Tag Archives: AASHTO

Washington Briefing Focuses on Highway Investment

The AASHTO Washington Briefing is an annual event for DOT officials and other guests to visit their Congressional delegations, as well as to hear speakers from the Administration and Congressional committees of jurisdiction, says Jim Tymon, Executive Director. 

This year proved to be no exception as AASHTO leaders kicked off the open forum portion of the program last Wednesday. Congressional Leaders followed, with Senate EPW Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY); House T&I Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR); House Subcommittee on Highways RM Rodney Davis (R-IL); and Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Trade (Ways and Means Committee) Earl Blumenauer all delivering remarks They spoke about the importance of infrastructure investment and expressed their hopes of passage of a transportation bill in 2020.

Several other panel discussions followed, and one notable forum focused on “Core Formula Programs: Foundation of the Federal Program in an Age of Disruption.” Moderated by Scott Bennett (AASHTO Secretary-Treasurer and ARDOT Director), the discussion featured Jeff Davis, Senior Fellow at the Eno Center for Transportation; Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, Commissioner of the NJDOT), and Bill Panos, Director of the North Dakota DOT. The panelists spoke about why core formula programs should be adapted to meet current and future requirements.

US DOT Secretary Elaine Chao presented the keynote luncheon address, reinforcing that rural America has “long been neglected of infrastructure funding,” despite nearly half of all truck vehicle miles traveled occurring on rural roads and almost two-thirds of rail freight originating in rural areas. This concern led to the DOT’s Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success or ROUTES initiative last October.

The Secretary also emphasized the importance of safety and the DOT’s continuing commitment to battling human trafficking. The Agency signed up more than 100 transportation leaders, including Jerry Voigt and Leif Wathne from ACPA, in direct support of this important initiative. ACPA also supported the US DOT’s social media program to call attention to the problem and encourage greater participation in fighting the problem.

The briefing also focused on highway and other transportation infrastructure safety; a Federal leadership roundtable, state and local partners’ roundtable; legislative perspectives from key Congressional staff, a joint luncheon with the Road Gang (featuring Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who chairs the National Governor’s Association).

Photos: (L) DOT Secretary Elaine Chao presents keynote remarks at AASHTO’s Washington Briefing. (R) Scott Bennett, Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, Bill Panos, and Jeff Davis participate in a panel discussion on highway program funding solutions programs.

Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

AASHTO Campaign Underscores Transportation Benefits

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) today launched a public outreach campaign called “The Benefits of Transportation: The Solutions State DOTs Bring to People & Their Communities.”

The purpose of the campaign, says Jim Tymon AASHTO executive director, “is to help citizens understand the important connection between transportation investment and the benefits we experience today and into the future.”

A website (https://benefits.transportation.org), supports the campaign with end-user perspectives, as well as an interactive map that allows visitors learn more about transportation projects that are reducing travel times, improving safety, protecting the environment, and boosting the economy. The campaign is also supported with a 12-page report that includes project profiles from across the country. 

Tymon emphasizes the urgency of the campaign. “This year will be pivotal for transportation because Congress must pass a new surface transportation bill before the current law expires at the end of September,” he says. He adds the FHWA estimates that for every dollar spent on road, highway, and bridge improvements, there is an average benefit of $5.20. 

This monetized benefit can be seen in many forms, including reduced vehicle maintenance costs, fewer delays, and lower fuel consumption. He adds the benefit can also be seen in improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs, and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

Photo shows I-40 Crosstown and Oklahoma City Blvd., an example of business growth and economic development from AASHTO’s “Benefits of Transportation” website.

Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

WisDOT Secretary-designee to Lead MAASTO

Wisconsin DOT Secretary of Transportation (WisDOT) designee Craig Thompson will serve as President of the Mid-America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO), according to a WisDOT press release.

MAASTO’s mission is to foster the development, operation, and maintenance of an integrated and balanced transportation system that adequately serves the transportation needs of its 10-member states. MAASTO members include WI, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MI, MN, MO and OH. Thompson served as the group’s 2019-2020 Vice President.

