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Public Roads - September/October 2003

Along the Road

Policy and Legislation

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.

AMBER Grant Program Helps States Deploy ITS Technologies

On March 31, 2003, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced a $7 million grant to help States apply intelligent transportation systems (ITS) to existing or proposed programs to alert motorists about child abductions. The America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) alert program is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies and media broadcasters to activate urgent bulletins about child abduction cases. 

The grant provides funding for States to plan systems and procedures that incorporate traveler information applications such as changeable message signs into the issuance of AMBER alerts. Each State, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico is eligible for a grant of $125,000 for designing systems to coordinate and issue AMBER alerts. The criteria for funding the grant requests ensure that notifications are well-designed and enable law enforcement and transportation sectors to work together.

In addition, the grants will support automated communication between emergency responders and transportation agencies. The underpinning ITS technologies provide a foundation for electronic exchange of real-time information that can save valuable time in responding to traffic incidents and other emergencies.

To obtain a grant, applicants must submit an acceptable technical approach and financial plan with evidence that their plans can be completed successfully in a timely fashion.

Application instructions and details about the AMBER grant program are available at

Management and Administration

FHWA Announces Awards for Environmental Excellence

On Earth Day 2003, Federal Highway Administrator Mary E. Peters announced the winners of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) 2003 Environmental Excellence Awards. FHWA selected 12 winners from among 134 nominations received from 38 States. The winning States are California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Colorado received awards in two categories.

Since the program started in 1995, the biennial awards have recognized partners, projects, and processes that use FHWA funding to go beyond compliance and achieve environmental excellence. All the winners met the requirements of an environmentally friendly transportation solution and developed partnerships to ensure that the environmental benefits of their projects were carried through the planning, development, operation, and maintenance of the facilities.

"These models of excellence inspire commitment to environmental stewardship," says U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. "Each defined in a new way how we in transportation are architects of the future—visionaries for what can be achieved by working together to promote methods, processes, and projects that protect and enhance the environment."

Judges selected winners for 11 categories: environmental streamlining; cultural and historical resources; ecosystems, habitat, and wildlife; scenic byways; wetlands and water quality; roadside resource management and maintenance; nonmotorized transportation; livable communities; recycling; and environmental research. They also named a group and an individual winner for environmental leadership.

For more information about the winners and their projects, visit

$24 Million in Scenic Byways Grants Awarded to 42 States

In spring 2003, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced that 206 projects in 42 States will share $24 million in FHWA grants for scenic byways. The funding will help recognize, preserve, and enhance selected scenic roads and highways throughout the United States.

The grants support projects that engage volunteers in preserving and enhancing scenic roadways, demonstrate environmentally sensitive solutions, and enable people to walk and bike in natural settings.

Discretionary funds for national scenic byways enable States to undertake eligible projects along highways designated as All-American Roads, National Scenic Byways, and State-designated byways. Eligible projects include inventory, preservation, and enhancement of the qualities of byways; safety improvements; construction of bike and pedestrian facilities; and resource protection such as scenic easements and byway marketing.

Since 1992, the National Scenic Byways Program has provided $202 million for 1,488 projects in 48 States, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. A listing of
the grants for fiscal year 2003, in some cases pending approval by FHWA, is on the Internet at

For additional information, brochures, and maps, call 800-4-BYWAYS (800-429-9297) or visit

Technical News

New Location Selected for HA-NDGPS Signal

FHWA's Office of Operations Research and Development (R&D) selected Hawk Run, PA, as the new location for broadcasting the signal for the High Accuracy-Nationwide Differential Global Positioning System (HA-NDGPS), which provides the capability to transmit corrections to global positioning systems. Application of HA-NDGPS will provide advanced safety features for transportation, including lane-departure and collision warnings for motorists and track-defect alerts for railroad engineers.

