planning and Programming Guidebook

FHWA’s Performance-Based Planning and Programming Guidebook presents this framework for applying performance management principles to transportation planning activities.


Over the past two decades, transportation agencies increasingly have been applying a strategic approach to performance management. The approach uses performance data to support decisions to help achieve desired outcomes. MAP-21 places increased emphasis on performance management within the Federal-Aid Highway Program and transit programs, and requires use of performance-based approaches in statewide, metropolitan, and nonmetropolitan transportation planning.

To help, FHWA recently published the Performance-Based Planning and Programming [PBPP] Guidebook (FHWA-HEP-13-041). PBPP refers to the application of performance management principles within transportation agencies’ planning and programming processes to achieve desired performance outcomes for the multimodal transportation system. The guidebook describes the PBPP process and provides examples of effective practices to support implementation. The framework includes four key elements: (1) strategic direction and analysis, (2) programming, (3) implementation and evaluation, and (4) public involvement and data.

The PBPP process involves measuring progress toward meeting goals and using information on past and anticipated performance trends to inform investment decisions. It attempts to ensure that decisionmakers base their choices for transportation investments on their ability to meet established goals for improving the overall transportation system.

To develop the guidebook, FHWA collaborated with stakeholders across the transportation industry including representatives from metropolitan planning organizations, State departments of transportation, and public transit providers.

For more information, visit The publication is available at

Eight Communities Designated “Walk Friendly”


The Palmer Avenue improvement project in Tallahassee, FL, included new sidewalks and crosswalks to improve pedestrian safety. Tallahassee is one of the latest cities to receive a Walk Friendly designation from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.


The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) recently announced that eight additional communities have earned “walk friendly” designations. The appellation recognizes these communities for their demonstrated commitment to improving and sustaining walkability and pedestrian safety through comprehensive programs, plans, and policies. PBIC’s Walk Friendly Communities program, supported by FHWA in partnership with FedEx, provides guidance to help communities encourage residents to leave their cars at home and walk instead.

Communities are designated at the platinum, gold, silver, or bronze level; only Seattle, WA, has achieved platinum, indicating high-level achievements in all areas of pedestrian programs. The eight latest communities to earn the distinction are Asheville, NC; Burlington, VT; Montclair, NJ; and Tallahassee, FL, at the silver level and Atlanta, GA; Bloomington, IN; La Crosse, WI; and Sitka, AK, at the bronze level. With these additions, a total of 44 communities across the country have been designated “walk friendly.”

Communities apply for designation through a comprehensive Web-based assessment tool that evaluates walkability and pedestrian safety through questions related to engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, evaluation, and planning. The questions both evaluate conditions for walking and provide communities with feedback and ideas for promoting pedestrian safety and activity.

For more information, visit


Caltrans Promotes Safety for People and Animals

A trail camera snapped this photo of a young buck deer using a specially designed wildlife escape ramp to safely get away from Highway 101 near San Luis Obispo, CA. The elevated ramp enables wildlife to jump down without injury but is too high for animals to enter.


In September 2013, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife sponsored a statewide Watch Out for Wildlife Week. The campaign reminded motorists to remain alert in wildlife areas and provided tips to help keep animals and people safe. Tips included remembering that if one animal is visible, others may be following it, and to avoid littering, which can attract animals to the roadway.

The California Highway Patrol reported more than 1,800 wildlife-vehicle collisions in 2010. These types of incidents cause approximately $1 billion in property damage nationwide. The Defenders of Wildlife, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting native animals and plants, reports that more than 200 people are killed in collisions with deer, elk, and other wildlife each year with an estimated 1.5 million animals hit annually. Many deaths, injuries, and costly vehicle repairs could be avoided if drivers remained alert for wildlife, were aware of when animals are most active, and prepared to react safely if an animal moves onto the road.

Engineering measures can help too. In one instance, Caltrans installed electric mats at unfenced intersections near San Luis Obispo on Highway 101, which bisects a major wildlife corridor in the Los Padres National Forest. The electric mats discourage animals from entering the roadway. In recognition of this effort, the California Transportation Foundation honored Caltrans with the 2013 Safety Project of the Year award. Other animal safety features include culverts to enable wildlife to cross under a highway, and specially designed, one-way “ramps” from which animals may jump down out of a highway area but which do not allow animals to enter.

Among other projects, a study of wildlife movement is now underway to determine the effectiveness of crossings and fencing along State Route 76 in San Diego County. Data gathered from the survey will help improve plans for similar safety measures throughout the State.