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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Public Roads - Winter 2020

Winter 2020
Issue No:
Vol. 83 No. 4
Publication Number:
Table of Contents

Along the Road

Public Information and Information Exchange

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 U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let’s meet along the road.

Secretary Chao Celebrates Groundbreaking of New Volpe Center

In a ceremony on October 30, 2019, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao celebrated the official groundbreaking of the new U.S. Department of Transportation John A. Volpe Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, MA. Secretary Chao was joined by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern, U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Chief of Staff Robert Borden, U.S. Senator Edward Markey's State Director James Cantwell, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Vice President for Research Maria Zuber for the groundbreaking ceremony.

The Volpe Center currently occupies approximately 14 acres (5.7 hectares) of land in the Kendall Square section of the city. Following the conclusion of a two-phase solicitation process, GSA entered into an exchange agreement with MIT, which will pay $750 million to design and construct a state-of-the-art-facility for Volpe on approximately four acres (1.6 hectares). In exchange, the portion of the property no longer needed by the Federal Government will be conveyed to MIT for mixed-use development.

The new facility will replace Volpe's six existing buildings and surface parking lots with an energy-efficient structure accompanied by underground parking and approximately 100 bicycle parking spaces. As part of the Federal Government's Art in Architecture program, which commissions artworks for new buildings nationwide, the new building will feature an art piece designed by Maya Lin integrated into the landscape on the east side of the site.

USDOT Holds Inaugural Meeting of Rural Transportation Infrastructure Council

In November 2019, USDOT hosted the first meeting of the ROUTES Council, which will improve the use of the Department's discretionary grant funds in support of the Nation's rural transportation system. The initiative, known as the Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) Initiative, will analyze the Department's discretionary funding and financing opportunities to ensure rural communities' transportation infrastructure helps the national transportation network meet desired outcomes for safety and economic competitiveness.


ROUTES is an initiative to address disparities in rural transportation infrastructure.


Rural transportation infrastructure has significant challenges. While one-fifth of Americans live in rural areas, 70 percent of the Nation's road miles are in rural areas, carrying nearly 50 percent of truck traffic. The highway fatality rate is more than twice that of urban areas, and 90 percent of the Nation's bridges that are posted for weight limits are in rural locations.

The new ROUTES Initiative will address these national transportation challenges by assisting rural stakeholders in understanding how to access USDOT grants and financing products, and developing data-driven approaches to better assess needs and benefits of rural transportation projects.

For more information, visit

USDOT Awards Automated Driving System Demonstration Grants

Eight projects in seven States will receive a total of nearly $60 million in Federal grant funding to test the safe integration of automated driving systems (ADS) on the Nation's roadways. The grants aim to gather significant safety data to inform rulemaking and foster collaboration among State and local governments and private partners.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao made the announcement at the Federal Highway Administration Research Showcase, an event promoting the importance of research and innovation in transportation. The event featured exhibits and demonstrations of the ongoing research, emerging technologies, and capabilities of the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center.

USDOT's top priority is safety. Automation offers the potential to improve safety for vehicle operators, occupants, and other travelers sharing the road. To address this potential, USDOT solicited applications for the ADS grants, highlighting key goals for safety, data for safety analysis and rulemaking, and collaboration. The Department received 73 proposals.

For more information, visit

Helping States Plan for ITS Cybersecurity

USDOT's Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Joint Program Office (JPO) recently released Cybersecurity and Intelligent Transportation Systems: A Best Practice Guide (FHWA-JPO-19-763). This report presents the best practices in ITS cybersecurity, particularly in planning and conducting a penetration test.

The report details the methodology of scoping a test, including the objectives, requirements, success criteria, test type, management, and test readiness. It includes a template test plan to help local and State departments of transportation get started on their own cybersecurity plan and penetration testing. The National Institute for Standards in Technology Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Framework and the Department of Homeland Security Implementation Guidance for Transportation provide context for using penetration testing as a mechanism to identify vulnerabilities.

The report is available at

Improving Access and Mobility for All Americans

At the Access and Mobility for All Summit held in October 2019, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced nearly $50 million in new initiatives to expand access to transportation for people with disabilities, older adults, and individuals of low income. The initiatives include new programs to develop and deploy innovations in technology and further interagency partnerships to improve mobility.


One goal of USDOT's new mobility initiatives is to increase availability and decrease cost of aftermarket modifiers that improve accessibility of vehicles for all users.


