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Public Roads - September/October 2014

September/October 2014
Issue No:
Vol. 78 No. 2
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.

President Barack Obama and USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx Visit FHWA

On July 15, 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx visited the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) to speak about the economy and the importance of transportation to the Nation.


Secretary Foxx welcomes President Obama to the podium during their visit to FHWA’s Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in July 2014.


While at the facility, the President toured the Human Factors Laboratory and took a spin in the highway driving simulator, which researchers use in a variety of behavioral studies and visualization projects. The simulator consists of a full-size automobile chassis on a motion base surrounded by a semicircular projection screen with a 240-degree field of view. The lifelike computer-generated highway scenes coupled with sound and vehicle motion mimic real-world driving. This technology enables researchers to examine driver behaviors and reactions to new road designs, signs, pavement markings, or other innovations before deploying them.

About his experience in the simulator, the President said, “It was sort of like ‘Knight Rider.’ I haven’t driven in about 6 years . . . and I think I had a little bit of a lead foot.” He continued, “Any new technology that makes driving safer is important to me.”

President Obama also visited the Saxton Transportation Operations Laboratory, where officials briefed him on several projects being conducted by the laboratory, including vehicle-to-infrastructure research, which studies the possibility of vehicles communicating directly with road hardware such as traffic signals.

“I just got a tour of a lab where automakers and Government researchers team up to create new technologies that help cars communicate with the world around them and with each other,” the President said. “They can tell you if an oncoming vehicle is about to run a red light, or if a car is coming around a blind corner, or if a detour would help you save time and gas.”

The President concluded his visit with remarks to FHWA and TFHRC employees and to the Nation. “The cutting-edge research that all of you are doing here helps save lives and save money . . . leads to new jobs and new technologies and new industries,” he said. “And that’s why America has to invest more in the kind of job-creating research and development that you’re doing right here at the highway research center.”

Secretary Foxx Celebrates Grand Opening Of Port of Miami Tunnel

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx recently joined Florida State and local officials for the grand opening ceremony of the Port of Miami Tunnel, which will provide a dedicated route to one of the region’s largest economic generators. This direct access from I–395 to PortMiami relieves congestion and improves safety in downtown Miami by taking freight and cruise line traffic off local streets. The $912 million project used $221 million in Federal-aid funding and a $341 million loan from USDOT through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.

The tunnel links I–395/MacArthur Causeway with the port — providing trucks, cruise line buses, and other port-related traffic an alternative to the congested Port Boulevard in the central business district. The project also created a wider MacArthur Causeway Bridge and built direct tunnel connections between Watson Island and Dodge Island at the port.

PortMiami is the region’s second-largest economic generator after the airport. It is one of the Nation’s largest container ports and is home to 13 cruise lines. Nearly 16,000 vehicles travel to and from PortMiami through downtown streets each weekday, including nearly 5,000 trucks.

The project was built through a public-private partnership that includes an agreement between the Florida Department of Transportation and a private concessionaire for maintenance and operations.

Technical News

Volpe Releases Hazard Analysis Tool

The John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe) recently released a software tool that can assist transportation professionals in conducting hazard analyses. The Safety Hazard Analysis Tool (SafetyHAT) facilitates the use of a hazard identification method known as System Theoretic Process Analysis (STPA).

STPA is based on a top-down systems engineering approach and control systems theory. It provides a process for identifying the causes of system hazards, including hardware component failures, software errors, complex system interactions, human errors, and inadequate organization management, policy, and procedures.

The output of STPA and SafetyHAT is a list of identified causes of hazards that analysts can use to develop safety requirements and testing scenarios; initiate risk analysis, risk control, and system assessment activities; and design and assess safety solutions. SafetyHAT guides analysts through the preparatory and analysis steps of STPA by providing a streamlined data entry process and preloaded transportation-specific guidewords. The tool uses a powerful relational database to organize and manage the large quantity of data that an analysis may produce, efficiently storing data and enforcing data integrity during the process.

The SafetyHAT development team won Volpe’s first-ever Innovation Challenge in 2012. The Innovation Challenge is an annual competition for Volpe staff to receive funding to develop unique solutions to emerging transportation issues.

