AASHTO Journal, 18 November 2016
The AASHTO Board of Directors approved eight resolutions proposed by the Standing Committee on Highways. The resolutions included one to establish a new technical service program that member DOTs could choose to support, another to create a traffic signal timing challenge program for states, and one calling for the Federal Highway Administration to reverse a 2016 decision to halt the use of a specific signage font that had been created to make road signs easier to read.
Here are some highlights:
The board called on the FHWA to reverse its January 2016 decision that overturned 2004 approval of the use of Clearview Font on road signs.
The FHWA had announced that it would no longer approve the use of Clearview Font, an alternative lettering style, on road signs. Clearview had been given interim approval for use in the 2004 “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.”
A 2014 “FHWA Handbook for Designing Roadways for the Aging Population” states that Clearview Font and retro-reflective sheeting should be considered for use for its readability.
The resolution asked that FHWA reinstate interim approval for the use of that font on the basis that it is easier to read, especially for older drivers, than the FHWA-approved alternative.
“Some research has demonstrated increased legibility distances and improved legibility for older drivers during the night time when challenges increase for drivers through the use of Clearview Font,” the resolution said.
The resolution also asked the FHWA to establish a task force to address concerns in comments submitted to the Federal Register in response to its decision to rescind its interim Clearview Font approval.
-New AASHTO Technical Service Program
The board voted to establish a new voluntary technical service program under which member DOTs would choose to participate in developing and maintaining technical publications for the design of transportation structures.
AASHTO publishes various technical manuals that are heavily used in the transportation industry, including the AASHTO “Green Book,” the Roadside Design Guide, Bicycle Guide and Pedestrian Guide.
Expert volunteers from AASHTO member DOTs develop the design specifications and technical information in each of those guides. However, the board-approved resolution, developed by the Subcommittee on Design and approved by the Standing Committee on Highways, suggested that tightening budgets within member departments make it more difficult for AASHTO member agencies to help develop and update the guidelines, standards and specifications in a timely manner.
“Attendance at (Subcommittee on Design) and its technical subcommittees, which is critical to the development and oversight of AASHTO’s design guidance, continues to decline due to state budget restrictions; and there are fewer member department technical staff available to provide the time and manpower needed to develop and update these guidelines, standards and specifications,” the resolution said.
It said the technical service program should not only regularly update the critical design guidance but also create new guidance for emerging design issues and ensure a cohesive philosophy across all AASHTO design guides.
AASHTO member agencies will have the opportunity to support the ongoing technical activities of the program through ongoing annual assessments.
-The board also approved the following resolutions:
• Control city request from Alabama DOT for City of Birmingham.
• Control city request from Mississippi DOT for City of Tupelo.
• Control City Request from Tennessee DOT for City of Memphis.
• Increase the Contribution to the Load Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) Specification Maintenance Technical Service Program.
• Role of FHWA in MASH Implementation and Crash Test Reviews.
• AASHTO Signal, Phasing and Timing Challenge.
The individual documents are available at a dedicated website for annual meeting documents.