The state with the best roads in the country is...

Florida_State_Road_17_northern_segment_scenic_lake_viewAccording to a report from the Washington Post, the state with the best roads in the country is …Florida!

The report says only four percent of Florida’s 121,000+ miles road are in need of work. That’s way below the nation’s average of 14 percent. And since the Sunshine State has such good roads, local drivers save an estimated $300 a year in car maintenance compared to the rest of the country.

There are two big reasons why Florida has nicer roads than any other state.

1: Tolls and gas taxes.

Around 36 cents per gallon is added for drivers who fill up in the state of Florida. That money, plus tolls and other fees, are put together to account for 68.8 percent of the state’s transportation funds.

2: Weather.

Florida’s warm weather is road-friendly compared to colder climates that lead to cracks and huge potholes.

Anne Ferro out as FMCSA administrator

Anne FerroFederal Motor Carrier Safety Administration head Anne Ferro will be stepping down from her position as administrator of the agency, the Department of Transportation announced July 25.

An exact date for her departure has not been set, but according to a note she circulated to colleagues this morning, she said she will be leaving “towards the end of August.”

Ferro will be assuming the role of president and CEO at the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Ferro was a “true leader” in her 5-year tenure.

“Under Anne’s leadership, FMCSA has ushered in a new culture of safety into the commercial bus and trucking industries.  She has made it more difficult for companies that jeopardize the public’s well-being to stay in business and easier for consumers to make informed choices when choosing a shipper or buying a bus ticket,” Foxx said in an email to his staff. ”It is a legacy we are proud to continue.  In addition, Anne’s infectious enthusiasm for our work and our people has made DOT an even better place to work.”

Ferro, too, said she worked to “raise the bar for safety” while in her role at the DOT. She assumed the position in 2009. She said while under her watch, the agency strengthened its oversight of high-risk trucking and bus companies  and tried to advocate changing the driver pay model from per-mile to per-time model.

“I hope you are proud of the life-saving work you accomplish and look forward to tackling more tough challenges ahead,” she said in an email to her colleagues. “I certainly am proud to have served as your administrator.  You are professionals united in a single mission — to save lives — and I encourage you to continue to rely on each other’s strengths and redouble your energy toward that highest of goals.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association called for Ferro’s resignation last month, penning a three-page letter to Foxx asking him to ask her to step down. OOIDA said Ferro had shown “a clear bias” against the trucking industry in recent months, both in how she prioritized agency rulemakings and in language she used at Congressional hearings.

OOIDA released this statement July 25 from President and CEO Jim Johnston:

“We would like to congratulate the administrator on her new position and wish her well as she leads the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. She is well known for having unprecedented personal outreach and engagement with truckers in all the years that we have worked with the agency.”

The American Trucking Associations’ released this statement from President and CEO Bill Graves:

“In her time with FMCSA, Administrator Ferro was a passionate advocate for the agency. We wish her well in her new role at the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators and look forward to working with her on commercial driver licensing issues.”

Editor’s note: This article was originally written by James Jaillet, Associate Editor of Overdrive Online.

DOT looks to improve crude oil transportation

crude oil tanks railThe U.S. Department of Transportation would like to start phasing out old tank cars used transport crude oil by rail, among other measures to improve the safety of crude oil transportation by rail. The DOT proposed a two-year phase-out plan that would primarily focus on discontinuing older model DOT-111 tank cars, long known to be vulnerable to failure in derailments, from crude oil and ethanol service.

The DOT would also like to advance safety measures by upgrading tank cars with thicker steel shells, electronic braking and rollover protections.

As part of the proposal, the department would like the maximum speed allowed to be 40 mph in in all areas for trains operating older tank cars, and in areas with more than 100,000 residents. Tank cars meeting new safety requirements would be allowed to travel 50 mph in urban areas.

The public has 60 days to respond to the DOT’s proposed rules.

Road worker killed while picking up construction cones

Freightliner trash truckDylan Joseph Snyder was killed in Kansas after being hit by a trash truck.  Snyder, 22, was picking up road construction cones and signs when the truck rear ended one vehicle and sideswiped two others stopped for the construction.

After hitting the vehicles, the truck struck Snyder who was airlifted to Christi Medical Center’s St. Francis campus where he died.

Jonathan Marcus Yoder, 36, was driving the 2008 Freightliner trash truck. He first rear ended a 2012 Chevrolet Impala driven by Cynthia S. Nelson, 41, that was stopped behind two road construction vehicles. The truck then sideswiped Snyder’s unoccupied 2008 Chevrolet Colorado. Snyder’s car was parked in the road behind a 2008 Ford F650.

The driver of the Ford F650, David A. Holzknecht, 21, wasn’t hurt, but David R. Holloway Jr., 24, was injured. He was in the back of the truck stacking signs and cones being passed up by Snyder.

Nelson and Holloway were treated at a local hospital, but neither were seriously hurt.

Yoder, who was wearing his seat belt, didn’t suffer any serious injuries either.

3 tips for staying safe inside road construction work zones

roadworksignAlthough many types of construction work can be considered hazardous, few tasks are more dangerous than those conducted in road construction work zones.

A number of construction site hazards can be mitigated through effective control measures, but the unpredictability of other drivers—particularly those who are impatient or inattentive – puts work zone crews at a higher level of risk. Here are some tips to keep safe while in a work zone.

1: Know the jobsite safety plan and know it well

Your supervisor will have not only a jobsite safety plan, but also a traffic control plan designed specifically for the work zone. This plan will outline the traffic flow, as well as designating pedestrian-free zones and pinpointing the location of barriers and other positive traffic control measures. Prior to beginning work, familiarize yourself with the plan, so you’ll know exactly where it is safe to walk or to stand.

