Featuring developments in Federal highway policies, programs, and research and technology.
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|Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 67 · No. 5 > Along the Road|
Along the Road
Management and Administration
Secretary Mineta Applauds Innovative Financing For S.R. 125 South Project
U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta recently joined State and local officials at a historic groundbreaking ceremony for the southernmost segment of a construction project on State Route (S.R.) 125 South in
southern California. A key element in enhancing the surface transportation system in the growing San Diego area, the project involves developing and operating a toll road to reduce congestion and pollution.
Federal loan assistance was essential to finance the road, providing flexibility in the repayment structure during the project’s ramp-up period. The Federal government executed a $140 million loan for the project under
an innovative financing program established by the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 1998 (TIFIA). The terms negotiated for the loan provide the first example of a partnership acceptable to both TIFIA and a private sector investor.
TIFIA provides Federal credit assistance to major transportation infrastructure projects that address critical national needs, such as intermodal facilities, border crossing infrastructure, highway trade corridors, and transit and passenger rail facilities with regional and national benefits. Although the S.R. 125 project satisfies loan eligibility criteria by falling into the major highway category, funds also may be allocated under the categories of bridges, intercity bus and rail systems, and transit facilities and vehicles.
By enabling USDOT to provide credit assistance (rather than grants) to private sponsors, TIFIA facilitates the accessing of private capital markets for financing major transportation projects.
Roadway Safety Awards Recognize Programs in 13 States
On behalf of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Roadway Safety Foundation, FHWA Administrator Mary E. Peters recently recognized projects in 13 States with 2003 National Highway Safety Awards. The awards highlight initiatives that save lives by improving roadway design, operations, and planning. Each year, FHWA offers the awards in the categories of infrastructure improvements; operational improvements; and program planning, development, and evaluation.
Highway programs in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Washington received awards. A regional traffic system with roadway sections in Kentucky
and Indiana also received an award. The winners were selected from more than 130 entries, and included six State transportation departments, a regional transportation consortium, two counties, two cities, and a State police agency.
FHWA recognized some projects for their capacity to reduce crashes, while others were honored for their contributions to pedestrian safety and environmental preservation. The California Department of Transportation,
for example, improved the Angeles Crest Highway (S.R. 2) corridor by reducing the speed limit, requiring daytime headlights in one section, instituting a doublefine zone, and installing a guardrail upgrade—all of
which led to a marked reduction in crashes. Montgomery County, MD, developed design standards that include provisions for sidewalks and bike paths on residential streets and collector roads to ensure the safety of
For more information about the winning projects, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/pressroom/fhwa0333.htm.
Innovative Replacement for a Historic Bridge on U.S. 2
As part of a $4 million project, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) replaced a 1935 steel truss bridge with an innovative, high-performance weathering steel bridge. The first of its kind in the State to use the high-performance steel, the new bridge is more environmentally sensitive than its outdated predecessor. The structure provides more clearance for debris flowing under the bridge during floods and eliminates the need for supportive piers in the waterway, thereby
enhancing fish habitats. In addition, biofiltration swales built into the structure will reduce heavy metals in stormwater runoff; the old bridge had no treatment provisions.
The new bridge is more efficient and economical, requiring less maintenance and offering expanded traffic flow. Built to current seismic standards with no overhead truss, the bridge also eliminates clearance restrictions. Because the bridge’s natural corrosion is designed to create a dense, protective barrier for the structure, WSDOT managers will not need to paint the bridge as often.
To accommodate the larger, more technically sophisticated structure, WSDOT designed the bridge to provide 1.8-meter (6-foot) shoulders and adapted the nearby roadway to ensure the safety of bicyclists and drivers.
WSDOT graded and paved U.S. 2 to provide greater sight distances and establish a roadway geometry suited to the 97 kilometers per hour (60 miles per hour) speed limit. The bridge opened to traffic on June 3, 2003.
Washington State DOTResearch Facility to Design Fish-Friendly Culverts
A Federal report in 2001 found that thousands of culverts on Federal lands are too high or steep, disrupting migrating fish. A new research facility adjacent to the Skookumchuck River near Tenino, WA, will serve as a
test bed for designing fish-friendly culverts—the metal or cement pipes that funnel water beneath roads. According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 33,000 culverts around the State need to be replaced or
repaired to enable fish to pass through safely. WSDOT and other agencies and jurisdictions expect to retrofit thousands of culverts during the next few years.
Operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the full-scale facility will provide the scientifically sound information to help develop more effective designs for new or retrofitted culvert installations. The test bed, initiated by WSDOT and other State transportation agencies, will consist of two large steel tanks—one upstream, one downstream—that cradle a 12-meter (40- foot) corrugated steel culvert whose slope rises or falls to mimic various existing culverts. Facility operators also can adjust bed configurations, such as baffles, ladders, and other retrofits, to determine which techniques make it easier for local fish, including several species of
salmon, to pass under highways and other roadways.
