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Public Roads - November/December 2016

November/December 2016
Issue No:
Vol. 80 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.

New Pedestrian and Transit Facility Opens At U.S.–Mexico Border

Deputy Federal Highway Administrator David S. Kim recently joined U.S. General Services Administrator Denise Turner Roth and U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson, as well as other State and local officials, to open the new Virginia Avenue Transit Center and the West Pedestrian crossing at the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry in southern California.

Federal, State, and local officials helped open the new pedestrian crossing facility at the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry, shown here.

The new pedestrian crossing, just west of I–5, includes a transit facility and features 10 northbound processing lanes with 2 reversible lanes that will be open around the clock. The crossing will connect with the Virginia Avenue Transit Center, serving as a main northbound crossing point and connection to bus options for pedestrians.

The center will accommodate buses, taxis, pedicabs, and dropoffs and pickups by private vehicles. Both projects are a part of the modernization and expansion of the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry, which, once completed, will help the San Diego area’s economy. According to the San Diego Association of Governments, San Ysidro is the busiest land border crossing in the western hemisphere, serving an estimated 70,000 northbound vehicles and 25,000 pedestrians per day. It also represents the third-highest dollar value of trade among all land border crossings between the United States and Mexico.

Technical News

Alaskan Bridge Tests GRS–IBS in Harsh Climate

The Federal Highway Administration, in cooperation with the Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich’in Tribal Government, started construction in August 2016 on Alaska’s first geosynthetic reinforced soil–integrated bridge system (GRS–IBS) project. The project to replace Ivars Bridge over the Sucker River in Fort Yukon, 11 miles (18 kilometers) north of the Arctic Circle, will test the technology in an extreme environment that has seen a record high of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) and a record low of 78 degrees Fahrenheit below zero (-61 degrees Celsius).

The replacement of Ivars Bridge, shown here before the start of construction, is the first GRS–IBS project in Alaska.

The current bridge is overtopped occasionally by the stream and is failing because of scour of the fill material around the culverts. Overtopping creates a hardship for the locals as the bridge is the only stream crossing available. Its failure would virtually eliminate the opportunity for subsistence usage on one side of the stream. The project is expected to be completed in fall 2017.

Public Information and Information Exchange

Nogales Street Project Improves Key Freight Corridor

FHWA Deputy Administrator David S. Kim and California State and local officials recently attended a ceremony to open the Nogales Street grade separation project, which improves safety, reduces noise and emissions, and enhances freight movement in Los Angeles County, CA. The project is central to the Alameda Corridor-East Trade Corridor Plan in southern California to connect the Nation’s rail network to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The $88.7 million project, which relied on $22 million in Federal funding, separates the two major rail lines from local highways in the City of Industry, a Los Angeles suburb. These east-west rail lines run parallel with SR–60, a critical freight highway, moving freight between the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and the rest of the country. Running north-south, Nogales Street provides important access to SR–60 for the commercial and logistics shipping industry.

Nogales Street carries more than 45,000 vehicles daily. Where the street intersects with the railroad, the route’s traffic is halted for the passage of more than 50 trains per day, of which nearly 80 percent are freight carriers. The new six-lane roadway underpass and double-decker railroad bridge will eliminate these sizeable traffic delays, along with the potential for collisions at the highway-rail grade crossing. The project also will substantially reduce noise from train horns and emissions from cars and trucks idling while waiting for trains to pass.

FHWA Publishes Primer on Shared Mobility

FHWA recently released Shared Mobility: Current Practices and Guiding Principles (FHWA-HOP-16-022). The publication is a primer on shared mobility, which is an innovative transportation strategy that enables travelers to gain short-term access to transportation, including vehicles, bicycles, or other modes, on an as-needed basis.

The term “shared mobility” includes various forms of carsharing, bikesharing, ridesharing (carpooling and vanpooling), and on-demand ride services. It can also include alternative transit services, such as paratransit, shuttles, and private transit services (called microtransit), which can supplement fixed-route bus and rail services.

In addition to innovative travel modes, new ways of transporting and delivering goods also are emerging. These courier network services have the potential to change the nature of the package and food delivery industry, as well as the broader transportation network.

Shared mobility is having a transformative impact on many cities by enhancing the accessibility of transportation, while simultaneously reducing driving and personal vehicle ownership. The primer provides an introduction and background; reviews success stories; examines challenges, lessons learned, and proposed solutions; and concludes with guiding principles for public agencies. It also looks toward the future of the evolution and development of shared mobility.

