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Along the Road

Along the Road

"Along the Road" is a hodgepodge of items of general interest to the highway community. But this is more than a miscellaneous section; "Along the Road" is the place to look for information about current and upcoming activities, developments, and trends. This information comes from Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.

Lansing Trolley Is Dedicated

The Lansing Trolley, a part of the Lansing (Mich.) Area Mobility Project, was dedicated on Jan. 24 by Lansing Mayor Hollister, Congressman Carr, and Governor Engler. The project was funded to demonstrate methods of enhancing safety and economic development by improving traffic flow, transit service, and pedestrian safety between Lansing and Meridian Township.

Murrow Bridge Is Outstanding Engineering Achievement

The new Interstate 90, Lacey V. Murrow floating bridge in Washington state was selected by the National Society of Professional Engineers as one of the ten most outstanding engineering achievements for 1993. The award is based on resourcefulness in planning and in the solution of design problems, contribution to the well-being of people and communities, use of new materials and methods, and innovations in construction.

The Lacey V. Murrow Burdge in Washington state was recognized as an outstanding engineering acheivement. The new bridge, shown above, opened to traffic on September 12, 1993. The floating portion of the bridge is two kilometers (6,600 ft) long.


Radar Detectors Are Banned in Interstate Buses and Trucks

The ban on radar detectors in buses and trucks operating in interstate commerce went into effect on Jan. 20. The prohibition applies to vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds (4,536.45 kilograms) or more, vehicles designed to carry 16 or more persons, and any vehicle transporting hazardous materials. The rule also affects intrastate truck and bus drivers operating in states that have adopted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The federal ban on detectors does not affect passenger cars or any other vehicles. Enforcement of the ban will largely be in the hands of the individual states. During the first 60 days of the ban, FHWA conducted an information and education program for carriers and drivers.

Rensselaer Establishes Center for Infrastructure and Transportation Studies

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, N.Y., established the Center for Infrastructure and Transportation Studies. When the National Research Foundation designates the RPI center as the nation's 19th official engineering research center, RPI will receive from $2 million to $3 million annually for five years to conduct research projects. The center will work with government in three ways: providing education and training to transportation engineers and project manager, developing and sharing cutting-edge technologies, and conducting research in the areas of tractor-trailer dynamics, bridge construction, computer methods for intermodal cooperation and coordination, highway maintenance, and earthquake engineering.

North Carolina Proposes a Global Transpark

Global Transpark, proposed at the airport complex in Kinston, N.C., is a high-tech industrial park and all-purpose transportation hub that would provide a seamless flow of goods. Finished products and components would be shipped by rail, highway, and air to factories built along the runway. Factories and suppliers would be linked electronically. Cargo would be handled by computer-controlled conveyor belts and unmanned shuttles. The cost of the first phase is estimated at $159 million. The cost of infrastructure improvements for roadways and a railroad spur is $15.5 million. Overall cost for this complex could be as high as $450 million; total funding sources are not yet known.

EPA May Sanction Three States

The EPA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register on Jan. 24, 1994, that proposes sanctions against California, Illinois, and Indiana for failure to meet the Clean Air Act requirements for inspection and maintenance programs. According to the NPRM, "discretionary" sanctions will take effect on May 15 if the requirements are not met. Highway sanctions would be imposed on a statewide basis and 2:1 offset sanctions would be imposed in the states' nonattainment areas.

AASHTO and FHWA Sponsor a National Metric Conference

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and FHWA jointly sponsored a National Metric Conference, hosted by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) on Jan. 31 through Feb. 3 in Research Triangle Park, N.C. (Raleigh-Durham area). The primary purpose was to provide an opportunity to share metric implementation ideas and techniques among state highway agencies, FHWA, and others.

Nebraska and California Use Electronic Billing

The Nebraska Department of Roads submitted a bill on Dec. 28, 1993, and the FHWA division office approved the bill electronically on the same day. This was the first "in production" use of this system in Nebraska; all future bills will be submitted and approved this way. FHWA's California Division office graduated from "test mode" to full production on Jan. 5, 1994, and electronically approved approximately $100 million in California DOT (Caltrans) bills between Jan. 5 and 11.

