Brooke Wisdom | February 1, 2010
Rating sustainable road projects
Road construction is a more than $80 billion annual industry in the United States. Yet nothing comparable to the LEED rating system for buildings, or the Energy Star system for appliances, existed for highways and roads. Until now.
University of Washington researchers and engineering firm CH2M Hill have created Greenroads, a rating system for sustainable road design and construction. Environmental, economic and social impacts are included. The system outlines minimum requirements to qualify as a green roadway, including a noise mitigation plan, storm-water management plan and waste management plan. It also allows up to 118 points for voluntary actions such as minimizing light pollution, using recycled materials, incorporating quiet pavement and accommodating non-motorized transportation.
“To some, it has not been perceived to be that important, but more and more we’re finding the public is concerned about the environmental impact of roadways.”
Tim Bevan, west region technology manager at CH2M Hill
“The LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] system has been really successful and has achieved a lot,” said lead author Steve Muench, a UW assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. “Roads are a big chunk of the construction industry that has an opportunity to participate more fully in sustainability practices. I think there’s a lot of opportunity there.”
The rating system was developed over the past three years and the first complete version of Greenroads is now available at www.greenroads.us. The system can be used either for new road projects or for upgrades on existing roads. Greenroads’ have three main aims: to recognize companies already using sustainable methods; to provide a catalog of ideas for greener practices; and to offer an incentive for agencies and companies to build more environmentally friendly roads.
“This helps our industry become more sustainable and shows the public that we can deliver sustainable roadways,” said Tim Bevan, west region technology manager at CH2M Hill. “To some, it has not been perceived to be that important, but more and more we’re finding the public is concerned about the environmental impacts of roadways.”v
Work Truck Show Is Coming to St. Louis
For anyone responsible for truck fleets, the NTEA Show has a little bit of everything.
More than 65 companies will introduce new vocational trucks, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles, vehicle components and a wide range of truck equipment at the Work Truck Show in St. Louis, March 10-12.
Thirteen of the world’s leading chassis manufacturers will exhibit. The show is held in conjunction with the 46th Annual National Truck Equipment Association Convention which begins – along with an educational conference and Green Truck Summit – on March 9.
The 50,000 square-foot show, America’s largest work truck event, showcases Class 1-8 vocational trucks and equipment.
This year’s show includes an all-day Fleet Management Symposium focused on financial and operational practices to reduce costs and increase shop labor productivity (March 9). Fleet managers are also invited to a training session and network lunch (March 11) focused on using data to manage fleet costs. Sessions include How to Avoid Costly Errors When Modifying Truck Frames; How to Maximize Tire Life-Cycles and Minimize Overall Cost; Fleet Management Survival Strategies for the Next Decade; Demystifying Weight Distribution Calculations for Work Trucks; Trailer and Towing Factors for Class 1-4 Trucks; Spec’ing Truck Chassis to Match Job Requirements and Optimize Performance; and I Have a Hybrid Truck in the Shop – Now What?
The Chinese are Coming — The Chinese are Coming
We are calling them the BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia. India and China. At the bauma construction equipment trade fair, the world’s largest, this year will see a lot more Chinese exhibitors. In fact there will be about 125 more of them than the last bauma three years ago. In fact China will have its own hall. India will also be significantly better represented than three years ago.
Brazil and Russia are also up in terms of exhibitors, but not as much and the I and the C of BRIC, and bauma officials think that the recession’s squeeze on international travel dollars is the only thing stopping these new economies from being better represented. After all, as most countries report negative numbers in their construction industries, China and India are reporting growth.
Making Highway Workers Safer
The new ANSI 107 regulation update is now in effect, and highway workers need to meet new comprehensive regulations on U.S. highway worker high-visibility safety garment requirements.
A comprehensive update has been made to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The manual, which has been administered by the Federal Highway Administration since 1971, sets the standards for road safety throughout the country.
The MUTCD is the national standard for all traffic control devices, including traffic signs, pavement markings, signals and any other devices used to regulate, warn or guide traffic. This is the first comprehensive update to the manual since 2003.
The new provisions include:
Replacing highway signs with brighter, larger and more legible ones that are easier to understand at freeway speeds. States will begin using the newer signs as existing ones wear out.
Adding different lane markings for lanes that do not continue beyond an intersection or interchange to give drivers more warning that they need to move out of the lane if they don’t intend to turn.
Expanding the use of flashing yellow arrow signals at some intersections to give a clearer indication that drivers can turn left after yielding to any opposing traffic.
Changing the formula used to calculate crosswalk times to give walkers more time.
Identifying electronic toll collection lanes with purple signs – the first time purple has been sanctioned for use on highway signs.
Adding overhead lane-use control signs to reduce confusion among drivers in unfamiliar multi-lane roadways.
For an overview, visit http://mutch.fhwa.dot.gov.
To read about Tina Barbaccia’s experiences on the 3M test track and a Q&A with Glen Senior, human factors engineer, 3M Design and Vision Science, and for photos showing active lighting and low- and high-visibility garments — go to www.betterroads.com and click on “Web exclusive.”
More Hired Guns
A stunning number: 650 local governments use lobbyists to try and pry money from Washington for transportation projects.
According to the Center for Public Integrity, “Data from the third quarter of 2009 shows that, on top of the 650 cities and counties, those contracting with lobbyists include more than a dozen states, 90 mass transit agencies, 45 local development authorities, and 25 metropolitan and regional planning organizations.”
According to the Center “the number of cities and counties lobbying on transportation had grown by 80 percent since the last time a transportation bill was about to expire, in the fall of 2003.”
Ban on tax delinquents
President Obama has told heads of executive departments and agencies to clamp down on contractors behind on their taxes. In a memorandum to them, the President said:
“The Federal Government pays more than half a trillion dollars a year to contractors and has an important obligation to protect American taxpayer money and the integrity of the Federal acquisition process. Yet reports by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) state that Federal contracts are awarded to tens of thousands of companies with serious tax delinquencies. The total amount in unpaid taxes owed by these contracting companies is estimated to be more than $5 billion.
“Too often, Federal contracting officials do not have the most basic information they need to make informed judgments about whether a company trying to win a Federal contract is delinquent in paying its taxes. We need to give our contracting officials the tools they need to protect taxpayer dollars. Accordingly, I hereby direct the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to conduct a review of certifications of non-delinquency in taxes that companies bidding for Federal contracts are required to submit pursuant to a 2008 amendment to the Federal Acquisition Regulation.”