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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations
This magazine is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information.
|Publication Number: Date: Nov/Dec 2000|
Issue No: Vol. 63 No. 4
Date: Nov/Dec 2000
"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.
Policy and Legislation
Senate Defeats Fuel Tax Cut
For the second time in three months, the U.S. Senate defeated a proposal to suspend the federal gas tax in order to reduce prices at the pump. Voting 40-59, senators rejected an amendment offered by Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich., that would have suspended 18.4 cents of the federal tax on gasoline, diesel, and other motor fuels for five months, resulting in more than $12 billion in lost revenues to the Highway Trust Fund.
- American Highway Users Alliance
Report Links Highway Construction Funds to BAC Laws
The report by the conferees on the Fiscal Year 2001 Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act allows for the withholding of highway construction funds in states that do not adopt .08 Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) laws.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has long been urging states to adopt .08 BAC as a national standard. Such laws have been shown to reduce drunk driving by taking impaired drivers off the road.
MTBE Phase-Out May Prove Expensive
The phase-out of methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) may be a step closer to reality. The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has passed S. 2692, a bill that starts the elimination of the controversial gasoline additive.
Under the bill's major provisions, MTBE will be phased out of reformulated gasoline over a period of four years. While the oxygenate is being pulled from gasoline supplies, the bill also calls for a gradual increase in the production and use of renewable fuels. By 2011, according to the bill's language, 1.5 percent of motor fuel sold in the United States must be derived from renewable sources.
While the bill does not specifically call for ethanol use, many view the renewables requirement as an ostensible mandate for ethanol. Largely produced from corn, ethanol is regarded as the only commercially available renewable fuel supply.
Added to the debate is the projected impact on transportation coffers around the country. The American Highway Users Alliance projects that expanded the use of ethanol will result in a $2.4 billion loss to the Highway Trust Fund by 2007. The impact on the trust fund is linked to the oxygenate's fuel tax exempt status.
The future of the bill is uncertain, given the limited time left in this session of Congress. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Management and Administration
NOx SIP Compliance Deadline Extended by Court
On Aug. 30, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit extended the deadline for implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) nitrogen oxides (NOx) transport control plan until May 31, 2004. The original milestone had been May 1, 2003. Active in Clean Air Act (CAA) matters, the same court had cleared the way for the controversial "NOx State Implementation Plan (SIP) Call" this past June.
Although the attainment plans of many states may be thwarted by the deadline extension and resulting delay with associated control programs, some EPA officials contend that many states will move forward with their plans along the original schedule. The court's ruling, however, could still support delays in some programs that may have faced a difficult start-up.
Many of the states affected by the NOx transport rule are already faced with a separate 2003 deadline due to the earlier ruling on CAA Section 126 petitions against major upwind sources of transported pollution. Major industries feeling the impact of the Section 126 petitions have petitioned the EPA to extend this deadline as well.
Viewed as a setback for EPA, the ruling restores the original four years to states between the deadlines for submitting NOx control plans and implementing the emissions cuts. The agency had campaigned to maintain the original 2003 deadline for the 19 states under the umbrella of the NOx SIP.
Those states not covered by the earlier Section 126 compliance deadline are expected to feel the greatest impact from the August ruling. These states, including Alabama, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Rhode Island, can now delay for a year their compliance with the NOx plan.
Agency plans for attainment date extensions also may be ripe for change as several of these new deadlines were slated for 2003. EPA officials now are faced with "extending the extensions" or prompting areas such as Atlanta and St. Louis to develop new emissions-reduction strategies.
FHWA Develops New Method of Testing Concrete
Researchers at FHWA have developed a precise method for determining the rate at which portland cement concrete (PCC) contracts and expands during temperature changes. The information generated by this new method will lead to longer lasting, smoother roads.
About half of the roads on the 69,200-kilometer (43,000-mile) Interstate Highway System are comprised of concrete or a combination of asphalt and concrete. The new test method provides a means of characterizing concrete that will significantly improve the pavement design process by better matching pavement to its environment.
Before FHWA's new testing procedures, pavement designers usually relied on an average value to assign the thermal coefficient of expansion of PCC. Using an average value left the design process vulnerable to incorrect assumptions about a specific pavement's response to temperature changes. This increased the potential for producing pavements that would develop bumps, cracks, and other surface irregularities after construction.
The new test method, which includes new testing equipment, was recently approved by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) as test number TP60-00, "Standard Test Method for the Coefficient of Thermal Expansion of Hydraulic Cement Concrete." It is included in the 2000 edition of the AASHTO Provisional Standards.
