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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 61· No. 3 > Along the Road

Nov/Dec 1997
Vol. 61· No. 3

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 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.

Policy and Legislation

House Committee Puts Highway Bill on Hold

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Sept. 24 extended the surface transportation program authorized in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) for six months. The bill, H.R. 2516, provides an extension of the ISTEA programs and requirements through March 31, 1998. Lawmakers said they now do not expect to take up a long-term reauthorization for the programs until next year.

The extension, will allow states to receive a large portion of their fiscal year 1998 highway and transit monies after ISTEA expires Sept. 30. About half of the states' highway formula grant money -- about $11.9 billion -- would be sent out to the states after Sept. 30. Also, they will have access to about $10 billion in unobligated highway funds from previous years.

House and Senate Increase Funds for Federal-Aid Highway Program

The House transportation appropriations bill was taken up by the full House on July 23 and adopted without amendment by 424 to 5 majority. The bill contains a $3 billion increase for the Federal-Aid Highway Program. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved their version of the transportation appropriations bill on July 22, and the full Senate passed the appropriations bill on July 30. The Senate bill provides a 16-percent increase for the Federal Aid Highway Program from approximately $20 billion this year to $23.6 billion for fiscal year 1998.

Illinois Makes School Buses Safer

Illinois Governor Jim Robert Edgar signed legislation requiring all Illinois school buses to be fitted with front-end, 1.8-m-long retractable "arms" that prevent children from walking directly in front of the bus. Governor Edgar also signed a companion bill requiring bus drivers to give advance consent for blood-alcohol testing in case of accidents and imposes strict penalties if drivers do not comply.

West Virginia Raises Speed Limits

West Virginia Secretary of Transportation Richard Jemiola announced that speed limits on interstate highways and four-lane expressways will be raised throughout the state. The decision was based on a speed limit study by the Division of Highways in response to a legislative resolution. The speed limit on rural sections of interstate highways will be raised from 65 mi/h to 70 mi/h; in urban areas, the interstate sections marked as 55 mi/h will be changed to 60 mi/h.

Slater Calls on Congress to Improve Highway Safety

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater called on Congress to improve transportation safety significantly by quickly enacting the Department of Transportation's (DOT) proposed "Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1997," an initiative that would give DOT authority over shippers and toughen penalties for owners and drivers of large trucks and buses violating federal motor carrier safety regulations.

Principle provisions of the draft legislation would also increase the minimum amount of insurance coverage required for carriers of large volumes of hazardous petroleum products from $1 million to $5 million and increase many fines for carrier safety violations.

Management and Administration

Motor Carrier Plan Is Approved

The Office of Motor Carriers' Research Plan for 1997 has received departmental approval and now stands ready for distribution. The plan describes ongoing and proposed motor carrier research projects and addresses issues identified by Congress, the industry, safety organizations, and other parties concerned with the safety of interstate trucking and bus operations. The research plan focuses on human factors, emerging technologies, information collection and analysis, and support of regulatory reform.

Technical News

Full-Scale Bridge Tested at Research Center

Sections of the curved steel bridge being loaded into the Structures Lab
Sections of the curved steel bridge are loaded into the Structures Lab at TFHRC.

A full-scale curved steel girder bridge is being constructed at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) in McLean, Va. The initial theoretical and analytical work has been completed, and the TFHRC Structures Laboratory will begin testing the first-ever full-size bridge beams inserted into a test frame designed to simulate an actual structure. The conventional high-strength steel bridge will then be tested for the next two years. This is the first curved steel bridge to be tested at full-scale to develop standards. Since 1992, FHWA has been conducting research on theoretical, analytical, and experimental research findings concerning horizontally curved steel bridges. The project is funded through a joint cooperative effort between FHWA, the steel industry, and 13 states under a pooled-fund study.

D.C. Uses ECE to Save Bridge

The District of Columbia's Department of Public Works will be implementing one of the Strategic Highway Research Program's (SHRP) new innovative technologies on one of its upcoming bridge rehabilitation projects. They will be using Electrochemical Chloride Extraction (ECE) process on the rehabilitation of the Eastern Avenue Bridge. This is only the second SHRP product to be used in the district.

ECE will be used to save the bridge abutments, which have a high chloride contamination. Usually ECE is used on bridge piers and decks, but ECE is being used on this project to salvage the bridge -- the alternative to ECE application would have been demolition of the abutments.

