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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations
This magazine is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information.
|Publication Number: Date: Winter 1995|
Issue No: Vol. 59 No. 2
Date: Winter 1995
"Along the Road" is a hodgepodge of items of general interest to the highway community. But this is more than a miscellaneous section; "Along the Road" is the place to look for information about current and upcoming activities, developments, and trends. This information comes from Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.
All Technical Reports Are Available Through NTIS
All federal agencies are required to transfer their unclassified scientific, technical, and engineering information -- developed under federally funded R&D projects -- to the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) for dissemination to the private sector, academia, state and local governments, and other federal agencies. The information products available through NTIS include technical reports, articles, and books; regulations, standards, and specifications; charts, maps, and graphs; software; data collections, data files, and data compilation software; audiovisual products; technology application assessments; training packages; and other federally owned and/or originated technologies.
Senate Backs Ethanol
On Aug. 3, with Vice President Al Gore casting the deciding vote, the Senate ensured that corn-based ethanol will play a significant part in the production of a cleaner-burning fuel for cars. The ethanol fuel will soon be required in nine cities and parts of 13 states cited as having the worst air pollution; the cities are Baltimore, Chicago, Hartford, Houston, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia, and San Diego. Under the Clean Air Act of 1990, the Environmental Protection Agency must require by 1995 that gasoline used in severely polluted areas contain at least 2 percent oxygen so it burns cleaner. At least 30 percent of the additive used to make gasoline burn cleaner must come from a renewable source, and the only widely available additive that meets this requirement at this time is ethanol.
FHWA and Marshall Space Flight Center Sign Interagency Agreement
On Oct. 6, FHWA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), located in Huntsville, Ala., entered into an interagency agreement to collaborate in research and development (R&D) programs for the purpose of exchanging technical data and performing R&D testing. FHWA and MSFC plan to actively search for opportunities to conduct cooperative analytical and experimental test programs for the mutual benefit of both parties in technologies having application to transportation and aerospace. The agreement will facilitate application of NASA technology to a number of problems affecting transportation. Technologies to be considered may include: corrosion-resistant remediation for bridge elements, emergency vehicle and hazard alert systems, automatic weight measurement of vehicles in motion, automatic fog detection and warning systems, system for detecting/displaying vacant parking spaces, advanced technology demonstration for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, nonskid surface treatment for pavements, nondestructive evaluation techniques, and unmanned motor vehicle operation.
IVHS AMERICA Becomes ITS AMERICA
The Intelligent Vehicle-Highway Society of America, known for four years as IVHS AMERICA, adopted a new name -- the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, or ITS AMERICA. On Sept. 13, the new name was ratified at a membership meeting of the society. Dr. James Costantino, the society's executive director, said the new name reflects the growing use of advanced technologies in all modes of surface transportation and intermodal transfer points. The administrators of FHWA, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Federal Railroad Administration are very supportive of the name change and the new emphasis on the more inclusive, intelligent transportation systems perspective. ITS AMERICA is a scientific and educational organization that serves as a Federal Advisory Committee to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Among its members are leading transportation consultants; aerospace and defense firms; major universities and research institutions; the telecommunications, electronic, computer, and transportation industries; and federal, state, and local government agencies.
Students Learn About Transportation Careers
Eleven students from Cardozo TransTech Academy learned first-hand about federal transportation efforts and careers. These students were summer federal-aid assistants to FHWA. The teens discussed their experiences with Administrator Slater at a brown bag lunch; staff from their school participated in the National Civil Rights Conference in Kansas City, serving on a panel entitled "Preparing High School Students for Transportation Careers."
NY Program Prepares Women for Construction Jobs
A new program aimed at training female and minority high school students for careers in construction was announced recently by the New York State DOT. The $4.5 million project aims to supply the state with high-quality construction trainees while helping the targeted students prepare for high-paying, stable jobs. Starting in spring 1995, 30 high school sophomores from each of five metropolitan regions around the state will be recruited to participate in the program.
ITS: How Will It Affect Privacy?
The University of Santa Clara, Calif., recently held an open community hearing on ITS and privacy. Sponsored by U.S. DOT, the hearing explored the meaning and potential application of privacy rights in developing ITS user services.
ITS Equipment Installed in DOT Vehicles
Six U.S. DOT vehicles -- five at headquarters and one in region 5 -- have become "smarter." The cars have been outfitted with in-vehicle navigation devices that provide routing directions by electronic maps, arrow indicators, and voice instructions to locations in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. The region 5 vehicle also can receive real-time traffic information to be used in planning routes in the Chicago area. The Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) devices were developed for the IVHS ADVANCE operational test project involving about 3,000 vehicles in a 777-square-kilometer area northwest of Chicago.
