U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
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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: Nov/Dec 1998|
Issue No: Vol. 62 No. 3
Date: Nov/Dec 1998
"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 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.
Policy and Legislation
China Ratifies Kyoto Agreement
China has added its name to the growing list of nations who have signed the Kyoto Protocol, a historic agreement made in Kyoto, Japan, which limits emissions of carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gases." The Kyoto Protocol calls for industrialized nations to reduce their average national emissions over the period 2008-2012 to about five percent below 1990 levels. China is the 37th nation to sign the agreement.
Nationwide, two-thirds of the carbon monoxide emissions come from transportation sources, with the largest contribution coming from highway motor vehicles. In urban areas, the motor vehicle contribution to carbon monoxide pollution can exceed 90 percent.
The United States pledged to reduce its emissions by seven percent below the 1990 level, slightly less than the European Union and slightly more than Japan. In 1992, carbon monoxide levels exceeded the federal air quality standard in 20 U.S. cities, home to more than 14 million people.
Texas Law Makes Left-Lane Driving Illegal
The 75th Texas Legislature passed a law making it illegal for drivers to continuously drive in the left-most lane on any highway that has more than one lane with vehicles traveling in the same direction. Fines will be assessed in areas where the Texas Department of Transportation has posted signs warning: "left lane for passing only." Drivers who disobey this law can be fined up to $200.
Management and Administration
Highway Construction Costs Are Up
Highway construction costs increased 3.8 percent in the second quarter of 1998, and decreased 5.98 percent compared to the second quarter a year ago.
The second quarter results raised FHWA's composite index for highway construction costs to 124.2 percent of the 1987 base index (1987 average costs equal 100 percent).
A large increase in the unit price for bituminous concrete raised the index in the second quarter. There were decreases in the unit prices for portland cement concrete, common excavation, structural concrete, structural steel, and reinforcing steel.
Trends in highway construction costs are measured by an index of average contract prices compiled from reports of state highway contract awards for federal-aid contracts greater than $500,000.
SIB Program Changes with TEA-21
TEA-21 establishes a new SIB pilot program under which four states - California, Florida, Missouri, and Rhode Island - may capitalize their banks with federal transportation funds authorized for fiscal years 1998 through 2003. This means that there are technically now two state infrastructure bank (SIB) pilot programs.
SIBs, infrastructure investment funds that can be created at the state or regional level to make loans and provide assistance to surface transportation projects, give officials flexible sources of funding. This funding often gives vital construction projects the push they need to move from drawing boards into development.
Thirty-nine states are currently authorized to establish SIBs and 35 states (including Puerto Rico) may continue under the initial pilot program (SIB 95) that was established under the National Highway System (NHS) Designation Act of 1995.
California, Florida, Missouri, and Rhode Island are now effectively part of two pilots. They will continue to operate under SIB 95, and they will also have the opportunity to expand their SIB programs under the new TEA-21 pilot, SIB 98.
SIB 98 removes the 10-percent limit on capitalization with eligible program categories; does not require separate highway and transit accounts, but does require separate tracking for the use of Interstate and rail funds; broadens project eligibility from highway and transit capital projects; applies federal requirements to all SIB-assisted projects; and replaces the existing nine-year disbursement schedule for federal capitalization funds with a five-year disbursement schedule of 20 percent per year.
Rural Traffic Simulation Model Refined A software simulation model of traffic on two-lane highways, called TWOPAS, now has a new beta-version interface for WindowsT/NT. With this new interface, researchers can enter road and traffic data into a computer and view simulation results more easily. TWOPAS can automatically calculate sight distances and no-passing zones based on road geometrics and roadside obstructions.
TWOPAS is a significant step toward the mainstreaming of rural traffic simulation and eventually will be fully integrated with the computerized freeway and urban network simulations model called CORISM.
