3 Ways to Avoid Heat-Related Illness

drinking waterWith the long deep freezes all around the country this winter, most of us have been looking forward to lots of sunshine and warmer weather.

For those who work outside though, keeping cool is a must as the temperature climbs. Heat stress can result in heat rashes, cramps, exhaustion, and in the most severe instances, heat stroke.

There are a number of ways to keep your cool on the job. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has free materials on heat-related illness prevention. Here are 3 tips to avoiding heat stress:

1. Cool clothing. The dead of summer is not the time to wear that form-fitting black t-shirt that looks great on you. Your clothing should be light colored and loose fitting. Also, avoid non-breathing synthetic clothing – choose natural fibers such as cotton. Sometimes, you can’t avoid wearing hot or heavy protective gear. Keep in mind this will up the chance of heat stress and plan your breaks accordingly.

2. Schedule smartly. While you should gradually build up to your heaviest work, keep an eye on the weather forecast. You should plan your heaviest work during the coolest parts of the day. Don’t forget to boost your breaks. During periods of extreme heat and humidity, more frequent breaks should be taken, and in a cool, shaded area.

3. Heavy hydration. During extreme heat, up your water intake. According to NIOSH, you should drink approximately 1 cup of water every 15 minutes. NIOSH also recommends that you drink enough water that you do not ever become thirsty. Of course, alcohol, with its dehydrating properties, is a big no-no. Also avoid drinks with a lot of sugar or caffeine.

If at any time while working you experience the signs of heat stress – heavy sweating, extreme weakness or fatigue, dizziness or confusion, nausea, clammy skin, pale or flushed complexion, muscle cramps or fast and shallow breathing – stop working immediately. Relocate to a cool and shady area (or one with air conditioning) and drink lots of water. If possible, take a cool shower or bath. If no shower is available, sponge down in a restroom with cool water.

Want more tips on staying cool? Download NIOSH’s “Preventing Heat-related Illness or Death of Outdoor Workers” for additional information.

Editor’s note: Amy Materson is managing editor for sister site Equipment World.

Ellensburg Bull Wears Orange, Promotes Work Zone Awareness in Washington

"The Bull" in Ellensburg, Washington sports an orange vest during National Work Zone Awareness Week. (Photo courtesy of Kittitas County Public Works)

“The Bull” in Ellensburg, Washington sports an orange vest and hardhat during National Work Zone Awareness Week. (Photo courtesy of Kittitas County Public Works)

As National Work Zone Awareness week came to a close last Friday, I asked you what your agency did to raise awareness in your city or state.

Maria Fischer, a Kittitas County (Washington) Public Works engineering tech, responded to tell me about several ways the agency spread the word.

Kittitas County Public Works employees wear orange to promote National Work Zone Awareness Week. (Photo courtesy of Kittitas County Public Works)

Kittitas County Public Works employees wear orange to promote National Work Zone Awareness Week. (Photo courtesy of Kittitas County Public Works)

Fischer said the agency alerted the press about National Work Zone Awareness week and put up posters in the lobby, which is shared with the County Building and Planning Departments. Agency employees also wore orange one day that week.

The agency is located in Ellensburg, Washington, which is home of a sculpture known as “The Bull.” During National Work Zone Awareness Week, The Bull helped spread work zone awareness by sporting an orange vest and hardhat.

Like I mentioned in my previous blog, work zone awareness doesn’t stop with the end of National Work Zone Awareness Week. Here in Alabama, I’ve noticed awareness efforts by the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), including a billboard near my home.

What is your agency doing to promote work zone awareness? Tell me in the comments, or email me at amanda.bayhi@randallreilly.com.

Roundabouts And Intersections: Two Traffic Control Devices, Many Options

In North America, non-orthagonal roundabouts are becoming a more common site.

In North America, non-orthagonal roundabouts are becoming a more common site.

Roundabout design was once a task that drove engineers around the bend. Accounting for so many variables in the early stages of design was difficult to manage. If one changes an approach leg angle, how does that impact design? When you know the capacity requirements, how does that impact the size of the center radius? Before engineers make any decisions, they always ask themselves: when do you choose a roundabout over a traditional intersection?

