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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations
This magazine is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information.
|Publication Number: Date: Jan/Feb 2001|
Issue No: Vol. 64 No. 4
Date: Jan/Feb 2001
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
Senate and House Pass Transportation Appropriations Legislation In October 2000, the Senate and House passed the fiscal year 2001 Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which provides a record $58.5 billion for transportation programs. The act contains many important safety provisions. These include a measure that enables the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to proceed with all stages of rulemaking ¾ short of a final rule ¾ on "hours of service," which concerns the amount of time drivers of large interstate trucks and buses can spend behind the wheel. It also permits DOT to move forward with a proposal for rollover ratings on cars and light trucks while the National Academy of Sciences studies this issue. In addition, the act contains funding increases requested by the administration in the area of pipeline safety and to enhance the defect investigation program. This legislation funds Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Federal Highway Administration programs at record levels. It includes $2.66 billion to support FAA's capital modernization program and $600 million for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. It will also provide $521 million for capital grants to Amtrak, enabling investment in passenger rail service in America, and $4.5 billion for the U.S. Coast Guard, including funding for the Deepwater program. The latter will enable DOT to continue efforts to modernize the vessels and aircraft that monitor the high seas, many of which are approaching the end of their service lives.
FMCSA Will Participate in ITDS Pilot Program DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will participate in the International Trade Data System (ITDS) at federal ports of entry in Buffalo, N.Y., in 2001. FMCSA signed an inter-agency agreement with the ITDS board of directors in October 2000. The pilot program in Buffalo will be the first deployment of ITDS, an integrated government-wide system for the electronic collection, use, and dissemination of international trade transaction data. Essentially, ITDS interfaces with government agency systems and provides for advanced filing by traders and motor carriers so that federal agencies can pre-clear cargo, conveyance, and crew before they arrive at a border crossing. When fully developed over the next five to six years, ITDS will be the public and inter-agency interface for all international trade and transportation transactions for the movement of cargo in either direction across U.S. borders. The ITDS board, chaired by the U.S. International Trade Commission and composed of federal agencies with significant responsibilities for the collection, analysis, or policy formulation of trade data, is directing the project. The U.S. Customs Service is coordinating the development of the required computer system. In addition to FMCSA and the U.S. Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Food and Drug Administration, and the trade and transportation communities are expected to participate in this initial pilot program in Buffalo.
New Standard Requires Internal Trunk Releases on Cars Former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater announced that effective Sept. 1, 2001, a new federal motor vehicle safety standard will require all passenger cars with trunks to have a release or other automatic system inside to allow children or adults to escape. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) new standard adopts the approach recommended by the Expert Panel on Trunk Entrapment, established by NHTSA in November 1998. The panel, chaired by Dr. Heather Paul of the Safe Kids Campaign, included experts on child psychology and behavior and representatives of safety advocacy, automotive engineering, vehicle manufacturing, law enforcement, medical, and other groups.
New Safety Standard Set for Electric Vehicles DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a new federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) to prevent deaths or injuries when an electric vehicle is involved in a crash. The new standard, FMVSS No. 305, "Electric-Powered Vehicles: Electrolyte Spillage and Electrical Shock Protection," will be effective Oct. 1, 2001. It applies to all vehicles that use more than 48 volts of electricity as propulsion power and that have a maximum speed of more than 25 miles per hour (40 kilometers per hour). However, it will not apply to electric vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds (4,536 kilograms). Standard No. 305 specifies requirements for limitation of hazardous electrolyte spillage, for the retention of propulsion batteries during a crash so that they do not intrude into the passenger compartment, and for the isolation of the chassis from the high-voltage system to prevent electrical shock. Tests to demonstrate compliance can be combined with other crash tests.
