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Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

Research & Technology Transporter
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Publication Number:  N/A    Date:  April 1996
Publication Date: April 1996


Table of Contents







The Research & Technology Transporter was a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) research and technology publication issued under FHWA's Research and Technology Program. The 8-page newsletter transmitted research and technology-based developments from FHWA program offices to engineers in the field and professionals in the industry. Publication of the Research & Technology Transporter ended with the September 2006 issue.

Last Updated: 7/16/96

Federico F. Peña
U.S. Department of Transportation
Rodney E. Slater
Federal Highway Administration
Jane F. Garvey
Deputy Administrator,
Federal Highway Administration

Bud Wright--Safety
Stan Gordon--Structures
Jim Scapellato--Motor Carriers
Paul Teng--Pavements
Gary Euler--ITS
Bob Ford--International
Barna Juhasz--Policy, Planning, Environment,
Information Management & Right-of-Way

Anne Barsanti, Managing Editor
Jon Schans, Editor
Zac Ellis, Editor



Updated Pile Foundations Course Supports Our Nation's Bridges

The Offices of Engineering and Technology Applications (OTA), and the National Highway Institute (NHI) are collaborating on developing a new, comprehensive reference manual and NHI course series on Driven Pile Foundations. Pile foundations, though hidden from the traveling public's eye, literally support our Nation's bridges and structures. It is estimated that in 1993 approximately $1.5 billion was spent on highway related foundations for bridges, retaining walls, noise walls, and other structures, making them a key element in highway construction.

The NHI course series and manual on Driven Pile Foundations are being developed to present recommended engineering practices to the user community of structural, construction, and geotechnical specialists. A diverse Technical Working Group composed of FHWA, State DOT, and academic technical specialists are guiding the development effort. Two recent pilot sessions of the 4-day course (NHI - 13221), were presented in Portland, Oregon, and Tallahassee, Florida. Related courses include a 2-day construction monitoring course (NHI - 13222) and a 2 day computer lab design course (NHI - 13223). All three courses will be available through NHI beginning in the spring of next year.

Final editing of the manual and training materials will be completed during the next several months. Similar to other FHWA geotechnical engineering efforts, the final manual will serve a dual purpose as both a workshop manual and as FHWA's primary technical reference on driven pile technology. It is anticipated that the published version of the manual will be available in August. Demand for the training courses is expected to be very large based on the highly successful Demonstration Project No. 66 on driven piling, which was attended by approximately 5000 foundation specialists.

The following examples reflect some recent developments and suggested recommended practices for driven pile foundations:

--Jerry DiMaggio (202) 366-1569, Antonio Nieves (703) 235-0526


FHWA and ODOT Sponsor Workshop on Bridge Instrumentation and Vibration Analysis

Last summer, FHWA and the Ohio DOT (ODOT) jointly sponsored a workshop to discuss the role of instrumentation and vibration analysis as practical tools for the condition assessment, damage detection, and reliability evaluation of highway bridges. Among the approximately 60 participants who attended were representatives from FHWA, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, State DOT's, universities, and industries. The University of Cincinnati Infrastructure Institute (UCII) served as organizer and host for the workshop.

The purpose of the workshop was to exchange information between and explore the opportunity for potential cooperation among researchers in the areas of bridge instrumentation and vibration analysis. The workshop was highlighted by tours of UCII facilities and demonstrations at two Cincinnati area bridges currently in use as instrumentation and vibration analysis testbeds.

Workshop participants concluded that these tools offer significant potential to provide the information necessary to make informed decisions about the condition, useful life, and safety of bridges. It was felt that these tools could be used to rationalize and optimize bridge design, construction, maintenance, reconstruction, renewal, and management practices, all leading to reduced lifecycle costs and increased levels of safety.

Discussions highlighted the need for the development of a shared, comprehensive database containing information on research activities and results, and summaries of bridge problems and failures. Also highlighted was the need for flexible testbeds where various damage scenarios could be implemented and new ideas and concepts could be further explored. Finally, workshop participants focused on the need for the development of a technology transfer plan so that these state-of-the-art tools can be placed in the hands of bridge owners as fast as possible in a user-friendly manner.

