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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 63· No. 1 > Along the Road

July/August 1999
Vol. 63· No. 1

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

FHWA Announces New Requirements for Truck Trailers

According to FHWA, trucking companies must now install reflective tape or reflectors on truck trailers. This is the first time that the agency has required trucking companies to retrofit vehicles to meet a new vehicle standard. This ruling is a follow-up to the 1993 mandate that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued, which required trailer manufacturers to equip new trailers with red and white reflective tape or reflex reflectors.

FHWA is allowing motor carriers that have voluntarily fitted trailers with colors other than red and white tape before the 1993 mandate to continue using the non-conforming colors for 10 years. However, the rule requires that at the end of the 10-year transition period, all trailers must be equipped with red and white reflective tape or reflex reflectors.

The reflective tape and reflectors allow passenger cars to see trailers more easily at night. This new rule is anticipated to save more than 100 lives and prevent more than 1,700 injuries over the next 10 years.

Gore Calls for Transportation Improvements

Vice President Gore launched a new federal effort that addresses America's concerns about traffic congestion and road safety. This "commuter choice" initiative will allow employers to offer their employees the choice of taxable cash or tax-exempt parking, transit, or vanpool benefits. The program allows an employer to offer taxable or non-taxable transportation options for employees who commute. The initiative may also reduce payroll taxes for many employers.

Another proposed transportation improvement, which Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater presented and Gore endorsed, is for a new, national three-digit telephone number, similar to 411. Drivers would be able to dial that number to access current transportation and traveler information. The number would use DOT's intelligent transportation infrastructure system, which already assists 45 states and cities in providing traveler information. The information would continue to be provided by private companies or public/private partnerships already delivering this service.

-ITS America

Management and Administration

Slater Awards Grants as Part of TCSP

Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater announced grant recipients for fiscal year 1999 in Detroit as part of the National Town Meeting for a Sustainable America. The grants, which are given to communities to help solve problems involving transportation, land development, environmental protection, public safety, and economic development, are distributed under the Transportation Community and System Preservation Program (TCSP). TCSP was established in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).

Slater announced that 35 projects totaling $13.1 million will receive funding under TCSP. The 35 projects were selected from 524 applications. These applications were evaluated by a multidisciplinary panel from the Environmental Protection Agency, FHWA, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Research and Special Program Administration.

The grant-winning states are Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

TCSP is a key component in the Clinton administration's livability agenda and allows communities to apply for federal grants to help preserve green space and ease traffic congestion.

Road Construction Costs Decrease in First Quarter of 1999

Highway construction costs decreased 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 1999 compared to the last quarter of 1998 and increased 9.3 percent in the first quarter of 1999 compared to the first quarter of 1998.

The first quarter results lowered FHWA's composite index for highway construction costs to 130.7 percent of the 1987 base index (1987 average costs equal 100 percent).

The index in the first quarter was reduced because of the decreases in the unit prices for reinforcing steel, common excavation, portland cement concrete, and structural concrete. There was an increase in the unit price for structural steel and bituminous concrete.

Technical News

FHWA and Partners Receive NOVA Award

The Construction Innovation Forum awarded its annual NOVA award on March 11 to FHWA and their partners for the development of the Humbolt Stiffness Gauge (HSG). Al DiMillio of FHWA; Dennis Burgess of the Humbolt Manufacturing Co. of Chicago; Frank Berkman of Bolt, Beranek & Newman (BBN) of Cambridge, Mass.; and Chuck Nelson of CNA Consulting Engineers of Minneapolis were recognized for the development of the HSG. The NOVA award recognizes organizations or individuals who have demonstrated innovative problem-solving and whose innovations have made an important contribution to productivity in the construction industry.

1999 NOVA Award winners.
(From left) Director of FHWA's Office of Research, Development, and Technology Dennis Judycki; FHWA research engineers Mike Adams, Carl Ealy, and Al DiMillio; and Director of the Office of Infrastructure Research and Development Paul Teng display the NOVA Award.