Congress Provides ITS Funds for FY 2001 Congress passed and former President Bill Clinton signed a $58 billion annual spending bill for DOT that includes $268 million for dedicated Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) programs plus more than $10 billion that can be used for ITS projects at the discretion of state and local governments. Of the $268 million, $100 million is for ITS research projects, including $30 million for the Intelligent Vehicle Initiative (IVI) Program. Another $118 million is for ITS deployment projects and is earmarked for particular geographic areas. The measure also provides $50 million to deploy an intelligent transportation infrastructure system in up to 40 metropolitan areas each with a population exceeding 300,000. These funds were included in Section 5117, the Transportation Technology Innovation and Demonstration Program. ¾ ITS America
Management and Administration
DOT Presents New Strategic Plan for 2000-2005 On Sept. 7, 2000, former Secretary Slater presented DOT's Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2000-2005. The plan establishes six strategic goals that reflect and balance the complexities of the nation's transportation enterprise in the areas of safety, mobility, economic growth, human and natural environment, national security, and organizational excellence. These strategic goals sharpen the focus of DOT's mission ¾ to serve the United States by ensuring a safe transportation system that furthers vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), however, will continue to operate under the goals and objectives that are outlined in the 1998 FHWA National Strategic Plan, which remains the agency=s Ablueprint@ for establishing priorities and operational direction. A recent review and evaluation of both the 1998 FHWA Strategic Plan and the new DOT Strategic Plan revealed that, overall, the strategic goals and objectives contained within both plans were in substantial alignment. At this time, FHWA has no plan to immediately develop a new strategic plan although it will be considered during the next year. You can see the text of the DOT Strategic Plan 2000-2005 at www.dot.gov.
Transit Web Site Database Announced The ITS Joint Program Office has announced the availability of the transit Web site database, transitweb.volpe.dot.gov, developed by research staff at the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. The database catalogues more than 600 transit agencies that provide static and/or dynamic transit information to riders via the Internet. The purpose of the Web site is to allow transit agencies that are considering setting up their own Web site to see what their peers in similar communities have done. For more information concerning the database or ongoing research to assist transit agency Web site development, contact Sari Radin at the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, (617) 494-2209.
FDOT Develops Electronic File Method for Securing Plans Combining ancient technology - "ink pen and embossing seal" ¾ with the latest computer technology - "electronic signature" - the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has developed an engineering board-approved method for securing engineering plans in electronic files. FDOT can use these signed and sealed electronic files as the legally binding documents for lettings, construction, and as-built plans. The Florida Board of Professional Engineers, a licensing board that regulates the practice of engineering in the state, very carefully controls the use of engineering seals. The board extended its rule for signing and sealing engineering plans to include the use of electronic signatures to secure electronic files. This process did not require the board to modify how it manages engineer licensing. This innovative technique, which is the first of its kind in the world, still relies on signing and sealing by an engineer, but what the engineer signs and seals now is a single sheet of paper that contains a computer-generated numerical code ¾ the electronic signature ¾ that cannot be forged and can be used later to authenticate the drawings and plans that are electronically delivered. The engineer's signature and seal on the paper secures this electronic signature, which secures all the engineering plans in the electronic files. A federal testing laboratory that reviews security software, including cryptographic programs, for the U.S. government has approved the program that generates the electronic signatures. FDOT received help from the State Technology Office and assistance from other state and private groups, which supported development, provided legal and technical assistance, and helped get the engineering board to review and approve the computer-based approach. The electronic signing and sealing process developed by FDOT and approved by the engineering board has also been approved by the state licensing boards that oversee architects, geologists, and surveyors. To date, no other state has approved a secure method of managing electronic copies of engineering documents. Several other states have expressed an interest in this innovative approach. This new process will also benefit engineers that develop plans for the state. After approval by the Florida Board of Professional Engineers, the new Florida method has been tested and certified and the first set of electronic engineering plans has been delivered on CD-ROM. The first set of electronically signed and sealed engineering plans, developed by Reynolds, Smith, and Hills Inc., are for a road reconstruction and widening project in Miami-Dade County, part of the Homestead Extension of Florida's turnpike.
Public Information and Information Exchange
$73 Million for Welfare-to-Work Transportation Seventy-three million dollars in funds from the Job Access and Reverse Commute Program will help former welfare recipients and others needing entry-level jobs get to and from jobs. The program, which includes 216 transit projects in 39 states and the District of Columbia, is an innovative approach to providing transportation for those who need it. The program brings together transit providers, community organizers, planners, and others committed to making the welfare reform initiative work. The Job Access and Reverse Commute Program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration, supports agencies all over the country as they help welfare recipients make the transition to employment and independence and as they help others who need entry-level jobs find and retain work. Projects will include new bus or van service, extended bus routes, expanded service hours, or door-to-door service to accommodate shift and weekend workers and workers with non-traditional working hours. They also will include linking workers to jobs near child care and transit facilities, trip mapping, carpooling and van pooling, employer subsidies, and guaranteed rides home in emergency situations.
