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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-07-004    Date:  May/Jun 2007
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-07-004
Issue No: Vol. 70 No. 6
Date: May/Jun 2007


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.

Management and Administration

FHWA Signs Historic Agreement With Israel

FHWA Administrator J. Richard Capka (right) shakes hands with General Manager Alex Wiznizer of the Israel National Roads Company.
FHWA Administrator J. Richard Capka (right) shakes hands with General Manager Alex Wiznizer of the Israel National Roads Company.

In a ceremony on January 11, 2007, Israel became the second Middle Eastern nation to sign a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Engineers from FHWA now will share road—building techniques and best practices with their Israeli counterparts through a growing international partnership for training and information exchange.

FHWA Administrator J. Richard Capka signed the agreement at the agency's Washington, DC, headquarters with representatives of the Israel National Roads Company, which is that country's equivalent to FHWA.

Secretary Peters Calls on Major Cities To Fight Congestion

On December 8, 2006, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters urged State and city transportation officials to respond to a request for proposals to partner with USDOT to fight traffic congestion in the Nation's major metropolitan areas.

"Our quality of life and continued economic prosperity demand that we find creative solutions to the growing burden of congestion," says Secretary Peters."We want to work with forward-thinking State and local leaders to find new ways to get people and goods moving again."

Through the Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA), USDOT will provide qualified States and metropolitan areas, known as urban partners, with a combination of grants, loans, credit support, regulatory relief, and technical assistance to test advanced technologies, such as ramp metering and real-time travel information systems, designed to reduce traffic congestion. In return, the urban partners agree to research, develop, and showcase strategies to reduce traffic congestion in the near term. Those strategies include implementing variable rush-hour pricing (also known as congestion pricing), expanding transit services for commuters, securing employer commitments to expand telecommuting and flexible scheduling, and pursuing efforts to reduce the impact of incidents on traffic tieups. USDOT officials will encourage urban partners to explore opportunities to partner with the private sector to implement these solutions quickly and cost effectively.

The UPA, outlined in a Federal Register notice, is part of USDOT's National Strategy to Reduce Congestion on America's Transportation Network. Secretary Peters expects to announce the winning urban partners in August 2007.

USDOT Approves $15.7 Million for Louisiana

New Orleans' trolleys and buses will continue running, as will bus service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, LA, due to nearly $16 million in new Federal funds being made available to the city's transit agency.

Secretary Peters announced that USDOT's Federal Transit Administration approved $13.6 million to continue operating public transportation in the city of New Orleans. Thanks to an emergency provision, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority will receive the money without having to put up a local match and will be free of Federal regulations that prohibit spending capital funds on operating expenses.

"This investment is as much about bringing energy and vitality back to the streets of New Orleans as it is about keeping bus and trolley service running," says Secretary Peters. "Nobody should be left without a way to get to work because of a set of rules that don't take into account all [that] this incredible city has been through."

The Secretary added that USDOT also is providing $2.1 million in Federal funding to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to continue the LA Swift program, which provides bus service from Baton Rouge to New Orleans for former residents of New Orleans who were displaced in 2005 after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The funding will enable LA Swift to continue operating while the State explores permanent funding options for the program.

Technical News

Preventing Pavement Failure Caused by HMA Temperature Differentials: Washington State

In recent years, large numbers of hot-mix asphalt (HMA) paving projects in the United States and around the world have experienced premature failure through fatigue cracking, raveling, or both, which can be costly to fix on high-volume interstate routes.

Observations in the State of Washington and elsewhere suggest that construction-related temperature differentials that produce low-density areas are susceptible to isolated damage in an otherwise serviceable pavement. Research and records in the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) pavement management system show that temperature differentials, depending on the severity, can reduce expected pavement life by 20 to 80 percent. As a result, WSDOT began research that culminated in the development of a three-step specification to counter the detrimental effect of temperature differentials. The cost savings are difficult to estimate; however, if reducing temperature differentials could prevent a potential 20 percent loss of pavement life on half of the State's projects, the savings would amount to approximately $9 million per year.

For more information, see Preventing Pavement Failure Caused by Hot-Mix Asphalt Temperature Differentials: Washington State's Systematic Approach online at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/trnews/trnews246rpo.pdf.

