U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Skip to content
Facebook iconYouTube iconTwitter iconFlickr iconLinkedInInstagram

Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

Research & Technology Transporter
This newsletter is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information.
Research & Technology Transporter Home | Current Issue | Past Issues | Search Research & Technology Transporter
Back to Publication List        
Publication Number:  N/A    Date:  May 1996
Publication Date: May 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: 7/17/96

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



Ways to Improve Noisy PCC Pavement Surfaces Investigated

The annoying noise frequencies produced from the pavement/tire interaction of some (usually transversely tined) portland cement concrete (PCC) pavements have concerned both nearby residents and the motoring public. A State, FHWA, and industry Technical Working Group (TWG) was formed to investigate the problem by conducting a review of previous research in the United States and other countries and evaluating the results of on-going research in the United States. The goal of the TWG was to recommend PCC pavement surface textures that will reduce the annoying noise frequencies without compromising safety.

The TWG's preliminary findings were sent to FHWA Regional Administrators in November 1995. On April 4, 1996, in Harrisburg, Pa., Brad Hibbs presented the results of the TWG's study to the attendees of the Concrete Pavement Rehabilitation Seminar, "Pathways to the Future." The 3-day seminar was sponsored by the American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA), International Grooving and Grinding Association, and Northeast Chapter of the ACPA. It was cosponsored by the Pennsylvania DOT, the American Society of Highway Engineers, FHWA, and AASHTO. The final report, Portland Cement Concrete Pavement Surface Texture: Noise and Safety Considerations, is almost complete and should be printed and distributed soon.

Noise reducing construction methods that work most effectively for new PCC pavements are to (1) randomly space (10 to 40 mm) the transverse tines/grooves; (2) place longitudinal tines/grooves according to AASHTO guidelines; (3) use the Spanish plastic brushing procedure; or (4) construct an exposed aggregate surface. Existing PCC pavements that produce an annoying noise can be re-textured (diamond/carbide grinding; skidabrader) or resurfaced (micro-surfacing; PCC overlay or surface laminate; dense or open-graded AC overlay). Retexturing is usually the better choice unless polishing aggregates are involved. Research needs include additional studies to determine the relationship between friction numbers and wet weather accident rates on the various textures, and fine tuning the details of specific construction methods to minimize noise production.

-- Brad Hibbs (202) 366-2226, and Roger Larson (202) 366-1326.





FHWA Crash Tests Find New Application

Since 1970, FHWA has crashed more than 2,000 vehicles in testing guard rails, median barriers, and breakaway luminaire supports. These tests have included many different kinds of impacts with both the front and side of a vehicle. After a crash, complex spinning motion and rollovers sometimes occur. NCAC is using these crash film resources in a new way for a NHTSA-sponsored program. The objective is to find out how air bag-protected occupants are being injured in frontal crashes. Frontal crash tests conducted by NHTSA are useful in evaluating how air bags work under a standard crash. In these tests, the crash test dummy moves straight forward into the air bag. However, research is showing that many injuries occur because people miss the air bag. The FHWA crash tests are used to study occupant motion in complex real-world crashes.

Using the resources of the FHWA/NHTSA Crash Film Library, NCAC has developed a new methodology for reconstructing real-world crashes. NCAC maintains a library of all the crash test films and data conducted by FHWA and NHTSA since 1970. More than 15,000 test films of almost every model of vehicle are in the library. Each crash in the study is initially documented by an experienced crash investigator. Photographs and descriptions of the crash scene, vehicle, occupant, and injuries are available. The NHTSA crash films of a similar vehicle are reviewed to determine the characteristics of the vehicle and air bag in a standard frontal crash.

Next, the FHWA crash tests provide a vehicle that produced motion similar to that observed in the real-world crash. Using a combination of the NHTSA and FHWA crash test films as a basis, the occupant motion is reconstructed by computer simulation. This determines the actual motion of the occupant and the probable reason for the injury. This research approach has discovered injury mechanisms not apparent in standard air bag testing.

-- Kennerly Digges, NCAC (703) 729-8363, and Leonard Meczkowski, FHWA (202) 493-3317.


Vertical Concrete Bridge Rail Crash Tested

A 1,070-mm high concrete bridge rail with a vertical front face has been crash tested with a pickup truck at the Texas Transportation Institute's Proving Grounds. The purpose of the test was to determine if the bridge rail would perform satisfactorily with the 2000P test vehicle in the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report No. 350. There were some concerns about the stability and post-impact trajectory of the vehicle.

The 2,000-kg pickup truck impacted the bridge rail at a nominal speed and angle of 100 km/h and 25 degrees. The vehicle remained upright and was smoothly redirected. There was very little damage to the bridge rail. The test vehicle was heavily instrumented to provide data for validating finite element models that are being developed at the FHWA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) National Crash Analysis Center (NCAC) located at George Washington University.

-- Charles McDevitt (202) 493-3313.





Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study Undertaken

Appropriate truck size and weight (TS&W) limits have been debated at the State, regional, and Federal levels since the introduction of an integrated roadway system. The debate includes how to preserve highway safety and infrastructure, promote efficient freight movement, and provide equity among the competing modes. The debate is more complex since the deregulation of freight transportation and the evolution towards a global marketplace.

Addressing these issues is the primary goal of an FHWA comprehensive study of TS&W limits, which is the first comprehensive TS&W study in 30 years. The study will investigate the safety of truck operations, enforcement of safety regulations, infrastructure impacts (pavements, bridges, and geometric design), productivity and efficiency of shippers and carriers, Federal and State roles in regulating traffic and interstate commerce, differences in transportation requirements across regions and commodities, trends in the overall domestic and international freight transportation, and impacts on other modes and intermodal movements.

A Comprehensive TS&W Study Report will be completed in December 1996. Five component reports are already completed: (1) overall TS&W issues; (2) analysis of the 1992 Truck Inventory and Use Survey from the TS&W perspective; (3) modal diversion modeling issues; (4) performance-based measures; and (5) trucking across the western U.S.-Canadian border. For more information on these reports and other TS&W issues, contact the Transportation Studies Division (202) 366-9233.

-- Karen White (202) 366-9474.


T2 Coordinators Meet for Annual Conference

With the theme "Tools of the Trade--State-of-the-Art T2," FHWA's T2 professionals gathered in Washington, DC, from May 7 to 9, 1996, for their annual conference. The conference has continued through the years to provide the T2 community an opportunity to gather technical and program information and make and renew contacts to help advance the effective transfer of transportation technology.

Using a taste of the technology, planning for the conference was conducted via a videoconference with four of the regions. As a result, the conference participants had a chance through panels, presentations, and demonstrations to discuss T2 electronic networks, Internet home pages and their T2 uses, main streaming of intelligent transportation systems (ITS), international scanning results, future directions of technology, and NHI joint program initiatives. Other topics discussed were the Priority Technologies Program and defense technologies, Strategic Highway Research Program, Strategic Plan for the Local Technical Assistance Program, establishment of Technology Focus Areas, and the Experimental Projects Task Force.

Speaking at the meeting were Tony Kane (FHWA Executive Director), Denny Judycki (Associate Administrator for Safety and System Applications), Joe Toole (Director, Office of Technology Applications), Bob Skinner (Transportation Research Board (TRB)), Paul Rothberg (Congressional Resources), Damian Kulash (ENO Foundation), Noah Rifkin (U.S. DOT Science and Technology Advisor), Dick McComb (OTA Special Assistant to the Director), Gary White (FHWA Region 6), Mary Stringfellow (FHWA Region 5), and Susan Klekar (FHWA Region 9). FHWA Research Coordinators met at the end of the T2 Conference to replace the meeting that was canceled because of the Blizzard of '96.





Bonner Bridge Testing Performed in the Hydraulics Laboratory

FHWA's Hydraulics Laboratory has conducted about 30 tests of alternate piers that are being proposed for the Oregon Inlet in North Carolina to estimate the maximum local scour around exposed pile groups. Because of the large number of similar piers that will be used for this bridge, there is considerable potential savings (estimated as high as $4 million) in the structural design of the piers by determining a more accurate estimate of the scour than can be obtained using the general equations in current guidelines.

The test procedure was derived by Mohammed Salim who was a Grants for Research Fellowships student from George Washington University. The Bonner Bridge study has been a partnership effort of FHWA, the North Carolina DOT, a support services contractor, and design consultants. The partners met at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) on March 26, 1996, to allow engineers from the North Carolina DOT and the design consulting firm to observe the testing and be briefed on the preliminary results. A followup meeting was held in Raleigh, North Carolina, in April to present the results to a team of experts and to decide how to use the results in the design of the bridge.

-- Sterling Jones (202) 493-3043


Metric Recording and Coding Guide Published

The metric version of the Recording and Coding Guide for the Structure Inventory and Appraisal of the Nation's Bridges has been prepared by the Bridge Division and endorsed by the AASHTO Subcommittee on Bridges and Structures. This metric version represents several years of effort by the Bridge Division in cooperation with our partners, both individually and through the AASHTO Subcommittee. The guide, dated December 1995, replaces the December 1988 guide and is to be used for reporting bridge inventory and inspection data in accordance with the National Bridge Inspection Standards. Copies of the guide have been distributed to FHWA's field offices for forwarding to States for use by all bridge owners for the reporting of National Bridge Inventory Data.

The guide has been updated several times in the past. This latest edition converts all of the units of measurement to the International System of Units. It also provides detailed guidance on evaluating and coding specific bridge data. In addition, several new items have been added, including the procedures for reporting Federal Lands highway systems data, each State's existing linear referencing system, and the method used to determine bridge load ratings. Some items have also been expanded to provide more explicit instructions for coding. Further, more basic definitions applicable to the instructions are provided. Copies of the guide are available from the Bridge Division.

