For Public Roads, spring - and particularly, this spring - is both an ending and a beginning. The spring issue is traditionally the last issue of our publishing year. So, it is a time for us to look at this issue and at the previous three issues that together represent Volume 60 of Public Roads. The volume year is graphically presented in our annual index, which is on pages 58 and 59 of this issue. This index lists the content of all four issues, including all 44 articles and 49 authors, some of whom contributed more than one article this year.
Public Roads covered a gamut of topics this year. It seems appropriate, in retrospect, that we started the volume year with the Summer 1996 issue that featured a historical focus on the 40th anniversary of the Interstate Highway System and the 80th anniversary of the legislation that established the federal-aid highway program. And we're ending the volume year by looking to the future: The focal subject of the Winter 1997 issue was on the development of post-ISTEA (Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act) legislation that will usher the nation's surface transportation system into the 21st century, and the focus of this issue is high-performance materials that promise a stronger, more durable transportation infrastructure.
As we look ahead to the next volume year, we have at least two potentially significant "new beginnings" for Public Roads. The first is the change in the leadership of the Federal Highway Administration. Former Federal Highway Administrator (and now Secretary of Transportation) Rodney Slater was a supporter of Public Roads; he recognized the magazine as a major communication medium for the agency. At press time, his successor has not been named, but we're confident that with the support of the new administrator, Public Roads will continue to be an increasingly more effective means of communicating "developments in federal highway policies, programs, and research and technology," in accordance with our mission statement. The second beginning is our change from a quarterly magazine to a bimonthly magazine. Starting with the next issue - July-August 1997 - Public Roads will be published six times per year.
Our slogan could be: "When you talk, we listen." (If some company already has that slogan, my apologies for commandeering your slogan.) The results of the major readership survey that we conducted in 1995 were overall very favorable for the magazine. For example, 90.5 percent of the respondents said Public Roads meets their needs well or very well. However, 14.6 percent wanted the magazine to cover more information and/or topics, and now, by increasing the number of issues per year, we will be able to provide 50 percent more information/topics over the course of a year.
In June, Public Roads will celebrate its 79th birthday, and we're continually reshaping the magazine to ensure it is a valuable source of important information for you.