Think you're a good driver? Try staying in these crooked lanes [VIDEO]

4564166_GVirginia Department of Transportation crews had a mess to clean up when temporary striping tape installed on Interstate 66 peeled off and created crooked, narrow lanes. The crooked lanes caused mass confusion among drivers which resulted in lengthy traffic delays.

Two vehicles were involved in a nasty accident, however, it has yet to be determined if the accident was caused by the crooked lanes. Both vehicles were towed away.

The markings were installed on Aug. 15 as part of a temporary lane shift expected to last several months. Crews rushed to fix the markings. VDOT is still investigating what caused the markings to peel off.

“We created quite a nightmare for commuters and we apologize for that,” said VDOT spokesperson Joan Morris.

VDOT assures drivers that once it finds out what caused the marking to peel off, it will make sure it never happens again.

Vermeer names third-generation family member Jason Andringa incoming president, CEO

Jason-Andringa-Vermeer

Jason Andringa

Vermeer Corporation has named Jason Andringa incoming president and CEO, taking over the position from his mother, Mary Vermeer Andringa, and continuing the Vermeer family’s leadership of the company into the third generation.

The transition will be fully effective on Nov. 1, 2015. On Nov. 1 this year, Jason will assume the role of president and chief operating officer, a position he will hold for one year before assuming full leadership responsibilities.

Since 1989, Mary Andringa has headed the firm along with her brother Bob Vermeer, who currently serves as the company’s chairman of the board. On Nov. 1, she will assume the role of CEO and chair of the board, while Bob will become chair emeritus. “As an entire family, we are proud to announce the third-generation leadership who we know with confidence can propel us to new heights,” Mary says.

Vermeer was founded in 1948 by Mary and Bob’s father, Gary Vermeer, a member of the Association of Equipment Manufacturer’s Hall of Fame. The company, now known in construction for its trenchers, directional drills and environmental equipment, began when Gary created a mechanical hoist for his grain wagon. He retired as CEO in 1989 and passed away in 2009.

Jason currently serves as president of the firm’s Forage and Environmental Solutions division. Prior to this position he served as vice president for dealer distribution and global accounts, and spend three years in the Netherlands as managing director for Europe, Middle East, Africa and CIS. He joined Vermeer in 2005 after serving as a staff engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead Vermeer as a family-owned and operated, global company into a prosperous future,” Jason says.

This story was written by Marcia Gruver Doyle, Editorial Director of Equipment World.

Roads and bridges in Pennsylvania fail to make the grade

highway-traffic-generic-2Long story short: Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges need a lot of work.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the state has the worst transportation infrastructure in America. ASCE gave the state a D-minues grade, the worst of any other state, citing 44 percent of the roads in Pennsylvania are in poor condition.

Without more money, motorists in the state will continue to waste an average of 182 hours and 86 gallons of fuel in traffic jams. The report estimates the cost to drivers in lost time and wasted fuel amounts to $3.7 billion per year.

Bridges in Pennsylvania need work as well, earning a grade of D-plus. 23 percent of the state’s bridges are deficient which is the worst in the country.

“Deficient road conditions are a factor in the majority of fatal traffic accidents, and safety was a primary reason that AAA strongly supported additional transportation funding investment,” AAA East Central Director of Legislative Affairs Theresa Podguski said. “We anticipate a better report card next year.”

A lot of states are finding a need for more transportation funding. Alabama’s roads and bridges also need a lot of work.

How to become a more productive highway construction worker

shutterstock_51526282“Work smarter, not harder.”

How many times have you seen that quote? Over time, the idea that your best performance is a result of how you work, not how long you work, has become widely accepted. Studies have shown that the last employee to leave each day isn’t necessarily the hardest worker; they may simply lack organizational skills or the ability to prioritize work. The most productive employees are the ones who are able to get real, meaningful work done during regular business hours, and then return home at a reasonable time to rest and recharge for the next day.

Of course, it’s easy to advise someone to get organized or polish up their delegating skills, but it’s much harder to achieve that dramatic of a change in work styles and management approaches. Also, not every business management tip will work for every person. If you’ve tried in the past to incorporate changes to the way you work with little success, try instead to incorporate lifestyle changes that will impact your overall well being – including those hours you’re on the job.

Boost sleep

How you sleep is the number one factor in how successfully you conduct your day. Lack of sleeps decrease your ability to pay attention and retain information, can cause psychological problems such as depression and interferes with your ability to create memories. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not functioning at your peak. Although the amount of sleep needed can vary from person to person, research indicates the majority of healthy adults require between 7 and 8 hours per night. According to the Mayo Clinic, even if you feel rested on less sleep, tests have shown that adults who sleep less than 7 hours per night do not perform as well on complex mental tasks than those who get a full night’s sleep. Sleep durations of 4 to 5 hours have proven to cause a negative neurological and physiological impact in laboratory tests.

