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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 74 · No. 3 > Along the Road

November/December 2010
Vol. 74 · No. 3

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-11-001

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 Expands Internship Program for Women

In July 2010, USDOT expanded an internship program designed to encourage young women to pursue careers in transportation. The program expanded from 1 to 10 regions of the country, enabling young women from colleges and universities nationwide to participate.

USDOT's Small Business Transportation Resource Centers are administering the program. The centers, located across the country, provide resources, technical assistance, and outreach to all 50 States and U.S. Territories. Each center is responsible for placing qualified female college students in transportation-related internships in its region.

The expanded program is based on a successful pilot with Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, that began in 2009. The program is part of a broader effort by USDOT to create a pipeline of young women entering the transportation workforce. The USDOT program supports an initiative of the White House to ensure that Federal programs and policies take into account the distinct needs and concerns of women and girls.

For more information, visit www.osdbu.dot.gov/WG.

Technical News

CDOT Investigates Re-Use Options For Traction Sand

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) released a report in June 2010 that explores physical and chemical data on traction sand reclaimed from winter maintenance of the State's mountain roads. The focus of the research was to identify viable alternative, cost-effective uses for used traction sand to minimize disposal in landfills.

A researcher shovels a sample of reclaimed traction sand from a collection site on Berthoud Pass (U.S. 40) near Winter Park, CO.
A researcher shovels a sample of reclaimed traction sand from a collection site on Berthoud Pass (U.S. 40) near Winter Park, CO.

According to the report, Investi-gation of Re-Use Options for Used Traction Sand (CDOT-2010-4), street sweepers reclaim approximately 50 percent of the 24,000 tons (21,772 metric tons) of traction sand CDOT applies annually in the mountainous areas of Colorado. The Colorado researchers examined data on reclaimed traction sand and concluded that the sand can be reused without posing a risk to human safety. Findings indicate that an aggregate material that meets many CDOT specifications could be prepared often at a lower cost by combining the reclaimed materials with a coarse aggregate supplement.

For more information, visit www.coloradodot.info/programs/research/pdfs/2010/tractionsand/at_download/file.

CDOT

Policy and Legislation

FHWA Releases Green Procurement Guide

The Federal Government is one of the largest purchasers in the world, suggesting an obligation and opportunity to be a responsible environmental steward by choosing green products and thus leveraging this purchasing power. At the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), a new Green Procurement Guide encourages personnel involved in acquisition planning to purchase and use green products.

The Green Procurement Guide is designed to promote purchasing of designated recycled-content products; energy- and water-efficient products; biobased, environmentally preferable products and services; alternative fuel vehicles and alternative fuels; and non-ozone-depleting substances. The guide also advises purchasers to seek alternatives to products that contain cadmium, lead, mercury, and other priority chemicals identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to the guide, when FHWA personnel review or draft procurement specifications, they should indicate a preference for these types of products and items to the maximum extent practicable.

In addition to environmental benefits, the Green Procurement Guide might help FHWA reduce operational costs. For example, buying re-refined motor oil and then sending the used oil to the producer to re-refine it, significantly reduces disposal and waste management costs.

For more information, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/legsregs/directives/orders/gppg041910.htm#rmbp1.

Public Information and Information Exchange

Small Maryland Town Builds a Green Street

Edmonston, MD, is a small, working-class town situated at sea level within the Anacostia Watershed, just outside Washington, DC. Until recently, the town was plagued with flooding due to an inadequate stormwater management system and increased stormwater runoff from surrounding communities. Edmonston leaders spearheaded an effort to redesign the town's main residential street to help prevent flooding and make it more sustainable, safe, and attractive.

The focus of the redesign was to prevent flooding and stop runoff from polluting the Anacostia River and ultimately Chesapeake Bay. The redesign employs bioretention cells (raingardens) and permeable pavement (bricks and asphalt that allow water to flow into the ground). The system is designed to capture the first 1.33 inches (3.4 centimeters) of rainfall during a storm, which equates to approximately 90 percent of stormwater during a typical year.

The redesign, completed in fall 2010, also incorporates other sustainable design practices such as restoring the native tree canopy, installing energy-efficient streetlights powered by wind, and making the street and sidewalks more accommodating to pedestrians and bicyclists. The street now boasts wider sidewalks, bike lanes, bumpouts to narrow the road and slow traffic speeds, and access to a regional bike trail network.

The town leadership hopes that other cities along the watershed will see the many benefits of their street redesign and follow their example. To help encourage other cities, town officials have placed the project's engineering and design drawings on the town Web site at www.edmonstonmd.gov. Edmonston Mayor Adam Ortiz says the town is hoping to make a statement and create a ripple effect. "If our little working class town can build a green street, any place can and every place should," says Ortiz.