The Windowssm TWOPAS will serve as the traffic module of the Interactive Highway Safety Design Model (IHSDM), a multi-year program under the direction of FHWA's Safety Design Division, Office of Research and Development. All six of the IHSDM modules - the vehicle dynamics module, design consistency module, accident analysis module, driver performance module, policy review module, and traffic assessment module - are planned to be integrated into a single model by FHWA's Geometric Design Laboratory. The program will enable roadway designers and design reviewers to assess the potential safety effects of specific geometric design decisions.
FHWA Evaluates Air Void Analyzer
FHWA's Office of Technology Applications (OTA) is evaluating a device called the Air Void Analyzer (AVA). AVA measures the amount of air in fresh concrete and provides information about the size and spacing of air bubbles within the concrete.
Air bubbles that occur in freshly mixed concrete leave empty spaces once the concrete hardens. These empty spaces act as "shock absorbers" and protect the concrete when water freezes and expands in the mortar. Having these empty spaces helps the concrete survive cycles of freezing caused by deicer salts. How well these spaces protect the concrete depends on the size and shape of the original air bubble. Since air bubbles in concrete add to the concrete's strength, researchers want to develop a mix that contains just the right amount of bubbles. One method to measure these bubbles is to allow the concrete to harden and then examine a specimen under a microscope. However, AVA provides an alternative to that procedure, which allows researchers to examine the bubbles in the concrete before it hardens.
In the AVA, air is released into a viscous liquid, forming air bubbles. These bubbles rise through a water column over the viscous liquid, and are collected under a buoyancy recorder. The AVA's computer records the time and the amount of air trapped in the chamber. Researchers then prepare a test report detailing air content, size distribution, and spacing.
The AVA device is currently on loan to the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT). MDOT will supply an evaluation report of the device. Researchers hope that the AVA can serve as an effective quality control tool in the field.
Public Information and Information Exchange
H-3 Wins 1998 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award
Interstate H-3 in Oahu, Hawaii, was named the 1998 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award (OCEA) from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). (See article "Pride and Partnership: Completing the Interstate H-3," Public Roads, May/June 1998, p. 29). This national award is presented annually to civil engineering projects that contribute to community well-being, demonstrate resourcefulness in planning and solving design challenges, and use innovative construction methods.
This new interstate was opened to the public on Dec. 2, 1997, and was the largest and most expensive public works project ever completed in Hawaii. H-3 was built to alleviate congestion on the highly trafficked commuter routes of Oahu.
FHWA Awards Organizations for Educating Racing Fans
Federal Highway Administration's Deputy Administrator, Gloria Jeff, presented awards to Nashville Speedway U.S.A. and the Tennessee Trucking Association for their efforts to educate racing fans about how to safely "Share the Road" with large trucks.
FHWA will have a second No-Zone truck, provided by M.S. Carriers, at the NASCAR race to distribute No-Zone literature and display No-Zone safety materials.
The No-Zone public highway safety campaign includes radio and print public service announcements, driver education materials, and a Web site address (www.nozone.org).
NDE Research Facility Opens
The FHWA Nondestructive Evaluation Validation Center (NDEVC), the only center in the world dedicated entirely to the validation of nondestructive evaluation (NDE) technologies for highway infrastructure, opened at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) in McLean, Va. The center, initiated by congressional funding in 1996, expands the capabilities of TFHRC by providing a unique resource to improve the reliability of NDE techniques.
The center is comprised of three elements: a laboratory, test sites, and a specimen library. The newly renovated laboratory at TFHRC will act as the nucleus of the center, providing space for the testing of NDE methods. Seven test bridges, located in Virginia and Pennsylvania, will serve as field test sites. This allows NDE technologies to be evaluated under realistic conditions. A library of components specimens from bridges around the country have been removed from highway bridges and shipped to TFHRC to become part of the NDEVC specimen library. These specimens are sections of bridges containing realistic defects which can be studied and used to develop new NDE techniques and to test existing procedures and methods.
The innovative center provides a unique resource for state departments of transportation and university and industrial researchers involved in the development and application of NDE technologies. This FHWA resource will help develop new technologies aimed at improving the safety and efficiency of our nation's highways.