Smart Cars Are Here

Oldsmobile announced on Jan. 4 that they would offer a $2,000 optional invehicle navigation system in 1994 Oldsmobile 88 LSS vehicles. Reportedly, the navigation system will be available first on the West Coast later this model year. The navigation unit gets its positioning information from both a Global Positioning System receiver and gyroscopic/odometer sensors. The navigation system will provide directions to one's destination via turn arrows and a moving map. It will also contain "yellow pages" for location information. Zexel of Sunnyvale, Calif., supplies the navigation system. The map is provided by Navigation Technologies also of Sunnyvale. This is not an autonomous navigation system; therefore, it does not use current traffic flow information to develop the best route to one's destination.

Florida Uses Scrap Tire Rubber

Effective Jan. 1, Florida DOT requires the use of ground scrap tire rubber in all projects involving asphalt cement pavements. The scrap tire rubber is required in both the dense and open-graded friction courses and in the asphalt-rubber membrane interlayer. The friction courses historically represent more than 15 percent of the total tonnage of asphaltic concrete awarded by FDOT each year. The use of rubber in asphalt was recently showcased to FDOT construction personnel and contractors in three demonstration projects in the state.

Earthquake Shakes Western Wyoming

An earthquake, measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale, occurred near Jackson, Wyo., on Dec. 28. It was felt almost 200 miles away in Rock Springs, Wyo. An earthquake of lesser intensity had been recorded in the same area on Nov. 26, 1993. The Wyoming Transportation Department (WTD) is checking the bridges in the areas that could have been affected by the latest earthquake; no damage has been reported so far. WTD recently developed procedures for the preliminary seismic screening of all bridges, and WTD plans to screen their bridges in the near future.

Bicycle Racks May Be on Buses

An effort is underway in Salt Lake City to determine if the public supports bicycle racks on buses to improve air quality. If the public is supportive, a request may be submitted to FHWA to transfer Congestion Mitigation-Air Quality (CMAQ) funds to the Federal Transit Administration for the project.

Group Reviews Electronic Toll Collection Communications Requirements

On Jan. 11, FHWA, IVHS America, state representatives, and toll authorities met to enhance electronic toll collection communications compatibility. They reviewed a preliminary set of common requirements. The consensus from this meeting will be presented to the industry at large and to the standard-setting community for consideration as a formal Intelligent Vehicle-Highway Systems (IVHS) industry standard for automated vehicle identification.

TRB Meeting Focuses on IVHS

IVHS was a major topic at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board on Jan. 10-13. At the annual meeting, about 20 sessions were held on various IVHS subjects, and about the same number of committees discussed IVHS-related topics. At one session, FHWA Administrator Rodney E. Slater presented a "National IVHS Status Report."

Pennsylvania Wants to Buy I-80

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commissioner Robert A. Gleason Jr. announced on Nov. 22 that he would like to buy I-80 from the federal government and turn it into a toll road. Commissioner Gleason believes that, with the turnpike's ability to sell bonds and maintain its system, an I-80 toll road could be a revenue source to fund future north-south extensions. He sees more toll roads in the future because the state can no longer afford to maintain the public roads and because he believes that the development of the toll road system is the most important factor to boost the Pennsylvania economy.

Philadelphia Loses Wheelchair Ramps Case

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled in November that the city of Philadelphia must install wheelchair ramps on the curbs of all streets resurfaced since January 1992. This ruling upheld a lower court decision in a suit, brought by a dozen disabled people, to force the city to abide by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The city argued that resurfaced streets did not count for ADA purposes as an alteration because curbs are not modified when a street is resurfaced. However, the court decided that resurfacing work is substantial enough to require the modification of the curbs.

Mississippi Collects $5.2 Million in Fines from Truckers

During its first year in operation, the Mississippi DOT's Law Enforcement Unit weighed more than 7,000 trucks and issued more than 8,262 citations to vehicles in noncompliance with weight and size laws. The total revenue in fines, permit and tag fees, and fuel tax for these violations was $5.2 million.

FHWA Adopts AASHTO Policy for Geometric Design

In November, FHWA adopted, as an interim policy for the geometric design of projects on the National Highway System, a 1993 AASHTO publication titled "Interim Selected Metric Values for Geometric Design, an Addendum to a Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, 1990."

