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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-11-004    Date:  May/June 2011
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-11-004
Issue No: Vol. 74 No. 6
Date: May/June 2011


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 Releases Model Language for Climate Change in Transportation Plans

Discussion of climate change is becoming more common in transportation planning documents. Many State departments of transportation (DOTs) and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) recognize the role played by transportation policies and investments in contributing to climate change and, conversely, the potential impact of climate change on transportation systems. Currently, there is no Federal regulatory requirement for State DOTs and MPOs to consider climate change in transportation plans. However, some State agencies have created their own models for integrating climate change into their transportation plans.

To provide guidance for agencies, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) produced Climate Change—Model Language in Transportation Plans (FHWA-HEP-11-002). The document provides an introduction to climate change and answers questions such as "How does transportation contribute to climate change?," "What steps should transportation agencies take to address climate change?," and "What existing policies and programs on climate change are relevant to the transportation plan?" Although some general discussion of climate change is applicable to plans in any State or region, a majority of the language is specific to the particular policy and planning contexts of the various States, MPOs, and municipalities represented in the examples in the document.

For more information, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/climate/model_language/index.htm.

Technical News

New Tool Determines Pavement's Health

FHWA recently developed an analysis tool that can help determine the condition of a road network in terms of its remaining service life. The Pavement Health Track is designed to determine the health of pavements under various conditions, such as rural or urban environments or climates, and a range of applications, including individual projects, highway networks, and corridors within a State or crossing State lines.

The software requires pavement data inputs from the Highway Performance Monitoring System 2010, or a State can use data from its pavement management system. Included is an option for inputs on material properties, climate, and loading. If these data are unavailable, the program contains a compiled dataset of default inputs pulled from sources such as the FHWA Long-Term Pavement Performance program and National Climatic Data Center.

The tool offers a library of charts, geographic information system maps, and reports that users can customize. Ultimately, these materials can help decisionmakers visualize the analysis results and use the information to determine improvement needs and distribute funds accordingly. FHWA will work with State DOTs to identify opportunities for improving the tool and make periodic updates.

The tool is available on FHWA's Web site at www.fhwa.dot.gov/pavement/healthtrack.

Wireless Multiplex Systems Offer Improved Vehicle Connectivity

A patented technology (U.S. patent No. 7,525,931 B2), wireless multiplex systems, could change how devices in a vehicle work. Currently, drivers and passengers can control the features and functions in vehicles, such as up-down window systems and door lock-unlock mechanisms, because they are interconnected through complex wiring systems housed within vehicle doors. The wireless multiplex system would link such functions wirelessly, eliminating the need for extensive wiring in the body of a vehicle to connect door systems.

The system includes four or five short-range wireless controllers that send and receive signals positioned at locations within the vehicle such as the driver door and liftgate. Devices (such as door lock-unlock) are coupled to and controlled by each of the controllers. The door modules form a virtual network so they can communicate messages to each other for controlling the devices. A wireless node, such as a smartphone, is capable of becoming part of the virtual network to further control at least one of the devices.

The wireless multiplex system has many benefits compared to the traditional wired system. The complex routing of wires through vehicles is labor-intensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, the bundles of wires take up space and add mass to the vehicle. Getting rid of the wires would improve the door assembly process and, by reducing vehicle mass, improve fuel economy. Drivers and passengers would benefit from the enhanced door system reliability, faster service diagnostics, and reduced cost of operating vehicles because of improved fuel economy.

For more information, contact Mohammed Yousuf at 202–493–3199 or mohammed.yousuf@dot.gov.

Public Information and Information Exchange

Virginia Campaign Seeks Employers' Help to End Distracted Driving

In November 2010, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) joined with the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, AAA Mid-Atlantic, and other partners to launch an employer safety pledge as part of its "Orange Cones. No Phones." campaign in Northern Virginia. The goal of the pledge is to have 100 regional employers commit to taking steps to reduce distracted driving.

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton holds a sign reading "Orange Cones. No Phones." near Tysons Corner, VA.
Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton holds a sign reading "Orange Cones. No Phones." near Tysons Corner, VA.

