Featuring developments in Federal highway policies, programs, and research and technology.
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|Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 77 · No. 4 > Along the Road|
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-14-002
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
Administrator Mendez Celebrates Opening of DFW Connector
Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez joined State and local officials at the opening of the DFW Connector, a $1.1 billion transportation project designed to improve safety and navigation and minimize congestion around the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Texas. The project received $260 million in Federal funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The DFW Connector project involved reconstructing five highway interchanges to substantially reduce weaving and merging, making the interchanges safer for motorists. The project doubled the number of lanes and installed direct connect ramps where none previously existed. Without the ramps, motorists could have expected delays of up to 10 minutes at traffic signals in each direction. The project also featured managed toll lanes designed to keep traffic moving at 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour at all times, as well as other roadway improvements that will reduce congestion for the 180,000 motorists traveling daily on State Highways 114 and 121 and other roads north of the airport.
The Texas Department of Transportation completed the project 9 months ahead of an already expedited 4-year schedule by using design-build contracting, which employs a single contractor for both design and construction. This project delivery method, encouraged by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) under its Every Day Counts initiative, reduced the timeline of the project by almost half compared to the timeline for the design-bid-build approach.
RITA Awards $63 Million in Research Grants
USDOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Adminis-tration (RITA) announced approximately $63 million in grants to 33 University Transportation Centers (UTCs) to advance research and education programs that address critical U.S. transportation challenges.
UTCs conduct research that directly supports USDOT’s priorities to promote the safe, efficient, and environmentally sound movement of goods and people. UTCs can be a single institution or a consortium of two or more nonprofit institutions of higher education led by one lead institution.
RITA received more than 140 applications for the program. The awarded grantees include five national UTCs, which address national transportation issues in line with USDOT’s key strategic goals. These UTCs each received an award of $2.8 million. Eight regional UTCs, which focus on regional transportation needs, each received an award of $2.59 million. Twenty additional UTCs each received an award of $1.4 million.
UTCs work with regional, State, local, and tribal transportation agencies to help find solutions to challenges that directly affect their communities and the efficiency of the transportation system. The selected universities will research a wide range of issues. Some projects will look at ways to improve health and safety for all users of the transportation system, including bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit users. Others focus on reducing carbon emissions and other environmental impacts of transportation through a transition to zero-emission vehicles and fuels.
The complete list of grant recipients is available at www.rita.dot.gov/utc/about/grant_recipients/html/2013_grant_recipients.html. For more information about the UTC program, visit www.rita.dot.gov/utc.
FHWA Releases Updated IHSDM Software
A new release of FHWA’s Interactive Highway Safety Design Model (IHSDM) software, version 9.0.0, is now available. The software is a suite of analysis tools for evaluating the safety and operational effects of geometric design decisions. The new version provides an update to the Crash Prediction Module (CPM) to include freeway segments. The CPM faithfully implements the predictive method presented in Part C of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Highway Safety Manual.
The updated module includes a beta version of crash prediction capabilities for freeway ramps, collector-distributor roads, and ramp terminals. These capabilities are based on draft Highway Safety Manual materials developed under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program’s Project 17-45, “Enhanced Safety Prediction Methodology and Analysis Tool for Freeways and Interchanges.” The CPM also covers two-lane rural highways, multilane rural highways, urban and suburban arterials, and freeway segments. The IHSDM includes five other evaluation modules applicable to rural two-lane highways: policy review, design consistency, intersection review, traffic analysis, and driver/vehicle.
WSDOT’s Delineator Pilot Project Aims to Improve Visibility and Safety
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will install state-of-the-art barrier delineators and LED shoulder and lane markers to enhance safety on I–90 over Snoqualmie Pass. The department received a grant for the project from FHWA’s Highways for LIFE program in 2012. WSDOT officials believe that the new delineators will improve visibility and safety during low-light times and also require less frequent repair and replacement than older systems.
Roadway markings on this section of I–90 pose an ongoing maintenance challenge. Nearly 29,000 vehicles a day travel over the pass, which is a strategic freight corridor carrying a high percentage of trucks. The annual average snowfall at the summit is more than 36 feet (11 meters). In addition to rain and snow obscuring roadway visibility, plows, studded tires, and tire chains cause heavy wear on pavement striping.
Collisions during low-light times of the day account for more than 40 percent of the total crashes in the Snoqualmie Pass area. More than 75 percent of those low-light crashes occur from late fall to early spring, when lane delineation is most critical.
To better demarcate the pavement edge, WSDOT will use delineators made of reflective signing material mounted on thin aluminum plates bolted onto the concrete barriers along the roadway. These will be installed for 7 miles (11 kilometers) on both sides of the interstate and in the median.
To improve shoulder delineation, the department will recess solar-powered LEDs into the pavement of the shoulders and on median barriers in both directions. WSDOT also will install the LEDs along a half-mile (0.8-kilometer) test section of the eastbound interstate, placing them between the lanes to delineate the stripes as well as along the concrete shoulder barrier.
The project’s goal is to reduce the 3-year average rate of fatalities and injuries on the treated section of I–90 by 20 percent. WSDOT will assess the effectiveness of the two delineation systems, including conducting a collision analysis, for use in difficult or complex detours and work zones around the State.
