WASHINGTON, D.C. · (202) 366-0180

Capital Expenditures by Level of Government

Prior to the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), Federal-aid program funds were primarily allocated to capital improvement projects. With the passage of ISTEA, Federal-aid funds can be used for certain maintenance and operational activities. Expenditures for noncapital activities, which are at relatively small levels at this time, have the potential to increase to a much higher proportion of total Federal aid to highways.

For 1993, total capital expenditures were $39 billion. State and local governments were responsible for the expenditure of $38.7 billion including $17.1 billion in Federal funds. Federal direct capital expenditures were $0.3 billion.

The $17.1 billion in Federal funds account for 44.6 percent of the total highway capital expenditures. With the exception of approximately $1 billion provided by other Federal agencies, all of these funds were administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The Federal share of highway capital expenditures in 1993 is down from a high of 56 percent in 1980. As can be seen in the graph, the Federal share of highway capital expenditures increased significantly after the establishment of the Federal Highway Trust Fund by the Highway Revenue Act of 1956 to 47.8 percent in 1959. It has been in the 40-56 percent range since then.

State and local governments supplied 55.4 percent of all funds for highway improvements in 1993. With the exception of the period from 1976 to 1986, the State and local government share has been consistently more than 50 percent. For more information, contact Ralph Erickson at (202)366-9235.

Satellite Imagery for Traffic Monitoring

The Travel Monitoring Division (HPM-30) sponsored a feasibility study of using satellite imagery for traffic data collection. Ohio State University conducted the study which was completed in April 1995. With increased difficulty of monitoring traffic in urbanized areas, it was felt that remote sensing via satellites might be a way of counting vehicles. The study concluded that one-meter resolution was needed to distinguish vehicles with greater than 90% accuracy.

Commercial availability of one-meter satellite images is expected in 1997. A summary report will be distributed to the FHWA field offices. A followup project is planned for FY 96 entitled "Test of Remote Sensing for Traffic Monitoring" in which traffic data from aerial photographs and ground counts will be compared. For more information, contact Ralph Gillmann at (202) 366-5042.

Variability of Traffic Data

Research is underway to extract information on the variability of traffic data. The Office of Highway Information Management is sponsoring a research study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to analyze traffic volume, vehicle classification, and truck weigh-in-motion (WIM) data from continuous sites in Florida and Washington. The objective is to determine the variability characteristics of traffic data to gain a better understanding of traffic behavior, to assess and reduce the bias of data collection operations, to develop statistical methodologies for extracting seasonality patterns, and to improve the cost-effectiveness of traffic data programs. With the cooperation of Florida and Washington, Oak Ridge will examine an extensive database of continuous traffic and WIM recorders to develop the methodology and conduct the analysis. Information will be quantified in a report for distribution to States and other interested parties. A preliminary report will be presented at the annual Transportation Research Board meeting to be held in Washington, D.C., in January. The ORNL project manager is Pat Hu. For information, contact Tony Esteve at (202) 366-5051.

HPMS Software Development Seminar

The Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) Software Development Seminar was held in Denver, Colorado, on July 11-12, 1995. Over 100 State, MPO, and FHWA personnel were in attendance, representing 40 States.

An overview of the current HPMS software was presented. Through participant interaction, discussions included present software deficiencies; difficulties in using the software; needs and desires for additional options; improvements/software additions that would make the preparation of the data submittal easier and more efficient; and other software-related needs and desires.

A preliminary version of the next generation of the state-of-the-art HPMS software, which is under development, was demonstrated. The participants provided input, direction, and criticism so that the new HPMS software can be enhanced to make the user's operations easier and more efficient, and to meet State, MPO, and FHWA field office needs. A Proceedings Report will be provided to the States, FHWA field offices, and workshop participants.

Volunteer pilot States will be selected in the near future to test the new software. Interaction between the pilot States and FHWA will take place to assure that the HPMS software runs properly, meets the needs of the users, and eliminates any problems. For more information, contact Don Kestyn at (202) 366-5035.

HPMS Steering Committee Meeting

The first Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) Steering Committee Meeting was held June 28-29, 1995. The 21 committee members represent Federal, State, and local governments as well as metropolitan planning organizations (data suppliers and customers).

Mike Cook, Illinois Division Administrator, presided as Committee Chairperson. Consistency of data and congestion were among the areas of greatest concern. All concerns were categorized into two main groups, and goals and priorities were set. The two groups, and topic areas for each group, are as follows:

1. Data Uses, Analysis, and Reporting

  • How to Identify, Monitor, and Report Congestion
  • Consistency Among Travel Estimates and Forecasts
  • Performance Measures
  • Consistency of Data on a Nationwide Basis
  • Timeliness of Reporting
  • Appropriate Levels of Reporting (i.e., National, State, Regional)
  • Validity
  • Presentation of Results of HPMS by FHWA
  • Adoption of 1995 Highway Capacity Manual
  • Training Needs
  • Resource Requirements
2. Data Collection
  • Analyze Data Items Reported, Frequency, and Coverage
  • Sample Selection Process
  • Data Consistency
      (Suggested that States be consistent in data collection so that outside users make more accurate use of the data)
  • Pavement Distress Data
  • Participation of MPOs and Local Governments
  • New Data Items
  • Timeliness
  • Training Needs
  • Resource Requirements

The Committee is making plans to meet again early next fiscal year. During the next several months, each group will identify issues and tasks, and prepare a position paper and action plan for at least the highest priority topic areas.