“Investing in this system provides WSDOT with improved scientific data to ensure that we’re spending money on solutions that will work to provide long-term benefits to our environment," says John Peterson of WSDOT’s environmental services office.
Washington State DOTCalifornia to Host Conference on Orthotropic Bridges
Recent structural improvements and increasing fatigue strengths have assured engineers that orthotropic (solid steel plate) bridge decks can be expected to have long service lives. As a result, State highway agencies now are using orthotropic decks for major projects.
To educate the engineering community on new developments in orthotropic bridges, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), USDOT, and eight other sponsors are compiling a 7-day technical program encompassing classes, a conference, and tours of orthotropic bridges in northern California.
Scheduled for August 23–29, 2004, the conference will draw delegates from Asia, Europe, the United States, and elsewhere. Papers will cover a variety of topics, including design, construction, fabrication, wearing surfaces, maintenance, research, and materials. Tours will visit nine orthotropic bridges in the San Francisco area.
Event organizers invite members of the engineering community to volunteer as chairpersons or members of planning-related committees to help with organization, financial components, technical aspects, publicity, and tours.
In late 2003, pavement preservation in the United States entered a new era with the dedication of the new National Center for Pavement Preservation (NCPP) at Michigan State University. A partnership created by the
Foundation for Pavement Preservation, FHWA, and the university, NCPP will coordinate collaborative efforts among government, industry, and academia.
Pavement preservation is a planned strategy for treating pavements at the optimum time to maximize their useful life, enhancing longevity while lowering lifetime costs. The key to successful preservation is applying the right treatment to the right pavement at the right time. Treatments must be selected carefully and applied when the pavement is still in good condition
(that is, with no structural damage).
According to the center’s Web site (www.pavementpreservation.org), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) estimates an annual cost of $92 billion to maintain existing highways over the next 5 years. Making significant improvements could cost as much as $125 billion annually. NCPP advocates improving pavement conditions in a cost-effective way.
In addition to acting as an advocacy group, NCPP also offers several services, including training, outreach, and research management. The center plans to cooperate with the university to create undergraduate and graduate courses and offer continuing education units as well. NCPP also will provide private clients with custom designed training sessions onsite or at alternate locations. Further, the center will facilitate research projects in conjunction with other academic institutions and the private sector.
For more information, visit the center’s Web site at www.pavementpreservation.org.
Wisconsin Uses Pavement Markings To Reduce Speed
In October 2003, the American Automobile Association in Wisconsin sponsored a media event to showcase a successful experimental technique for reducing speed on the Mitchell Interchange of I–94, I–894, and I–43 in
Milwaukee, WI. The experiment uses converging chevrons on the pavement and special edgeline markings to encourage drivers to reduce their speeds as they approach a tight ramp. The Milwaukee site is the only
installation with this specific pavement-marking pattern in the country, but the idea originated in Japan, where several experiments also have been successful.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) installed the markings in 1999 as part of a freeway resurfacing project. WisDOT selected the test ramp for the installation based on traffic volumes and roadway geometry. The ramp had a history of rollovers involving large trucks, causing long road closures. After placing four speed detectors at and near the test ramp and setting up a comparison ramp without chevrons, WisDOT researchers could measure the effectiveness of the installation in reducing speed.
After the installation in May 1999, mean speeds dropped significantly at three of the four detectors, and as much as 24 km/h (15 mph) at one of the detectors. Total crashes on the test ramp dropped from 14 in the
preinstallation period to only 8 postinstallation. Although installing chevron patterns on this particular test ramp appeared to result in notable speed reductions, WisDOT researchers suggest that further research is necessary before any definitive statements can be made about overall efficacy.
For more information on the study, visit www.aaafoundation.org/pdf/chevrons.pdf.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Public Information and Information Exchange
Federal Agencies Sponsor National Trails Day
National Trails Day, organized by the American Hiking Society, will take place this year on June 5, 2004. Held annually on the first Saturday of June, the celebration increases public awareness and support for trails used for activities ranging from hiking and cycling to snowmobiling. This year’s theme, “Trails and Health … A Natural Connection," emphasizes the links between trails, leisure, and exercise.
FHWA’s Federal-Aid Highway Program, the largest single funding source for trails in the Nation, is one of several Federal sponsors, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, the U.S. National Park
Service, and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.
“Trails were the beginning of the Nation’s highway system, and they benefit both transportation and recreation today," says Christopher Douwes, manager of the recreational trails program at FHWA. “Our trail infrastructure
can improve the transportation network by connecting neighborhoods, parks, schools, commercial areas, and transportation facilities, and help people live active and healthy lives."
