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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Public Roads - Nov/Dec 2009

Nov/Dec 2009
Issue No:
Vol. 73 No. 3
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.

Now Available: Draft SHSP Implementation Process Model

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Offices of Safety and Planning, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and other safety stakeholders recently released a draft process model to help States implement Strategic Highway Safety Plans (SHSPs). As described in The Essential Eight: Fundamental Elements and Effective Steps for SHSP Implementation, the model highlights successful practices and processes to help States implement their plans.


The SHSP implementation process model identifies four fundamental elements and four steps for successfully implementing strategic highway safety plans.


An SHSP is a statewide, coordinated safety plan that provides a comprehensive framework for reducing highway fatalities and serious injuries on public roads. An SHSP enables all highway safety programs in the State to work together to align resources. The model's "essential eight" refers to the four fundamental elements — leadership, collaboration, communication, and data collection and analysis — and the four steps for successful SHSP implementation — emphasis area action plans, linkage to other plans, marketing, and monitoring, evaluation, and feedback.

"The model is not meant to be a one-size-fits-all solution," says Tamiko Burnell, a transportation specialist with FHWA's Office of Safety. "Each State must determine which elements of the model are useful for overcoming that State's unique barriers and will result in transportation safety improvements that save lives and reduce injuries."

Developing the model entailed reviewing the practices of States that have implemented aspects of their SHSPs successfully. Researchers conducted extensive interviews with leaders and champions from those States and performed indepth examinations of statewide and metropolitan transportation plan and program documents, highlighting exemplary approaches and noteworthy practices. After completing a 6-month pilot phase using the model in 10 States, transportation officials expect a final publication in spring 2010.

For more information, access the draft model at

Technical News

MaineDOT Uses Innovative Paving System to Reduce Runoff

The Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) is applying a porous paving system on Maine Mall Road, a high-volume public road, as a means to protect the surrounding Long Creek Watershed — a 3.5-square-mile (9.1-square-kilometer) area in the Portland, Scarborough, South Portland, and Westbrook municipalities. The porous pavement's coarser stone allows rain and snowmelt to pass through the surface to the gravel and sand filtering system below, treating, cooling, and reducing the peak runoff rate of untreated runoff going directly into surface waters.

MaineDOT identified the porous paving system as one way to contribute to the Long Creek Restoration Project, a collaborative, community-based initiative to bring the stream back into compliance with State and Federal water quality standards, and to open up new recreation opportunities for residents and visitors.

"Urban roads typically have little additional right-of-way for the installation of traditional stormwater treatment systems," says MaineDOT Project Manager Peter Newkirk. "Porous pavement is a system that does not require any additional area, and in this application, [it] discharges to Long Creek through our existing subsurface drainage system, providing cooler, cleaner, and slower water to the stream."

Transportation agencies have used porous pavement in the Northeast on parking lots and roads with low traffic volumes, and for more than 20 years on busier roads in warmer climates. To use the approach on a high-volume road that also must withstand a cold climate, MaineDOT engineers developed a multilayered pavement. The infiltration bed is hidden under a coarse asphalt surface that otherwise looks like a standard road surface. In total, the project will retrofit approximately 1.5 acres (0.6 hectare) of what used to be impervious surface within the watershed.



MaineDOT's use of a multilayered porous paving system (shown here) will help protect Long Creek Watershed from direct runoff from a heavily traveled roadway.


Traffic Analysis Toolbox Adds New Guides for Modeling and Simulation

FHWA has added two new volumes to its Traffic Analysis Toolbox series, offering departments of transportation (DOTs) guidance in using a range of analytical tools to plan and manage work zones. Both volumes address work zone modeling and simulation, and the importance of analyzing work zone impacts.

Volume VIII in the series, Work Zone Modeling and Simulation — A Guide for Decision-Makers (FHWA-HOP-08-029), offers guidance to executive-level staff on how analytical tools can support work zone decisions throughout a project's life cycle. The guide identifies six areas to consider when analyzing work zones: safety impacts for motorists, safety impacts for workers, mobility impacts, economic considerations, environmental concerns, and user costs.

The second guide, Volume IX, Work Zone Modeling and Simulation — A Guide for Analysts (FHWA-HOP-09-001), provides guidance to researchers and managers in charge of analyzing or developing models and approaches for work zones. The volume contains case studies including a pavement reconstruction project on I-15 in California, rehabilitation of the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana's Glacier National Park, and reconstruction of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge outside Washington, DC.

