- Briefing Room
U.S. Department of Transportation
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|Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations|
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Date: January 1999
The Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) was conceived, managed, and funded by State departments of transportation (DOTs). When the DOTs realized that the implementation of SHRP products and the future of the long-term pavement performance (LTPP) studies were threatened by a lack of designated funding in TEA-21 this year, they came out strongly in support of the need for continued funding. This support led to a series of resolutions drafted by several AASHTO committees (see November 1998 Focus).
Using an extensive series of public outreach activities, hearings, and discussions with its partners and customers, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is developing five key goals that will form the framework for a new national technology deployment initiatives and partnerships (TDIP) program. The program is aimed at accelerating the adoption of innovative technologies in surface transportation systems.
Innovation knows no boundaries–and that's why highway engineers from the United States and Japan have been conferring annually for the past 7 years. Both countries are continually seeking new technologies, processes, and ideas for improving highway safety, ride comfort, and pavement durability.
With the Nation's highway system essentially complete, highway agencies must take up the challenge of keeping existing pavements in top condition. "We need to shift our focus and communicate the need for changing our traditional philosophy to one that focuses on maintaining and preserving–rather than expanding and upgrading–our existing highway system," says Jim Sorenson of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
How do you prepare the public for a 2-year, 8-mile major highway reconstruction project? What's a winning strategy for attracting more riders to a public transit system? And how can you explain the often complex technical subjects of the transportation industry in an easily understandable manner? Participants at "Getting Our Message Out: Elevating Public Awareness of Transportation Issues," a symposium held December 3-4, 1998, in Alexandria, Virginia, heard answers to these questions and more. The emphasis throughout the 2-day event was on finding ways to be more proactive in communicating with the public, rather than just responding when transportation is interrupted by construction projects, accidents, or natural disasters.
Highway maintenance projects create difficulties for highway workers and motorists alike. Project crews work just steps away from passing traffic, usually separated by only a line of plastic barrels or cones. Motorists must navigate changing traffic patterns, which can cause delays and frustration. They also face an increased risk of rear-end collisions caused by sudden changes in travel speed.
With the Year 2000 (Y2K) rapidly approaching, State and local traffic engineers from the Mid-Atlantic States met with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials on December 1 to make sure that computerized traffic control systems will function properly when the new millennium arrives.
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