Skip to contentUnited States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration FHWA Home
Research Home
Public Roads
Featuring developments in Federal highway policies, programs, and research and technology.
This magazine is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information.
Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 73 · No. 4 > Along the Road

Jan/Feb 2010
Vol. 73 · No. 4

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-10-002

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

FHWA Helps Break Ground on All-Electronic Expressway

In August 2009, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials took part in a groundbreaking ceremony for North Carolina's Triangle Expressway, a 19-mile (30-kilometer) controlled-access toll road from Research Triangle Park to Holly Springs. The project is among the first in the United States designed and built to use an all-electronic toll collection system. There will be no tollbooths, which means no stopping to pay tolls, saving commuters about 20 minutes per trip.

Drivers will be able to purchase invehicle transponders that automatically charge for road use. For those who do not have transponders, overhead high-speed cameras will snap images of their license plates, and bills will be mailed to them. The North Carolina Turnpike Authority has not yet set toll rates for the expressway, but similar facilities around the country charge 10-20 cents per mile.

The toll authority worked closely with local planning organizations, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, transportation advocacy groups, local chambers of commerce, and local and State elected officials to ensure full public participation throughout the planning, design, and engineering process. The entire length of the Triangle Expressway is scheduled to open to traffic in 2012.

For more information, visit

Technical News

Forest Service Releases Guide for Monitoring Landslides

The United States Forest Service, in partnership with FHWA's Coordinated Federal Lands Highway Technology Improvement Program, has released a user-friendly guide for installing time-domain-reflectometry (TDR) cable systems to monitor slope stability and the potential for landslides. The Simplified User's Guide to Time-Domain-Reflectometry Monitoring of Slope Stability is designed to help field personnel select, assemble, and install TDR measurement systems, and then guide the user through the subsequent data acquisition and processing phase.

North Carolina's Triangle Expressway, shown here under construction, will be one of the first toll roads in the United  States to use an all-electronic toll collection system.

North Carolina's Triangle Expressway, shown here under construction, will be one of the first toll roads in the United States to use an all-electronic toll collection system.

TDR is one of the least expensive methods for monitoring slope move- ment. A TDR cable system for moni--toring ground movements consists of a coaxial cable embedded in a borehole in the ground and connected to an apparatus called a cable tester. When ground movement occurs, the slide surface will intersect the TDR cable and bend it, stretch it, or shear it. Field personnel can determine the depth, progression, and magnitude of movement from the signal collected with the cable tester.

The guide also includes additional TDR resources such as lists of related publications, courses, and vendors.

For more information and to download the guide, visit

United States Forest Service

Policy and Legislation

FHWA Revises Policy for Interstate Access

Responding to direction provided in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), FHWA recently revised its Policy on Access to the Interstate System. The changes clarify the operational and safety analysis and assessment of impacts that provide the basis for proposed changes in access to the interstate system. FHWA also updated some language to reference Federal laws and policies.

TDR monitoring can be an effective tool to identify slope movements and prevent road failures, such as the one shown here.

TDR monitoring can be an effective tool to identify slope movements and prevent road failures, such as the one shown here.

The updated policy provides requirements for justifying and documenting proposed changes in access to the interstate system and will help facilitate decisionmaking that is consistent with the vision, goals, and long-range transportation plans of an area, region, or State. The policy is applicable to new or revised access points to existing interstate facilities regardless of the funding of the original construction or the new access points.

Among the recent changes are updates to clarify the need for agencies to analyze projected design-year traffic demands and justify that they cannot be adequately accom--modated by existing access to the interstate. Other revisions clarify the need to meet or exceed design standards for all roadway improvements included in proposals to change access.

For details on the policy changes, visit

Public Information and Information Exchange

Scanning the Country for Best Practices In Accelerated Construction

From coast to coast, accelerated construction practices are cutting project schedules from years to sometimes mere weeks or days, resulting in reduced traffic congestion and delays, increased mobility, and improved customer satisfaction. In March 2009, FHWA and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) deployed a team of experts to document case studies from around the country that demonstrate how projects can be delivered much more rapidly.

"The goal of the scan was to focus on construction practices that are underlying fundamentals for successfully accelerating construction work processes, as well as those management practices that provide the environment to enable accelerated construction," says scan team cochairman Chris Schneider, a construction and system preservation engineer with FHWA's Office of Asset Management.

The scan team included representatives from FHWA, State departments of transportation, a turnpike authority, and academia. Team members visited Jacksonville and Pensacola, FL; Birmingham and Montgomery, AL; Houston, TX; Salt Lake City, UT; and Sacramento and Oakland, CA. The team studied both paving and bridge construction projects. Findings include a range of best practices in partnering, design, planning, and contracting strategies. For example, a best practice for planning includes developing contingency plans before beginning construction to overcome possible obstacles.

