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|Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 70 · No. 2 > Along the Road|
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-2006-006
Along the Road
Along the Road is the place to look for information about current and upcoming activities, developments, trends, and items of general interest to the highway community. This information comes from U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.
Management and Administration
SCDOT, FHWA Honored for Preservation Of Revolutionary War Battlefield
In March 2006, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) received a "2006 South Carolina Historic Preservation Award" for preserving a long-lost Revolutionary War battlefield.
Governor Mark Sanford was on hand to present awards from the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation, in conjunction with the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. "Each one of you [is a hero] as it relates to historic preservation," Governor Sanford told the award winners during the ceremony.
SCDOT and FHWA received the award for preservation of the Fish Dam Ford Battlefield in Chester County. SCDOT discovered the battlefield during a bridge replacement project over the Broad River.
"After the discovery of the long-lost battlefield, SCDOT consulted our partner, FHWA, and other experts on the next course of action to make sure the battlefield would be preserved," says SCDOT Executive Director Elizabeth S. Mabry. "SCDOT and FHWA came up with what I believe is a 'win-win' idea—to purchase the battlefield outright for preservation."
SCDOT had identified the battlefield during an archaeological survey, and it was deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The State also determined that the construction of the new bridge would have an adverse effect on the battlefield. Closing the old bridge while replacing it in the same location or moving it to a different location were not options because of other historical impacts and traffic congestion. By minimizing the project design, SCDOT was able to minimize encroachment on the battlefield. Archaeological research and deep testing indicated that the 1780 ground surface was now buried under 2.1 meters (7 feet) of alluvium deposited during the intervening centuries. Traditional archaeological excavations would have cost an estimated $2 million. To mitigate the impacts of construction, SCDOT instead purchased the battlefield and an adjoining tract for $293,000 and set it aside for permanent preservation, overseen by a State management agency.
Division Administrator Bob L. Lee, head of FHWA's South Carolina Division Office, says, "This is a great example of people and agencies working together on many levels of Federal, State, and local government. Preserving this land through a purchase agreement was clearly the right thing to do. It is a savings to taxpayers, a benefit to local motorists who will use the new bridge much sooner than had we gone the excavation route, and, of course, it is also a treasured resource for historians."
For more information on the "2006 South Carolina Historic Preservation Awards," visit www.state.sc.us/scdah/hpawards2006.htm.
Policy and Legislation
San Francisco Mayor Announces Citywide B20 Plan
The San Francisco City Government has long been a leader in its commitment to alternative transportation fuels to promote clean air, encourage renewable energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On May 18, 2006, Mayor Gavin Newsom issued an executive directive designed to accelerate municipal use of biodiesel in place of diesel fuel. At present, the city uses about 30.3 million liters (8 million gallons) of diesel per year. Among other things, the executive directive states that the city must initiate and complete the biodiesel pilot project by December 31, 2006.
Biodiesel is a renewable diesel fuel made from domestic resources such as soybean oil or other fats and vegetable oils. It can be used in any diesel engine with few or no modifications, and can be blended with petroleum diesel at any level. Biodiesel significantly cuts harmful environmental emissions, promotes greater energy independence, and boosts the economy. Today, more than 600 commercial fleets nationwide use biodiesel and 850 retail filling stations make it available to the public.
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) praised the city for its commitment to biodiesel. "This makes San Francisco the largest U.S. city ever to institute such broad biodiesel use," said Joe Jobe, NBB chief executive officer. "The mayor's leadership in taking his city diesel fleet to B20 [a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel] is a demonstration of true commitment to the environment and to weaning ourselves from foreign oil."
In 1999, San Francisco's Healthy Air and Smog Prevention Ordinance established requirements for fleets to purchase vehicles using alternative fuels or energy-efficient vehicles with low emissions. San Francisco now has more than 800 alternative fuel vehicles in its fleets. Several city departments and agencies have successfully used B20, including San Francisco International Airport, the city and county of San Francisco Departments of Public Works, San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI) buses, and the San Francisco Zoo. Ferries operating out of San Francisco also have used B20 with excellent results.