The PCC Pavement Team researchers who developed the test at FHWA's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center are also using the test in house to measure the thermal coefficient of concrete pavement cores from around the country. The data will be included in the Long-Term Pavement Performance Program database so that it can be used to help analyze current pavement performance, as well as design better pavements in the future.
Technology Gets Oregon DOT Out of the Trenches
Oregon DOT's Hydraulics Unit is ready to help staff and contractors keep current with fast-changing technology that can often eliminate the need for excavation.
"Trenchless technology" consists of numerous methods, materials, and equipment for replacing, repairing, installing, and inspecting underground culverts, pipes, storm sewers, and conduits without the need for conventional open excavation. The benefits of this cost-effective technology are minimal damage to the highway; little or no disruption of traffic and underground utilities; less impact on the environment; and, frequently, avoidance of dealing with contaminated soils.
There are several trenchless methods now in use in Oregon DOT projects:
To ensure that Oregon DOT projects are successful, contractors are required to be prequalified before bidding on trenchless jobs. The contractor, project supervisor, and equipment operator all must have experience with three similar projects in order to bid.
Six recent trenchless projects have netted the department a savings of $1.5 million.
- Oregon DOT
Back to School -- Keeping Track of the Kids
Children who ride school buses in West Paterson Borough, N.J., will test a first-of-its-kind monitoring system that electronically checks in students as they get on the bus and tracks the vehicle along its route.
Buses and individual children will carry equipment linking them to the monitoring system. A global positioning system and a video monitoring camera on the bus will track student pickups and scheduling, as well as the speed of the vehicle. Meanwhile, children will carry electronic identification cards, allowing school officials or police using computers to track who has gotten on and off the bus.
Information and video images picked up by the equipment will be transmitted from buses to computer terminals via wireless cellular communications. Computer terminals will be in either the district's administrative offices or the police department.
Thoreb North America, a company with headquarters in Sweden and offices in West Caldwell, N.J., asked the Board of Education in February if it would agree to test the system for one year without charge, beginning in September. The system will be the first of its kind for public school use in the United States; however, the system has been used in public buses in Europe.
The system will be installed in six buses owned by University Bus Co., with which the district contracts to provide bus service to several hundred borough children. At the end of the school year, if West Paterson decides to continue using the system, it will be able to keep the equipment at no cost. The district would have to pay only for the service.
The company received a $250,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Commerce to develop the system, which is known as "KomFram." It will be marketed to other school districts once testing has been completed.
- Bergen Record Corp.
TRANSIMS Computer Software Improves Transportation Decisions
U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater announced an effort to provide transportation planners with a new software program -- the Transportation Analysis and Simulation System (TRANSIMS) -- designed to help them make better decisions about transportation.
During the last five years, FHWA and EPA have been sponsoring the development of TRANSIMS. Under this sponsorship, the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) (the developer of TRANSIMS) has signed a contract with PricewaterhouseCoopers to partner with U.S. DOT and LANL in the development and deployment of a user-friendly version of the software.
According to FHWA, TRANSIMS is expected to produce high-quality detailed simulations that will permit planners and citizens to better understand the implications of transportation policy choices. This will allow planners to evaluate proposals to improve highways, transit, biking, and walking facilities. The fine level of detail in this software will give decision makers a more accurate representation of the impact of transportation improvements on travel, driving, and air pollution emissions, along with information to assess the social and economic effects of various scenarios.
FHWA said that TRANSIMS, developed at a cost of $25 million, represents a major advance in travel forecasting procedures. It provides planners with a typical person's daily activity pattern (for example, a trip to work, to shop, and then to recreation), simulates the movements of individual vehicles on a regional transportation network, and estimates the air pollution emissions generated by vehicle movements.
TRANSIMS has been developed through field tests with the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the Regional Planning Agency for the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, and the Portland, Ore., Metropolitan Service District. The commercialization process will move TRANSIMS from being a laboratory procedure to being a practical, user-friendly tool that can be applied by state and local agencies.
Plans call for TRANSIMS to be available in January 2002.
Ohio DOT Innovates Work Zone Congestion Policy
For years, the Ohio DOT has used a variety of techniques to stem congestion in work zones. However, for the first time in the department's history, it has implemented a comprehensive program to maintain traffic flow through construction zones.
