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Talking Freight

The Effects of Construction Zones on Freight Movement

June 20, 2007 Talking Freight Transcript

Jennifer Symoun:
Good afternoon or good morning to those of you to the West. Welcome to the Talking Freight Seminar Series. My name is Jennifer Symoun and I will moderate today's seminar. Today's topic is Effects of Construction Zones on Freight Movement. Please be advised that today's seminar is being recorded.

Today we'll have five presenters. Chung Eng of the FHWA Work Zone Mobility and Safety Team, JoAnn Oerter and Tammy Stewart of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, and Rick Cates of the North Carolina Trucking Association, and Randal Thomas of the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Chung Eng is the Work Zone Mobility and Safety Team Leader in the Office of Transportation Operations in FHWA Headquarters. Since joining the Federal Highway Administration in 1982, he has held various positions including Area Engineer, Illinois Division Office; Program Manager, Construction and Maintenance Division in Headquarters; Transportation Specialist, Office of Traffic Management and ITS Applications in Headquarters; and Transportation Specialist, Office of Transportation Management in Headquarters. He graduated from the George Washington University with a BSCE in 1982.

Jo Ann Oerter is the State ITS Travel Information Engineer for the North Carolina Department of Transportation. In that position she is responsible for researching and implementing new and innovative Traveler Information initiatives throughout NC. Some recent projects include coordinating with NC Crime Control and Public Safety on NC's AMBER Alert program, implementing NC's 511 program and continually monitoring and upgrading the Traveler Information Management System. She is also responsible for overseeing the maintenance and inventory of NCDOT's ITS Program across the state. She is a member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, ITS America, the National 511 Alliance, and the I-95 Corridor Coalition. She began her career with NCDOT in June of 1990. Before moving to the ITS Operations Unit in March of 2003, Jo Ann had worked with NCDOT's Traffic Engineering Branch. She holds a BSCE from North Carolina State University.

Tammy Stewart is a Public Relations Specialist with the North Carolina Department of Transportation. She has been with NCDOT for almost 7 years. Ms. Stewart oversees the IMPACT Public Information Program and the Work Zone Safety Education Program for the department.

Rick Cates is the Director of Safety and Security of the North Carolina Trucking Association, and the state coordinator for the Highway Watch Program, Homeland Security. Rick has been in the trucking industry for over 36 years. Rick spent 29 of those years with textile giant Burlington Industries transportation division, in the field of Safety, Security and Training. Rick is actively involved with the North Carolina Trucking Association Safety Management Council. He is the chairman of the North Carolina's Road Team Committee, Chairman of the Law Enforcement Committee, and has served as Chairman of the Awards Committee and the Truck Driving Championship Committee. He is the chairman of the North Carolina Truck Driving Training School Advisory Board. Rick works in partnership with North Carolina Incident Management, Emergency Management and the State North Carolina Highway Patrol Motor Carrier Enforcement.

Randal Thomas is the Statewide Traffic Mobility Manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), where his responsibilities include keeping traffic and freight moving safely and reliably throughout the state. Formerly, he managed Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) for ODOT's Motor Carrier Division, which included the award-winning Green Light truck preclearance program. Before joining state service, Mr. Thomas served as membership director for the Oregon Trucking Associations and branch manager for several truck semi-trailer leasing companies, including Transamerica and GE Capital. Mr. Thomas holds a B.S. in Management and Communications from Western Baptist College where he was awarded "Most Outstanding Project Thesis." He is an internationally published author of various professional papers regarding ITS solutions and traffic mobility strategies. He is also an elected city councilor in Silverton, Oregon, where he resides with his wife and two children.

I'd now like to go over a few logistical details prior to starting the seminar. Today's seminar will last 90 minutes, with 60 minutes allocated for the speakers, and the final 30 minutes for audience Question and Answer. If during the presentations you think of a question, you can type it into the smaller text box underneath the chat area on the lower right side of your screen. Please make sure you are typing in the thin text box and not the large white area. Please also make sure you send your question to "Everyone" and indicate which presenter your question is for. Presenters will be unable to answer your questions during their presentations, but I will start off the question and answer session with the questions typed into the chat box. Once we get through all of the questions that have been typed in, the Operator will give you instructions on how to ask a question over the phone. If you think of a question after the seminar, you can send it to the presenters directly, or I encourage you to use the Freight Planning LISTSERV. The LISTSERV is an email list and is a great forum for the distribution of information and a place where you can post questions to find out what other subscribers have learned in the area of Freight Planning. If you have not already joined the LISTSERV, the web address at which you can register is provided on the slide on your screen.

Finally, I would like to remind you that this session is being recorded. A file containing the audio and the visual portion of this seminar will be posted to the Talking Freight Web site within the next week. We encourage you to direct others in your office that may have not been able to attend this seminar to access the recorded seminar.

