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Public Roads - Summer 1993

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.

The New Public Roads

If you are a regular reader of Public Roads, you have already noticed that something is very different about the look of this issue. The magazine is looking forward to better serving you in the future, and one way to do that is to recapture an important element from its past. We want Public Roads to once again be a forum for the discussion of current problems. We solicit your comments and your input. We recognize that there is a great deal of important and innovative highway-related work being done throughout the United States. Let us hear from you. Let us know what topics you would like covered in the magazine. "Instructions to Authors" on the inside back cover provides our address and telephone number as well as information about writing for Public Roads. However, there are two caveats: We will focus on subjects relevant to the mission and work of the Federal Highway Administration, and research and technology will remain our foundation.

New FHWA Leaders Take Charge

On May 28, Rodney E. Slater was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become the administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. Slater's formal swearing-in ceremony was conducted on June 16. Slater was formerly the chairman of the Arkansas State Highway Commission and a member of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' Executive Committee of Commissions and Boards. He was awarded the 1990 Arkansas Transit Association's "Arkansas Public Transportation Advocate Award" for his efforts as a staunch advocate for greater investment in transportation to stimulate the economy. Earlier in his career, Slater served as an assistant attorney general for Arkansas and was a key member of the governor's staff, serving as executive assistant for economic and community programs. He graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1980.

Slater also served on the Arkansas Sesquicentennial Commission and as liaison with the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday Commission. He is secretary-treasurer of the Arkansas Bar Association. In December 1989, he was named an "Arkansas Hero" in the Arkansas Times magazine for his work to improve conditions in the Delta. He was also honored by the Arkansas Jaycees as one of the "Ten Outstanding Young Arkansans" in March 1990.

Jane F. Garvey has been selected by Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena to serve as deputy administrator of FHWA. From 1991 to her selection as deputy administrator, Garvey was director of aviation at Logan International Airport in Boston, directing airport management and capital planning. In 1988, after serving five years as the associate commissioner, she became commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Works, the agency responsible for construction and maintenance of the statewide network of highways, bridges, and roadside areas. As the commissioner, she was responsible for developing innovative public and private financing and new environmental programs for the agency, and she oversaw all aspects of Boston's $5 billion Central Artery/Tunnel project.

Colorado Orders Drivers to "Move It"

On May 6, Colorado Governor Romer signed into law a congestion/incident management-related bill that requires drivers to move their vehicles from an accident scene if the accident occurs on "the traveled portion, median, or ramp of a divided highway." The "move it" bill, patterned after similar laws in Florida and Texas does not apply if a vehicle is too badly damaged to be driven or if either driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Howard Transportation Information Center Dedicated

Dedication ceremonies were held for the James and Marlene Howard Transportation Information Center at Monmouth College in New Jersey on May 7. The center, which was funded last year with a $2,242,000 grant under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, is known on campus as Howard Hall, and it is the new home of the School of Information Sciences and Technology. The school is designed to foster research in computer science, electronic engineering, software engineering, and communications technology and to provide links for technology transfers between academic institutions and industry.

I-80/National Commercial Vehicle Program Meeting Held in Kansas City

FHWA Region 7 hosted an I-80/National Commercial Vehicle Program meeting in Kansas City on May 5 and 6. Approximately 53 representatives from state agencies, motor carrier industry, and FHWA attended. Thc purpose of the meeting was to present the concepts of the National Commercial Vehicle Program and how the I-80 states could participate. The Iowa Department of Transportation agreed to take the leacl in torming a coalition of I-80 states to participate in the program and in organizing a meeting in October to further develop the coalition stmcture and a commercial vehicle operations business plan.

The services of the National Commercial Vehicle Program include one-stop shopping; preclearing trucks for credentials, size and weight, and safety; reporting/audit trail; fleet management; international cross-border; and hazardous materials incident response.

States Await Guidance on Converting Highway Signs to Metric Units

The Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act required federal government agencies to use the metric system in procurements, grants, and other businessrelated activities, except to the extent that such use is impractical or would likely cause significant inefficiencies. Several states have requested specific direction on how to proceed with their planned metric signing projects and with routine sign refurhishment projects. To assist in finding answers to some sign format questions, FHWA has recently approved Manual on Unifonn Traffic Control Devices -- Section lA-6 -- experimentation in Florida and Kentucky.

