Tolling becoming the solution of choice for most Americans
Every day it seems like more Americans are beginning to understand the importance of transportation funding. That was again evident when HTNB Corporation released details of its recent tolling survey.
According to the survey, 79 percent (more than 3 in 4) of Americans are in favor of a toll on a non-tolled surface transportation facility if it results in safer and congestion-free transportation. 83 percent of people surveyed said they would support tolling on existing highways. They would be increasingly motivated to use toll roads more if the funds would go toward improving the safety of interstates (52 percent), local roads, bridges and highways (51 percent) and the highway that’s being tolled itself (42 percent).
Others would approve tolls on existing facilities if the money went toward congestion-related improvements, including reducing bottlenecks on interstates in urban areas (45 percent) and adding capacity to improve a section of an interstate (39 percent).
Even tolling existing interstates, which traditionally have been free of tolls, is backed by more than 4 in 5 (78 percent) Americans if the funds collected would solely go toward improving that particular interstate.
Tolling is becoming the solution of choice.“Tolling is becoming the solution of choice for generating additional user-based transportation revenue,” said Jim Ely, HNTB chair toll services and senior vice president. “It’s a proven source of funding that’s being seriously considered for expanded use by cities, states and even the federal government with support from elected officials across the political spectrum.”
The survey also found many Americans would prefer electronic tolling on interstates via transponders (41 percent) versus video (30 percent) or mobile phone apps (22 percent).
Among drivers polled, 81 percent (4 in 5), said they’d be willing to pay a toll if it means getting to their destination quicker (60 percent) and with less traffic (54 percent).
Today’s toll lanes are safe, fast and efficient.“Today’s toll lanes are safe, fast and efficient,” Ely said. “Technological advancements make toll booths a thing of the past, with cars, buses and trucks moving at highway speeds under gantries armed with electronic devices and video cameras that can read transponder signals and license plates.”
With no long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund in sight, it’s clear that Americans are starting to understand the importance of transportation funding. More tolls across the country is becoming more and more likely.
OSHA to require employers to report injuries and deaths quicker
In response to a preliminary report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that tallies 4,405 workers killed on the job in 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has revised its rule on how quickly employers must report worker deaths or serious injuries.
Under the revised rule, employers are now required to notify OSHA within eight hours when a worker is killed on the job. The rule also requires employers to notify the agency within 24 hours when a worker is hospitalized, has an amputation or loses an eye due to a work-related injury. The rule will take effect January 1, 2015.
According to the preliminary BLS report, 796 construction workers died on the job in 2013—the most of any industry.
In the past, OSHA has required employers to report all workplace deaths but only required reports of in-patient hospitalizations when three or more employees were involved. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye was not required under the old rule.
“Hospitalizations and amputations are sentinel events, indicating that serious hazards are likely to be present at a workplace and that an intervention is warranted to protect the other workers at the establishment,” David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, said in a prepared statement.
OSHA plans to launch a page on its website where employers can submit electronic reports. For now, the page informs employers how to submit a report via phone.
Editor’s Note: Wayne Grayson is the online editor for sister magazine Equipment World.
Nick Ivanoff elected 2014-2015 ARTBA Chairman
Ivanoff has nearly 40 years of experience in the transportation design and construction industry. He’s known for the strategy and development of the venerable New York City-based engineering and architectural design firm, which has designed some of the city’s most iconic superstructures.
Ivanoff’s decade-long ARTBA volunteer leadership positions include serving as: senior vice chairman, first vice chairman, Northeastern Region vice chairman, two‐term president of the International Affairs Advisory Council chairman, Trans2020 Task Force co-chair, and two‐term president of the Planning & Design (P&D) Division. His service to ARTBA was recognized in 2005 with the “Guy Kelcey Award,” which honors outstanding leadership to the P&D Division.
During his acceptance speech, Ivanoff made it clear that ARTBA will continue to push congress into coming up with a long-term and sustainable revenue stream for the Highway Trust Fund.
“Grassroots mobilization is the key to legislative success,” Ivanoff said. “Our members are going to have to get out there, attack Capitol Hill, and let their elected officials know that robust transportation investment is crucial to the economic vitality of the country.”
Established in 1902, ARTBA and its members build a better America through the design, construction and continual management of the nation’s multi-modal transportation network.
Secret Cold War bunker found inside Brooklyn Bridge (PHOTOS)
Everyone is familiar with the history of Brooklyn Bridge. It was completed over 130 years ago in 1883 and was the first steel-wire suspension bridge ever constructed. Billions of people have crossed the bridge throughout its history and thousands still cross it each and every day.
