NACE UPDATE November 18, 2009- Volume 09 Number 27.
The almost bi-weekly newsletter for Board members, Committee Chairs, and Members
November 18, 2009- Volume 09 Number 27
(Note: Sources of information include the AASHTO Journal, NACo staff, Senate and House publications, the Federal Highway Administration, and other association news journals)
Senate Action to Extend SAFETEA-LU No Longer Imminent
As reported in Transportation Weekly, Senate leaders are delaying plans to take up a six-month extension of the surface transportation act and it doesn’t appear such legislation will be taken up any time soon.
It had been expected that leadership in the Senate would attempt to move the bill in early November, but published reports indicate those plans are no longer imminent.
“We are disappointed that the Senate was unable to move the extension forward,” said John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. “We will continue to work with the House and Senate leadership on passage of authorization as soon as that proves possible. In the meantime, we will work to assure that there is no interruption in the program when the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires. States need certainty of long term funding as soon as possible, so they can plan for the future and enter into long term contracts that create jobs and support large and small businesses.”
Currently, the federal highway program is being funded by a CR approved by the House and Senate, and signed by the President to keep the government running at current budget levels through December 18.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James L. Oberstar, D-MN, has opposed a lengthy extension of SAFETEA-LU because it would delay passage of the committee’s six-year, $500 billion plan. The measure has been marked up by subcommittee and is awaiting full committee action.
In late September, by a vote of 335 to 85, the House agreed to support a three-month extension of authorization for the highway and transit programs. The Senate, however, failed to approve the measure.
Transportation Authorization: Where Are We?
Good question! The federal government is still working under a second continuing resolution which funds spending through December 18, 2009. Although there are no concrete plans at the moment for a long-term solution, several ideas and rumors are floating up and down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Scenario One: Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) leaders are still considering a six-month SAFETEA-LU extension. It seems as though the Senate has abandoned their initial 18-month plan, and have taken up the six-month banner. There seems to be pushback from House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) leaders and the White House.
Scenario Two: Some congressional insiders are reporting that there is discussion of a two-year interim bill which would include policy changes. Both Congress and the White House are having difficulties finding a revenue stream strong enough to provide for the robust funding in Chairman Jim Oberstar’s (D-Minn.) $500 billion Surface Transportation Authorization Act. Therefore, this hypothetical two-year plan would either be flat-funded or front-loaded with funding to be loaned to the program to jumpstart increased spending. Congress understands that with nationwide unemployment standing at 10.2%, jobs are a major concern and that the transportation authorization is a good vehicle for a “jobs bill.”
Scenario Three: House T&I Chairman Oberstar seems to still be publically advocating for his full six-year bill, funding transportation at an estimated $500 billion annually. With the congressional calendar dwindling rapidly, this option seems less and less likely. Transportation funding will either need to be reauthorized or extended by December 18. From today until then, there is a Thanksgiving recess in which Members of Congress will be back home in their states and districts.
So where does that leave us and the state DOTs? We’ll know more as the December deadline approaches. Until then, sit tight and look for updates in subsequent ATSSA Roadway Safety Advocates, Twitter, and ATSSA News special editions.
Voters Nationwide are Hot and Cold on Tax Hikes for Transportation
A summary of voting on surface transportation ballot initiatives across the country shows mixed results, according to the Center for Transportation Excellence.
Sixty-five percent of voters in Maine approved a $71.25 million transportation bond measure which will leverage federal and private-sector funds. A total of $55 million will be spent on highway and bridge work, $4 million will go to rail projects, and $2 million will be spent for a new rail corridor program. This was the largest transportation initiative to be decided by voters on Tuesday.
In Fountain, Colorado, a 0.75 percent local sales tax increase was approved by the thinnest of margins; 50.4 percent for and 49.6 percent against. The sales tax increase will raise an estimated $1.3 million in the first year, to pay for road and public transportation improvements.
For the second time this year, voters in Kalamazoo, Michigan, approved an increase in property taxes to fund transit projects. The latest increase is 0.6 mill. Voters in Flint, Michigan, also approved a five-year 0.6 mill increase to fund its public transportation authority.