The PowerPoint presentations used during the seminar will also be available within the next week. I will notify all attendees of the availability of the PowerPoints, the recording, and a transcript of this seminar.

We're now going to go ahead and get started. Today's topic, for those of you who just joined us, is Effects of Construction Zones on Freight Movement. Our first presentation will be given by Chung Eng of the FHWA Work Zone Mobility and Safety Team During today's seminar we will show a video. The audio will be heard through your computer and not York Telephone. Please ensure you have the speakers on your computer are turned up. We will provide a link so you can do it after the fact. Today's topic is "The Effects of Construction Zones on Freight Movement." Our first presentation will be given by Chung Eng of FHWA. As a reminder, if you have questions for Chung please type them into the chat box and they will be answered in the last 30 minutes of the seminar.

Chung Eng:
Thank you. Good afternoon everyone, for my presentation I thought I would start off with some humor. I am sure that all of you can relate. Today it seems construction zones are everywhere. They have an impact on all of us because our society is so dependant on our highways. Just yesterday, the Vatican issued Ten Commandments for drivers.

Beyond the personal inconvenience that we all experience, they also have an impact on our nation's economy because they impede the movement of freight. Trucks carry 70 percent of the value and 60 percent of the tonnage. This does not include trucks moving in combination with other modes. Anything we can do to minimize the impact of work zones on traffic can benefit individuals and the nation. I am going to begin by talking about some of the reasons why the numbers of work sites are growing and why this is important. Then I will get into the specifics of what we are doing to make things work better on federal highways.

Our nation's highways are getting up there in an age; we celebrated the 50th anniversary last year. About 30 percent or about 200,000 bridges are more than 50 years old. That translates to a lot more work to maintain the system. The construction work is increasing, it is evident, there was a study done in 2001 estimating there were 3,100 work zones on the national highway systems during the peak summer season. An active work zone was expected to be encountered in one out of every 100 miles driven. Between 1982 and 2002 vehicle travel increased by 79 percent while lanes only increased by three percent; this increase in traffic leads to greater wear and tear and more congestion.

The next slide shows more of the magnitude of the amount of congestion. Over the last 20 years the hours lost each year to congestion by an average driver increased from 17 to 50 hours. While work zones only accounted for 10 percent of overall congestion, they have a significant impact because they are often unexpected. They often take place where congestion already exists and exacerbate the problem. In terms of the impact on business, you see some of the examples in the slide. I am not going to read through every example, but you can see how significant the impacts can be. One study estimated each 10 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled resulted in at least a $1 billion increase in annual logistic costs. Crashes are also increasing. The table shows there was 949 fatal crashes in 2005 only a slight reduction from 1035 in 2002. There was an average of more than 1,000 people killed and 40,000 people injured in work zone related crashes every year. The trend is for more work under increasingly heavy traffic conditions.

What can be done to reduce delays and crashes? Develop projects that include strategies that help minimize impacts or avoid them completely. We need to look beyond the project to determine regional impacts, reduce the number of future work sites, and use innovative contract construction methods to reduce the duration of work zones. For example full road closures can reduce time and an improved safety. Consider night work, where there is less traffic and more flexibility in terms of Lane closures; the rush hour window that we have keeps expanding. The frequency of night work is increasing. An analysis in 2002 showed 22 percent of the work was being done at night. A lot of jurisdictions are using this as a technique to lessen the impact. We should also provide real-time information on conditions so travelers know what to expect they can plan and make decisions accordingly. The use of technology such as ITS have been shown to improve safety.

What specifically are some of the things federal highway is doing? This chart does not identify everything. One of the key things is that we issued a work zone, safety, and mobility rule. I will get into more details in the next few slides. We also implemented a complement of outreach, training, guidance and technical assistance activities to support implementation of the Rule and good work zone practices in general. The major provisions of the Rule include the development of a work zone policy, processes and procedures that support the policy, and processes and procedures to assess and manage impacts on individual projects. The intent is to encourage agencies to consider what safety impact they will have both early on and throughout delivery and also to expand the planning beyond the project itself to address impact on the broader network and region. The rule becomes effective October 12th this year. With implementation of the Rule, we expect to see more focus on system impact versus individual work zone site impacts; Work zone impacts would be considered throughout the project delivery process; More work zone training; More effective communication with the public; Safer work zones; and More performance monitoring and assessment.