ASCE Announces Two New Institutes Two new institutes chartered by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) offer a full range of services to professionals practicing in the construction and coast/ocean/port/river industries. The Construction Institute (CI) and the Coasts, Oceans, Ports, and Rivers Institute (COPRI), like other ASCE institutes, seek to address the growing specialization within the civil engineering field, as well as its increasingly multidisciplinary nature. CI incorporates the former ASCE Construction Division, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2000, as well as the ASCE Materials Division. In addition to 11,000 ASCE members who have selected construction or materials as their primary technical affiliation, CI membership is also open to individuals involved in designing, building, or teaching construction and to those who work for equipment and materials suppliers; testing laboratories; and bonding, insurance, or legal firms. CI offers members the opportunity to network with other professionals, sharpen skills, and shape the future of the field by participating in technical activities, conferences, and the development of standards and manuals. Members will receive discounts on CI journals and other publications, conferences, and continuing education courses. CI and COPRI join four other ASCE institutes: the Geo-Institute, the Structural Engineering Institute, the Architectural Engineering Institute, and the Environmental Water Resources Institute. A transportation institute is under development. The institutes are based at the ASCE world headquarters in Reston, Va. - American Society of Civil Engineers
DOT Announces Land Transfer for California Bridge The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) used authority available to them under federal law to transfer land from the U.S. Navy to the state of California. The land is needed for building a new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The new span is needed to withstand earthquakes and provide a Alifeline@ facility between Oakland and San Francisco in the event of a major earthquake. The Navy owns land on Yerba Buena Island that will be needed for the proposed construction. The Federal Highway Administration notified the Navy that it was transferring the land from the Navy to the state of California based on a longstanding provision in federal law that permits federal land transfers for the Interstate Highway System. The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is on the Interstate system. The land is needed under various design and location alternatives for the new span. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a study in October 2000 on the design selected by the California Department of Transportation, which called for a northern alignment location of the new span. On Sept. 22, 2000, in an Interim Final Report, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded, "A replacement alternative is the path that most quickly resolves the exposure of the public to the seismic vulnerabilities of the existing structure."
Minority and Women Entrepreneurs Honored During DOT Awards Ceremony Minority and women entrepreneurs who have had significant achievements and made vital contributions to the transportation industry and the nation's economy were honored at a U.S. DOT Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Awards Ceremony. The DOT Awards Ceremony was part of the 18th annual national observance of the MED Week Conference, which was celebrated Sept. 24-27, 2000. The theme for MED Week was "New Horizons: The Emerging Minority Marketplace." Former Secretary Slater noted that DOT has exceeded its goals for contract awards to minority-owned businesses for each of the last three years. In 1999, 17.9 percent of DOT contracts went to minority-owned businesses, up from 17 percent the previous year, and well above the department's goal of 14.5 percent. In addition, more DOT contracts are being awarded to businesses owned by women than ever before.
Memorandum of Cooperation Signed by Former Secretary Slater Former Secretary Slater announced an agreement with the government of Mexico that will enhance both nations' statistical capabilities and promote improved transportation statistics and analysis. The Memorandum of Cooperation was signed by Slater and Secretary Carlos Ruiz Sacristan of the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation of Mexico. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) will be the lead agency in DOT on statistical exchanges with Mexico. The agreement creates a Joint Working Group. The two agencies are interested in cooperating through the exchange of experience in technical and scientific areas, exchange of observers and staff, and coordination and planning to further ongoing work in the area of North American transportation statistics and related initiatives.
Utah Receives $26 Million for 2002 Winter Olympics Utah will receive grants totaling $26 million in DOT funds for 2002 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games transportation projects. During the Olympic Games, spectators will use a variety of intermodal mass transit options to get to competition venues in the Salt Lake City area. For events scheduled in the mountains, spectators will drive to park-and-ride lots located within eight kilometers (five miles) of the venues, and a transit shuttle system will transport them to competition sites. For competitions in the valley, spectators will use a variety of mass transit options, including light rail, buses, and park-and-walk lots. Projects funded under the $13 million Federal Transit Administration combined grants include expenses for additional buses and light-rail vehicles to supplement existing transit service in Utah, construction of the Olympic Loop Busway at Snowbasin Ski Resort, park-and-ride lots, walk-and-ride lots, and other facilities that form the Olympic transit shuttle system. Utah will also receive $12.9 million in discretionary funds from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). These grants include $8 million for the widening of I-15, a vital link in the Salt Lake City region, and $1.9 million for improvements to roads that access Wasatch Mountain State Park and the widening of Soldier Hollow Road, an important access road to cross-country skiing and biathlon venues. Additional projects funded under FHWA grants include nearly $2 million for two intelligent transportation systems, $469,750 for the Utah-Colorado "Isolated Empire" rail connector planning study, $400,000 in corridor planning funds, $75,000 for three projects in the Scenic Byways Program, and $68,500 under the Innovative Bridge Research and Construction Program.