Public transit was also a winner in Island County, Washington, where voters approved increasing local sales and use taxes from six-tenths of 1 percent to nine-tenths of 1 percent. About $2.2 million is expected to be raised for the local transit authority in the first year.
In Cincinnati, Ohio, an effort to set back a proposed streetcar project by requiring that any rail project, regardless of whether it has a tax increase associated with it, would be prevented from moving forward until receiving voter approval was rejected. Ohio voters shot down a proposed charter amendment that would have required that all rail projects, including a controversial $185 million, 7.9-mile streetcar plan now being proposed, be subject to a general vote by the citizens of Cincinnati.
Transportation providers in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Kalamazoo County, Michigan; and Grand Rapids, Michigan, watched as voters rejected initiatives to raise taxes to support mass transit and highway programs.
In the northern Indiana counties of Porter and St. Joseph, voters failed to approve the establishment of a Regional Transportation District, with authority to impose an income tax of up to 0.25 percent in each member county. Only two of the four counties required by state law to place the measure on the ballot complied.
Worst is yet to Come for County Budgets, NACo Survey Says!
Read the article in American City and County Magazine which outlines the NACo survey.
2010 National Work Zone Awareness Week Dates and National Kickoff Location Announced
The 2010 National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) will be held April 19-23, with the national kickoff event in New York City. The theme of the 2010 NWZAW and the exact time, date, location and other details about the national kickoff will be announced soon. Visit http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/outreach/wz_awareness.htm
LOCAL INNOVATIVE, LIFESAVING ROADWAY SAFETY PROGRAMS NATIONALLY HONORED INCLUDING TWO COUNTY SUBMISSIONS
The Roadway Safety Foundation (RSF) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recognized 14 local programs and one national program from 10 states across the country for excellence and innovation in operations, planning and roadway design to reduce fatalities and injuries on our nation’s highways.
“The roster of award winners represents the most dynamic and creative highway safety programs, and sets a standard for others to follow,” said Greg Cohen, Executive Director of the Roadway Safety Foundation. “These projects help prevent traffic crashes and fatalities, and assist in fighting the national epidemic of more than 37,000 road deaths and 2.5 million injuries that occur on our nation’s roadways every year.”
Roadway Safety Award recipients were evaluated on three criteria – innovation, effectiveness, and efficient use of resources. Program categories included infrastructure improvements, operational improvements and program planning, development and evaluation. The award recipients were selected from more than 100 entries received.
“This award ceremony is a good opportunity to shine a light on the nation’s most innovative road safety projects and programs that eliminate or sharply reduce highway deaths across the United States,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We can never stop looking for new and creative ways to make driving and traveling safer.”
This year’s honorees include:
Operational Improvements Category:
* Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks (TACT) (Nationwide): The TACT program of The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is an education and enforcement program to reduce unsafe driving practices involving cars and large trucks.
* Senior Zones (FL): Hillsborough County Florida Public Works Traffic Services Division’s “Senior Zones” campaign worked with assisted living facilities on major roads and with high traffic volumes to incorporate reduced speed zones with solar-powered warning flashers, thermo-plastic speed markings, driveway access signs, and look down cameras to detect the presence of pedestrians.
* Operation Teen Safe Driving (IL): Illinois’ peer-to-peer teen driving program challenged teens to develop a school-wide program that would have a positive impact on teen drivers. The program, which was conducted completely by teens, was met with huge success, with a forty percent reduction in teen driving deaths from 2007-2008.
Program Planning, Development and Evaluation Category:
* Highway Safety Issues Group (WA): A team of safety experts, advocates, and executives, the HSIG was instrumental in WSDOT providing greater resources and emphasis on safety by instituting centerline rumble strips, cable median barrier, and low-cost safety enhancement programs. These programs contributed to the decrease in fatal and serious injury collisions.
* Strategies to Reduce Alcohol Related Fatalities in PA (PA): The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) employed various strategies to combat the dangerous trend of drunk driving, resulting in the lowest incidence of alcohol related crashes and injuries in ten years in 2008, and a steadily decreasing alcohol-related fatality rate.
