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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / April 1997

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Publication Number: FHWA-SA-97-022
Date: April 1997

LTAP Project Takes SHRP Products to Local Agencies

Over the past 3 years, local governments, which are responsible for maintaining nearly three-quarters of the roads in the United States, have been introduced to the products of the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP), thanks to a recently concluded project sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP).

The FHWA project, conducted by former SHRP staff members John Hibbs and Shashikant Shah, emphasized 18 SHRP products chosen because of their affordability and ease of implementation and because they meet the needs of local highway agencies. The products included:

As part of the project, the Nation's 57 Transportation Technology Transfer (T2) Centers were sent samples of the SHRP products for use in demonstration and training sessions, including specially developed training programs on work zone safety, flagging, and pothole patching. Local governments were encouraged to borrow the equipment for extended field tests.

In addition, the SHRP products were displayed and demonstrated at State and national exhibits and presentations for staff from local highway agencies.

"Local highway agencies were especially interested in the work zone safety devices, particularly the flashing stop/slow paddle, and in the SHRP guidelines on pavement maintenance and repair," says Hibbs.

Charles Goodspeed at the New Hampshire T2 Center and a member of the technical panel, says the project helped local highway agencies in his State improve work zone safety. "New Hampshire got quite a bit out of the LTAP SHRP implementation program," he says. "The SHRP safety equipment was very important to our communities."

Goodspeed says the project helped to drum up interest in a New Hampshire program to provide 25 local governments with financial assistance to buy work zone safety equipment. "The stimulation for the fierce competition to participate in the program came from John Hibbs' demonstration of the SHRP safety equipment at our annual Mountain of Demonstrations," he says.

A technical panel made up of T2 representatives from each FHWA region, the American Public Works Association, the National Association of County Engineers, the National Association of Towns and Townships, and FHWA provided Hibbs and Shah with guidance on the project. Based on the success of the project, the panel expects it to serve as a model for future technology transfer programs aimed at local governments. For example, Hibbs says, there is a continuing need to demonstrate new work zone safety equipment to local highway agencies. They will also need assistance in learning about the Superpave system, which is designed to provide more durable pavements on all roads, not just high-volume highways. Goodspeed says many local highway agencies could also benefit from high-performance concrete and anti-icing strategies.

Hibbs attributes the project's success to the staff at the T2 Centers. "Shah and I planted a lot of seeds, and the LTAP staff are continuing to nurture the new plantings," Hibbs says.

The final report on the project, SHRP Products for Local Governments (Publication No. FHWA-SA-97-039), will soon be available from FHWA's Research and Technology Report Center at 301-577-0906; fax: 301-577-1421.

For more information on the T2 Centers, contact Nelda Bravo at FHWA (telephone: 202-366-9633; fax: 202-366-7909; email: nelda.bravo@fhwa.dot.gov).

The T2 Centers were established in 1982 under the Rural Technical Assistance Program (RTAP). Operated by the Federal Highway Administration, the program provided technical support and training to highway agencies in rural areas. In 1991, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) broadened the RTAP mission to include cities with populations between 50,000 and 1 million and Native American tribal governments. The result was the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP). Today, there are 57 T2 Centers-1 in every State and Puerto Rico and 6 serving Native American tribal governments.

The T2 Centers conduct training sessions and demonstrations and serve as clearinghouses for information on transportation issues and technologies. They are funded by LTAP, with matching funds from State governments, universities, State highway agencies, and other organizations.

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