The department's newly adopted Maintenance of Traffic program uses computer-generated traffic models to predict and quantify traffic backups, then apply the data to congestion mitigation planning.
Project planners address possible congestion problems long before construction begins by analyzing predicted queue length and planning ahead to reduce the potential backups.
Developing Maintenance of Traffic measures on a project-by-project basis allows designers to consider the individual circumstances of each work zone. Factors such as traffic pattern, number of access points along the route, time of day of construction, length of work, and cost of congestion mitigation practices are considered.
"Maintenance of Traffic practices will add to the cost of a project," said Ohio DOT Assistant Director of Highway Management Mary Ellen Kimberlin. "However, the cost-effectiveness of the measures will be considered in determining congestion mitigation strategies."
The program also uses information as a tool to combat congestion. Construction information will be provided to communities and the media before projects begin in an effort to detour traffic away from work zones and to allow motorists to plan ahead for their drive.
- Ohio DOT
Public Information and Information Exchange
State Designation Recommendations in Question
The Clean Air Act (CAA) provides for three broad area designations -- attainment, nonattainment, and unclassifiable. Some states apparently are pushing for options other than the above, while others may be stretching the limits of the unclassifiable category.
EPA officials and several environmental advocacy groups have complained that several states are in violation of the CAA, having filed ozone designations under the eight-hour standard that make use of the unclassifiable label. According to these officials, the act stipulates that this designation may only be used when a state does not hold the data necessary to determine air quality. There seems to be some level of uncertainty, EPA officials note, as to whether the required air quality data was available to the states and whether their submission of areas as unclassifiable was legitimate.
Several Midwestern states are reportedly among those that filed for unclassifiable designations. However, the issue over data availability first surfaced in Texas when EPA rejected a plan from the state that would have provided for alternative designations. Such designations would have applied to areas with borderline air quality problems and also would have featured a less rigorous menu of emissions control requirements and programs. In addition, the alternate plan from Texas regulators placed a greater degree of emphasis on voluntary emissions control programs.
Texas officials concede that the state submitted a plan using the unclassifiable designation to avoid the nonattainment label and the rigorous process that comes with it. State officials counter that their decision was not made to avoid dealing with air quality problems, but instead was a move to handle the eventual attainment drive without involvement from EPA.
Some state officials have also issued their displeasure over the agency's intention to move forward with designations prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's review of the more stringent ozone mark this fall. While the standards were promulgated in 1997, the agency's regulatory package that carried the new limits was challenged and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the agency in 1999. EPA's appeal will probably not be settled until sometime in 2001, although the agency has the green light to designate areas.
The agency is actively reviewing the states' recommendations for designations that were submitted early in the summer. While the details of any alternative designations have not been worked out, EPA officials say that they are receptive to offering areas on the fringe of ozone nonattainment some degree of flexibility in meeting the new 0.08 parts per million (ppm) ozone standard.
New York State DOT Receives Pankow Award for Innovation
The Civil Engineering Research Foundation (CERF) announced the winner of the 2000 CERF Charles Pankow Award for Innovation at the Global Innovation 2000 dinner held Aug. 15, 2000, in Washington, D.C.
The Pankow Award was granted to the New York State DOT for their economical rehabilitation of a steel-truss bridge using a fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) deck. This technology helped the department avoid a costly bridge replacement project by rehabilitating a steel-truss bridge using lightweight composites. Reducing dead load on the bridge by 240 metric tons (265 tons), the application of this technology doubled the load rating to a level higher than the original design and allowed weight restrictions to be removed, while saving $1.4 million in the process. This was the first time this type of rehabilitation was accomplished in the United States.
The New York State DOT developed this innovative technology in partnership with private industry.
This award, given annually, recognizes the contribution of organizations working collaboratively to demonstrate innovative approaches to design, materials use, or the construction process. The event also honored Dean Stephan, winner of the 2000 Henry L. Michel Award for Industry Advancement of Research.
Real-Time Traffic Information Offered for I-81 in Virginia
Drivers in the heavily traveled Interstate 81 corridor through Virginia's scenic Shenandoah Valley will be able to avoid hazardous travel conditions thanks to a new advanced traffic and traveler information service called "Travel Shenandoah."
The service is a joint venture between Virginia Tech and the Shenandoah Telecommunications Company (SHENTEL), sponsored by the Virginia DOT and the Virginia Tourism Corporation. One of the first of its kind in the country, the service covers an 11-county, 241-kilometer (150-mile) length of I-81 between Winchester and Lexington, as well as portions of I-64, I-66, and the Shenandoah National Park.