PNGV Keeps Funding Level Despite Battle The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) has survived an attempt at substantial cuts by a congressional alliance of both parties. PNGV funding for 2001 is included in the final U.S. Department of Interior appropriations bill and, after a struggle, now reflects a level equivalent to last year's. The partnership is intended to support fuel economy improvements without sacrificing vehicle power, safety, or air quality. Much of the program's funding had been gutted in June after House members voted to remove more than $125 million of U.S. Department of Energy support. An unlikely alliance of conservative members objecting to "corporate welfare" and liberal members critical of the program's emphasis on diesel technology pushed the effort to curtail PNGV. With funding restored, the program's target of vehicle delivery by 2004 may still have life. The initial prototype is expected to be a diesel/electric hybrid. While many environmental advocates are still disappointed with the focus on diesel technology, other elements of the program, such as lightweight materials research and fuel cell development, get high marks from the environmental community.
Civis Bus Brings Las Vegas Back to the Future In April 2002, North Las Vegas will test a French-made, electric-powered bus along the northern section of Las Vegas Boulevard. Federal transportation funds and some state and local funds will be used to pay for the $4.5 million test project.
The French-made Civis bus will be tested in North Las Vegas in 2002.
Florida's Road Rangers to the Rescue Looking for new ways to handle car breakdowns and accidents that can bring traffic to a standstill, the Florida Department of Transportation will expand a program in which mechanics constantly patrol major highways, on the lookout for stranded motorists. The state has budgeted $468,000 a year to start the program in Jacksonville, part of a statewide expansion of Road Rangers to all of Florida's biggest cities. In Jacksonville, the state wants to start the program with six trucks patrolling four major thoroughfares: Interstate 295, Interstate 10 from I-295 to the Fuller Warren Bridge, Interstate 95 from Airport Road to I-295, and Butler Boulevard. South Florida already has Road Rangers service that operates around the clock, seven days a week. In Jacksonville, the state wants service from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. every Monday through Friday. The Road Rangers, who will perform services such as changing a flat tire, putting gas in a car, or giving a battery a jump start, will move cars to the side of the highway and take up to 15 minutes to make any basic repairs. Road Rangers will provide this assistance free of charge. If more extensive repairs are needed, the motorist will still need to call a private wrecker service to be towed. The Road Rangers will have cellular telephones, allowing motorists to make two local calls. A Road Ranger should arrive on the scene within 20 minutes; however, a motorist may call the Florida Highway Patrol, which will be in communication with the Road Rangers. - The Florida Times-Union
States Get $200 Million in Discretionary Funds Two hundred million dollars in FHWA discretionary funds were granted for 401 infrastructure projects in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Grants were provided to the states in six categories. The categories, number of grants and total amount provided are:
Public lands highways grants provide funds for the construction of highways on public lands such as national parks. TCSP is an initiative that will assist communities as they work to solve interrelated problems involving transportation, land development, environmental protection, public safety, and economic development. Ferry boat grants provide funds to facilitate movement of people and goods across inland and coastal waterways. Scenic byways are outstanding roads through areas recognized for their special historic, cultural, natural, or other qualities. Under the National Scenic Byways Program, the states use the funds to develop and implement corridor management plans; construct scenic byways facilities (such as overlooks, interpretative centers, signs, and exhibits); develop interpretative brochures, maps, and information; and promote scenic byways. The Innovative Bridge Research and Construction Program provides funds to help states and municipalities incorporate innovative materials and materials technologies into their bridge projects. The new Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Program provides funds to states for preservation, rehabilitation, or restoration of historic covered bridges. FHWA discretionary funds are made available upon selection by the secretary of transportation. States must request funds for projects that meet criteria established by federal law and DOT regulations and procedures. Congress also makes decisions on some grants.
Highway Honors "Mother of Civil Rights Movement" During the 2000 legislative session, the Missouri Legislature passed a bill, sponsored by state Sen. William Clay and state Rep. Russell Gunn, to name a 1.82-kilometer (1.13-mile) stretch of Interstate 55, south of downtown St. Louis, as the "Rosa Parks Highway." The late Governor Mel Carnahan signed the bill into law on May 30, 2000. Rosa Parks, often called the "mother of the civil rights movement," is best known for her refusal to give up her seat on a segregated Montgomery, Ala., bus in December 1955. Her subsequent arrest was the catalyst for the year-long Montgomery bus boycott, the first victory in the growing civil rights movement. Secretary Slater joined Sen. Clay and Rep. Gunn, government officials, state highway personnel, and community and religious leaders in unveiling the new signs that will mark the highway.
