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|Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 57· No. 3 > Along the Road|
Along the Road
"Along the Road" is a hodgepodge of items of general interest to the highway community. But this is more than a miscellaneous section; "Along the Road" is the place to look for information about current and upcoming activities, developments, and trends. This information comes from Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.
Workshops on Motor Carrier Safety Rating Process Held Around the Country
FHWA has scheduled eight one-day workshops around the country from November 30 through March 24, 1994, to seek ideas about how the motor carrier safety rating process could be improved. The Office of Motor Carriers wants to hear industry opinions on the current rating system as well as other possible approaches. The office is also currently reviewing the existing evaluation process, including the possibility of self-assessment certification.
Georgia DOT is Developing Rideshare Program for the Atlanta Region
A team is developing an interim rideshare program for the Atlanta region. In early 1994, this program will transition into the Atlanta Regional Rideshare Program that will tie together rideshare efforts that are underway by the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT), the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and the Olympic Planning Committee.
Federal Lands Highway Office and Forest Service Meet
On November 16-18, representatives from the Federal Lands Highway Office met with the Forest Service in Denver, Colo., to discuss the October 5, 1993, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Forest Highway Program. The rule pertains to transportation planning (including designation of routes, inventory and condition, and bridge, pavement, and management systems), design, construction, and maintenance activities.
Travel Demand Management (TDM) Symposium Held
FHWA, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and the Transportation Research Board (TRB) cosponsored "Setting a Strategic Agenda for Travel Demand Management (TDM)" on November 15-16 in Arlington, Va. More than one hundred experts in the demand management area participated in presentations, discussions, and workshops designed to develop ideas, options, and recommendations to advance the state of TDM into the next century.
FHWA Sponsors Incident Management Conference
FHWA sponsored a one-day Incident Management Conference in Buffalo, N.Y., on November 12. One of more than a dozen conferences held nationwide, this conference attracted several hundred participants from federal, state, and local governments, as well as police, fire departments, and trucking firms. In an effort to assist Buffalo with its incident management, Demo 86 (a three-day incident management course sponsored by the Office of Technology Applications) will be offered in the spring.
Missouri Chief Engineer and Assistant Chief Engineer Announce Retirement
On November 5, Chief Engineer Wayne Muri and Assistant Chief Engineer Walt Vandelicht announced their retirements effective June 30 and March 1, respectively. Muri, a 38-year veteran of the Missouri DOT, also served as president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) during the past year. Vandelicht has been with the department for 44 years.
1994 DOT Appropriations Act Restricts Use of Federal Funds for Metric Signs
Section 331 of Fiscal Year (FY) 1994 DOT Appropriations Act, signed by President Clinton, restricts use of funds for highway signs using metric measurements. FHWA still plans to develop a policy to ensure uniform metric units and practices as this one-year moratorium on the funding of metric signs should not affect the progress made by FHWA and the states in other areas of the program. Also, there is no prohibition that precludes the states from using their own funds to erect or modify signs with messages using metric units.
First ISTEA Roundtable Held in Connecticut
On November 5, Deputy Secretary of Transportation Mortimer Downey and a team from the U.S. DOT, including the deputy administrators of FHWA and FTA, conducted the first of a nationwide series of meetings addressing the implementation of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). The meeting was held at the University of Hartford in Hartford, Conn. Approximately 100 state and local officials, business leaders, planners, and citizens from throughout New England discussed the progress being made under ISTEA and shared their concerns and issues that have developed during the first two years under ISTEA. A second roundtable is scheduled for November 17 in New York City.
New U.S. DOT Civil Rights Director Discusses Initiatives
Antonio J. Califa, the new Director of Civil Rights for the U.S. DOT, visited the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Mass., on November 5, and he used the opportunity to briefly discuss the DOT secretary's initiatives on civil rights issues. Most notably, Califa indicated that he intended to increase the civil rights activities of his office, and he expressed his interest in addressing sexual harassment incidents and taking a proactive approach toward promoting diversity within DOT.