Additional information about biodiesel is available online at www.biodiesel.org
Virginia's Highway Safety Corridors Reduce Crashes
The recent establishment of safety corridors on I-81 and I-95 is credited with helping to reduce crashes. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) reports that the total number of crashes decreased by 29 percent in the I-81 safety corridor and 13 percent in the I-95 safety corridor in 2005 as compared to the previous year. To increase safety, the 2003 General Assembly directed three State agencies—Virginia State Police, Department of Motor Vehicles, and VDOT—to create a Highway Safety Corridor Program that addresses safety in high-crash locations on interstate and primary roads (routes numbered 1 through 599). The three agencies combined crash data with public comment to establish highway safety corridors.
The State is divided into three highway safety corridor regions, and segments of interstates in each region have higher than expected crash rates and severity, including injuries and fatalities. The first stretch, which was designated in January 2004 for increased enforcement and fines under the Highway Safety Corridor Program, was a 24-kilometer (15-mile) section of I-81, from mile marker 127 near Ironto in Montgomery County to mile marker 142 near Salem in Roanoke County. The second highway safety corridor, designated in January 2005, is a 21-kilometer (13-mile) stretch of I-95 between mile marker 70 near Bells Road in Richmond County and mile marker 83 near Parham Road in Henrico County. The establishment of these safety corridors was accompanied by an intense public relations campaign, increased fines, and signs that publicize the new fines schedule. Tickets for speeding could result in fines up to $500. Criminal offenses such as reckless driving or driving under the influence could result in fines up to $2,500.
For more information, visit http://www.virginiadot.org/programs/ct-highway-safety-corridor.asp.
WSDOT Tests Portable Incident Screens
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has rolled out a Portable Incident Screen pilot project on Interstate 90 in the Spokane region. These custom-built screens are put up at traffic incident sites to shield the crash scene from motorists driving by. The intent is to stop rubberneckers from slowing traffic and to prevent possible secondary crashes.
WSDOT will be collecting data during the test deployment in April 2006 to evaluate driver and traffic reactions. Traffic counters will collect volume and speed data while hidden cameras will evaluate the drivers' reactions and responses. This information will be contrasted with data that were collected during an analysis phase. WSDOT utilized information from similar programs in California and Massachusetts to help develop this pilot project.
The portable screens are the product of an innovative partnership between WSDOT and the Washington State Patrol that encourages "outside the box" thinking to find new ways to help keep traffic moving.
For more information on this subject and other key issues, please refer to The Gray Notebook for the quarter ending December 2005, available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/accountability.
Dulles Metrorail Panel Members and Schedule Announced
On June 7, 2006, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) announced the roster for its Dulles Corridor Metrorail Tunnel Review Panel. Serving as the panel's chairman was Robert S. O'Neil, P.E., a member of the National Academy of Engineering, who has more than 40 years of experience in the planning, design, and implementation of major transportation projects, including urban transportation systems, highways, railroads, and other domestic and international facilities.
The panel consisted of Brenda Bohlke, Ph.D., P.G., who specializes in tunnel design and construction; Young Ho Chang, P.E., who specializes in local land use, zoning, and surface transportation; Richard Gray, P.G., who specializes in geology; Ray Sandiford, P.E., who specializes in underground construction costs; and Richard Tucker, Ph.D., P.E., who specializes in heavy construction, risk management, and cost.
The panel, which was formed at the request of Virginia Secretary of Transportation Pierce R. Homer, was tasked with conducting an independent evaluation of tunnel and aerial structure alternatives for the Tysons Corner segment of the proposed Metrorail extension to the Dulles International Airport. Evaluation began during a 2-day meeting in northern Virginia, June 7 and 8, and final recommendations were made to the Secretary; Fairfax County, VA; and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) at the end of July. The panel drew the additional technical information needed to complete its assessment from representatives of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, the Fairfax County Office of Transportation, FTA, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which also attended the group's meetings.
The panel's final report can be viewed at www.asce.org.
USDOT Secretary Mineta Announces Resignation
After serving as the U.S. Transportation Secretary for more than 5 years, Norman Y. Mineta announced his formal resignation in a letter to President George W. Bush on June 20, 2006. Secretary Mineta's resignation became effective on July 7, 2006.