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) notes that “intersections are planned points of conflict in any roadway system. This includes U.S. and state highways, county roads and local streets.  Motorized and non-motorized users are crossing paths as they travel through or turn from one route to another. Therefore, it is not surprising that a major part of addressing road safety challenges involves intersections…. Intersections can also become very congested when traffic volumes are high, creating inefficiencies that result in user delay and frustration.”

A primary goal of intersection design is to limit the severity of potential conflicts among road users. Intersection channelization, a geometric design concept used to reduce conflicts, employs such techniques as raised medians or traffic islands to discourage wrong-way turns or other undesirable movements. Channelization also uses techniques such as pavement markings to delineate desirable vehicle paths.

Assuring the safe and efficient operation of intersections is becoming an increasingly important issue as agencies attempt to maximize vehicle roadway capacity to serve the growing demand for travel. Enhancing safety and reducing crashes are key objectives whenever the design or operational characteristics of an at-grade intersection are modified. Space availability, traffic volumes and patterns, right of way issues and environmental concerns like wetlands or biologically sensitive areas must all be considered.

“The idea is to give motorists the information they need at the time they need it,” Fred Ranck, a safety design engineer at the FHWA Resource Center, told FHWA’s Public Roads (Jan/Feb 2005, Vol. 68 · No. 4). “Intersections are complex meetings of roads, so it is crucial for the driver to get the right information as to what lane to be in and where to go.”

A densely populated area like New York City lends itself to traffic control devices like traditional right-angle intersections.

A densely populated area like New York City lends itself to traffic control devices like traditional right-angle intersections.

There are dozens of factors that go into building an intersection and this article examines only a few of them. Road design engineers have to incorporate local conditions and accepted practices into the decisions they make. In recent years, many have used CAD-based computer turning template programs to help them calculate the vehicle swept paths. These programs are often the catalyst that helps engineers with their roundabout and intersection design. One of these programs is AutoTURN.

The Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) developed a Roadway Design Manual in April of 2012 in which they discuss the different types of intersections. Unchannelized intersections are the most common type, consisting of the crossing of two roadways at the same elevation connected by radius returns to accommodate the wheel paths of turning vehicles. Typical characteristics of unchannelized intersections are low turning movements and low overall traffic volumes.

Channelized intersections separate conflicting traffic movements into definite paths of travel by the use of pavement markings and/or curbs. A primary purpose of channelization is to provide reference points to enable a driver to predict the path of intersecting vehicles. Channelization also serves to segregate, store, and protect turning and crossing vehicles. (Source: NDOR, Roadway Design Manual, Page 4-2, April 2012)

The third type of intersection discussed in the NDOR report (Page 4-3, April 2012) is the roundabout. Roundabouts are circular intersections in which the traffic flows around a central island. Entry and exit to/from a roundabout is accomplished through a low speed right turn, yielding to the traffic already in the roundabout, which substantially reduces the number, type, and severity of traffic accidents in the intersection.

In addition to AutoTURN, some road design engineers have used TORUS to assist in the design of roundabouts. This software program takes the innovative approach of generating roundabout geometries using vehicle swept path movements.

If a roundabout is the designer’s choice, there are still several important decisions ahead. Roundabout shape is one of the most important decisions a designer makes, because the shape often determines design elements that affect safety performance and operation of the roundabout. The desirable shape of a roundabout is circular. But sometimes a circular shape is not feasible because of specific needs or constraints; in which case, consider a noncircular shape. Sometimes a circular shape can still be used by slightly offsetting the roundabout. (Source: Wisconsin DOT, Chapter 1320, Roundabout Guide, July 2013.)

More from this writer: Cal Poly Pomona engineering students get real-world road building experience from Caltrans

An oval or elliptical roundabout is a good choice when constraints such as right-of-way existing roadway alignments, buildings and/or wetlands influence the shape. The designer should experiment with different roundabout sizes and radii and use the design vehicle turning software such as AutoTURN to refine the oval shape to find the best operation while retaining lower speeds.