- Minnie P. Long (202) 366-8791, and Ann Shemaka (202) 366-1575


Bridge Engineering Course Well Received

Sponsored by FHWA and the National Highway Institute (NHI), the 4-week Bridge Engineering course has been well received. FHWA contracted with the University of Maryland and NBE, Ltd., to develop and present this comprehensive, graduate-level course in bridge engineering. It provides a tremendous amount of worthwhile information in the form of classroom lectures and reference materials for designing, constructing, and maintaining bridges. Participants attending the course, which is being presented in various States, represented FHWA, State and county highway agencies, private industry, U.S. Forest Service, and the Corps of Engineers.

As we are losing experienced bridge engineers to retirement and organizational restructuring, this comprehensive course offers a way to train young and experienced bridge engineers alike. It provides the basic level of understanding in all aspects of bridge engineering, which is important in today's changing environment. It offers a unique opportunity for State bridge engineers, designers, and managers to have an open forum for problem solving and solution sharing among themselves. It enhances their experience base by sharing case histories and solutions to engineering challenges.

Many of the instructors are nationally renowned experts in their fields and were instrumental in developing the Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges. The four volumes of the participant notebook are excellent references for the day-to-day work of practicing bridge engineers. The course is highly recommended by over 95 percent of the course participants.

-- Vasant Mistry (202) 366-4599.





PROVIAL Seminars Make an International Difference

From March 28 to 30, 1996, the Pan American Institute of Highways (PIH) conducted a highway maintenance seminar in Quito, Ecuador. The government of Puerto Rico provided technical assistance in management and environmental considerations for highway maintenance. The PROVIAL seminar series promotes effective road maintenance. Over 20 seminars have been conducted by the Headquarters of PIH in cooperation with the World Bank and others.

The Ecuador seminar was conducted by Greg Speier, Executive Director of PIH. Presentations were made on maintenance management procedures and new products that can be used by the participants. Papers were presented on the privatization and concession policies of such countries as Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Puerto Rico. Significant changes in road maintenance practices have occurred in virtually all of the countries where a PROVIAL seminar has been held.

-- Greg Speier (703) 235-0546





Technology Implementation Projects: Funding Now Available Under the National PTP

The National Priority Technologies Program is currently soliciting projects for FY 96 funding. Each FHWA regional office and Federal Lands Highway Office has $300,000 to fund projects. The program supports advancement of innovative construction technologies, materials, and procedures that have the potential to improve durability, environmental impact, safety, efficiency, or productivity. Projects that advance application of commercialized but underutilized technologies are especially good candidates for funding. Priority is given to technology that has a clearly defined national need and a potential for quick return on investment through widespread application.

Thirty-three projects were funded in FY 95, the first year of the program. Examples of the types of projects funded include development of an unmanned traffic surveillance drone, anti-skid overlays for bridge decks, fiber-reinforced plastics for the seismic retrofit of bridges, waste re-use in construction, and bioremediation to clean up petroleum contamination. For more information, contact the T2 Coordinator in your region.

-- Richard A. McComb (202) 366-2792





NHI Celebrates its 25th Anniversary

On March 28, 1996, NHI celebrated its 25-year history of training excellence. NHI became 25 years old in 1995 and has become a vital provider of highway technology to the national and international highway community. It was established in 1970 by Section 115 of the Federal-aid Highway Act. Moges Ayele, Director of Special Strategic NHI Initiatives, opened the ceremony and welcomed the guests which included two past directors of NHI, Roy Tidwell and George Shrieves. In his comments, Dr. Ayele mentioned that NHI, since its beginning, has conducted more than 8,000 courses that were attended by nearly 300,000 participants. The next speaker, John Clements, Associate Administrator for Research and development, spoke fondly of his experiences with the NHI program areas.

The keynote speaker, Rodney E. Slater, Federal Highway Administrator, reflected back to some 3 years ago when he left Arkansas for his current position as Administrator. He related the honor he felt to be a part of the FHWA family and spoke of the essential work that NHI is doing. Amy Steiner, AASHTO Program Director, commented on the longstanding working relationship between AASHTO and NHI. She mentioned that NHI courses are relied upon by her organization as the vehicle to implement many of its new design procedures.

The NHI customers were represented by Hal Kassoff, Administrator, Maryland State Highway Administration, who said he felt very lucky to have NHI as a valuable source of training. He offered a sincere "Thank you" on behalf of all NHI customers, but issued a warning to NHI of the challenges that it faces as it advances into the future. Mr. Kassoff emphasized that NHI training invests in the infrastructure of the mind which is so essential if we are to wisely invest in the infrastructure of the country. The program concluded with the presentation of plaques to three members of the NHI staff in appreciation for their many years of dedicated service: Alfred Miller since 1973, Larry Jones since 1975, and Harry Hersey since 1983. A reception followed the program.

-- Larry Jones (703) 235-0523.





Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101