For more information, contact Connie Bell (HPM-20) at 202-366-5068.

Innovative Methods for Data Collection and Manipulation

New approaches to data collection and data manipulation are being utilized across the country, and these innovative methodologies are certainly worth sharing. Network your ideas and experiences. If you have particular information regarding innovative data collection methodologies and the use of data that you would like to appear in future issues of this newsletter, send the information to Federal Highway Administration, Attn: HPM-40 (Bryant Gross), 400 7th Street, SW, Washington, D.C. 20590, or phone at (202) 366-5026. The fax number is (202) 366-7742.

For those wishing to send information electronically, the E-mail address is:


The Highway Statistics Steering Committee

The Highway Statistics Steering Committee met in Arlington, Virginia, on June 21 and 22, 1995. The Committee made a number of recommendations to the FHWA for activities that could be undertaken in the short term. Most of the activities focused upon improving FHWA outreach, communication, and training. Recommendations include:

  • Investigate the use of video conference techniques for the Highway Statistics Seminar;
  • Identify and disseminate information on best practices through this or another more technically oriented newsletter;
  • Identify areas of difficulty with Highway Statistics for both data users and providers;
  • Develop a primer on the value and uses of Highway Statistics;
  • Make FHWA's Electronic Bulletin Board Service (FEBBS) available as a forum for data users and providers; and
  • Investigate the use of regional seminars for training purposes.

    Activities that respond to these recommendations are under consideration. In addition, the Steering Committee embarked upon an activity to improve data uniformity, and encourage the use of more cost effective means to collect data for Highway Statistics. This proposal will be circulated to the Committee during the summer, and will be the subject of discussion and adoption at the next meeting. For more information, contact Teia McGee at (202) 366-5137.

    1990 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey Users Study

    Users of the 1990 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) public use data tapes and diskettes have provided valuable feedback that is now being used to structure better user services for the 1995 NPTS dataset. The Office of Highway Information Management, through a contract with NuStats International, recently completed a study of the experience and recommendations of the 1990 NPTS data users. Among the recommendations was a Federal Highway Administration sponsored training course, as well as specific changes to the documentation of the data and user support measures such as a toll-free number, use of the electronic bulletin board, or other regular dissemination of user information. The users also provided extensive information about the preferred media of the data set, with most preferring CD-ROM or PC diskette. These recommendations are being evaluated to determine the most appropriate methods to provide products to enhance usability of the 1995 NPTS.

    If you have questions, or would like to comment on your experience with the 1990 NPTS, contact Carol Harbaugh at (202) 366-0076.

    Using Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) for Personal Travel Surveys

    The Office of Highway Information Management and Office of Environment and Planning are cooperating in research projects investigating the use of small, portable, "user-friendly" units for recording personal travel by private vehicles and measuring travel speeds. For the personal travel component, we are hoping that a user-friendly small palmtop computer with a GPS PCMCIA card or other similar equipment can be programmed to record time, position, trip purpose, and vehicle occupants. Distance, speed, and roadway classification will be calculated in post-processing. Battelle is the lead agency, with additional support by ETAK and Cambridge Systematics.

    Instrumenting vehicles with GPS is not new. For example, one EPA project in Atlanta uses GPS with other equipment to examine emissions and vehicle engine operational characteristics, and DOT-sponsored research in ITS projects have used GPS for in-vehicle navigation for either the tourist industry or for commercial travel. However, in these cases, either specially designed vehicles are used, e.g. rental cars in Orlando, or in the Atlanta EPA project, personal vehicles must be taken to a central site for equipment to be attached and later detached by a trained technician.

    Why this research?

    One of the current assumptions about personal travel is that people travel using the "shortest path," generally based on total travel time. This is currently built into travel demand models. However, we need to know how often this is true, and under what scenarios it is less true. We need to understand route choices and divergences from regular patterns. Asking respondents to draw routes for all kinds of trips would be burdensome.

    By using GPS, we will be able to trace routes with less respondent burden, but with potentially greater concerns by respondents about privacy. We expect increased precision on travel time distribution compared to self-report, and a fairly precise distribution of travel by functional classification of roads.

    Battelle is currently preparing a list of hardware alternatives, using specifications developed by this office (OHIM) and the project team.