We have a Best Practices Guide as well as examples on our web site to highlight good practices. It covers a broad range of topics from policy, design, to enforcement. While most of these are not focused specifically on freight operations, they all contribute to the overall movement and safety of traffic, which impact freight movement as well. There is a recent fact sheet that describes what North Carolina and other states are doing to communicate work zone information to truckers. Because of its size and weight, a work zone incident involving a truck can be more dangerous, so making sure the truck drivers receive accurate and timely information about work zones can help improve both safety and mobility. For example, Michigan DOT places kiosks at rest areas, weigh stations, and truck stops help promote the availability of alternative routes and the hours of their use when major lane closures are scheduled. Where work zones are located near businesses there is coordination with local manufacturers to provide information to their suppliers to help them plan their deliveries.

Training - we have a number of training opportunities - I guess some of the more recent training we have developed is what I am highlighting. You can see more of what is available if you go to our web site. I will have an address on my last slide. First we have a course on advance work zone management. We anticipate it to be available by late summer. We have work zone training that targets law enforcement officers working in work zones to help them better understand work zone practices and procedures and the principles of temporary traffic control. So many times you drive by a work zone and you see a policeman sitting in their vehicle when they could be doing much more to help manage the conditions. We have new driver training to increase awareness of new drivers to work zone hazards. Quick Zone is a software analysis package that can be used to analyze delays. We have Work Zone safety grants to provide highway work zone safety training and guidelines to address work zone injuries and fatalities. These are under development now and you should start seeing them hit the street soon.

Guidance - what I have highlighted were actually a set of guides designed specifically to help support the implementation of the work zone safety and mobility rule. Obviously a lot is available on our web site. In addition to what our Division Offices and Resource Center provides, we recently launched a Work Zone Peer-to-Peer program. It is a mechanism to facilitate the exchange of information among practitioners to help stimulate improvements toward making work zones work better. The intent is to provide access to experienced peers who have "been there and done that" and can help others by sharing lessons learned from their experiences. The best feature is that it is free. It serves to help the users help themselves by sharing their collective knowledge and experiences. I encourage you to not only take advantage but to volunteer as peers as well. It will only be as good as you make it with your participation. In closing I want to thank you for your interest and attention. I know I have covered a range of material. There is a lot more that is available through our web site. I will provide contact information for myself and Tracy who is part of the federal highway work zone team. The address for our web site is here (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/work zones). If you have questions after this presentation, feel free to contact us.

Jennifer Symoun:
Thank you Chung, if you have any questions please go ahead and post them to the chat area. We will get to them at the end. We'll now move onto our next presentation, given by JoAnn Oerter of the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

JoAnn Oerter
Thank you for letting us participate. We think it is very important in North Carolina to provide information not only for cars but also to trucking fleets. We are very concerned about movement of trucks from our ports to the mountains. We do have a high volume of trucks on our roads. We have six major interstates that cross North Carolina. We are very concerned about providing information not only for work zones but also for any impediment to that movement of freight. I was looking at the previous presentation. There are a lot of things I am pleased we are addressing to reduce exposure to work zone. We look at working at night; we do full closures if possible.

My job is to provide as much information as possible to motorists and fleets so they have the best information available; also reducing the hazards in the work zones, which you will hear more about. As was stated I to work for North Carolina's incident Management program. My primary responsibility is travel information and getting information out however possible. We have merged with our Work Zone Safety and Impact Unit. We are very excited about that. We feel our resources together will better work out work zone across North Carolina.

Our incident management portion of ITS is to improve the response by all the agencies. To get off the road as quick as possible and to give as much information as possible - Do they want to choose a different route? Do they want to choose to delay when they go out? Or choose a different time frame? We also provide resources during emergencies, such as hurricanes. Our goal, pertaining to the truck industry is to provide them with as much information as possible. Our goal is to provide information to trucking agencies/ATA on current delays on North Carolina's roadways due to unusual events in hopes that they will alter their route. We classify delay as anything that causes disruption - work zone, accident, or a stalled car. We try to provide information to those agencies and travelers to make the trips easier.

The tools that we use very throughout the state vary from speed sensors (so we can see if people are starting to slow down) to cameras (which can assist patrols in our metro area and across the state with incident management). Patrols monitor the freeways providing assistance to stranded motorists and accident scenes. They can also verify if we are seeing a slowdown and can provide more information.

How do we get the information out, and disseminate? We have a Web site in North Carolina that provides delays that are on our roads ITS construction, work zone, and accidents. We also have Highway advisory radio. That allows us to put short messages out that people can tune into and get information. A lot of those I use to notify motorists about work zones and where there are delays and what is the schedule they can expect. We have a 511 system which is how people can call in and get travel delays on our roadways. We also have the ability on our web site to sign up for text messages sent to your phone, e-mail, pager, device or something like that. We have a very close association with North Carolina Trucking Association. We have worked for many years to give information that can be passed on to fleets. We try to put information up on the dynamic message signs that are populated throughout the state because they can tell people more about the delays that are ahead. If you go to a web site. at www.NCDOT.org you can choose a county or region. If you click on one of those it will give you more detail. One of our work zone projects we are advertising very heavily is an 18 month project. I will talk more about how we have provided information and partnering with North Carolina Trucking Association to avoid this area. All of this information is available on the 511 system. Our web site has over 1100 people that enter data into the system from maintenance personnel across the state, transportation management center operators; they also coordinate with state and local law-enforcement, the media and our incident management controls. The devices we have out on the roads can also feed that information into the Web.