The summit assembled leaders from industry, academia, nonprofits, and government to participate in panel discussions and breakout sessions focused on interagency coordination, advanced vehicle technologies, and innovations in mobility services.


New USDOT initiatives aim to expand mobility and access to transportation for people with disabilities, older adults, and individuals of low income.


As part of her keynote address, Secretary Chao announced a planned Complete Trip Deployment solicitation, which will make up to $40 million available to enable communities to showcase innovative business partnerships, technologies, and practices that promote independent mobility for all. "Complete trip" means that a user can get from point A to point B seamlessly, regardless of the number of modes, transfers, and connections.

A planned inclusive design challenge will make up to $5 million in cash prizes available to innovators who design solutions to enable accessible automated vehicles. USDOT aims to increase availability and decrease cost of aftermarket modifiers that improve accessibility of vehicles today and spark development for future automated vehicles.

For more information, visit

Understanding the Business Case for Automated Bus Technologies

Automation technology for personal vehicles is widely researched and discussed, but much less information is available about automation technologies in public transportation, specifically bus systems. This information gap can make it difficult for transit agencies to decide which, if any, technologies to invest in.

Economists at USDOT's Volpe Center analyzed the cost-effectiveness of a selection of bus automation technologies to help transit agencies evaluate which technologies may yield returns in the form of reduced labor or operations costs. Different from a traditional public policy analysis or benefit-cost analysis, a business case analysis offers a decisionmaking framework for fiscally constrained transit agencies.

In a report published in the Transportation Research Record, Volpe Center economists studied the costs of installing and maintaining busses with five different categories of automation technology. The technologies include a range of automation concepts, from near-term, readily available technologies to longer term or early-stage ideas. The technologies also spanned different levels of automation.

For more information, visit

Source: Volpe Center


Note: Number is total at end of year, except 2019. For 2019, number is as of July 2019. Only docked bikeshare systems open to the general public included in the count. College, employer, and resident docked bikeshare systems not counted. Last updated November 2019.


BTS Interactive Map Shows Growth of Urban Mobility Systems

USDOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) released an interactive map that documents the rapid growth of bikeshare (docked and dockless) and e-scooter systems across the country from 2015 to 2019. The total number of these systems reached more than 350 systems serving more than 200 cities as of July 2019.

BTS' interactive bikeshare and e-scooter map shows, by city, the name of the bikeshare system (docked or dockless) and e-scooter system serving it for every year from 2015 to 2019. For cities with a docked bikeshare system, the map can be zoomed in to the locations of the docking stations at the street level.

Of 111 docked bikeshare systems in operation, 85 launched across the U.S. from 2015 through July 2019. More than 30 of the systems operate across multiple cities. Only docked bikeshare systems open to the general public are included in the count. College, employer, and resident docked bikeshare systems are not counted. The top five largest docked bikeshare systems in metro areas are Boston's Blue Bikes; San Francisco's BayWheels; Capital Bikeshare in Washington, DC; Chicago's Divvy; and Citi Bike in New York City.

Dockless bikeshare systems and e-scooters first appeared in the United States in 2017 and have expanded coverage since then. As of July 2019, dockless bikeshare systems serve 38 cities and e-scooters serve 100 cities.

For more information, visit

Source: BTS

Georgia DOT Launches Middle School Educational Program

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) joined with Scholastic, a global children's publishing, education, and media company, on a multiyear educational initiative designed to help educate the next generation of drivers. Developed for middle school students across the State, the Recognizing the Risk campaign provides students, teachers, and parents with resources addressing the dangers of distracted driving and walking. The program builds upon GDOT's existing Drive Alert Arrive Alive and See & Be Seen campaigns.


GDOT recently launched a new campaign to educate middle schoolers, teachers, and parents on the dangers of distracted driving and walking.


In 2018, 70 percent of the 1,514 fatalities on Georgia roads occurred as a result of distracted behavior, including 265 fatalities involving pedestrians. As a result of the new collaboration, Georgia teachers will provide their students with a number of classroom activities focused on promoting pedestrian and driver safety by discussing the hazards of texting, headphones, and more. The program enables teachers, students, and parents to engage in a wide range of collaborative discussions on real-world scenarios to foster responsible and safe alternatives to risky behaviors.

For more information, visit

Source: Georgia DOT


GDOT recently launched a new campaign to educate middle schoolers, teachers, and parents on the dangers of distracted driving and walking.