Kentucky Has First Automated Weigh Station on I-75

Recently, participants in a meeting of federal and state officials involved in the Advantage I-75 commercial vehicle project toured the Scott County, Ky., weigh station. This station is the first of 22 stations in the United States along I-75 and eight stations in Canada along Route 401 to be equipped with the Hughes Automatic Vehicle-to-Roadside Communications System. About 200 trucks from six carriers are taking part in the initial testing of the Advantage I-75 system at this station. Participating trucks in compliance with regulations will not have to stop at the weigh station for weighing and inspection of credentials.

FHWA Supports IVHS Awareness

IVHS America, in contract with the FHWA, is implementing a series of outreach activities to promote public education and general awareness of IVHS. The initial meetings focus on state, regional, and local public officials. One of the first efforts was at a meeting of the Urban Consortium, a forum for large city and county officials, in Orlando, Fla., in December; this meeting was organized with the assistance of Public Technologies Inc., the research arm of the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, and the International City Managers Association. Also in December, there was a workshop for representatives of metropolitan planning organizations.

Signal Manufacturers Meet to Set Standard

On December 9, the Steering Committee of the Signal Manufacturers Symposium met to discuss progress in developing a communication standard/protocol to permit communication among all brands of traffic signal controllers. A protocol will greatly enhance the application of IVHS technologies to the problems of traffic congestion in metropolitan areas and along major corridors. This is another public-private partnership effort supported by FHWA to advance IVHS deployment.

U.S. DOT Agencies Support CTIPS

The Comprehensive Transportation Information and Planning System (CTIPS) is being developed by AASHTO and the states to share transportation information from existing federal and state data bases. On Nov. 19, FHWA hosted meetings for other appropriate U.S. DOT agencies -- Federal Transit Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Bureau of Transportation Statistics -- to discuss with representatives of the CTIPS Steering Committee the multimodal information currently available on CTIPS and ways to improve the system for the DOT agencies and their customers. Each agency agreed to identify additional data for CTIPS and to attend a CTIPS Steering Committee meeting in January 1994.

New York Holds Workshop to Promote Partnering

The New York State DOT (NYSDOT) recently held a workshop to develop a formal partnering agreement among the participants in the $35-million rehabilitation of the Bruckner Expressway Viaduct (I-278) in the Bronx. The workshop was also used to develop a statewide partnering policy. Workshop participants represented NYSDOT, New York City DOT, FHWA, the prime contractor, the construction inspection consultant, and the construction support consultant. Although the I-278 project is New York's eighth with a partnering agreement, it is the state's first major federal-aid project with a partnering agreement; by next year, 52 transportation projects in New York are anticipated to involve partnering.

Oregon Completes Study of Seismic Retrofit Needs

The Oregon DOT recently completed a study of its 2,545 bridges to determine the seismic retrofit needs. The study concluded that it is necessary to retrofit nearly 2,000 bridges at a total cost of $800 million. ODOT is assessing its options since the entire bridge program has been averaging only $44 million annually. Only 51 bridges have been retrofitted.

Alaska Begins Its First Entirely Metric Project

In December, Alaska opened bids on its first project designed in metric units only (rather than dual units). The project includes the grading and paving of a 9.7-kilometer, two-lane road in Haines, Alaska.

IVHS Architecture Development Program Has First Progress Review

The four IVHS architecture development contractor teams individually presented their early architecture concepts -- "missions definitions"-- to the U.S. DOT program management group in mid-November. These teams are defining, developing, and evaluating alternative architectural concepts for a nationwide, integrated IVHS program. This was the first progress review of the program and the first time the teams officially revealed their developmental approachs. It was clear that FHWA achieved its goal of identifying a wide range of concepts by sponsoring competing approaches.

Minnesota Goes After Fuel Tax Evaders

In November, the Minnesota Department of Revenue filed its first complaint against an oil company for fuel tax evasion. The firm is charged with selling fuel without a license and failure to pay the state gasoline tax. FHWA allocated funds to the state to increase efforts to curb motor fuel tax evasion.

TRB Releases Report on Native American Transportation Issues

TRB released the final conference report on "Exploring Solutions to Native American Transportation Issues and Economic Development Problems" in November 1993. The report discusses Native American transportation-related provisions of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and a broad range of other Native American transportation issues. The tribes are establishing an Intertribal Transportation Association. "Transportation and Indian Affairs: Forging New Partnerships" was the subject of a session at the TRB annual meeting in January 1994.

