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Recent Developments Archive

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Civil Engineers Issue 2017 Infrastructure Report Card

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has released its 2017 infrastructure report card, distributed every four years to assign a letter grade rating the physical conditions and needed investments for infrastructure improvement. The nation was given a D+ rating overall for 16 categories of infrastructure. Individually, the report card gave a rating of C+ for bridges, indicating that 9.1 percent of bridges were structurally deficient and rehabilitation needs are $123 billion. The report card provides a grade of D for roads due to poor conditions and increased traffic congestion and fatalities. Transit received a D- due to increased demand without significant funding, but rail transportation has a grade of B because of significant capital investment. The report card also addresses aviation, energy, dams and levees, ports, parks, schools, solid waste and wastewater. For more information link to the report card. (3-9-17)

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NCSL Develops Database on Autonomous Vehicle Legislation

The National Conference of State Legislatures has created a legislative database concerning autonomous vehicles. The database includes the current status of 2017 legislation for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including vehicle testing, vehicle inspection requirements, insurance and liability and cybersecurity of vehicles. For more information, link to the database. (2-28-17)  

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Report Highlights Energy Needs of Changing Transportation Sector

The Department of Energy has issued a report concerning the changing transportation sector and its impact on energy consumption. The report focuses on the rise of the shared economy, increased urbanization, and pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and how these trends affect the need for energy-efficient, low carbon technologies for transportation. The report discusses incremental policy change, the prevalence of personal vehicle ownership and shared mobility vehicles in the future. The report also discusses the adoption of zero-emission vehicles; an increase in urban sprawl; increase in higher-occupancy vehicle trips; and a predominance of low-occupancy ridership. For more information, link to the report. (2-24-17)

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National Conference of State Legislatures Focuses on Car Sharing

The National Conference of State Legislatures has posted an online resource with information on car sharing. Car sharing is a membership-based service that provides members with an insured vehicle that they can drive themselves rather than waiting to be picked up. The information includes current research concerning round-trip car sharing, one-way car sharing and peer-to-peer car sharing. It also focuses on state support and policies, car sharing taxation and the electrification of car sharing fleets. For more information, link to the resource. (2-7-17) 

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Survey Shows MPOs Using Performance Measures to Evaluate Spending

A survey addressing how metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) are using performance measures to evaluate their spending has been conducted by Transportation for America. The survey found that 75 percent of MPOs are already using performance measures in some fashion but only 30 percent of MPOs utilize performance measures to evaluate specific projects for inclusion in the fiscally constrained five-year plans that govern all short-term spending. The survey also found that two-thirds of all agencies want to become national leaders in using performance measures and nearly half of MPOs surveyed chose equity and/or health as one of the five additional goals they are interested in measuring and assessing. For more information, link to the press release and survey results. (2-9-17)

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APTA Recognizes Transit Authorities for Sustainability Accomplishments

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has recognized the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority and the Foothill Transit Authority, in West Covina, Calif., for their achievements in sustainability. The Cleveland RTA reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 24 percent due to investments in alternatively fueled vehicles and is currently at the Silver status in APTA’s Sustainability Commitment program. Foothill Transit has reached Platinum Level in the program due to cutting water consumption by almost 30 percent and by pioneering the adoption of bus fleet electrification. For more information, link to the announcements addressing Cleveland and Foothill Transit. (1-27-17)

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Report Evaluates Effectiveness of Value Pricing Pilot Program

The Federal Highway Administration has published a report addressing the effectiveness of the Value Pricing Pilot Program through April 2016. The program, established in 1991, was designed to demonstrate the technical feasibility of reducing roadway congestion through the application of demand-based pricing strategies, or congestion pricing. The program has funded more than 135 congestion pricing projects and studies across 19 states and the District of Columbia and has helped spark the adoption of managed lanes and other related demand management programs in metropolitan areas nationwide. For more information, link to the report. (1-31-17)

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USDOT Issues Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act Report

