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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-18-001    Date:  Autumn 2017
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-18-001
Issue No: Vol. 81 No. 3
Date: Autumn 2017


Guest Editorial

Leaves Are Falling, and Holiday Driving Is Not Far Away

Photo. Headshot of Brandye L. Hendrickson, Acting Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. What a year it has been. The Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation have made great strides toward improving the safety of the transportation system, shortening project completion times, and adopting time-saving permitting practices–all of which are critical to keeping the Nation moving.

The agency responded to history-making hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands with manpower, cutting-edge technologies, and the Emergency Relief program. Many members of the FHWA team endured incredibly difficult conditions to ensure that State and territorial partners had the technical assistance and other resources they needed to reopen roads and bridges safely.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, this issue of Public Roads offers a cornucopia of information about the diverse work FHWA does. For example, given the devastation caused by hurricanes and floods this year, “Rivers, Rainfall, and Resilient Roads” (page 36) is especially well-timed. The importance of proper, thorough planning for roads in floodplains has never been more important.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the year’s busiest shopping days, will soon be here. Each underscores the role FHWA plays in keeping roads safe and efficient so commercial traffic can make deliveries on time. “Delivering the Goods” (page 20) offers new insights into the growing challenges facing freight shippers in and around busy urbanareas.

And the thoughtful blend of research and artful prose in “America’s Glory Road” (page 10) sheds new light on one of the greatest civil engineering achievements in U.S. history–the construction of the Alaska Highway 75 years ago. The article is not only a great read, but it also serves as an important reminder of the hardships highway workers and engineers have faced–and continue to face–building and maintaining the Nation’s transportation infrastructure.

Much of the country will soon contend with icy highways. By taking simple precautions, we can help keep each other safe throughout this challenging travel season. Please buckle up, and don’t tailgate. Stay at least one car length behind the vehicle in front of you for every 10 miles (16 kilometers) per hour of speed. On icy roads, triple that distance–the more space the better. Remember that bridges and overpasses usually freeze first. Obey posted speeds, and err on the side of driving slower. Also, give snow removal equipment and emergency vehicles enough room to do their jobs. As we say in Indiana, “Don’t crowd the plow!”

More than 37,000 people lost their lives on U.S. roads in 2016, and that is unacceptable. This year, we must bring that number down–and safe driving on wintry roads is key.

With a new Administration, a commitment to highway finance reform, and a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan under development, USDOT and FHWA have a perfect opportunity to strengthen the Nation’s roads and bridges and focus on reducing deaths and serious injuries on U.S. roads.

Having led a State department of transportation, I know full well just how effective FHWA can be. Each of us has a role to play in making the Nation’s roads safer. Some say it is an impossible challenge. I see it as an incredible opportunity, and hope you do too.

Brandye L. Hendrickson
Acting Administrator
Federal Highway Administration




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