SafetyHAT is available at


Public Information and Information Exchange

USDOT Runs First National Distracted Driving Campaign

As part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, USDOT implemented the agency’s first national advertising campaign and law enforcement crackdown to combat distracted driving. The $8.5 million effort included television, radio, and digital advertisements using the slogan “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” The ads ran from April 7–15, 2014, coinciding with a nationwide law enforcement crackdown in which thousands of law enforcement personnel used traditional and innovative strategies to enforce bans on distracted driving.  

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that nearly 3,330 people were killed and an estimated 421,000 were injured in distraction-related crashes in 2012. The campaign ads reminded the public of the deadly consequences, as well as the penalties for getting caught violating State distracted driving laws. The campaign ran in English and Spanish.

The national campaign builds on the success of two federally funded demonstrations that took place in California and Delaware using the slogan “Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other.” Data from the two demonstrations show that effective advertising coupled with increased high-visibility police enforcement of distraction laws reduced hand-held phone use over a widespread area.


The first national advertising campaign against distracted driving included TV ads like this one, which shows a car full of teens being struck by a truck after the driver fails to notice a STOP sign because she was texting.


Over three enforcement waves, California police issued more than 10,700 tickets for violations involving drivers talking or texting on cell phones, and Delaware police issued more than 6,200 tickets. Observed hand-held cell phone use dropped by approximately a third at each program site, from 4.1 percent to 2.7 percent in California, and from 4.5 percent to 3.0 percent in Delaware.

Currently, 43 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for drivers of all ages; 12 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit drivers of all ages from using hand-held cell phones while driving; and 37 States and the District of Columbia ban cell phone use by novice drivers.

For more information about efforts to stop distracted driving, visit

New Rule Requires Rear Visibility Technology 

NHTSA recently issued a final rule requiring rear visibility technology in all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds (4,540 kilograms) by May 2018. The new rule aims to reduce the risk of fatalities and serious injuries caused by backover incidents.

The rule requires all vehicles under the weight limit, including buses and trucks, manufactured on or after May 1, 2018, to come equipped with rear visibility technology that expands the driver’s rear field of view. This technology enables the driver of a motor vehicle to detect people in areas behind the vehicle, reducing the likelihood of deaths and injuries resulting from backover incidents. The field of view must include a 10-foot by 20-foot (3-meter by 6-meter) zone directly behind the vehicle. The system must also meet other requirements including image size, linger time, response time, durability, and deactivation.

On average, backover crashes account for 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries per year. NHTSA has found that children under 5 years old account for 31 percent of backover fatalities each year, and adults 70 years of age and older account for 26 percent.

NHTSA took extra steps to ensure that the policy was right and to make the rule flexible and achievable. In fact, many companies already are installing rear visibility systems due to consumer demand. Including vehicles that already have systems installed, 58 to 69 lives are expected to be saved each year once the entire onroad vehicle fleet is equipped with rear visibility systems that meet the requirements of the new rule.

For more information and to read the final rule, visit


Milton-Madison Bridge Project Breaks Slide Record

The Milton-Madison Bridge Project replaced the obsolete and deteriorating 84-year-old bridge superstructure carrying U.S. 421 over the Ohio River between the towns of Madison, IN, and Milton, KY. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) shared oversight and costs for the project, which involved an innovative construction technique called truss sliding, or slide-in construction.

The original Milton-Madison Bridge opened in 1929. In 2009, officials imposed a 15-ton (13.6-metric ton) weight limit, closing the bridge to heavy truck traffic. An estimated 11,000 vehicles daily used the crossing — the only bridge along a 72-mile (116-kilometer) stretch of the Ohio River.


Here, the Milton-Madison Bridge begins its slide from the temporary metal supports (just visible on the right) to the reinforced, original concrete piers.


Spanning nearly a half mile (0.8 kilometer), the new steel truss is the longest bridge in North America to be slid laterally into place. From April 9 to 10, 2014, the construction team slid the structure 55 feet (17 meters) from temporary supports onto the refurbished original piers. To complete the record-breaking slide, the team secured polished steel plates on top of the bridge’s five refurbished piers. Steel cables and eight computer-controlled hydraulic jacks slid the bridge through a series of grabs and pulls. The new 30-million-pound (14-million-kilogram) steel truss bridge is 2,428 feet (740 meters) long and 40 feet (12 meters) wide — twice as wide as the old bridge — with two 12-foot (3.7-meter) lanes and 8-foot (2.4-meter) shoulders.