The Department of Transportation has released a report to Congress concerning the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA). The report is required biennially and provides the state of financial performance of projects receiving TIFIA funds. TIFIA provides credit assistance to surface transportation projects that address highways, transit, rail and intermodal freight and has provided 13 loans to support 11 projects since 2014. The report includes project examples that address the connection of light rail transit lines, roadway improvements to increase airport access, congestion-based tolling and project delivery through private-public partnerships. For more information, link to the report. (1-25-17)

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FHWA Releases Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Resource Collection

The Federal Highway Administration has released a collection of resources concerning vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) to accelerate deployment of V2I communication systems. The systems capture vehicle-generated traffic data through hardware, software, firmware and wireless communication. The resources include a primer on connected vehicle impacts, references for connected vehicle planning processes and products and analysis tools, techniques and data concerning highway capacity and traffic simulation models. The resources also provide a guide to licensing dedicated short range communications for road side units and resources for connected vehicle training. For more information, link to the resources. (1-19-17)

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FHWA Releases Report on Sustainable Pavement Systems

The Federal Highway Administration has released a reference document concerning sustainable pavement systems. The reference analyzes sustainability considerations throughout the entire pavement life cycle and highlights the importance of recognizing context sensitivity. The report addresses sustainability concepts, pavement materials, maintenance and preservation treatments and considerations for the construction phase, the use phase and the end-of-life phase. The report also provides a list of technologies and innovations and sustainability trends. For more information, link to the report. (1-23-17)

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USDOT Releases 5-Year Strategic Plan for Transportation System

The Department of Transportation has released a five-year strategic plan concerning research, development and technology. The report identifies research priorities for fiscal years 2017-2021 concerning the current and future performance of the nation’s transportation system. The report addresses several solutions from the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, Federal Aviation Administration and the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to mitigate the effects of transportation activities on climate change. Solutions include development of pollinator-friendly practices for sustainable highway roadsides; deployment of clean technology transit buses under the Low and No Emissions Program; increased pipeline safety research and development; and research concerning aircraft energy use, noise and air pollutant emissions. For more information, link to the plan. (1-13-17)

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USDOT Releases Beyond Traffic 2045 Final Report

The Department of Transportation has released the final draft of its Beyond Traffic 2045 report. The report found that the U.S. transportation system, and the current planning and funding mechanisms, will not meet the demands presented by population growth, climate change and new technologies like driverless cars. The report is a comprehensive study of the major trends that will shape the U.S.’s transportation system over the next 30 years. The report also outlines three strategies that will ensure the U.S. can meet the coming challenges: take better care of legacy transportation systems; fund and prioritize new projects based on future projections; and use technologies and better design approaches to maximize the use of old and new transportation assets. For more information, link to the report. (1-9-17)

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NCHRP Issues Guide on Freight in Smart Growth Communities

The Transportation Research Board has released a guide to address the movement of goods and services by commercial vehicles within smart growth environments under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). The report, Research Report 844, defines six categories for smart growth communities and includes strategies for adapting to changing markets, working with stakeholders, adding smaller delivery vehicles to fleets and identifying and supporting route networks. The report also provides case studies that address communities transitioning to housing and entertainment districts and mixed-use and/or recreation and older commercial and neighborhood areas being revitalized. For more information, link to the report. (1-7-17)


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USDOT Releases Report Detailing Results of Smart City Challenge

The Department of Transportation has released a report detailing the results of the Smart City Challenge, which offered mid-sized cities the chance to win $50 million with their ideas for creating an integrated, smart transportation system. The report describes the solutions presented by the seven finalists, including the winner, Columbus, Ohio. The report summarizes the commonly-proposed ideas, including inductive wireless charging to charge electric vehicles; implementing a unified traffic or transportation data analytics platform; and creating vehicle to infrastructure communication with dedicated short range technology. For more information, link to the report and a public database of all proposals from applicant cities.  (1-3-17)

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Featured Case Study

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    Arizona DOT’s Sustainable Transportation Program has implemented solutions such as this roundabout and other features on US 89.

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