The HSG is a field instrument used to measure soil stiffness without digging into or destroying the existing soil. The soil stiffness gauge allows engineers to better evaluate the acceptability of a constructed fill or earthworks structure by directly measuring the soil modulus, or stiffness, rather than the density, which had been the customary method for many decades. Engineers measured density because it was easier to do; however, it was a very slow, labor-intensive, and dangerous process. The HSG is much faster, less dangerous, and more accurate. (See "Soil Stiffness Gauge for Soil Compaction Control," Public Roads>, March/April 1998, p. 5).

ACI 318-99 Building Code Available

The American Concrete Institute (ACI International) will release the 1999 edition of ACI 318, Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete and Commentary, this summer. Touted by ACI as the most referenced structural code in the world, the ACI building code underwent some changes in the 1999 edition to update the prestressed concrete chapter and revise the seismic design chapter.

For more information, contact ACI International at (248) 848-3800.

- ACI International

Public Information and Information Exchange

FHWA and IPRF Form Partnership

FHWA and the Innovative Pavement Research Foundation (IPRF) signed a cooperative agreement to produce better-performing, more cost-effective concrete pavements for the nation's roadways.

The partnership will ensure that important concrete pavement technology needs are dealt with; that the expertise and resources of the states, the industry, and FHWA are being used well; and that concrete pavement technology research moves quickly toward implementation.

A Transportation Research Board Concrete Pavement Committee has been formed to allow states to participate in the partnership. This committee provides a mechanism for state, industry, and academia to deliver input and support for the partnership's activities.

NHTSA Announces Recipients of Buckle Up America Champion Award

NHTSA announced the winners of the first-ever Buckle Up America Awards. The award is given to those organizations that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the national Buckle Up America campaign - a federally supported campaign made up of community-based partnerships that include health groups, safety advocates, legislators and other elected officials, law enforcement, businesses, and concerned citizens. Those involved in the campaign pledge their support for stronger enforcement of seat belt and child passenger safety laws.

The following organizations received Buckle Up America Champion Awards:

  • Air Bag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign.
  • Operation C.A.R.E.
  • National Sheriffs Association.
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police.
  • National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
  • State of California.
  • Network of Employers for Traffic Safety.
  • National Safe Kids.

Safety Billboards Encourage Motorists to Buckle Up

NHTSA and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, Inc., launched a public service campaign worth $5 million in advertising using 8,500 billboards throughout the United States. NHTSA Administrator Ricardo Martinez, M.D., unveiled the new billboard design in Seattle during the highway safety meeting, Lifesavers 17 Conference, held in April.

Buckle Up campaign billboard.
Billboards, such as this one, help encourage motorists to "Buckle Up."

The new billboards are designed to remind motorists to use their seat belts and feature a child's face with the caption "He/She'll do what you do. Buckle up."

DOT has set the goal of increasing the national seat belt use to 90 percent and of reducing child occupant fatalities by 25 percent by the year 2005.

FHWA Selects Universities and Colleges to Host Summer Program

FHWA selected 30 colleges and universities to host the 1999 Summer Transportation Institutes. The program, which began in 1993, is typically comprised of four-week on-campus sessions that introduce middle and high school students to transportation systems, innovations, management, construction skills, and research and technology. The program also includes field trips to transportation facilities.

Participating colleges and universities host the institutes and provide housing and instructors for each session. FHWA and South Carolina State University manage the program. In addition to FHWA support, the institutes receive assistance from local chapters of the National Urban League, state departments of transportation, private sector companies, and other federal agencies.

The following colleges and universities were selected to participate in the 1999 Summer Transportation Institute Program: Alabama A&M University, Albany State College, Arizona State University, Benedict College, Bethune-Cookman College, California State University, Cheney University, City College of New York, Clark Atlanta University, Delaware State University, Elizabeth City State University, Florida A&M University, Florida International University, Howard University, Jackson State University, Kentucky State University, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College, Lincoln University, Morgan State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Northwest Indian College, South Carolina State University, Southern University, Tennessee State University, Texas A&M University, Tuskegee University, University of Arkansas, University of Missouri - Rolla Campus, Virginia State University, West Virginia State University.

