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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 66· No. 2 > Along the Road

Sept/Oct 2002
Vol. 66· No. 2

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 U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.

Policy and Legislation

Secretary Mineta Announces Policy on Alternative Dispute Resolution

In June 2002, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced a statement of policy on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to further the U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) commitment to expanding the use of consensual dispute resolution to avoid costly litigation and lengthy administrative processes.

ADR emphasizes creative problem solving and encompasses a variety of processes aimed at fostering consensual and collaborative solutions. Using ADR, parties solve problems faster and more effectively, develop win-win solutions, and have more ownership of the outcome. The Statement of Policy commits the Department to consider using ADR in areas like resolution of workplace issues, formal and informal adjudication, rulemaking, enforcement, issuance and revocation of licenses and permits, contract and grant administration, and litigation brought by or against the Department.

Management and Administration

Value Engineering Techniques Saved States $932 Million in 2001

According to a recent FHWA national survey, State highway and transportation departments saved taxpayers more than $932 million in fiscal year 2001 by applying value engineering methods and techniques.

Under value engineering, FHWA and States review highway projects and analyze opportunities for better, less expensive means of completing the project. The idea is to improve project quality and productivity, foster innovation, optimize design elements, and ensure quality financial investments.

The survey reviewed value engineering studies completed on 380 projects nationwide in fiscal year 2001. Based on these studies, 1,058 alternatives and recommendations were approved, resulting in a savings of $932 million.

Money saved through value engineering enables States to squeeze more value from their highway construction dollars. If a State, for example, has $100 million to spend on Federal-aid highway construction and plans to allocate that money to 10 projects each worth $10 million, a value engineering savings of $500,000 on each project would yield $5 million in total savings. Savings can be redirected to help pay for other highway work.

Although value engineering has been in use in the highway industry for more than 30 years, its use has increased substantially in recent years because of additional emphasis on the program at the State level, increased value engineering training and technical assistance provided by FHWA, and a 1995 congressional mandate requiring value engineering on all Federal-aid projects of $25 million or more on the national highway system. States with active value engineering programs continue to experience significant savings.

For additional information on the program, visit FHWA's value engineering Web site at www.fhwa.dot.gov/ve/.

FHWA Approves 12 Value Pricing Projects for 2002

Eight States across the country will soon be offering new commuting choices as they test the potential of value pricing—also known as congestion pricing and peak-period pricing—on their major roads. Under the Value Pricing Pilot Program for fiscal year 2002, FHWA approved seven projects in States with existing projects and five projects in two States that are newcomers to the program. Value pricing represents one way to reduce the waste associated with congestion.

FHWA awarded value-pricing funds totaling more than $8.8 million for the following projects:

  • California will study the potential for implementing the Fast and Intertwined Regular (FAIR) lanes concept—maintaining separate higher-speed electronic toll lanes and regular, cash toll lanes—on Interstates 580 and 680. The California Department of Transportation also will test dynamic (i.e., single-trip) ridesharing in the study corridor in conjunction with priority parking for ridesharing users at participating Bay Area Rapid Transit stations.
  • Colorado's project will manage and partially alleviate severe congestion in Denver during peak periods and encourage greater use of the I-25 high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. The plan will convert the downtown express HOV into a high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane, which would allow single-occupant vehicles to use the HOV lane for a toll.
  • Florida's Department of Transportation (FDOT) is implementing a study of variable tolls at the north and south approaches to Ft. Meyers Beach, which will lead to the first implementation of cordon pricing—tolls paid by motorists to drive into a particular area, usually a city center—in the United States. FDOT also will evaluate the potential for implementing value pricing with open road tolling (ORT) along the SawGrass Expressway in Broward County, FL. FDOT's final project is to sponsor an international technology-sharing symposium meant to foster broader implementation of innovative pricing strategies to meet congestion relief objectives.
  • North Carolina Department of Transportation will contract with North Carolina A&T University to conduct a feasibility study of a HOT lane addition on I-40 in the Piedmont/Research Triangle area.
  • METRO in Portland, OR, will evaluate HOT lanes on Highway 217. In addition, the Oregon Department of Transportation will begin Phase II of its process of identifying alternatives to the fuel tax. Phase II includes a pilot implementation project.
  • Pennsylvania will implement variable pricing strategies on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
  • Texas and the North Central Texas Council of Governments in Dallas will conduct a regional feasibility study to evaluate the potential for implementing region-wide value pricing.
  • Washington Department of Transportation will initiate a global positioning system-based pricing project designed to field test a system-level application of variable direct user charge policies, which will lead to the creation of a trip-based pricing regimen.

