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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 63· No. 4 > Along the Road

January/February 2000
Vol. 63· No. 4

Along the Road

"Along the Road" is the place to look for information about current and upcoming activities, developments, trends, and items of general interest to the highway community. This information comes from Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.

Policy and Legislation

Department of Transportation Appropriations Act, FY 2000, Passed

The Department of Transportation (DOT) and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2000 (H.R. 2084) became Public Law No. 106-69 on Oct. 9. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Frank Wolf on June 9, outlined an appropriation of funds for the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, the Coast Guard, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), FHWA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, Research and Special Programs Administration, Office of Inspector General, and the Surface Transportation Board for the fiscal year (FY) ending Sept. 30, 2000. The final version of the bill, which was signed by President Clinton, devoted $376,072,000 for the administration and operation of FHWA.

The bill provides $50.2 billion in funding for the nation's vital transportation and related safety needs.

-- U.S. House of Representatives

President Signs Bill to Improve Motor Carrier Safety

President Clinton signed H.R. 3036 on Oct. 19 (Public Law No. 106-73), which provides for interim continuation of administration of motor carrier functions by FHWA. It also allows the U.S. DOT to assess civil penalties for violations of motor carrier safety regulations. This legislation also allows personnel of the Office of Motor Carrier Safety to resume working with U.S. Attorneys' Offices, the DOT Inspector General's Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on matters dealing with enforcement of motor carrier regulations.

These functions were suspended because of a provision in the DOT appropriations act signed into law on Oct. 9. The provision prohibited FHWA from spending funds for the functions and activities of the Office of Motor Carriers (OMC). The Secretary, under separate statutory authority, transferred most OMC functions to a new, stand-alone office in the department -- the Office of Motor Carrier Safety. However, the authority to assess civil penalties could not be transferred and, therefore, could not be performed. This bill eliminates the gap in the regulatory authority.

Rep. Bud Shuster introduced the bill on Oct. 7.

Management and Administration

DOT Sponsors Forum to Improve Mobility

DOT will sponsor a series of forums to help regions reduce traffic congestion and promote safety.
DOT will sponsor a series of forums to help regions reduce traffic congestion and promote safety. A national survey showed that in more than 30 of the nation's largest metropolitan areas, traffic congestion has more than tripled in the past 16 years.

DOT announced a series of regional community-building forums to focus on fostering mobility, improving transportation safety, and protecting the environment. The series of forums, to be held in New York; Denver; Seattle; Boston; Kansas City, Mo.; Houston; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Philadelphia; and Chicago will continue through February 2000. The first was held in Atlanta on Oct. 13.

Each forum should produce an action plan designed to meet the needs of each community and should address the issues of transportation safety, congestion, and livability in each region.

A national survey showed that in more than 30 of the nation's largest metropolitan areas, traffic congestion has more than tripled in the past 16 years. The report disclosed that the cost of congestion now totals $72 billion.

RSPA and NMSHTD Sign Agreement

DOT's Research and Special Programs Administration and the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department (NMSHTD) have agreed to provide highway improvements to the public that will come with a roadway performance warranty. The agreement is called New Mexico's Road-Lifecycle Innovative Financial Evaluation (LIFE). The program will evaluate cost-savings to the government by determining the advantages of providing warrantied highway improvements. Warranties, although innovative in the United States, have been used in Europe and have proven to be cost-effective.

Under terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), NMSHTD has negotiated and signed a contract with a subdivision of Kock Industries of Wichita, Kan., to design; manage; construct, and, at the option of the state, partially finance the expansion of a 195-km section of New Mexico Highway 44 to four lanes. Kock will also guarantee the overall performance of the highway pavement for 20 years from the date of completion (no later than November 2001) and also will provide a 10-year warranty for the bridges, drainage, and erosion-control features of the highway.

DOT Awards Grants Under IVI

DOT issued four Intelligent Vehicle Initiative (IVI) grants, totaling $12.7 million. IVI is a vehicle component of the DOT's Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) program, authorized in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). The grants, along with $7.7 million contributed from partners, will fund operational tests of advanced safety systems having to do with rollover of large trucks, rear-end collisions, roadway-departure collisions, and warning systems.

The following organizations will lead partnerships for testing:

  • Freightliner Corporation will lead a partnership to test a "Rollover Stability Advisor."
  • Volvo Trucks North America Inc. will lead a partnership to test large trucks equipped with a collision-warning system and an advanced braking system.
  • Mack Trucks Inc. will test an infrastructure-assisted hazard warning system for commercial vehicles.
  • The Minnesota Department of Transportation will lead a partnership that will test a fleet of snowplows equipped with collision-warning and lateral guidance systems.