-- Steven B. Chase, (202) 493-3034


Innovative Aluminum Bridge Deck Developments Reviewed

On November 29, 1995, in Richmond, Virginia, five FHWA Headquarters staffers -- Dick McComb, John Hooks, Walter Podolny, Bill Wright, and Tom Pasko -- met with FHWA Division representatives, Virginia DOT officials, and Reynolds Metal Company (RMC) staff and consultants. They reviewed the history and performance of aluminum bridges built in the United States and the on-going development and testing of new prototypes by RMC.

Prototype aluminum deck designs are planned to be used initially in Virginia and Pennsylvania. Aluminum offers favorable attributes to bridge construction, such as corrosion resistance and lightness. It is anticipated that a Pennsylvania DOT bridge -- suspension-type, one lane, 91-m length -- will be upgraded from an allowable 6.3-t vehicle load to 20 t.

The group saw a video on the making of aluminum and went on a tour of RMC's extrusion plant. They also visited the exposure plot with sections of the old Smithfield bridge where they saw the fatigue testing (3.5 million to 10 million cycles) of a 10 m2 section of bare deck. They visited labs where bond and wearing surfaces were being tested for salt exposure, adhesion, skid resistance, fatigue, and ultraviolet rays. FHWA may be naming an official to represent the agency on the technical advisory committee for further testing to be done under an existing Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between RMC and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

-- Thomas J. Pasko, Jr.,





Highway Statistics Marks 50th Year

This past year marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Highway Statistics. Along with its normal collection of data, the 1994 Highway Statistics contains a writeup by retiree Joyce Ritter on the history of highway data collection. It also contains an article describing the issues data users should be aware of when comparing the different sections of data.

The 1994 Highway Statistics publication brings together annual series of selected statistical tabulations relating to highway transportation in four major areas: (1) highway use -- the ownership and operation of motor vehicles; (2) highway finance -- the receipts and expenditures for highways by public agencies; (3) the highway plant -- the extent, characteristics, and performance of the public highways, roads, and streets in the Nation; and (4) international highway data -- comparison of the United States to other countries.

If you would like a copy of this publication, please contact the FHWA R&T Report Center, (301) 577-0906 or by fax (301) 577-1421 and request Publication No. FHWA-PL-95-042.

-- Mary K. Teets (202) 366-9211


SHRP Coordinators Hold Annual Meeting

On January 7, 1996, the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) coordinators met in Washington, D.C., at the Transportation Research Board's (TRB) 1996 annual meeting. With 150 people in attendance, the gathering gave SHRP coordinators from the United States and abroad the opportunity to share their progress in putting SHRP technologies to work.

The SHRP coordinators were treated to a dynamic change in format for this their 10th annual meeting. FHWA put together an interactive program among displays of SHRP equipment and exhibits. The meeting's structure gave the States an opportunity to talk about how they are currently using SHRP technology, to share their experiences using SHRP products, and to talk to equipment manufacturers and experts on various technologies.

As the coordinators walked through the exhibit hall, they participated in more than a dozen technical sessions from demonstrations of the Superpave software to hearing about other State DOT's projects related to Superpave or high performance concrete bridges. They also learned the results of the SPS 3 & 4 Field Reviews; how Virginia is using ground-penetrating radar equipment; and what upcoming SHRP showcases will involve, including those dealing with preventive maintenance, innovative materials, concrete durability, and structures.

Feedback from the meeting has been very positive, and later this year OTA is planning to take the show on the road to SASHTO and WASHTO, where a similar program format is being developed.

-- Margie Sheriff (202) 366-1747





R&D Visiting Professor Wins Awards

Dr. Dale Buckner has won two awards involving his work as part of R&D's visiting professor program. Dale has won the prestigious T.Y. Lin Award for 1995. This is a national award given by the American Society of Civil Engineers for significant contribution to the advancement of concrete/prestressed concrete. Buckner also received the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute's (PCI) Charles C. Zollman Award for 1995 which is given to recognize the best state-of-the-art paper published in the PCI Journal.

Dale worked at TFHRC from January through July 1993 as a visiting professor. He compiled results from many prestressing strand development length studies in the United States and Canada that were completed prior to 1993, and recommended design criteria consistent with the current state of knowledge. As part of this effort, he wrote the report An Analysis of Transfer and Development Lengths for Pretensioned Concrete Structures. He later condensed this report into an article for the PCI Journal. It is for these efforts that he was recognized.