The bridge reopened to traffic a week after the slide and less than 4 years after the groundbreaking ceremony. Additional work continued through summer 2014, including completion of the pier caps, removal of the temporary piers, installation of measures to protect the refurbished piers, and the addition of a 5-foot (1.5-meter)-wide cantilevered sidewalk.

The project has received numerous awards. It was named one of the top 10 bridge projects in the country by Roads & Bridges magazine, received a 2012 Best of What’s New Award from Popular Science magazine, and received several State and national engineering awards for innovation.

For more information, visit


Data Show Increase in Work Zone Fatalities

In 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, 609 people died in highway work zone crashes — an increase of 19 fatalities compared to 2011. More than 130 of those fatal crashes involved large trucks and buses, and nearly four in five victims in work zone crashes are not highway workers, but drivers and their passengers.

National Work Zone Awareness Week, sponsored by Federal, State, and local transportation officials each April, draws attention to the safety needs of road workers during construction season. Generally, crashes occur when drivers speed through a work zone, do not pay attention to changing road conditions, run into other vehicles or highway equipment, or drive off the road completely.

FHWA works with State and local transportation officials and industry groups to promote improvements in work zone planning and design, increased law enforcement near work zones, enhanced worker training, and heightened awareness among drivers. Over the last decade, FHWA awarded nearly $33 million in grants to promote training for work zone safety and to support the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse, available at


The number of fatalities from crashes in work zones, such as the one shown here, increased by more than 3 percent from 2011 to 2012.


Like FHWA, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) works with other agencies to reduce work zone incidents through educational exchanges, grants to States, and intensive research on driver behavior. FMCSA has made work zone safety a national priority in its commercial vehicle safety plans. The agency also partners with the International Association of Chiefs of Police in its Drive to Save Lives Campaign by encouraging comprehensive traffic enforcement so that all law enforcement officials stop trucks and buses when they are observed operating unsafely.

For more information on National Work Zone Awareness Week, visit

NHTSA Awards Grants for Pedestrian Safety

NHTSA recently announced the three winners of grants for public education and enforcement initiatives to improve pedestrian safety. Louisville, KY; New York City, NY; and Philadelphia, PA, each received a grant. The new grants are part of the USDOT’s Everyone Is a Pedestrian campaign, which has a goal of helping communities combat the rising number of pedestrian deaths and injuries that have occurred from 2009 through 2012.

Between 2011 and 2012 alone, pedestrian fatalities increased by 6 percent and cyclist fatalities were up nearly 7 percent. In 2012 alone, 4,743 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes and tens of thousands more were injured.

The pedestrian safety grants provide approximately $1.6 million in total for the three cities to implement specific education and enforcement initiatives as part of each community’s pedestrian safety action plan. The award recipients are among the cities with the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities nationwide.

Louisville was awarded a $307,000 grant, which it will use to create a pedestrian education program for school-aged children and create safe walking routes for senior citizens. In addition, the funds will enable the city to conduct law enforcement training and crosswalk enforcement activities.

New York City received $805,800 to target speeding drivers and drivers who do not yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. The city will reach out to the demographic most likely to be involved in pedestrian crashes — young men — through social media and enforcement activities in high-crash areas.

Philadelphia will use its $525,000 grant to improve pedestrian safety in downtown areas by increasing police visibility and ticketing during high-risk hours in 20 high-crash locations. The city also will use the grant for marketing efforts to reach pedestrians in these areas and to train law enforcement officers on pedestrian safety.

For more information, visit


FHWA, WSDOT Promote Stronger DBE Program

FHWA and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) recently signed an agreement to ensure that the contractor on the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement project meets its contractual obligations regarding the use of disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) and to promote a stronger statewide DBE program.

The agreement lays out a plan to overcome shortfalls that FHWA identified in WSDOT’s DBE program in fall 2013. Most notably, the prime contractor on the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement project was falling short on efforts to meet its contractual commitment of achieving 8 percent or more participation by certified disadvantaged businesses.

