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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 - November/December 2004

November/December 2004
Issue No:
Vol. 68 No. 3
Publication Number:
Table of Contents

Communication Product Updates

Communication Product Updates

by Joanne Sedor, FHWA Office of Freight Management and Operations

Below are brief descriptions of products recently published online by the FHWA Office of Operations. Copies are available from the USDOT warehouse or online (see addresses below). When ordering, include the FHWA publication number and title. Address requests for items available from the USDOT warehouse to the following:

DOT Warehouse

3341 Q 75th Avenue

Landover, MD 20875

Telephone: 301-322-5377

For more information on research and technology publications from FHWA, visit the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center's (TFHRC) Web site at, FHWA's Web site at, the National Transportation Library's Web site at, or the OneDOT information network at

Since the efficient movement of goods is dependent, in large part, on transportation specialists involved in the construction, maintenance, and operation of the National Highway System, educating a skilled and knowledgeable workforce is crucial to improving transportation operations. Interested parties can learn about operations strategies for mitigating traffic congestion, expanding existing highway capacity, and enhancing the overall safety and security of the transportation system in the following three reports:

Operations Story Efficient operations are a costeffective way to improve the performance of the national transportation network and to mitigate the effects of transportation on natural resources, neighborhoods, and people. The Operations Story highlights the FHWA Office of Operations' three-pronged, commonsense approach for maximizing the efficiency of the existing transportation system and reducing congestion. The strategies include the following: (1) gaining national recognition of the importance of operations, (2) improving institutional and regional efforts to enhance operations, and (3) facilitating advancements in operations and management. To learn more about what FHWA is doing to improve highway performance and reduce congestion, read the full Operations Story by visiting

The Freight Story: A National Perspective on Enhancing Freight Transportation An online report titled The Freight Story is the flagship document of the Office of Freight Management and Operations. The report not only highlights key challenges facing the freight transportation industry—including reducing congestion, improving operations, planning and financing freight projects, increasing safety, and creating a skilled workforce—but also discusses strategies to enhance freight mobility at international gateways and within States and localities, highway corridors, and regions. National initiatives to improve the overall performance of the freight system also are examined. To learn more about The Freight Story, visit or contact Joanne Sedor at 202-366-8959 or

National State of Congestion The report, Traffic Congestion and Reliability: Linking Solutions to Problems, provides a snapshot of congestion in the United States, highlighting recent trends and efforts to improve travel-time reliability. The report discusses the sources of congestion, which are far more complex than too many vehicles trying to use the road at the same time. Bottlenecks that occur when travel demand outstrips supply account for 40 percent of congestion, followed by traffic incidents (25 percent) and work zones (10 percent). The report, which also examines the effects of delay on travelers and freight carriers, draws upon several FHWA-sponsored studies and other research to produce a comprehensive picture of congestion in the Nation. For more information, visit

In addition to these overview documents, the Office of Operations also produces a variety of technical products, including the following:

Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) Transportation officials first recognized the need for uniform standards for traffic control devices to guide the Nation's highway users many years ago. In fact, the first MUTCD was published in 1935, and the document has been revised several times since then. Uniformity among traffic control devices is integral to optimizing the performance of new transportation systems and improving existing highways because it significantly reduces the number and severity of crashes. To view the most recent version of the MUTCD, visit

Full Road Closure for Work Zone Operations: A Cross-Cutting Study The increasing need to add additional capacity to highways, and to improve and maintain existing roadways, usually leads to more work zones. Transportation agencies, however, must balance the need for more work zones with concerns for ensuring the mobility and safety of passengers and freight carriers. Full road closure is one way to balance these competing needs. The full-closure approach eliminates the motorist's exposure to work zones and the worker's exposure to traffic by temporarily closing a stretch of roadway for rehabilitation or maintenance. During full road closure, traffic is detoured—usually for a set amount of time—giving workers full access to the roadway. Full road closure can increase the efficiency of the work and thus reduce the overall duration of the project. This report discusses the pros and cons of the full-closure approach and highlights projects in Delaware, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington State. To view the report and related studies, visit For more information about work zone initiatives, contact Tracy Scriba at 202-366-0855, or Scott Battles at 202-366-4372,

