Highway Information Quarterly Newsletter

Wooded Scene

September 1999

Office of Highway Policy Information

Highway Finance Reassessment Kicks Off

In July 1999, the Office of Highway Policy Information announced that it would begin a comprehensive reassessment of its highway finance reporting series, including both State and local finance and the Federal highway finance reporting series (FA- series, SF-series, and LF- series). These data are published annually in the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Highway Statistics publication and have a number of key uses.

The purpose of the reassessment is to review the highway finance data in view of contemporary issues and anticipated needs, and determine what changes are advisable to meet current and emerging highway finance data needs for FHWA and its customers. The enactment of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) and the increased emphasis on FHWA's Strategic Plan provide appropriate opportunities and framework for FHWA to undertake this reassessment. The extensive use of highway finance data in post-TEA-21 reauthorization supports the legislatively required Conditions and Performance Report. Changing customer data needs also provide current and compelling impetus to this reassessment.

The information requirements of State and local governments, as well as their associated data burden, will be carefully considered during this process. (See related article in "Feedback from the States" section of this newsletter.)

The recent Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) and Motor-Fuel Reassessments, which are characterized by their openness and involvement of many partners, will serve as models for this effort.

The highway finance reassessment is expected to extend over 2 years and ultimately result in data which best serves OHPI customers through a system which is streamlined and yet not overly burdensome to the States. Improved software ("smart" forms) and analytical packages should result from this process.

A copy of a background paper on highway finance reassessment is on the OHPI Web site https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/hfnote.htm. For additional information, please contact Ralph Erickson at 202-366-9235 or E-mail Ralph.Erickson@fhwa.dot.gov.

Review of OHPI's Operations

The Office of Highway Policy Information (OHPI) is initiating a tactical review of its operations. The review includes a survey of a sample of OHPI customers to obtain customer feedback on the office's information products, the uses of these products, the need for new information products, areas needing improvement, training and guidance needed, and research areas. Questions on this review can be directed to Ed Kashuba at 202-366-0160 or E-mail ed.kashuba@fhwa.dot.gov.

New TVT Web Page Debuts

The monthly Traffic Volume Trends (TVT) report is sporting a new look. The TVT report, based on State-supplied traffic counts, has been an indicator of traffic trends since the 1930s. TVT now has its own web page at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/travel_monitoring/tvt.cfm. The traditional monthly report is displayed along with a new archive section. The new archive presents monthly vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for three rural and three urban highway categories. The data are available from 1990 through preliminary 1997. Preliminary 1998 and 1999 data are on the monthly report. Self-extracting zipped spreadsheets can also be downloaded for analysis.

Vehicle miles of travel (VMT) have been identified in the FHWA Performance Plan as a significant component of performance measurement. As an early indicator of VMT, the TVT report is coming under increased review as a valuable source of traffic trend information. In addition to enhancing the TVT website, efforts are underway to redesign the monthly report to improve its quality and to better reflect travel at the State level.

The Office of Highway Information Policy is also working on a Traffic Volume Trends software application. The free TVT software will allow State Transportation Agencies to generate their own monthly traffic trends reports. In addition, the new PC application will assist States in preparing data for submittal to the FHWA. Expect to see this software by year's end. For more information, contact William Grush at william.grush@fhwa.dot.gov.

Changes to the Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS)

The Office of Highway Policy Information is proceeding with implementation of changes to the HPMS brought about by the recently completed HPMS reassessment. Implementation is scheduled to take effect with the submittal of 1999 data in June 2000. HPMS workshops to be conducted in conjunction with the November 16-18 Highway Information Seminar will focus on implementation and software issues. A revision to the HPMS field manual will be made available on the HPMS Web site by the end of the calendar year. Revised HPMS submittal software is planned for roll out in February 2000. Revisions to the software and the field manual will be consistent with those changes included in the Highway Performance Monitoring System Reassessment - Final Report, December 1998, the April 1999 addendum to that report, and the materials presented at the four HPMS implementation workshops conducted in February - March 1999. These changes have been previously distributed to the States, FHWA field offices, workshop participants, and those on the HPMS reassessment outreach mailing list; however, copies may be obtained from Mary Brown at 202-366-0175 or E-mail mary.brown@fhwa.dot.gov.