As I stated we send information to North Carolina Trucking Association. We think it is a great partnership we learned recently that they send it out to 750 people with the trucking Association to let them know where problems are especially if it is an accident or construction or maintenance that is impeding traffic. We are trying to give them as much information as possible. The I-40 Durham County Project is a targeted zone we have in the Raleigh, the area that I work in. It is only an 18 month project, but we have gone into very detailed accounts, advertising, and promoting of this project to get people to avoid this area. It is a six lane facility, three in each direction. During the evenings and some weekends we close traffic down to one lane in each direction. Before this project even started, we started communication with our partners: State, local law enforcement, North Carolina Trucking Association, some of the chambers of commerce, and we tried to get everyone in to let them know about this project so they could avoid this work zone. On the bottom there is an orange line that is the actual work zone. It is 9 miles in length. It is on Interstate 40 and if you go to the top where there is a purple route that is in the Interstate 85. That is out alternate route. We were very lucky in this situation. We put a great effort into letting motorists know about delays. We have CB wizards that have frequencies on CB channel 19 for truckers. When they are in range it will play information about the work zone and the alternate route so they can avoid the work zone construction delays. We also work with the Division of Motor vehicles to operate weigh stations to hand out fliers to the truckers which lets them see where the alternate route is and that it is better to take the alternate route because it is only 1 mile longer than the original and it is on interstate facilities. We have also deployed portable changeable message signs along that route as you proceed from the west into the work zone, again to let people know to avoid the work zone. We have a permanent facility where we post messages about the latest updates and have installed a static signing telling people to use it. We do press releases weekly sent out through EPI and the Associated Press. We do daily notifications that people can sign up to know where the work will be and the situation each night. We have contacted a towing Association to immediately remove any vehicle that is broken down or blocking the lane or the shoulder or abandoned. They will immediately remove accident vehicles if there are no fatalities or major injuries involved. We have tried to take proactive measures to say we are not going to have obstacles in the way that are going to cause congestion and delay. We also have sensors on the route.

On this next slide, this is the area we have. The project is where the green circles are. We have installed sensors on this and the alternative route. It will show us if speeds are slowing down. It will show us why that is happening. We also put it on the alternate route; because if we are telling people to take it and we have a major accident on I-85 we are creating more of a problem that if they had traveled through the work zone. The cameras in the area are the blue dots. We are able to visually see what is happening on both the old cement and primary work zone. I talked about notifications for the project you can go to www.NCDOT.org and click on the dedicated work zone project. This is the top of the web page. It gives an update on the information. At the bottom it asks if you would like to be e-mailed about notifications that are happening with the project. We allow motorists, passengers, and truck fleets to sign up if they wish. This is what the notification page looks like. They go in and can see it asks if they want notification. They put in the name and e-mail address and that is how we sign them up.

Before this started we already had a strong relationship with North Carolina Trucking Association. We feel trucks are vital in transportation in North Carolina. As was stated, 70percent of our goods are transported the way. We make sure we keep them informed. We have what we call a special check list. It basically lets us set up the procedure and do whatever needs doing during a major incident, accident or work zone. It makes sure we get our information on the web site and put it on 511, have contacted other divisions and have contacted other states. We also worked with the I-95 corridor coalition. If one or more lanes out delayed for four hours or more. We have contacted Rick Cates from North Carolina Trucking Association to tell him of delays. We feel that giving the information is vital. We are very excited by our partnership and think we have a great relationship. I know we are not taking questions now, but if you have any I would be glad to answer them at the end.

Jennifer Symoun:
Thank you. If you have any questions feel free to post them to the chat area. I do believe she has to leave only and may not be on for the question and answer portion but feel free to contact her directly. I will bring up for information at the end of the seminar. Our next presentation is going to be given by Tammy Stewart of North Carolina DOT.

Tammy Stewart:
I am Tammy Stewart with North Carolina DOT. I will briefly discuss an educational video we produced targeting the trucking industry to help keep them safe while driving through work zones. Due to an increase in the number of work zones in North Carolina, NCDOT recognizes the need for audience-specific work zone safety awareness. We have ranked among the top states with the highest number of crashes involving trucks since the late 1990s. We decided to produce this video to increase safety.

