WASHINGTON, D.C. · (202) 366-0180

National Highway System (NHS) Enacted

With President Clinton's November 28 signing of the National Highway System Act of 1995, the 160,995-mile backbone for the Nation's 21st. century transportation system was identified. Unlike the Interstate System, which required a special national program to bring it into existence, about 98 percent of all roads on the National Highway System (NHS) have already been built. (See the NHS map above.) In fact, other than what constitutes the Interstate systems, the NHS consists mostly of existing two-lane roads. (See Figure 1 .) Other major components of the NHS are the Strategic Highway Corridor Network and its major connectors, 29 congressionally designated high-priority corridors, and other important highways that connect the system with major intermodal facilities.

Although the NHS includes only 4 percent of the Nationís highways, it carriers 43 percent of total highway traffic and 69 percent of combination truck traffic. (See Figure 2.) Ninety percent of the countryís population lives within 5 miles of the NHS, as does 93 percent of those living in small urban areas with populations of 5,000 to 50,000. Urbanized areas (populations of greater than 50,000) are served directly by the NHS, and 99 percent of the Nationís jobs are in countries served by the NHS.

The NHS is the tie that binds each of the countryís communities together. It is an essential support to the American way of life and to the Nationís commercial and social well being. The NHS will provide improved access to work and markets; to ports, airports, and rail stations; to our national parks; and to bordering countries. This improved access translates into economic benefits, linking work-ers to expanded job opportunities, manufacturers to new markets, and consumers to more products and services.

Principal contributions of the NHS will be to facilitate sustainable economic growth by enhancing intermodal and highway system connections, improving productivity and efficiency of commercial vehicle operations, facilitating the movement of agricultural produce, advancing safety, alleviating congestion, supporting national defense, and improving system performance.

Within 180 days of the Act's enactment, the Secretary of Transportation must send to Congress proposed NHS connections to major intermodal facilities, e.g. ports, airports, rail terminals. This is to be followed by a one-time congressional approval of the proposed connections. Until then, the Secretary may approve projects using NHS funds on connections to intermodal terminals that meet certain criteria. Following Congressional approval, the Secretary may modify the connections proposed by the States in cooperation with Metropolitan Planning Organizations and local and regional officials.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has also established an NHS Policy Subgroup to develop goals for the system, an act that will ensure that the NHS becomes an effective tool for making strategic investments in the Nation's infrastructure to promote economic development and productivity. Future issues of this newsletter will provide further details on these efforts. Also, the Spring 1996 edition of the FHWA's Public Roads magazine will be devoted to the NHS and its implications for further enhancing our way of life.

1995 Status of the Nationís Surface Transportation Systems: Condition & Performance Report to Congress

The "1995 Status of the Nationís Surface Transportation systemsí condition and Performance Report to Congress," is now available. This biennial report to Congress on highway and transit condition, performance, and capital investment requirements now includes maritime information. The report relies heavily on highway and transit information provided by State and local governments, and presents current investment patterns as well as estimates of future investment requirements to either maintain or improve system condition and performance for the period 1994 to 2013. Many demographic, economic, highway usage, and finance trends are highlighted.

For more information or a copy of this report, contact Regina McElroy at (202)366-9216.

Highway Expenditures as Percent of Total Federal Expenditures

The potion of total Federal expenditures used for highway purposes increases to 1.36 percent in 1994 as Federal agencies spent a combined $19.9 billion for highways. That same year, total Federal expenditures reached $1.5 trillion. The relative share of total Federal expenditures reached $1.5 trillion. The relative share of total Federal highway spending had dropped to a low of 1.15 percent in 1991, the lowest percentage since the establishment of the Federal Highway Trust Fund in 1956. Since the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, Federal highway expenditures have grown more quickly than overall Federal spending. (See Figure 3.)

The highway share of Federal spending reached a peak of 3.58 percent in 1964, a time that marked the early years of the Interstate Systemís construction. Highway expenditures has exceeded 3 percent in 1966. Since 1981, highway expenditures have not exceeded 2 percent of total Federal expenditures.

For more information, contact Ross Crichton at (202) 366-5027.

1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey Vehicle Fleet Pretest Data Results

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has now received the final data set from the pretest for the 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS). For the pretest, interviewers from Research Triangle Institute, FHWA's contractor for the project, conducted computer-assisted telephone interviews with persons from households from November 1994 through January 1995. The data from the pretest provide the first glimpse of household travel trends since the 1990 NPTS was conducted.

One item of note from the 1990 survey was the trend toward retaining older vehicles in the fleet. Data from the pretest indicate the trend continues; however, the average vehicle age plateau may have already been reached. In 1969, the first year of NPTS, the average vehicle age was 5.1 years; in 1977 it was 5.6 years; in 1983 it was 6.9; and in 1990 as well as in the 1995 pretest, it was 7.7. It remains to be seen when the full 1995 NPTS is completed whether we will have a plateau or a continuing upward trend in average vehicle age. Figure 4 illustrates this trend.

