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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-17-006    Date:  September 2017
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-17-006
Issue No: Vol. 81 No. 2
Date: September 2017

 

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

Secretary Chao Celebrates Opening of I–85 Bridge

In May, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao joined Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Commissioner Russell McMurry, and then Acting Deputy Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration Butch Waidelich at the site of the new I–85 bridge. The Secretary thanked the workers for their tireless efforts to build the replacement bridge, which opened less than 7 weeks after a fire caused its collapse and more than a month ahead of schedule.

GDOT
Secretary Chao speaks at the ceremony to reopen Atlanta’s I–85 bridge.
Secretary Chao speaks at the ceremony to reopen Atlanta’s I–85 bridge.

 

Until its collapse on March 30, 2017, the bridge on I–85 over Piedmont Road served an estimated 243,000 drivers each day. After the collapse, detours to side streets caused significant time delays and inconvenience for Atlanta-area commuters.

Using $10 million in quick-release funds from FHWA’s Emergency Relief program, demolition began almost immediately. Workers removed more than 6,500 tons (5,900 metric tons) of debris and replaced about 700 feet (213 meters) of surrounding roadway and support columns. The replacement project relied on cutting-edge prefabricated components and state-of-the-art accelerated curing concrete, enabling the bridge to be completed quickly.

Additional Federal funds will be available to GDOT once a review of the project’s overall costs has been completed. According to GDOT, fast and innovative financing for the contractor enabled the new bridge to open 5 weeks ahead of schedule–saving Atlanta-area commuters more than $27 million in congestion and detour-related delays.

Public Information and Information Exchange

Approaches for Addressing Resilience in Project Development

Cover of the report Synthesis of Approaches for Addressing Resilience in Project Development.FHWA recently released Synthesis of Approaches for Addressing Resilience in Project Development (FHWA-HEP-17-082). The report provides lessons learned to help transportation agencies address extreme weather events during project development, and to consider ramifications for design of highways, bridges, and culverts.

Organized by engineering discipline (for example, coastal hydraulics, riverine flooding, pavement and soils, mechanical and electrical systems), the report identifies key lessons that may assist agencies when conducting their own analyses, summarizes the adaptation strategies considered in various case studies, and includes information on remaining knowledge gaps. In addition, the report provides information on why, where, and how to integrate climate considerations into the project development process, and basic information in related disciplines such as climate science and economic analysis.

Recent weather events have shown that some roads and bridges are already vulnerable to climate-related impacts; these vulnerabilities are likely to increase over time as the climate changes. As infrastructure is rebuilt or upgraded, there are opportunities to plan and design for increased resilience.

Many State and local transportation agencies recognize the need to make transportation assets more resilient to climate and extreme weather, but few methods and best practices exist to determine which assets may be impacted under future conditions and how to evaluate and select adaptation measures. To fill this gap, FHWA has conducted or supported many studies over the last decade that developed and tested methods for assessing project-level vulnerabilities and identifying and evaluating adaptation measures. This study collects and summarizes those methods and lessons learned.

For more information, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/sustainability/resilience/ongoing_and_current_research/teacr.

NHTSA Releases Distracted Driving Data

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration works to reduce the occurrence of distracted driving and raise awareness of its dangers. The agency recently published Traffic Safety Facts: Distracted Driving 2015, which examines crash numbers by severity, the age of the driver, and whether a cell phone was involved. The latest data show that 10 percent of fatal crashes, 15 percent of injury crashes, and 14 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2015 were distraction-affected crashes.

A distraction-affected crash is any crash in which a driver was identified as distracted at the time of the crash. Discussions regarding distracted driving often center around cell phone use and texting, but distracted driving also includes other activities such as eating, talking to other passengers, and adjusting the radio or climate controls.

The majority of people killed and injured in distraction-related crashes are vehicle occupants, but nonoccupants including pedestrians and bicyclists make up 16 percent of distraction-affected fatalities.

For more information, visit https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812381.

NHTSA

TRB Publishes Student Papers on SHRP2

The second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) Safety Study, completed in 2015, collected an unprecedented amount of objective data on driver behavior and the driving context. The Transportation Research Board (TRB) recently published Transportation Research E-Circular 221: SHRP 2 Safety Data Student Paper Competition, 2015–2016. The publication contains papers submitted to the first student paper competition featuring applications of safety research fromSHRP2.

TRB sponsored the competition to promote use of the SHRP2 data, to extract new insights and applications of the data, and to foster the next generation of leaders in surface transportation. The review panel for the competition selected six students to conduct their research proposals. The students received a data export, conducted their analysis, and were sponsored to attend the TRB Annual Meeting in January 2016 to present their results at a poster session. The students went on to develop research papers from their analyses.

The review panel selected three papers to publish. These student papers examine the topics of driver distraction, fault status in vehicle conflicts, and turning behavior. They are among the first research papers to be published using the SHRP2 safety data.

For more information, visit http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/circulars/ec221.pdf.

