From the Director: NJ LTAP on the Move
June marks the beginning of hurricane season here on the east coast, and that means both local and state agencies are readying themselves in emergency response, including evacuation and emergency traffic control. Climate experts from the U.S. Climate Prediction Center are expecting 10 to 16 tropical storms to form this year, with up to eight of those threatening the eastern seaboard. They are also predicting a 30 percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season for the area. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), in partnership with the New Jersey State Police (NJSP), New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA), South Jersey Transportation authority (SJTA) and the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) recently conducted an emergency evacuation exercise to provide operational personnel a chance to refine their response to a major hurricane event.
For the past three years, the state transportation agencies and state police have been practicing “worst case scenario” drills so that they are well prepared to conduct an evacuation in the event of a hurricane or similar natural disaster. The drills also enhance interagency communication and mobilization response times. Every level of government in NJ is expected to test their emergency plans and be prepared to implement the Contra Flow Plan when needed- this means crews must be familiar with how to reverse traffic on a section of roadway, such as coastal evacuation routes that include the Garden State Parkway, Atlantic City Expressway, and Routes 72, 55, and 47. Crews need to be able to properly position barrels, cones, and signs as traffic control devices to safely move people out of harm’s way.
While hurricane season poses a significant threat to New Jersey, we are faced with emergency management situations year-round. Our state continues to promote that all local and state first responders attend Traffic Incident Management Training for First Responders. There is a new website available at NJTIM.org, where resources and upcoming training offerings are posted. The New Jersey Local Technical Assistance Program is proud to be a state partner in conducting this training.
Janet Leli, Director
FHWA’s New Safety Performance Measures Regulations are Now in Effect
By Dana Gigliotti, FHWA Office of Safety
With motor vehicle related fatalities on the rise for the first time in several years, the Safety Performance Management Measures (Safety PM) Final Rule comes at an important time. The performance measures provide States and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) with a framework for becoming more effective and will change how FHWA’s $2.3 billion HSIP is managed. As Federal, State, and local partners work together to implement this rule, we will achieve improved coordination, make better data-driven decisions, and, most importantly, save more lives. The Safety PM Final Rule has four major provisions that:
- Establish five performance measures that States and MPOs must set targets for the 5-year rolling averages for: (a) number of fatalities, (b) rate of fatalities per 100 million vehicle-miles traveled (VMT), (c) number of serious injuries, (d) rate of serious injuries per 100 million VMT, and (d) number of non-motorized fatalities and non-motorized serious injuries.
- Institute a process for State DOTs and MPOs to use to establish and report their safety targets. States set targets annually and have the option to set urbanized area targets and one target for non-urbanized areas. Three of the targets must be identical to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) targets, which are the number and rate of fatalities and the number of serious injuries. MPOs are required to set targets within 180 days after the State sets its targets. MPOs can either support the State target or establish a numerical target specific to the MPO planning area. MPOs can select either option for each safety performance measure.
- Institute a process for FHWA to assess whether a State has met or made significant progress toward meeting its safety targets. FHWA will determine whether a State has met or made significant progress toward meeting its targets when at least four of the five targets are either met or the actual outcome for the target is better than baseline performance. Only the five performance measures are included in the significant progress determination. Optional urbanized and non-urbanized targets for States and targets for MPOs are not included in the significant progress determination. If a State is not successful in meeting or making significant progress during an annual assessment, the State is required to use certain safety funds only for HSIP projects and submit an HSIP Implementation Plan to FHWA.
- Lastly, the Safety PM Final Rule establishes for the first time a national definition for serious injuries. Currently, States are using different definitions and coding conventions to report serious injuries in their motor vehicle crash databases. However, by April 14, 2019, all States must use the definition for “Suspected Serious Injury (A)” from the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC), 4th Edition. NHTSA has developed conversion tables to report the number of serious injuries consistent with the new definition until States comply with the MMUCC definition.
Read more about the new regulations at FHWA’s Safety Compass.
New Technologies That Protect Construction Workers
Let’s face it: Safety is not always something people want to talk about. It’s one of those topics that everyone knows is important, yet somehow seems to get glossed over on a daily basis.