Partnering is a Key to Quality in New Jersey
On November 4 about 200 contractors, consultants, state and federal officials met in Princeton, N.J., for a jointly sponsored Partnering Seminar. This was an initiative flowing from the National Quality Initiative (NQI) regional meeting last summer in Monticello, N.Y., and will be followed by another NQI program for New Jersey in February 1994. At this meeting, there were presentations about partnering from the owner and contractor perspectives and a three-hour feedback session that enabled everyone to get their "hands on" partnering. Currently, New Jersey has six projects with partnering, and state officials plan to expand that number considerably.
Russian and U.S. Engineers Collaborate on Roads
The first phase of a $340-million, World Bank loan to Russia will involve 200 to 300 kilometers of four-lane roads that are to be designed by a team of Russian and U.S. engineers this winter. By March 1994, contracts will be awarded for road repair and rehabilitation work on Russian highways.
Executive Council of Civil Rights Directors Organized
On November 3, civil rights personnel from the eight states in Region 4 met and organized an Executive Council of Civil Rights Directors. The purpose of the council is to: (1) advocate civil rights programs, (2) promote accountability and awareness among federal and state administrators, (3) act as a resource group for the exchange of ideas, resolution of problems, and sharing of information, and (4) achieve the basic philosophies of all civil rights legislation and ensure equitable distribution of federal and state programs. The council was also given a presentation on a pilot, regional program to assist disadvantaged businesses in getting contracts with state DOTs.
Ozone and Carbon Monoxide Violations Have Decreased Significantly
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 1992 National Air Quality and Emissions Trends Report on November 2, revealing a decrease of 65 percent in violations of ozone standards and 94 percent fewer violations of the carbon monoxide standards since 1983, despite a 37-percent increase in vehicle miles traveled. The report also noted a decrease in lead emissions.
FHWA, BTS, and Others Undertake Review of European Travel Survey Techniques
On November 2, a six-country European visit by a review team to discuss various issues related to national travel surveys was recently completed. The visits to England, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, France, and Germany by representatives of FHWA, Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), and state and metropolitan planning organizations provided valuable input in the planning of the 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey as well as the 1995 National Passenger Flow Study planned by the BTS. U.S. procedural techniques compared favorably with the European experience; however, there was a significant difference in the level of funding with the Europeans devoting more money to this area than the United States.
Maryland State Highway Association Wins Governor's Quality Award
On November 1, the Maryland State Highway Administration was announced as the winner of the Governor's Quality Award. This eight-year-old, total quality program is based on customer service, participation, continuous improvement, and measurement.
Swedish Representatives Meet with FHWA
Swedish Road Administration officials met with FHWA representatives on November 1 to discuss their Intelligent Vehicle-Highway Systems (IVHS) research work and view electronic toll collection operations on Route 400 in Atlanta. The Swedish IVHS work is in cooperation with the European Community Programs, DRIVE and PROMETHEUS.
Interagency Agreement Implementing ISTEA Provisions is Signed
FHWA Administrator Slater and the Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) signed an interagency agreement on October 29, implementing ISTEA provisions relative to Public Lands Highways on nearly 122 million hectares of public lands with a specific emphasis on transportation planning and resource management.
National Quality Initiative Steering Committee Meets
On October 27-28, the National Quality Initiative (NQI) Steering Committee met in Detroit, Mich., following the Annual American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Meeting. Forty states have indicated definite plans to hold state-level NQI seminars in the near future. At the meeting, AASHTO approved formation of a "Standing Committee on Quality." The NQI Steering Committee foresees a need to coordinate with this committee as well as with other permanent committees on quality in NQI member organizations. Also, the Steering Committee is finalizing a long-range plan that details a number of future NQI activities.