Traffic Incident Management Tow Operators Workplan (TIMTOW) Guide Crashes and other incidents are responsible for about 25 percent of all traffic congestion. Clearing crash sites quickly and safely is an integral component of traffic incident management, and tow truck operators are key players in the process. Sponsored by FHWA, in partnership with the Towing and Recovery Association of America, the Traffic Incident Management Tow Operators Workplan (TIMTOW) Guide (DTFH61-03-X-00005) focuses on traffic incident management (TIM) from the tower's perspective. TIM practices used by State departments of transportation and by some State towing organizations and associations are presented as well. FHWA distributed the guidebook to established towing businesses across the United States. For more information, contact Dave Helman at 202-366-8042,

Freight Transportation Improvements and the Economy This report (FHWA-HOP-04-005) summarizes the results of FHWA research and FHWA-sponsored studies on the economic benefits of transportation improvements and discusses several approaches to measuring benefits and improving the benefit-cost analysis of freight transportation improvements. The researchers conducted the study in two phases: Phase I documents a range of short- and long-term benefits. Short-term benefits include a reduction in transportation costs to individual firms due to decreases in transit time. Long-term benefits include efficiency improvements and further cost reductions, resulting from improvements in logistics, supply chain management, and changes in a firm's output or location. Phase II focuses on developing an analytical model to quantify first-order and secondorder benefits detailed in Phase I. Preliminary results of Phase II research suggest that these newly measured improvements should increase the benefits found in current benefit-cost models by about 15 percent. To learn more about the report, visit or contact Joanne Sedor at 202-366-8959,

Talking Freight Seminars The monthly Talking Freight seminars, held via telephone and the Internet, are one way FHWA works to ensure that freight stakeholders and transportation professionals obtain the latest information on moving freight across the United States. In October 2004, experts in the air cargo and logistics industries talked about their strategies for dealing with current and projected freight trends and challenges. The November 2004 seminar will focus on best practices for deploying freight intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies, and the December 2004 seminar will discuss the benefits of building multijurisdictional coalitions, such as the I-10 partnership. To register for the next seminar, visit For more information, please contact Jennifer Seplow at 703-676-0851,

Weather and ITS This brochure, produced by FHWA and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, discusses the areas in which ITS can help road managers use weather information more effectively, especially in reducing fatalities and injuries. Adverse weather is responsible for an estimated 6,900 fatalities and 470,000 injuries annually, as well as billions of dollars in travel time delay. To view the report, visit$file/Weather_ITS_brochure.pdf.

Managing Travel for Planned Special Events Handbook This handbook (FHWA-OP-04-010) assists agencies and individuals in managing special events that affect transportation operations. It provides a framework for developing a plan, including a checklist of steps needed to ensure that the event is successful. Information in the handbook is aimed at a range of stakeholders, including transportation engineers, law enforcement officers, event organizers, and emergency service providers.

The core chapters discuss the use of ITS technologies to manage traffic related to special events. Examples of ITS technologies include portable variable message signs and weather sensors. The handbook also provides numerous real-world examples of dealing with planned special events and highlights numerous best practices. To view the handbook, visit For more information on managing travel for special events, contact Laurie Radow at 202-366-2855,

Regional ITS Architecture Guidance White Paper Regions with ITS projects funded by the Highway Trust Fund are required to develop, use, and maintain a regional ITS architecture—a framework for ensuring that ITS technologies are integrated into the transportation planning process. The document Regional ITS Architecture Guidance: Developing, Using, and Maintaining an ITS Architecture for Your Region (EDL #13598), available at, provides assistance with developing and using a regional ITS architecture. As new ITS projects are implemented, a regional ITS architecture needs to be updated to reflect changing priorities and plans. This white paper shows readers how to develop an architecture maintenance plan—using several existing plans as examples—and how to implement a program to maintain it. To view the paper, visit

For more information about any of these products, visit the FHWA Office of Operations Web site at or call the office staff.