The basic Travel Shenandoah service is free to users. It can be accessed via the Internet, mobile and standard telephone, pager, and cable television to provide travelers and local residents with up-to-the-minute information on accidents, hazardous road conditions, places to stay and eat, local shopping, tourist attractions, outdoor activities, and special events.
SHENTEL is also introducing a subscriber service that will provide users with traffic alerts, warning them automatically of delays and hazardous conditions.
The Travel Shenandoah service is available on the Internet at www.travelshenandoah.com or toll free at (800) 578-4111.
- Virginia DOT
Houston, Los Angeles Tops in Ozone
In a seesawing battle, Houston and Los Angeles continue to vie for the dubious distinction of having the smoggiest sky in the nation. At last count, it appears that the Texas city is likely to retain its lead.
With the ozone -- or smog -- season beginning to wane in Southern California, the metropolitan area surrounding Los Angeles logged 34 exceedances of EPA's one-hour ozone standard as of early September. Historically, the closing weeks of summer find the Southern California skies to be the smoggiest.
Houston, which overtook perennial ozone leader Los Angeles in the 1999 seasonal total, recorded its ninth straight day above the standard during early September. With Texas suffering through the hottest and driest summer in 50 years, the meteorological conditions for ozone formation have been nearly perfect, as Houston's network of air quality monitors have thus far recorded a national high of 37 bad air days.
Adding to the plight of the Texas city is the prospect for more hot weather and historical trends for smog formation that stretch the season late into the calendar year, frequently into November. Last season's totals left Los Angeles with 41 exceedances of the standard, while Houston logged 52 days above the ozone mark.
Although the ozone concentration levels and the precursors -- nitrogen oxides (NOx) and hydrocarbons -- are very similar, the ozone formation patterns are divergent for the two cities. Smog is generated in Southern California by motor vehicles and industrial smokestacks, as the two major sources produce the chemicals that react with summer sunshine. Houston's ozone troubles, however, are traced more to the hydrocarbons from petroleum refineries, the related petrochemical industry, and multiple pollutants from ocean-going merchant vessels.
GM Supports Clean Air Efforts in Southern California
Two organizations not always on the same side of the air quality debate have formed a partnership to reduce air pollution in California. Officials from General Motors (GM) and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) announced an agreement in late August aimed at obtaining substantial reductions in mobile source emissions in the Los Angeles region.
GM is funding much of a $2 million program called the "Community Clean Air Partnership." In addition, GM will also provide advanced technology in the form of alternative-fuel vans, clean locomotive technology, and hybrid electric school buses that feature electric motors, battery packs, an internal combustion engine, and a particulate trap to cut down on soot. When employing the combustion engine, the buses are designed to operate on low-sulfur fuel.
GM will also fund the development of air pollution reduction kits for passenger trainsets and assist California regulators in their drive to develop a natural gas-powered locomotive. Officials from AQMD consider the new partnership a good example of how public and private entities can work together to the benefit of communities.
California Committee Supports Mobile Source Programs
Alternative-fuel transit vehicles, heavy-duty vehicles, electric bicycles, and land-use strategies all may be funded in Southern California through a program driven by the Mobile Sources Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC). The committee is responsible for a budget of $14.5 million that is devoted to clean air projects that target transportation sources.
Focusing on Southern California, MSRC has been chartered to support projects that generate the greatest measurable emissions reduction, are cost-effective, and are likely to garner local matching funds. Businesses, local government agencies, research institutions, and other organizations are encouraged to apply for funding from the committee.
Categories are divergent but focus on mobile sources. This year's focus includes alternative-fuel transit, on- and off-road heavy vehicles, transportation control measures, voluntary rideshare programs, electric bicycles, and others.
State Program Targets Truck Crash Corridors for Improvement
Five "heavy truck crash corridors" have been targeted for extra enforcement, improvements, and public education by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).
Such enforcement includes the development of electronic devices that can detect motorists -- in both trucks and cars -- who speed, tailgate, or run red lights along the roadway from the Delaware state line to Route 30 in Lancaster County. Police could use the information immediately to pull over and ticket offenders. Similar devices are in use in New York City and California.
In a separate pilot project, PennDOT is already experimenting with an electronic device that weighs trucks as they approach a curve, estimates their speed, and flashes a warning if they are in danger of rolling over. Two of the devices are positioned along Interstate 83 -- one in Harrisburg and another in York County.