Thompson was appointed Transportation Secretary by Governor Tony Evers in January 2019. Prior to joining WisDOT, Thompson was the Executive Director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin, a position he held for almost 12 years. He also served in key legislative leadership posts with the Wisconsin Counties Association for close to 16 years, according to his LinkedIn page.

Advancing ME Design Implementation

The fourth AASHTO Pavement ME National Users Group Meeting last week provided engineers and other stakeholders the opportunity to discuss issues related to mechanistic-empirical (ME) pavement design. 

Key topics include the long-standing ME Pavement Design Guide as well as the AASHTOWare Pavement M-E Design program. Eric Ferrebee participated in the meeting and had the opportunity to talk with designers and key officials about ACPA’s perspectives on highway pavement design. ACPA has long advocated for the use of AASHTOWare’s Pavement ME for highway pavement design. We have also encouraged designers to make the transition from older AASHTO design programs.  

This meeting, which drew close to 90 participants representing 35 State DOTs and Canadian Provinces, is the largest gathering for state DOTs, AASHTO and FHWA to focus solely on AASHTOWare’s Pavement ME Design tool. 

“The design tool is the most advanced tool for designing and analyzing pavements that exists,” Eric says. “This has led to more realistic designs for concrete pavements.” Currently, because of complexity of the tool, many agencies are still working toward implementation, he says. 

“While there are quite a few agencies that have implemented it for concrete, others are still working through calibration efforts to ensure designs match with local performance,” Eric says. “For concrete pavements, we’ve seen that the lack of calibration can result in increased pavement thicknesses, sometimes between 0.5 in. to 1.0 in.  Even so, this is a significant decrease over the earlier empirical versions of the AASHTO design guide (i.e., AASHTO93, AASHTO86 and even AASHTO72). Those versions could result in variations that could add 2 to 3 in. to thickness designs.”  

“Moving toward Mechanistic-Empirical design is a big step for DOTs, but it can help create realistic and competitive designs for concrete,” he adds.

ARA has developed a new Calibration Assistance Tool (CAT), which many participants expressed interest and excitement about.  The tool should help ease some of the issues with calibrating the tool for local use. Designers and others a chance had an opportunity to see CAT demonstrations and to discuss issues with the tool, as well as overall implementation.

AASHTO Elects 2020 Officers

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has named its top officers for the 2019-2020 term. AASHTO has elected Patrick McKenna, Director of the Missouri DOT, as President and New Hampshire DOT Commissioner Victoria Sheehan as Vice President.  Commissioner Sheehan becomes the second woman in AASHTO’s 105-year history to serve in that role.

McKenna says he plans to focus on surface transportation funding reauthorization and transportation safety.

“We need to make clear the public benefit of federal surface transportation investment and its impact on the safety, mobility, health, and economic well-being of all Americans,” he explained in his emphasis areas paper released at the meeting.

Launching a national campaign focused on how “transportation is personal” that explains the many benefits transportation investment provides to all Americans is one tactic McKenna plans to spearhead during his term as AASHTO’s 2019-2020 president as part of the organization’s effort to get surface transportation funding legislation reauthorized. He also plans to place renewed focus on reducing transportation fatalities, which McKenna described as a “national public health crisis” in his remarks.

To help reduce the estimated 36,700 highway fatalities, McKenna said AASHTO will continue its role in the Towards Zero Deaths and Vision Zero national coalitions while facilitating discussions with state DOTs and local communities to consider ways to deploy “innovative infrastructure designs and technologies” to more safely accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists and scooter users.

McKenna was appointed as Missouri DOT’s director in 2015.  He previously served as MAASTO President and is a member of the TRB executive committee. He earned an undergraduate degree in finance from Bentley College and an MS in management and finance from the University of Maryland. 

Sheehan was appointed New Hampshire DOT Commissioner in 2015. She previously served with the Massachusetts DOT’s highway division, where she served in a number of roles, including her most recent post as Manager of Strategic Planning and Highway performance.  Originally from Northern Ireland, Sheehan holds a Master’s in Structural Engineering and Architecture from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Photo:  AASHTO 2019/20 President Patrick McKenna and Vice President Victoria Sheehan. (Credit: AASHTO)

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