The primer is available at

ODOT Traffic App Improves Commuter Experience

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) recently released a mobile app with customizable traffic alerts, information on road construction and travel delays, and hands-free voice capabilities for travelers on the go. The app, called OHGO, is available in the App Store and Google Play.

OHGO uses information from ODOT’s speed sensors to identify delays, offers real-time traffic maps, and enables users to access traffic cameras to view their routes. Traffic operators at ODOT’s traffic management center in Columbus verify and add incidents to the app.

Users can save their regular routes and schedule mobile notifications about traffic delays along those routes, as well as receive notifications for a specified distance around their current location.

ODOT’s traffic app includes warnings of roadway incidents (the red exclamation points) verified by operators at Ohio’s traffic management center in Columbus.

For more information, visit


FHWA Partners with States to Protect Pollinator Health

Bees and butterflies are responsible for about 30 percent of the U.S. food supply and 90 percent of wild plants, making the health of these pollinator populations an issue that affects everyone. But pollinators are at risk. In 2015, beekeepers reported losing about 40 percent of honey bee colonies, and the number of overwintering monarch butterflies in Mexico’s forests has declined by 90 percent or more over the past two decades.

The transportation community has an opportunity to play an important role in keeping these populations healthy and thriving by turning transportation corridors into pollinator-friendly habitats.

FHWA and six States recently signed a partnership to strengthen the pollinator community, which includes bees and monarch butterflies, along I–35 from Texas to Minnesota--a key migratory corridor for monarchs. The agreement establishes “a cooperative and coordinated effort to establish best practices and promote public awareness of the monarch butterfly and other pollinator conservation.” The partners will work together to develop a unified branding for I–35, informally naming it the “Monarch Highway.”

FHWA and six States signed an agreement to establish habitats for monarch butterflies, like this one, and other pollinators along I–35.

In addition, the White House Pollinator Health Task Force recently released a Pollinator Partnership Action Plan that builds on Federal actions to improve pollinator health by facilitating additional engagement with States, transportation agencies, and the private sector. The plan furthers a presidential memorandum signed in June 2014 that focused the attention of Federal agencies on the plight of pollinators. It provides examples of successful collaborations between the Federal Government and other stakeholders to support pollinator health and highlights areas for future cooperation.

For more information, visit and

Washington State Opens Longest Floating Bridge

The Washington State Department of Transportation recently celebrated the grand opening of the SR–520 floating bridge over Lake Washington. The 7,700-foot (2,350-meter)-long bridge--the world’s longest floating bridge--was built using the design-build project delivery method. The new bridge replaces one that opened in 1963 with a safer structure that offers more roadway and transit capacity.

The aging original SR–520 bridge (right) remained in use until the new floating bridge (left) opened to traffic in spring 2016.

After more than half a century of use, the old bridge needed to be replaced. The original’s pontoons were vulnerable to windstorms, and its support columns were vulnerable to earthquakes. In addition, the old bridge only had two lanes in each direction, no shoulders, and no high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. Adding transit/HOV lanes, shoulders, and a bicycle and pedestrian path on the new bridge provides greater travel reliability and more options to accommodate growth in the region.

The new bridge is currently open to traffic while construction of the bicycle and pedestrian path continues. When completed in 2017, the path will connect to regional trails on either side of Lake Washington, creating additional opportunities for recreational use.

For more information, visit

Washington State DOT


Aylward Selected as New Volpe Center Director

In July, Anne Aylward, a senior leader with more than 30 years in the transportation field, was selected as the director of the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. She is the organization’s seventh permanent director, and the first woman to hold the position. Aylward’s new role builds on her 20 years of service at Volpe, during which she made substantial contributions to USDOT priorities and led a research and technology staff of 490 analysts, economists, engineers, planners, scientists, and system developers.

Aylward also co-led Volpe efforts on numerous high-visibility priorities, including USDOT’s “Beyond Traffic” report and FHWA’s first National Freight Strategic Plan. Under her guidance, Volpe hired hundreds of talented professionals, including a significant increase in women, both as new employees (from 32 percent in 2011 to 57 percent in 2015) and those promoted into leadership roles. Aylward also has strengthened relationships within USDOT and with other partners, helping increase the value of Volpe’s research portfolio by nearly 20 percent over the past 5 years.

For more information, visit