Meeting on Environmental Analysis in Transportation Set for July

The annual meeting of Transportation Research Board Committee AlF02 is being held this year in Seattle, Washington, hostecl hy the Washington State Department of Transportation. The meeting will he held July 20-23, 1993, at The Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle. The goal of this national meeting of transportation environIllental officials is to provide a forum to discuss research and practices that will improve the management of environmental process and policy in transportation design. Attendees from across the United States and Canada are expected.

This year's program inclucles presentations on the implementation in the state of Washington of ISTEA, Clean Air Act amendments, and the state's Growth Management Act; wetland banking; and public involvement using interactive computer imaging. There will also be a tour of one of the last completed stretches of I-90, addressing mitigation for historic structures and other environmental impacts.

Florida Enforces Seat Belt Law

In April, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) began a stepped-up effort to enforce Florida's safety belt law. The objective is to increase safety belt use in Floricla from 58 percent to 70 percent. During the lirst week of a three-week intensive, statewide campaign, FHP issued 7,886 warnings and 1,577 citations for safety belt violations. Additionally, 250 warnings and 107 tickets were issued for failing to use child car seats. FHP's new director, Col. Ronald Grimming, patterned this effort after a successful campaign in Illinois, where he was formerly the deputy director of the state police.

Second U.S./Japan Workshop Promotes Cooperation

The second U.S./Japan Workshop on Advanced Technology for Highway Engineering was held in Japan on April 20-23. Representatives of FHWA's Intelligent Vehicle-Highway Systems Division participated. The workshop was part of an agreement between the United States and Japan on "Cooperation in Research and IDevelopment in Science and Technology." A specific agreement was signed in May 1992 by the U.S. Departnzent of Transportation and the Japanese Ministry of Construction to promote, encourage, and advance highway transportation through research, development, and cooperation. The first workshop was conducted from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, 1992.

New Jersey Initiates Innovative CMAQ Project

In cooperation with the Northeast States Ozone Transport Commission, the New Jersey Departnaent of Transportation in a joint effort with the state environmental agency, has launched a comprehensive communications effort to educate the public on the impact of motor vehicle emissions on air quality and on ways to reduce these emissions. The 16-month campaign has four themes: cars pollute, drive clean, go with cleaner cars and fuel and tune up to clean up. These themes will be introduced one at a time at four-month intervals. Communication materials for each theme will be marketed to appropriate audiences. Federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program funding In the amount of $250,000 has been approved for this effort, and the Division Office Planning Unit has also initiated an overture to have the Technology Transfer Center assist in this project through its newsletter to local governments.

Kentucky Motorists Face Triple Jeopardy

On May 26, Kentucky kicked off a new statewide highway safety program called "Triple Jeopardy." If a motorist is stopped for speeding, drunk driving, or not wearing a seat belt the motorist will be checked for all three violations. The program is patterned after a program developed by the Knoxville (Tenn.) Police Department.

Louisiana I-310 Project Wins Award

The recently opened I-310 section constructecl by T.L. James Sr Company Inc. was recently awarded the prestigious 1992 Build America Award in the Highway Division category. This award recognizes excellence in the construction industry. The almost two-mile section of I-310 consisted of twin bridges built through environmentally sensitive, protected wetlands. There were no alternative corridors. The structures were built using "end-on" construction techniques with each section being built from the previous section from the top down. This difficult and unique project was completed well ahead of schedule enabling the complete I-310 corridor to be opened on May 7.

Star (*) DUI Program Works in Colorado

The Colorado Department of Transportation reports that more than 1,200 suspected drunk drivers were reported to law enforcement agencies by Colorado motorists in the first three months of 1993. More than one-fourth of the reports were made from cellular telephones using the "* DUI" number.

North Carolina Selects Route for I-73

On May 11, North Carolina officials announced the selection of the route of I-73 through the state I-73, a new north-south interstate highway between Charleston, S.C., and Detroit, Mich., was included in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991.

I-73 will enter North Carolina on I-77 at the Virginia state line in Surry County. It will use I-77 to the U.S. 52 Connector north of Pine Ridge and then use U.S. 52 through Stokes and Forsyth counties to U.S. 311 in Winston-Salem. From there, the highway will use U.S. 311 through Guilford and Randolph counties to U.S. 220 north of Asheboro. From there, the interstate will use U.S. 220 through Randolph, Montgomery, and Richmond counties to U.S. 1 in Rockingham and then exit the state on U.S. 1 at the South Carolina state line.