FHWA's Motor Fuel Attribution Process Presented at the
Federation of Tax Administrators Conference,
Baltimore, Maryland, May 24-25, 1999

Marsha Reynolds and Ralph Erickson, from FHWA's Office of Highway Policy Information (OHPI), discussed the motor fuel reporting and attribution process with the delegates of the 65th Annual Northeast Regional Conference of the Federation of Tax Administrators. The conference was held in the historic inner harbor of Baltimore, Maryland. Ralph began the presentation with a discussion of why State motor-fuel data are critical input to the attribution of Federal Highway Trust Fund tax receipts. Marsha then discussed the reporting of State tax data under the guidelines administered by FHWA. She described the process of completing forms for reporting the data, discussed the initial editing and evaluation analysis managed by the FHWA motor fuel team, and described the various uses of the data. Ralph closed with a presentation on FHWA's Motor Fuel Information Reporting Reassessment Project. Under this reassessment project, FHWA is meeting with stakeholders and other interested parties to reevaluate the existing reporting and attribution procedures with the goal of learning what can be improved and developing an action plan to make the needed improvements.

Additional information on these issues can be found on OHPI's Web site, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/surresul.pdf (PDF file; 127 KB). You can also contact Ralph Erickson at telephone 202-366-9235, E-mail ralph.erickson@fhwa.dot.gov or Marsha Reynolds, 202-366-5029, E-mail marsha.reynolds@fhwa.dot.gov.

Rural Transportation Web Page Prototype

U.S. Department of Agriculture/U.S. Department of Transportation (USDA/USDOT) Working Group on Information and Data Exchange

A working group between the USDA and the USDOT was established for the purpose of exchanging, sharing, and jointly developing information between the two departments. The group has developed a prototype web page which would provide both USDOT and USDA rural transportation resources. Specifically, rural freight transportation, rural passenger transportation, and rural community development data resources derived from the various web resources of the two departments would be provided on one web page.

Access to key databases, such as the USDA's National Agricultural Library (AGRICOLA), the Transportation Research Information Service (TRIS) ONLINE, the National Transportation Library, and search engines include the USDOT's DOTBOT. The resulting product would allow quick access to data and program information on rural transportation issues and data bases. A prototype page is under review by selected officials within the two Departments.

For further information, contact Bryant Gross at Bryant.Gross@fhwa.dot.gov, or phone 202-366-5026.

States Reply to Federal-State Motor-Fuel Survey

All the States and the District of Columbia have replied to a motor-fuel reporting survey which was conducted in the Winter/Spring of 1999. This joint American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials/Federation of Tax Administrators (AASHTO/FTA) survey was conducted in support of an FHWA effort to review and improve the quality of State-reported motor fuel. Its purpose was to gauge the States' capability to report certain details of motor-fuel use within each State.

This survey was recommended by the Motor-Fuel Reporting Committee, which is comprised of officials from State transportation and taxation agencies, AASHTO, FTA, and other organizations. Nick Graf, FHWA North Carolina Division Administrator, chairs the committee.

The FHWA uses the motor-fuel volume data to attribute Federal Highway Trust Fund receipts to the States, which, in turn, are used in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) Federal fund apportionment process. Highway motor-fuel consumption data impact the distribution of TEA-21 National Highway System, Surface Transportation System, Interstate Maintenance, and Minimum Guarantee funds as well as motor carrier safety grants. For a description of FHWA's attribution methodology, see Highway Information Update Volume 3, No. 1. For additional background, you may also refer to the article contained in the Highway Information Quarterly, Volume 6 No. 2, dated June 1999.

The perfect State response rate exceeded expectations. The survey results indicate that States are reporting motor-fuel in overall general consistency with FHWA instructions contained in the Guide to Reporting Highway Statistics. It also helped to pinpoint State-to-State variations in data. Because State motor-fuel reporting is based on individual State motor-fuel tax structures, survey results reveal which adjustments to State data are needed to achieve maximum uniformity and consistency among the States.

See Summary of Survey on State Capability to Report Motor Fuel (PDF file; 127 KB), for information. Copies of survey results and the FHWA attribution methodology may be obtained from FHWA's Office of Highway Policy Information at 202-366-0170.

Archived Data User Service Activities

The National Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Architecture has been revised to incorporate a new user service called the Archived Data User Service (ADUS). This is for the purpose of saving ITS-generated data and providing end-users with access to these data in a convenient manner. The ITS architects have defined an Archived Data Management Subsystem with the following functions: Traffic Data Collection and Archival; ITS Data Repository; Virtual Data Warehouse Services; Government Reporting Systems Support; and On-Line Analysis and Mining. These changes will be on the ITS architecture CD to be released later this year. For further information, see the ITS architecture Web site at http://www.odetics.com/itsarchtest/adus/.

Meanwhile, standards activities are continuing and a roadmap for implementing ADUS is being defined in cooperation with a working group of ADUS stakeholders. For further information, contact Ralph Gillmann at 202-366-5042 or E-mail ralph.gillmann@fhwa.dot.gov.


In the June 1999 issue of the Highway Information Quarterly, it was mentioned that the North American Travel Monitoring Exhibition and Conference (NATMEC 2000) will be held the last week of August, 2000, in Madison, Wisconsin. The point of contact is Paul Stein at the Wisconsin DOT and his telephone number was incorrectly listed. The correct telephone number is 608-266-8678. We apologize for the error.