    We are hoping that a field test will be conducted in late FY 96 in cooperation with an MPO having an up-to-date, positionally-accurate street network. We estimate that the field test will include at least 100 completed households, including GPS test, and traditional household travel survey, using a written diary.

    Vehicle Occupancy--A Comparison

    The Office of Highway Information Management (OHIM) recently completed a study comparing average vehicle occupancy from two different sources. The Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) uses a household-survey-based data gathering method. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sponsored an observation-based study of vehicle occupancy in the fall of 1994, which was funded by FHWA. The NPTS data was collected during 1990. Comparisons are made using months and hours common to both data sets. Average number of occupants are used as baseline parameters for comparison.

    The total average number of occupants for the household-survey-based NPTS data is 1.50 occupants for passenger cars, pickup trucks, and vans combined. The observation-based data has an average of 1.45 occupants for the same vehicle types. The greatest difference between the data sets occurs in the van category. The NPTS survey average number of van occupants is 0.35 higher than the NHTSA study average number of van occupants. The differences between passenger cars and between pickup trucks are small by comparison. The graph depicts these relationships within four hourly groupings.

    Conclusions of this study provide insight into the reasonableness of the NPTS survey information. Considering different data collection methodologies and the different years involved, the overall occupancy difference of 0.05 is negligible. Also, observation-based data collection methods may be undercounting rear seat passengers, particularly in vans.

    For more information about this study, contact Bill Grush at (202) 366-5052, or Bryant Gross at (202) 366-5026.

    FHWA's Electronic Bulletin Board Service (FEBBS)

    Most of the statistical information and other products currently produced by the Office of Highway Information Management is available on FEBBS.

    You can find the tables from the 1993 Highway Statistics and the latest issues of Monthly Motor Fuel Reported by States, briefing sheets with key statistics for each State, advance copies of the Federal Highway Trust Fund tables, quarterly status reports on the Trust Fund, and information on the Joint Federal/State Motor Fuel Tax Compliance Project.

    Also posted are many of the software products used for submitting data to FHWA, including the Highway Performance Monitoring System submittal package and data review package, the Traffic Monitoring Guide software (Vehicle Travel Information System or VTRIS), and spreadsheet templates for the reporting forms required by A Guide to Reporting Highway Statistics.

    For all the above and even more, access our computer at 800-337-FHWA. Set your communications software for 8 data bits, I stop bit, no parity, and full duplex. You can register on-line. All of the information described above may be found by selecting Conferences, then Policy from the main FEBBS menu.

    For example, to get to the 1993 Highway Statistics files, log onto FEBBS. After arriving at the MAIN MENU:

  • select <C> for Conference.
  • then select <P> Policy.
  • then select <P> Highway Statistics Publication (HPM-1).
  • then select <D> Download.

    The list of available files will be displayed at this point for all of 1993 Highway Statistics. If you wish to download any or all of the files:

  • select <D> Download files to you. The system will ask for the appropriate file names, protocol, etc.

    The files are in Lotus 123.wkl format and are zipped according to the same breakouts that are used in the printed version of 1993 Highway Statistics, e.g., fuel, registration, driver licenses, etc.

    For general assistance in accessing FEBBS, call FHWA's Help Desk at (202) 366-1120. For more information about other data items included in FEBBS by the Office of Highway Information Management, call (202) 366-0180.


    Toll Facilities in the United States (FHWA-PL-95-034)

    The 1995 issue of the Toll Facilities in the United States is now available. The report contains selected information on toll facilities in the United States (bridges, roads, tunnels, ferries), based on a survey of facilities in operation, financed, or under construction as of January 1, 1995. For information or copies, call Connie Bell at (202) 366-5068.

    Our Nation's Highways Selected Facts and Figures (FHWA-PL-95-028)

    The 1995 update of Our Nation's Highways is scheduled to be released from the printer August 21. Among many aspects of highway data, this revision includes a map of the proposed National Highway System along with related data regarding the proposed system.

    A set of slides has been created as a companion to this publication and mailed out to each of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Regional Offices. If you would like information on this booklet or the phone number of the nearest FHWA Regional Office, please contact Mary K. Teets at (202) 366-9211.

    Upcoming Conferences/Meetings

    Conference on New Approaches to Defining Metropolitan and Non-Metropolitan Areas

    Bethesda Holiday Inn
    8120 Wisconsin Avenue
    Bethesda, Maryland 20814
    November 29-30, 1995
    The Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS) is hosting a conference which will provide a forum for evaluating alternative approaches in defining metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is considering new ways of defining these areas. This forum will provide OMB with feedback on the concerns and needs of the user community. Following this conference, OMB will begin work on developing the standards that will be used to define areas with 2000 Census data.

    The cost for the two-day seminar is $125.00 per person. Space is limited to 250 participants. If you are interested in attending, contact Edward Spar or Susan Cohen in the COPAFS office at (703) 836-0404, or FAX (703) 684-2037.

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