Except for the I-77 segment in Surry County, none of the highways to be used for I-73 are built to interstate standards. Although those are scheduled in the N.C. Department of Transportation's Transportation Improvement Program to be upgraded to multilane highways, additional funds will be required to bring them to interstate standards. Existing state and federal funds will be used since no additional funding for I-73 in North Carolina was designated in the federal legislation.

Asphalt Binder Equipment Circulates Through RMUPG

The Federal Highway Administration is continuing to monitor and support the education and training of state department of transportation personnel in the use of the new Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) asphalt binder equipment. The equipment and tests developed by SHRP are expected to replace the older less accurate, and less scientific asphalt binder tests for classifying asphalt cements. Currently, one trailer containing the binder equipment is being circulated through the states in the Rocky Mountain User-Producer Group, which generally corresponds to FHWA Region 8. On May 28, the trailer was moved from Wyoming to North Dakota, where it will remain for six weeks. The trailer has already visited Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah; after North Dakota, the trailer will visit Montana, Idaho and the Canadian province of Alherta before the equipment is returned to the Central Federal Lands Office in Denver.

Incident Management Conferences Held Across the Country

On May 14, National Incident Management Coalition sponsored a conference in New Orleans with about 220 participants representing state and local agencies that operate roadways, causeways, bridges, ferries, and transit facilities and services. This was the 11th major conference on incident management conducted over the past 18 months as part of a series jointly funded by the Federal Highway Administration and others to promote better handling of freeway accidents and other incidents. As a result of these conferences, some measures have already been taken to prevent and clear incidents and to assure traffic movement. At least five more conferences are planned; they will be held in Milwaukee, St. Louis, Princeton, Las Vegas, and Phoenix.

University Transportation Centers Program Expands

Three new University Transportation Centers have been established since the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991; this brings the total number of centers in the program to 13. In addition, the Federal Highway Administration has revised the roles of its headquarters and field offices in interacting technically with the centers. The three new centers are:

National Center for Transportation and Industrial Productivity

Center for Transportation Studies and Research

New Jersey Institute of Technology

Newark, N.J. 07102

Contact: Louis J. Pignataro, (201) 596-3355

National Center for Transportation Management, Research, and Development

School of Graduate Studies

Morgan State University

Baltimore, Md. 21239

Contact: Frank E. Enty, (410) 319-3666

Mack-Blackwell National Rural Transportation Study Center

4190 Bell Engineering Center

University of Arkansas

Fayetteville, Ark. 72701

Contact: E. Walter LeFevre, (501) 575-7957

Additionally, the program has established the University Transportation Centers Clearinghouse under the direction of Ann Marie Quinn. The clearinghouse's address is The Pennsylvania State University, Research Office Building, University Park, Pa. 16802-4710. The telephone number is (814) 863-3614.

Within FHWA, field offices have been given the lead in technical interaction on highway-related activities at the centers. This interaction will be similar to that of SP&R activities at state highway agencies. The field offices will also assist the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) in the annual onsite evaluation of the centers. The National Highway Institute (NHI) at FHWA headquarters will provide a focal point at the national level. NHI will work with RSPA and the Federal Transit Administration on national policy and administrative matters.

Highway Construction Costs Increase

The Federal Highway Administration announced in February that highway construction costs for the fourth quarter of 1992 increased 7.1 percent. The fourth quarter results raised the FHWA composite bid price index for highway construction costs to 107 percent of the 1987 base index for which 1987 average costs equal 100 percent.

Increases in the unit prices for portland cement concrete, bituminous concrete, structural steel, and structural concrete resulted in the overall increase in the index for the fourth quarter. There were decreases in the unit prices for excavation and reinforcing steel.

The three-quarter moving composite price index, which is obtained by combining data for the last three quarters of 1992, increased 1.6 percent from the previous three-quarter average.

Trends in highway construction costs are measured by an index of average contract prices compiled from reports of state highway contract awards for federal-aid contracts greater than $500,000. During the transition after the enactment of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), the index reflects federal-aid contracts on National Highway System projects and pre-ISTEA federal-aid contracts exclusive of secondary and off-system projects.