U.S./Japan Workshop Held Aug. 4-10

Photo of Anthony Kane, Seizo Tsuju, Robert Betsold and Kunihiko Harada
Anthony Kane, FHWA executive director; Seizo Tsuju, director general of the Public Works Research Institute of Japan; Robert Betsold, FHWA associate administrator for research and development; Kunihiko Harada, director of the Road Environment Enhancement Division in the Japanese Ministry of Construction take a break between sessions at the sixth joint workshop on advanced technology in highway engineering.

Delegates from Japan's Public Works Research Institute and Ministry of Construction came to the United States to take part in the sixth advanced technology workshop with FHWA. The event began at TFHRC Aug. 4 with a day of research summary presentations. The delegates then visited Philadelphia and concluded their U.S. tour in San Diego on Aug. 9 and 10, taking part in the automated highway system demonstration


Public Information and Information Exchange

Minnesota DOT and Partners Launch Orion

Minnesota DOT and nine public- and private-sector partners have launched a first-of-its-kind Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) initiative. The initiative, Orion, is a metro-wide project designed to integrate communications systems, enhance incident management, provide advanced traveler information, and improve customer service. By installing on-board computers, buses can use automatic vehicle location technology to track the exact position of each bus on its route. The project should be operational by December 1998.

Kane Encourages Students to Succeed in School

Executive Director/Acting Deputy Administrator Anthony Kane visited Arbor Hill Elementary School in Albany, N.Y., to explain the initiatives of the DOT's Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Futures Program, a national education program designed to challenge one million students of all ages to focus on math, science, and technical skills to prepare them for 21st century jobs in the transportation industry. Arbor Hill Elementary is one of the partnership schools for which local FHWA offices provide mentors, tutors, computers, and other resources for students.

First Class Graduates From Summer Transportation Institute

The first class of students graduated from the Summer Transportation Institute at Delaware State University. Nineteen high school students participated in the four-week, intensive session. Delaware DOT Secretary Anne Cabby and FHWA Delaware Division Program Operations Engineer David Nicol presented certificates to the students. The institute was sponsored by FHWA, Delaware DOT, and Delaware State University.

Wisconsin DOT Protects Endangered Species

In an effort to preserve the inhabitants of one of the five natural peregrine falcon nests within a three-state area, the Wisconsin DOT recently delayed repainting the center span of the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge for five weeks. Workers had to wait for three peregrine falcon chicks, which are on the endangered species list, to mature enough to leave their nest under the deck of the bridge's center span.

NAVFAC-CERF MOU Promotes Collaboration in Design and Construction

The Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) and the Civil Engineering Research Foundation (CERF) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in an effort to promote research to advance technologies in the design and construction of environmentally sustainable facilities and cleanup. NAVFAC and CERF will work with industry and academia to overcome the barriers facing research, development, and commercialization of building, construction, and environmental technologies and help create innovations within the fragmented design and construction industry.

-- CERF

New York Bike Program Receives Federal Grant

The New York DOT's Office of Bicycle Programs received a federal transportation grant to launch the first phase (years one and two) of the Bicycle Network Development (BND) Program. BND, a joint program of the City of New York Department of City Planning and NYDOT, is encouraging bicycle ridership in the city in an effort to improve air quality, reduce congestion throughout the city, reduce energy costs, and increase low-cost, alternative transportation options. The program extends aid in the planning, design, and development of bikeways; provides bicycle parking and support facilities; improves bicycle access on bridges and mass transit facilities; and institutionalizes cycling in public agencies and private organizations.

-- City of New York Department of City Planning

EPA Reclassifes Phoenix's Air Quality Rating

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it was reclassifying the air quality rating in the Phoenix area from moderate to serious for ozone. Control measures, such as using reformulated gasoline for summer and IM240 vehicle inspections, were implemented this year. Thirteen violations of the ozone standard occurred from 1994 through 1996.

FHWA Research Wins CERF Innovative Awards

An FHWA research effort on high-performance steels for highway bridge applications won the Civil Engineering Research Foundation (CERF) 1997 Pankow Innovative Applications Award. Partners receiving the award with FHWA are the Department of the Navy and the American Iron and Steel Institute. The winners were honored on Oct. 21 at an awards dinner in Washington, DC. FHWA also was honored as a collaborator on a new simplified monitoring system for which Strain Monitor Systems won the 1997 Pankow Innovative Concept Award.