IVHS Representatives Meet with Metropolitan Transportation Officials
On October 23, FHWA IVHS staffers and IVHS AMERICA officials met with representatives of 13 metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) from ten different states and the District of Columbia to discuss the role of MPOs in moving IVHS forward in their jurisdictions. IVHS AMERICA is offering free one-year memberships to MPOs and other local government entities to facilitate their involvement, which is vital to the ultimate success of IVHS.
FHWA/EPA Sponsor Symposium on Reuse of Construction Materials and By-Products
On October 19-22, FHWA and EPA sponsored "Recovery and Effective Reuse of Discarded Materials and By-Products for Construction of Highway Facilities" in Denver, Colo. Representatives from nine companies presented products ranging from recycled plastic posts and delineators to retaining walls made from scrap tire rubber to the more than 150 people in attendance.
Florida Motorists Can Call Highway Patrol for Free
On October 22, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) and Florida DOT began a joint effort with GTE Mobilnet to allow motorists with cellular phones to call FHP without charge to report suspicious activity, hazardous road conditions, or request help. Currently, the service is available in 17 counties across west central Florida. Signs with the message HIGHWAY ASSISTANCE DIAL *FHP will be placed along the roadside. The agencies hope to make this service available statewide.
FHWA Issues Guidance On Wetlands and Other Waters of the U.S.
On October 19, FHWA issued guidance to the field concerning recent changes to the rules governing Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which regulates placement of fill in wetlands and other waters of the United States. The changes, published jointly by EPA and the Corps of Engineers on August 25, are effective immediately. An example of a rule change that could affect transportation-related activities is the exclusion of most highway drainage ditches as regulated wetlands. The purpose of this new rule and others is to close several loopholes in the existing regulation and expand wetland protection.
Gold Medal Presented to Flood Relief Workers
The Secretary of Transportation's Award for Outstanding Achievement, the "Gold Medal," was presented on October 19 to all DOT employees who assisted in the Midwest flood relief efforts. Secretary Peña acknowledged employees who contributed in numerous ways, including rescuing individuals trapped by rising water, reviewing washed out roads and bridges, organizing delivery of emergency supplies and equipment, providing transportation coordination around the clock, and preparing daily updates on the impact of the flood on transportation systems. The secretary presented a Gold Medal to Ken Jensen, FHWA Regional Administrator for Region 7, as the representative of other FHWA employees and for Jensen's personal efforts. Jensen was the focal point in Region 7 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska) for all of DOT's emergency activities pertaining to highways, aviation, water, and rail.
Road Construction Costs Decline for Second Quarter of 1993
FHWA announced that highway construction costs decreased 0.6 percent in the second quarter of 1993. The second quarter results lowered the FHWA's composite index for highway construction costs to 109 percent of the 1987 base index (1987 average costs equal 100 percent). Decreases in the unit prices for portland cement concrete, bituminous concrete, and structural steel lowered the index for the quarter. There were increases in the unit prices for common excavation, reinforced steel, and structural concrete.
Alabama Law Outlawing Tinted Windows is Unconstitutional
In mid-October, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the State Vehicle Window Tinting Statute prohibiting window tinting "to the extent or manufactured in such a way that occupants of the vehicle cannot be easily identified or recognized" was unconstitutional. The court also stated that the "... promulgation of the rule was an unconstitutional usurpation of the legislature's authority to make law."
Committee Recommends Regional Traffic Information Center
On October 12, the Advisory Committee for the Tampa Bay Area Early Deployment Project conducted its final meeting. The study, funded by Section 6058 of ISTEA, was initiated a year ago with the intent of outlining an integrated transportation information system for the Tampa Bay area. The final report recommends the construction of a regional, real time traffic information center that would display a real time, regional congestion map, color-coded to indicate degrees of congestion. Efforts to implement the recommendations of the committee are currently underway.
Bond Financing Symposium Conducted in D.C.