Possibly more interesting than average vehicle age is the indication in the 1995 pretest that a noticeable drop in percentage of the fleet does not occur until the vehicles are 10 years old. Figure 5 shows the 1995 pretest data on percent of vehicles at each age.

For more information on the NPTS pretest, contact Carol Harbaugh at (202) 366-0076.

Highway Revenue and Its Sources

Public sector financing of highways reflects the revenue sources that are available to each level of government. As published in Highway Statistics--1994, some $88 billion in revenues were provided for highway programs in 1994. (See Figure 6.) This revenue came from a number of sources including highway-user charges, property taxes and assessments, general funds, other taxes, miscellaneous fees, and bond issues. At the Federal and State levels of government, highway-user charges are the primary source of revenues for highway programs. Since local governments are restricted in their abilities to tax highway-users, local general funds, and property taxes are their primary sources for road and street funding. Not all highway-user revenues are used for highways: Some of those revenues are used for mass transit and non transportation activities.

For more information, contact Ralph Erickson at (202) 366-9235.

1996 Driver License Administration Requirements and Fees

The 1996 Driver License Administration Requirements and Fees is being updated and should be available by mid-summer. Information for this report is supplied by the State and Canadian driver licensing authorities and shows the legal requirements concerning driver licensing.

The first edition of this report showed the status of driver license administration as of January 1, 1967. It was updated for January 1, 1968, and since has been published biennially. The tables remain basically the same, but the data have been expanded to meet the needs of the users. If you would like a copy of this publication, please contact the Federal Highway Administration, R&D Report Center, (703) 285-3029 or by FAX (703) 285-2919. If you have questions concerning the content of this publication, contact Mary K. Teets at (202) 366-9211.

A companion booklet, State and Provincial Licensing Systems, has been issued in the past by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The update to this booklet should also be available in a few months.

For information on this companion publication, contact the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators at (703) 522-4200.

Notes from the Field:

Using Global Positioning Satellites (GPS)--
Collecting Travel Time Data

The Iowa Department of Transportation is currently researching the use of Trimble GPS location equipment connected to a Hewlett-Packard (HP) palmtop computer to collect travel time data to support performance measures for the Congestion, Intermodal and Public Transportation management systems. An alternative to this method of collecting travel time is the floating car technique, in which two people in a car use a stop watch to manually track distance and speed. There are several advantages to the GPS method: It is less labor intensive; the user does not have to run a stop watch; the post collecting number crunching is performed by a computer; and results can be displayed graphically and even over-laid onto a travel forecasting network (i.e., TRAN-PLAN) or the Census TIGER line network.

This combination of GPS hardware and supporting software was developed by JHK & Associates. The potential applications include:

Link speed:

Speed data can be collected at half-second intervals (or larger), creating a detailed link and trip profile. This allows the documentation of signal delays, incident delays, and variations in speed.

Origin-destination trip analysis:

The unit can be used to collect O-D information, including provisions for trip purposes, vehicle occupancy, and other information traditionally captured in a vehicle-based O-D survey.

Bus route profile analysis:

Bus operations within the street network can be examined. Graphic displays can be provided of bus speeds, dwell times, and delays. This can be of assistance in fine tuning bus operations on a particular route which may be beneficial for the congestion management system as well as the public transportation management system. An analysis can also be conducted of timed-transfer operations.

For more information concerning this demonstration project and associated cost information, contact Craig Markley at the Iowa Department of Transportation at (515 ) 239-1027, or FAX (515 ) 239-1639.

This article is in response to the September 1995 edition of this newsletter, which asked for articles from the field. If you would like to share any new approaches to data collection and data manipulation being utilized in your organization, contact Bryant Gross at (202) 366-5026, FAX (202) 366-7742, or e-mail your idea to


HPMS Software

The Highway Systems Performance Division developing a new Windows-based software system for States to use in preparing and maintaining High-way Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) data. The new system will run on Windows 3.1 or better, requires at least 16 megabytes of memory, and will run on an Intel 386 or better computer (an Intel 486 66x or better is recommended). The system is written using Borland's C++ version 4.52, uses a relational database, will work as a network application or standalone, has on-screen editing capability, and will use English or metric data manipulation and storage. Several States began to pilot test .the system in January. The projected release date to all the States is late 1996, in time to be used for the preparation of the 1996 HPMS data reported to FHWA in June 1997.

For more information, contact Beverly Harrison at (202) 66-4048.

Second National Conference on Women's Travel Issues

October 23-25, 1996 The Radisson Hotel Baltimore, Maryland

The Federal Highway Administration and the Women and Planning Division of the American Planning Association are sponsoring the "Second National Conference on Women's Travel Issues." This conference will focus on differences in the travel patterns, perceptions, and safety experiences of men and women, as well as differences between groups of women. Detailed abstracts related to the topics below should be submitted to the Steering Committee by March 15, 1996.

