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Public Roads - Summer 1996

Along the Road

Policy and Legislation

"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 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.

Joint Final Rule on National Maximum Speed Limit
FHWA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a joint final rule implementing the repeal of the National Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL) compliance program. The final rule was published in the Federal Register on March 20. The NMSL compliance program was repealed by the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995, effective Dec. 8, 1995. It provided, however, that the governors of certain states could delay the effective date of the repeal. Five states - Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio - exercised this option. This final rule makes the regulation that implements the NMSL compliance program applicable only to those states. In effect, it rescinds the regulation for all other states. The final rule also rescinds the provisions that require speed monitoring, certification requirements, and compliance standards.

Management and Administration

Heads of Agencies Discuss Field Restructuring
On April 24 and 25, regional administrators from FHWA, NHTSA, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Federal Railroad Administration met in Washington, D.C., to discuss opportunities for field restructuring. Secretary of Transportation Federico Peña, Deputy Secretary Mort Downey, and the administrators from all four operating administrations participated in this historic first gathering of departmental managers. The objective was to jointly discover ways to enhance customer service and program delivery. Reports from the five functional groups of managers displayed both commitment and creativity. Each regional administrator was tasked to use the ideas generated in the meeting to develop specific action plans and timetables. Full report memos will be forthcoming.

Supplemental Emergency Relief (ER) Funds Released
With the signing of the fiscal year 1996 budget by President Clinton, $267 million in ER funds has become available to respond to emergency requests from the states. A contingency fund of $33 million is available by separate request from the secretary of transportation to the president. Of the total amount, $70 million will go to replenish the funds originally in the interstate discretionary fund and disbursed to the states earlier this year for disaster relief.

Utah Submits I-15 Plan for Winter Olympics
The Utah Division of FHWA has forwarded a SEP-14 request from the Utah Department of Transportation on the I-15 design-build effort. This $1 billion, 25-kilometer project is the centerpiece of Utah's reconstruction efforts to prepare for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Without the design build approach, I-15 reconstruction would not be completed until 2004; with design-build, completion is expected in 2001. The three factors which guide this approach are time, quality, and cost.

Technical News

Coleman Bridge Replacement Is Engineering First


A span of the George P. Coleman Bridge is floated into place near Yorktown, Va.

When the spans of the George P. Coleman Bridge, which crosses the York River at Yorktown, Va., and which is the second largest double-swing span bridge in the world, were replaced in May, it was an engineering first. For the first time, a bridge was floated in with everything needed to carry traffic, including roadway and lightpoles. "Floating in bridges is nothing new, but usually it is just the steel superstructure," said Jim Cleveland, district administrator for the Virginia Department of Transportation. "The roadway, lightpoles, and other details are added later. Sometimes it takes several months until the bridge can carry traffic. The Coleman Bridge [had] cars driving across in just 12 days." The new bridge is three times wider than the original bridge and will have four lanes and 3-meter safety shoulders.

R&D Participates in New Math Artificial Intelligence
FHWA's Office of Research and Development is participating in the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) Computer-Aided Education and Training Initiative: New Math Initiatives program. The purpose of the New Math Initiatives program is to correct identified conflicts in the fundamental mathematics supporting artificial intelligence to fill known gaps in theory and to improve software reliability. This activity is an extension of current FHWA research in verification, validation, and evaluation (VV&E) of the expert systems that have received recognition in the artificial intelligence community.

The R&D Advanced Research Team will support ARPA in testing and evaluating new computer-based technologies and will serve as technology transfer agents. Some of the new theories may be applied to the development of traffic modeling and simulation software and other highway operations software. This is an early step in a lengthy process of developing and testing new approaches that will ultimately result in drastically more robust and testable computer software.

Operation TimeSaver Activities in Denver Produce Immediate Results
The Denver metropolitan area synchronized traffic lights on 20 corridors. As a result of these improvements, average travel times on these streets were typically reduced by 7 to 32 percent. Reductions in stops and travel delays saved travelers of about 18,000 hours daily, saved more than 26,500 liters of fuel per day, and decreased daily carbon monoxide emissions by more than nine metric tons.

Houston Opens High-Tech Transportation Management Center

Houston Transtar, one of the first high-tech transportation and emergency management centers in the United States, opened on April 15, in conjunction with the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) Annual Meeting and Exposition. Secretary Peña led the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Transtar controls or coordinates the traffic signalization systems, freeway managment systems, transit management systems, incident management systems, electronic toll collection systems, smart railroad grade-crossing systems, coordinated emergency and disaster services, and real-time traveler information systems.


Public Information and Information Exchange

DOT Officials Meet With Automakers About ITS

Christine Johnson, director of FHWA's Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Joint Program Office, and Joseph Kanianthra, director of NHTSA's Office of Crash-Avoidance Research, met with executives from the "Big 3" American automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) to discuss future deployment of ITS, with an emphasis on crash-avoidance technologies. While the automakers appeared to have different ITS approaches, they endorsed "Operation TimeSaver"; agreed that consumers rate security and affordability as the two most important issues related to ITS; and shared real concerns about product liability.

