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This magazine is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information.
|Publication Number: Date: November/December 2003|
Issue No: Vol. 67 No. 3
Date: November/December 2003
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 (USDOT) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.
Secretary Mineta Receives 2003
Great Outdoors Award
Recently, USDOT Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta received the recreation community's highest recognition-the Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award.
The American Recreation Coalition honored Secretary Mineta for his contribution to the country's transportation policies for decades. During his career in Congress, Mineta championed increases in investment for transportation infrastructure and was a key author of the landmark Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) that shifted decisions on highway and mass transit planning to State and local governments. ISTEA led to major upsurges in mass transit ridership and more environmentally friendly transportation projects, such as bicycle paths.
The award presentation was one of the events celebrating Great Outdoors Week 2003, which highlighted the partnerships that enable outdoor recreation to contribute to the Nation's health and quality of life. The award honors the efforts of individuals who are helping protect parks, forests, refuges, and other lands.
Policy and Legislation
Ruling Improves Access for Disadvantaged Businesses
In June 2003, USDOT issued a Final rule making several improvements to its disadvantaged business enterprise program. The new provisions reduce administrative burdens and clarify program requirements for small businesses, prime contractors, and State and local governments working with the program and competing for USDOT-assisted contracts and grants.
To streamline the process, USDOT created a uniform application form for small businesses to apply for eligibility and implemented a memorandum of understanding between USDOT and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to facilitate certification under the program for SBA-certified small disadvantaged businesses.
To assist prime contractors, USDOT now requires State and local governments to take steps to reduce burdens associated with funds retained at the conclusion of a contract. To address the concern for privacy, the Department will increase privacy protections for conFidential business information provided by companies qualifying under this program.
The disadvantaged business enterprise program is administered by State and local recipients of Financial assistance from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Transit Administration, and the Federal Aviation Administration. The program seeks to ensure a nondiscriminatory, level playing Field for small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. For further information about the rule and new provisions, visit http://dms.dot.gov and do a search using Docket Number OST-2000-7639.
Management and Administration
Mineta Announces $693 Million in Highway Discretionary Funds
In summer 2003, USDOT Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced $693 million in FHWA discretionary funds for infrastructure projects in all 50 States and the District of Columbia.
The agency awarded States approximately 500 grants in seven categories: borders and corridors, interstate maintenance, bridge replacement and rehabilitation, public lands highways, ferry boats and terminals, intelligent transportation systems, and pilots for transportation, community, and system preservation.
Totals for the States and the District of Columbia are on the Internet at www.fhwa.dot.gov/discretionary/index.cfm.
FHWA Honors Eight States for Scenic Byways
FHWA and two of its partners at the National Scenic Byways Conference in Albuquerque, NM, recognized projects in eight States with national awards for contributions to enhancing, preserving, and promoting America's byways.
The national competition, "The Road Beckons: Best Practices for Byways,' received 37 projects from 21 States. FHWA selected award-winning projects in Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington. The winning projects included an interim development ordinance to protect environmentally sensitive lands along the A1A corridor in Florida and the restoration of a mountainside to preserve a scenic view along the Sound Greenway in Washington State. The Department established the National Scenic Byways Program under ISTEA and reauthorized the program in 1998 under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). To date, the program has provided $202 million to 1,488 projects throughout the country.
To obtain a copy of "The Road Beckons: Best Practices for Byways,' or for more information about next year's award cycle, contact Courtney Lyell at 202-366-1929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mineta Announces Loan for Toll Road In California
Earlier this year, USDOT Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced that the Federal government executed a $140 million loan for a project on State Route 125 in San Diego, CA, that involves the design and construction of the South Toll Road.
An international fund is investing more than $150 million to develop and operate the toll road. The loan was made by USDOT under an innovative Financing program established by the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 1998. The loan proceeds will help Finance the design and construction of a 14.8-kilometer (9.2-mile), four-lane toll road that connects State Route 905, near the Otay Mesa port of entry from Mexico, to the region's freeway system about 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) south of State Route 54 in Spring Valley.
The SR-125 South Toll Road is a key link in the regional transportation system that is needed to accommodate economic growth in the southern part of San Diego County. The project will facilitate traffic and trade across the U.S.-Mexico border at the Otay Mesa crossing. The estimated cost for the toll road (including preliminary engineering, development costs, construction, and Financing) is $642 million.
USDOT Pledges Funding for East Coast Greenway
Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy Emil Frankel joined Congressional leaders, representatives of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, and health and environmental groups on the National Mall in Washington, DC, to celebrate National Trails Day. The event also announced the creation of the East Coast Greenway, a new trail that will link East Coast cities from Maine to Florida.
The greenway, when completed, will be a 4,184-kilometer (2,600-mile) path that will be closed to motor vehicles. Frankel gave trail markers signed by U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta to representatives from the East Coast Greenway Alliance to post along the route. The greenway will contribute to a cleaner environment and healthier lifestyles.
Funding under ISTEA and TEA-21 is helping underwrite the trail. Using Federal highway and some transit funding, States and metropolitan areas provided about $400 million for sections of the route. For more information, visit www.greenway.org.
Public Information and Information Exchange
FHWA Recognizes Six States for Roadside Programs
The editors of Greener Roadsides, a quarterly FHWA newsletter for managers of roadside vegetation, recognized six States in the 9th annual Photo Opportunity competition. The competition honors States that submit outstanding photos demonstrating their accomplishments in improving and protecting the roadside environment.
