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Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

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Publication Number:      Date:  Sept/Oct 1998
Issue No: Vol. 62 No. 2
Date: Sept/Oct 1998


Editor's Notes

Change Is Good!

Some people will never change, even if they really believe that change is in their best interests. How many times have you heard someone say, "I'm too old to change. I'm too set in my ways"? It appears to be a natural response - if you don't understand it, avoid it. But how beneficial is an attitude like that? How will you ever succeed if you are not willing to accept new ideas?

It is important to remember that change brings about progress. New ideas are developed into new technologies and systems, which are then tested and implemented. That is progress. That's what our nation is all about.

We want to move toward a transportation system that will add quality to people's lives - an integrated system where everyone has access within and beyond their community. As stated in FHWA's vision statement, we want " ... a transportation system where crashes, delays, and congestion are significantly reduced; a transportation system where freight moves easily and at the lowest costs, across towns, states, and international borders; a system where roads protect ecosystems and where travel on our roadways does not degrade the quality of the air; a system where pedestrians and bicyclists are accommodated; and a system where transportation services are restored immediately after disasters and emergencies."

Changes in design techniques or the use of materials can help create a tougher infrastructure. In the article, "The First Channel Bridge," Christopher J. Allen and Frank Naret write, "In the transportation industry, we are always on the lookout for new construction materials or methodologies that will allow us to improve our transportation systems at a lower cost, reduce construction time, and increase the performance life of our investment. ... The channel bridge is another step forward in the industry's relentless pursuit for improvement in our transportation system."

A change in the way we build pavements can lead to smoother, more durable roads. In the article "Ultra-Thin Whitetopping," Charles Churilla discusses a technique/process that is being studied as a method to quickly and effectively repair pavements in highly trafficked areas. By investigating this technique and discovering the possible applications of such a material, we can thereby improve the quality of our nation's roadways.

In "The Metric Conversion Status for the Highway Program," Jennifer Balis tells us that 42 states have "substantially completed" a conversion to the metric system of measurement. Although some states have been reluctant to change and Congress recently removed the target date for metric conversion, thereby making conversion totally optional for the states, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) favor continued conversion. FHWA Executive Director Tony Kane explained, "Full conversion by all the State [departments of transportation] remains an FHWA goal since it will improve efficiency within the highway construction industry by reducing translation errors and enabling the contractors, consultants, fabricators, and material suppliers to return to a single system of units."

Public Roads has featured the technological developments within the industry for 80 years, describing and explaining how these developments work and how they can ultimately benefit the American people. Educating the public is the key to the acceptance of new technologies. Adapting to change and keeping up with new innovations will help us reach our goals of a safe and effective transportation system. FHWA's vision is to create the best transportation system in the world. We can only do this through embracing change and accepting new technologies and systems.

Kandy Studzinski

Assistant Editor



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