Jeff Presents NBA All-Star With DOT Highway Safety Award

Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Gloria Jeff presented National Basketball Association All Star Karl Malone with a highway safety award for his active participation in FHWA's Share the Road/No-Zone public education campaign.

Malone, who owns an 18-wheeler and holds a commercial driver's licence, is featured in a computer-animated television public service announcement teaching motorists how to drive safety around large trucks and buses. The award recognizes his contribution to the No-Zone program.

Variable Pricing Project in Florida Announces Dramatic Results

The Lee County Department of Transportation, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and the Center for Urban Transportation Research (a department of the University of South Florida) announced significant decreases in traffic during peak traffic times as a result of the Variable Pricing Project. In addition to less traffic congestion, motorists saved money on tolls. For the time period Aug. 3, 1998, through Dec. 31, 1998 (the first five months), $127,779 in toll losses were accrued to variable pricing. Lee County citizens saved $127,779 by driving during the variable pricing discount times.

Variable pricing, which is funded by DOT's Value Pricing Pilot Program (see "Value Pricing Helps Reduce Congestion," Public Roads, March/April 1999, p. 47), supports innovative strategies to reduce traffic congestion on the nation's roadways.

Lee County has begun the implementation phase of one of only three congestion pricing pilot projects in the United States. The grant is funded by FHWA, who contributes $16 million, and FDOT and Lee County, who each contribute $2 million. This funding includes a $6.3 million revenue reserve fund to reimburse Lee County for the loss in toll revenues caused by variable pricing.

By varying the tolls during the hours surrounding the rush hours, the county provides an incentive to motorists to travel during off-peak times. This reduces traffic during rush hours and the associated social and environmental costs. For more information, contact the LeeWay Service Center at (941) 931-0100.

- LeeWay

FHWA Provides $1.6 Million to Oregon

Oregon will receive $1.6 million in emergency relief funds to repair federal-aid roads damaged by heavy rain and storms that began on Jan. 19, 1999. Oregon will use the funding to repair roads in Tillamook County, an area west of Portland.

Emergency relief funds are awarded after the president or governor issues a formal emergency proclamation and the state has filed a preliminary damage assessment for its highways and bridges on the federal-aid system.

Personnel

Peters Named New President of ACEC

Leo F. Peters, president of Weston & Sampson Engineers Inc. in Peabody, Mass., will serve as the new president of the American Consulting Engineers Council (ACEC) for the year 1999-2000.

Peters was ACEC's president-elect for the past year and has held various leadership positions within ACEC, including ACEC senior vice president and vice president.

-ACEC

Weseman Joins CCPC of Texas
William A. Weseman
William A. Weseman, paving engineer, Cement and Concrete Promotion Council of Texas.
William A. Weseman, a former employee of FHWA whose career spanned more than 37 years, has joined the Cement and Concrete Promotion Council (CCPC) of Texas. As paving engineer, Weseman will work with the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Turnpike Authority to improve the quality and performance of portland cement concrete pavements in Texas.

During his career at FHWA, Weseman worked on developing the interstate system and other major highways in Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, South Dakota, and Utah. He held positions in several field offices and served as both chief of construction and maintenance director, Office of Engineering.

He is a registered professional engineer in Texas and Michigan.

- Portland Cement Association

Akey Leaves DOT; Schulz Appointed Director of Public Affairs

Senior Department of Transportation official Steven J. Akey left his position as Assistant to the Secretary and Director of Public Affairs on April 9. Akey will become senior vice president in the Washington, D.C. office of Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, the world's largest independent public relations firm. Akey, who began his DOT position in March 1995, was the longest serving head of public affairs in the DOT's 32-year history. William Schulz, deputy director of public affairs, will replace Akey as assistant to the secretary and director of public affairs.

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