The mission of IVI is to expedite the availability of advanced safety systems to the consumer market.

Technical News

FHWA Develops Training Session to Promote Heat Straightening

FHWA developed a training session to promote heat straightening -- an effective, economical repair technique that significantly decreases the time it takes to repair a damaged steel beam or girder.

Heat straightening of a steel beam or girder can be done quickly and onsite by heating and reworking the beam, while in place, to restore it to its full load-carrying capacity. Typically, when a beam is damaged, engineers remove the entire bridge segment to repair it, or replace the entire beam, resulting in lane closures and congestion-causing construction activity. Heat straightening, when done correctly, eliminates the need to remove, reconstruct, or replace damaged segments and can be completed in a fraction of the time required for other repair techniques. There are also fewer supplies needed for this process, which lowers the overall cost of repair.

The technique of heat straightening has been in use for almost 50 years, but few craftsmen had the ability to do it, which made the technique expensive. Prior to these training sessions, engineers who supervised such repairs had little guidance on proper procedures for the specific damage configurations or how to avoid problems, such as overheating and improper application of force. Although the technique is highly effective, many state DOTs avoided using it because when performed incorrectly, heat straightening could cause fractures and permanent weakening of the repaired structure. FHWA developed the workshops and laboratory demonstrations to help engineers at state and local highway agencies learn to properly conduct, inspect, and supervise heat-straightening repairs.

In November, the Minnesota Department of Transportation hosted one of these training sessions, which features two CD-ROMs, instructional videotapes, case studies, and the first comprehensive manual written about the technique.

D.C. Uses ECE to Protect Bridges From Corrosion

The District of Columbia Department of Public Works (DCDPW) will use electrochemical chloride extraction (ECE) to expedite rehabilitation of the Eastern Avenue bridge in northeast Washington, D.C. ECE is a fast and economical way to protect bridge structures, and extend a bridge's service life by as much as 20 years.

ECE is a process that uses electrical currents to draw chloride ions (salt) away from reinforcing steel bars embedded inside the concrete. This eliminates the corrosive environment caused by de-icing salts and prevents further deterioration of the structure. It also restores the alkalinity of the concrete, recreating a corrosion-resistant barrier to protect the steel from future damage. ECE can be used to rehabilitate structures that have experienced minor corrosion, such as the abutments on the Eastern Avenue bridge.

The district will save more than $250,000 by using the new technique. The project will be completed six months ahead of schedule because using ECE is faster and more cost-effective than replacing the bridge abutments.

This technique was patented in Europe.

Public Information and Information Exchange

FCC Makes Radio Spectrum Available for ITS

The Federal Communications Commission advanced DOT's Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) program by allocating a range of 5850 to 5925 megahertz (MHZ) for dedicated short-range communications between vehicles and electronic systems on the roadside, such as at toll booths or intersections.

ITS technologies promote safety by helping drivers avoid collisions at intersections, by allowing ambulance operators to command a green light when approaching an intersection, by permitting a driver to pay for parking electronically, and by facilitating and expediting commercial vehicle clearance and safety inspections by performing them at highway speeds instead of requiring trucks to leave the roadway.

FHWA's goal is to have an integrated ITS deployment in 75 cities and 25 states within the next 10 years. FHWA partnered with the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) for this initiative. ITS America petitioned the FCC for a radio spectrum for this purpose.

Transportation and Interior Departments Join to Benefit National Parks

The U.S. DOT's ITS Joint Program Office and the National Park Service have united in a joint venture to field test ITS applications at Acadia National Park in Maine.

The ITS operational test involves an Advanced Traveler Information System (ATIS). ATIS will give travelers real-time information on parking availability, bus arrival and departure times, weather, and other information. The system is expected to decrease congestion by encouraging visitors to ride the Island Explorer Shuttle System.

Transportation information collected will be transferred to other parks across the nation. The cost of the project will be about $2 million, to be jointly funded by the two departments.

Arcadia National Park has 14,165 hectares mostly on Mount Desert Island, on the east coast of Maine. Nearly two million people visited the park during the summer of 1997, and in July and August, the number of visitors to Acadia exceeded that of Yosemite National Park.