So, make sleep a priority. Schedule it and treat it with the same importance as you would any other appointment. Ramp down in the evenings so that you are not engaged in stimulating physical or mental activity as you approach the time you need to go to bed. Create a comfortable and soothing environment that is conducive to restful sleep. Once you’re in the correct sleep pattern for your needs, you’ll find you’re more alert and productive during the day.

Improve cognitive function

As we spend more and more time in front of screens we increase the amount of time we spend in sedentary, passive activities, and reduce the amount of time we spend interacting with others—an activity critical to retaining cognitive function. According to Psychology Today, you must “work out” both hemispheres of your cerebrum and cerebellum, which is something that simply cannot be done by staring at a tablet, smart phone or TV screen.

Disconnect as often as possible. Reduce the temptation to check your smart phone every few minutes, and connect with others in person whenever possible. Break up your routine by changing your habits and trying new things, especially with friends and acquaintances. New real-world experiences will help your brain stay sharp, which will boost both your decision-making abilities and your productivity.

Reduce stress

While it’s likely impossible to completely eliminate stress, just accepting it and trying to deal with it is not a workable solution. The negative impact of stress is well documented, and it’s more than worth trying to eliminate it wherever possible. Acute stress can cause or worsen a variety of serious illnesses such as heart disease, strokes and cancer, and at a minimum will impact your sleep, your cognitive performance and your psychological and emotional well being.

Determine what types of events or situations create the majority of the stress in your day. Pay attention to the things that really make you upset or angry, and then try to assess them objectively. Is what’s upsetting you really worth the harm it could cause? Can the situation be corrected? Once you isolate the stressor and analyze it a bit more calmly, you’ll find you deal with most situations rationally.

You can also incorporate ways to help you deal with stress. Not every stress-busting tip will work for every situation, but doing something pleasant like taking a walk or going for a cup of coffee with a friend will take the edge off your stress. Realize that although you’re confronted with a negative situation, there’s no need for it to occupy all your time and consume all your thoughts. Once you’re managing stress properly, you’ll improve your concentration and focus on other tasks.

This article was written by Amy Materson, Managing Editor of Equipment World.

SCDOT signs biggest road project contract in over a decade

385-JPGThe South Carolina Department of Transportation has signed its biggest contract for a state road project in more than a decade. SCDOT will use its $231 million contract to improve the interchange of Interstates 85 and 385 in Greenville to Flatiron-Zachry Joint Venture.

The project will be the state’s largest since 2001 when it spent $631 million on construction of the Ravenel Bridge linking Mount Pleasant and Charleston.

Although no start date has been set, the Greenville project will make life easier for drivers by eliminating tight loops that go from one interstate to the other and increase the number of lanes on I-385. Once construction begins, it will take roughly two years and 10 months to complete.

SCDOT reports the I-85 and I-385 interchange is the third busiest in South Carolina, serving an estimated 194,000 vehicles per day.

In 2011, South Carolina picked up American Transportation Award’s for road projects. With any luck, the state’s current project will get recognized as a success someday too.

Voting now open for 11th annual Faces of Transportation contest

or_001_fotThe American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has opened online voting for the eleventh annual Faces of Transportation photography contest.

Voters are invited to choose their favorite photograph from among 78 images being judged in three categories: “Quality of Life/Community Development,” “Historic Projects,” and “Taking the Road Less Traveled.” Each picture represents the positive effects of transportation on individuals and/or communities.

The photo receiving the highest number of votes will receive the People’s Choice Award, and a $500 cash prize will be awarded to the photographer.

The voting will run through Sept. 8, and winners will be announced on Sept. 29.

For more information and to cast your vote visit: http://www.facesoftransportation.org.

High school students developing designs to combat tired driving

shutterstock_191888066Calling all high school students! If you have a knack for art or just like creating artwork, now is the chance to help out a good cause and display your talents.

The Illinois Tollway, Blick Art Materials and CBRE, commercial real estate services and investment firm, has invited high school art students to participate in the 2015 Tollway Map Cover Art Contest.

The winning contest entry will appear on the cover of the 2015 Tollway map

Students are being sked to submit original works of art created to remind motorists of how tired, reckless drivers on Illinois roadways.

According to the call for entries, students may choose to focus on one or more of the following themes:

  • Effects of tired driving, which include decreased reaction time, blurry vision and poor judgment that can lead to unsafe driving.
  • Stay alert. Stay alive. Recognize the signs of fatigue and know when to stop and rest.
  • This is your wake-up call: tired driving kills. Highlight the deadly consequences of driving when you’re tired.

Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur says that in the past year, “tired, reckless drivers have killed at least six people in Illinois, including an Illinois Tollway worker.” Nationwide, driver fatigue results in about 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries each year, according to the Illinois Tollway Authority. Nearly 40 percent of adult drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel, according to the National Sleep Foundation

The Tollway Authority hopes that by increasing awareness, it will “keep tired drivers from getting behind the wheel and make our roadways safer for everyone.”