Pennsylvania ranked second only to Texas for the number of crashes involving large trucks in 1998, according to a report submitted recently to state lawmakers. The 7,300 crashes resulted in 192 deaths and nearly 6,000 injuries.
First identified in 1998, the five corridors included all of Interstate 95, U.S. Route 22 from Monroeville to Altoona in western Pennsylvania, state Route 61 from Interstate 81 to Reading, state Route 41 from U.S. Route 30 through Chester and Lancaster counties to the Delaware line, and U.S. Route 11/15 from Amity Hall to Selinsgrove. Another roadway, Interstate 581 in Harrisburg, was recently added to the program.
PennDOT officials acknowledge that the five corridors are not necessarily the worst areas for truck crashes in the state, but they represent different types of roadways and, therefore, different problems. Their goal is a 2-percent reduction in fatalities per year and a 10-percent reduction in fatalities by 2005. The agency has identified similar corridors for campaigns against aggressive driving and drunken driving. The agency is also trying to check more of the trucks that run along the state's highways, with inspections so far this year up 50 percent over the same period last year.
PennDOT needed a variety of conditions when it chose the highways used in the pilot program, but they plan to use what they learn on other high-accident roadways.
- The Morning Call, Allentown, Pa.
Computer and IT Training Scholarships for Federal/State Employees
National Education Foundation (NEF) CyberLearning, a non-profit organization dedicated to bridging the "Digital Divide," offers federal and state employees a unique opportunity. With the support of Microsoft and others, NEF CyberLearning is now able to offer full-tuition scholarships, valued at $2,000, to the first 5,000 applicants, thus enabling them to take any or all of the 650+ Internet-based online personal computing and computer professional courses from anywhere, at any time.
The courses are either self-study or instructor-led. They cover all levels and almost all topics, including Computer Basics, Internet Basics, Web Design Basics, Networking Basics, Programming Basics, A+, Network+, MCSE, CNE, Microsoft Office, MOUS, WordPerfect, Lotus, Operating Systems, Windows, Windows 2000, Linux, Unix, Networking, WAN, LAN, Programming, Java, C++, Visual Basics, Internet, Web Design, Web Applications, Web Master, E-Commerce, Databases, Oracle, and Cisco.
To sign up, just visit www.cyberlearning.org, click on "Free IT Training," complete the "Federal and Other Government Employees" application, and pay a registration fee of $75 with a government or personal credit card.
A registrant receives immediate access to all 650+ online courses, an online library of the latest 1,000+ computer/information technology books, evaluations, instructor assistance, course-specific chat areas, and round-the-clock technical support.
- National Education Foundation (NEF) CyberLearning
FHWA Releases Clean Air Compliance Guide
Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle has announced the release of a revised version of Transportation Conformity: A Basic Guide for State & Local Officials, which is intended to facilitate compliance by state and local agencies with the transportation conformity requirements in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.
The updated guide, designed for state and local transportation officials, explains the basics of the transportation conformity process. It covers the definition and what actions are subject to transportation conformity, who makes conformity determinations and how often they are made, the key components of conformity determinations, and the consequences of failing to make a conformity determination. The guide also discusses roles and responsibilities in the conformity process.
The guide was prepared by FHWA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in cooperation with EPA. It reflects the implementation of the Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century, as well as the March 2, 1999 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that affected certain conformity provisions.
The guide was originally published in 1997, but this revised version reflects changes in the transportation conformity provisions.
The guide may be obtained from FHWA division offices and resource centers, and FTA regional offices. It also can be viewed on the Internet at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/conformity/basic_gd.htm.
FHWA Announces Availability of Work Zone Guidebook
Striving toward a goal of "No Delays and No Crashes in Work Zones," FHWA Administrator Wykle announced the availability of the Work Zone Best Practices Guidebook, a guide to improving safety and mobility in highway work zones.
The guidebook is a tool designed to save lives, reduce injuries, and enhance mobility in highway construction work zones. It assists construction workers by providing descriptions and points of contact for work zone best practices in every stage of a project -- from planning and design through construction and maintenance. Transportation experts from around the country were surveyed for the guidebook, and their names appear as points of contact.
National surveys indicate that American motorists experience their greatest frustration when encountering a work zone-related delay. This frustration, in part, leads to nearly 800 deaths and 37,000 injuries per year to both motorists and workers.
The guidebook was produced by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and FHWA.
The document is on the agency's Web site at ops.fhwa.dot.gov/workzone.htm.