We wanted to educate the trucking industry about the hazards in work zones. We worked with the Carolina's Associated General Contractors and the North Carolina Trucking Association. We held several focus groups comprised of truck drivers and safety officials. The feedback gave us the concept and script and then we were able to develop this. The video was filmed in an actual work zone and features professional actors. We tried to not make it North Carolina specific so other states could use it.

The video cost about $35,000 to produce. This included production, talent, filming and replication. The Carolina's Associated General Contractors and North Carolina Trucking Association played a large role in helping with financing and resources. The video is up today and has been distributed widely. We have distributed over to 2,000 free of charge. We are going to play a quick trailer to give you an idea of what it is about. If you would like one, the next slide shows my phone number where you can call me and I will be more than happy to forward you a copy at no charge. It is on DVD. I appreciate the opportunity to speak today and if you have any questions please feel free to ask them. Thank you.

Jennifer Symoun:
We are going to try to bring up the video. As I mentioned, the audio is going to come through your computer. Make sure you have the volume turned up on your computer. Everyone might need to click the play button. If you are not seeing the video play, you can click on the play button on your recorder/screen. [Video Playing] I will give everyone a few moments just in case the video is finishing for you.

I will now turn it over to Rick Cates of the North Carolina Trucking Association.

Rick Cates (No PowerPoint Presentation):
I am Rick Cates of the North Carolina Trucking Association. North Carolina DOT invited us over and we were able to give some information about upcoming construction projects and delays. North Carolina has the most paved highways in the nation. Construction has been with us, is with us, and will be with us in the future. At these meetings we try to find some alternate ways around this. We had some working groups to work with fatalities in construction zones. We partnered with the North Carolina DOT and are able to have, when we have a long term construction projects coming up as was mentioned, information out. We are able to find an alternate route for the trucks to follow. I am able to go through the computer and get that information out to approximately 700 trucking companies in North Carolina. If anyone is familiar with the trucking industry, if there is a road closed for any reason we can get that information out. Anyone who is familiar with the industry knows we only have to tell a few and within a few hours it gets out.

We came up with a plan which enables the North Carolina DOT to send me alerts. Whenever there is a road closure for more than two hours, any time 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I will look at it and ask if there is any chance the road will open up. Sometimes there is - I send out that information to the trucking companies. If there is a company in Charlotte and they are sending something out to New York they could take an alternate route - it helps them if they have a window of a few hours. During the hurricanes we had a tremendous amount of flooding and I was getting lots of messages. We were able to re-route them and keep the flow of commerce and keep them out of this area. We wanted to reduce not only crashes in the state but also in work zones.

Working with the construction folks in the work zone is for their safety, not just public safety. We have had requests from all over the world for copies of the video, including requests from Iraq, Canada, and also in Mexico. During the time of the hurricanes, you have to see the humor in a lot of things. I get messages from this office on a text service. The vice-president of Nextel wanted to know why I had about 3,000 text messages in a month. I explained to him what it was. He wondered why it almost brought the system down. If we know there is going to be a road closure for a long time or there is a crash, they will notify people as far south as Georgia. I will give one example. We had a crash on I-95 northbound on at the Labor Day holiday a few years ago. We were able to notify the people in South Carolina and the police and those in Georgia. The backup had grown a few miles. Then we were able to route trucks to 26, through Colombia and Charlotte. That road was closed for approximately eight hours on a holiday. We had to get the National Guard out. It worked very well. The information comes to our office and we can get in out. It has worked tremendously with the work zones in North Carolina. If we get advanced notice and we know there is a large project anywhere in North Carolina, not just Interstates, we can help North Carolina DOT and law enforcement get the trucks rerouted. It is like the old traffic on the Mississippi River. If you get a large vehicle broken down in a construction zone it doesn't take long to get traffic backed up. We want to help people, protect the workers, and keep, slowing. I will take questions later.

Jennifer Symoun:
We are going to try to bring up the video. As I mentioned, the audio is going to come through your computer. Make sure you have the volume turned up on your computer. Everyone might need to click the play button. If you are not seeing the video play, you can click on the play button on your recorder/screen. [Video Playing] I will give everyone a few moments just in case the video is finishing for you.

I will now turn it over to Rick Cates of the North Carolina Trucking Association.