TRB

Arizona Launches Innovative Commercial Carrier Program

An Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) program aiming to reduce commercial vehicle wait times at the international border offered its first training in Mexico in April 2017. The training aimed to help Mexican trucking firms better understand and prepare for safety inspections.

ADOT
An ADOT inspector checks a commercial carrier at one of Arizona's inspection stations.
An ADOT inspector checks a commercial carrier at one of Arizona's inspection stations.

Members of ADOT’s Border Liaison Unit met in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico, with trucking company leaders, drivers, and mechanics. The goal is to make commercial travel across the border safer and more efficient by educating employees of Mexican trucking companies about what is required at ADOT’s inspection stations in Douglas, Nogales, and San Luis, AZ.

ADOT also has held training sessions in Douglas, Nogales, and San Luis, providing both classroom instruction and demonstrations of how ADOT’s inspection stations work. In Mexico, the training offered an International Border Inspection Qualification program, through which drivers can receive a certificate documenting their training to help streamline the inspection process and enable ADOT inspectors to focus on drivers who have not completed the program.

In addition to helping ensure that trucks are ready to operate safely on Arizona’s highways, the Border Liaison Unit’s outreach has a direct impact on international commerce and on Arizona’s economy. Arizona’s trade with Mexico is worth an estimated $30 billion annually and supports 100,000 jobs, based on 2015 numbers.

ADOT

California Pilots Mitigation Credit System for Wildlife Crossing

In April, California’s State wildlife and transportation departments signed a credit agreement for an innovative pilot project to create advanced mitigation credits for wildlife highway crossings. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) developed the mitigation crediting system for the Laurel Curve Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Project on Highway 17 in Santa Cruz County. The system will transition to a statewide program being developed through the new Regional Conservation Investments Strategies Program.

Using the Laurel Curve project as a pilot, CDFW and Caltrans developed a model compensatory mitigation crediting system that can be used to mitigate impacts to wildlife movement for future transportation projects.

Caltrans
Laurel Curve, shown here in an aerial image taken by a drone, served as a pilot project to develop California’s mitigation credit system for wildlife highway crossings.
Laurel Curve, shown here in an aerial image taken by a drone, served as a pilot project to develop California’s mitigation credit system for wildlife highway crossings.

The system calculates mitigation credits using a first-of-its-kind methodology, which takes into account the length of highway to be improved in lane miles or the project footprint in acres and the total cost of the project. When appropriate, Caltrans may sell or transfer the credits within Caltrans or to other transportation agencies with projects in the defined geographic area, thereby freeing funds for additional infrastructure projects.

CDFW’s Habitat Conservation Planning Branch and the Caltrans Division of Environmental Analysis worked closely with the California Transportation Commission to formulate the credit agreement.

For more information, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Planning/Regional-Conservation.

Caltrans

Survey Illustrates Crash Risks at Construction Sites

A recent report from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) highlights the risk to workers and motorists in highway work zones. Forty-four percent of roadway contractors said vehicles had crashedinto their construction sites in the past year, a 13-percentincrease from 2016. The association said that 82 percent of surveyed contractors reported that vehicle crashes pose a greater risk now than they did just 10 years ago.

© Silvrshootr, Getty Images
Photo. Orange safety cones and signs mark a roadway work zone, indicating “Detour” and “No Thru Traffic.”
Highway work zones such as this one in Portland, OR, present risks to roadway users and highway workers.

The association surveyed more than 700 contractors nationwide during March and April 2017. Of the contractors reporting work zone crashes, 49 percent said that motor vehicle operators or passengers were injured and 13 percent of those crashes involved a driver or passenger fatality.

Highway work zone crashes also pose a significant risk for construction workers. Survey results showed that 25 percent of work zone crashes injure construction workers and 11 percent of those crashes kill workers.

The crashes produce economic impacts as well. The association reported that 27 percent of contractors indicated that work zone crashes in the past year forced them to temporarily shut down construction activity. Those delays were often lengthy, as 52 percent of the closures lasted two or more days.

For more information, visit www.agc.org/news/2017/05/25/2017-highway-work-zone-safety-survey.

AGC

Personnel

Brandye Hendrickson Appointed FHWA Deputy Administrator

Headshot of Brandye Hendrickson, FHWA Deputy Administrator.On July 24, 2017, Brandye Hendrickson was named Deputy Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. In this capacity, she leads daily operations of the 2,900-person Federal agency that spans six time zones. She oversees the agency’s $44 billion annual budget, directs execution of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, and serves as a co-chair of the U.S.–Canada Transportation Border Working Group and U.S.–Mexico Joint Working Committee.

Hendrickson’s background in transportation includes 2 years serving as the commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation. There, she oversaw all aspects of the department’s operations, from its 3,400 employees to its $400 million annual operating budget and billion-dollar annual construction budget.

Previously, Hendrickson served as deputy commissioner of Indiana’s Greenfield District (the State’s largest transportation district) from 2007–2015. She has nearly 20 years of business experience.

 

 

 

 

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