Volumes VIII and IX of the Traffic Analysis Toolbox are available at

Public Information and Information Exchange

Climate Change Report Cites Impacts On Transportation Industry

According to Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, a report released by the White House's United States Global Change Research Program, climate change poses significant challenges for the Nation's transportation system. The report concludes that although it is widely recognized that transportation affects climate change, the transportation community also needs to realize that climate change can and will affect the transportation- system.

Recognizing the important role the transportation system plays in the Nation's livelihood, the report suggests that the transportation industry should take steps to reduce the risks through redesign or relocation of certain infrastructure, increased redundancy of critical services, and operational improvements. Among the key concerns are sea-level rise and storm surges, which will increase the risk of major coastal impacts. Another concern is flooding from increasingly intense downpours, which will increase the risk of disruptions and delays in air, rail, and road transportation, and damage from mudslides in some areas. Further, the increase in extreme heat could limit some transportation operations and cause pavement and track damage. More intense, strong hurricanes could lead to more evacuations, infrastructure damage and failure, and transportation interruptions.

The report was coordinated by the United States Global Change Research Program and produced by a consortium of experts from government science agencies and several major universities and research institutes. The report focuses on climate change impacts in different regions of the country and on various aspects of society and the economy, such as energy, water, agriculture, health, and transportation.

For more information, access the full report at

United States Global Change Research Program


This map shows major roads at risk in the Gulf Coast region in the event of sea-level rise of nearly 4 feet (1.2 meters). Source: United States Global Change Research Program.


Researchers Credit Economic Factors For Drop in Traffic Congestion

Though it might not be evident on the roads, traffic congestion took a break from its worsening trend in the last half of 2007, according to the 2009 Urban Mobility Report, published recently by the Texas Transportation Institute. However, experts warn that the slowdown in congestion growth is minimal and temporary. When the economy rebounds, they say, expect traffic problems to do the same.

The 2009 report tracks traffic patterns in 439 urban areas in the United States from 1982 through 2007. According to the study, travelers spent 1 hour less stuck in traffic and wasted 1 gallon (3.8 liters) less gasoline than they did in 2006. This slight change represents a break in near-constant growth in traffic over 25 years.

"This is a very small change," says David Schrank, one of the study's authors. "No one should expect to be driving the speed limit on their way to work because of this."

Other study highlights illustrate the effects of the Nation's traffic problems, including the overall cost to Americans based on wasted fuel and lost productivity, which amounted to $87.2 billion in 2007, or more than $750 for every U.S. traveler. The total amount of wasted fuel topped 2.8 billion gallons, or 3 weeks' worth of gas for every traveler, and the amount of wasted time totaled 4.2 billion hours — nearly one full workweek for every traveler.

To reduce traffic congestion, the researchers suggest a diversified approach, including adding roadway and public transportation capacity in the places where it is needed most and providing alternate routes and toll lanes for faster and more reliable trips. Other solutions include offering programs such as ridesharing, flexible work times, and telecommuting to help travelers avoid traditional rush hours.

Texas Transportation Institute

Tool Available to Assess Highway Networks

FHWA and the National Center for Pavement Preservation (NCPP) have updated A Quick Check of Your Highway Network Health (FHWA-IF-07-006) — a tool to help highway agency managers assess the needs of their pavement networks and determine if their resource allocations are adequate. The updated brochure includes a worksheet that agencies can use to perform a pavement network evaluation.

When using the Quick Check tool, an agency first evaluates reconstruction and rehabilitation work by examining the lane miles, design life, and lane-mile cost for each proposed project or planned strategy. Then the agency evaluates pavement preservation treatments by examining the life extension offered by the treatment (such as concrete joint resealing, thin hot-mix asphalt overlays, microsurfacing, and chip seals) and related costs. By comparing the strategies and related costs, agencies can determine the most efficient and beneficial actions to use on their highway networks.

In addition to the updated brochure, FHWA and NCPP have also updated a PowerPoint® presentation and an Excel® worksheet that agencies can use to input data to obtain immediate results.

To view the brochure, visit, or access the PowerPoint and Excel files at To obtain a printed copy, contact Christopher Newman at 202-366-2023 or, or the National Center for Pavement Preservation at 517-432-8220.