FHWA Is Testing Self-Managed Work Team Concept

FHWA's Wisconsin Division is the pilot organization to test self-managed work teams. Recently, the division presented for approval a formal plan for the second phase of the test: designing, implementing, and evaluating an alternative performance management system that is appropriate to support personal performance in a team-oriented environment.

Butterfly Stops Freeway Project in Michigan

The proposed U.S. Route 31 freeway project in Berrien County, Mich., has been held up for two years because an endangered species of butterfly is located on the proposed right of way. For the past two years, FHWA has been in informal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On Oct. 28, 1993, "formal consultation" under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act was requested. Several project design changes are being proposed to lessen any effects to the butterfly. In addition, FHWA and the Michigan DOT are prepared to assist the Fish and Wildlife Service in the management and recovery of the butterfly at this location.

Doug Bernard Retires from FHWA

Douglas A. Bernard, director of FHWA's Office of Technology Applications (OTA), retired on Jan. 3 after 31 years with the agency. He plans to continue his work in technology transfer in the private sector. As director of OTA, he led a program that included technology assessment and deployment of highway technology, product implementation of the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP), and technology transfer to rural and small urban transportation agencies and to Native American tribal governments through the Local Technical Assistance Program. To many, Bernard was "Mr. T2" because of his significant involvement and accomplishments in technology transfer over the past 20 years. In the 1970s, he was one of the early leaders in aggressively promoting the recycling of asphalt pavements. Throughout his career, he received numerous awards, including the FHWA Administrator's Award, the Dwight David Eisenhower Centennial Coin Award, and the FHWA Unusually Outstanding Performance Award. From industry, he was recognized by Engineering News Record, National Asphalt Pavement Association, American Concrete Pavement Association, Asphalt Rubber Producers Group, and Asphalt Recycling and Reclaiming Association. In addition, he was elected as chairman of the board of the Washington, D.C., "Road Gang" in 1990.


Doug Bernard, on the right, receives a Distinguished Career Service Award from FHWA Executive Director E. Dean Carlson for Bernard's 31 years of service to FHWA. Bernard retired from FHWA on Jan. 3, 1994.


FHWA Selects IVHS Research Centers of Excellence

On Oct. 7, FHWA Administrator Rodney E. Slater announced the selection of three universities to establish and operate IVHS research centers of excellence to aggressively develop and implement activities that advance the state of the art in IVHS. The centers are located at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, the University of Michigan, and the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University. Each university will receive up to $1 million per year for two to five years to assess IVHS technology, perform basic and applied research, and serve as partners in IVHS operational testing. Funding will be provided on an 80-percent federal share basis. The universities were selected based on a competitive technical review of applications.

Fifteen States Are Testing Anti-Icing Techniques

FHWA is funding a study to carefully examine selected processes for preventing the formation of a strong bond between frozen precipitation and the pavement surface. This winter and next, highway agencies in 15 states -- California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin -- will test and evaluate anti-icing strategies and techniques to determine which have the greatest potential for success over a range of topographic, climatic, and traffic conditions. This FHWA study is a continuation, with some modifications, of a SHRP project. A final report of the study and a manual for an anti-icing program are due in the summer of 1995.

ASCE Offers Technical Assistance in Wake of California Quake

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) offered California officials the Society's full technical support to help the state recover from the Northridge earthquake. ASCE has emergency disaster response teams of expert civil engineers to provide assistance to state and local authorities in conducting damage assessments and safety inspections. ASCE civil engineers throughout California remain on alert to inspect the public works infrastructure, including water treatment plants, water pipelines, gas pipelines, roadways, and geotechnical engineering. More than 100 volunteer engineers made hazard inspections after the San Francisco earthquake in 1989, and an ASCE official predicted that a much larger number of volunteer engineers will be needed this time because of the vast damage.