FHWA, in conjunction with the FTA and the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, sponsored a one-day symposium, "Bond Financing and Transportation Infrastructure: Exploring Concepts and Roles," in Washington, D.C., on September 28. More than 80 people representing virtually every DOT mode, Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, other Federal agencies, states and other experts shared their perspectives. The symposium focused on the fundamentals of the tax-exempt bond market and transportation infrastructure, intergovernmental perspectives, and bond financing mechanisms, such as credit enhancement and revolving funds. A number of follow-up topics will be considered by FHWA and the other sponsors in the coming weeks.
South Carolina Plans First Statewide Safety Conference
On October 15, representatives of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety meet with local FHWA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officials to begin preparing for South Carolina's first statewide highway safety conference. The conference will be held on March 6-9, 1994, in Myrtle Beach and will address a wide range of highway, driver, and vehicular safety issues. The goals of the conference are to build community safety networks and to enhance ongoing efforts in the areas of public education, technical assistance, and information sharing.
Caltrans Receives APTA Award
In mid-October, the American Public Transit Association presented the California DOT (Caltrans) with its Public Agency Award for its accomplishments in the field of multimodalism. Caltrans hopes this award will be one more step in changing the public perception of Caltrans as "just a highway agency."
Intermodal Management System Scoping Study
In mid-October, the Port of Portland, working with the Oregon DOT, metropolitan officials, and FHWA, selected a consultant to conduct a scoping study for Oregon's Intermodal Management System (IMS). The study, which is scheduled for completion in late December, will produce a scope of work that will be used for a Request for Proposals to develop a statewide IMS.
Idaho Consortium Agreement Signed
On October 15, the Idaho Transportation Department, FHWA, Idaho Engineering Laboratory, and the University of Idaho signed an agreement to form a consortium for advanced transportation research.
Groundbreaking for Transportation Technology Center in Idaho
A groundbreaking for the National Center for Advanced Transportation Technology was held on the University of Idaho campus on October 15. This center was funded under the ISTEA of 1991 with matching funds coming from private sources. Construction is expected to start in the spring of 1994.
Mississippi Wins Kudos for Seat Belt Program
Mississippi's seat belt program, "Get it on Mississippi," was awarded one gold and two silver Awards for Excellence in Public Affairs Programs by the International Association of Business Communicators.
Yakima Indians Exempted from Washington State Gasoline Tax
Early in October, a U.S. district court judge granted a preliminary injunction against collection of gasoline taxes from members of the Yakima Indian Nation who buy fuel at a reservation store. However, the judge ordered the business and the Yakima Indian Nation to post a bond for $20,000 -- an amount equal to the total annual taxes -- pending trial on the issue next year. The state's 23-cents-per-gallon tax will continue to be collected on gasoline sales to non-Indians. The tribe contends that Congress never granted authority to the state to collect gas taxes from tribal members on the reservation. The tribe also argued that the collection of state gas taxes would place an unfair burden on tribal businesses because the tribe collects its own gasoline tax of 5.5 cents/gallon.
Japanese Delegates Attend Advanced Technology Workshop in Virginia
The Second U.S./Japan Workshop on Advanced Technology in Highway Engineering and U.S. Study Tour was held on October 10-18. Nine Japanese delegates from the Ministry of Construction and the Public Works Research Institute and more than 50 representatives from FHWA met on October 11 at the Airlie Conference Center in Virginia to present ongoing activities and define areas for joint cooperation. On October 12, representatives met at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) in McLean, Va., to summarize the discussions and finalize future plans. Following the workshop, the Japanese delegation, accompanied by representatives from TFHRC and the FHWA Office of International Programs, conducted a study tour to Boston, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. A wide variety of topics were covered including the design and construction of Boston's Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel, the 3M Transportation Center, the Minnesota MNRoad project, the intermodal facilities at the Port of Long Beach, the newly-opened Glenn Anderson (Century) Freeway, and the IVHS-related research being conducted by Hughes Aircraft.
