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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 71 · No. 1 > Along the Road

Jul/Aug 2007
Vol. 71 · No. 1

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-07-005

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

Bush Administration Requests $67 Billion USDOT Budget for 2008

The administration of President George W. Bush requested $67 billion for 2008 to finance key programs in transportation construction, congestion relief, and safety, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters announced in February 2007.

The administration is seeking a record $42 billion for highway construction and safety programs. The budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2008 proposes overall transportation safety funding of $20.3 billion, which will fund the safety programs and initiatives for aviation and surface transportation. Included in the amount are programs and activities to target areas such as motorcycle crashes and drunk driving.

The FY 2008 budget also requests $175 million to cut traffic congestion by developing commuter traffic information systems, accelerating construction along trade and travel corridors, and helping metropolitan areas test new solutions. The budget request includes $1.3 billion for commuter rail and transit projects for urban areas and $100 million for transit projects in smaller towns and rural areas.

The U.S. Congress was invited to work with USDOT on solutions to financing and managing the Nation's transportation network, noting that the Government is spending from the Highway Trust Fund at a rate faster than the growth in revenue, in part because of the explosive growth in earmarks.

USDOT to Fund Improving Transit Services for Older Americans

In January 2007, USDOT announced $2.7 million for eight U.S. cities to demonstrate how intelligent transportation systems (ITS) can improve access to transit services for older Americans and people with disabilities. The projects are part of USDOT's effort to address rising transit costs and provide improved service to Americans with special needs.

The following cities will receive funds through the Federal Transit Administration to plan and design the demonstration projects, which may be eligible for additional funding for deployment: Aiken, SC; Atlanta, GA; Cherry Hill, NJ; Fitchburg, MA; Kent, OH; Louisville, KY; Paducah, KY; and Orlando, FL.

ITS technologies use advanced communications features to improve transportation safety and operations. USDOT's ITS program is managed by the Research and Innovative Technology Administration. For more information, visit www.its.dot.gov.

Intelligent Transportation Society of America

Policy and Legislation

USDOT Encourages Private Sector Involvement in Transportation Projects

In January 2007, USDOT released model legislation that would give States flexibility to contract with the private sector to invest in and manage transportation projects. The model legislation, part of USDOT's initiative to reduce congestion on the Nation's transportation system, is based on a survey of existing State laws that authorize public-private partnerships (PPPs) in building, owning, or operating highways, mass transit, railroads, airports, seaports, or other infrastructure.

Recognizing that States need statutory authority to enter into PPPs, the model legislation can help States reduce or remove barriers to private sector investment. Issues addressed in the legislation include modes of transportation eligible for private investment, tolling, innovative procurement methods, upkeep requirements for leased roads, and provisions to consider in an agreement with the private sector.

Twenty-one States and Puerto Rico already have at least some legal ability to enter into PPPs. However, many of those laws provide limited or project-specific authority. Broad authority also will give States the opportunity to take advantage of various Federal tools and pilot programs now available under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) and the recently created Congestion Initiative.

The model legislation is available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/ppp/legislation.htm.

Public Information and Information Exchange

West Virginia Awards Contract for First Design-Build Project

In March 2007, the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) opened bids for the State's first design-build contract, a 10-kilometer (6-mile) section of WV 34 to Route 19 (Hurricane Creek Road). Financing for the project will come largely from Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle bonds, also a first for WVDOT.

The department received assistance with the project and bonding arrangements from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) headquarters and Resource Center, as well as the South Carolina and North Carolina departments of transportation (DOTs). During the 2006 legislative session, the West Virginia Legislature gave WVDOT the authority to pilot up to three design-build contracts.

The project includes construction of two sets of twin bridges, one at WV 34 interchange and one over Hurricane Creek Road in Putnam County. The project consists of the study, design, and preparation of contract plans and related documents for construction of the bridges, which are approximately 55-61 meters (180-200 feet) long. The department anticipates issuing the notice to proceed in July 2007.