Electronic Toll Collection to Start in New York This Spring
A section of the New York State Thruway running between Albany and Schenectady will become the first read/write electronic toll collection system in the United States. This ITS technology will replace a ticket-based system; the project is part of New York's E-Z PASS electronic toll collection program. The section is scheduled to open in early 1995.
Minnesota Starts Commuter Lot of the Future
The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority is building a futuristic, consumer-oriented commuter lot. The $2.8 million park-and-ride lot, scheduled to open in spring 1995, will handle 600 cars and feature a bus station. Co-located with the station will be day care centers, convenience stores, laundries, and auto service centers. The goal is to make bus travel attractive by providing a -- one-stop shop -- for commuters.
Minnesota Opens High-Tech Roadway Test and Research Facility
The Minnesota Road Research Test Project (Mn/ROAD) was officially opened on Aug. 2. Minnesota's Governor Arne H. Carlson and Transportation Commissioner James N. Denn touted Mn/ROAD as the world's largest and most technologically advanced roadway test and research facility. Deen said that the research conducted at Mn/ROAD, located on I-94 about 65 kilometers northwest of Minneapolis, "will help us learn how to extend the life of roads. That information will result in less maintenance, reduced construction costs, greater mobility-in-effect, better service for motorists" in Minnesota and in all cold-weather states and countries. Since Minnesota spends more than $300 million annually on its highway construction program, the $25 million cost of Mn/ROAD is a wise investment according to Denn. Mn/ROAD will support 75 research projects. There are almost nine kilometers of testing roadway at Mn/ROAD. More than 4,500 electronic sensors installed in the 40 different pavement test sections will be monitored. Two types of roadways -- a high-volume, high-speed roadway and a low-volume roadway -- were constructed at Mn/ROAD to collect information that will benefit all types of roads from interstate highways to gravel township roads. Minnesota DOT's partners in Mn/ROAD include the Minnesota Asphalt Pavement Association, Concrete Paving Association of Minnesota, Minnesota Local Road Research Board, University of Minnesota, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FHWA, Federal Aviation Administration, and the Finnish National Road Administration.
- Minnesota Department of Transportation
Tennessee Project Targets Older Drivers
Construction is under way on a project intended to improve the visibility of roadway markings for older drivers. The project is testing a variety of marking types and configurations on a portion of the access road to Fairfield Glade, a retirement community in central Tennessee. The residents of Fairfield Glade have been very receptive to this project and will help evaluate the different marking types through a survey printed in their community newspaper.
Defense Technology May Be Used in Soil Review
FHWA recently signed a cooperative agreement with BBN, Inc., to conduct a research study on the "Use of Buried Land-Mine Detection Technology for the Measurement of Soil Compaction." The project's objective is to determine if this defense industry technology can be used for civilian construction work involving road embankments or pipe backfill projects. This cooperative agreement is the first to be awarded and administered by FHWA using funds provided by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense.
GIS Data Base Goes Internet
FHWA recently placed its National Highway System Geographic Information System (GIS) data base onto the DOT data base server accessible via Internet. From now on, GIS will be available to all Internet users around the world.
Instrumentation Under Way on Latest LTPP Test Road
Six universities are participating in the instrumenting of 38 separate test sections on U.S. 23 in central Ohio's Delaware County. This test road is jointly funded by Ohio DOT and FHWA and is part of the Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) program. Four Specific Pavement Study sections will be placed, instrumented, and analyzed for up to 20 years. This road is one of the largest test sites to be built under the Strategic Highway Research Program.
Florida Monitors Red-Light Running
The Polk County Community Traffic Safety Program (CTSP), the most successful of Florida's eight active CTSP teams, continues to lead the nation by its comprehensive application of CTSP principles. One of the team's proactive efforts is the installation of cameras at several intersections to identify red-light runners. This is part of an FHWA demonstration project to evaluate automated enforcement equipment. The project represents the first installation in this country of this technology to monitor an intersection.
Washington State Projects Reflect Public-Private Transportation Initiative
Most freeways in the Central Puget Sound area (Seattle, Tacoma, Everett) could become private enterprise tollways, partly or entirely, under six proposals given preliminary approval late this summer. Proposed improvements would be financed by a reported $2.4 billion in private investment and $167 million of state or federal funds. Automatic vehicle identification will be used extensively in the projects.