The final design of the system will be completed by early spring of 2000. Installation of the system will begin in early summer. DOT will also fund an independent evaluation of the field test.

ASCE Names Top Achievements of the Century

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) named the top 10 civil engineering

Long-span bridges, such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, were named by ASCE as one of the top 10 civil engineering achievemnets of this century.
Long-span bridges, such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, were named by ASCE as one of the top 10 civil engineering achievements of this century.

achievements of this century. ASCE asked its 123,000 members to nominate civil engineering achievements that have had the most positive impact on society in the 20th century. A multidisciplinary panel of engineering experts selected the following top ten:

  • Airport Design and Development.
  • Dams.
  • Interstate Highway System.
  • Long-Span Bridges.
  • Rail Transportation.
  • Sanitary Landfills/Solid Waste Disposal.
  • Skyscrapers.
  • Waste Water Disposal.
  • Water Supply and Distribution.
  • Water Transportation (Canals and Ports).

-- ASCE

DOT Issues ITS Guidelines

The U.S. DOT issued guidelines for the evaluation of ITS operational tests and deployments. These guidelines were required by TEA-21 and were published in the Sept. 20, 1999 issue of the Federal Register. They outline a recommended six-step evaluation process, as well as reporting requirements for those project partnerships receiving federal ITS funds. The guidelines reference the ITS Program Assessment/Evaluation section of the FHWA's ITS Joint Program Office (JPO) Web site (http://www.its.dot.gov/evaluation/), which contains more detailed information pertaining to ITS evaluation.

-- ITS America

Aerial photo of the new U.S. 1 highway bridge over the Neuse River in New Bern, North Carolina.
Aerial photo of the U.S. 1 highway bridge over the Neuse River in New Bern, N.C., with the town of New Bern to the left. The old bridge is to the upper left.

New Bridge Unveiled in North Carolina

The U.S. 17 highway bridge over the Neuse River in New Bern, N.C., was unveiled this November. The project, which cost $120 million, is the largest single contract of its type in the state DOT's history. Contractors constructed a multilane fixed-span bridge, which is more than 3048 meters long; a new tri-level interchange over an existing interchange; and eight interchange bridges up to 1067 meters long.

The new bridge has a 81-meter main channel span, one of the largest in North Carolina, as well as 65 feet of vertical navigation channel clearance.

-- Ralph Whitehead Associates Inc.

FHWA Announces 1999 Eisenhower Fellowship Winners

FHWA announced the selection of the 1999 Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship recipients. The grants aim to attract outstanding students to the field of transportation research and the transportation workforce.

Eisenhower Fellowship Awards have six categories:

  • Graduate.
  • Graduate Grants for Research.
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
  • Hispanic-Serving Institutions.
  • Tribal Colleges.
  • Faculty.

The Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program was established in 1992 under the provisions of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 and was re-authorized in 1998 by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.

The list of 1999 fellowship recipients is available online.

ASCE Names Blue Ridge Parkway as a National Historic Landmark

The American Society of Civil Engineers named the Blue Ridge Parkway as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. The parkway is among 25 international and 169 national historic civil engineering landmarks that the society has designated as such since 1966. Other landmarks include the Panama Canal, the Eiffel Tower, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

The parkway is 755 kilometers long and spans the distance between the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains national parks. It was constructed over 52 years, from 1935 to 1987, and in November 1933, it was the longest road in America to ever to be planned as a single unit.

The last segment of the parkway, the Linn Cove Viaduct, was the first segmental structure in North America to be built by progressive placement (building from the top down, using the last segment constructed as a platform to build the next segment) to preserve the natural landscape.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is the most visited area in the National Park System.

-- ASCE

The American Society of Civil Engineers named the Blue Ridge Parkway as a National Historical Civil Engineering Landmark.
The American Society of Civil Engineers named the Blue Ridge Parkway as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. (Photo taken in North Carolina.)

DOT Distributes Video on Highway-Rail Grade Crossing

An educational video titled "ROLL CALL: Highway-Rail Grade-Crossing Safety" will be distributed nationwide to local law enforcement agencies. The video will help law enforcement officers educate motorists and pedestrians about highway safety near railroads.

The video explains the need for enforcement of traffic and trespassing laws, types of warning signs and signals, laws and civil rulings, available enforcement tools, and the investigation of grade-crossing collisions.

The video was produced in partnership with Operation Lifesaver, Inc., Washington State Operation Lifesaver, and the Washington State Patrol and was developed to be shown at daily "roll calls" of state and local law enforcement officials.