Road design engineers have traditionally used manual calculations combined with in-the-field experience when designing at-grade intersections. The introduction of intersection software like NEXUS is relatively recent and allows engineers to incorporate all the key elements in the intersection design process including design vehicles, capacity conditions, sight lines, conflict points, and conceptual grading.  With accepted guidelines like AASHTO and FWHA built in, today’s road

A typical four-legged intersection has about 32 different types of conflicts, where vehicles could collide. The essence of the intersection control is to resolve these conflicts at the intersection for the safe and efficient movement of both vehicular traffic and pedestrians. NEXUS was developed to give engineers the ability to quickly and efficiently create intersection layouts with pre-generated templates and sophisticated editing tools that continually update the intersection as design changes are made.

Changes such as adding a left turn lane or increasing the storage length of an auxiliary lane will update all of the intersection geometry allowing designers to explore different concepts or immediately react to a large number of design criteria.

“We know that good intersection design will improve mobility, and with improved mobility comes enhanced safety,” Thomas Hicks, former director of the Maryland State Highway Administration’s Office of Traffic and Safety told Public Roads (Jan/Feb 2005, Vol. 68 · No. 4).

According to the Florida Intersection Design Guide (2013), traffic signals provide for orderly flow through intersections by alternately assigning right-of-way to particular movements. The required engineering study to justify a traffic signal should address the relative safety and capacity impacts of installation. If a traffic signal is justified, the intersection should be designed in accordance with optimized traffic signal operations.

“It’s important for engineers to consider all the variables before choosing a roundabout or at-grade intersection for their projects,” said Steven Chan, Director of Product Management at Transoft Solutions. “Which ever options they choose, software is just part of the engineering process when it comes to designing intersections or roundabouts. Training and previous experience will guide the design decisions and software can help put all the variables into proper perspective. Accurate software gives them piece of mind.”

About the author: Chris Johns has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. Beginning as Sports Editor for the Manitoban at the University of Manitoba in 1991, he has written more than 500 articles covering topics from World Cup Volleyball to the oil sands of Northern Canada. In 2012, he joined Transoft Solutions, where he has written about the transportation engineering industry for a variety of publications. He holds a Master’s degree in Applied Communications from Royal Roads University.

Indiana Finance Authority, DOT finalize contract details for I-69 Section 5

Interstate 65 Access Map

Interstate 65 Access Map

Now that the Indiana Finance Authority and Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) have finalized the contract with I-69 Development Partners to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the 21 new miles of I-69 Section 5.

Utility relocation will take place prior to the start of construction.

This spring and summer utility crews will begin installing new lines where existing service conflicts with the new I-69 footprint, the agency says.

INDOT says contractors completed tree cutting on March 31 within the land available so far for I-69 Section 5 in the Bloomington, Indiana, area. Now, utility relocations will continue until construction begins later this year. Crews will also continue to mulch and haul off trees that were previously cut, as well as clear underbrush, the agency says.

The project, which is being financed by private activity bonds, involves rehabilitating and upgrading 21 miles of the existing, four-lane State Road 37 to interstate standards between Bloomington and Martinsville, Indiana.

The private activity bonds that will finance the project are expected to be issued by I-69 Development Partners in late June, according to a statement issued by INDOT.

The state’s payment structure makes rising construction costs and the risk of operations and maintenance the responsibility of the private developer, and requires the developer to meet performance standards for quality, schedule and maintenance to avoid reductions in recurring payments, INDOT says.

Two payments to the private developer for Section 5 of I-69 are tied to completion of safety improvements in Bloomington, such as interchanges at Fullerton Pike and Tapp Road, and overpasses at Vernal Pike and Rockport Road.

Section 5 of the I-69 is currently slated to open by the end of 2016, which INDOT says is several years ahead of schedule.

The entire 142-mile I-69 corridor was divided into six independent sections in the Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement, which was approved with a record of decision in March 2004, INDOT says.
The first three sections opened for business in November 2012 – under budget and years ahead of schedule –  and saves motorists more than 30 minutes travel time in the 67 miles between Evansville and Crane, INDOT says.

Construction is underway on all 27 miles of I-69 Section 4 between Crane and Bloomington, which is expected to open to traffic in phases during late 2014 and 2015.