-- Susan Lane (202) 493-3044


Superpave Videotape Introduced at NAPA Annual Meeting

FHWA and the National Asphalt Paving Association (NAPA) have cosponsored a 12-minute videotape on Superpave, the SHRP Superior Performing Asphalt Pavement technology. The videotape, which is designed for a broad audience, explains the Superpave system, what is involved in the system, how it is used, and what is valuable about it. Additional copies will be made available through NAPA. FHWA will distribute the videotape to its field offices, State highway agencies, and Local Technical Assistance Program Technology Transfer Centers.

There was a major roll out of Superpave at the NAPA's annual meeting in San Antonio, February 24 through 28. In addition to the videotape, a booklet on Superpave was made available and discussions on the delivery of Superpave technology were held. Gerry Eller, Director of the Office of Engineering; Byron Lord, Chief of the Highway Infrastructure Division, OTA; John D'Angelo, Asphalt Team Leader, OTA; and John Bukowski, Highway Engineer, OTA, made presentations at the meeting.

During the meeting, Lord met with representatives of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to discuss engineering controls for asphalt paving equipment to protect asphalt workers from the asphalt fumes produced in the process.

-- Byron Lord (202) 366-1283.





Bridge Division Participates in T2 Activities with Mexico

On January 14, 1996, Jorge E. Pagán-Ortiz of the Office of Engineering's Bridge Division represented FHWA in a technology transfer (T2) exchange in Monterrey, Mexico. Those represented were FHWA, Mexico's Secretariat for Communications and Transportation (SCT), and the Mexican Institute of Transportation (IMT). Pagán-Ortiz presented a summary of FHWA's hydraulics activities, which included publications, software, and research in the field of hydraulics engineering. Mexican engineers made presentations on their current activities in hydraulics engineering.

Following this exchange, Pagán-Ortiz served as co-instructor of the Spanish version of NHI (Course 13046) "Stream Stability and Scour at Highway Bridges." He was assisted by Rubén Salas Pereira of the University of Costa Rica. The course, presented from January 15 to 19, was sponsored by FHWA's Office of International Programs and Pan American Institute of Highways. Participating in the course were engineers from several Mexican states. Also participating in the course were engineers representing the State highway agencies of Arizona, California, and Texas.

Highlights of the course included an open forum for discussing factors affecting the stability of streams, the importance of selecting the appropriate design frequency for a storm event, the analytical procedures for estimating scour at bridges, and the importance of having a management system to help engineers categorize the condition of bridges over waterways. Engineers from SCT and IMT made technical presentations on the procedures used in Mexico for estimating scour at bridges. Finally, a presentation of FHWA's Demonstration Project 97, "Scour Monitoring and Instrumentation," was made to show state-of-the-art technology for monitoring the progression of scour around bridge foundations. The success of the technology exchange was made possible by the excellent coordination and support among FHWA, TxDOT, SCT, IMT, and Nuevo León, Mexico.

-- Jorge E. Pagán-Ortiz (202) 366-4604.





FHWA Contributes to New Headlighting Policies

A Negotiated Rule-making Advisory Committee, under the auspices of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and made up of lighting experts from industry, user groups, NHTSA, and FHWA, is currently working to develop the parameters for visually aimable automotive headlamps. Because of their rather soft beam pattern, current U.S. low-beam headlamps can only be aimed properly with the use of optical instruments, normally found in car dealerships or service stations. Many "do-it-yourselfers" replace burned-out headlamps. However, this often leads to misaimed headlamps resulting in poor visibility for the driver and serious glare towards oncoming motorists.

Using a so-called "sharp cut-off" beam pattern in their low-beam design, European headlamps have for many years been aimable without the need for optical instruments. The visual amiability was coincidental to the European headlamps' prime goal: good road illumination and no, or an absolute minimal, glare towards oncoming drivers. By practically eliminating all light above the horizontal on the left of the roadway, while maintaining good illumination on the road surface itself, a very sharp light/dark line was developed. At the center of the road, i.e. directly in front of the car, the beam pattern changes to provide upward light on the right hand side of the roadway. Using this very distinguished light/dark line, and the point where the light pattern turns upward, it becomes relatively easy to visually aim a headlamp.

With the continuing trend toward a global economy, headlamp design and performance in the United States, the European Community, and Japan are harmonizing. For the U.S. to utilize a visually aimable headlamp, it will need to have a beam characteristic more in line with the European sharp cut-off design than the current Society of Automotive Engineers beam pattern. The objectives of the Rule-making Advisory Committee, whose members represent not only the United States, but also the European Community and Japan, are to come up with a compromise low beam pattern which will provide sufficient light for the driver, reduce glare towards oncoming traffic, and still put enough light on signs and markings to make them meet their design objectives.

