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Publication Number:      Date:  January/February 2004
Issue No: Vol. 67 No. 4
Date: January/February 2004


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 (USDOT) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.

Policy and Legislation

Federal Agencies Advance Wetlands

Protection Goals

Recently, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in issuing new guidance on the effective replacement of wetlands affected by Federal-aid highway projects and will improve regulatory decisionmaking in the permit process.

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) established a preference for mitigation banking to compensate for unavoidable losses of wetlands or other natural habitat caused by transportation projects receiving Federal assistance. Mitigation banking is a system of balancing losses and gains by restoring, improving, or creating wetlands through cooperative efforts. Normally pooled funds are used, but wetlands banking projects also are eligible for Federal funding. The new guidance will help agency field personnel and the sponsors of Federal-aid highway projects by clarifying the factors to consider when implementing mitigation banking, such as onsite mitigation rather than offsite, in-kind instead of out-of-kind, and the appropriate use of vegetated buffers and preservation.

The guidance, formally known as "Federal Guidance on the Use of the TEA-21 Preference for Mitigation Banking to Fulfill Mitigation Requirements under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act," is available on the Web at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/wetland/wet_guid.htm.

Management and Administration

USDOT Awards $5.4 Million for Research and Education

In September 2003, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced five grants totaling $5.4 million for advanced research at university transportation centers nationwide. More than 75 colleges and universities throughout the United States operate transportation centers that conduct combined programs of research, education, and technology transfer.

The Department awarded $2 million to Northwestern University for its Infrastructure Technology Institute. Grants of $906,000 went to each of the following: University of California at Berkeley for the University of California Transportation Center, Texas A&M University for the Southwest Region University Transportation Center, and University of Washington for the Transportation Northwest Regional Center. Also, the Department awarded $652,700 to the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University for the Urban Transit Institute.

The Research and Special Programs Administration of USDOT administers the grants. Recipients must match the grants dollar-for-dollar at a minimum, leveraging the value of the Federal investment. For more information on the university transportation center program, visit http://utc.dot.gov.

Technical News

Best Practices for Managing Roads for Inclement Weather

Weather threatens surface transportation nationwide and affects roadway safety, mobility, and capacity. A new CD-ROM of best practices highlights three types of strategies that transportation professionals can use to manage roads during inclement weather: advisory, control, and treatment. "Best Practices for Road Weather Management- Version 2.0" contains 30 case studies of systems in 21 States. Each case study has six sections: a description of the system, its components, operational procedures, resulting transportation outcomes, implementation issues, and contact information and references. Topics covered include fog, high winds, rain, snow, ice, flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, and avalanches. The CD-ROM also includes a Web-based user interface, a listing of more than 200 publications about roads and weather, and online resources (including 39 statewide Web sites on road conditions).

For a free copy of the CD-ROM, contact FHWA Team Leader Paul Pisano at 202-366-1301 or paul.pisano@fhwa.dot.gov or order a copy online at www.nawgits.com/fhwa/rw_mgt_cd_req.html.

Web Site Puts Highway Specifications Under One Roof

Federal Highway Administrator Mary E. Peters recently announced that FHWA and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) launched a new Web site that-for the first time-lists all the specifications for highway construction from the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Previously, locating and retrieving current specifications was a time-consuming process. Although many State highway agencies have posted their construction specifications online, finding and navigating the various sites can be challenging. In addition, more than 20 national trade organizations and several Federal agencies also issue specifications and rules that affect highway construction. In addition to State-specific construction specifications, the site includes approved specifications, supplements, and guidelines from FHWA's Federal Lands Highway Program office, AASHTO, and the American Society for Testing and Materials. The site also features discussion forums on topics like performance-related specifications, design-build, warranty specifications, and quality assurance. For more information, visit http://specs.fhwa.dot.gov/nhswp/index.jsp.

Public Information and Information Exchange

New Jersey Cracks Down on Drowsy Driving

New Jersey recently became the first State in the Nation to pass a law specifically stating that sleep-deprived drivers who cause fatal crashes can be convicted of vehicular homicide. Governor James E. McGreevey signed Senate Bill

S-1644, known as "Maggie's Law," which imposes jail time and steep fines (up to $150,000) for sleep-deprived drivers who cause fatal crashes. The bill was drafted after 20-year-old Maggie McDonnell was killed by a driver who fell asleep behind the wheel in 1997.

Research has shown that the effects of sleep deprivation are similar to those of alcohol. Sleeplessness increases attention lapses while slowing reaction time and cognitive processing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates at least 100,000 crashes and 1,500 deaths each year in the United States are the result of drivers falling asleep.

New Jersey Department of Transportation

Report on Bridge Security Now Available

A new report published by FHWA and AASHTO provides guidance on investing in strategies and countermeasures that mitigate risks to critical transportation infrastructure, particularly bridges and tunnels, in the event of terrorist attacks. The report, Recommendations for Bridge and Tunnel Security (FHWA-IF-03-036), includes policies and actions to reduce the probability of structural damage that could result in human casualties, economic losses, and sociopolitical damages.

Among the countermeasures identified in the report are: (1) updating planning and coordination measures, (2) reviewing and sanitizing Web sites for information that may be beneficial to terrorists, (3) enhancing site layouts (such as improving lighting and eliminating access to critical areas), and (4) installing retrofits (such as using energy-absorbing bolts to strengthen connections and adding stiffeners and lateral bracing on steel members).

The report is available online at www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/security/brpcover.htm.

For more information about the report or the activities of the Blue Ribbon Panel, contact Steven Ernst at 202-366-4619 or steve.ernst@fhwa.dot.gov.


Mineta Appoints Chief Counsels for FHWA, FMCSA

Recently, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta appointed chief counsels for FHWA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

D.J. Gribbin is the new chief counsel for FHWA, and Brigham A. McCown will assume that role for FMCSA. As chief counsels, they will be in charge of the legal activities of their operating administrations.

Gribbin comes to FHWA from Koch Industries, Inc., where he directed public sector business development and government affairs. Previously, he was national field director of the Christian Coalition of American and legislative representative of the National Federation of Independent Business. Gribbin earned his bachelor's degree in 1985 and his law degree in 1992, both from Georgetown University.

McCown joins FMCSA from the Dallas office of the law firm Winstead Sechrest & Minick P.C., where he practiced since 2001 as a member of the firm's litigation and government affairs sections. He served as a special legal counsel to the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign during the Florida recount process. As an aviator in the U.S. Navy, McCown accumulated more than 1,500 flight hours during Operation Desert Storm and other deployments. He earned a bachelor's degree from Miami University, in Oxford, OH, in 1988 and a law degree from Northern Kentucky University in 1997.




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