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Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

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Publication Number:  N/A    Date:  March 1998
Publication Date: March 1998


Table of Contents









DOT Vehicle-Highway Automation Research Update

cars on highway

Research that began under DOT's participation in the National Automated Highway System Consortium (NAHSC) will be further developed as part of the new Intelligent Vehicle Initiative (IVI). Several feasible technologies for vehicle-highway automation were successfully showcased at NAHSC's Demo '97 in San Diego. For DOT the successful demonstration of these technologies was the culmination of rewarding participation in the NAHSC made possible by ISTEA, and the beginning of further research. DOT is transitioning out of the cooperative agreement with NAHSC during FY 1998 to pursue increased attention on the definition, integration, and near-term deployment of driver warning and assistance, and vehicle-highway control services.

To pursue these interests, the DOT Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS JPO) is coordinating the direction of several related programs managed by FHWA, NHTSA, and FTA, so that they may be combined into the recently announced IVI.

The IVI vision emphasizes public-private partnerships to develop near-term solutions based on the building blocks of both autonomous vehicle and infrastructure-vehicle cooperative research. The goal is to develop an application of multiple integrated advanced automated systems. These new systems will help the driver make informed and superior decisions.

The three DOT agencies contributing to IVI management have released a Request for Information (RFI) that was published in the Federal Register on December 23, 1997. This RFI invites input from the private sector, academia, and other government organizations on the design and approach that industry and government should jointly adopt to achieve the IVI's goals for increased safety, mobility, and efficiency.

To move from the current set of independent vehicle-highway projects to one coherent IVI program, the ITS JPO is planning a set of transition activities and preparing for new arrangements with and among private and public organizations. ITS JPO wants to make it very clear that the strong new IVI is possible because of the progress and success of NAHSC, researchers in the Crash Avoidance Research Program, and the Automated Highway Systems program. DOT anticipates the transition into the new initiative, together with unprecedented private sector involvement, will mark a turning point in the Nation's vehicle-highway system towards significantly increased safety, mobility, and efficiency.

-- Bob Ferlis, (202) 493-3268, robert.ferlis@fhwa.dot.gov


FHWA's R&T Exhibits Take the High Road at TRB's 77th Annual Meeting

R&T Exhibit

TRB's exhibitor pavilion showcased the latest and greatest sponsor programs and projects, complementing sessions and activities of the 77th Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting, held in Washington, DC, January 11-14. Temperate weather, an unusual occurrence for this traditionally iced-in event, brought in a large number of conference delegates, resulting in heavy traffic through the exhibit area.

The FHWA theme, "From the Virtual to Reality," described the dynamic, high-technology character of services, tools, and products on display. A new feature this year was FHWA's "Cyber Cafe," a central meeting place for conducting multimedia presentations or for hands-on access to web information. A bank of computers provided visitors with Internet access to tap home pages and other online technical resources.

FHWA's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) provided displays of high-performance materials and demonstrations of innovative technologies. Technology applications projects illustrated cooperative activities of FHWA's Office of Technology Applications and program offices, academia, and private industry.

Demonstrated implementation activities of the Strategic Highway Research Program, innovative training and education programs of the Local Technical Assistance Program, and National Highway Institute promoted the joint development and transfer of innovative technologies to State and local agencies.

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) exhibits featured participants in the program from FHWA and other Department of Transportation modes as well as industry, State, local agencies, and universities. These displays highlighted examples of organizations working in partnership, in concert with telecommunications, computer, and electronic technologies, to make surface transportation safer and more efficient.

-- Martha M. Soneira (202) 366-8029, martha.soneira@fhwa.dot.gov


Timing Is Everything

In growing metropolitan areas, some of the latest traffic signal timing methods such as daily timing plans and time-of-day coordination are inadequate due to the rapid growth in traffic demand periods. In these situations, we need to explore alternate traffic control strategies that will allow jurisdictions to address conditions such as over saturation, unexpected incidents and events, and traffic volumes that can fluctuate greatly. This need was the basis for the research program known as Real Time Traffic Adaptive Control System (RT-TRACS).