Arizona, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, and West Virginia submitted First-place photos in 2003. Each First-place winner received a crystal award from the FHWA division office in its State. Greener Roadsides publishes the winning photos, and FHWA may feature the winners in brochures, videos, presentations, and future Earth Day calendars.
Seventeen States submitted 133 photos in seven categories. Missouri, a consistent winner each year, won awards in two categories. The jury that selected the winning photos consisted of staff from FHWA headquarters representing various disciplines, including graphic design, landscape architecture, law, and public affairs. The judges described the winning entries as "wonderful" and offered "accolades in general" to all the participating States.
To view the winning entries or learn more about the photo competition, contact Bonnie Harper-Lore, editor of Greener Roadsides, at 651-291-6104 or email@example.com.
FHWA Promotes Simpler, Smarter Ways To Protect Wildlife along Roads
Earlier this year, FHWA announced the start of a First-of-its-kind Web site that highlights examples of simple, low-cost techniques for protecting wildlife and Fish near transportation facilities. The Web site, "Keeping It Simple: Easy Ways to Help Wildlife Along Roads,' includes more than 100 success stories from all 50 States. The activities featured on the site range from installing nesting boxes to modifying maintenance schedules. Users can search the site by State or by one of four categories: Along Roads, On or Near Bridges, On or Along Waterways, and On Wetlands and Uplands. Crashes between motor vehicles and animals account for a large percentage of the total crashes in many areas, and the number continues to rise. More than 200 motorists die each year in animal-vehicle collisions, and thousands more are injured, according to FHWA statistics. Many of the best practices featured on the site not only help protect wildlife, but they also improve highway safety for motorists nationwide.
Visit the "Keeping It Simple' Web site at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/wildlifeprotection.
USDOT Releases Major Survey on Biking and Walking
Nearly 80 percent of adults in the United States take at least one walk of 5 minutes or longer during the summer months. But fewer than 30 percent ride a bike, according to a major new survey released by USDOT.
The survey, conducted jointly by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, revealed that only half of all adults are satisfied with the design of their communities for safe bicycling. But three out of four adults are satisfied with their communities in terms of pedestrian safety.
Findings from the survey show a steep decline in bicycling and a more gradual decline in walking as people age. Some of the reasons cited for not walking or riding a bike include lack of access to a bicycle, disability or other health problems, unfavorable weather, and lack of opportunity. The National Survey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes and Behaviors involved phone interviews with more than 9,600 adults age 16 and older throughout the United States. USDOT conducted the survey during a 10-week period in the summer of 2002.
For more details about the survey results, visit www.bicyclinginfo.org or www.walkinginfo.org.
New Web Site Helps Agencies Manage Transportation Security
This year, FHWA announced a new "FHWA Operations Security' Web site to provide State and local agencies simple access to information on improving security operations for surface transportation. The Web site was created to help State and local agencies effectively plan, operate, and apply security technology.
A section of the Web site offers specific information on how to plan for emergencies, align action plans with the Nation's Homeland Security Advisory System, and improve military mobilization, because roads are critical for response and recovery strategies.
The Web site offers links to information on transportation security from all of the Department's administrations, other Federal agencies, and the associations participating in the National Associations Working Group for ITS. The site also links to articles, research, and other information related to transportation security.
FHWA has released Rural Transit ITS Best Practices (FHWA-OP-03-77). The report identifies operational best practices for applying ITS technologies to rural transit. The recommendations are based on case studies performed onsite at Five rural transit agencies.
To develop the case studies, USDOT staff visited the Capital Area Rural Transportation System in Austin, TX; St. Johns, Marion, and Putnam counties, FL; the Public Transportation Programs Bureau, statewide in New Mexico; Ottumwa Transit Authority in Ottumwa, IA; and River Valley Transit in Williamsport, PA.
The report addresses the use of ITS technologies at rural transit agencies, institutional and organizational issues, ITS applications and technology, funding and other Financial considerations, beneFits of rural ITS projects, and the deployment process. USDOT presents the recommendations as guidance for other agencies that are considering implementing rural ITS solutions.
FHWA selected the Capital Area Rural Transportation System in Austin as a case study because it uses a sophisticated 900-megahertz, two-way radio system combined with automated demand-responsive transportation-scheduling software. David Marsh, executive director of the Capital Area Rural Transportation System, cites a slow, measured approach to implementing new technology as the key to success. "We now have moved to mobile data computers with automatic vehicle-location and magnetic card readers, he says, "and the phased approach again proved its value as we were able to work through the complexities of executing this next level of ITS deployments from a foundation on our past experience. if we had attempted all of it at once, we would surely have loundered and failed. The Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged assisted a number of rural areas in deploying low-cost ITS applications, such as a demand-response software suite that helps manage call intake and payroll and schedule vehicles, staff, and trips.
New Mexico's Public Transportation Programs Bureau and the Alliance for Transportation Research Institute developed a statewide, Web-based software application that authorizes and schedules trips, tracks riders, bills trips, and generates reports-saving time and money.
The Ottumwa Transit Authority, which provides bus service in Ottumwa, IA, and the surrounding 10-county area, installed a four-tower, 150-megahertz radio system to provide communications for its automatic vehicle-location system and mobile-data terminals.
And River Valley Transit installed automatic vehicle-location and mobile-data terminals on its Fixed-route buses to provide real-time, in-terminal customer information, enabling the agency to inform customers visually and audibly about where buses will arrive and depart from.
For more information about these projects, access the Rural Transit ITS Best Practices Report at www.itsdocs.fhwa.dot.gov//JPODOCS/REPTS_TE//13784.html.