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Highway Information Quarterly Newsletter


March 2000

Office of Highway Policy Information

Highway Finance Reassessment

Stakeholders, including data providers and users, have shown interest in the Office of Highway Policy Information's (OHPI's) Highway Finance Reassessment. On December 14, 1999, Barna Juhasz, Director of OHPI, Ralph Erickson, and Long Nguyen met with staff from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to discuss State participation in the reassessment of the highway finance data series. This key data series, which includes the more than $100 billion annually in Federal/State/local highway income and spending, is being reassessed to ensure that the data are meeting contemporary information needs. AASHTO, on behalf of State departments of transportation (DOT's), which are both suppliers and customers of the highway finance data published in the Highway Statistics report, agreed to partner with FHWA on this reassessment. Details of the FHWA/AASHTO partnership are being worked out. FHWA will be discussing the effort at the next Standing Committee on Planning (SCOP) meeting in late March. Participants at the 79th Annual Transportation Research Board (TRB) meeting in Washington, D.C. also had a chance to learn about the Highway Finance Reassessment. On January 12, 2000, Ralph Erickson briefed TRB's Taxation and Finance Committee (A1A01). Transportation researchers are one of several customer groups OHPI is reaching out to as part of the reassessment. Other customer groups include other offices within FHWA, other DOT administrations and Federal agencies, congressional staff, State transportation and revenue departments, local governments, and the private sector.

For additional information, please contact Ralph Erickson at 202-366-9235, or E-mail Ralph.Erickson@fhwa.dot.gov.

Office of Highway Policy Information (OHPI) Hosts Motor-Fuel Workshop in Atlanta

After a very successful committee meeting in September 1999, the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA's) OHPI sponsored the first of three motor-fuel reporting workshops on December 7 in Atlanta, Georgia. About 35 people from 12 State transportation and revenue departments as well as FHWA staff attended the workshop which was held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Barna Juhasz, OHPI's Director, Ralph Erickson, and Marsha Reynolds made presentations to the group on various reporting issues as well as possible future changes in motor-fuel reporting. Larry Dreihaup, FHWA's Georgia Division Administrator, welcomed the group.

These workshops are being held as a means of sharing information with the States and others on the FHWA/American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)/Federation of Tax Administrators Motor-Fuel Reassessment effort and to solicit State views on key reporting issues. This effort, which has been underway for more than a year, is chaired by Nicolas Graf, FHWA's North Carolina Division Administrator.

About $11.2 billion annually in Federal funds relies on motor-fuel attribution. Motor-fuel and motor-fuel-based highway trust funds are major TEA-21 formula factors.

The FHWA staff reviewed current reporting procedures and Highway Trust Fund attribution, summarized the reassessment efforts to date, previewed FHWA's thinking on key issues and possible changes, and invited questions and input. Feedback from the meeting showed general support for FHWA's direction in the reassessment, the need for more technical assistance to States, and better documentation of processes.

Two remaining workshops were held on January 27, 2000, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and February 24, 2000, in Denver, Colorado. The committee plans to meet again later in the Spring.

For further information on this subject, please contact Ralph Erickson at 202-366-9235, E-mail ralph.erickson@fhwa.dot.gov, or Marsha Reynolds, 202-366-5029, E-mail marsha.reynolds@fhwa.dot.gov.

Census 2000

April 1, 2000, is Census Day. The data collection process will last from April 1 through June and will involve a combination of telephone, mail, and in-person visits. The Census Bureau is using a paid advertising campaign for the decennial event in order to promote a "complete count" of the population.

The data obtained from the Census are vital for several purposes, such as determination ofcongressional seats, development of a baseline for socio-economic and demographic characteristics, and evaluation of equity in Federal, State, and local government programs. The data are extensively used in weighting other sample survey data.

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The transportation community, in particular, has a lot to gain from a successful Census campaign. The data are vital for many aspects of transportation planning needs. Metropolitan agencies across the country have used Census data in developing and calibrating their travel demand models. Transit service providers can use the data to determine captive riders, service areas, and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and State departments of transportation (DOTs) compliance with Title 6 showing that they are not discriminating against any population group. The Census provides a snapshot of several characteristics that can be used with previous efforts to analyze system-wide trends in travel times, travel speeds, mode choice etc. For example, Figures 1 to 3 illustrate the change in various transportation variables from 1970 to 1990. It can be observed that during this period, automobile ownership increased by 0.41 per household (Figure 1) and number of households with no vehicles decreased by 6 percent (Figure 2), while transit use dropped 3.4 percent (Figure 3). Data from Census 2000 will provide additional insights that can be used in trend analysis.

For questions or more information on the Census Transportation Planning Package (CTPP), please contact Nanda Srinivasan at 202-366-5021 or E-mail: Nanda.Srinivasan@fhwa.dot.gov. You can also call the CTPP at 202-366-5000, E-mail ctpp@fhwa.dot.gov or log on to: http://www.mcs.com/~berwyned/census.

New Document--State and Provincial Licensing System Comparative Data

The Federal Highway Administration has provided multi-year funding to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) to combine the Driver License Administration Requirements and Fees with a companion document formerly provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration--Comparative Data--State and Provincial Licensing Systems (Figure 4). The combination of these two documents will put at the fingertips of its users all available 1998 administrative data relating to the United States and Canadian driver licenses. The new document will be available from AAMVA: http://www.AAMVA.org and also under "Publications" on our Web site at: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/ohpi/

If you have any questions on this publication, please contact the AAMVA Publications Department on 703-522-4200.