-- John Arens, (202) 493-3364.


New Blockout for W-beam Guardrail Tested

W-beam on strong steel post guardrails have been widely used in the United States and in many other countries. Known as the G4(1s) system, this guardrail was tested and developed at a time when passenger cars were predominant in the vehicle fleet. Since National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report No. 350 recommended new tests with pickup trucks, a test was conducted to see if this guardrail could meet the evaluation criteria for Test Level Three (TL-3).

When tested the pickup truck snagged a wheel on a post and then rolled over in the roadway. This test showed that the stronger bumper and stiffer front end of the pickup truck caused the steel beam sections used for blockouts to bend over in an "L" shape. The collapse of the blockouts caused rotation of some of the steel posts and allowed severe wheel snagging to occur. To solve the problem, the steel blockouts were replaced with a special wood blockout.

This 152-mm x 203-mm (6-in by 8-in) blockout has a mitered groove that allows it to fit over the steel flange of the post. A crash test was conducted with a 2000-kg pickup at 100 km/h and an impact angle of 25 degrees. The pickup truck was redirected upright and the wheel remained attached. This crash test shows that a more rigid blockout, such as these special wood blockouts, could improve the performance of this guardrail for pickup trucks.

-- Charles F. McDevitt (202) 493-3313.


Highway Safety Information System Expansion Complete

The FHWA Highway Safety Information System (HSIS) is a multi-State database that contains crash, roadway design, roadway inventory, and traffic volume data. An expansion of the system from five to eight States was recently completed. California, North Carolina, and Washington were added to the original States of Illinois, Michigan, Maine, Minnesota, and Utah. The selection was based on the size, quality, and richness of the State's data files along with a desire to expand the geographic coverage of HSIS.

The HSIS provides a national resource for studying the relationship between highway design and operations and safety. The operating cost of the HSIS is minimized by using data that is already being collected by the participating States in designing, operating, and maintaining their highway systems. The HSIS allows these same data to be used to investigate current or emerging safety issues, as input to policy or program decisions, to scope or conduct research studies, and to evaluate the effectiveness of safety countermeasures. In addition to supporting FHWA initiatives, the HSIS serves as a ready source of data for researchers and safety analysts nationwide. To date, it has been utilized in more than 60 safety studies including FHWA, NHTSA, NCHRP, Federal Transit Administration, and State DOT sponsored efforts. Significant results from these efforts are published as 2 to 4 page HSIS Summary Reports. To receive a brochure with more information on the HSIS or to be added to the HSIS Summary Report mailing list contact the HSIS Laboratory at 703-285-2090.

-- Jeffrey F. Paniati





Signal Control Course Developed for Traffic Engineers

OTA has recently completed the development of a new training course on (Course 13374) "Advanced Traffic Signal Controller Training." The primary objective of this course is to provide technical information on the advanced NEMA TS-2, Model 170E and open architecture transportation controllers.The training course has been developed for traffic engineers and technicians on the NEMA standards for traffic signal controllers and Type 170 traffic signal controller specifications, with emphasis on revisions to these standards and specifications. Also included is the application of the New York Type 179 traffic signal controller and the latest developments in the emerging technologies related to traffic signals having an open architecture such as the open architecture controller, (model 2070), previously known as the advanced transportation controller (ATC) in California, and the single board controller (SBC 68) in New York.

Pilot presentations of the course were recently presented in Washington D.C., Connecticut, and Virginia. The course will soon be offered through NHI. A limited number of videotapes are available that describe the course.

-- John McCracken (202) 366-2219.


Technology Exchange Workshop on Blizzard of '96

A technology exchange workshop on the blizzard of '96 will be held May 2 at the Washington, D.C., Armory. The focus of the workshop will be on the pavement and highway operations issues and technologies observed in use before, during, and after the blizzard. This includes prediction and planning for the storm, handling of the snow and its effects on highway travel, and the damage caused by the storm. Equipment manufacturers will be on hand to display and demonstrate the latest in snow and ice removal technology and pavement repair and patching equipment. Participants will include public officials, highway industry practitioners, and the media.

-- Byron Lord (202) 366-1283.





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