Transportation Secretary Slater Announces Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Recipients
U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater has announced the recipients of FHWA's Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowships. The program supports post-graduate study and research in transportation.
The annual Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program was established in 1992 under the provisions of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 and was re-authorized in 1998 by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. It encompasses all modes of transportation and seeks to attract the best and brightest minds to the field of transportation research and into the transportation workforce.
Selection criteria for student awards include applicants' academic achievements, recommendations, and the likelihood for pursuit of a career in transportation. FHWA's National Highway Institute (NHI) manages the program.
Eisenhower Fellowship Awards are presented in six categories: Graduate, Grants for Research, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges, and Faculty. Since its inception, the program has been funded at $2 million per year and has supported more than 750 students and faculty.
The board of directors and the general membership of the National Aggregates Association (NAA) unanimously approved a resolution to merge NAA and the National Stone Association (NSA). This historic vote took place at special NAA board of directors and membership meetings in Chicago and comes on the heels of NSA's approval of a merger resolution. Upon final approval by NSA's membership, the new association will represent more than an estimated 90 percent of the crushed stone and 70 percent of the sand and gravel tonnage produced annually in the United States.
The goal is to merge the two organizations by Sept. 30, 2000. NSA President Joy Wilson will serve as president and chief executive officer of the new association, while NAA's president, Charlie Hawkins, will serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer.
- National Aggregates Association
FHWA Partners With 10 Minority Institutions of Higher Education
Transportation Secretary Slater announced cooperative agreements between FHWA and 10 Minority Institutions of Higher Education (MIHEs) for transportation research and technology activities valued at more than $1.2 million.
The agreements, made through FHWA's new competitive assistance program, are part of the agency's ongoing commitment to educational and minority outreach.
FHWA's competitive assistance program is a new approach to contracting that allows MIHEs to compete solely with one another for cooperative, cost-sharing agreements. The program's goal is to foster MIHE research and technology activities that will contribute substantially to FHWA's mission and help prepare the faculty and students at these institutions to successfully participate in the competitive research arena.
The agreements matched the expertise and capabilities of 10 Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions with FHWA's specific research needs.
WFTAO Agrees to Develop a World Technical Assessment
The World Federation of Technical Assessment Organizations (WFTAO) met Aug. 16-18, 2000, to tackle matters of critical importance to suppliers of innovative and non-standardized construction products worldwide. The meeting was held in conjunction with the International Symposium and Innovative Technology Trade Show 2000, sponsored by the Civil Engineering Research Foundation (CERF).
At the conference, members of WFTAO, including the three U.S. member organizations -- CERF, the National Evaluation Service, and the International Conference of Building Officials -- agreed in principle to a first draft process for developing a World Technical Assessment. This approach allows proponents of new products to gain simultaneous assessments in two or more countries.
WFTAO, launched in 1996, is comprised of 25 organizations from 21 nations. The federation strives to become the world network for coordinating and facilitating innovation assessment in the construction field. WFTAO aids the transfer of national products to the global marketplace through the acceptance of technical assessments of innovative and non-standardized building and construction products and processes delivered by its members; creates awareness and understanding of assessment both locally and worldwide; and encourages the use of technical assessment organizations by designers, owners, manufacturers, contractors, and regulators.
Miller Appointed Director of FHWA's Office of Public Affairs
Virginia Miller was appointed to the Senior Executive Service (SES) position of director, FHWA Office of Public Affairs, on Sept. 10. Miller had been serving as acting director since February 2000.
She joined the Office of Public Affairs in 1997 as a special assistant and served as director of the Office of Public Affairs, in the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Downs Appointed Acting Division Administrator in Massachusetts
Frederick H. Downs, senior manager in the Eastern Resource Center, Albany, N.Y., was appointed to serve as the acting administrator of FHWA's Massachusetts Division on April 1.
He previously held the positions of administrator of the Vermont Division and assistant division administrator in Illinois.
Paniati Promoted to ITS Program Manager
Jeffrey F. Paniati was selected for advancement into the SES position of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) program manager, Operations Core Business Unit, effective Oct. 8, 2000. Paniati had been serving as deputy director, ITS Joint Program Office.
Prior to joining Operations in 1997, he served as chief of the Safety Design Division in the Office of Safety and Traffic Operations Research and Development. As chief of safety design and in other positions in research and development, he led cutting-edge research programs in the areas of highway design, highway safety analysis, traffic operations, and safety information management.