For more information, visit www.edmonstonmd.gov

Decatur Street in Edmonston, MD, after a redesign using practices to manage stormwater and a number of sustainability practices such as permeable asphalt and bike lanes (at far left).
Decatur Street in Edmonston, MD, after a redesign using practices to manage stormwater and a number of sustainability practices such as permeable asphalt and bike lanes (at far left).

Crash-Test Dummies Added to Smithsonian

USDOT recently donated "Vince and Larry" crash test dummy costumes and related automobile safety items to the Smithsonian Institution. The costumes and objects are now part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

Beginning in 1985, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) promoted highway safety through a series of public service announcements (PSAs) starring actors dressed as talking crash-test dummies named Vince and Larry. The PSAs aired on television and radio and also ran in magazines. The campaign, conducted through 1998, used slapstick humor and comical antics to remind people of the importance of wearing their seatbelts.

To mark the 25th anniversary of these award-winning PSAs, NHTSA officially transferred the costumes to the Smithsonian during a ceremony in July 2010. As a result of the crash-test dummy campaign and newer campaigns such as "Click It or Ticket," NHTSA estimates a record 84 percent of Americans now use seatbelts.

NHTSA

FHWA Updates Intersection Resources Library CD-ROM

FHWA recently updated its Intersection Resources Library CD-ROM (FHWA-SA-09-027), a resource that brings together a broad cross section of publications, educational materials, and other media related to intersections. The CD-ROM is available at http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/resources/fhwasa09027.

FHWA organized the CD-ROM into five broad topic categories, including traditional signalized intersections, traditional unsignalized intersections, roundabouts, highway/rail grade crossings, and alternative intersection designs such as single-point intersections. The resources are all published by FHWA or its transportation safety partners.

CD-ROM users can hunt for information by keyword search or browse by title, author, or topic. When a user clicks on a resource, an abstract appears that includes the title, author, publisher, year, and description of the resource. From the abstract page, users can download the resource or access it via an external Web link, if available.

The CD-ROM also contains a list of links to related Web sites such as the FHWA Safety Program page and pages of FHWA partners such as the Transportation Research Board. The "Related Sites" list also includes additional training resources such as relevant courses available through the National Highway Institute.

Missouri Coalition Redesigns Highway Safety Web Site

The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, a statewide safety advocate group that aims to create safer roads, recently redesigned its Web site (see www.saveMOlives.com). The site features eye-catching graphics, videos, news and information, and driving tips, as well as advice on how to "Arrive Alive" -- also the group's current campaign slogan.

The redesigned site not only looks different, but also the content is more streamlined and organized. The home page highlights the latest news, events, regional pages, and safe driving information. The site also has a more prominent social media focus, employing quick links to Facebook, Twitter, and a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) newsfeed on the bottom of each page.

Screen grab from the "Arrive Alive” Web site at www.savemolives.com. The screen grab shows a teenager text messaging while driving. Text above the teen says, “Don’t Make It UR Last MSG. You Text. You Drive. You Lose."

According to Leanna Depue, chair of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety's Executive Committee, "We really wanted an updated Web site that would grab people's attention and present our safety information in the best way possible." The coalition's goal is to reduce Missouri road fatalities to 850 or fewer by 2012. The 2009 number stands at 878, a decrease of 31 percent since 2005.

For more information, visit www.saveMOlives.com.

Missouri Department of Transportation

Now Available: Video on Modern Roundabouts

Roundabouts are one-way, circular intersections that eliminate some traffic conflicts, such as left turns across opposing traffic, which sometimes contribute to severe crashes at traditional intersections. FHWA has produced a video, "Modern Roundabouts: A Safer Choice" (FHWA-SA-10-023), that reveals the operational and safety benefits of installing modern roundabout intersections.

The video discusses the benefits of modern roundabouts as compared to stop-controlled and signalized intersections. Benefits include increased safety, improved traffic flow, reduced emissions, lower costs, and community livability. A portion of the video demonstrates how roundabouts are safer for other types of road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists because of slower traffic speeds and elimination of turns across crosswalks, among other reasons.

The video asks the question, "With all of these benefits, why aren't all transportation agencies building modern roundabout intersections?" It then discusses one of the biggest challenges for the installation of roundabouts: public acceptance. According to the video, even individuals who are skeptical of a roundabout before it is implemented usually are convinced after seeing the time savings and safety benefits. As with all new traffic treatments, FHWA recommends thorough public education, effective signing, and pavement markings to educate drivers.

To download the video, visit http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/roundabouts/#video. A transcript of the video also is available online.

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