Among other provisions, the agreement requires WSDOT to more closely monitor the contractor’s efforts to expand opportunities for DBE firms through actions such as targeted outreach to disadvantaged businesses and easing bonding requirements for low-risk contracts to facilitate participation. In addition, the contractor will hire an independent DBE program coordinator, who will report directly to WSDOT and continually evaluate progress toward meeting the project’s DBE goal.


The Alaskan Way Viaduct, shown here, is a double-deck highway along Seattle’s downtown waterfront. WSDOT is leading a project to replace the viaduct with a tunnel.


By calling on the State to conduct periodic program-level reviews and ensure that it meets its own DBE participation goals, the agreement reaffirms the importance of these businesses to the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement program and hundreds of other projects statewide and reduces the risk of Federal funds being withheld or other sanctions.

“We applaud the seriousness with which WSDOT responded to our findings,” says FHWA Acting Administrator Greg Nadeau, “and welcome its efforts to enhance DBE opportunities on the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement project, as well as strengthen its overall DBE program.”

I–215 Project Improves Key Corridor in California

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) recently completed a major overhaul of I–215, which includes 15 new bridges, 4 new lanes, 2 flyovers, and the reconstruction of 34 ramps along the 7.5-mile (12-kilometer) route. The project included construction of new general use and carpool lanes in both directions of I–215 from I–10 to SR–210 and an auxiliary lane from SR–210 to just south of University Parkway in San Bernardino. Connector ramps between I–215 and SR–210 also improve mobility between freeways. In addition, the project includes artistic wallscapes along the roadway that reflect the San Bernardino Mountains, the region’s railroad history, and natural springs.

This four-phase project involved a close partnership among the San Bernardino Associated Governments, Caltrans, the city of San Bernardino, and FHWA. The project was funded through a combination of $128 million in Recovery Act funds, $117 million in State Proposition 1B funds, and local Measure I funds — the voter-approved half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements in San Bernardino County.

Federal Highway Acting Administrator Greg Nadeau joined State and local officials at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the project, which is expected to ease congestion, reduce travel times, and increase safety along one of the region’s major transit corridors. The route is expected to see its daily driver total grow from 83,000 today to 130,000 in the next 20 years.


In this nighttime shot, crews are pouring concrete for the largest bridge on the I–215 widening and reconstruction project in San Bernardino, CA. The new 16th Street bridge crosses over mainline I–215, the Baseline Street onramp, SR–259, and the BNSF Railway tracks.


The 7-year, major expansion and revitalization project is increasing traffic flow, eliminating fast-lane entrances and exits, and aiding merging traffic with the added auxiliary lane, which enhances access to both the east and west sides of San Bernardino on this major goods movement corridor. The corridor runs between Victor Valley, Riverside County, Orange County, and Los Angeles County. Other added benefits of the project include improved air quality and noise reduction.


HDOT Pedestrian Plan Receives National Award

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) recently accepted the 2014 National Planning Excellence Award for Transportation Planning from the American Planning Association (APA). HDOT’s Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan was chosen as among the best planning efforts this year to create communities of lasting value.

Hawaii’s Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan prioritizes safety, mobility, and accessibility, and is the first in the Nation to have a statewide pedestrian-only focus. In conjunction with other efforts, the plan emphasizes infrastructure improvements that may help lower pedestrian fatalities while enhancing system connectivity. The plan not only focuses on improving pedestrian safety, it also evaluates ways to enhance pedestrian mobility and accessibility to create a multimodal transportation system, fulfilling Federal requirements for multimodal planning.

The Hawaii Pedestrian Toolbox, a companion to the plan, identifies best practices in designing for pedestrian safety, mobility, and accessibility. Topics include the layout of sidewalks, presence and timing of crossing signals, access management along roadways, and intersection design. The toolbox serves as a resource for planners and designers as they consider pedestrians during design.


Pedestrians cross at the intersection of Ala Moana Boulevard and Hobron Lane in Waikiki, HI. HDOT’s Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan, the first in the Nation to have a statewide pedestrian-only focus, received a National Planning Excellence Award in 2014.


APA is an independent, nonprofit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of communities. It established its national awards program more than 50 years ago to recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts, and individuals for their leadership on planning issues.

For more information on Hawaii’s Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan, visit HDOT’s Web site at To view all of the APA 2014 National Planning Excellence and Achievement Award recipients, visit