According to a survey by AAA Mid-Atlantic and the contractor responsible for constructing the Capital Beltway (I–495) high-occupancy toll lanes, more than 50 percent of drivers on the Virginia side of the Capital Beltway use their phones while driving. Fifty-seven percent of these drivers say they do so because they feel the need to give immediate responses to work calls or messages.

Regional businesses and organizations that take the employer safety pledge commit to increase awareness of the dangers of distracted driving in construction work zones. To assist the committed organizations, campaign partners will provide an online toolkit with materials and information (such as safety tips for drivers, copy and banner advertisements for Web sites, and social media resources) specifically designed to reduce distracted driving.

For more information, visit the campaign's Web site at http://orangeconesnophones.com.

Database Brings Together Extensive Transportation Records

Recent efforts combined the records of the International Transport Research Documentation (ITRD) database of the Joint Transport Research Centre of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the International Transport Forum with the Transportation Research Board's (TRB) Transportation Research Information Services (TRIS) database. The result is the Transport Research International Documentation database, or TRID—the TRIS and ITRD database. Through TRID, users have access to one database that includes transportation research from around the world.

TRID is a free-access, multilingual database with records in English, French, German, and Spanish. The database includes more than 900,000 records of published or ongoing research that are indexed using TRB's Transportation Research Thesaurus or the multilingual ITRD thesaurus.

Screenshot. TRID home page.

TRID offers simple and advanced query screens, as well as browsing of recent publications by mode or by "hot topics." The database provides links to the full text of documents, when available, or to direct ordering information. TRID enables users to print, download, email, or share search results, and offers users the ability to subscribe to Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds to be notified of the latest publications on a specific topic.

For more information, visit http://trid.trb.org.

Bridge Replacement Launched At Busy West Coast Port

In November 2010, FHWA Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau joined representatives from the State of California and the Port of Long Beach to launch the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement project, a $950 million undertaking. The 43-year-old bridge is a vital link between the Port of Long Beach and Los Angeles but is no longer reliable enough to fulfill its function effectively because of deterioration.

The Gerald Desmond Bridge, shown here, will be replaced over the next 5 years to better serve the Port of Long Beach, CA.
The Gerald Desmond Bridge, shown here, will be replaced over the next 5 years to better serve the Port of Long Beach, CA.

The Port of Long Beach is the west coast's second busiest port, which requires the Gerald Desmond Bridge to facilitate the movement of more than 10 percent of the Nation's waterborne cargo. The deteriorating condition of the existing bridge requires safety netting beneath the deck to keep debris from falling into the shipping channel. In addition, the current bridge measures only 155 feet (47.2 meters) high, which is too low to allow some cargo ships to pass safely beneath it.

The replacement bridge is a joint project by the California Department of Transportation and the Port of Long Beach. The new bridge will be 50–60 feet (15–18 meters) taller than the current one, making the shipping channel more accessible to cargo vessels and increasing the volume of imports and exports passing through the port.

For more information, visit www.polb.com/about/projects/gdb.asp.

Mississippi Implements "Smart" Roadside Enforcement

The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) is partnering with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to address the problem of unregistered, overweight, out-of-service commercial vehicles continuing to operate on Mississippi roads. The increased efforts are made possible by a $3.5 million Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks grant. The goal is to make highways safer by using more efficient ways to inspect trucks.

MDOT is using a variety of enforcement measures to cover the entire State and tie into a central database for sharing information. Measures include the latest "smart" technologies such as roadside mobile applications installed at a fixed weigh station on I–10, virtual weigh stations on secondary roads used to bypass the fixed scales, and a mobile Smart Roadside Inspection System van with infrared capability for use in remote areas or on highways without scales.

An enforcement officer in Mississippi works at the command station inside the Smart Roadside Inspection System van.
An enforcement officer in Mississippi works at the command station inside the Smart Roadside Inspection System van.

When a truck triggers the process, weigh-in-motion sensors, license plate and USDOT number readers, and overhead and infrared cameras send information and images to databases using wireless connections. By using the information stored in the database, enforcement officers can determine whether the vehicle is allowed to pass or must stop for further inspection and credential verification. This process reduces the number of vehicles stopped randomly for routine inspections, enabling officers to focus on risky carriers while allowing legal carriers to keep moving.