NHTSA Publishes List of Recalls The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a list of September 2000 motor vehicle and equipment safety recalls. The release, NHTSA 50-00, identifies the make and model of the vehicles and equipment involved, with a brief description of each safety problem. The list can be obtained by calling NHTSA's Office of Public and Consumer Affairs at (202) 366-9550, or by visiting NHTSA's Web site at www.nhtsa.dot.gov/.
FHWA and RSF Sponsor National Roadway Safety Leadership Awards FHWA and the Roadway Safety Foundation (RSF) are sponsoring the fourth biennial 2001 National Roadway Safety Leadership Awards, which will recognize roadway safety excellence by state, local, and federal agencies and the private sector. The awards will be given in three categories: safety improvements; operational improvements; and program planning, development, and evaluation. Entry forms for the awards program may be obtained from FHWA or RSF and should be submitted by April 16, 2001. For further information contact the FHWA Office of Safety at (202) 366-1795, or contact the Roadway Safety Foundation, 1776 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, (202) 857-1200.
Personnel Mineta Sworn in as 14th U.S. Transportation SecretaryNorman Y. Mineta was sworn in as the 14th U.S. Secretary of Transportation, following a unanimous confirmation by the U.S.Senate. On January 24, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved Mineta's nomination and sent it forward for unanimous approval by the entire U.S Senate even before Mineta's confirmation hearing concluded. At his confirmation hearing, Mineta said transportation challenges facing the department include guaranteeing the safety of the traveling public, closing the gap between the demand for transportation and the capacity of the transportation infrastructure, applying new technology to complex real-world transportation problems and keeping the protective function of the U.S. Coast Guard up to its law enforcement task. Prior to joining President Bush's administration as U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Mineta served as U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton, becoming the first Asian Pacific American to serve in the cabinet. He became the first Secretary of Transportation to have served in a cabinet position. Prior to joining the Commerce Department, he was a vice president at Lockheed Martin Corporation. From 1975 to 1995 he served as a member of U.S. House of Representatives, representing the heart of California's Silicon Valley. He co-founded the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and served as its first chair. Mineta also served as chairman of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee between 1992 and 1994. He chaired the committee's aviation subcommittee between 1981 and 1988, and its Surface Transportation Subcommittee from 1989 to 1991.
ASCE Names Assistant Executive Director The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the oldest national engineering society in the United States, named nationally recognized civil and geotechnical engineer Lawrence H. Roth as assistant executive director and chief operating officer. A fellow of ASCE, Roth has held the highest national office for both the Association of Engineering Firms Practicing in the Geosciences and for the ASCE Geo-Institute, which he helped found. For his accomplishments and contributions to ASCE and to the profession, Roth received the 1998 ASCE President's Medal. In October 2000, he received the prestigious Distinguished Service Citation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering, his alma mater. During his career, Roth has contributed to several high-profile projects, including the seismic retrofitting of the Golden Gate Bridge, the environmental review of a major Chilean copper mine, and the preliminary design of new offshore runways for San Francisco International Airport.
Miller Promoted to Division Administrator Philip Miller was promoted to division administrator in Cheyenne, Wyo. Miller previously served as assistant division administrator in St. Paul, Minn. In the past, he held several other key positions in FHWA, such as director, Office of Planning and Program Development in the former Region 5 Regional Office at Olympia Fields, Ill., and district engineer in the Kansas Division. Miller has been with FHWA for 27 years and is a graduate of the Highway Engineer Training Program.
Hamby Selected for SES Position Gary N. Hamby was selected for advancement into the Senior Executive Service (SES) position of director of field services-- - West, effective Oct. 22, 2000. The director of field services - West serves as an extension of the Office of the Executive Director, Federal Highway Administration. His duties include assisting the executive director in the leadership of the federal-aid field offices and providing administrative supervision of division administrators and the manager of the Western Resource Center. Hamby had been serving as acting director of field services - West since July 2000. His previous position was manager of the Western Resource Center. Prior to joining the western resource center, he worked at FHWA headquarters as the chief, State Programs Division, National Highway Institute. Hamby also served in other field positions, such as division administrator in Connecticut and in New Jersey and deputy regional federal highway administrator in the former Region 4 Regional Office in Atlanta, Ga. He began his career as a highway engineer trainee in 1969.