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Public Roads - Summer 1995

Editor's Notes

Public Roads Wants Your Ideas and Opinions

by Bob Bryant

Just a few notes to keep you posted on what's happening with Public Roads and what's inside the magazine.

I really hope that we can regularly use this space in future issues to present your feedback. Public Roads is your magazine, and we are doing several things to find out how well this magazine serves your informational needs and how we can serve those needs better. Two very important efforts that are under way are: (1) our continued solicitation of your input and feedback and (2) a readership survey. In the past three issues, we have announced our intention to add a "reader exchange" section; however, those announcements have not stimulated any comments from readers. But, let's try again:

Public Roads Wants Your Ideas and Opinions

Public Roads solicits your input and feedback about articles and information presented in the magazine as well as your suggestions for new or follow-on articles. We want to hear from our readers our partners in this information exchange. You can share your ideas and opinions by contacting the editor at Public Roads, Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, Attention: HRD-10, 6300 Georgetown Pike, McLean, VA 22101-2296, or through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) e-mail martha.soneira@fhwa.dot.gov. Please provide your telephone number and Internet address. Letters should be less than 250 words. Public Roads reserves the right to determine which letters to the editor will be published and to edit all published letters.

You'll Be Hearing From Us Soon

Within the next few weeks, many of the readers of Public Roads will receive a survey/questionnaire. Please take the few minutes required to complete the questionnaire and return it promptly to the Government Printing Office. Your response is very important to us. Please help us to help you by telling us how we can provide a more interesting, useful, and relevant magazine. In some cases, one respondent represents an entire agency or industry, so the return of every survey form is important to ensure that all groups and subgroups of readers are represented in the results. After the responses have been analyzed, they will be reported in Public Roads.

Public Roads Goes Metric

As Dave Smith points out in his article that begins on page 14, all FHWA manuals, documents, and publications were supposed to have "gone metric," using metric units only, almost two years ago Oct. 1, 1993. Despite the edicts, most people still think in terms of English units, and almost all manuscripts submitted to Public Roads have measurements in English units only.

Because measurements were provided in English units and readers might be confused by metric measurements and, in some cases, the metric "rules of grammar" might be confusing, Public Roads in 1993 decided to provide dual measurements with English units first and the soft conversion to metric units in parentheses. In 1994, we retained dual measurements, but we put the metric units first. For the past couple of issues in 1995, we have been using metric only providing English units only when necessary to avoid misrepresentation or confusion but we kept the old style/grammar rules.

Starting with this issue, Public Roads is really going metric, using metric units and SI (Le Système International d'Unités) grammar rules. From time to time, it may be necessary to throw in the English equivalent to avoid confusion when the metric unit is particularly obscure or to avoid misrepresentation when the research was clearly conducted using English measurements or when the regulation was written with English units, but those occasions will be extremely infrequent.

We don't want to make it more difficult to understand any information in the magazine; however, as the magazine of FHWA, Public Roads has the responsibility to be a leader in helping our readers become accustomed to metric units and to "thinking metric."

Some things may look a little weird at first e.g., 25 250 (with a space instead of a comma as in 25,250) or 4 500 000 (instead of 4,500,000) or m2 (instead of sq. m.) but bear with us. In a short time, metric measurements will seem normal, and none of us will remember why there was any fuss or anxiety about using the metric system.

In Commemoration

On the inside back cover, we have provided the roll call of the 10 FHWA employees who died in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19. They are survived by seven spouses, a fiancée (the wedding was scheduled for Memorial Day weekend), 15 children, parents and other relatives, co-workers, and friends. As Secretary of Transportation Federico Peña said, "They don't grieve alone in Oklahoma City; we mourn their losses together."

We also celebrate the lives of these 10 victims, and indeed the lives of all 167 victims of the bombing, for their service and contributions to the American people, their communities, and their families and friends.

"Even the death of friends will inspire us as much as their lives ... Their memories will be encrusted over with sublime and pleasing thoughts, as monuments of other men are overgrown with moss; for our friends have no place in the graveyard."

Henry David Thoreau

On Monday, April 24, the Oklahoma Division Office opened for business at its new location. The office is located at the North Campus of the Transportation Safety Institute in Oklahoma City. The address is 715 Metropolitan Avenue, Suite 700, Oklahoma City, OK 73108. Telephone numbers for federal-aid are (405) 945-6011 and 945-6012, and for the Office of Motor Carriers (405) 945-6047 and 945-6048. The fax number is (405) 945-6170.

For anyone interested in making a contribution to assist members of the FHWA family involved in the Oklahoma City tragedy, an OK-DOT/FHWA Memorial Fund has been established for this purpose. This fund will provide both emergency financial assistance now and long-term aid in the future, including educational scholarships. The Federal Employees Education & Assistance Fund (FEEA) will accept donations to the OK-DOT/FHWA Memorial Fund and will issue 100 percent of all contributions to DOT employees and their families. A DOT/FHWA Advisory Board will prioritize and direct financial assistance to the areas of greatest need. All donations are tax deductible and will be acknowledged by the FEEA.

Donations can be forwarded to: FEEA/OK-DOT/FHWA Memorial Fund, 8441 W. Bowles Ave., Suite 20, Littleton, CO 80123. Checks should be made payable to FEEA/OK-DOT/FHWA Memorial Fund.

In Washington, D.C., FHWA's Office of Personnel and Training will also be accepting contribution checks in Room 4317 of the Nassif Building and will forward all monies received directly to the fund. If you have any questions about this fund please call Daniel Foley at (202) 366-0530.

Bob Bryant

Editor