At each NDGPS facility, including Hawk Run, FHWA installs a reference station to monitor the GPS constellation (configuration of satellites) and to develop corrections. For HA-NDGPS, centimeter-level corrections are broadcast for users to receive and process. The system works like an AM or FM radio station, sending information to users who make the final navigation solutions.

The signal in Hawk Run will be monitored to ensure that it provides the accuracy to meet the needs of transportation-related and other applications.

For more information on the HA-NDGPS signal and its new location, contact Jim Arnold at 202-493-3265 or

Web Site Shares Benefits and Costs of ITS Technologies

Since December 1994, the ITS Joint Program Office at USDOT has been collecting information regarding the impact of ITS projects on the operation of the surface transportation network. Data collected during this effort now is available online through the Web site, "ITS Benefits and Unit Costs Database."

The ITS Joint Program Office developed the site to enable transportation officials to access data on the benefits and unit costs of ITS projects. Updated in March 2003, the site includes data on traveler information, transit signal priority, intermodal freight management, automated notification of collisions, red light cameras, incident management, and ramp metering systems.

The Web site describes more than 200 summaries of ITS benefits through evaluations and conference papers and organizes them by component, performance measure, and project location. Several reports on the impacts of these technologies and the identification of the unit costs of implemented ITS elements also are available.

USDOT redesigned the site to incorporate a new taxonomy for classifying benefits information. A main feature is the Benefits Desk Reference, which compares data from various projects and serves as a quick reference for examples of ITS benefits.

To provide transportation professionals with the most current information to support research and project planning, the ITS office updates the benefits database quarterly and the cost database semiannually.

To access the database, visit For more information, contact Dr. Joseph Peters, manager of program assessment at the ITS Joint Program Office, at 202-366-2202 or

FHWA Releases Guidance on Red Light Cameras

Many State and local agencies have found that using cameras at intersections discourages running red lights and, most importantly, reduces the number of crashes.

To promote proper implementation and consistent operation of red-light running programs, FHWA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration developed new guidance on using red light cameras.

Targeting State and local agencies, traffic engineers, and law enforcement officials, the guidance offers proven, effective, and comprehensive procedures for implementing a successful program. Although not a regulatory requirement, the guidance explains cost-effective, successful practices implemented in the United States. The guidance covers topics ranging from planning and startup to installation, operation, and maintenance, and highlights current technologies and strategies for public outreach and education.

To access the guidance, visit

Public Information and Information Exchange

Missouri DOT Hosts Seismic Workshop

Recently, FHWA sponsored a forum hosted by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and the Mid-America Earthquake Center on the impacts of the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Presentations covered site response, hazards evaluation, foundation retrofitting, and seismic design and retrofit of major bridges.

The New Madrid Seismic Zone is a region along the Mississippi River from southern Illinois to northern Mississippi where a series of powerful earthquakes occurred in the early 1800s. Geological investigations have established that severe earthquakes occurred in that area several times over the last 2,000 years. Although seismic ground motion occurs less frequently in mid-America compared with the West Coast, the infrequent event can be more powerful and affect a much larger area.

Geotechnical engineers and representatives from State departments of transportation (DOTs) and FHWA attended the event. Presentations addressed seismic design issues in mid-America, primarily from the perspective of a geotechnical engineer. Roundtable discussions were based on issues previously submitted in writing by the attendees. 

According to FHWA's Glenn Smith, although State DOTs are still learning about the stages of seismic design, the primary lesson learned was that the New Madrid Seismic Zone affects bridges in mid-America.

"The DOT structural designers and geotechnical engineers are still trying to wade through all the differing design methods, ground motion data, and theories and papers proposed by practicing engineers, geologists, and academia," Smith says.