In addition, the Transportation Research Board data committees will be holding their mid-year meeting in conjunction with NATMEC 2000.

Highway Statistics 1998

The analysis is well underway for Highway Statistics 1998. We sent notices in June to all customers on our mailing database stating our intent to print a more compact publication while still retaining the complete series on a CD and on the Internet. We determined from the small number of responses that what we have proposed is not at all out of line. There will be a few charts added back into the printed version along with the FA-4A.

Tables FI-1 through FI-9 have been deleted. One outcome of the 1998 Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) reassessment was a decision to discontinue the collection of crash data by functional system; therefore, data are not available to produce these tables. FHWA is currently working cooperatively with those in the safety community to evaluate crash data needs.

Tables FI-10 and FI-20 have been added. These tables provide fatality information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting System by functional system and Federal-aid highways.

If you have any questions or comments on the Highway Statistics series, please contact Mary K. Teets at 202-366-9211 or E-mail Mary.Teets@fhwa.dot.gov.

Feedback from the States

Note: The Office of Highway Policy Information has established this section as a regular part of the Highway Information Quarterly newsletter and would like to solicit articles on State activities in the highway information area. Any news pertaining to data collection that you would like to share would be appreciated. Articles should be forwarded to Juanita Proctor, E-mail: juanita.proctor@fhwa.dot.gov or FAX 202-366-7742. Please be sure to include the name, telephone number, and E-mail address of the contact person.

Uses of Highway Finance Data

States use the highway finance data published in annual Highway Statistics for their own information needs. These data include the Federal, State, and local data (FA-series, SF-series, and LF-series data) as well as the summary tables.

States use highway finance data as a basis for developing their own State highway statistics reports, projecting revenues to support transportation improvement plans, and to learn what other States transfer to local governments.

A number of States indicate that they use highway finance data to study the highway finance structures of other States (SF series and LF series tables) as part of the process of developing their own comprehensive State transportation legislative programs. State legislatures and transportation officials also rely on these data in their annual budget appropriation. The FHWA publication, Highways Taxes and Fees -How They are Collected and Distributed, gives an excellent explanation of how States finance and distribute highway programs. This publication serves as a source of information for the States in determining what financing would best work for them.

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


Motor-Fuel Reporting Committee Meeting

The Motor-Fuel Reporting Committee will hold a meeting September 23 - 24, 1999, in Washington, D.C. This committee, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration/American Association of State Highways and Transportation Officials/Federation of Tax Administrators (FHWA/AASHTO/FTA) is assisting FHWA's Office of Highway Policy Information (OHPI) review and improve State-reported motor-fuel data. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) uses motor-fuel and Highway Trust Fund receipts attributed on motor-fuel as a formula factor in the apportionment of Federal funds. The minutes of the meeting will be available on OHPI's Web site a few weeks after the meeting.

Highway Information Seminar/VTRIS Workshop

The Office of Highway Policy Information will be holding its annual Highway Information Seminar on November 16-18, 1999, at the Holiday Inn--Capitol in Washington, D.C. The Vehicle Travel Information System (VTRIS) workshop will be held at DOT Headquarters on Monday, November 15. A request for nominees went out to FHWA field offices on July 1. All participants who have received acceptance letters and are planning to stay at the Holiday Inn are reminded to make their arrangements directly with the hotel by October 14 and to identify themselves as being with the DOT/FHWA Highway Information Seminar to receive the special rate. Reservations received after that date will be provided on a space-available basis.

Questions concerning the course should be directed to Juanita Proctor at 202-366-5047, or E-mail to Juanita.Proctor@fhwa.dot.gov. For information on the VTRIS workshop, contact David Jones directly at 202-366-5053, or E-mail David.L.Jones@fhwa.dot.gov.

WIM Conferences

A Weigh-in-Motion (WIM) Technical Exchange Conference co-sponsored by the FHWA's Midwestern Resource Center and the Kansas Department of Transportation will be held September 22 and 23, 1999, at the Kansas City Airport Hilton.

The purpose of the conference is to bring together State WIM technicians, vendors and others to discuss issues and share experiences related to WIM equipment acquisition, installation, maintenance, and data collection. The conference is intended for front line field staff responsible for the day-to-day activities, and will be informal with an open discussion format. For further information, contact Byron Low at 708-283-3536.

The FHWA and the Mississippi DOT (MDOT) are cosponsoring a similar WIM conference to be held October 26-27, 1999, at the Edison Walthall Hotel in Jackson, Mississippi. For additional information, contact Carolyn Thornton of MDOT at 601-359-7685.

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