However, around the world workplace accidents kill one person and injure another 153 others every 15 seconds. These are not statistics that should be ignored. Manufacturers continue to invest in safety and are working to produce new equipment and technologies that can help keep workers safe.
Before workers are even allowed on the jobsite, ensure they are properly trained on your company’s safety procedures and have the proper personal protection equipment (PPE) that makes them visible to the traveling public when completing work.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requires that contractors wear safety vests when there is risk of collision with the traveling public. Safety vests have one of three classifications: Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3. For most paving & pavement maintenance jobsites, a Class 1 vest can be worn. Class 1 vests are for workers whose job puts them at the lowest risk level. These would be jobs in areas where traffic is traveling at or below 25 mph and work is taking place at a safe distance from a roadway. According to the ANSI, in order for a vest to qualify as a Class 1 safety vest it must either a safety yellow or safety orange color and have a minimum of 155 square inches of reflective tape. Class 2 vests are for jobsites where traffic travels under 50 mph and Class 3 vests are for high-risk jobsites where traffic travels above 50 mph.
One way to get your crews excited about safety is by making the safety vests they wear every day seem more interesting. While LED lighted vests are becoming popular to increase safety vest visibility, some companies are taking safety vests to the next level by adding smart technologies that help increase worker safety through GPS and health monitoring systems.
Leading the Charge for Safer Streets
Despite a decrease in overall roadway fatalities in recent years, injuries and fatalities of pedestrians and bicyclists have been generally increasing since 2009. In fact, from 2011 to 2012, pedestrian deaths rose 8 percent, and bicyclist fatalities went up more than 7 percent. Accordingly, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx has taken action to reverse this trend through a comprehensive initiative that addresses infrastructure safety, education, vehicle safety, and data collection.
On September 10, 2014, Secretary Foxx announced the Safer People, Safer Streets initiative at the Pro Walk, Pro Bike, Pro Place conference in Pittsburgh, PA. This biennial conference is one of the largest gatherings of transportation engineers, city planners, and professional bicycle-pedestrian safety advocates and practitioners in the country.
When announcing the initiative, Secretary Foxx said, “Safety is our highest priority and that commitment is the same regardless of which form of transportation people choose, including walking and biking. This initiative is aimed at reversing the recent rise in deaths and injuries among the growing number of Americans who bicycle or walk to work, to reach public transportation, and to other important destinations.”
The initiative has produced multiple resources to help communities create streets that are safer for people who walk, bicycle, and take public transportation. The approach also is encouraging safe behavior, promoting design improvements to ensure safe and efficient routes for pedestrians and bicyclists, and providing educational information to help individuals make safer travel choices.
Finally, the initiative has a multimodal focus on improving pedestrian and bicycle routes that provide access to bus stops and train stations.
Safer People, Safer Streets began with road safety assessments conducted by U.S. Department of Transportation field offices in every State in the United States. From fall 2014 to June 2015, the offices organized on-the-ground examinations of transportation facilities conducted by multidisciplinary, multiagency teams.
Field offices of the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and Federal Railroad Administration convened and led 52 assessments, one in every State, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. More than 1,500 people took part, including elected officials, field office leaders, and representatives from local, regional, State, Federal, and nongovernmental organizations, helping to advance Secretary Foxx’s initiative.
The assessments aimed to facilitate dialogue and encourage relationship-building among people who work for different jurisdictions but share responsibility for creating safer streets. The assessments generated a buzz of enthusiasm at the local level. Many participants voiced their concerns and ideas, while coordinating with stakeholders at other agencies. They noted the value of bringing together a variety of organizations to learn from one another and build partnerships, and some noted the desire to organize additional assessments within their State. Local elected officials participated in 10 assessments, and senior USDOT field leadership attended more than half of the events.
This initiative was intended to help USDOT promote assessments as an effective ongoing tool for improving pedestrian and bicycle safety. USDOT has a long history of supporting on-the-ground assessments—ranging from formal pedestrian and bicycle road safety audits to neighborhood walkabouts—because such assessments can provide benefits to all road users while improving safety.