Some – if not all – of those people probably don’t know there’s a Cold War bunker inside.
Inside one of the giant stone arches below the bridge’s main entrance on the Manhattan side is a hidden Cold War bomb shelter, packed with boxes of survival supplies in case of a nuclear attack on New York City. Supplies in the bunker include Civil Defense All-Purpose Survival Crackers, paper blankets, water and medication.
In addition to the bomb shelter, there are eight big rooms on the Brooklyn side. Architect John Roebling originally had plans to turn the rooms into shopping and arcade-type spaces. Instead they were used for storage up until 2001 when they were closed for security reasons.
Although the bridge has been around for over 100 years, it has received regular maintenance.
Illinois Tollway opens new interchange as part of $2.5 billion project
This work is part of the project that will complete a new, full-access Irene Road Interchange by the end of 2015, according to the Illinois Tollway Authority.
The Irene Road Interchange Project is part of the Illinois Tollway’s $2.5 billion I-90 Rebuilding and Widening Project and includes the new eastbound entrance ramp and two additional new ramps to carry traffic to and from the west. These roadway investments are projected to cost an estimated $10 million to $15 million, according to the Illinois Tollway Authority.
Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur says now that half of the project is complete, the Irene Road Interchange will improve access for motorists traveling on the Tollway to and from the Belvidere area. Lafleur also notes that it will spark economic development and job growth in the region.
The Irene Road Interchange Project will create a full interchange to enhance access and create new economic development opportunities for Belvidere, Boone County and neighboring Winnebago County. The existing westbound exit ramp to Irene Road opened to traffic in 2009. Construction of the new ramps carrying traffic to and from the west is scheduled for 2015.
For more on this project, click here.
Most common work-related deaths for highway and bridge construction workers
The general population may not pay a lot of attention to it, but highway and bridge construction workers risk their lives nearly every day at work. We have seen far-too-many work-related deaths, and we haven’t seen the last.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data for road worker deaths, 86 fatal injuries occurred in 2012. But what are the most common causes of work-related deaths?
Most common causes of death
In 2012, 59 workers died from transportation-related incidents. This included roadway, non-roadway, air, water, fatal rail occupational injuries, and fatal occupational injuries resulting from being struck by a vehicle.
The majority of deaths being caused from transportation-related incidents are quite scary for workers. Some may have been preventable, but some were likely unavoidable.
The second most common cause of death was caused from contact with objects and equipment. 14 people were killed in 2012 from accidents with equipment. In the past we have seen fatal tragedies where workers have equipment fall on them. Some of these deaths are avoidable if more caution is taken, however, some of these deaths were also caused from equipment malfunctions.
Eight people were killed in the same year from falling, slipping or tripping. The good news is, these deaths can be prevented if workers are more cautious and take their time getting from one place to the other.
The final four deaths from 2012 resulted from exposure to harmful substances or environments. If proper safety procedures were taken, some – if not all – of these deaths could have been avoided.
Equipment deaths on the rise
Fatalities caused from equipment were on the rise during 2013.According to a spokesperson for the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), claims fatalities caused from equipment were on the rise during 2013. However, the exact data has not yet been broken down into statistical categories like the data from the previous year.
“In the fiscal year 2013, most fatalities occurred from being struck or crushed by equipment or machinery,” OSHA spokesperson George Chartier tells Better Roads. “These fatalities included being pulled into a grinding machine after kicking it; crushed by a crane; struck by a steel beam; crushed between equipment; struck by the nozzle of a high pressure hose; and crushed by barrels that slipped through the restraining straps.“
Some deaths CAN BE prevented!
Some deaths to highway and bridge construction workers can be avoided. Click here for some guidelines on how to avoid work zone injuries and deaths. We also encourage our readers to stay safe, regardless of weather conditions. Heat related illness is actually quite common for construction workers, and here are some tips on how to stay cool.
DOT loans $950 million to Florida highway project
The federal government has decided to loan $950 million to Florida for use on a project to expand the state’s heavily-used Interstate 4 highway way in the Orlando area. Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) is backing the loan which will ultimately be used to widen 21 miles of Interstate 4 and add four express lanes to the highway.
The Department of Transportation says the $950 million is the largest loan that has ever been given under the program to a public-private partnership.
“We’ve been able to move this project from the financing drawing board to breaking ground in near record time because of the Department’s early involvement,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.
DOT officials say the Florida loan is the 13th TIFIA award issued this year. Thus far this year TIFIA has helped finance $7.4 billion in transportation projects.