This is a good reminder. I’m guilty of driving while tired.

In fact, during my latest trip driving my two kids by myself from Central Pennsylvania back to the Chicago area, I noticed that I was having a hard time staying awake. My eyelids started feeling heavy, opening up the windows to get fresh air didn’t help, and I even started doing that shifting around in the driver’s thing to keep myself awake.

I realized at that point, it was unsafe for me to be on the road. I left the highway at the nearest exit and pulled off to a safe place to rest for a few minutes. I realized I was not only putting others at risk, but myself and the most precious people to me – my children.

Contest rules and all required entry forms are posted on the Tollway’s website at: IllinoisTollway.com. Art contest entries will be accepted beginning Sept. 2, 2014, and must be postmarked no later than Oct. 3, 2014.

BLOG_IL Tollway_Blick Art Materials_image001 (BLOG_High school students charged with creating artwork to combat fatigued driving story)

Artwork created by the grand prize winner will be featured on the cover of the Tollway’s 2015 map, which is distributed at no cost to more than 125,000 customers. Three runners-up will be featured in the Tollway’s annual report. Awards include the following:

·Grand prize winner: $400 gift certificate from Blick Art Materials and $200 in gift certificates from CBRE to use at oases retail shops and restaurants

·Runners-up: $200 gift certificate from Blick Art Materials and $100 in gift certificates from CBRE

·A certificate of appreciation for all students who participate in the contest

·Acknowledgment of winners at the Illinois Tollway Board of Directors meeting on Nov/ 20, 2014

Turn Around! FDOT seeking ways to alert wrong-way drivers

wrong waySince 2012 there have been four deaths resulting from drivers going the wrong way in Interstate 275 in Tampa. Since that’s four too many, the Florida Department of Transportation has began to look for new way to alert wrong-way drivers.

Kris Carson, spokesperson for the FDOT, has said her department has worked hard to notify wrong-way drivers, but thus far their methods have not worked. The department is now considering some new technology that might help drivers, and ultimately save lives.

“There a software they’re looking at that would notify our traffic management center, FHP (Florida Highway Patrol) right away and then there’s also signage that we’re looking at that have radar in them and they would start flashing or they would say wrong way,” Carson said.

It’s important to note that all of the wrong-way deaths that have occurred on the interstate involved drivers who were under the influence of either alcohol of drugs. Due to that fact, the FDOT has even flirted with the idea of tire spikes that would immobilize wrong-way drivers.

“That was also studied but they found that the spike strips can actually get trash underneath them and debris. They can also damage the cars going the correct way down the ramp so that was not found to be feasible,” said Carson.

With tire spikes ruled out, Carson’s department is waiting on approval from the Federal Highway Administration to begin testing flashing signs that will alert drivers when they’re going up the wrong way ramp.

Florida has always been creative when it comes to transportation safety. For example, South Florida uses illusions to slow down speeding drivers.

VIDEO: Semi hauling an excavator plows through a guardhouse while pulling onto college campus

Excavator destroys guardhouse

At Bellhaven University they’re referring to it as “the Guardhouse Incident.”

With construction having begun on a new on-campus apartment complex, a lot of big construction equipment is making its way onto Bellhaven’s small campus in Jackson, Mississippi. And, as you can see in the video below, a particular guardhouse at an entrance to the campus didn’t afford one hauler quite enough room to squeeze an excavator in.

Thankfully no one was inside or close enough to the small structure to be injured and the university has been able to laugh off the situation. Bellhaven posted the video on its Facebook page noting, “We have begun construction on the new University Village, but planning the project we knew that one of the tough challenges would be getting equipment into the center of campus.”

“This is the fast way to move the guard house out of the way,” the page read.

The best part of the video has to be the guy running up from behind to warn the driver before it’s too late. And the runner in the white T-shirt who witnesses the destruction’s reaction of “Nope” without losing stride is perfect. Watch below.

 This article was written by Wayne Grayson, Online Managing Editor of Equipment World.

Kansas to receive $1.2 billion for improvements

i-70-signThe Kansas Department of Transportation has announced a projected $1.2 billion improvement program for highways, bridge replacement and local projects throughout the state. The funds will create several short- and long-term highway and bridge construction jobs, with work expected to begin throughout 2015 and 2016.

The improvements are a continuing part of the 10-year T-Works project passed during the 2010 legislative session.

The largest projects include a $116 million expansion of the Interstate 235/US 54 Highway (Kellogg Ave.) interchange in west Wichita, and a $95 million expansion of Kellogg from Cypress to Wiedemann in east Wichita.

A handful of other projects are planned to take place as part of the $1.2 billion improvement program, including two major projects on Interstate 70 in western Kansas. $52.6 million will be used for 11.5 miles of improvements in Thomas County near the Logan County line; and $43.4 million for nine miles of improvement in Gove County near the Trego County line.

With all of the planned road construction, let’s hope workers follow safety guidelines to avoid serious injury.

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