FHWA Kicks Off Development of IVHS Architecture
FHWA kicked off the first phase of the U.S. DOT's IVHS Architecture Development Program on October 12 at DOT Headquarters in Washington, D.C. This was the first time that all four successful bidders met with the program team, which includes representatives from FHWA, NHTSA, FTA, the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), and the MITRE Corporation. During the course of the three-day meeting, the contractor teams were briefed on details of the IVHS architecture program, as well as other significant IVHS efforts that will have to be considered during architecture development. The four contractor consortia are headed by Hughes Aircraft Company, IBM Federal Systems, Rockwell International, and the Westinghouse Electric Corporation.
Strategic Planning Seminar Opens
International transportation research directors assembled at the TFHRC on October 4 for the opening of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Seminar on Strategic Planning for Road Research Programs. Following their introduction to the U.S. highway research programs, the group moved to Williamsburg, Va., for the continuation of the seminar through October 8.
Federal-Aid Sanctions Imposed
Federal-aid withholding sanctions affecting funds for the National Highway System (NHS), Surface Transportation Program (STP), and Interstate Construction and Maintenance, as specified in 23 U.S.C. 159 (Drug Offenders Drivers License Suspension), have been imposed against the 11 states that are not in compliance. Twenty-eight states are not in compliance with 23 U.S.C. 153 (Safety Belt and Motorcycle Helmet Use) and, therefore, are subject to transfer penalties that affect NHS, STP, and Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality apportionments beginning in FY 1995. Additionally, since Puerto Rico does not have a law establishing the minimum drinking age at 21 years, a 10-percent withholding penalty has been applied to its FY 1994 NHS, STP, and Interstate Maintenance apportionments.
Florida Rest Areas/Welcome Centers Get 24-Hour Armed Security
The Florida DOT has contracted with a private security firm to provide 24-hour security protection at all of its rest areas and welcome centers. Those rest areas without facilities will be closed. The security firm replaced state law enforcement officers who were assigned to rest areas immediately after a foreign tourist was fatally shot at a rest area. As an added measure, the one-mile advance signs will display the message 24-HOUR SECURITY under the sign. On the exit ramps and in the rest/welcome centers, other signs with the logo THIS AREA PATROLLED BY ARMED SECURITY have been installed.
Georgia -- When it Comes to Improving Transportation, Nobody Does it Better
Georgians for Better Transportation (GBT) received a national award last month for their support and advocacy of improved transportation. The award, known as the Excel Award, was presented at the Annual National Transportation Public Affairs Workshop in Minneapolis, Minn. This is a joint meeting between the AASHTO Public Affairs Subcommittee and the Transportation Advocacy Groups from their respective states. GBT was chosen for this prestigious award by their counterparts from 48 states. The award is presented to the group that has provided the most effective and dedicated support to transportation improvement in their state during the past year.
IVHS Holds Meeting with Representatives of HBCUs and MBEs
On September 14, Thomas A. Farrington, president of the Input-Output Computer Services Inc. of Waltham, Mass., and others met with FHWA Administrator Slater and IVHS staff from FHWA, NHTSA, FTA, and IVHS-AMERICA to discuss opportunities in the IVHS program for minority-owned businesses (MBEs) and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Workshop Focuses on Challenges to Integrated Land Use/ Transportation Planning
FHWA, in conjunction with FTA, the Office of the Secretary of DOT, and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, sponsored a two-day workshop, "Metropolitan America in Transition: Implications for Land Use and Transportation Planning," in Arlington, Va. on September 9-10. The workshop focused on the challenges to integrated land use and transportation policy planning posed by current metropolitan development patterns. Integration with air quality planning was also highlighted as was the need to address access of unemployed central city workers to suburban jobs. A number of policy and research recommendations emerged from the conference.