Safety at highway-rail grade crossings has improved dramatically during the last six years. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, between 1993 and 1998, highway-rail incidents declined 28 percent, highway-rail fatalities declined 31 percent, and highway-rail injuries declined 29 percent.

Personnel

FTA's Linton Departs; Fernandez Named Acting Administrator

Federal Transit Administrator Gordon J. Linton left the agency this fall. Nuria I. Fernandez, deputy administrator of FTA, was named acting administrator on Nov. 5.

Linton, who was sworn in as the 13th head of FTA in 1993, was the longest-serving head of the federal transit program since it was enacted in 1961. He left the agency to form a consulting firm specializing in transportation and innovative financing.

Linton managed a staff of nearly 500 employees in designing and directing more than $37 billion in federal mass transit investments -- including 22 major new investments, the FTA's 22 Livable Communities Initiative projects, and the Access to Jobs program.

Fernandez joined the agency as deputy administrator in July 1997. Prior to her appointment as deputy administrator of FTA, Fernandez worked for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) as the assistant general manager for design and construction. From 1993 to 1994, she served as a special assistant for budget and programs in DOT, where she assisted with the formulation of the department's annual budget and with strategic planning for the national transportation system.

Hampton Elected ASCE President

Delon Hampton was elected president of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Hampton is chairman and CEO of Delon Hampton & Associates, Chartered (DHA), a 26-year-old consulting, engineering, design, and construction-management services firm in Washington, D.C. He serves on the Business Member Board of Governors of the American Public Transit Association, is active in several civic organizations, serves on the Greater Washington Board of Trade's Board of Directors, and has served on Montgomery County, Md., Economic Advisory Council. He is also director of the Center for National Policy.

ASCE represents more than 123,000 civil engineers, and it is the nation's oldest national engineering society.

-- ASCE

Martinez Returns to Private Sector; Millman Named Acting NHTSA Administrator

Ricardo Martinez, M.D., left his position as administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Rosalyn G. Millman was named acting administrator on Oct. 20.

Martinez was sworn in as NHTSA's 10th administrator in 1994. Prior to joining the department, he was associate director of the Center for Injury Control at Emory University's School of Medicine in Atlanta. Martinez stepped down to take a position with an Internet-based health care company in Atlanta.

Millman joined the agency as deputy administrator in September. Prior to her appointment, she served for six years as a transportation economist on the Democratic staff of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for the U.S. House of Representatives. She drafted the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 and the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act. Most recently, she worked for the Subcommittee on Ground Transportation.

Readership Survey in 2000

Public Roads is conducting a survey of our readers to evaluate how well we have been satisfying your need and desire for information about advances and innovations in highway/traffic research and technology, critical national transportation issues, important activities and achievements of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and others in the highway community, specific FHWA program areas, and subjects of interest to highway industry professionals.

With the help of the Promotion and Advertising Branch of the U.S. Government Printing Office, we developed a questionnaire that will be distributed soon. We're shooting for a full census of our regular readers so that we can maximize feedback and eliminate sampling error. Every response is very important to us. We're seeking hard, precise data to guide the development of your magazine. We also want to ensure that each subgroup of readers -- such as the subgroup you represent -- plays a meaningful part in this process.

In 1995-96, we conducted a similar survey, and we received some great feedback. Perhaps, the most dramatic change we made as a result of the feedback was to increase the distribution frequency of Public Roads from four issues per year to six per year in response to those who wanted more information and coverage of more subjects.

If you receive a survey in the mail, please complete the questionnaire and return it as soon as possible. Thanks! We're anxious to analyze the results and to use your comments to produce a more interesting, useful, and relevant magazine. When the analysis is completed, we will report the results to you in Public Roads.

Share Your Ideas!

You don't have to wait for a readership survey to share your ideas with us. Public Roads is continuously soliciting direct input and feedback from our readers. Please send your comments about the articles and information presented in the magazine as well as your suggestions for new or follow-on articles. You are our partner in an information exchange. You can share your ideas and opinions by contacting the editor at Public Roads, Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, Attention: HRTS, 6300 Georgetown Pike, McLean, VA 22101-2296, or via Internet to Martha.Soneira@fhwa.dot.gov. Please provide your telephone number and e-mail address. Letters should be less than 250 words. Public Roads reserves the right to determine which letters to the editor will be published and to edit all published letters.

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