For more information about value pricing, visit www.valuepricing.org.

Mineta Announces $56.3 Million in Discretionary Highway Funds for States

In July 2002, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced $56.3 million in FHWA discretionary funds for infrastructure projects in 43 States and Puerto Rico.

FHWA will make funds available to States for projects in the following six categories:

  • Bridge seismic retrofitting ($23.5 million)
  • Innovative bridge research and construction ($17.2 million)
  • Historic covered bridge preservation ($2.8 million)
  • Highway construction on public lands such as national parks ($939,649)
  • Ferry boats and terminals to move people and goods across inland and coastal waterways ($2.94 million)
  • Value pricing projects and research ($8.8 million)

"These funds will enable important transportation projects to move forward," FHWA Administrator Mary E. Peters said. "They will strengthen our transportation system by improving safety and mobility, enhancing environmental protection, and promoting economic growth."

States may request FHWA discretionary funds for projects that meet criteria established by Federal law, USDOT regulations and procedures, and congressional designations.

Technical News

Global Positioning System Accuracy Increased

Researchers working with global positioning systems (GPS) have improved the accuracy of locating a moving object to within 3.5 centimeters (1.4 inches). Previous accuracy was in the range of 20 centimeters (7.9 inches).

High Accuracy-Nationwide Differential Global Positioning Systems (HA-NDGPS), the next step in the evolution of GPS, will support a number of ITS applications that require precise positioning, including collision avoidance and warning systems, as well as "smart" snowplows. Researchers with FHWA, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the National Geodetic Survey are conducting the tests at the HA-NDGPS test facility in Hagerstown, MD.

Researchers working on HA-NDGPS built this diplexer to feed two high-powered broadcast signals into the same broadcast antenna, making maximum use of existing infrastructure.

Photo of diplexer

Researchers working on HA-NDGPS built this diplexer to fee two high-powered broadcast signals into the same broadcast antenna, making maximum use of existing infrastructure.

Study to Develop Superpave Specs for Polymer-Modified Asphalt Binders

Nearly 10 percent of asphalt mixtures laid in the United States each year use modified asphalt binders, yet Superpave specifications only apply to unmodified or "neat" binders.

The asphalt pavement team at FHWA's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) is conducting a study that will help develop Superpave specifications for modified binders and ultimately enable engineers to select binders that increase the longevity of roads in various climates.

The research team is constructing 12 new, hot-mix asphalt (HMA) test lanes at TFHRC's pavement test facility. The 44- by 4-meter (144- by 13-foot) lanes will incorporate eight polymer-modified and four neat asphalt binders. The team will use accelerated loading facility (ALF) machines to study the durability of the different binders.

The binders for the test include:

  • Terminal-Blend Crumb Rubber-Modified Asphalt Binder
  • Crumb Rubber-Modified Asphalt (wet process)
  • Polyester Fiber
  • Polyester Fiber Plus Polymer
  • Elasto Plastomeric Polymer
  • Plastomeric Polymer
  • Elastomeric Polymer
  • Air-Blown Asphalt Binder
  • Control Asphalt Binder

Participants in this national pooled fund project include representatives from the asphalt industry, FHWA's Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division, and FHWA's Office of Pavement Technology, and the project is still open to additional participants.

Public Information and Information Exchange

Illinois Road Construction Web Site Features 3-D Video Clips

Upgrade 74, the rehabilitation of I-74 from Pinecrest Drive in East Peoria, IL, to I-474 in Peoria, IL, is the Illinois Department of Transportation's largest road construction project in the history of the southern part of the State. The project Web site at www.upgrade74.com contains several interesting features, including a number of computer-generated video clips that offer a 3-D perspective of the new roadway as if the viewer were in a helicopter flying above the highway or in a vehicle driving down the road. Users simply click on any one of a dozen movie clips in the Project Gallery to download and view the 3-D renderings of the planned improvements.

Photo of computer-generated video clip of completed highway
Photo by: Illinois Department of Transportation

The Illinois Department of Transportation's Upgrade 74 Web site features computer-generated video clips that show a likeness of the completed highway.

FHWA Releases New Edition of Our Nation's Highways

In July 2002, FHWA released Our Nation's Highways—2000, a biennial publication on U.S. roads and road users.

"Our Nation's Highways provides valuable information on all aspects of America's highway system in a concise, easy-to-use format," FHWA Administrator Mary E. Peters said. "The report is particularly useful to citizens everywhere who can easily find information in it about highways, funding, commuting trends, and other important areas."

