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.
Five Cities Will Receive Federal Funding To Fight Congestion
In August 2007 USDOT announced that five of the country's most congested metropolitan areas were selected to participate in a new Federal program that will provide funding to fight traffic jams.
USDOT chose the following areas to participate in its Urban Partnership Agreements: the Minneapolis area, MN; Miami, FL; New York City, NY; San Francisco, CA; and the Seattle area (King County), WA.
The applications to participate in the program were similar in that they all proposed to levy tolls that vary based on traffic volumes. Each city also plans to beef up transit options for residents. In addition to funding, USDOT will support the winning proposals with technical advice and an expedited review process. USDOT has committed to allocate the Federal contribution in a lump sum, not in bits and pieces over several years. This approach will get projects off the drawing board and into action, making it easier for congested areas to implement plans to fight traffic.
FHWA Officials Tour Bypass in Vermont
In June 2007 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials announced plans for a bypass in downtown Bennington, VT, to steer trucks away from streets, relieve congestion, improve safety, and boost the region's trade.
Neale Lunderville, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), invited FHWA officials for a tour of Bennington Bypass. The tour included a drive on the completed western leg and a preview of the project's northern leg, which began construction in July 2007.
The northern leg will include a new interchange at Vermont Route 9, connector roads, and a welcome center. Combined, the western and northern segments of the project represent the full east-west bypass for traffic to and from New York into Vermont and will reduce the number of trucks going through downtown Bennington. A third leg is planned which, combined with the northern segment, will provide a north-south bypass for truck traffic in the area. VTrans is currently working on establishing a construction date for the third and last leg.
Vermont officials expect truck traffic to increase significantly in the coming years, and believe that without the bypass, higher truck volume could worsen the existing congestion in downtown Bennington. In 2002 Vermont shipped 37.9 million tons of goods worth $32 billion; by 2020 projected figures will reach 54.4 million tons worth $60 billion. The completed bypass will en-able freight to move through the region more efficiently and without disrupting the quality of life in the area's historic towns.
Grants To Cut Construction Times For State Projects
As part of a program designed to reduce traffic jams near construction zones, USDOT will dedicate up to $1 million each to Arizona, Georgia, Maine, Missouri, Oregon, and Virginia projects.
Managed by FHWA, the Highways for LIFE (HfL) program provides grants to help States build roads faster, while making them last longer and be less costly to maintain. In addition to direct funding, the program may relieve States of their requirement to match project funding, potentially saving millions in State transportation funds.
The program aims to demonstrate how agencies can fix roads and bridges without causing new traffic delays, helping drivers avoid congestion.
These States represent the first round of 2007 recipients. More projects may receive HfL grants in the future. For more information on project funding, please visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/hfl/projects.cfm.
Federal Loan Jump-Starts Louisiana's Highway 1 in Port Fourchon
At a groundbreaking ceremony in April 2007, USDOT announced an innovative FHWA loan program that will aid replacement of Louisiana's Highway 1 (LA Hwy. 1) in Port Fourchon.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development received a $66 million loan under USDOT's Federal credit assistance program to start the first stretch of the project. The plan includes an improved, elevated, two-lane highway running 13 kilometers (8 miles) from Port Fourchon to Leeville, including a bridge over Bayou Lafourche.
Provided through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, the loan offers Federal credit assistance to help large, capital-intensive projects move toward completion. Under the loan terms, Louisiana will repay the money using toll revenue generated by the road.
Currently, LA Hwy. 1 is a narrow, two-lane road ending at the Gulf of Mexico. It is the only highway to Port Fourchon used to transport oil and natural gas — about 18 percent of the Nation's supply. Construction on the first phase of the project started in fall 2007, with plans to open the road by 2011. The completed project will be an elevated, four-lane highway running roughly parallel to LA Hwy. 1.
University Partnerships To Research Cost Cutting Through Technology
USDOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) is partnering with university-led research teams to reduce highway construction and maintenance costs through use of new technologies. The research teams will develop congestion pricing technologies for urban freight management, streamline and reduce the cost of environmental impact assessments in critical transportation corridors, explore use of remote imagery for monitoring rural road conditions, and develop cost-effective systems to monitor and test the structural integrity and lifespan of bridges and asphalt pavements.