Web Site on Work Zone Safety Launches Multilingual Section

The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse recently launched a multilingual section of its award-winning Web site at The International Resources section of the site provides materials on road construction zone safety in Arabic, Chinese, French, Japanese, Spanish, and Russian to supplement its extensive English language resources.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health asked the clearinghouse to create the new section in recognition that work zone safety is a serious global public health issue and to provide valuable information to other countries as they initiate programs to repair and modernize their transportation infrastructure. The clearinghouse is a project of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association's Transportation Development Foundation, operated in cooperation with FHWA and the Texas Transportation Institute. It includes information related to laws, regulations, standards, guidelines, research publications, and training resources associated with traffic and road closures.

The clearinghouse offers the international resources in both the original language and in English. When translations are available, the site provides the original documents and links to the translations to help facilitate communication and promote work zone safety for users around the world.

For more information, visit

American Road & Transportation Builders Association


Shown here is the Web site for the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse.


PBIC Updates Image Library

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) recently redesigned its library of images related to walking and bicycling. The PBIC Image Library, accessible at, is a searchable collection of free, high-quality images of people, transportation facilities, and livable places in the United States and more than 10 other countries. Site visitors can search by keyword or browse by popular search terms, such as bike lane, crosswalk, and pedestrian signal. Users also can search for images by State or country, photographer, or a specific format or print quality.

The photos are available for download and use in any noncommercial projects including Web pages, presentations, and reports. There are no costs or royalties associated with using the images; however, users must adhere to the guidelines posted on the site. Site visitors also can upload their own pedestrian- and bicycle-related photos for others to use.


FHWA Releases Guidebook on Converting HOV to HOT Lanes

As part of its continuing effort to mitigate traffic congestion on U.S. highways, FHWA's Office of Operations, on behalf of the High Occupancy Vehicle/Managed Use Lanes Pooled Fund Study, recently released Considerations for High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lane to High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lane Conversions Guidebook (FHWA-HOP-08-034). The document explores the planning, design, and ongoing operation and maintenance of HOT facilities, and provides technical guidance to assist State and local transportation planners and designers in determining where HOV to HOT lane conversions are feasible. The guidebook provides a summary of best practices and lessons learned from HOT facilities currently in operation.

According to the document, highway agencies and toll authorities across the United States operate more than 2,500 HOV lane miles, with approximately 2,500 more planned over the next 30 years. Although many HOV facilities outperform general purpose highway lanes in terms of person throughput, when carpool formation is low, HOV lanes may go underutilized and do not achieve congestion relief benefits.

The guidebook is intended to assist State departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, policymaking agencies, enforcement agencies, and others involved in the planning and management of HOV and HOT lanes. Three case studies illustrate key practical insights and lessons learned.

To access the report, visit For more information on the High Occupancy Vehicle/Managed Use Lanes Pooled Fund Study, visit


FHWA Names Federal Highway Administrator, Deputy Administrator

In July 2009, the U.S. Senate confirmed former Arizona State transportation official Victor Mendez as administrator of FHWA. In his role as the Nation's top Federal highway official, Mendez will deal with critical and timely issues, including implementing the largest new investment in U.S. infrastructure in years, and the reauthorization of the surface transportation law, which will guide Federal investment in roads and bridges for years to come.

As the former director of the Arizona Department of Transportation, Mendez delivered statewide construction programs on time, including major infrastructure improvements throughout the State. In addition, he worked to improve the agency's customer service within motor vehicle and highway division offices.

FHWA also named Gregory G. Nadeau as deputy administrator. Before joining FHWA, Nadeau served as deputy commissioner for policy, planning, and communications with MaineDOT, where he managed the State's transportation planning, freight, and business services.

FHWA's Adams Selected as a Top Newsmaker

Engineering News-Record, a weekly trade magazine for the construction industry, selected Mike Adams, a research geotechnical engineer at FHWA's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC), as one of its Top 25 Newsmakers for 2008. The magazine recognized Adams for his promotion of geosynthetic reinforced soil (GRS) technology, which is used for building efficient and cost-effective bridge substructure components.

Adams' research on GRS technology includes constructing and load testing a full-scale instrumented bridge pier at TFHRC in McLean, VA, which successfully demonstrated the ability to construct a reinforced soil bridge pier with segmental blocks.