General Motors will have two, and possibly three, ITS entries in the American market by 1997. They have developed an extremely impressive crash-avoidance-concept car that is now showcasing the more advanced ITS crash-avoidance technologies. Ford has also entered into the American market with its ITS mayday system. Ford will likely introduce more sophisticated technology first in Europe. Chrysler will have ITS entries in its 1999 model.

Room at DOT Dedicated to Lester P. Lamm

A ceremony was held on April 24 to dedicate room 4200 in the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters building as the Lester P. Lamm Room. The event was attended by the Lamm family, former members of Congress, executives from highway industry organizations, DOT modal administrators, FHWA unit managers, and former FHWA officials. Administrator Rodney Slater, Deputy Administrator Jane Garvey, Executive Director Tony Kane, and Mrs. Mary Lamm all spoke briefly.

FHWA to Train Korean Bridge Inspectors

The Bridge Division is providing technical assistance and is coordinating activities with the Office of International Programs in scheduling a bridge inspector's training course for 20 Korean engineers. The proposed course has been requested by the Korean Ministry of Construction and Transportation. These activities are being undertaken in response to an FHWA agreement to cooperate with the Korean Ministry in highway and bridge-related matters.

Federal Lands Highway Office Receives Two National Design Awards

Secretary Peña and Deputy Chairman Scott Sanders of the National Endowment for the Arts presented awards on Feb. 29 to the Federal Lands Highway Office and its partners for two exemplary projects. The Eastern Federal Lands' Natchez Trace Parkway Concrete Segmental Double-Arch Bridge in Tennessee was recognized with one of the 11 Honor Awards. The Central Federal Lands' Clear Creek Bridge in Zion National Park, Utah, received one of the 26 Merit Awards. Awards were selected from 350 competing entries.


The Natchez Trace Parkway Concrete Segmental Double-Arch Bridge in Tennessee has won several major awards for design excellence.

The Natchez Trace Bridge has previously received at least eight other awards, including an award from the 11th Annual Bridge Conference for the single most outstanding achievement in the bridge industry for 1994 and the 1995 Presidential Design Award for design excellence. TransGuide Is Most Outstanding ITS Project in Texas The TransGuide transportation management system in San Antonio received the first annual Outstanding Project Award from ITS Texas, a state chapter of ITS America. TransGuide was featured in an article in the Summer 1995 issue of Public Roads.

The award was presented to AlliedSignal Technical Services Corp. of Columbia, Md., developer of the system. The system opened in July 1995 and is meeting its goal of identifying and reporting in two minutes or less the approximately 100 roadway incidents that occur each day along 40 kilometers of freeway in downtown San Antonio. Similar systems are either being planned or designed for Boston, Kansas City, Maryland, St. Louis, and Virginia.

- ITS America


Decker Elected President of AAPT

Dale S. Decker, P.E., was recently elected president of the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists (AAPT). AAPT is an international association whose members are among the world's most distinguished practitioners and theorists in the field of asphalt paving. Decker is also vice president for research and technology of the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA). He was previously employed by the New Mexico Engineering Research Institute and Chevron Corp. He holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in civil engineering from the University of Kentucky. Decker is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers.


FHWA Announces Four Major Appointments

On June 4, Federal Highway Administrator Rodney Slater announced the selection of four senior FHWA officials to new positions. Jeffrey R. Brooks was selected to become the deputy regional administrator and the director of operations for Region 9, headquartered in San Francisco. Selected as division directors were William K. Fung (Wisconsin), Ronald C. Marshall (Illinois), and James E. Scapellato (Tennessee).

Houston Metro Chief Becomes ITS America Chairman

Robert MacLennan, general manager of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) of Harris County (Texas), was elected chairman of ITS America at the organization's annual meeting in April. As board chair, MacLennan will lead ITS America and its 1,000 member organizations toward nationwide deployment of intelligent transportation system technologies. MacLennan was previously the vice chairman of ITS America

- ITS America and METRO


Omaha Is Site of Next HPC Showcase

The High-Performance Concrete (HPC) Region VII Showcase, hosted by FHWA, the Nebraska Department of Roads, and the University of Nebraska Lincoln Center for Infrastructure Research (UNLCIR), will be held Nov. 18-20 in Omaha.

The conference will provide designers, materials engineers, concrete producers, contractors, and owners with state-of-the-art information on HPC strength and durability requirements, quality control, testing techniques, structural design, and mix design. All aspects of the design, construction, and instrumentation of Nebraska's first HPC bridge will be featured along with presentations on recent experiences by the states of Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, and Texas.

HPC projects in Canada and Europe will also be covered. FHWA's Mobile Testing Laboratory will be on display throughout the conference to show the latest concrete strength and durability testing techniques. For more information, call Deb Derrick, UNLCIR, (402) 554-2980, or e-mail to (Look for the HPC article in the Autumn 1996 issue of Public Roads.)