Universities receiving funding from RITA for near-term product development include The Ohio State University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Mississippi State University, and University of California, Santa Barbara. Other universities receiving research funding include the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, South Dakota State University, and University of Wyoming.
For more information, contact Roger Lotz at 202-366-2246 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WSDOT Adds Traffic Cameras Near Puget Sound
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) recently installed 16 new traffic cameras along roads in the greater Puget Sound region, bringing the total number of cameras online to 155. "We hear it over and over again," says WSDOT Traffic Engineer Martin Dedinsky, "'We love the traffic cameras. Please add more.'"
WSDOT adds new cameras to roadways and traffic maps either during a widening or safety project, as was the case on U.S. 2 in Monroe and State Route (S.R.) 522 and S.R. 531, or through allocation of funds by the legislature to address a recognized need, as with S.R. 532 near General Mark W. Clark Memorial Bridge and Tiger Mountain. The cameras provide advance traffic information, helping Puget Sound drivers make educated choices before they hit the road.
To view the traffic cameras, visit WSDOT's "Seattle Area Traffic" Web site at www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/seattle. The cameras and traffic maps also are available for many Web-accessible cell phones at www.wsdot.wa.gov/small.
TRB's 2006 Air Quality Journal Now Available
In May 2007 the Transportation Research Board (TRB) released the Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 1987, an issue focused on air quality issues. The journal contains 17 papers that explore the emissions impacts of high-occupancy vehicle lane operations, the impact of toll collection and electronic screening on heavy-duty vehicle emissions, emissions from extremely low-emitting vehicles, evaluation of mobile source air toxic emissions, emissions from new and in-use transit buses, and ultrafine particle concentrations from hybrid urban transit buses.
Papers in this issue of the Transportation Research Record (TRR) also cover the following: a model for simulating traffic air quality; air quality measurements inside diesel truck cabs during idling; regional vehicle-mapping tables for the MOBILE emissions model; variability of mobile source air toxic emissions factors with MOBILE6.2; and emissions from dump trucks fueled with B20 biodiesel (20 percent biodiesel, 80 percent petroleum diesel) versus petroleum diesel. Other papers address the effects of driver behavior and road type on gas and particulate emissions; speed- and facility-specific emissions estimates for on-road, light-duty vehicles; a road pollution alert system; energy and environmental impacts of roadway grades; and commuter exposure to fine particulates inside automobiles.
Published on an irregular basis throughout the year, individual TRRs consist of collections of peer-reviewed papers on specific transportation subject areas and modes.
For more information, visit www.trb.org/news/blurb_detail.asp?id=7774.
Public Information and Information Exchange
Caltrans Awards $45 Million for Safe Routes to School
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) awarded $45 million to cities and counties to fund 88 projects for Safe Routes to School, a program designed to provide infrastructure and education to give students easier and healthier ways to travel to and from school safely.
"Safety is Caltrans' number one priority, and nothing is more important than ensuring the health and safe passage of our children," says Caltrans Director Will Kempton.
California expects to receive $68 million in Federal funding over the program's 5-year lifespan. Seventy percent of funds will go toward infrastructure projects such as new crosswalks and signage; 20 percent will be allocated to noninfrastructure projects such as faculty and student education; and 10 percent will be used to develop standardized training, promotional materials, curricula, and other resources.
Safe Routes to School benefits children in elementary or middle schools, and improvements to infrastructure must be within 3 kilometers (2 miles) of a school. For the list of funded projects by region, visit www.dot.ca.gov/hq/LocalPrograms/saferoute2.htm.
New Guidebook To Help First Responders With HazMat Incidents
In June 2007 USDOT and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) joined forces to give firefighters and other emergency responders instant access to information that will help them determine the best ways to contain hazardous materials spills and battle chemical fires safely.
For the first time, emergency responders will have electronic access, through laptops and personal digital assistants (PDAs), to the 2008 Emergency Response Guidebook under a new partnership between the two Federal agencies. The guidebook is the go-to reference for first responders to help them identify hazardous material classifications quickly, determine the best response, and protect themselves and the public immediately after an incident.
Development of the electronic guidebook was possible due to an agreement signed between USDOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the HHS National Library of Medicine. The library developed special software to give emergency responders access to the guidebook through PDAs as well as Microsoft® Windows®-based laptops and desktops. The software application, called the Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders (WISER), became available in late 2007.
For more information, visit http://wiser.nlm.nih.gov.