Rick Cates (No PowerPoint Presentation):
I am Rick Cates of the North Carolina Trucking Association. North Carolina DOT invited us over and we were able to give some information about upcoming construction projects and delays. North Carolina has the most paved highways in the nation. Construction has been with us, is with us, and will be with us in the future. At these meetings we try to find some alternate ways around this. We had some working groups to work with fatalities in construction zones. We partnered with the North Carolina DOT and are able to have, when we have a long term construction projects coming up as was mentioned, information out. We are able to find an alternate route for the trucks to follow. I am able to go through the computer and get that information out to approximately 700 trucking companies in North Carolina. If anyone is familiar with the trucking industry, if there is a road closed for any reason we can get that information out. Anyone who is familiar with the industry knows we only have to tell a few and within a few hours it gets out.

We came up with a plan which enables the North Carolina DOT to send me alerts. Whenever there is a road closure for more than two hours, any time 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I will look at it and ask if there is any chance the road will open up. Sometimes there is - I send out that information to the trucking companies. If there is a company in Charlotte and they are sending something out to New York they could take an alternate route - it helps them if they have a window of a few hours. During the hurricanes we had a tremendous amount of flooding and I was getting lots of messages. We were able to re-route them and keep the flow of commerce and keep them out of this area. We wanted to reduce not only crashes in the state but also in work zones.

Working with the construction folks in the work zone is for their safety, not just public safety. We have had requests from all over the world for copies of the video, including requests from Iraq, Canada, and also in Mexico. During the time of the hurricanes, you have to see the humor in a lot of things. I get messages from this office on a text service. The vice-president of Nextel wanted to know why I had about 3,000 text messages in a month. I explained to him what it was. He wondered why it almost brought the system down. If we know there is going to be a road closure for a long time or there is a crash, they will notify people as far south as Georgia. I will give one example. We had a crash on I-95 northbound on at the Labor Day holiday a few years ago. We were able to notify the people in South Carolina and the police and those in Georgia. The backup had grown a few miles. Then we were able to route trucks to 26, through Colombia and Charlotte. That road was closed for approximately eight hours on a holiday. We had to get the National Guard out. It worked very well. The information comes to our office and we can get in out. It has worked tremendously with the work zones in North Carolina. If we get advanced notice and we know there is a large project anywhere in North Carolina, not just Interstates, we can help North Carolina DOT and law enforcement get the trucks rerouted. It is like the old traffic on the Mississippi River. If you get a large vehicle broken down in a construction zone it doesn't take long to get traffic backed up. We want to help people, protect the workers, and keep, slowing. I will take questions later.

Jennifer Symoun:
Thank you. We are now going to move on to our final presentation by Randal Thomas of Oregon DOT. We are running a little bit over, but please go ahead and give your full presentation.

Randal Thomas:
Thank you for the opportunity to share what we're doing regarding traffic mobility. I am just briefly going to discuss the goals of our program and focus of our program and some of the results to date. It was mentioned earlier that there are aging bridges across the country. In Oregon we have a report that determined we have hundreds of aging bridges and if we did not take action it would limit freight mobility because of weight restrictions. The report recommended we repair or replace more than 300 bridges statewide on state highways, which are also major freight routes. Freight mobility, job creation and program expenditures are linked to the economic recovery of the state of Oregon. This is the largest investment in Oregon's highway structure since it was built 50 years ago. The legislature passed a $3 billion improvement bill - Oregon Transportation Improvement Act (OTIA). The slide you are looking at shows the bridges statewide. Our challenge is to keep Oregon moving during a period of historic construction. We have OTIA legislation, but we also have statewide improvement projects, other state projects and ongoing maintenance work. We also have to consider county, utility, and rail work.

Unlike when the interstate was built 50 years ago, with new roads constructed without existing users, our problem today is to keep traffic moving during reconstruction while minimizing disruption to the motorists, the freight industry and communities without compromising public or worker safety. The focus of our efforts is to determine how big the hole in the construction zone is and how to get through or around it. This is similar to a remodel of a Kroger store. Generally they do not close the store. Their customers expect to have easy access, good signage to know where their products have been moved to, be able to traverse the store safely and easily, and have good service upon exiting. For us, our efforts are oversize and overweight restrictions. We are ensuring that over the life of the program trucks can move throughout the state. We get the information from Oregon DOT's Motor Carrier Division about the routes that have established restrictions for weight, height, and width. Out project teams collaborate with the freight industry stakeholders, if modifications to project plans are needed.

Starting at the scoping phase of a project, mobility freight and traffic issues must be considered. Possible impacts to freight traffic must be identified and considered. The Motor Carrier Freight Mobility Coordinator should be notified of a potential impact at the start of project development. The coordinator will help identify key freight stakeholders that will be identified and involved with the process. For example, in Ashland on I-5 there was up-an-over available to avoid low vertical clearance in the work zone, so it was used as a bypassed. On another project on Interstate five there was no up and over opportunity. Freight traffic would have to detour for miles around the project for many weeks. By collaborating with the freight industry, the result was a full closure of the interstate at night from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for two nights. This eliminated the need for a lengthy freight detour, and instead just had a short-term detour for all traffic for two nights when volumes were low.