ADVANTAGE I-75 Testing Completed
ADVANTAGE I-75 partners expected to complete verification testing in October 1994 on four of 30 planned Mainline Automated Clearance System (MACS) sites designated to reduce congestion, increase efficiency, and enhance safety of motor carriers operating on the 3,200-kilometer north-south corridor. The partners are FHWA; the DOTs of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario; and the motor carrier industry. ADVANTAGE I-75 was formed in 1990 to prove that ITS technologies can be applied now, at moderate cost, to achieve tangible benefits. The federal government is providing 80 percent of the estimated $12 million cost of the project. For the test, two northbound and two southbound commercial vehicle weigh stations in Kentucky were equipped with MACS and 220 trucks were outfitted with transponders to test the system and identify potential problems. Exact time, date, location, weight, and axle data are electronically communicated between the transponder and MACS when a truck approaches the weigh station. Plans now call for installing MACS at all 30 weigh stations on the I-75/Route 401 corridor from Miami, Fla., to Belleville, Ontario, and to equip 4,500 trucks with transponders for the operational test to start in May 1995. The goal of MACS is to allow transponder-equipped and properly documented trucks to travel any segment of the corridor at posted speeds with no more than one stop at an inspection station.
- ITS AMERICA
ATIS Deployed in Japan
Japan's Advanced Traffic Information Service (ATIS) Corporation has very rapidly become the major supplier of advanced traveler information in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Formed as a joint venture between the city of Tokyo and private sector interests, ATIS began in February 1994 to provide real-time traffic and related information to personal computers and other types of terminals in homes, offices, and in-vehicle displays. The information is carried over telephone lines, cellular radio, and cable television networks. According to Japanese transportation officials, the company has outpaced radio stations, highway advisory radio broadcasters, and variable message signs in providing information on traffic flow and congestion, estimated overall travel time and travel time between specified points, ramp closures, incident and construction reporting, and parking availability at specified locations. The company plans to add event, weather, intermodal (air, rail, and sea), and statistical traffic information to its service, available 24 hours per day, in the near future.
- ITS AMERICA
University of Kentucky Builds All-Plastic Bridge
The longest all-plastic bridge in the United States was designed and is being built by engineers from the University of Kentucky. The approximately 18-meter-long pedestrian bridge in the Daniel Boone National Forest is being made entirely of fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP), a composite material similar to that used in aircraft, missiles, and ships. The bridge is one component of a project, funded by a $435,810 grant by the Department of Defense, to find civilian uses for advanced technologies originally developed for military applications. Construction of the bridge is expected to be completed in 1995. FRP is significantly less expensive than steel, wood, or reinforced concrete. Previous studies indicate the plastic bridges are strong and virtually immune to deterioration from exposure to harsh environments. Also, a lightweight plastic bridge can be built at one location and then transported by aircraft to an isolated site.
- University of Kentucky
Commercial Vehicle Inspectors Compete in Tampa
The second annual International Inspectors Competition was held in August during the American Trucking Associations' (ATA) National Truck Driving Championships in Tampa, Fla. The five-day competition, called Challenge '94, was sponsored by U.S. DOT, ATA, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, and the Nevada Highway Patrol. Challenge '94 was a test of 55 top commercial vehicle inspectors from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The competition focuses attention on the need for uniform inspection and enforcement throughout North America; the uniformity ensures safety and efficiency on the road. The top winners of Challenge '94 were Donald P. Johnson Jr., Virginia State Police, International Champion; Sharon Wylie, Oregon Public Utility Commission, Driver Inspection Champion; Martin Thomsen, Alberta Motor Transport Services, Vehicle Inspection Champion; and Dennis Maurice, Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles, Hazardous Materials Inspection Champion.
94 Removes Unsafe Vehicles/Drivers From the Road
Roadcheck '94, a large coordinated international safety check of commercial motor vehicles, was conducted June 7-9. Enforcement officials from 49 states, 12 Canadian provinces and territories, and FHWA conducted 46,373 inspections at about 300 locations throughout the United States and Canada. The primary objective was to remove unsafe vehicles and drivers from the highways. During this 72-hour effort, 11,546 trucks (24.9 percent) and 2,635 truck drivers (5.7 percent) were not allowed to leave the inspection site until safety deficiencies were corrected. Compared to last year's Roadcheck '93, this is an increase of more than 3 percent in deficient vehicles and more than 1 percent in unsafe drivers. Inspectors also checked 899 buses, of which 279 underwent full inspections including an examination of the underside; 51 bus drivers (5.7 percent) and 60 (21.7 percent) of the fully inspected buses were put out of service. The prevalent reason for ordering vehicles out of service continues to be defective brakes.