A videotape of the open discussion segment of the workshop is available by request from Geotechnical Engineer Kevin McLain at MoDOT. Call 573-751-1044 or e-mail For more information on the workshop or to obtain a copy of the proceedings, contact Glenn Smith at 202-366-8795 or

Utah DOT Hosts Press Event on Work Zone Awareness

The FHWA Division Office in Utah, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), and the Utah Highway Patrol conducted a press conference to stress the importance of driving safely through work zones. Held on a median near a work zone on Interstate 215, the event was organized as part of the national campaign for work zone awareness.

UDOT Executive Director John Njord sits at a desk set up in a median to draw attention to the dangers faced by construction workers in work zones.

UDOT Executive Director John Njord moved his office into the middle of the work zone to raise awareness of the risks that workers face when drivers fail to stay alert while driving through work zones. Njord listed State statistics on work zone fatalities, and FHWA-Utah Division Administrator Dave Gibbs discussed driver behaviors and identified key strategies for driving safely through work zones—reducing speed and paying attention. A third speaker, Officer Kevin Elmer from the Utah Highway Patrol shared his perspective on work zone accidents and upcoming enforcement activities.

Representatives from four television media, one radio station, and one newspaper covered the event and had the opportunity to ride with Utah State troopers as they ticketed drivers caught speeding through work zones.

For more information on the press event, contact Tom Hudachko at 801-965-4389, thudachko@utah.ov; Paul Mooney at 801-963-0078 ext. 236,; or Roland Stanger at 801-963-0078 ext. 254,

Utah Department of Transportation

First Toll Lanes Planned for Existing U.S. Interstate

In May 2003, construction began on Katy Freeway, Interstate 10, on the western side of Houston, TX, marking the Nation's first construction project to build toll lanes on an existing interstate. On Katy Freeway, four toll lanes will be constructed to ease highway congestion and improve mobility.

FHWA approved the Katy Freeway project, one of the largest transportation projects in Texas history, as part of a pilot program in value pricing proposed by the Harris County Toll Road Authority and the Texas DOT. Value pricing is a way of easing highway congestion by providing a toll road alternative that varies by time of day and level of congestion. Benefits of value pricing include reduced frustration and delay, increased travel choices, more efficient modal choices, revenue generation, and increased economic productivity.

Approval of the program enables the toll road authority to invest up to $500 million toward the reconstruction of I-10, completing the funding for the project and potentially cutting construction time in half (down to
6 years).

For more information on the Katy Freeway, visit To learn more about value pricing, visit, or contact Dan Reagan, FHWA-Texas Division Administrator at 512-536-5901 or

Florida Receives Federal Funding For ITS Technologies

On April 2, 2003, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced that the USDOT's FHWA awarded the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) a $10 million grant to deploy ITS technologies on its highways. FDOT will contribute more than $8 million in matching funds from State, local, and private-sector sources.

The grant will fund the deployment of innovative techniques for collecting, integrating, and using data on surface transportation to enhance the security and reliability of Florida's highways. The ITS technologies will provide information on events, incidents, construction, and other capacity restrictions affecting the entire Florida Intrastate Highway System.

Officially known as the "Surface Transportation Security and Reliability Information System Model Deployment," the project will be carried out under a cooperative agreement between USDOT and FDOT. The schedule calls for a 2-year deployment followed by an evaluation period to assess benefits so the agencies can share lessons learned. FDOT named the project "iFlorida" for its visionary goal: information integration for transportation through intelligence and innovation. Although statewide in nature, various aspects of the project will focus on the Cape Canaveral area, Jacksonville, and Orlando.

Specifically, FDOT plans to install road sensors that will provide weather forecasts and detect fog, high winds, or flooding conditions. This information will help transportation officials control traffic and deploy maintenance crews, and provide travelers the information they need to plan trips. Statewide 511 telephone service also will provide travelers with easy access to current travel times and weather conditions by roadway segment.

For additional information on ITS applications, visit

Florida Department of Transportation

Smithsonian to Unveil "America on the Move" Exhibition in November 2003

On November 22, 2003, a family festival hosted by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History will open a new permanent exhibition to the public. "America on the Move" will focus on the role that transportation played in the Nation's development, and it will transport visitors back in time and immerse them in the sights, sounds, and sensations of transportation in the United States from 1876 to the present.