The tremendous increase in computing capabilities has spawned the development of the next generation of single controllers, most notably the Advanced Traffic Controller, also known as the 2070 controller. This is the next generation of the hardware specific 170 controller. Using new technology, we will be able to take advantage of the advanced capabilities of the 2070 signal controller and implement RT-TRACS.

First, we tested RT-TRACS algorithms using CORSIM, a microscopic traffic simulation model. We are now testing the algorithms using the 2070 controllers and roadside cabinets in our Traffic Research Laboratory, with simulated detector inputs. Laboratory testing is critical to determine that RT-TRACS algorithms work properly with the 2070 controller and to insure that the system works as expected before it ever changes one signal on the roadway from red to green.

In parallel, a 2-week effort was undertaken last November to collect all of the traffic data needed to make a base-line scenario, where data is used to develop optimized signal timings. This will be used to evaluate the performance of the RT-TRACS control algorithm and validate the results obtained in the laboratory. New technology was used in the data collection process of this project too; exact travel time and position data was collected by laptop computers linked by satellite to a differential global positioning system. Data was also collected using video, pneumatic tube counters, aerial photography, and manual turning movement counts.

We are in the process of implementing the RT-TRACS system on Reston Parkway in Virginia. Once the system is fully operational, another data collection effort will be done to comparatively assess the benefits of the RT-TRACS control algorithm. Stay tuned for more details in the months to come.

-- Debbie Curtis, (202) 493-3267, debbie.curtis@fhwa.dot.gov


The Best of '97 - the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center CD-ROM

Best of '97 cover

The Communications Services Office at TFHRC is proud to offer the Best of '97 - a compilation of the best web-integrated information from the TFHRC Web site, and other material prepared just for the release of the CD-ROM. This CD is written to function in a desktop browser and does not require any additional software or hardware.

The CD-ROM features on-line versions of the R&T Transporter, Public Roads, the 1997 FHWA R&T Program Highlights Report, the 1997 TFHRC Achievement Report, as well as R&D information products, like the User Guidelines fo Waste and Byproduct Material in Pavement Construction. Copies of the CD-ROM are available from the Communications Services Office at TFHRC. Please contact the following to receive a copy of the CD.

-- Martha Soneira, martha.soneira@fhwa.dot.gov





Putting Out the Secondary Materials

User Guidelines for Waste and Byproduct Materials in Pavement Construction

The most up-to-date guidelines on the use of 19 waste or byproduct materials in six high-volume pavement construction applications is now available on the TFHRC homepage at www.tfhrc.gov/pavement/waste/waste/begin.htm and on the new TFHRC Best of ' 97 CD. Highway engineers and materials engineers as well as waste and byproduct producers and others involved in decision-making regarding the use of waste and byproduct materials in pavements will find this information very useful.

For each material, information on material origin, current management, sources, and properties is provided in a material description section. Application-specific guidelines for appropriate material-application combinations are provided in user guideline sections, and include information on past performance, engineering properties, processing requirements, design and construction, and unresolved issues. In addition, general guidance on environmental and cost issues is provided, along with a general outline and discussion of how to determine whether a material is suitable for use in a given application.

The guideline manual will be distributed in tabbed loose-leaf format for ease of use and to allow for future updates and expansion. Known as the User Guidelines for Waste and Materials in Pavement Construction, the printed version is expected to be available in May 1998.

-- Marcia Simon.


FHWA Teams Up To Promote Preventive Maintenance

Recognizing that the big challenge facing State highway departments is no longer building new pavements, but preserving the pavements that we have, Congress passed legislation earlier this decade allowing States to use Federal-aid highway funding for preventive maintenance activities. FHWA is working with its State and industry counterparts that are demonstrating leadership in preventive maintenance to help other States learn more about cost-effective maintenance strategies and when to use them.