Now Available: New Asset Management Guide

A new publication from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and based on a National Cooperative Highway Research Program project aims to help transportation agencies address strategic questions they confront in managing the surface transportation system. The AASHTO Transportation Asset Management Guide—A Focus on Implementation complements the 2002 AASHTO Transportation Asset Management Guide and provides more detailed, hands-on guidance on implementing transportation asset management concepts, principles, performance targets, and strategies. In addition, the publication addresses analysis methods, data collection, and application of information from management systems, including tools to evaluate return on investment. The guide includes examples of strategies for enhancing communication and information-sharing among decisionmakers and elected officials.

This publication supports the goal of asset management, which is to minimize the life-cycle costs for managing and maintaining transportation assets, including roads, bridges, tunnels, rails, and roadside features. An asset management approach can lessen long-term costs and improve the credibility of the decisionmaking process through objectivity and a sound technical basis.

For more information, download a brochure at www.fhwa.dot.gov/asset/hif10023.cfm or visit http://assetmanagement.transportation.org. To purchase the guide, visit https://bookstore.transportation.org.

DVD Shows Importance of Rumble Strips on Reservations

The Roadway Safety Foundation (RSF) recently released an educational DVD titled "Rumble on the Reservation." The 11-minute video, available at no cost, introduces audiences to tribal communities that have seen motor vehicle crashes, injuries, and fatalities fall significantly after incorporating rumble strips into roadway safety projects on tribal lands.

"Rumble on the Reservation" features transportation planners and safety experts from various tribal communities, as well as the Federal Government, explaining the versatility and cost-effectiveness of rumble strips. The video provides real-world examples of locations where rumble strips have been deployed successfully. RSF produced the DVD in conjunction with the Tribal Technical Assistance Program at the Michigan Technological University.

This screenshot from the "Rumble on the Reservation" DVD shows Dennis Trusty, director of the Northern Plains Tribal Technical Assistance Program, discussing the lifesaving benefits of edgeline and centerline rumble strips.
This screenshot from the "Rumble on the Reservation" DVD shows Dennis Trusty, director of the Northern Plains Tribal Technical Assistance Program, discussing the lifesaving benefits of edgeline and centerline rumble strips.

According to RSF, one of the reasons tribal communities stand to benefit so greatly from rumble strips is that many tribal lands are served primarily by two-lane rural roads. These roads are particularly prone to high fatality rates and elevated risks of roadway departures. In fact, nearly 60 percent of fatal crashes are roadway departure crashes.

For more information, download an informational brochure at www.roadwaysafety.org/wp-content/uploads/res-brochure.pdf. For a copy of the DVD, contact Cathy Gillen with RSF at 202–857–1203 or cathygillen@roadwaysafety.org.

Reporting Changes of Address

PUBLIC ROADS has two categories of subscribers. One includes the organizations and people who receive the magazine without charge; the editorial office of the magazine maintains the mailing list for this group. The other category is the group of people and companies that pay to receive the magazine; the mailing list for this group is maintained by the Superintendent of Documents for the U.S. Government Printing Office.

Free copies are distributed to offices of the Federal Highway Administration, State highway agencies, technology transfer centers, and selected leaders who have responsibility for highway-related issues. Most of these copies are mailed to offices for their internal distribution or to people by position title rather than by name. If any office or individual subscriber in this category has a change of address, please send the complete previous mailing address and the complete new address to our distribution manager, Paula Magoulas, via e-mail (paula.magoulas@dot.gov), telephone (202-493-3398), or mail (Paula Magoulas, PUBLIC ROADS Distribution Manager (HRTS), Federal Highway Administration, 6300 Georgetown Pike, McLean, VA, 22101-2296).

Paid subscribers who have an address change should notify the U.S. Government Printing Office, Claims Office, Washington, DC, 20402; or call 202-512-1800; or fax 202-512-2168. Please do not send an address change for a paid subscription to the editorial office of PUBLIC ROADS. We do not manage the paid subscription program or mailing list, and we are not able to make the requested change.




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