Florida is lucky to have received such a large loan. Most states have put off highway and bridge infrastructure projects until there is a long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund.
Construction Angels to help families in need
At any given daylight moment across America, nearly 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010, according to a “Traffic Safety Facts Research Note” from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Each day in the United States, more than nine people are killed and more than 1,060 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver, according to the most recent information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
These numbers aren’t all related to fatalities in work zones – and distracted driving isn’t solely to blame – but it sure contributes to it.
When the unthinkable occurs, it’s tough to get all affairs in order – and it can also be financially burdensome. The Construction Angels was formed to help. The non-profit organization’s mission is to serve as a facilitator of financial benefits and grief services to surviving construction family members in need of assistance after losing a loved one on a construction jobsite (not just a highway or road work zone).
Qualifying families can receive cash grants of $2,500 to offset immediate expenses after the death of a loved one on a construction site.
Now, the good work is spreading. The Tampa Bay Chapter of Construction Angels held its inaugural fundraiser and raised $11,000 (after expenses) with the help of Sims Crane & Equipment Co.
When Dean Sims II, vice president of marketing for Sims Crane, learned fatalities on construction jobs in Florida had increased from 41 in 2011 to 55 in 2012 – a 26 percent jump, he founded the Tampa Bay chapter of Construction Angels, which originally began in Broward County.
“With all of the industry’s dedication to safety education and safety on the job, the fact that on-site deaths in the construction industry are on the rise is of major concern to everyone involved,” Sims said. “And the reality is, in most cases, the families of loved ones killed on the job need all the financial help they can get. That’s where Construction Angels comes in.”
Kristi Ronyak, president and founder of Construction Angels said that having a net donation of $11,000 will “make a huge difference for the better in the lives of families who have suffered the ultimate loss.”
(To read, “Road worker run over by asphalt roller suffers life-threatening injuries.” click here.)
It’s so great to see that an industry really takes care of its own.
(To read, “An industry that cares for its own” about the National Asphalt Pavement Association’s NAPA Care Emergency Benevolent Fund, a fund that was launched in 2012 to help provide immediate financial assistance to NAPA Member employee families who have suffered a fatality in an asphalt work zone or plant site, click here.)
California drivers paying the price for deficient roads and bridges
Deficient roads and bridges in California cost each local driver $2,500 annually, and $44 billion statewide, according to a new report released by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization. The high cost is due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays.
The report finds that 34 percent of major urban roads and highways in California are in poor condition. More than a quarter of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
Worst of all, California’s rural non-interstate traffic fatality rate is more than four times the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.
The TRIP report finds 41 percent of California’s roads to be in fair or mediocre condition. Only 25 percent of the state’s roads are found to be in good condition.
28 percent of California’s bridges do not meet modern design standards and 11 percent are structurally deficient. An additional 17 percent of the state’s bridges are functionally obsolete.
Transportation officials point out that there’s only so much they can do to repair infrastructure without a long-term Highway Trust Fund fix.
“The longer we delay, the more expensive the cost of repair will be.”“California’s roads and highways are among the most heavily traveled in the nation and this report reflects the fact that our transportation system is simply worn out,” said Will Kempton, executive director of Transportation California. “Unfortunately, local and state agencies don’t have adequate resources to keep these facilities in good condition. However, it would be cheaper to pay to fix our aging system than paying the extra costs of driving on rough roads, and the longer we delay, the more expensive the cost of repair will be.”
Traffic crashes in California claimed 14,878 lives between 2008 and 2012. However, the state’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.88 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is lower than the national average of 1.13.
Road worker run over by asphalt roller suffers life-threatening injuries
A highway construction worker has suffered life-threatening injuries after being run over by a co-worker in an asphalt roller. Local authorities in Amarillo, Texas, claim the man suffered internal injuries and broken bones.
According to the police report, employees with a private contractor were completing road work in the area. The 23-year-old victim was raking loose asphalt near the roller when a co-worker began to drive the roller forward to smooth the asphalt. Apparently he did not see the victim, and rolled over his foot, which knocked him to the ground.
Police say the driver did not hear co-workers yelling at him to stop, and continued to drive forward. Once he noticed something was wrong, he immediately stopped the machine.
The victim was sent to a local hospital where he was stabilized.
As sad as it sounds, accidents like this are not unheard of. However, they can easily be avoided. Click here for some tips on how to avoid work zone accidents.
Editor’s note: An image previously accompanying this article depicted a Hamm asphalt tandem compactor at work. That file image did not depict work at the Texas project described here and had nothing to do with this work zone accident. We have removed that image and regret any confusion that might have resulted.
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