Several States are participating in projects aimed at refining pavement maintenance techniques that were developed under the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP). FHWA is also supporting the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Lead States teams who are helping other States to shorten the learning curve for key SHRP maintenance technologies.

FHWA, AASHTO, the National Highway Institute (NHI), and industry have established a national work group that will identify new technologies and applications, advise on research needs, and help implement policies in support of pavement maintenance. The members of the work group are also assisting in the development of a training course on preventive maintenance that is scheduled to be ready this fall.

In addition, FHWA has teamed up with the Foundation for Pavement Rehabilitation, Maintenance, and Research. Working with the Lead States team for pavement preservation, this partnership has produced a videotape on preventive maintenance that will be distributed nationally.

Additional Resources:

-Jim Sorenson, (202) 366-1333, james.sorenson@fhwa.dot.gov





Development Team for ALERT Vehicle Wins Vice President's Hammer Award

Police officer writing ticket

On November 3, 1997, Deputy Secretary of Transportation Mort Downey presented the development team for the Advanced Law Enforcement and Response Technology (ALERT) program with the Vice President's Hammer Award. The award recognizes teams of Federal employees and their partners who have contributed to the National Performance Review (NPR) principles of putting customers first, cutting red tape, empowering employees, and getting back to basics.

The Hammer Award was presented at Access America, a conference on using information technology to reach NPR goals held in Baltimore, Maryland. Bill Baker, Mike Burk, and Dave Smith from the Safety and Advanced Transportation Division received the award, along with representatives from partner organizations National Institute of Justice, Texas Transportation Institute, Texas A&M University, Eastman Kodak, Motorola, Symbol Technologies, Federal Signal, Alexandria (Virginia) Police Department, College Station (Texas) Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

The ALERT program introduces information technology into the police response vehicle to help officers perform their duties more safely and efficiently. Hand-held computers allow officers to quickly and accurately collect data at accident scenes and traffic stops and quickly send the data to a central database. Officers are thus able to spend less time on paperwork and more time on patrol, serving the needs of the community.

ALERT technology will continuously transmit officers' locations to their own departments and to other jurisdictions through links to global positioning satellites, enabling rapid, accurate back-up response. ALERT also automates the pursuit controls within a vehicle--such as lights, sirens, and video cameras--freeing officers to focus on the task at hand.

The ALERT technology is currently focused on traffic law enforcement, but subsequent versions will allow police officers to share information with other "first responders," such as fire, hazardous materials, and emergency medical services personnel. ALERT has the potential to act as a "first responders' network, allowing for an efficient and coordinated response to crashes and other emergencies.

Additional Resources:

-- David Smith, (202) 366-6614, david.smith@fhwa.dot.gov


New Manual On Uniform Traffic Control Devices

FHWA is requesting comments on the proposed new edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Scheduled for publication in the year 2000, the new manual will:

The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) has been in charge of rewriting and reformatting the new MUTCD and has begun submitting their recommendations to FHWA for review. The NCUTCD is a national organization of individuals from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the National Association of County Engineers, the American Public Works Association, the American Traffic Safety Services Association, and other organizations that have extensive experience in the manufacturing, fabrication, installation, and maintenance of traffic control devices.

MUTCD cover

Although the MUTCD will be revised in its entirety, FHWA will issue the proposed changes to the MUTCD in phases. The proposed text for Parts 3, Markings; 4, Signals; and 8, Traffic Control for Roadway Rail Intersections, were published as Phase 1 in a notice of proposed amendment dated January 6, 1997, at 62 FR 691. The comment period for Parts 3, 4, and 8 closed on December 22, 1997. The proposed text for Parts 1, General Provisions, and 7, Traffic Control for School Areas, were published as Phase 2 in a notice of proposed amendment dated December 5, 1997, at 62 FR 64324.

FHWA is inviting your comments on the proposed changes to Parts 1 and 7. The comment closing date is September 8. Comments should be prepared in writing, signed, and mailed to: Docket Clerk, U.S. DOT Dockets, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. Please reference Docket No. FHWA-97-3032 in your correspondence. If you are interested in reviewing the proposed changes, you can visit the Web site address located at www.ohs.fhwa.dot.gov/devices/mutcd.html. If you would like to review the docket comment responses, you may do so at dms.dot.gov.