DOT Publishes Request for IVHS Operational Test Proposals
DOT has issued a notice in the September 8 Federal Register seeking offers from the public and private sectors to form partnerships for participation in the IVHS Operational Test Program. The notice identifies five IVHS user-service areas in which the desired benefits can be evaluated under live transportation conditions: (1) emergency notification and personal security, (2) automated roadside safety inspections and commercial vehicle administrative processes, (3) travel demand management, (4) enroute driver advisory and traveler services information, and (5) personalized public transit and public travel security. DOT has given potential participants until January 6, 1994, to form partnerships and submit project proposals. This ensures that proposals will be received in time for consideration for FY 1994 federal IVHS funding.
Intermodal Technical Assistance Available
In mid-September, FHWA made available the Intermodal Technical Assistance Activities for Transportation Planners report through its electronic bulletin board system (FEBBS). This document identifies intermodal technical assistance activities originating with U.S. DOT that should be of use to MPOs and state and local planners in fulfilling their responsibilities under ISTEA and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.
Georgia DOT Holds Forum on the Future of Transportation
On September 2, the Georgia DOT held the first of 11 regional public forums as part of its "Transportation 2000 -- The Vision Mission" initiative. Initiated in 1993, Transportation 2000 is an independent advisory commission initiated by GDOT. Its purpose is to look toward the future and craft a vision of where Georgia's transportation system can and should be in the years ahead. The commission is comprised of over 70 individuals from across the state representing government, chambers of commerce, and environmental groups and individuals. The purpose of the regional forums is to gather public opinion regarding the future of transportation in the state on issues such as bicycle and pedestrian ways, congestion management, economic development and tourism, energy efficiency, environmental quality, mobility and accessibility, transportation financing, transportation safety, and rural and urban transit.
Request for Comments on the Metric Conversion of Traffic Control Signs
On August 31, the Federal Register contained a notice--a request for comments on Options for Coordinating the Metric Conversion of Traffic Control Signs. The notice contained three options for which FHWA is requesting comments: (1) conversion through routine sign maintenance, (2) quick conversion, and (3) transition with dual metric and English units. During the 60-day comment period, the public is requested to specifically comment on the desirability of converting signs to metric, advantages and disadvantages of the option proposed, and the cost implications of the three options.
First IVHS World Congress is In the Works
Organizational meetings were held August 30-31 for the first IVHS World Congress, "Towards an Intelligent Transport System," to be held in December 1994. The World Congress will provide for presentation and discussion of IVHS concepts and deployment activities, including a major exhibition of new equipment systems and operating practices. This first annual event is being directed cooperatively by representatives of public and private entities from Europe, Japan, and the United States, including the FHWA.
MADD Issues Report Card
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) released their annual report card on the nation's attempt to combat drunk driving. According to the report, while the nation has made strides to combat drunken driving, budget problems are hindering law enforcement, and underage drinking remains a widespread concern. MADD gave the country as a whole a "B-minus" in dealing with the drunken driving problem while acknowledging that the number of traffic fatalities involving alcohol has declined by nearly one-third over the past decade. MADD evaluated each state on how well it has dealt with drunk driving, including budgeting, legislation, enforcement and dealing with victims. The percentage rates shown in the attached list indicate the rate of fatal accidents in 1992 that were alcohol-related.
DOT Recommends Cuts for National Performance Review
DOT recently made 23 recommendations in the National Performance Review. Those recommendations represent a savings of $36.4 billion for fiscal years 1995 through 1999. FHWA recommended several ways to improve existing DOT resources, including:
--Women's Transportation Seminar (WTS)
USGS Produces Book on Aggregates and America's Future
Natural Aggregate: Building America's Future has recently been published by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as part of its "Public Issues in Earth Science" series. The book, which is available free of charge from USGS, presents an overview of aggregates that outlines the dependence of society on them for uses such as construction and public works projects. "This book does an outstanding job in describing aggregates distribution and the issues of zoning, government relations, land use, reclamation, transportation, and infrastructure needs for the next decade," said Vincent P. Ahern Jr., president of the National Aggregates Association. Copies of the book can be ordered from the USGS Map Distribution, Box 25286, Building 810, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225.
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