WVDOT

Caltrans Wins Safety Award for Campaign Against Drunk Driving

In April 2007, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) received an achievement award from the State's Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) for installing signs in roadside rest stops that call on motorists to "Report Drunk Drivers — Call 911." According to OTS, which provided a grant to fund the installation, the signs "have significantly contributed to promoting and enhancing traffic safety in California."

Says Caltrans Director Will Kempton, "These signs are one way of enlisting all Californians to combat the danger of drinking and driving, by giving them an easy way to report offenders and make our highways safer."

Caltrans began installing the signs during Memorial Day weekend 2006 in time for the start of the busy summer driving season. More than 100 million motorists visit roadside rest stops in California each year.

Five departments within the State Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency — Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol, OTS, Department of Motor Vehicles, and Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control — have joined forces in urging the public to report suspected drunk drivers by calling 911. Mothers Against Drunk Driving also participated in statewide public education events as part of the campaign.

Caltrans

Caltrans is posting signs like this one throughout California.
Caltrans is posting signs like this one throughout California.

Web Seminar Focuses on Implementing Work Zone Rule

In March 2007, the National Highway Institute (NHI) held a Web seminar ("Webinar") to demonstrate how State DOTs are implementing the Work Zone Safety and Mobility Rule, which was published on September 9, 2004, in the Federal Register. The rule updates and broadens the former regulation at Title 23 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 630 Subpart J to address more of the current issues affecting work zone safety and mobility.

All State and local governments that receive Federal-aid funding are required to comply with the provisions of the rule by no later than October 12, 2007. As the compliance date nears, many agencies are looking for implementation guidance and best practices from other States. During the Webinar, representatives from State DOTs delivered presentations on the processes they each are using to implement and comply with specific aspects of the rule.

The Webinar was an opportunity for participants to share tips on implementing the rule. Best practices include forming State workgroups to review existing policies and procedures and identify gaps, revising internal policies as needed, developing procedures to implement the rule, and seeking management buy-in. With these tactics in mind, almost all States represented in the Webinar reported that they were well underway with their implementation efforts. Many States anticipate complete development and implementation of all aspects of their rule-related policies to take a full year.

For more information and resource materials on this and other NHI courses, visit www.ntoctalks.com/web_casts_archive.php.

NHI

Georgia Hosts Workshop on Using GIS For Environmental Streamlining

In March 2007, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) hosted a workshop to advance use of geographic information systems (GIS) to integrate technology, transportation planning, and environmental processes. More than 50 participants from Federal and State resource agencies, FHWA, the University of Georgia, and the private sector attended the workshop.

Participants discussed GDOT's efforts to streamline transportation and environmental activities using Natural, Archaeological, and Historic Resources GIS; the GDOT Transportation Explorer; the Georgia Spatial Data Infrastructure; and National Spatial Data Infrastructure. The FHWA Resource Center provided an overview of national efforts and led a gap analysis to identify areas for future collaboration, including increased coordination between GDOT, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) in Georgia, and resource agencies during development of long-range transportation plans; maintenance of electronic file cabinets (an internal means for GDOT staff to store and share files); and a continuation of dialogue between planning and environmental staff at the Federal, State, and local levels. Key action items in progress include additional cross-training opportunities for environmental and planning staff and incorporation of consultation processes into MPO transportation planning activities as required by SAFETEA-LU.

For more information about GIS in transportation, visit http://gis.fhwa.dot.gov/.

FHWA Releases Publications on Emergency Transportation Operations

The FHWA Emergency Transportation Operations program recently announced the availability of three new publications on the FHWA Web site:

  • Using Highways During Evacuation Operations for Events With Advance Notice, the first of the Routes to Effective Evacuations Primer Series
  • Common Issues in Emergency Transportation Operations Preparedness and Responses: Results of the FHWA Workshop Series
  • Best Practices in Emergency Transportation Operations Preparedness and Response: Results of the FHWA Workshop Series

To access the publications, please visit the Office of Operations Web site at www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov.