We require that notification to the trucking industry be given 21 days in advance. We have a North/South and East/West freight routes. We will always accommodate established thresholds. We allow loads to travel through Oregon that are wider than 16 feet. These are just minimum requirements. We talk about delays and where the hours of operation of the zones and restrictions will be. When we have work zones we use engineering judgment in determining restrictions. We consider detours and diversions. A detour is considered off Route. A diversion is designed to operate as an alignment on the existing route. For example, we may build a detour bridge next to a bridge that is being replaced. The detour roads must be able to carry freight traffic that is able to travel on the original route.

Access is entrance and exit ramps on the highways. We are considering loads that must traverse this route and how to perform along with emergency services. Every time we limit access we always have conversations with our stakeholders. In order to accommodate this new mobility focus in Oregon, it is simply time for a new approach. In the past, we designed projects and then looked at traffic control and then went out to bid for construction. Today we are considering the mobility constraints up front, just like we are doing with environmental issues. We need to design for issues, detours, and mobility and then we go out to get bids and construction. This is a flow chart of how this process works. On the bottom we have our regions, and the Oregon Bridge Delivery Partners that manage our OTIA program. We have four corridor committees and steering committee statewide. We have a traffic mobility manager that reports directly to the deputy director of Oregon DOT.

There are three levels of traffic mobility. The program level is to ensure we always have an unrestricted freight route in all directions. For the corridor level we monitor our key corridors and make sure that they do not exceed maximum limits and consider how many projects can be under way at once. At the project level we ensure that each project observes the minimum mobility requirements for maintaining unrestricted freight. At our statewide planning level, we have a mobility steering committee. The membership includes the Oregon Trucking Association, the Manufacturing and Housing Association, basically any freight industry, along with General Contractors, AAA and Counties. We have a statewide traffic mobility manager. That position is to focus and resolve conflicts and is considered an independent arbitrator to address conflicts between a project team, freight, regions, cities, and counties.

The Highway Mobility Operations Manual establishes Oregon DOT procedures and responsibilities. It is about 125 pages double sided. Topics include communication and coordination processes, vertical clearance, horizontal clearance, weight restrictions, there is a delay chapter, detour chapter, design considerations, and other considerations. I am just going to quickly quote from the manual to give you an idea of vertical clearance policy consideration. "Maintaining vertical clearance minimums is essential for successfully transporting freight within Oregon. The movement of mobile homes, construction materials, construction equipment and many other types of freight critical to Oregon's economy face insufficient vertical clearance on many routes. Vertical clearance on some of Oregon's key freight routes have slowly eroded as preservation efforts have added additional layers of asphalt. Oregon DOT will not reduce existing vertical clearance on the interstate except when it cannot be avoided. It is understood that such an exceptional requirement would be rare. Maintaining at least 17 feet of clearance is crucial to the movement of large loads throughout the state. In order to meet the requirements Oregon DOT designs for at least 17 feet 6 inches. This will provide 17 feet of vertical height for vehicles and 6 inches at the structure for future overlays."

We also have a requirement to maintain a north-south and east-west route. We have corridor committees to discuss concerns between various Oregon DOT regions of the projects along the corridors, and are using construction stages for the corridors. Oregon has the Cascade Mountains that are east of Interstate five. We're using delay thresholds within corridors. Basically the delay thresholds are an attempt to qualify the maximum delay that would be considered tolerable by the traveling public as a result of construction activity. That is the key, construction activities. It was established by the statewide traffic's mobility steering committee that includes members from the freight community. Delays threshold account for 10 percent of the peak travel time. In the design process and construction process as part of the planning activities, the amount of the delay from any project will be estimated. Delay estimates can then be compared to the delay threshold for any point in time. This is what it looks like. This is an actual example. We have a corridor segment which allows seven minutes of delay. It could be 100 miles long. In this case we have three projects, one has a two minute estimate, the second has a two minute estimate, and the third has a one minute; and so at five minutes total it is below the allowable threshold of seven minutes. If an additional project with delay came along surpassing the limit then we would need to consider rescheduling projects, revising delay, or using alternate strategies such as lane restrictions to reduce the length of the delay. We also apply this operationally day-to-day. We actually measure delays and make sure we are meeting those thresholds. This is the stages for construction. Stage one is the red route that you see, that is our north, south, east, west freight detour route. For our approach on our region level, we have five regions each with a mobility committee that meets and discusses all the projects and estimates delays.