Organized chronologically, the exhibit will feature significant objects from transportation history, including an "L" car from the Chicago Transit Authority, a 28-meter (92-foot) Southern Railway locomotive, and 12 meters (40 feet) of concrete pavement from the famed Route 66. Multimedia technologies and environments will enable visitors to see artifacts of the Nation's transportation system and the social and cultural history of the country.

"The history of transportation is central to the American experience," says Steven Lubar, project director for the exhibit and chair of the museum's History of Technology division. "In 'America on the Move' we explore our Nation's history by showing how tran­portation affected how and where people lived, worked, and played."

Initial support for the exhibit came through a $3 million congressional appropriation in 1997, allocated to the museum through USDOT. Leading sponsors and contributors include General Motors, State Farm Companies Foundation, the History Channel, and six $1 million donors.

The National Museum of American History is located on the National Mall at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC. For more information, visit the museum's Web site at or call 202-357-2700,
202-357-1729 (TTY), or 202-633-9126 (Spanish).


Wright Named FHWA Engineer of the Year

On March 19, 2003, Federal Highway Administrator Mary E. Peters announced that William Wright earned the distinction of being the Engineer of the Year for 2002. Wright, who oversees the structures laboratory at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, VA, received the Engineering Excellence Award from FHWA for outstanding professional achievement and for earning the prestigious title, Engineer of the Year.

Wright, who joined FHWA in 1988, is FHWA's key technical expert on issues related to the design, fabrication, construction, and inspection of structural steel for highways. He led FHWA's forensic investigation of the Hoan Bridge failure in Milwaukee, helped identify the cause of the brittle fracture, and drafted technical guidance to deal with similar problems on other bridges.

Wright also directed the national pooled fund research project to conduct full-scale testing and comprehensive analytical modeling of curved steel girder highway bridges. This work developed a new AASHTO specification for the design and construction of steel highway bridges. The National Society of Professional Engineers, along with other distinguished engineers with the Federal government, recognized Wright as engineer of the year at FHWA.

Wright serves on several technical committees, including the Steel Bridge Committee of the Transportation Research Board and the Fatigue and Fracture Committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and a master's degree in structural engineering from the University of Maryland, and he completed his Ph.D. in structural engineering from Lehigh University in June 2003.

Matthews Named Chief Information Officer for USDOT

In spring 2003, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced the appointment of Daniel P. Matthews as the chief information officer (CIO) for USDOT.

As CIO, Matthews will serve as the principal advisor to Secretary Mineta on matters involving the management of information resources and services, and provide leadership in using information technology to achieve the Department's goals and objectives.

"Dan's more than 30 years of experience in information technology will be invaluable to the Department as we continue to enhance the efficiency and security of our information systems," says Secretary Mineta.

Prior to joining USDOT, Matthews served as senior vice president at Savantage, where he helped modernize the financial management systems of a number of Federal agencies. He spent most of the previous 22 years at Lockheed Martin and its predecessor Martin Marietta where, as vice president, he led 1,200 employees in all aspects of the company's information technology and business development activities.

FHWA Assigns Program Manager For Transportation Security

FHWA reassigned John A. Gerner to the position of program manager for transportation security in the Office of the Administrator. Gerner replaces David Price, whose retirement was effective July 1, 2003.

Prior to this assignment, Gerner served as the project manager for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project, a position he held since 1997, providing policy direction and oversight of this multistate project. Prior to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge assignment, he was a transportation specialist in the former Office of Traffic Management and ITS Applications and in the Office of Legislation and Strategic Planning. Gerner's field experience includes a number of positions in the FHWA Division Office in Pennsylvania from 1972 to 1994. Gerner joined FHWA as a highway engineer trainee in 1970.