On both a national and State-by-State basis, the publication contains extensive information on topics including:

  • The number of vehicles and licensed drivers
  • Fuel tax rates and the amount of fuel consumed
  • Highway fatalities
  • Highway and transportation expenditures

The publication also contains data from large urbanized areas on the number of highway miles, vehicle miles traveled, trips per capita, commute times and lengths, and telecommuting trends. In addition, the publication contains information on freight transportation and comparisons of travel in the United States to foreign countries, among other data.

FHWA has issued the publication every other year since 1983. This latest edition contains statistical data to the end of calendar year 2000.

The report is available on FHWA's Web site at www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/onh00/index.htm. Printed copies are available from the Office of Highway Policy Information, FHWA, Room 3306, 400 7th St., SW, Washington, DC 20590. Copies also can be requested by contacting Millie Wilson at 202-366-0160 or millie.wilson@fhwa.dot.gov.

Report Shows Adequate Supply of Truck Parking Facilities Nationwide

Driver fatigue is widely recognized by government, industry stakeholders, and highway safety advocates as a serious highway safety problem. USDOT estimates that driver fatigue contributes to about 800 deaths in truck crashes each year. A preliminary estimate by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that fatalities involving large trucks declined slightly to 5,192 in 2001 from 5,211 in 2000. In July 2002, FHWA released a study showing that parking areas for trucks and buses—including public and commercial parking facilities—along major roads and highways are more than adequate across the Nation.

The study included a State-by-State breakdown of commercial and public rest areas. Based on that combination, the study showed a sufficient supply in eight States, a surplus in 29 States, and a shortage in 12 States. Shortages at commercial truck stops and travel plazas were far less common and largely offset public shortages in 35 States. Alaska was not included in the study because it did not report a supply of commercial spaces.

"Trucks play an essential role in transporting goods and keeping America's economy strong," U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said. "We will continue to promote dialogue among States, municipalities, and the private sector to ensure the adequacy of truck parking across the Nation. Sufficient rest opportunity for drivers is critical to highway safety."

The study showed that an estimated 315,850 parking spaces at public rest areas and commercial truck stops and travel plazas serve interstate highways and other routes. About 90 percent of those spaces are in commercial truck stops and travel plazas, and about 10 percent are in public rest areas.

Mandated by TEA-21, the study included a nationwide estimate of peak hour demand for commercial truck parking facilities at public rest areas and commercial truck stops and travel plazas. The demand estimate for truck parking facilities was based on total hours of travel, time and duration of stops, and current Federal hours-of-service regulations.

State response to the adequacy of truck parking issues varies. Many States periodically review their rest areas to help ensure that these facilities address current demand. Some States say that they expect expansion of commercial truck stop and travel plaza facilities will meet the demand for truck parking. Others are involved in public-private partnerships seeking new solutions to truck parking issues. During the course of the study, individual States drafted action plans for addressing truck parking shortages.

"Safety is our highest transportation priority, and we must find ways to reduce fatigue-related crashes," FHWA Administrator Mary E. Peters said. "We are working with our State and local partners, as well as with the private sector, to make sure that drivers of trucks and buses have sufficient parking areas for rest stops when they reach their hours-of-service limit."

A copy of the full report is available on FHWA's Web site at http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov.

Canada and Quebec Contribute $75.2 Million for Highway and Border Improvements

In July 2002, Canada's Transport Minister David Collenette and Quebec Minister of Transport Serge Ménard announced a cost-sharing agreement for a $75.2 million project to develop the corridor along Highway 15 to the Lacolle-Champlain border crossing. The route is the most important trade corridor between Quebec and New York State.

The Lacolle-Champlain border crossing is the busiest in Quebec and the sixth busiest in Canada. More than $15 billion worth of exported goods travel through this border crossing annually, and a daily volume of more than 2,000 trucks passed through in 2001.

The Government of Canada will contribute a maximum of $29.5 million for the project, which is designed to improve highway and border infrastructure along the Canadian side of the corridor, enhance safety, and relieve traffic congestion. Federal funding for the project comes under the borders portion of the Government of Canada's Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program.

"This Federal contribution of more than $29 million will help to improve the flow of people and goods across the border and along this corridor, which is a crucial factor in maintaining the vitality of our economy," Collenette said. "These highway and border infrastructure improvements also will help strengthen Canada's economic ties to New York State, which will benefit the people of Quebec."