2: Make yourself visible

Never assume anyone – whether it’s a driver or an equipment operator – can see you. Wear high-visibility safety apparel at all times while in the work zone. Know the blind spots of the equipment and vehicles in the work zone, and be sure to stay out of those areas. Never remain in an area near working equipment if you don’t need to be there. If you’re on foot, maintain eye contact with operators when you’re working near moving equipment. When standing near parked equipment, stand in front or on the operator’s side so you’re easily seen.

3: Realize your risk of being injured increases during night work

After the sun goes down, the danger goes up. The darkness combined with the glare from lights will greatly reduce driver visibility. Poor weather conditions will only exacerbate the situation. Also, drivers may be less attentive than usual, as they are more likely to be tired. It’s more important than ever to stay in the proper areas designated by the traffic flow plan. In addition to wearing hi-vis apparel, make sure you have good lighting in your work area.

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Keep your eyes and ears open and don’t get distracted. Awareness of your surroundings at all times is your best bet for remaining safe. Regularly check your work area for hazards, and be aware of any changes in procedures or traffic flow in the work zone. Always keep what you’ve learned in your safety training at the forefront of your mind, and remember, if you need a refresher course, many free programs and tools are available that will help you.

Editor’s note: This post was originally written by Amy Materson, Managing Editor of Equipment World.

VIDEO: VP Biden explains the importance of transportation infrastructure

Joe_Biden_official_portrait_crop2Vice President Joe Biden wants to change the way the United States invests in transportation infrastructure. Biden calls it the “Grow America Act.”

Watch Biden explain his plan and the importance of transportation infrastructure by clicking play on the video below!

What do you think of Biden’s plan? Share your thoughts in a comment below!

Can you believe how much bad roads cost Texas drivers?

Dallas Texas TrafficBad road conditions are costing the average Texas driver in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area more than $1700 a year. The report, released by TRIP (a national transportation organization), claims deficient roads, heavy traffic and high operating costs are taking its toll on Texas drivers.

The report claims nearly one-fifth of bridges in Texas are in need of replacement or repair. TRIP also says 16 percent of the state’s urban roads and highways are in need of improvement.

The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington road conditions cost the average area driver $1740 per year thanks to vehicle operating costs from driving on bad roads, lost time and fuel due to heavy traffic, and unfortunate traffic accidents.

According to the report the average area driver pays $508 each year in vehicle operating costs, which includes accelerated vehicle depreciation and tire wear. Driving in the area costs area drivers an additional $957 annually due to lost time and fuel from traffic congestion.

“These high costs are like a hidden tax on our motorists; we’d all be better off investing a little more in improving our transportation infrastructure and avoiding these costs,” said Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes, chairman of the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition.

Traffic crashes in Texas have claimed the lives of 16,041 people between 2009 and 2013.

VIDEO: Watch time-lapse of I-84 bridge replacement

I84 bridge replacementConnecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s office released the below video which features a bridge replacement project on Interstate 84 in Southington.

The project costed $6 million using a process known as accelerated bridge construction (ABC). During the process the new bridge is built on-site next to the old one, then swapped into place once complete.

Thanks to ABC, the highway was only shut down for one weekend during the replacement process.

“This project not only demonstrates the unprecedented investments we are making to improve and modernize our transportation infrastructure but also the steps we are taking to ensure these kinds of projects are completed ahead of schedule and with as little interruption as possible to area residents and travelers,” Malloy said in a statement. “By employing ABC principles, CTDOT took a creative approach to virtually eliminate what would have been many months or even years of traffic disruptions and congestion on I-84 and the local roads surrounding the project.”

22 states represented at transportation advocacy workshop

ARTBA national workshop for state and local transportation22 states participated in the inaugural “National Workshop for State and Local Transportation Advocates,” held at the Washington Court Hotel. In addition to state representatives, the workshop also attracted transportation construction executives and “better roads and transportation” professionals.

The purpose of the workshop is to build coalitions and develop strong relationships with governor, state legislators and public agency officials. The common goal is to create a communications plan that delivers messages to the public about the value of infrastructure improvement.

During the workshop ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black highlighted trends in state transportation investment initiatives since 2000.  Public affairs executives and policy shapers detailed “what worked” and “lessons learned” on legislative proposals in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and ballot initiatives in Georgia and Arkansas.

Meanwhile Oregon State Senator Bruce Starr offered participants advice on how to make transportation investment a top priority for elected officials.

Towards the end of the workshop ARTBA Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Bill Toohey announced the launch of a Transportation Investment Advocates Council. It will create a network of advocates throughout the country to share experiences and best practices.black

Illinois Governor signs $1B plan for road repairs

Pat_quinn_governor_of_illinoisIllinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a $1 billion capital spending plan, intended to create jobs and help repair the state’s roads and bridges.

Transportation officials claim the money will go toward “shovel ready” road projects scheduled to take place this summer. Quinn estimates the 210 road projects will create around 14,300 jobs.

Most of the work will include resurfacing portions of major roadways, including Interstates 55 and 72. Some bridges need to be repaired as well.

“It is imperative for all of us that we make investments to make sure we take good care of these roads and bridges, relieve congestions, get people to their destination as quickly as possible, as safely as possible,” Quinn said.

The repair plan will be paid for by selling bonds and paying back the loan with revenue from retired bonds. Some proposed paying for the road work with a fuel tax increase, but that plan was opposed by gas station owners claiming the state’s fuel tax is already too high.

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