For more information on the center, please contact Glenn Washer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is seeking vendors to apply for a prequalification in the following service classifications:
Individuals and firms can apply for prequalification by submitting a Service Prequalification Application. Write to Michigan Department of Transportation, Financial Services Division, Agreements Section, Service Prequalification, P.O. Box 30050, Lansing, MI 48909 to receive an application.
FHWA and NSPE Form Partnership
FHWA and the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) have agreed to a partnership aimed at fostering interest in engineering careers and improving the skills of transportation professionals. FHWA and NSPE will coordinate efforts with young people to encourage interests in transportation issues and careers; participate in National Transportation Week and National Engineers Week; improve the skills of transportation professionals through FHWA's National Highway Institute; and participate as exhibitors, co-sponsors, and presenters at conferences sponsored by FHWA and NSPE.
Alcohol-Related Deaths Drop in 1997
The percentage of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the United States dropped to a historic low in 1997. Last year, 38.6 percent of all traffic fatalities were alcohol-related, down from 40.9 percent in 1996.
Tough impaired-driving legislation has encouraged states to adopt .08 blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) as the national standard for drunken driving. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) authorized $500 million in incentive grants to states that adopt .08 BAC laws.
In February 1995, partners in the highway safety effort set a goal of reducing alcohol-related traffic deaths to 11,000 annually by the year 2005. In April 1998, Secretary Slater added aggressive driving to the department's comprehensive strategy to improve highway safety, ranking it with drunken driving and seatbelt use as top highway safety priorities.
ADOT Deploys ITS Technologies
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) unveiled the Interstate 40 (I-40) Traveler and Tourist Information System (TTIS) in Flagstaff, Ariz. The I-40 TTIS is deploying a variety of Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technologies along the I-40 Corridor in northern Arizona. These technologies include road weather information systems (RWIS), still-frame video cameras, variable message signs, information kiosks, and ADOT's Trailmaster Highway Closure and Restriction System (HCRS).
Through these ITS technologies, highway agencies can better monitor travel conditions and provide current information to travelers. The I-40 corridor, which experiences severe elevation and weather conditions, handles heavy tourist traffic.
Arizona was one of two states to receive FHWA Field Operations Test funds ($250,000) to deploy a traveler information system in a rural tourist area. The FHWA ITS funds were used to leverage a $3.0 million project effort, which included other public and private funding sources.
HITEC and Center for Transportation Research Sign MOU
The Highway Innovative Technology Evaluation Center (HITEC), a service center of the Civil Engineering Research Foundation (CERF), has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Center for Transportation Research (CTR) of Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech).
This partnership will allow HITEC, which is nationally recognized for evaluating innovative technology, to use the resources and testing facilities at CTR to conduct their evaluations.
CTR is a program of Virginia Tech dedicated to research of advanced transportation technologies, especially intelligent transportation systems. Smart Road, a test bed and track built by the Commonwealth of Virginia, is managed by CTR.
This MOU encourages HITEC and CTR to promote their mutual programs and participate in joint conferences, workshops, and other events where they can publicize their services and seek support from highway industry sectors.
CFLHD Honored as Company of the Year
Central Federal Lands Highway Division (CFLHD) was honored as Company of the Year by Bayaud Industries. The award honored the CFLHD's National Industries for the Severely Handicapped contract, which has grown from one support position to four. CFLHD offered development opportunities for Bayaud Industries employees.
FHWA Recognizes CDOT and Others for Civil Rights Work
FHWA recognized the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for increasing the representation of minorities and women in transportation and two FHWA employees for excellence in civil rights programs.
CDOT received a "Breaking the Glass Ceiling" award during the National Transportation Civil Rights Conference held Aug. 24-26 in Denver. Civil rights awards were presented to David S. Nelson, assistant division administrator for the FHWA's Arizona Division office, and William Van Luchene, a transportation specialist in the agency's Alabama Division.
CDOT was recognized for its success in increasing the representation of minorities and women in management and for promoting balance between family life and work activities through flexible work hours and job sites.