Planned events across the country include trail openings and ribbon-cuttings, commemorative walks and bike rides, cleanups and new trail constructions.
To learn more about National Trails Day, visit the American Hiking Society Web site at www.americanhiking.org/events/ntd/. For more information
Contraflow Project to Ease Congestion in Hawaii
Recently, the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) launched a 4-month, $1 million demonstration project to create a morning contraflow lane on Nimitz Highway into Honolulu, HI. The road typically carries more than 3,700 cars (including many carpools) per hour during peak hours. By borrowing a westbound lane, the project provides an extra high-occupancy
vehicle (HOV) lane for those commuting into Honolulu. This adaptation creates a 3.2-kilometer (2-mile) extension of the HOV lane on the H–1 Freeway, which currently ends at the Keehi Interchange, all the way to Pacific Street. The lane operates during the morning peak
commute period from 5:30 to 8:30 a.m.
Since the 1950s, Nimitz Highway has been considered one of the most congested roadways on the island of Oahu. Although officials discussed the contraflow plan for more than a decade, area businesses and residents
feared it would disrupt commerce and street traffic. HDOT conducted extensive public outreach, however, and a followup survey of 165 area residents and businesses revealed that 75 percent of respondents were in
favor of or had no problem with the project.
To help ensure pedestrian safety, HDOT posted signs advising pedestrians to “look both ways" before crossing the contraflow lane. Supplemental warnings will be painted on the sidewalks, and police officers will be
hired to assist schoolchildren crossing the highway. Left turns, with the exception of one intersection, will be prohibited throughout the contraflow area.
According to State Transportation Director Rodney Haraga, if the lane proves successful, Hawaii may build an elevated two-lane road along the corridor, which would enable traffic managers to reverse the contraflow
lanes in the afternoon.
New Database Tracks ITS Legislation
As part of a cooperative agreement with FHWA, the National Conference of State Legislatures tracks State efforts to use technology and intelligent transportation systems (ITS) to improve the safety and efficiency of
surface transportation. The new Intelligent Transportation Systems State Legislation Database tracks current ITS legislation in the States, providing information on bill numbers, summaries, and information on bill status.
Users can search the database by the bill’s year, status (active or inactive), sponsor, and the most recent date of action. Constituents also can search by the State in which the bill originated, or simply use a keyword to
find the appropriate bill.
The National Conference of State Legislatures’ transportation program offers information, research, legislative data, and referral assistance on more than 350 topics. The leading transportation issue areas include distracted
driving, drunk driving, hazardous materials, ITS technologies, and rail and traffic safety.
To search the database, visit www.ncsl.org/programs /esnr/its.cfm.
Closing Roads during Construction Enhances Safety and Efficiency
FHWA recently published a brochure on full road closure, an approach to roadway construction that entails closing one or both directions of a road and detouring traffic. Shorter Duration, Safer Work Zones, More Satisfied Travelers: Successful Applications of Full Road Closure in Work Zones (FHWA-OP-03-086) is the first product of a study that assessed six field applications that used the approach. Full road closure eliminates worker-traffic interaction and provides workers access to the entire roadway section during construction, potentially improving efficiency and safety and reducing the duration of work.
The brochure provides several case studies detailing significant benefits garnered from projects that used full road closure. Near Detroit, MI, for example, closing the Lodge Freeway during construction reduced project
duration by 71 percent. In Portland, OR, the Oregon DOT used two full closures (one direction at a time) to complete a project within 10 days, instead of 32 nights of work using partial closure, and reduced the overall
cost of the project by $100,000. Oregon DOT engineers estimate that they could have cut the total project cost of $2.5 million in half if they had specified the use of full closure in the original contract.
The Ohio DOT is using full closure to rehabilitate a major route through downtown Columbus and expects to save up to $10 million by completion. “Under the appropriate conditions," says Gordon Proctor, director of the Ohio DOT, “a full closure can be an effective way to complete projects faster and improve safety for highway workers and motorists."
For more information, visit http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/docs/Full%20Closure_BRO-final.pdf.
Proceedings Available from Conference On Congestion
Final proceedings now are available from the “Traffic Congestion: Issues and Options" conference, held in Washington, DC, in June 2003. The conference, cosponsored by the Institute of Transportation Studies at the
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the UCLA Extension Public Policy Program, examined the causes and consequences of traffic congestion in the United States and various strategies for tackling the problem.
Although attendees concluded that there is no “silver bullet" for solving congestion, the report contributes to more informed decisionmaking in the reauthorization of Federal surface transportation legislation.