At the project level we are doing three things. We have transportation management plans, we have traffic control plans and we have project specifications. The project specifications include the hours for freight restrictions and notifications to the freight industry. We like to say that these three documents complement each other. All states the need to implement the management plans by October 12th 2007. These plans document the overall approach for maintaining mobility. In Oregon we include any commitments that were made for freight mobility in those plans. We like to say that Oregon is open for business. We are managing mobility for tourists, motorists, and freight. We do not anticipate major traffic delays from construction. We are using night and off-peak work to minimize delays. There are going to be times when there is some impact to the traveling public.

Since I work for the Oregon DOT I like to state that safety is our number one priority. We just had the Work Zone Memorial in Portland. It was a grim reminder for all of us to work and drive safely through our work zones. To conclude, some of our results to date are improved collaboration between design and construction within the highway division and the motor carrier truck transportation division. We have a better understanding between all the various stakeholders regarding each other's needs. We have completed work on U.S. 20 to allow for oversize freight during construction. We continue to resolve operational conflicts that occur and we have elevated awareness of the impacts of mobility on the economy in Oregon. I have included our web site here at the bottom of the slide. On there you will find the mobility manual and information on how we are managing delays as well as a lot of helpful links.

Jennifer Symoun:
Unfortunately we have had a number of people who have been unable to log into the web site. We have been experiencing some technical difficulties today. The transcripts will be posted online in the next few weeks and I will make sure you are aware of that. We have two questions in the chat area. I will begin with those and then we can open the phone lines.

The first question was directed to Jo Ann. I believe she has gone to another meeting but I think Rick may be able to answer. What does the North Carolina Trucking Association do with the information that North Carolina DOT sends over?

Rick Cates:
When they send the information I have a list on the computer and also on Nextel if I am out traveling. I send it to the 700 trucking companies. They choose to send it out, if they think it is an area they think they will be affected. To answer that we send it out to 700 trucking companies throughout the Southeast.

Jennifer Symoun:
Thank you the next question is to you Rick as well. "Do you communicate unusual events with other state associations?

Rick Cates
I do. As I said the one that comes to mind was the crash we had Labor Day in 2000. I-95 was closed for an extended period of time on a holiday. We were able to communicate with Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia. They were able to assist us in setting up message boards. Stopping trucks at rest areas and buzzing them that the road was closed in North Carolina. They were able to reroute some of that traffic to relieve congestion. We work in partnership with Tennessee, Virginia and sometimes as far south as Florida if we have to, to relieve some of that congestion.

Jennifer Symoun:
Thank you. That is all the questions typed in. If the operator could give instructions to ask instructions over the phone we will do that.

Operator:
Thank you. At this time if you would like to ask a question on the phone lines please press star one on your phone. Please un-mute your phone and record your name when prompted. It is required to ask a question. To withdraw your question press star two. One moment for the first question. Once again please press star one to ask a question. We do have a question. Your line is open.

Steve Zimmerman:
I was curious about routing of oversized vehicles and notification of other states surrounding your state. Is there some innovative ways that you have found to notify surrounding states of construction activities?

Rick Cates:
This is Rick Cates. We notify surrounding state trucking associations working in conjunction with the state law or enforcement and North Carolina DOT. We let North Carolina DOT notify neighboring states and Highway patrols notify their counterparts. We also have contact with those groups. Our contacts with surrounding trucking associations will send information on and long term project and that them send it out.

Steve Zimmerman:
I was really more interested if you have a routing agency or department. I was wondering if you send the information directly to them and told them what restrictions - width or height restrictions?

Rick Cates:
If we have a long-term construction project the North Carolina DOT will send us a detour. A lot of times they will ask for our input. We will know what kinds of loads are supported before the detour is put in place. If it is a crash, the local law enforcement will determine if it is safe for trucks and large combination vehicles.

Randal Thomas:
This is Randal Thomas in Oregon. We are doing several things. One of our concerns, we discovered early on, if we route oversized loads down U.S. 97 we don't want them to cross into California and then come into a restriction. We communicate regularly with our neighboring states. We have had to make some adjustments based on their activities. The other thing we do, as part of our project specifications, is the project team notifies our motor carrier division 28 days in advance. We notify truckers 21 days in advance. That is how we manage notifications. And for restrictions, we have two primary north-south routes: Interstate five and US97. We don't want freight restrictions, such as width, simultaneously on both.

Operator:
Thank you. At this time I am showing nothing further.

Jennifer Symoun:
I think at that point then we will go ahead and close out today. I want to thank everyone for attending today. I want to thank all five presenters for great presentations. The recorded version of this event will be available on-line. I will send an e-mail when it becomes available. The next seminar will be July 18 and is titled "The Freight Technology Assessment Tool." If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to visit the Talking Freight Web Site and sign up for this seminar.

That concludes today's conference call you may disconnect.

Updated: 03/29/2011
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