Conference topics:

The abstract should include:

Please mail, FAX, or e-mail all abstracts and requests for additional information to:

Dr. Sandra Rosenbloom, Conference Co-Chair 819 E. First Street
Tucson, AZ 85721
(520) 623-1705
email rosenblo@aruba.ccit.arizona.edu

Revised Methodology for "Highway Statistics--1994" Table VM-1

Table VM-1 describes vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by highway category and by vehicle type. The VM- 1 tables are found in the annual Highway Statistics publication produced by the Office of Highway Information Management. VM- 1 depicts national travel for the current year and revised travel estimates for the previous year. This information is segregated by passenger cars, motorcycles, buses, other 2-axle/4-tire vehicles, and trucks on the rural Interstate System, other rural arterials, other rural roads, the urban Interstate .System, and other urban streets. Table VM-1 also shows the number of vehicles registered and total fuel consumed by vehicle type. Also included are the calculated average miles of travel, average miles traveled per gallon, and average fuel consumption for each vehicle type. In addition, VM- 1 provides the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimate of person-miles of travel.

The format of table VM- 1 was changed for the 1994 data year. Both the table format and the calculation methodology have been revised. This was done to enhance clarity and provide a more explicit definition of "other 2-axle/4-tire vehicles," which includes vans, pickup trucks, and sport/utility vehicles. The changes also provide better consistency with the Truck Inventory and Use Survey (TIUS) compiled by the Bureau of the Census. The effect of a more stringent distinction between passenger cars and other 2-axle/4-tire vehicles results in VMT, number of motor vehicles registered, person-miles of travel, and fuel consumed to be lower than previous years for passenger cars. Passenger cars and other 2-axle/4-tire vehicles must be aggregated to provide accurate trend analysis across previous years.

VM- 1 is a widely referenced source of information. The FHWA, State Highway Agencies (SHAs), and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) use VM- 1 for planning, budgeting, and legislative purposes. Academia uses VM-1 for course work or as a source of research data. Private organizations such as insurance companies rely on VM- 1 for travel and registration data that affect the insurance industry. In addition, transportation-related trade associations use the data for legislative efforts. These are only some of the wide variety of uses of table VM- 1.

For additional information, or to receive a copy of table VM-1, contact William Grush (202) 366-5052, or by e-mail at wgrush@intergate.dot.gov.

Analysis of Census Truck Inventory & Use Survey

The Federal Highway Administration, in cooperation with Battelle Memorial Institute, has just released a study on the analysis of the truck inventory and use survey of truck characteristics nationwide. The focus of this report, as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight (TS& W) Study, is to provide factual information and analysis of the U.S. freight-hauling truck fleet based on the Bureau of the Census's Truck Inventory and Use Survey (TIUS) databases for 1987 and 1992. The TIUS can be used to better understand the U.S. truck fleet make-up, size, uses, location, and type of commodities hauled. This information is used to present a picture of the U.S. truck fleet and its uses as well as to analyze the potential national/regional impacts of TS&W policy options. Data for certain TIUS truck classes were excluded, including pickups, mini-vans, sports utility vehicles, station wagons, trucks and truck-tractors with four tires, as well as trucks pulling a one-axle trailer or utility trailer. The remaining truck classes are referred to as "fleet of interest."

Five traffic regions were defined in this study: North Central, Northeast, South Atlantic, South Gulf, and West. Nationwide, the total fleet of interest increased in size by 4.2 percent. Regionally, the West saw the greatest increase of 19.2 percent, followed by the North Central at 5.1 percent, and the North-east at 1.3 percent. Two regions actually experienced decreases in the total fleet of interest. These included the South Atlantic at (1.1) percent and South Gulf at (4.7) percent. California accounts for 9.6 percent of the total fleet. California, combined with Illinois, Texas, and Pennsylvania, accounts for more than one-quarter of the total fleet.

For most of the analysis, the "5-axle or more" truck combinations, which are a subset of the "total fleet" available in the TIUS, are evaluated. The 5-axle or more fleet contains data for various types of truck combinations whose total number of axles is greater than or equal to five. In general, there are four truck combinations evaluated: ( 1 ) straight truck with trailer; (2) tractor truck with semi-trailer; (3) tractor truck with two trailers; and (4) tractor truck with three trailers. Nationwide, the 5-axle or more fleet increased by 21.9 percent from 1987 to 1992. The Western region increased by 53.3 percent in the same time period. By 1992, the North Central region accounted for more than one-third, or 37.9 percent, of the 5-,- axle fleet, followed by the West at 19.4 percent, and the South Gulf at 18.0 percent. Of the 5-,- axle fleet, 87 of 100 trucks were tractor-semi-trailer combinations, 7 of 100 were truck and full trailer combinations, and 5 of 100 were tractor and double trailer combinations.

Further analysis is done by truck configuration by region and body type. This analysis includes weight characteristics, vehicle miles of travel (VMT) use (intra- versus inter-state, long versus short hauls), trailer width, payload, overall length, as well as annual VMT and the percent of VMT used for hauling various commodities.

For information and/or copies of this study,. contact Mark Dielman at the Battelle Memorial Institute at (614) 424-4374.

Back to Reports