Public Information and Information Exchange
Report Ranks States with the Busiest Highways
FHWA recently released a report on the Nation’s busiest interstates that shows that motorists drove more than 84.7 billion miles (136.3 billion kilometers) on California highways in 2011--more than 900 times the distance from Earth to the Sun—making the Golden State’s highways the Nation’s most heavily traveled. Overall, vehicles traveled 2.95 trillion miles (4.75 trillion kilometers) on U.S. roads in 2011--the eighth-highest level ever recorded, and nearly double the amount traveled in 1980.
Traffic volume data from 2011, the most recent available, show that I–5 in California was the busiest interstate that year, with 21.4 billion miles (34.3 billion kilometers) traveled. California’s neighboring I–10 and I–110 followed as the second and third busiest interstates, respectively. Los Angeles’ section of the I–405 serves an estimated 379,000 vehicles per day, making it the busiest interstate in any U.S. city.
Texas highways were the second most heavily traveled, with drivers logging more than 55.7 billion miles (89.6 billion kilometers) in 2011, followed by Florida at 34.7 billion miles (55.8 billion kilometers) and Ohio at 31.4 billion miles (50.5 billion kilometers). Illinois, Georgia, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, respectively, round out the top 10.
“Data like these help us better understand the highway system and its needs,” says Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. “Analysis of the Nation’s traffic patterns and areas of changing traffic volume will lead to safer, less congested roads and greater mobility for all Americans.”
FHWA’s Highway Performance Monitoring System computes data on miles traveled for all interstates and highways. These data are based on thousands of automatic traffic recorders operated around the clock by State departments of transportation (DOTs). More comprehensive data are published annually in FHWA’s “Highway Statistics.”
To see a complete list of the data, organized by State and interstate, visit FHWA’s “U.S. Interstate Traffic Volume Analysis” Web page at www.fhwa.dot.gov/interstatebrief2011.
Annual Campaign Against Drunk Driving Focuses on Victims
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2013 Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign against drunk driving included a special focus on victims. NHTSA data show that every 3 hours in the United States, a drunk-driving crash claims the life of someone who was not driving drunk.
Nearly 10,000 people died in 2011 in drunk-driving crashes, according to NHTSA data. That’s 27 people a day. More than one-third of those fatalities--3,371 people--were victims who were not the drunk driver. Of those victims, 1,612 were passengers in a drunk driver’s vehicle, many of them too young to drive, including 91 children under the age of 15 years old. Another 1,049 were traveling in other vehicles involved in a crash with a drunk driver. And 710 victims were pedestrians or bicyclists. The remaining 6,507 deaths in 2011 were the drunk drivers themselves.
From August 16 to September 2, 2013, more than 10,000 police departments and law enforcement agencies across the country were out in force to crack down on impaired drivers in support of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. NHTSA launched a $14 million national advertising campaign to encourage vigilance and raise awareness of the enforcement efforts.
For more information and to view the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over television ads, visit www.nhtsa.gov/drivesober.
AASHTO Presents Winners Of Photography Competition
The American Association of State Highway and Trans-portation Officials (AASHTO) announced the winners of its ninth annual Faces of Transportation photography contest. The national competition challenges State DOT employees and private citizens to photograph people and projects that are making communities better, while emphasizing the importance of transportation.
The theme for the 2013 competition was “A Snapshot of Transportation in America,” which included three new categories: Building the Future, Opening Communities, and Taking the Road Less Traveled. Entry guidelines encouraged submitters to prominently feature people designing, constructing, using, and enjoying the Nation’s transportation systems. AASHTO called for images to represent the positive effects that all modes of transportation have on individuals and communities. Twenty-eight DOT employees from 21 States and 6 private citizens submitted 121 photographs.
Connie Rus, an accomplished photographer and graphic designer based in Washington State, judged the submissions. Rus selected one State DOT and one private citizen as winners in each category, and also chose one photograph as the grand prize winner. In addition, visitors to the competition’s Web site voted for a People’s Choice Award winner.
The grand prize and People’s Choice award-winning photographs both feature laborers at work on prominent sections of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge and were submitted by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). The People’s Choice winner also received a category award. Other category winners include submissions by DOTs in Alaska and Georgia. Three private photographers won category awards with images from California and West Virginia.
For more information and to view the winning photos and other submissions, visit http://facesoftransportation.org.
Washington, British Columbia Host All Electric Vehicle Rally
In June 2013, a dozen electric vehicle owners converged near the U.S.–Canada border to begin a 1,500-mile (2,414- kilometer), 9-day road trip to Mexico using only electric power. Marketed as the BC2BC (British Columbia to Baja California) All Electric Vehicle Rally, the event symbolically connected the charging networks along the West Coast Green Highway, which stretches from the Canadian border through Washington State, Oregon, and California to the Mexican border.
Organizers dubbed the rally’s kickoff the “Golden Plug” celebration to recall the ceremonial Golden Spike that signaled the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in North America. Washington State Deputy Secretary of Transportation Cam Gilmour and Parliamentary Secretary to the British Columbia Premier for Intergovernmental Affairs Norm Letnick spoke at the event. Attendees had the opportunity to test drive the electric vehicles and talk with the rally drivers before the cars set off on their journey.
BC2BC organizer Tony Williams, along with his 10-year-old daughter, completed the same 9-day trip in an electric vehicle in June 2012. That experience led to the creation of BC2BC, an invitational rally that Williams hopes will turn into an annual event high-lighting the Nation’s early investment in electric vehicle transportation.
For more information on the West Coast Green Highway, visit www.westcoastgreenhighway.com.
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