During his time at USDOT, Secretary Mineta started the Transportation Security Administration following the September 11, 2001, attacks. He also worked to secure passage of SAFETEA-LU, legislation that authorized Federal surface transportation programs for highways, highway safety, and transit for the 5-year period from 2005 to 2009.
Secretary Mineta's transportation career spans four decades. Prior to his appointment as U.S. Transportation Secretary in January 2001, Secretary Mineta served as a 10-term California Congressman. He served as chairman of the House of Representatives Public Works and Transportation Committee between 1992 and 1994. He chaired the committee's Aviation Subcommittee between 1981 and 1988, and chaired its Surface Transportation Subcommittee from 1989 to 1991. He was also a primary author of the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA).
Public Information and Information Exchange
RTAP Releases New Emergency Preparedness Toolbox
In the wake of last year's tragic hurricane season, the National Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) has released a new interactive DVD training module to help transit managers across the country assess hazards and threats more effectively and develop emergency response plans. The DVD, under development for nearly 9 months, was unveiled in June 2006 in Orlando, FL, at the annual Community Transportation Association of America Expo. Funded by the Federal Transit Administration and administered by the American Public Works Association, RTAP provides training products and technical assistance at the national level for use by State DOTs and local transit agencies.
The RTAP Threat, Vulnerability, and Emergency Preparedness Toolbox leads the transit manager through a planning process to (1) identify those assets that are most essential, (2) assess safety hazards and security threats to those critical assets, (3) develop plans to reduce the likelihood and impact of those threats, and (4) establish protocols for managing critical incidents if and when they occur. This planning process helps transit managers set priorities in safety and security, regardless of agency size. The DVD and accompanying workbook include instructional materials, tests and exams, exercises to help managers set priorities, and essential protocols for a variety of disaster scenarios.
"The devastation in Louisiana and Mississippi has forced communities all across the country to take a second look at their evacuation plans, and indeed their disaster response strategies," notes David Barr, acting national RTAP director. "Our goal with this product is to give transit operators the tools to prepare for, survive, and recover from the hazards they face."
Several States, notably Alabama, Idaho, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Utah, pilot tested the DVD. Starting in late July 2006, RTAP distributed the final product through State DOTs and through the RTAP resource library.
FHWA and NHTSA Work to Increase Hispanic Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety
Findings from a 2004 report by the Center for Applied Research and The Media Network, Inc., indicate that an average of 545 Hispanic pedestrians and 79 Hispanic bicyclists are killed in crashes with motor vehicles every year. Accordingly, FHWA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) further researched this problem and developed appropriate materials and a marketing plan to convey safety messages to Hispanics.
FHWA and NHTSA just completed a 2.5-year effort to determine the extent of the pedestrian and bicycle safety problem as it relates to Hispanic populations in the United States. The scope of the first part of the project (completed in December 2004) was to determine the extent of the problem. The second part, developing the marketing plan to show interested audiences how to best "sell" safety to Hispanic audiences, used the information gathered in the first part. The task included developing actual products based on the recommendations of the marketing plan.
The two agencies created five brochures, five posters, and two radio public service announcements to address issues such as alcohol, pedestrian signals, crosswalks, sidewalks, and bicycle safety. FHWA and NHTSA produced all marketing materials in both English and Spanish, and the materials can be ordered online.
The marketing plan, "Promoting Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety to Hispanic Audiences," can be viewed at http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/hispanic/.
Work Zone Public Information and Outreach Strategies Now Available
FHWA's new guide,Work Zone Public Information and Outreach Strategies (FHWA-HOP-05-067), is intended to help transportation agencies plan and implement effective public information campaigns to increase work zone safety. It is the second of four guides intended to support implementation of FHWA's Final Rule on Work Zone Safety and Mobility. The new guide and an overall implementation guide for the rule, Implementing the Rule on Work Zone Safety and Mobility (FHWA-HOP-05-065), are available online at http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/resources/final_rule.htm.
For further information about the rule or the implementation guidance materials, please contact Tracy Scriba at 202-366-0855.