* Plan 4 Safety (NJ): Plan4Safety is an online comprehensive crash analysis software application developed by the Transportation Safety Resource Center (TSRC) and funded by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) to support New Jersey safety professionals in making data-driven decisions by analyzing 144 pieces of data for over 300,000 crash records per year.
Infrastructure Improvement Category:
*St. Petersburg City Trails Pedestrian Crosswalk Enhancer (FL): The St. Petersburg City Trails Crosswalk Enhancer program increased motorist crosswalk compliance rates from 2% to 82% by installing Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons, or Enhancers, at crosswalks throughout the greater St. Petersburg area.
* Texas Safety Bond Program (TX): The Texas Department of Transportation Safety Bond Program has provided more than $1.2 billion for safety improvement construction projects aimed at reducing the number of motor vehicle crashes and associated fatalities and injuries on Texas highways.
* Highway 7 Centerline Rumble Strip Project (AR): Centerline rumble strips were installed as part of a statewide project in Arkansas to place shoulder rumble strips on more than 382 miles of Interstate and multi-lane facilities in the State, resulting in a forty percent reduction of roadway departure crashes and a thirty-nine percent reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes after the rumble strips were installed. Additionally, the state of Arkansas has realized an annual economic benefit of $3.7 million to the State from the reduction in crashes.
* Vasco Road Traffic Safety Improvement Measures (CA): Officials in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, CA worked to reduce a high incidence fatal accidents on Vasco Road, a main thoroughfare, through a coordinated effort including speed display signs, community safety signs, daytime headlight signs, soft median barrier striping, centerline delineators, double fine zone, coordinated speed enforcement, and collaborative agency funding, resulting in a drop of the crash rate per million vehicle miles from 0.58 to 0.42, 36% less crashes in 2007 than in 2005. Submitted by the Alameda County Public Works Department.
Honorable Mentions Include:
* Teens in the Drivers Seat (TX): The Teens in the Driver Seat® Program (TDS) is a peer-to-peer safety initiative for young drivers that has shown outstanding progress in reducing car crashes involving teen drivers, and stands apart from other programs by involving the teen audience directly in both the development and dissemination of safety messages. Since the program’s introduction, the number of teens involved in fatal crashes in Texas has dropped by 33 percent – more than any other state and more than twice the national average from 2003 to present.
* Strategic Highway Safety Plan (CA): California’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan was formed by identifying the state’s highest-priority safety issues and establishing 152 distinctive objectives from sixteen challenge areas identified from input by local, state, and federal stakeholders. In 2008, California’s traffic fatalities decreased 13.2%, reaching their lowest level since the federal government began recording traffic fatalities in 1975.
* Roundabout Implementation Program (WI): The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) embarked on an extensive intersection safety improvement effort through the use of roundabouts, compiling and utilizing information on best practices for the design, engineering, and operation of roundabout systems, as well as educating the public on their proper usage, creating a model program for other states to follow.
* Midwest States Pooled Fund Program (NE): The Midwest Guardrail System, in response to studies showing high rollover risks for traditional guardrails, worked to design new standards for the construction of guardrails on highways, creating a design that performs better in crash tests at lower costs than other systems. The system is currently under consideration for adoption by 12 states.
* Interstate 10 Delineator System (CA): In response to high incidences of damage to low-visibility raised islands along I-10, the California Department of Transportation installed highly visible and damage resistant Qwick Kurb delineators along a two-mile segment of I-10 to increase the visibility of the raised islands separating the freeway from the collector road. Over a one year span there is no damage and no replacements or repairs are necessary.
Blue Ribbon Panel Judges included: Philip Caruso, Deputy Executive Director for Technical Programs, Institute of Transportation Engineers; Cathy Gillen, Managing Director of the Roadway Safety Foundation; Anthony Giancola, Executive Director of the National Association of County Engineers; Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, and James McDonnell, Deputy Program Director, Engineering of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
Roadway safety programs are a critical part of the nation’s solutions to saving lives and preventing injuries on our nation’s highways. Of the 37,261 people killed in traffic crashes on U.S. roads in 2008, nearly 59 percent of the fatalities involved a departure from the roadway and 21 percent were at an intersection or intersection-related (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2008 Annual Assessment of Motor Vehicle Crashes).