California Transportation Commission Recommends $1 Billion in Bond Funding

In March 2007, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) recommended nearly $1 billion ($975 million) in funding for transportation improvements on Highway 99, described by Caltrans Director Will Kempton as "the Central Valley's transportation backbone." The billion-dollar investment came just 2 weeks after the CTC recommended $4.5 billion in transportation funding from the Proposition 1B bond's Corridor Mobility Improvement Account program.

Key infrastructure improvements that received funding recommendations include $248.3 million to widen two sections of Highway 99 from a four-lane expressway to a six-lane freeway in Merced County. These projects will upgrade the entire length of Highway 99 between Bakersfield and Sacramento to a full six-lane freeway. Sacramento also received $19.1 million to upgrade the highway's intersection with Elverta Road, which will relieve congestion in fast-growing northern Sacramento County. Sutter County received $73.5 million to widen the half-mile-long Feather River Bridge from a two-lane highway to four-lane expressway. Another $282.4 million went to Stockton to widen approximately 19.3 kilometers (12 miles) of Highway 99 from four lanes to six between State Route (S.R.) 120 and S.R. 4.

For a list of all Highway 99 projects that received approval, visit www.dot.ca.gov.

Caltrans

Study on ITS Parking Management Systems Now Available

Transportation hubs, such as airports and transit park-and-ride lots, and central business districts are experiencing record-level demand. Not only do these facilities and locations need to move vehicles through them smoothly, they also need to provide a place for vehicles to park. Parking patrons need to know where the best parking locations are, the hours that the facilities are open, the fees charged, and, most important, whether a parking space will be available when they arrive. Increasingly, intelligent transportation systems (ITS) tools are being deployed to help manage parking demands.

Advanced Parking Management Systems: A Cross-Cutting Study, published online in early 2007, describes a full range of technologies to take the stress out of parking. The study includes low-tech solutions such as a parking information Web site, plus cutting-edge reservation systems that enable drivers to locate, reserve, and pay for a parking space through wireless communications. Sponsored jointly by the ITS Joint Program Office and the FHWA Office of Transportation Management, the study profiles advanced parking management systems in Illinois, Maryland, and Washington State. The study concludes with a summary of the benefits and costs of this new technology, as well as lessons learned in the areas of policy and planning, design and deployment, and management and operations.

To view the publication, visit www.its.dot.gov/jpodocs/repts_te/14318.htm. For more information, contact Robert Rupert of the FHWA Office of Transportation Management at 202-366-2194 or robert.rupert@dot.gov.

New Report Calls for Review of Nation's Outdoor Advertising Policies

A new report recommends updating policies on outdoor advertising to include digital billboards, such as those in New York City's Times Square. Photo: John Sullivan for FHWA.
A new report recommends updating policies on outdoor advertising to include digital billboards, such as those in New York City's Times Square.
Photo: John Sullivan for FHWA.

A Federal report released in February 2007 says policies governing outdoor advertising along interstates should be updated to reflect advances in billboard technology. Published by the U.S. Institute for Environ-mental Conflict Resolution, a program of the Morris K. Udall Foundation, an independent Federal agency, the report concludes that many challenges can be overcome through better cooperation among FHWA, State governments, the outdoor advertising industry, and other stakeholders.

"While only a first step, this report and the discussions it generates will be of great help to us," said FHWA Administrator J. Richard Capka, whose agency provided funding to develop the report, Conflict Assessment: Federal Outdoor Advertising Control Program. "We applaud the work of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution which, by helping to improve our Outdoor Advertising Control Program, will lead to safer highways."

Based on a neutral assessment of the Nation's outdoor advertising controls, the report addresses difficulties in reconciling the advertising industry's use of new technology with potential risks to driver safety. Digital billboards, similar to large flat-screen televisions, make possible customized messages for passing motorists. The report concludes that more work is needed to resolve issues related to billboard technology, placement of billboards, and inconsistencies in enforcement. The report also suggested a pilot program to study changes in regulations to control outdoor advertising.

Copies of the report are available online at www.fhwa.dot.gov/realestate/oaconf.htm or by request through the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution at brooks@ecr.gov.

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