Assessments in all States identified a wide range of physical barriers preventing safe walking and bicycling. The problems ranged from facilities in significant disrepair to missing infrastructure and poorly designed roadways and signals. Common findings included a lack of safe and comfortable sidewalks, crossing opportunities, and bicycle facilities. Many roadways and signal systems were designed to accommodate high-volume, high-speed vehicular traffic, minimal consideration for the needs of all roadway users. In many cases, infrastructure is insufficient to meet the needs of all users, including those with visual and mobility impairments.
Read more at FHWA’s Public Roads!
Rutgers Study Estimates Costs to Build and Maintain NJDOT Roads
(Trenton) – New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) officials today announced the release of a new study conducted by Rutgers University’s Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center that determined the average cost to plan, construct, operate, and maintain one mile of roadway under NJDOT jurisdiction is $183,757.
The study is part of a two-phase effort to provide an understanding of aggregate costs associated with NJDOT roadways and bridges. Rutgers will conduct additional research to understand more completely the factors that influence cost efficiency.
“The New Jersey Department of Transportation is committed to providing a modern, safe, and reliable transportation system throughout the State in the most effective manner possible,” NJDOT Acting Commissioner Richard T. Hammer said. “The study is part of an on-going effort to identify those factors that drive costs in New Jersey’s public transportation sector.”
The Rutgers study found that on average nearly 60 percent of total transportation-related expenditures are for activities not directly associated with planning, construction, operating, and maintaining roads and bridges under NJDOT jurisdiction. These costs are related to expenditures for NJ Transit, debt services on transportation bonds, funding for local road projects, aviation, maritime and rail freight, and contribute to providing a comprehensive and safe transportation system throughout the State.
“The Rutgers study stands in stark contrast to a recent report that grossly over-reported New Jersey’s highway costs at $2 million per mile,” Hammer said, noting that the Rutgers study concurred that it is inappropriate to include the entire debt service amount on transportation bonds when calculating lane mile costs, and that additional analysis is required to isolate the portion attributable to highway projects.
The study also determined that on average $1.5 billion is spent annually on highway expenses, and of this amount, approximately 60 percent is attributable to construction. Less than four percent is attributable to administration, planning and research. The remainder goes toward operations and maintenance.
“The facts of this study not only demonstrate the Department’s responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” Hammer added. “But also, will allow NJDOT to single out cost driver outliers, which will in turn provide the Department the ability to target future efficiency efforts.”
Read more from the NJDOT Press Release
A Safety Sidekick
By Janet Leli
Despite an overall trend in decreasing fatalities on U.S. roadways in recent years, almost 33,000 people still lose their lives in traffic crashes annually. Rural road safety is a particular concern. Although only about 20 percent of the U.S. population resides in rural areas of the country, crashes on rural roads account for more than half of all roadway fatalities. Current statistics indicate that even with the national number of fatalities decreasing, the fatality rate in rural areas is 2.4 times higher than the fatality rate in urban areas.
Rural road owners and stakeholders face significant challenges in addressing safety problems adequately. The diverse nature of safety issues on rural roads requires assessment of human and environmental factors. Road agencies may lack strategies to address rural road safety issues and may be hampered by limited access to or awareness of available resources.
Funded by the Federal Highway Administration, the National Center for Rural Road Safety opened in December 2014 to identify the most effective current and emerging road safety improvements and help local agencies deploy them on rural roads. In the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), Congress explicitly created competitively selected centers of excellence in the areas of the environment, surface transportation safety, rural safety, and project finance. The National Center for Rural Road Safety covers both rural and surface transportation, with an emphasis on rural. It embodies the Federal transportation goal for a center focusing specifically on enhancing safety on rural roads, while supporting surface transportation in general.
Partnering for Excellence
The center’s team of subject matter experts is led by the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University. Other members are from Iowa State University’s Institute for Transportation; Rutgers University’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation; and the Local Technical Assistance Programs of Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, and New Jersey. In addition, the center receives critical support from contractors who are an integral part of the team. This group has a robust background in transportation safety issues, including workforce development and training; engineering; research and outreach in human factors; planning; operations; and State, local, tribal, and rural challenges.