Organized into 11 sections, the report addresses many aspects of traffic congestion, ranging from environmental impacts to potential solutions. A section on the Federal role, for example, describes how increasing population pressures on the Nation’s roadways challenge the shrinking financial capacities of local roadway management groups. A section on air quality discusses the respective benefits of traffic flow-based solutions and
technology-based solutions to the problem of air pollution.
A chapter on market-oriented solutions explores the policy of discouraging congestion by raising toll prices for rush hour traffic.
Access the final report online at www.uclaextension.edu/unex/departmentalPages/publicpolicy/report.pdf.
USDA Forest Service FHWA Reports on Traveler Information Systems in Europe
The FHWA Office of Policy recently released a report summarizing the findings from a scan tour of traveler information systems in Europe. Based on data gathered during a tour conducted in October and November
2002, Traveler Information Systems in Europe (FHWAPL- 03-005) illustrates innovations in informational products for tourists and travelers.
The scan team identified eight cities in Europe that operate well-established traveler information products and services that reflect all transportation modes. A panel, cosponsored by FHWA and the American Association
of State Highway and Transportation Officials, reviewed and documented the practices, policies, strategies, and technological innovations and evaluated them for potential application in the United States. The timing for the tour also enabled the team to examine European practices that could be applied specifically to implementing the 511 telephone number for traveler information services.
The report reveals several key findings regarding cost recovery models, new technologies and quality-control measures, and the information content provided under European systems. The report also reviews the national
consistency standards and legal issues regarding traveler information systems in various countries.
The panel issued several recommendations, including applying additional resources to close the data gap and improving the quality of traveler information. The panel also recommended incorporating the principle of
traveler information into agency and corporate missions.
The report is available at http://international.fhwa.dot.gov/travelinfo/index.htm.
Iowa Introduces Initiative to Reduce Deer-Vehicle Crashes
Approximately 7,400 deer-vehicle crashes are reported every year in Iowa, making up 12 percent of the State’s total crashes. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources estimates that the actual number of deer-vehicle crashes is around 12,000. And a number of additional run-off-the-road crashes occur when drivers intentionally swerve to avoid hitting deer or other animals in the roadway. Each year, these crashes result in $13 million in vehicle damage, 600 injuries, and 2 fatalities. Because of a significant increase in the State’s deer population (which has doubled since 1985) and the growing number of miles driven on Iowa roadways each year, the potential for deer-vehicle crashes continues to rise.
Iowa is taking a two-pronged approach to reduce deer-vehicle crashes and improve driver safety. The first strategy is to decrease the animal population by increasing the number of deer that can be taken by hunters.
The second is launching a public information and education campaign featuring the message: “Don’t Veer for Deer."
The campaign features a Web site and a brochure instructing drivers on how to reduce their risk for deer crashes. Motorists are discouraged from veering into oncoming traffic as well as off the roadway. Tips include
watching for deer near wooded areas and waterways, and expecting deer to travel in groups. The brochure advises that “striking the animal is often the safest action" and tells motorists to brake firmly, steer to maintain control, and stop as safely as possible.
For more information, visit www.dps.state.ia.us/deercrashes/brochure.htm.
ITS Arizona Honors Alan Hansen with Member of the Year Award
In 2003, ITS Arizona—a State chapter of ITS America— celebrated its ninth anniversary and initiated a new award for member of the year. Looking back over the past 10 years, the board of directors for ITS Arizona considered individuals who actively supported the organization from the beginning. This year’s award went to Alan Hansen, engineering technology coordinator for
the FHWA Division Office in Arizona.
Hansen not only was a founding member of the chapter and served on the original board of directors, but also he contributed to the group’s original charter and was active on several committees. Most recently, he helped plan a special meeting on homeland security. Hansen edited the group’s newsletter for nearly 3 years, during which time he also wrote eight articles. In addition, he presented at several conferences and annual meetings.
“From one standpoint it was a great honor to be recognized outside of FHWA," Hansen says. “On the other hand, it made me realize that ITS Arizona is truly a group of individuals who work together to move the group
forward, and I am really just one of those individuals."
Krammes Named FHWA Engineer of the Year
FHWA recently announced the selection of Dr. Raymond Krammes in the Office of Safety Research and Development at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, VA, as the FHWA Engineer of the Year.
Krammes completed extensive work in highway safety, especially in planning, research, development, contract monitoring, and most recently in implementation of the Interactive Highway Safety Design Model. His efforts have been a key component of FHWA’s plan to improve highway safety, especially on two-lane roads.
Accompanying the recognition as FHWA Engineer of the Year, Krammes’ application now will be sent to the National Society of Professional Engineers for consideration for the Federal Engineer of the Year Award. Krammes also received the FHWA Administrator’s Award for Superior Achievement in October 2003.
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