The high-performance steel project, led hy research engineer Bill Wright, developed new steel compositions that have high strengths, significantly higher toughness, and greater corrosion resistance. Use of these steels, with yield strengths of 485 to 690 MPa, will reduce cost and improve the safety and performance of our highway bridges. Development and research on the 485 MPa steel has reached the stage where it is already being fabricated into girders for use on major steel bridges in Tennessee and Nebraska.

The new simplified monitoring system for civil structures developed by Strain Monitoring Systems won the 1997 CERF Pankow Innovative Concept Award. FHWA collaborated on the system hy contracting for its development through the contract research program. Research engineers Dr. Steve Chase and Dr. Hamid Ghasemi led FHWA's interest in creating a monitoring system that uses "smart" metal alloys that can track and report damage done to various structures. This technology combines a series of metal alloys trademarked as the "IntelliSense" device that, when strained or stretched, becomes magnetized. The resulting ferromagnetism is directly relational to the amount of strain, allowing its creators to make the claim that this monitor can detect strain from as little as 20 microstrains. The Innovative Applications Award recognizes the contribution of an organization or collaborative team that demonstrates innovative approaches to design, materials use, or the construction process that has been transferred into practice. The Innovative Concept Award was designed to stimulate the development of original and creative concepts with real potential for application in practice. Applications for these awards were accepted from puhlic and private industry, academia, and Government agencies from around the world.

Personnel

Wykle Confirmed as FHWA Administrator

Kenneth R. Wykle was confirmed Oct. 30 by the U.S. Senate as the next administrator for the Federal Highway Administration and took office on Nov. 10, 1997. He was nominated by President Clinton on Oct. 6, 1997. After being sworn in, Wykle will be the 14th administrator of FHWA.

Until his retirement from the U.S. Army in 1995, Wykle served as deputy commander in chief of the U.S. Transportation Command, which is the military's unified management group for the Army Military Traffic Management Command, the Navy Military Sealift Command, and the Air Force Mobility Command. During his Army career, Wykle commanded a medium truck company in Vietnam and later taught military logistics doctrine and operations as college president of the U.S. Transportation Center. Since 1995, he has been vice president for defense transportation at Science Applications International Corporation in northern Virginia.

Wykle was born in Ronceverte, W.Va. He holds a bachelor's degree in education from West Virginia University, where he completed ROTC and was commissioned a second lieutenant of field artillery in 1963. He also holds a master's degree in psychology from Ball State University. He received numerous awards throughout his military career, including the Legion of Merit Award three times, the Bronze Star Medal twice, the Distinguished Service Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal. Wykle and his wife Mary live in Burke, Va. They have three sons.

Jeff Appointed Deputy Federal Highway Administrator

Gloria J. Jeff, FHWA's associate administrator for policy and acting federal highway administrator, has been appointed by the president to serve as deputy federal highway administrator. Ms. Jeff directed policy development, programming, and modal planning activities as the deputy director of the Michigan Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Planning before joining FHWA.

NES-BIC Elects First and Vice Chairs at Management Board Meeting

At the first management board meeting of the National Evaluation Service Building Innovation Center (NES-BIC) in Chicago on Aug. 1, Marriott Corporation Vice President William Hoy and Bridges and Associates President Pat Bridges from Portland, Ore., were elected to serve as first chair and as vice chair, respectively. NES-BIC is administered by the National Evaluation Service (NES) with the support of CERF.

-- CERF

West Virginia Commissioner Retires

Fred VanKirk, the West Virginia commissioner of the Division of Highways, retired Aug. 29. He spent 34 years with the state DOT and served as state highway engineer and commissioner since 1982. Recently, he held the position of West Virginia DOT secretary.

Conferences

FHWA and Maryland DOT Host Expo

The Second Annual Eastern Winter Road Maintenance Symposium R Equipment Expo was held Sept. 4 in Hagerstown, Md. The event was co-hosted by FHWA and Maryland DOT. The symposium showcased the latest winter maintenance technologies, equipment, and materials to practitioners and mangers in the states east of the Mississippi River. The symposium drew nearly 1,300 participants, representing 23 states, and 71 exhibitors. Thirty-five vehicles were on display, including state-of-the-art equipment from public agencies and equipment manufacturers. The overall attendance nearly doubled the attendance of the first symposium last year.

The 1998 Eastern Winter Road Maintenance Symposium and Equipment Expo will be co-hosted by the FHWA and Pennsylvania DOT. For the western states, the American Public Works Association will hold a Western Snow and Ice Conference in Colorado.

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