FREE web conference to introduce the Crash Modification Factors (CMF) Clearinghouse on Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 1:00 PM (Eastern).
The Federal Highway Administration has established the CMF Clearinghouse to support transportation professionals in their decision-making process to identify the most appropriate countermeasure to address their safety needs. The CMF Clearinghouse is a Web site that contains a searchable database of CMFs, allowing users to search by countermeasure, crash type and severity, as well as other variables. Using this site, transportation professionals will be able to search to find CMFs or submit their own CMF studies to be included in the clearinghouse.
Web Conference Details
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
1:00 – 3:00 PM EDT
Link to join the Web Conference (no registration required)
Teleconference number: 800-988-0375
The NACE Family lost one of its members on November 10, 2009. Stark County (OH) Engineer, Michael J. Rehfus, age 49, passed away with his family at his side. A lifelong resident of Canton, he graduated from Canton McKinley High School in 1978, and he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from The University of Akron in 1983. He earned his classification as a registered professional engineer in 1988 and as a registered professional surveyor in 1991. In March 1984, he began to work for the Stark County Engineer’s office. He became the County Bridge Engineer in 1990, the Chief Deputy Engineer in October 1998, and the Stark County Engineer in January 2003. He was elected to serve as the Stark County Engineer in November 2004 and November 2008. He is survived by his loving wife of 23 ½ years Debbie (Frank) Rehfus, and their five children, Jennifer (Jenny), Katherine (Katie, Michael Jr. (Mike), Matthew (Matt), and Kristen (Krissy), all of the home. NACE members and staff extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and fellow members of the County Engineers Association of Ohio.
HAVE YOU VISITED Our Local Roads Matter website!
Dan Fedderly, Executive Director Wisconsin County Highway Association, Dunn County Supervisor and former Wisconsin County Highway Superintendent presented the “rural county” view in a briefing to Congressional Staffers for the National Association of Counties. To view his presentation visit the NACE Local Roads Matter Campaign site http://countyengineers…org/LRM/index.html or click on the Local Roads Matter button on the left side of this page. Then click on the Social Media Center.
Nominating Committee Interested in New Officers for 2010–2011
NACE Awards Program: It’s Time to Nominate Deserving NACE Members as “Engineer of the Year” or “Program/Project Manager of the Year”
New from US DOT
Bridges by State and County
Highways for LIFE Showcase featuring Accelerated Bridge Construction
This showcase will take place in Charleston, SC on February 3, 2010. The South Carolina Department of Transportation is rehabilitating the South Carolina Route 703 (Ben Sawyer Bridge) steel thru-truss swing span bridge over Intracoastal Waterway in Charleston County. The new approach superstructure will be constructed on-site and rolled into place. The swing span and its components will be built off-site and barged into place. The traffic impact will be limited to seven days versus eight months if traditional construction methods were used. The modular construction method will greatly enhance work zone safety by minimizing worker’s exposure to traffic hazards. The quality and workmanship will also be improved as the swing-span is fabricated, assembled and inspected in a controlled environment. To register, please visit the Product Demonstration Showcase website at http://www.pdshowcase.org/home/showcase/23 and click on “Register Today.” Check-in for the workshop is tentatively scheduled to begin at 8:30am on the 3rd. Presentations will begin at 9:00am and last until approximately 3:45pm. A mid-day field trip is included. There is no registration fee. Space is limited, so register early.
Texturing of Concrete Pavements
TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 634: Texturing of Concrete Pavements explores a recommended process for determining the type of concrete pavement texture that may be used for a specific highway project. The process considers the effects of texture type on friction and noise characteristics. [More]
New Emergency Relief Manual (Federal-aid Highways) available
The NACE Staff Wishes Everyone a Safe and Enjoyable Thanksgiving Holiday!