--American Society of Civil Engineers

Civil Engineering R&D Investment Is Lagging

Spending for research and development (R&D) by the U.S. civil engineering community lags far behind other major U.S. industries, according to a recent study sponsored by the Civil Engineering Research Foundation (CERF) and the National Science Foundation. As a result, the design and construction industry has not derived as many technological advances through R&D as other industries, even though it is the largest manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy and accounts for about 8 percent of the gross national product. The civil engineering community as a whole invests only 0.5 percent of its total revenue, as compared to an "all-industry" composite level of investment of 3.4 percent for 1990 according to Business Week. Among the study's major findings:

  • A lack of national strategy and direction for R&D by the design and construction industry restricts the effectiveness of limited R&D resources; barriers to implementing new technology provide a disincentive for R&D.
  • Nearly 28 percent of all design and construction firms reporting some level of civil engineering-related R&D are not able to quantify this activity; if those firms that do not perform any R&D are included, the percentage of firms not having a line item for R&D activities rises to 74.1 percent. This lack of record- keeping makes it difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of R&D investments.
  • The federal government funded 62.9 percent of all civil engineering-related R&D performed in 1992.

Survey findings are documented in a new CERF report entitled A Nationwide Survey of Civil Engineering-Related R&D (Report No. 93-5006). The report concludes with specific recommendations addressed to each sector -- federal government, industry, academia, state, and nonprofit -- and to the community as a whole aimed at improving the interaction and coordination between sectors to maximize the effectiveness of limited R&D resources.

--Civil Engineering Research Foundation

Reduced Median Width Leads to More Crashes

Reducing the width of median strips between divided highways to add more lanes and to save money will lead to more crashes, injuries, and deaths, according to an FHWA-funded study conducted by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center. Wider lanes provided the most protection against head-on collisions -- usually the most deadly -- but also reduced the number of multivehicle, single-vehicle, and rollover crashes. Over an increasing range of median widths from zero to 110 feet, the rates of serious-injury, all-injury, and property-damage-only crashes declined as much as 15-fold. Using the Illinois model, reducing an existing 64-foot median to 40 feet would result in a 23-percent increase in the total crash rate. Medians wider than 80 feet did not show continuing declines in crash rates, providing diminishing returns for the cost. The center used data from the Highway Safety Information System, a multistate data base on motor vehicle crashes, road characteristics, and traffic volume, to compare the median widths of Utah and Illinois highways with computerized accident data from those states. Utah and Illinois were the only two states with enough reliable information to conduct the analysis, according to researchers.

--UNC Highway Safety Research Center

Advanced Composite Cables for Waterfront Structures Will Be Demonstrated

The U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and several industry partners have joined in a project to demonstrate the corrosion resistance of advanced composite prestressing cables in waterfront structures. Measures, such as epoxy coatings and cathodic protection, to prevent the corrosion of steel reinforcing cables exposed to ocean waters have not been cost-effective. Currently, maintenance of waterfront structures costs the U.S. military and civilian communities nearly $2 billion annually. Fiberglass- and carbon fiber-reinforced composite cables are very strong and do not corrode; therefore, they provide a promising alternative to steel to significantly reduce maintenance costs and increase the useful life of a structure. Use of these new materials will require minimal change in commercial production equipment and training.

--U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories

Taiwan Is Site of Major International Conference

The eighth conference of the Road Engineering Association of Asia and Australasia (REAAA) will be held in Taipei, Taiwan, on April 17-21, 1995. At the last REAAA conference in Singapore in 1992, nearly 1,000 participants from more than 20 countries engaged in this forum for information exchange among road engineering professionals. The theme of the 8th REAAA conference is "Roads for Future Development." The conference will focus on the following topics: road planning, design, construction, maintenance and infrastructure management; mass transit use of roads; traffic management; parking systems; road safety; vehicle standards and regulations; IVHS and its applications; road financing issues; and environmental impacts of road projects. The official language of the conference is English. Abstracts for proposed papers and presentations are due on Feb. 15, 1994. REAAA maintains close contacts with the International Road Federation and the Permanent International Association of Road Congresses. For more information, contact:

The Executive Secretary

8th REAAA Conference

Organizing Committee

c/o THI Consultants Inc.

P.O. Box: 96-1021

Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C.

Tel. & Fax: 886-2-7024642

--8th REAAA Conference Organizing Committee


Frank Francois, executive director of AASHTO, makes a presentation to the inaugural U.S. Hot Mix Asphalt Conference held in Atlanta on Nov. 17-19. More than 370 asphalt paving experts, from 38 states and six foreign countries and representing the public and private sectors, participated in the two-day symposium. The keynote address was delivered by FHWA Executive Director E. Dean Carlson.