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North American Travel Monitoring Exhibition and Conference (NATMEC 2000)

The Federal Highway Administration's Office of Highway Policy Information, in conjunction with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT), American Association of State Highay and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Transportation Research Board (TRB), and Transport Canada join in presenting NATMEC 2000 on August 27-31, 2000, at the Marriott West Hotel, in Madison, Wisconsin. This is a continuation and expansion of the National Traffic Data Acquisition Conference (NATDAC) series. For the first time, the NATMEC Conference and TRB Data Committees will be meeting for a joint conference that will include formal presentations, panel discussions, vendor displays and demonstrations, and informal gatherings on all types of traffic data. About 400 attendees are expected from local, State, and Federal agencies, plus industry, academia, and a number of foreign countries. NATMEC 2000

For additional information and registration, visit NATMEC's new web site--http://www.cae.wisc.edu/~natmec/--or contact Paul Stein, Wisconsin DOT, at 608-266-8678, or E-mail paul.stein@dot.state.wi.us.

Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) Computer-Based Training (CBT) Pooled-Fund Project

The Office of Highway Policy Information undertook a project to develop interactive CBT modules explaining proper coding of HPMS data items and recommended sample management techniques. The project will create products that can provide on-demand training for new staff at State departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) division offices on the basic components of HPMS and sample data issues.

The FHWA is participating with 20 States in organizing this project, with Cambridge Systematics as the lead consultant. The project began in August 1999 with an anticipated completion date of Spring 2001. A review committee of seven States has been created from the participating States to closely work with FHWA in developing and evaluating the training materials prepared by the project consultant. The CBT project is expected to have its first draft training products ready for committee review from the project consultant in May 2000. Any questions regarding this project can be directed to Jim Getzewich at 202-366-0175 or E-mail jim.getzewich@fhwa.dot.gov.

National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis Study, "Data Sharing and Data Partnerships for Highways"

A Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) data synthesis study was recommended in the recently completed HPMS Reassessment Final Report. Since November 1998, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) has been conducting a synthesis study of how HPMS data are utilized and shared among State departments of transportation (DOTs), metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and local agencies. An NCHRP committee, composed of representatives of State DOTs, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and other transportation entities, was created to assist TRB in conducting the synthesis study in October 1998 . In January 1999, Mr. Kevin Heanue was hired as a consultant to examine existing data- sharing practices and prepare recommendations of future data-sharing steps that might improve the HPMS data and reporting processes.

The consultant has developed a draft final report which was distributed to NCHRP committee members in January 2000. We anticipate that TRB will issue the final recommendation report in the Spring of 2000. The FHWA, in cooperation with State DOTs and MPOs, will consider whether to undertake any follow-up HPMS data-sharing pilot studies to implement expected recommendations in the study report. Any questions regarding this project can be directed to Jim Getzewich at 202-366-0175 or E-mail jim.getzewich@fhwa.dot.gov.

Annual Highway Information Seminar Held in Washington, D. C.

The Office of Highway Policy Information held its annual Highway Information Seminar on November 16-18, 1999, at the Holiday Inn--Capitol in Washington, D.C. It attracted 74 representatives from State DOTs, Departments of Public Works, Councils of Governments, and FHWA field offices. This 3-day seminar of lectures, panel discussions, and workshops, is targeted at persons involved in collecting, analyzing, preparing, and submitting highway statistical data.

The seminar provides an opportunity for FHWA and State personnel to meet their counterparts, exchange information, discuss individual problem areas, and recommend solutions. The States also provided FHWA valuable feedback on field office issues. The agenda included discussions on the various uses of data for policy purposes, i.e., reports to Congress, apportioning funds, and performance measurement.

A panel made up of Frank Moretti, of the Road Information Program (TRIP), and Janet Oakley, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), discussed the Statistical Data Users Perspective as viewed by national organizations. A second panel, made up of Mike Weiss, Office of Policy Legislative Analysis Team Leader, Bud Wright, Director of FHWA's Budget and Finance, Gary Maring, Director of Freight Management and Operations, and Patrick Mahon, Office of Corporate Management, discussed the Federal uses of statistical data. Dr. Ashish Sen, Director of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), provided insight on BTS's role in improving the quality of transportation data. In addition, Dick Osborne, FHWA Office of Policy Development, presented his popular mini-course on Federal- aid Highway Financing.

For more information about the seminar, contact Juanita Proctor, HPPI-30, at 202-366-5047 or E-mail juanita.proctor@fhwa.dot.gov.

VTRIS Workshop

The Office of Highway Policy Information conducted a Vehicle Travel Information System (VTRIS) Workshop on November 15, in Washington, D.C. The VTRIS validates, edits, summarizes, and generates reports on vehicle weight and axle spacing.

The workshop was attend by representatives from 15 State DOTs, 2 Metropolitan Council of Governments, and 1 FHWA field office. By using the VTRIS software, the States are able to develop data addressing a wide variety of issues such as pavement design and heavy vehicle policy analysis in a cost-efficient and timely manner. The high level of interest displayed by the States in this system is encouraging and reflects a true partnership. If you have any questions about future VTRIS workshops, please contact David Jones directly at 202-366-5053, or E-mail david.l.jones@fhwa.dot.gov.

Our Nations HighwaysOur Nation's Highways--Selected Facts and Figures Update

  We are in the process of updating the publication Our Nation's Highways--Selected Facts and Figures (Figure 6). This full color publication is a general purpose document with trend data charts and figures stemming from many years of highway data collection. The product is an outgrowth of our annual report--Highway Statisics. The document (and, where possible, the data points) will also be available for downloading as a Power Point presentation on our web site https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/ohpi/.

If you have any questions on this publication or need to be added to the mailing list for a copy, please contact Mary K. Teets on 202-366-9211 or E-mail mary.teets@fhwa.dot.gov.

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