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New Data Show U.S. Drivers Topped 3 Trillion Miles Last Year

March 26, 2015 Comments off

New Data Show U.S. Drivers Topped 3 Trillion Miles Last Year
Source: Federal Highway Administration

New estimates released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that Americans drove nearly 3.02 trillion miles in 2014, the highest point since 2007 and the second-highest since data collection began 79 years ago, fueling calls for greater investment in transportation infrastructure to accommodate growing volumes of traffic.

Highways in the Coastal Environment: Assessing Extreme Events

March 15, 2015 Comments off

Highways in the Coastal Environment: Assessing Extreme Events (PDF)
Source: Federal Highway Administration

The US transportation system is vulnerable to coastal extreme event storms today and this vulnerability will increase with climate change. Hurricane Sandy caused over $10 billion in damage to coastal roads, rails, tunnels, and other transportation facilities in New York and New Jersey (Blake et al. 2013, NOAA 2013). Hurricanes Ivan (2004), Katrina (2005), Ike (2008), and other storms have also caused billions in damage to coastal roads and bridges throughout the Gulf Coast. Portions of California State Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, have been relocated away from the ocean in response to bluff erosion threatening the highway. Costs of lost business when critical transportation services are interrupted after coastal storms have also been significant.

This vulnerability will increase as sea levels rise. Many projections of future sea levels suggest accelerated rise rates resulting from global climate change. Higher sea levels will combine with future extreme events to increase the vulnerability of coastal highways, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure. Thus, damage from coastal hazards such as hurricanes, high waves, tsunamis, and extreme tides will increase in cost, frequency, and magnitude. It is estimated that over 60,000 roadway miles in the US are exposed to coastal storm surge (FHWA 2008). The degree to which that exposure, and resulting vulnerability, will increase as a result of climate change is currently unknown.

The transportation authorization act, MAP-21 – the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, lists “protection against extreme events” as an eligible project purpose for federal funding of construction, replacement, rehabilitation, or preservation of bridges (P.L. 112-141: Section 119 (d) (2) (B)). The FHWA guidance memo entitled “Eligibility of Activities to Adapt to Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events under the Federal-Aid and Federal Lands Highway Program” (FHWA 2012a), provides more specific information on the use of federal highway program funds in the planning, design and construction of highways to adapt to extreme events considering climate change. This memo stressed that “consideration of extreme events, their impacts on highways and transportation systems, and development of adaptation strategies should be grounded in the best available scientific approaches.” Adaptation activities need to be based on the current understanding of weather patterns affecting the location of a project or region, as well as projected changes in climate.

Thus, there is a need for technical guidance in assessing the exposure and vulnerability of highway infrastructure in the coastal environment that will be impacted by extreme events including considerations of the effects of climate change. This publication is intended to be technical guidance grounded in the “best available scientific approaches” to vulnerability and risk assessment and climate change.

Mobility Challenges for Households in Poverty

February 13, 2015 Comments off

Mobility Challenges for Households in Poverty (PDF)
Source: Federal Highway Administration (National Travel Survey)

The NHTS team has released a news brief concerning the mobility challenges for U.S. households in poverty. As the second highest household expenditure, transportation costs can have a disproportionately negative impact on lower income households. As a result, 2009 NHTS data has revealed that low income households have higher rates of carpooling, biking and walking. Additionally, low income households have lower rates of vehicle ownership as well as a shorter average daily radius of travel.

Bicycle Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System

October 16, 2014 Comments off

Bicycle Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System
Source: Federal Highway Administration

The Bicycle Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System is intended to provide practitioners with the latest information available for improving the safety and mobility of those who bike. The online tools provide the user with a list of possible engineering, education, or enforcement treatments to improve bicycle safety and/or mobility based on user input about a specific location.