Nelson and Van Luchene received the agency's Aleman-Parker Award for Excellence in Civil Rights. The award is named after Lucio Aleman Jr. and Jerry L. Parker, two FHWA employees who died in the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995.
Kelley S. Coyner was named administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA). Nominated by President Clinton last June, Coyner is the first Senate-confirmed woman to serve as administrator for the agency.
Coyner joined RSPA as director of the Office of Policy and Program Support in 1994. Since then, she has served as deputy administrator and acting administrator.
Coyner took the lead in establishing the Garrett Morgan Transportation and Technology Futures Program, an education initiative created by Secretary Slater (see Public Roads article, "The Garrett A. Morgan Program: Shaping the Future of Transportation," January/February, p. 33). She also helped develop legislation to improve pipeline safety and environmental protection, which now is part of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). TEA-21 guarantees a record $198 billion investment in surface transportation over the next six years.
Sutton Appointed Associate Administrator for Policy
Walter L. Sutton Jr. was appointed FHWA associate administrator for policy. Sutton previously served as a senior attorney with the Fina Oil and Chemical Company located in Dallas, Texas.
As associate administrator for policy, Sutton serves as part of the administrator's immediate office; serves as the principal advisor to the administrator on FHWA international program activities and on FHWA policy as it relates to FHWA missions, programs, and objectives; and in this capacity, participates fully in FHWA policy determinations and program formulation; and provides executive direction over the activities of the following organizational elements: Office of International Programs, Office of Policy Development, and the Office of Highway Information Management.
Sutton holds bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration, a doctorate degree in management science, and a juris doctorate.
FHWA Announces Organizational Changes and Leadership Positions
On Sept. 23, Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle formally announced the organizational changes that FHWA is making in both its field structures and headquarters.These changes include organizationally abolishing all nine regional offices, effective Oct. 1, and officially establishing resource centers in Baltimore; Atlanta; Olympia Fields, Ill.; and San Francisco. These field resource centers will support the mission of FHWA by providing technical and program assistance, promoting technology deployment and adoption of best practices, developing and providing training, and assisting in intermodal and interagency coordination.
The new headquarters organization structure focuses resources on core businesses aligned with our future strategic goals and objectives. The new structure as currently planned will include five core business areas: Infrastructure, Planning and Environment, Operations, Motor Carrier and Highway Safety, and Federal Lands Highways. The headquarters organization will be supported by eight cross-cutting units: Policy; Administration; Research, Development, and Technology; Chief Counsel; Civil Rights; Public Affairs; Professional Development; and Corporate Management. Implementation of the new headquarters reorganization will begin Jan. 1, 1999.
The following people have been selected for key leadership positions:
An indepth discussion of FHWA's restructuring will be featured in the next issue of Public Roads.
Public Awareness Symposium Slated for December
A national symposium entitled, "Getting Our Message Out: Elevating Public Awareness of Transportation Issues," will be held Dec. 3-4, 1998, in Alexandria, Va.
Co-sponsored by a wide range of transportation-related organizations, the symposium will bring transportation marketers and communicators together to consider how to achieve three goals: elevating public awareness of transportation issues, enhancing the public image of the transportation community, and breaking down the barriers among the various disciplines involved in communication in the transportation sector.
The two-day symposium will showcase recent examples of effective public communications strategies and campaigns in the transportation community and will provide instructional opportunities where attendees can sharpen their skills. Speakers will include Steve Nesbitt, "Voice of Mission Control" at NASA/Houston, who will discuss "New Ways of Thinking About Marketing and Communications"; luncheon speaker Mayor Edward G. Rendell of Philadelphia; and Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary David Winstead.
Co-sponsors include the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the American Public Transit Association, the American Public Works Association, the National Association of County Engineers, the National Association of Governors' Highway Safety Representatives, the National Association of Transportation Technology Transfer Centers, the National Society of Professional Engineers, the Transportation Research Board Committee of Conduct of Research, the Transportation Research Board Committee on Technology Transfer, and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
For more information, contact Andrea Vincent at (301) 650-5700 or Karen Haas Smith at (301) 460-4720.