Requirements for State and Metropolitan Transportation Plans Proposed

In March, the Department of Transportation issued proposals to foster greater cooperation among states and metropolitan areas in developing transportation plans and programs for enhancing mobility, reducing traffic congestion, and encouraging the use of mass transit.

The department' s Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) carry out provisions of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Act of 1991 that call for a continuous, comprehensive, and coordinated transportation planning process in each state and metropolitan area. Public comments on the NPRM were due 60 days after the publication in the Federal Register.

The proposed rules stress comprehensive transportation plans which focus on developing seamless connections among transportation modes and which consider more than one mode to serve transportation needs within a given area. Among the subjects that states and metropolitan areas will consider as part of the planning process are:

  • The social, economic, energy, and environmental effects of transportation decisions.
  • Ways to preserve existing transportation facilities and make them more efficient.
  • Ways to reduce and prevent traffic congestion including reducing single-occupant motor vehicle travel.
  • Ways to expand and enhance mass transit services and encourage their use.
  • Methods of enhancing efficient movement of freight.
  • The effect of transportation decisions on land use and development.
  • Use of innovative financing methods, such as congestion pricing.
  • Preservation of the rights-of-way for future transportation projects.
  • Incorporation of hicycle facilities and pedestrian walkways where appropriate.
  • Access to international border crossings, ports, airports, intermodal facilities, and parks and other recreational areas.
  • Development of financial plans that demonstrate whether the costs of proposed transportation investments are consistent with expected revenues.

A long-ange planning horizon of at least 20 years would be required for state and metropolitan plans.

DOT and DOD Jointly Review GPS

The Department of Transportation and the Department of Defense announced on May 27 that the two departments will conduct a joint review to determine how to get maximum use of the DOD's Global Positioning System (GPS) to satisfy both military and civilian needs.

GPS is a space-ased positioning and navigational system that uses a network of Navstar satellites to provide very precise three-imensional position and velocity information. While the system is designed primarily to meet military requirements, the federal government wants to ensure the maximum civilian use consistent with national security needs. These civil uses are expected to grow and generate benefits such as increased transportation safety and efficiency and economic growth.

Actual and projected uses of GPS include the precise monitoring of transit buses, information enabling city drivers with special receivers to avoid congested routes in peak hours, highly accurate navigation for civil aviation, harbor entrance and coastal navigation uses for ships, and the tracking of land vehicles.

The task force will be jointly chaired by Joseph F. Canny, deputy assistant secretary of transportation for policy and international affairs, and Richard G. Howe, DOD's director for theater and tactical C3 -- command control, and communications. It will operate under the auspices of the DOT Navigation Council and the DOD Positioning Navigation Executive Committee. The task force is expected to complete its work by the end of 1993 and make a report to the two secretaries.

Neglecting Infrastructure Can Kill

Neglecting the nation's roads, bridges, power distribution systems, water supplies, and waste water facilities could kill more Americans than all past 20th century wars, says civil engineer Dr. Robert L. Lytton, head of the Center for Infrastructure Engineering in the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) -- a member of The Texas A&M University System.

A regimented program is needed to repair and preserve the trillions of dollars invested in our national infrastructure, according to Lytton. Neglecting our deteriorating infrastructure will mean dangerous bridges, hazardous roads, risky water supplies, and unreliable electrical and gas distribution systems.

"The physical elements needed to support civilized living -- elements that make it possible for large numbers to live together in cities -- are taken for granted. We all would be nomads without our infrastructure," Lytton said. "I don't want to be an alarmist, but there is a great deal riding on maintaining the infrastructure."

The center is an interdisciplinary group of researchers studying infrastructure problems including converting military technology to civilian uses. The center studies the public and private works that support habitation and the transportation and occupational needs of urban society.

The cost of restoring our infrastructure will dwarf the defense budget. "Right now, the country has a 'panic management' repair policy that is extremely expensive," said Lytton; however, careful management, the latest research, and the right timing could slash the cost of infrastructure repairs by up to 60 percent.

- Texas Engineenng Expenment Station

Glenwood Canyon Tunnel Project Wins ACEC Award

Parsons Brinkerhoff Quade & Douglas Inc. of San Jose, Calif., won a Grand Award in the American Consulting Engineers Council's 27th annual Engineering Excellence Awards competition for the design and construction of the Hanging Lake Tunnel, part of Colorado's enormous Glenwood Canyon Project.