Georgia recently started up a "* DOT" program in metropolitan Atlanta. Under this program, cellular phone users can call Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) free of charge to report debris in the roadway, vehicular crashes, stalled vehicles, etc. The program was made possible through a public-private partnership between Bell South, Air Touch Cellular, and Georgia DOT. The two cellular carriers provide the free calls; Georgia DOT is providing operators for the system.
World Congress Abstracts Available on ITS Clearinghouse
English-language abstracts of the more than 500 papers presented at the first ITS World Congress from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, 1994, in Paris are available on the International ITS Information Clearinghouse. Other ITS AMERICA publications can also be ordered on line through the clearinghouse. Public sector organizations, professional societies, colleges and universities, and other bona fide technical and professional groups who are considering membership in ITS AMERICA or have a demonstrable interest in ITS technologies and services can apply for a 60-day, no-cost, trial subscription to the clearinghouse. Call 1-800-37-IVHS to get more information on this trial offer and the clearinghouse.
- ITS AMERICA
Additional GPS Data Released
FHWA's LTPP Division has released additional General Pavement Studies (GPS) data to the public from the LTPP Information Management System (IMS). This is the sixth time that the LTPP program has provided data from nearly 800 GPS sections throughout the United States and Canada. An effort is under way to process Specific Pavement Studies (SPS) data into IMS to enable the release of SPS data in December 1994. This is the first time that SPS data is available from IMS. Data from all categories of LTPP can be requested from the Transportation Research Board, where the National IMS is maintained. The LTPP data is available free of charge to all state, provincial, and federal highway agencies; a handling charge of $75 is applied to other requestors.
Carlson Retires as Executive Director of FHWA
On Oct. 1, E. Dean Carlson, executive director of FHWA, retired after more than 36 years of federal service. Carlson served for five years as the top career executive in FHWA. Previously he was the associate administrator for engineering and program development, and he served as regional administrator of Region 7 in Kansas City, Mo. Carlson received many distinguished awards for his service, including the 1990 Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive in the Senior Executive Service, several senior executive service performance awards, and the FHWA Administrator's Award. Carlson said he had no specific retirement plans beyond taking the next few months off, but he will maintain an interest in the federal-aid highway program. As of Nov. 1, a replacement had not been announced.
Kissinger Appointed Vice President of CERF
J. Peter Kissinger, the current director of the Highway Innovative Technology Evaluation Center (HITEC) at the Civil Engineering Research Foundation (CERF), was appointed a vice president of CERF. In announcing this appointment, CERF president Harvey Bernstein noted that HITEC had exceeded expectations by evolving from an action plan in early 1993 to a fully operational service center with 19 clients under contract. Bernstein said that the appointment reflects both the importance CERF places on HITEC and the contributions of Kissinger as center director. Kissinger will remain as HITEC director.
- Civil Engineering Research Foundation
Johnson Directs FHWA's Joint IVHS Office
In July 1994, Christine Johnson took charge of the FHWA's new Joint Intelligent Vehicle-Highway Systems (IVHS) Program Office. Johnson works closely with the Federal Transit Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to provide direction and oversight for DOT's intermodal IVHS program. Johnson came to FHWA from Parsons Brinckerhoff where she was vice president. She has been a member of the ITS AMERICA Board of Directors since 1991. Other positions that Johnson held include assistant commissioner of policy and planning for the New Jersey DOT and director of the Office of Transportation Planning for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. She holds a doctorate in public policy analysis and a masters degree in urban transportation planning.
Human Factors Research Results to be Presented at ITE Meeting
On Aug. 5-8, 1995, the Human Factors Team of FHWA's Office of Safety and Traffic Operations R&D will sponsor a series of sessions and panels at the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Annual Meeting in Denver, Colo. The team will present significant research results to the transportation user community. Sessions and panels will cover the FHWA Human Factors in ITS program, including human factors in the Automated Highway System, Advanced Traveler Information Systems, Advanced Traffic Management Systems, and Commercial Vehicle Operations; operational tests; international developments; and the Human Factors in Highway Safety program, including traffic operation controls, symbol signs, pavement marking and delineation, geometric design, and modeling. For further information, contact Bernadette Gregorian at (703) 749-8912 or Roberta Mathias at (703) 285-2403.