To view a design and construction schedule for all active contracts, click here.

For the project history of I-69 from corridor selection to design, click here.

Bergkamp’s Variable Width Spreader Box offers flexibility in micro surfacing applications

Bergkamp.Variable Width SB

Bergkamp has released its Variable Width Spreader Box (VSB), which is designed to offer flexibility in micro surfacing work.

Avaialble in 8- to 13-foot, 9- to 14-foot and 10- to 15-foot models, the VSB eliminates construction joints with its ability to expand and contract while paving. An optional 16-foot width is also available.

The unit has four augurs: two to feed the material to the center of the box, and two to evenly distribute the mix during placement.

The VSB connects to the paver’s hydraulic system and adjusts when the operator uses the levers located on the handrails of the box. The fully expandable, hydraulically driven ribbon augers have a 12-inch pitch, while the primary and secondary strike-offs can slide within a guide tube when the box expands or contracts during paving.

The unit is designed to fit Bergkamp pavers but can be customized for other brands.

VIDEO: DOT Chief Foxx reiterates urgency to fix Highway Trust Fund during Alabama visit

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 5.09.28 PM

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx says a short-term solution won’t do this go-around for transportation funding, and he’s on the road this week pushing the Obama administration’s four-year $302 billion plan and making localities and citizens aware of the Highway Trust Fund’s (HTF) nosedive.

Foxx spoke in Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday in the eighth stop of his week-long Invest in America tour that began Monday in Ohio and wraps up Friday in Dallas. With the Highway Trust Fund quickly heading toward insolvency and the expiration of MAP-21 looming, Foxx’s tour is part educational and part motivational, telling listeners at each stop about the consequences of Congressional inaction on funding and urging them to call their representatives and senators.

“Let me say this: We can come together as a country and do this. We’ve done this before,” he said. “By August or September we’re going to run out of money, and we can’t stop ourselves in our tracks. We can’t stop America from growing. That’s where the future is. So let’s figure it out and get to work.”

The plan unveiled in March by President Barack Obama is the best solution to shore up the Highway Trust Fund, Foxx said, pointing to fuel tax’s inability to adequately fund highway projects. The White House’s plan relies on business tax reform to generate $302 billion over four years.

Congress has passed 27 short-term measures in the last five years, Foxx said, and short-term patches (which he called “band-aids”) make it difficult for states and cities to plan larger highway and infrastructure projects that rely on federal funds for support. Foxx said Congress is “almost out of options,” referring to prior attempts at backfilling the HTF with general fund money and other failed attempts to shore up highway funding.

“The bottom line is we’re supporting a vision that is a four-year vision, not a three-month vision and not a six-month vision,” he said. “Our plan is built off what’s remaining in the gas tax coupled with business tax reform…giving communities four years of complete certainty over how transportation is going to go.”

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chair of the House’s Ways and Means Committee, announced an alternate highway funding plan the same day the president did. Camp’s proposal would implement changes to the U.S. tax code — aimed at boosting economic growth — and would dedicate $126.5 billion to highway and infrastructure funding.

The Obama and Camp proposals “are in the same zip code,” Foxx said Wednesday after his Birmingham speech, and he hopes in the coming months the two plans can be reconciled into a long-term solution.

The administration also has “expressed an openness to ideas that may emerge that Congresspeople have among themselves about this and will continue to keep an open ear and open mind to what comes back,” Foxx said.

A bipartisan group of key Senators working on the next highway funding bill announced last week a set of priorities for their legislation, which include making the bill five or six years and maintaining current spending levels.

Editor’s note: James Jaillet is news editor for sister sites CCJ and Overdrive.

New Mexico DOT develops 25-year transportation plan


The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) is advancing with the development of its 25-year transportation plan, Albuquerque Business First reports.

The plan, dubbed nmdot 2040, will include all areas of transportation such as safety, highway maintenance, bridges, rail, mass transit, sidewalks and more.

The agency is holding a series of public meetings throughout April, May and June to present information about the plan and what NMDOT’s future plans.