The project is composed of the following components:

  • Realignment and rehabilitation of Highway 15, including safety enhancements such as upgrades to lighting systems and signs
  • Construction of a motor carrier safety inspection area at Lacolle (northbound), as well as dedicated lanes to improve access to U.S. Customs inspection booths
  • Implementation of ITS for commercial vehicles and installation of a traffic camera
  • Other improvements, including the rehabilitation of a rest area, construction of a parking area for trucks, and the installation of a windbreak

This project supports the Smart Border Declaration, signed by Canada and the United States in December 2001.

Personnel

Stephen Forster Receives Distinguished Research Award

In April 2002, the International Center for Aggregates Research (ICAR) awarded its Distinguished Research Award to Stephen Forster, technical director for pavements in FHWA's Office of Infrastructure R&D. The presentation took place at ICAR's 10th annual symposium in Baltimore, MD.

ICAR selected Forster for the award in recognition of his many years of national leadership in researching aggregates-related performance issues for portland cement concrete. Forster has published numerous articles and technical reports on topics such as concrete pavement performance, pavement microtexture and skid resistance, and concrete mix design.

Criteria for the award include significant contributions to aggregates research, education, or technology transfer, and anyone from industry, government, or academia is eligible. A joint selection committee composed of representatives from ICAR and the Aggregates Foundation for Technology, Research, and Education chooses the winners.

Stephen Forster joins past winners of ICAR's Distinguished Research Award. Left to right: Richard C. Meininger, Charles A. Machemehl, Forster, and William M. Sheftick.

Photo of  Richard C. Meininger, Charles A. Machemehl, Forster, and William M. Sheftick.

Stephen Forster joins past winners of ICAR's Distinguised Research Award. Left to right: Richard C. Meininger, Charles A. Machemehl, Forster, and William M. Sheftick.

Charles D. Nottingham Named FHWA Associate Administrator for Policy

In June 2002, FHWA Administrator Mary E. Peters announced the appointment of Charles D. (Chip) Nottingham as associate administrator for policy. Nottingham will serve as principal adviser to the Administrator on policy, legislation, congressional affairs, international programs, reauthorization of the 6-year surface transportation program, and other issue areas.

"Chip's background in transportation policy issues at the State level and his experience in the legislative branch will be major assets at our agency," Administrator Peters said.

Immediately prior to joining FHWA, Nottingham served as counsel to the House Committee on Government Reform. From 1999 to 2002, he served as Virginia's Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner and vice chairman of the Commonwealth Transportation Board in Virginia. As chief executive officer of the Virginia Department of Transportation, Nottingham managed a workforce of more than 10,000 employees and an annual budget of $3 billion.

Previously, Nottingham served as chief of staff for U.S. Reps. Bob Goodlatte and Tom Davis of Virginia. In addition, he held legislative positions in the private sector and at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Nottingham holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He is a member of the Virginia State Bar. Nottingham and his wife, Catherine, have two children.

ASCE Names New Executive Director

At a recent board of directors meeting in Cleveland, OH, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) selected Patrick J. Natale, P.E., as its new executive director, effective November 1, 2002.

Natale served as the executive director of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) since 1999. Prior to that, Natale was a senior executive with the Public Service Electric & Gas Company of New Jersey, where he managed a $14 million marketing and engineering budget and had oversight of a $20 million call center with more than 450 employees. For the past 3 years, Natale also has served as secretariat of National Engineers Week, a coalition of more than 40 engineering societies and corporations dedicated to greater public awareness and understanding of the engineering profession.

New Civil Rights Award Honors Former FHWA Division Administrator

FHWA recently announced the establishment of a new civil rights award that honors the memory of William K. (Bill) Fung, the Agency's former division administrator in Wisconsin who died in October 2001 after an extended illness.

"This award acknowledges the tremendous contributions that Bill made, not only as division administrator but also as a partner and a champion for civil rights programs and initiatives," FHWA Administrator Mary E. Peters said. "Bill worked to ensure that those employed by the Agency or involved in its programs were treated fairly. He could always be counted on to be an agent for change. This award recognizing his contributions will be part of his legacy to our FHWA family."

The award was developed to honor an FHWA division administrator who has demonstrated a high level of commitment to and effectiveness in implementing FHWA's civil rights programs and initiatives and who has demonstrated excellence in assisting the agency in meeting its civil rights goals and objectives. The award will be presented biennially at the National Transportation Civil Rights Conference.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' Administrative Subcommittee on Civil Rights joins FHWA in sponsoring the award.

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