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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 71 · No. 4 > Along the Road

Jan/Feb 2008
Vol. 71 · No. 4

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-08-002

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

USDOT Names Six Interstate Routes as Corridors of the Future

On September 10, 2007, USDOT announced six interstate routes as the first participants in the Corridors of the Future Program (CFP)— a new Federal initiative to develop multi-State corridors to help reduce congestion. The announcement follows a year-long competition to select a handful of interstate corridors. The 38 public and private sector applicants submitted proposals for innovative national and regional approaches to reduce congestion and improve the efficiency of freight delivery in line with the program's goals.

The six participating routes will receive the following funding to implement their development plans: $21.8 million for I-95 from Florida to the Canadian border; $5 million for I-70 in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Ohio; $15 million for I-15 in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah; $15 million for I-5 in California, Oregon, and Washington; $8.6 million for I-10 from California to Florida; and $800,000 for I-69 from Texas to Michigan. The selected corridors carry 22.7 percent of the Nation's daily interstate travel.

The selected proposals demonstrate the potential to use public and private resources to reduce traffic congestion within the corridors and across the country. The concepts include building new roads and adding lanes to existing roads, building truck-only lanes and bypasses, and integrating real-time traffic technology such as lane management that can match available capacity on roads to changing traffic demands.

Highways such as I-10 in Pensacola, FL, shown here, will receive funding from USDOT's CFP to help reduce congestion and improve the efficiency of freight delivery.
Highways such as I-10 in Pensacola, FL, shown here, will receive funding from USDOT's CFP to help reduce congestion and improve the efficiency of freight delivery.

By spring 2008, USDOT and the States will finalize formal agreements detailing the commitments of the Federal, State, and local governments involved. These agreements will outline the anticipated role of the private sector and the ways that the partners will handle the financing, planning, design, construction, and maintenance of the corridors.

FRA Awards $1 Million to Prevent Collisions At Highway-Rail Grades

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently increased efforts to reduce collisions between trains and motor vehicles at grade crossings and discourage illegal trespassing on railroad tracks. In July 2007, FRA Deputy Administrator Clifford C. Eby awarded a $1 million grant to Operation Lifesaver, Inc.®, a national nonprofit railroad safety education organization. Operation Lifesaver also will provide $338,332 in matching funds.

"Understanding the dangers on, along, and near railroad tracks is the best way to help people avoid needless risks," said Deputy Administrator Eby. He added that approximately 96 percent of rail-related deaths in America are the result of grade crossing collisions and trespassing on railroad property.

The FRA grant will support Operation Lifesaver's education and training programs across the United States. Specifically, the Federal funding will aid Operation Lifesaver's assistance programs to State organizations, helping them manage railroad safety awareness programs. In addition, the funds will support training— such as regional workshops developed for Operation Lifesaver's 3,000 volunteer trainers and presenters— communications programs, and publications, including development and distribution of public service announcements.

The 2007 grant augments comprehensive efforts under the Secretary of Transportation's 2004 Action Plan, Highway-Rail Crossing Safety and Trespass Prevention, and USDOT's 2005 National Rail Safety Action Plan. Both plans provide a roadmap for guiding Federal, State, local, industry, and other efforts to combat highway-rail grade collisions.

Policy and Legislation

New USDOT Rule Gives States Construction Flexibility

States now have more flexibility for building roads and bridges faster under a new USDOT rule that allows design work and environmental reviews to occur concurrently. The final rule, issued in August 2007, amends Federal Highway Administration regulations to allow States to use various innovative contracting methods, ranging from basic design-build contracts to long-term concession agreements, while simultaneously pursuing Federal environmental approvals. By eliminating a required dollar amount for projects, the rule also increases the opportunity for smaller projects to use design-build contracts.

The rule allows certain design work to begin while the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) process is underway, but still ensures consideration of a full range of alternatives. Using this process, States are able to expedite the contract award process and start preliminary design work while ensuring the objectivity of the NEPA decisionmaking process. USDOT officials add that a faster process will save taxpayers time and money. Overall, design-build projects prove to be successful contracting tools, reducing average project delivery time by 14 percent.

The rule, which was open for public comment before publication, is available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/programadmin/contracts/fedreg071408.cfm.

Public Information and Information Exchange

Wisconsin Announces Funds for Local Highway Improvements

In September 2007, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle announced the distribution of $29.5 million in Federal funds to improve county highways throughout Wisconsin's approximately 161,000-kilometer (100,000-mile) local highway system. Administered by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) through the Federal Surface Transportation Program-Rural (STP-R), the money will fund 72 projects along local highways across the State.

"Investing in infrastructure ensures we have safe roads for our travelers and helps businesses get their products where they're needed," Governor Doyle said. "Improving roads is one way we can strengthen communities, grow our businesses, and create jobs for our citizens."

Although STP-R traditionally operates on a 3-year cycle, a fourth year has been added to the new program cycle (2009-2012) to better balance the project letting schedule, encourage program stability, and add approved projects to the system sooner in case additional Federal funding becomes available in future years. All projects are 80 percent federally funded and require a 20 percent local funding share.

For a list of STP-R funded projects, visit the WisDOT Web site at www.dot.wisconsin.gov/localgov/highways/approved.htm.

WisDOT

Massachusetts Design Guide Honored

The Massachusetts Highway Department (MassHighway) recently received its seventh award for the 2006 Massachusetts Highway Department Project Development & Design Guide. The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) recognized the guide, which serves as a national model, with its 2007 "Transportation Achievement Award." The ITE award highlights significant and outstanding transportation achievements by government agencies, legislative bodies, consulting firms, industry, and other private sector organizations.

Released in January 2006, the MassHighway guide was the product of 2.5 years of work by a 28-member task force composed of representatives from municipalities, regional planning agencies, professional organizations, advocacy groups, and State agencies. The guide employs a more flexible process for constructing road and bridge projects through a context sensitive, environmentally responsive, and multimodal approach.

A copy of the guide is available on the MassHighway Web site at www.mhd.state.ma.us.

MassHighway

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