Ford F-150 wins ‘Battle of the Best’ Bracket Showdown


The Ford F-150 has been crowned champion in the 2014 “Battle of the Best” Bracket Showdown.

Automotive classifieds website Carsforsale.com hosted the showdown, which featured 64 vehicles in a single-elimination bracket divided into four regions.

In the final round, the F-150 defeated the Dodge Charger by collecting 51 percent of the votes.

Last year, the F-150 earned the Best Value truck brand award from Vincentric. Since then, Ford has begun to offer a sport model of the pickup, a compressed natural gas (CNG)/liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) capability and a snow plow prep option. The manufacturer also gave consumers the chance to test-drive the truck in its “You Test” campaign in February.

Ford, Ford f-150, 2014 “Battle of the Best” Bracket Showdown, pickup, truck

Foxx highlights job creation during trips to Kentucky, Tennessee

Foxx visits the Ohio River Bridges project during his "Invest in America, Commit to the Future" bus tour. (Photo Credit: U.S. DOT)

Foxx visits the Ohio River Bridges project during his “Invest in America, Commit to the Future” bus tour. (Photo Credit: U.S. DOT)

After his visits to Kentucky and Tennessee on Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx reiterated one word: jobs.

He visited Louisville, Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee for the second day of his “Invest in America, Commit to the Future” bus tour.

His first stop in Louisville was the Ohio River Bridges project, which is set for completion in 2016. In a post on the DOT’s Fast Lane blog, Foxx notes that the completed bridge will be the first new bridge in the Louisville area in more than 50 years.

Foxx says the project “will support more than 4,000 construction and engineering jobs” and will generate economic growth that creates an additional 15,000 jobs.

“At DOT, we were enormously proud to have provided roughly $1 billion in federal funding and loans to build this project,” Foxx writes. “It’s a pretty good investment when you consider that money is going to a project that will have an $87-billion-dollar economic impact on this community and our country.”

While in Louisville, Foxx also stopped by the UPS Worldport. On the DOT’s blog, Foxx points out how transportation investment affects jobs beyond those in the transportation industry.

“By 2050, we’re going to have to haul an additional 14 billion tons of freight around this country,” Foxx writes. “Needless to say, without new investment, supply chains will fall apart, hindering job growth and harming retailers, manufacturers, and the millions of American consumers who need their goods to be transported efficiently and affordably.

Foxx’s last stop of the day was the Intestate 40 bridges in Nashville, Tennessee. Foxx paints a picture on the Fast Lane blog of these nearly 46-year-old bridges.

“In fact, just last summer, the Charlotte Avenue bridge was closed not once, but three times, because chunks of concrete kept crumbling and falling onto cars and the roadway,” Foxx writes.

He notes that the bridges carry 130,000 vehicles daily.

Foxx says the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) plans to “rehabilitate the steel and bridge decks on all four bridges and re-pave about three miles of connecting roadways on I-40.” In the title of the blog, Foxx notes that the project is “an opportunity to improve lives [and] create jobs.”

To read about Foxx’s visit to Ohio on Monday, click here.

Massachusetts House, Senate pass $12.7 billion transportation bond bill

Massachusetts State Capitol (Photo Credit: A Travel Broad)

Massachusetts State Capitol (Photo Credit: A Travel Broad)

Massachusetts could soon see billions of dollars worth of transportation projects across the state.

The state’s House and Senate have passed a $12.7 billion transportation bond bill that would authorize spending for many projects, including high-profile highway and rail projects, the Herald News reports.

The bill includes earmarks such as $100,000 for intersection improvements at Tronic Square in Worcester and $100 million for improvement to the South Coast Rail corridor. The bill sets aside $2.3 billion total for the corridor.

Other items authorized in the bill include:

  • $325 to improve South Station in Boston

  • $1.3 billion to extend MBTA’s Green Line to Medford

  • $2.5 billion for new Red Line and Orange Line trains

  • $300 million to improve local roads

Related: Massachusetts’ $12.4 billion transportation plan covers state, local needs

The bill also doubles fare evasion fines on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), as well as dozens of small transportation projects.

The next step in the bill becoming law is for Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to sign off on it, which could happen as early as Thursday.