-- Linda Brown, (202) 366-2192, linda.l.brown@fhwa.dot.gov





Three International Technology Scanning Reports Issued

The findings of specialized teams that traveled abroad to investigate the xworld's state of the art, science, and practice in highway transportation are available in three new study reports. The teams, fielded by FHWA's International Technology Scanning Program, included Federal, State, industry, and academic representatives. The reports highlight innovations that bear potential for transferability to highway systems in the United States.

Traffic Management and Traveler Information Systems:
This team examined policies, plans, and programs that facilitate the deployment of advanced technologies for traffic management, traffic signal systems, incident management, transit management, electronic toll/fare payment, and traveler information systems. The four European countries visited provided different areas of expertise and perspective.

Finland was the focus of weather-relative traveler information and motorist safety. Weather information was also looked at in Sweden, as well as traffic and transit information. In the Netherlands, the team observed congestion management, goods movement, and policies to discourage auto travel. Finally, the United Kingdom offered another perspective on traffic management and transit.

Key findings of the team included the need for proactive systems integration, increased comprehensive planning, and standardization in the deployment of advanced technologies for traffic management and traveler information systems.

Advanced Composites in Bridges in Europe and Japan:
This scan is the fourth within the past 7 years to examine international technologies and practices that impact bridge structures. The team surveyed advanced composite technologies as well as bridge construction, maintenance, research, and management practices in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, and Japan.

Photo of gray bar

In addition to overviews covering the topics of investigation, the report provides nearly 30 brief, informative, and well-illustrated descriptions of bridge sites and technologies observed in Europe and Japan. While many of the recommendations for transferability involved commercial products and application methods, the team placed a studied emphasis on public/private/academic consortium research and development practices abroad that have yielded practical results.

Road Safety Audits; Part 1--Final Report, Part 2--Case Studies and Checklists:
This tour was a followup to a previous scan on traffic safety. Road Safety Audits address the safe operation of roads and involve the formal examination of existing or future road or traffic projects. The results of this tour to New Zealand and Australia are already being pilot tested by FHWA's Office of Highway Safety and 10 States throughout the Nation. (For in-depth reporting on this program see the November 1997 Research and Technology Transporter, and September/October issue of Public Roads).

The report is divided into two volumes. Part 1, the Final Report, provides descriptive and analytical presentation of the tour. Part 2 is a compilation of road safety audit case studies and sample checklists that are very practical for demonstration and training purposes. For copies of these reports, please contact the following.

-- Hana Maier, (202) 366-6003, international@fhwa.dot.gov.





Initiatives Accelerate Highway Construction and Maintenance


Highway engineers must meet the often conflicting demands of preserving and enhancing roads while reducing interruptions to traffic. FHWA has a number of new initiatives aimed at accelerating and improving construction and maintenance operations to address customer demands. The highway operations division is developing a 5-year program to identify specific strategies for combating user delay and disruption in work zones while ensuring safety at the same time. The program will include FHWA headquarters and field offices and will seek active participation by industry, contractors, suppliers, and highway users.

On a related note, the Office of Program Quality Coordination is conducting a national review on "Meeting the Customers' Needs for Mobility and Safety in Construction and Maintenance Work Zones." Input from the review will be used to establish a national baseline for improving safety and mobility in work zones and to share State highway agencies' (SHAs) ideas and concepts.

Customer-oriented highway construction was also the theme of a recent workshop sponsored by FHWA and the National Asphalt Pavement Association. This theme follows the national program initiative and will be echoed in a workshop scheduled for mid-February in California that will address urban freeway renewal issues. The workshop is sponsored by the Transportation Research Board and the California Department of Transportation.

- Jim Sorenson, (202) 366-1333, james.sorenson@fhwa.dot.gov





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