As part of a federally sanctioned center focused on rural road safety issues, the team is in a unique position to access and leverage FHWA’s expertise and training resources. The center will integrate, coordinate, and accelerate the knowledge transfer of safety solutions.
“With over half of fatalities occurring on rural roads, and safety being a top priority, there needs to be a national, focused center that fulfills the role of a one-stop shop for research, technical assistance and transfer, and training,” says Steve Albert, the center’s director. “It will include, but also move beyond, engineering as a principal focus. It also will include culture and behavior because at least 90 percent of crashes are due in some part to the driver, not the infrastructure.”
State DOTs Using Drones to Improve Safety, Collect Data Faster, and Cut Costs
A growing number of state departments of transportation are leveraging innovative drone technology to creatively improve safety, reduce traffic congestion and save money. This Transportation TV Special Report explores the many ways in which state DOTs are using drones. According to a March 2016 survey by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, 33 state departments of transportation have or are exploring, researching, testing or using unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as drones, to inspect bridges and assist with clearing vehicle crashes, among other innovative applications. AASHTO has also prepared an on-line fact sheet that highlights the many benefits of UAVs.
Smarter Work Zone Webinar Series Features Project Coordination
The seventh webinar in the EDC-3 smarter work zones series focused on project coordination tools to minimize travel delays and enhance safety for road users and workers. The December 2 event provided an overview of the upcoming Project Coordination Guide and examples of how agencies use online tools to collect and share data such as work zone location, duration and expected impact on traffic. View previous webinars in the series to learn about the technology application and project coordination approaches to smarter work zones.
Check out this and other installments in the Smarter Work Zones Webinar Series.
USDOT Publishes New Emergency Response Guidebook for First Responders
PHMSA’s 2016 Emergency Response Guidebook provides first responders with a go-to manual to help deal with hazmat transportation accidents during the critical first 30 minutes.
DOT’s goal is to place an ERG in every public emergency service vehicle nationwide. To date, nearly 14.5 million free copies have been distributed to the emergency response community through state emergency management coordinators. Members of the public may purchase a copy of the ERG through the GPO Bookstore and other commercial suppliers.
First responders, we want your feedback! Submit your name, organization, contact information, and comments to ERGComments@dot.gov.
Federal Highway Administration Awards $3 Million for on-the-job Training
Alternatives WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced $3 million in job training grants in eight states. The “Ladders of Opportunity Initiative On-The-Job Training/Supportive Service (OJT/SS)” grants are part of an ongoing federal effort, which includes stakeholder outreach and the creation of the Federal Highway Administration’s Center for Transportation Workforce Development, to improve the apprenticeships and training opportunities for underrepresented or disadvantaged people seeking careers in transportation, engineering or construction.
“Providing individuals with the job training opportunities they need is critical to keeping our highway system up and running,” said Secretary Foxx. “Training programs like these create opportunities for workers in the short-term, and ensure that the next generation is ready for the challenges that will face America’s transportation system in the years ahead.”
According to USDOT estimates, more than half the current highway construction workforce is over the age of 45 and, with retirement, separation and growth, more than a half-million highway construction jobs are projected over the next decade.
The grants focus specifically on supporting innovative, nationally and regionally significant highway construction workforce development programs that target specific workforce needs across the country and build ladders of opportunity to the middle class for American workers.
The Ladders of Opportunity Initiative OJT/SS grants support the training programs of state departments of transportation (DOTs) for highway contractors, apprentices and trainees. The grants encourages strategic partnerships among state DOTs and other organizations or stakeholders involved with workforce development, such as educational institutions, public workforce investment systems, and labor organizations, to support training opportunities for minorities and women in skilled and semi-skilled crafts.
“On-the-job training along with other strategies reflected in these awards can connect people who need jobs with job opportunities,” said Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. “By giving people the specialized training our transportation system needs, we can ensure that our transportation system remains safe and efficient for decades to come.”
Read more about the award recipients here at USDOT.gov