Road Diet Conversions: A Synthesis of Safety Research

October 6, 2014 Comments off

Road Diet Conversions: A Synthesis of Safety Research (PDF)
Source: Federal Highway Administration

The primary purpose of this review is to assess the available evidence regarding the safety effectiveness of reductions in the number of motorized traffic lanes, widely known as road diet conversions. Although road diets have been implemented since at least the 1970s, earlier reviews and a search of the literature identified no controlled safety evaluation studies conducted prior to the year 2002. A systematic search of literature dating from 2002 was conducted. Six studies in total were initially identified, with four serving as the basis for most conclusions in this review. Several of the studies have used overlapping data from many of the same implementation sites, with the more recent studies employing the more robust study methodologies. As a result, the strongest evidence comes from relatively few studies building on earlier ones. However, a sizeable number of sites have been encompassed in the studies. Studies using data from sites in California, Iowa, and Washington provide the strongest evidence of safety effects, with additional reports providing corroborating, but somewhat weaker evidence.

Road diets can be seen as one of the transportation safety field’s greatest success stories. Total crashes might be expected to decline by an average of29 percent by converting from four, undivided lanes to three lanes (plus other uses such as bike lanes). Additionally, the studies determined total crash reductions were higher (47 percent) for treated sections of more rural thoroughfares passing through smaller towns (Iowa sites) and lower (19 percent) for road diet corridors in large urban areas (California and Washington sites) (Harkey et al., 2008).

2013 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance

April 4, 2014 Comments off

2013 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance
Source: Federal Highway Administration
From press release:

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that a new report on the state of America’s transportation infrastructure, 2013 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance, confirms that more investment is needed to maintain and improve the nation’s highway and transit systems. Secretary Foxx has highlighted the need for transportation investment in a series of speeches that take aim at America’s infrastructure deficit and identify ways to use innovation and improved planning to stretch transportation dollars as effectively and efficiently as possible.
…..
The Department of Transportation’s Conditions and Performance report, based on 2010 data, estimates all levels of government would need to spend between $123.7 billion and $145.9 billion per year to both maintain and improve the condition of roads and bridges alone. In 2010, federal, State and local governments combined spent $100.2 billion on this infrastructure, including $11.9 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars.

The report also indicates that as much as $24.5 billion is needed per year to improve the condition of transit rail and bus systems. In 2010, total spending to maintain and expand transit systems was $16.5 billion – a spending level also boosted temporarily by Recovery Act dollars.

2013 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions & Performance

March 7, 2014 Comments off

2013 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions & Performance
Source: Federal Highway Administration
From Executive Summary:

This edition of the C&P report is based primarily on data through the year 2010; consequently, the system conditions and performance measures presented should reflect effects of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), which authorized Federal highway and transit funding for Federal fiscal years 2005 through 2009 (and extended through fiscal year 2012), as well as some of the impact of the funding authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). None of the impact of funding authorized under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) is reflected. In assessing recent trends, this report generally focuses on the 10-year period from 2000 to 2010. The prospective analyses generally cover the 20-year period ending in 2030; the investment levels associated with these scenarios are stated in constant 2010 dollars.

In 2010, all levels of government spent a combined $205.3 billion for highway-related purposes, of which $11.9 billion was a direct impact of the Recovery Act. All levels of government spent a combined $54.3 billion for transit-related purposes, including $2.4 billion of expenditures supported by one-time funding under the Recovery Act.

The average annual capital investment level needed to maintain the conditions and performance of highways and bridges at 2010 levels through the year 2030 is projected to range from $65.3 billion to $86.3 billion per year, depending on the future rate of growth in vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Improving the conditions and performance of highways and bridges by implementing all cost-beneficial investments would cost an estimated $123.7 billion to $145.9 billion per year. (Note that these projections are much lower than those presented in the 2010 C&P report, driven in part by an 18 percent reduction in highway construction prices between 2008 and 2010). In 2010, all levels of government spent a combined $100.2 billion for capital improvements to highways and bridges.

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