WSDOT Announces Projects to Motivate Change in Commuting Habits
In early 2006, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) selected 17 projects to receive more than $1.3 million under the Trip Reduction Performance Program (TRPP), created by the Washington State Legislature in 2003. The program's purpose is to encourage private companies, public agencies, developers, and property managers to provide services and incentives that persuade people to leave their cars in favor of using buses, trains, vanpools, and other commuting alternatives. The TRPP projects are expected to remove a total of 3,831 daily commute vehicle trips from the State highway system.
In Duwamish, an area near Seattle, the Duwamish Transportation Management Association (TMA) received nearly $264,000, one of the larger TRPP awards. The TRPP project will help businesses and employees prepare for the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. One quarter of all north-south traffic through Seattle (103,000 vehicles) use the viaduct every day. The project is expected to eliminate a total of 600 daily vehicle commute trips in the south Seattle industrial neighborhood that stretches from the professional sports stadiums to King County International Airport.
"We need more space on our neighborhood streets for trucks," says Dave Gering, executive director of Duwamish TMA, referring to an increased capacity for commercial traffic that will result from commuters switching to transit and other alternatives. "This funding is the cornerstone of an innovative project that will move more people and vehicles efficiently in the Duwamish area," he adds.
In addition to the TRPP projects, WSDOT uses its Commute Trip Reduction Program and vanpool programs to improve the efficiency of the transportation system by reducing drive-alone commuting. Companies and agencies that reduce employee commute trips through vanpools and other alternatives may reduce their business costs for taxes and employee parking.
For a complete list of projects selected for the 2005-2007 TRPP, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/tdm/program_summaries/trpp_projects_2005-2007.cfm.
Nation's Travel Information Number Celebrates 5th Anniversary
Five years ago, the first call to 511—the Nation's travel information number—was placed in the Cincinnati and northern Kentucky area by then Kentucky Governor Paul E. Patton. Since that first call on June 21, 2001, more than 53 million 511 calls have been made nationwide. More than 18 million calls were made to 511 in 2005, a 23-percent increase from 2004.
Today, 30 active 511 systems are deployed in 24 States, accessible by more than 93 million Americans. An additional 8 States are expected to launch 511 services in 2006, which means roughly 50 percent of the population will be served by 511. A growing number of travelers and transportation agencies are discovering the benefits of 511 services. One call can alert drivers, tourists, and transit riders to real-time information on traffic incidents and delays, special road conditions, and transit information. With this information, travelers can make better decisions to avoid traffic congestion and weather-related hazards.
"Overall, this is a celebratory year for transportation and traveler information," says John Njord, executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation and chairman of the 511 Deployment Coalition. "The Eisenhower Interstate Highway System turned 50 just days after 511 turned 5 years old."
June 29, 2006, marked the 50th anniversary of the day Federal legislation was signed to begin engineering the U.S. Interstate Highway System, which today stretches 74,000 kilometers (46,000 miles).
Last year, President George W. Bush signed the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) bill, which called for "ensuring that a national, interoperable 511 system, along with a national traffic information system that includes a user-friendly, comprehensive Web site, is fully implemented for use by travelers throughout the United States by September 30, 2010." The 511 Deployment Coalition is actively working with States and regions operating and planning 511 services to achieve this goal.
The coalition is a partnership of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the American Public Transportation Association, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, and USDOT. For more information on 511, visit www.deploy511.org.
Public Information and Information Exchange
RideShare Alliance Updates Web Site On Carpooling
Recent updates to the "RideShare Alliance" Web site (www.rideshare.us) make organizing an online rideshare or carpool page for school, work, or special events even easier. Listed events can be public or private, and visitors can link directly to listings or the event organizers can provide a lookup code that will take users straight to the appropriate page. The flexible new search interface enables viewers to search using any combination of terms and to link directly to a search results page if there is more than one listing that users might want to browse.
The student government at Lane Community College in Eugene, OR, officially adopted the system last year. Since then, the students promoted its use around campus using printed fliers and a link from the school Web site. The RideShare Alliance has offered alternatives to the transportation options available for the school, which is located in a hard-to-reach area that makes walking and bicycling less practical. The students' RideShare Alliance page proved invaluable in helping students carpool to school during a mass-transit strike that occurred just weeks after they set up their page.
For more information on conserving resources and saving money by carpooling, visit www.rideshare.us.
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