Transportation Research Board

Public Information And Information Exchange

Implementation Guidance Now Available for the Work Zone Safety and Mobility Rule

FHWA has completed a series of four implementation guides and a resource CD to help State departments of transportation and other transportation agencies understand and implement the provisions of the updated Rule on Work Zone Safety and Mobility. Published in September 2004 in the Federal Register (23 CFR 630 Subpart J), the rule is intended to help transportation agencies consider the broader safety and mobility impacts of work zones throughout project delivery, and to guide implementation of appropriate strategies to manage those impacts. All State and local governments that receive Federal-aid highway funding are required to comply with the rule's provisions by October 12, 2007.

The four guides cover a variety of topics and are titled "Implementing the Rule on Work Zone Safety and Mobility"; "Developing and Implementing Transportation Management Plans for Work Zones"; "Work Zone Public Information and Outreach Strategies"; and "Work Zone Impacts Assessment: An Approach to Assess and Manage Work Zone Safety and Mobility Impacts of Road Projects." The guides are available online at www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/resources/final_rule.htm, in hardcopy, and on the resource CD. The CD also contains other rule implementation tools, such as an implementation checklist, a matrix of work zone management strategies, and answers to frequently asked questions.

To order hardcopies of the guides or the CD, please send an e-mail to workzonepubs@fhwa.dot.gov, with the name of the products requested, quantity, and shipping instructions. For more information, contact Tracy Scriba in the FHWA Office of Operations at 202-366-0855 or tracy.scriba@dot.gov.

U.S. 285 Environmental Study Honored With National Award

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) recently recognized the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) with a "Notable Practices Award" for an environmental assessment (EA) on U.S. 285. CDOT Chief Engineer Pam Hutton presented the award to Region One's Regional Transportation Director Jeff Kullman at the Colorado Transportation Commission's monthly meeting in December 2006. Offered on behalf of AASHTO's Center for Environmental Excellence, the award recognizes best practices in context sensitive solutions (CSS).

CDOT initiated the project in 2001 to examine and recommend safety and mobility improvements for U.S. 285 between the towns of Conifer and Fairplay. CDOT worked cooperatively throughout the process to avoid or minimize impacts on wetlands and historic properties.

CDOT's decision to implement a grade-separated intersection rather than a much larger diamond or cloverleaf interchange resulted in a CSS that respected the existing rural and mountainous character of this valley on U.S. 285.
CDOT's decision to implement a grade-separated intersection rather than a much larger diamond or cloverleaf interchange resulted in a CSS that respected the existing rural and mountainous character of this valley on U.S. 285.

The process was so successful in building public support and minimizing environmental impacts that CDOT and FHWA agreed to downgrade the project from an environmental impact statement to an EA. In addition, AASHTO's CSS competition panel commended CDOT's "great multidisciplinary team, good communication tools, and use of wildlife crossings."


Toll-Free Number Connects Workers With Construction Opportunities

The Oregon Department of Transportation's (ODOT) Office of Civil Rights recently opened a toll-free, bilingual phone line that provides Oregonians with information about employment and apprenticeship opportunities with ODOT's contractors on highway construction projects. When callers dial 1-877-972-5700, they hear a greeting and have the option to leave a message in English or Spanish. Within 48 hours, they will hear back from a civil rights specialist in their area with information about beginning a career in highway construction.

Oregon is facing a shortage of qualified highway workers for apprentice and skilled journey-level positions, and ODOT officials concede that the process for entering the construction industry can be challenging. The department is facilitating that process for job seekers through its Workforce Development Plan.

Through regional alliances statewide, ODOT is building a qualified labor pool to work on highway and bridge construction projects, which are reaching record levels. Across the State, ODOT is engaged in major construction projects to improve highway infrastructure, including projects in the $1.3 billion Oregon Transportation Investment Act (OTIA) III State Bridge Delivery Program. The bridge program, part of ODOT's 10-year, $3 billion OTIA, is replacing and repairing hundreds of aging highway bridges.

"The new toll-free number gives people a simple, direct line of communication," says Michael Cobb, manager of ODOT's Office of Civil Rights. "Now anyone, anywhere in the State, can receive personal guidance about construction opportunities in their area."




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