The tunnel was conceived to meet the multiple demands of transportation, environment, and access to one of Colorado's most popular scenic tourist areas. The tunnel causes no disruption to the hundreds of wildlife species present in Glenwood Canyon and the Colorado River. In addition, it does not intrude upon its pristine surroundings and is virtually undetectable from the opposite side of the river.

The entire 12-mile segment of I-70 through the Glenwood Canyon was described by former FHWA Administrator Thomas Larson as "a world class piece of environmentally sensitive engineering" and 'a scenic byway that is one of the wonders of the interstate system." With the completion of the Glenwood Canyon segment in October 1992, the entire 2,175-mile length of I-70 from Baltimore, Md., to Cove Fort, Utah, is now open.

- American Consulting Engineers Council

Structural Engineers Form New National Council

Twenty state and regional structural engineer associations recently formed the National Council of Structural Engineer's Associations to reduce the difficulty in working across state lines. At a March 27 organizational meeting in Denver, officers were elected and bylaws were adopted. Committees were immediately formed to address state-to-state variations in registration and licensing requirements, project peer review and special inspection requirements, standards of practice, and coordination of state legislative efforts. The new group intends to provide a forum to establish a national consensus on multistate issues. The national office for the council is located at 101S 15th Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005. The telephone and fax numbers are (202) 347-7474 and (202) 898-0068 respectively.

- National Council of Structural Engineer's Associations

California Transportation and Environmental Agencies Sign Pact

A landmark agreement signed by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Department of Fish and Game regarding the use of asphalt on state highways will protect the environment while speeding the delivery of needed public works improvements.

The memorandum of understanding, signed by Caltrans Chief Engineer Richard P. Weaver and Fish and Game Chief Deputy Director John Sullivan, establishes a framework to address environmental and transportation concems.

The agreement spells out guidelines for using asphalt chunks, pieces, and grindings in road embankments and shoulder backing along state highways. In addition, a joint committee of the two departments has heen created to review future technical and policy issues involving transportation projects that could affect the state's rivers and streams.

"With this agreement," said Weaver, we now have a vehicle in place to make sure all the vanous concerns of hoth departments are aired and resolved in a manner that protects the environment while allowing critical transportation improvements to be completed on schedule and within hudget."

-California Department of Transportation

Access Management Conference Scheduled in August

The first national conference on access management for streets and highways will be conducted on August 2, 3, and 4 in Vail, Colorado. Access management is the strict control of the location, design, and operation of all driveways and public street connections onto the highway. Access management calls for a significant improvement in access design and spacing standards in recognition that the lack of access control is the largest single cumulative design element reducing roadway safety and capacity. Usually in excess of 50 percent of all traffic accidents are access related, and access control can increase capacity by 25 to 35 percent.

The conference, which is jointly sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, Transportation Research Board, and Colorado Department of Transportation, will feature more than 30 presentations on subjects such as current issues in access management, legal issues, establishing a program, corridor specific plans, spacing issues, turning movement design and restrictions, local government approach, and project implementation.

For more information, contact either:

  • Jim Scott
  • TRB, National Research Council

    2101 Constitution Ave. N.W.

    Washington, D.C. 20418

  • Philip Demosthenes
  • Colorado DOT

    4201 East Arkansas Ave., Rm. 291

    Denver, Colo. 80222

    Telephone: (303) 757-9844

    Fax: (303) 757-9820

Pan American Highway Meeting Set for September in Chile

The Pan American Highway Institute and the Catholic University of Chile invite highway authorities and experts in highway and transportation activities to participate in the Second PIH Technology Transfer Centers Annual Meeting in Santiago, Chile, on September 21-25. The objective of the meeting is to share new technologies, experiences, and information to contribute to an efficient and effective technology transfer for better highway systems. At the meeting, there will be simultaneous translations in Spanish and English.

PIH was founded in 1986 to act as a network of road and transportation organizations for transferring both innovative and traditional highway technology. Presently, the network has 30 technology transfer centers in 13 countries.

For more information, contact Dr. Carlos Videla C., Director centro IPC No. 8 Chile, Escuela de Ingenieria, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Vicuna Mackenna 4860, Macul, Casilla 306, Santiago, Chile. His telephone numbers are (56-2) 5522375 or 5522372 Extensions 4245 or 4573. The fax numbers are (56-2) 5524054 or 5531000.