The scan team's final report, Domestic Scan of Accelerated Construction Practices 07-02, will be available in early 2010 at For more information, contact Chris Schneider at 202-493-0551 or

One of the projects studied by the accelerated construction  scan team was the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge,  shown here with a crane positioned above the eastbound  transition structure.

One of the projects studied by the accelerated construction scan team was the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, shown here with a crane positioned above the eastbound transition structure.

Neighborhoods Receive Funding to Improve Pedestrian Safety

The University of North Carolina's Highway Safety Research Center, with funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is working with 10 communities to improve pedestrian safety and walkability. Using $2,000 each and the FHWA publication A Resident's Guide for Creating Safe and Walkable Communities (FHWA-SA-07-016), the communities will implement various projects and activities and then provide feedback on additional resources needed to improve pedestrian safety in neighborhoods.

The following community groups will participate: City of Wabasha/Fit City, Wabasha, MN; Collegeville Main Street Program, Collegeville, PA; IONA Senior Services, Washington, DC; Live Healthy Nevada County, Grass Valley, CA; Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, New Orleans, LA; New Visions Community Development Corporation, Fort Lauderdale, FL; Old Towne East, Columbus, OH; Seward Redesign, Minneapolis, MN; South of South Neighbor-hood Association, Philadelphia, PA; Swannanoa Community Visioning Group, Swannanoa, NC.

Each community will have access to technical assistance from pedestrian safety experts. Planned activities range from conducting pedestrian safety audits and hosting educational workshops to implementing small-scale engineering improvements.

To order a free copy of A Resident's Guide for Creating Safe and Walkable Communities, visit

University of North Carolina, Highway Safety Research Center

Now Available: A Multicultural Primer For State Highway Safety Offices

The Governors Highway Safety Association® has developed a report to assist State Highway Safety Offices in their outreach to multicultural groups. The report, Closing the Circle: A Multicultural Primer for State Highway Safety Offices, is designed to help States meet Federal requirements for outreach to communities with limited English proficiency and ultimately to increase awareness of traffic safety among multicultural groups.

The report demonstrates the importance of reaching this audience, citing that these groups currently represent about one-third of the U.S. population and are overrepresented in motor vehicle crashes. The guidelines in the report are intended to help State Highway Safety Offices understand and overcome barriers to communication and develop effective traffic safety messages and programs.

Specifically, the guide recommends taking a group's culture and traditions into account when developing messages. Successful outreach to Native Americans, for example, should respect tribal jurisdiction and convey a respect for elders and ancient cultural traditions. When communicating with African-American audiences, the guide suggests enlisting the help of religious leaders to deliver safety messages because the church is a longstanding and respected institution in the community.

In addition, the report includes appendixes with information on cultural characteristics of key multicultural groups in the United States and contact information for Federal and State agencies and organizations.

For more information, visit

Governors Highway Safety Association

Case Studies Highlight Regions' Planning for Operations

Planning for Operations, a joint program of the FHWA Offices of Planning and Operations and the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Office of Planning and Environment, has compiled six case studies to illustrate the benefits of planning for operations. The case studies provide examples of how planners and operators are working together through an objectives-driven, performance-based approach to improve operations in their geographic areas.

FHWA and FTA culled the case studies from around the country, including from the Capital District Trans-portation Committee, Albany, NY; Denver Regional Council of Governments, Denver, CO; Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Philadelphia, PA; Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Oakland, CA; Pima Association of Governments, Tucson, AZ; and Wilmington Area Planning Council, Newark, DE. Although goals vary in each case study, the agencies use objectives and performance measurements to guide their operations strategies and implementation.

In Tucson, AZ, one of the areas studied for its planning for  operations, the city's arterial operations and transit work  together, as shown here.

In Tucson, AZ, one of the areas studied for its planning for operations, the city's arterial operations and transit work together, as shown here.

Examples of planning for operations activities detailed in the case studies include strategies to time and coordinate traffic signals in the Denver region, manage traffic congestion and monitor transportation system performance in the Philadelphia metropolitan region, and integrate the congestion management process into planning efforts in the Wilmington metropolitan area.

For more information, visit or contact Rick Backlund at


Volpe Center Appoints New Director

USDOT's Research and Innovative Technology Adminis-tration has appointed Robert C. Johns as director of the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, which helps apply and deploy transportation technologies and policies. As director of the Volpe Center, Johns will draw on his research experience, management skills, and extensive ties in the transportation industry to further the center's work.

Prior to his appointment, Johns was director of the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota. In that role, he more than doubled the revenue for transportation research, education, and outreach at the university, leading the center to the top echelon of university transportation centers in the country. Johns also has more than 20 years of experience in leading Transportation Research Board committees and currently chairs the Technical Activities Council.

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration