Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Netherlands Has the World’s First Glow-in-the-Dark Bike Path

On Wednesday evening in the Dutch town of Nuenen, a bike path glowed in the twilight. It wasn’t the result of a kid’s birthday party or nuclear accident, though. The path is the first step toward a long-sought goal of illuminating roads and highways with solar-powered materials.

See the story with pics and video here:  http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/11/14/in_nuenen_designer_daan_roosegaarde_created_a_solar_powered_cycle_path_inspired.html

Friday, November 21, 2014

The 10 Biggest Factors Changing Millennial Driving Habits

The only thing everyone agrees on about Millennial driving habits is that they're on the decline. As you'll see in the chart below, every American age group drove less in 2009 than in 2001, but the gaps were strikingly high in the 20- to 40-year-old segments of the population. There's no arguing with these numbers:
Where things get polarized is why these shifts have occurred, because answering that question would help predict how these patterns will hold up in the future—and thus what policies we should adopt in the present. So we see cities claiming victory over Millennials. And we see suburbs making similarlycompelling cases. We see claims that technology is changing Millennial behavior. And counter-claims that economics are at the root of this shift. It's a tug-of-war for America's young adults.
Here's the thing: it's very unlikely any single factor will emerge as the overriding reason why Millennials aren't driving as much as their parents did. Life just isn't that clean. To that end, Steven Polzin of the Center for UrbanTransportation Research at the University of South Florida and colleagues do the debate a huge service with an objective data dive into the 10 biggest factors changing Millennial driving behavior, based on a 2009 national travel survey. Let's follow them inside the numbers:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Here’s How Commuters Get To and From Arlington

Arlington might be going through an identity crisis about its future transit planning, but workers in the region’s second-largest city still use a diverse array of methods to get to and from their jobs, according to a study published this week by the county’s Mobility Lab. Analysts at the transportation think tank studied the methods used by the 131,300 Arlington residents with jobs and the 180,300 people who work in Arlington, finding that while driving alone to work is still the dominant mode of commuting, there have been significant gains in the numbers of people working from home and walking or biking to the office.
About 65,500 Arlingtonians—or 53.3 percent—drive to work alone, Mobility Lab found, a tiny drop from the 55.8 percent reported in 2010. The roughly 99,700 people driving aloneto jobs in Arlington accounts for 55.3 percent of the county’s workforce. Regionally, only DC is lower with about 38 percent of workers accounting for solo drivers; Fairfax County tops 70 percent. One of the primary reasons Arlington goes well below those rates is a relative lack of free parking throughout the densely built-up suburb. While half of all Arlington workers have access to free parking at work, only 40 percent who work near a Metro station have that kind of perk.

Transit Tech The Who, What, When, Where, Whys of CarFree AtoZ

As part of its Transit Tech Initiative, Arlington County is beta launching CarFreeAtoZ, an online resource for travelers in Arlington and the greater Washington region.

What is CarFreeAtoZ? It’s the Washington D.C. region’s first multi-modal trip planning and comparison tool. Bike to metro to walk on your way to work? Sick of driving your car to work every day? Want to mix it up? CarFreeAtoZ aims to go beyond traditional approaches to trip planning, taking a more holistic view of connectivity and accessibility.

How do I use CarFreeAtoZ? Visit www.carfreeatoz.com to get started. The first time you visit the site, you’ll be asked a couple quick questions about how you currently travel and your home and work locations.

 - See more at: http://mobilitylab.org/2014/11/07/the-who-what-when-where-whys-of-carfreeatoz/

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Richmond Reconnects the City to the River

Richmond, Virginia, and Portland, Oregon, may not seem to have much in common, except they both have rivers that cut through their cities. In the case of Portland, it’s the Willamette River, and in Richmond, it’s the James River. Portland has invested in a wonderful loop along its waterfronts parks and bridges, which connects the east and west sides of the river in a seamless experience for bicyclists and pedestrians. And, soon, Richmond will have a similarly transformational circuit along its 820-acre James River Park, created as part of its smart riverfront plan, which is destined to boost revitalization efforts in this newly resurgent city.
The city’s planning department has partnered with landscape architecture firm Hargreaves Associates, which is leading a team of designers and engineers, to make the vision of a more connected Richmond a reality. The first priority in the multi-year plan is the Brown’s Island Dam Walk, which will convert old dam infrastructure into a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge across the James River, connecting the city’s downtown to Manchester right through some glorious urban wilds. It’s smart reuse of a charismatic piece of old infrastructure. And the impetus for getting new circuit done fast, in this most southern of cities? The UCI World Championship bike race, which will set off bikers in a 10 mile course throughout the city in 2015.

$13.2 Billion Transportation Program Adopted

Program adjusted for project scoring
The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) adjusted the FY 2015-2020 Six-Year Improvement Program today in part to identify a group of projects that will be scored under House Bill 2. The new law requires projects to be scored using a consistent and objective analysis. Once the projects are scored, the CTB then selects projects for funding.

“The CTB adjusted the program following a series of nine public hearings across the state,” said Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. “The board will continue its aggressive effort to get input from local officials and citizens on the scoring process so the CTB has the knowledge it needs to assess and select the right projects for funding. As directed by Governor Terry McAuliffe, the board is engaging the public in assessing transportation needs to make the best and most prudent use of tax dollars.”

The funding on more than 60 projects in the revised six-year program has been reduced and the projects are flagged for scoring. Future funding on these projects, totaling $416 million, has been set aside. The projects meet the criteria for scoring under House Bill 2 because they were not fully funded or environmental studies were not complete. Enough funding remains on these projects to bring them to a logical stopping point. These projects, along with other candidate projects, will be scored before additional funding will be provided to advance them.

Projects that are exempt from the scoring process include pavement and bridge rehabilitation projects, revenue sharing projects, projects funded through the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads regional revenues, certain federal funding categories and improvements funded through secondary and urban formula funds.

Currently the scoring process and how it will be administered is being developed. The CTB will use the process to select projects by July 2016.

About the Six-Year Improvement ProgramThe program allocates funding to a wide range of projects, including road, bridges, sidewalks, bike paths, rail and transit improvements across the state over a period of six years. The program is updated every year and approved by the CTB to reflect the latest priorities and revenue forecast.

Final Revised FY 2015-2020 Six-Year Improvement Program Breakdown:

$10 billion - highway construction
$3.2 billion - rail and public transportation
$13.2 billion - total

About the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB)Appointed by the governor, the 18-member CTB establishes the administrative policies for Virginia's transportation system. The CTB allocates highway funding to specific projects, locates routes and provides funding for airports, seaports and public transportation. For specific meeting, times and locations, consult the meeting schedule.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Four Reasons Pedestrian Injuries Have Plummeted Along Protected Bike Lanes

Protected bike lanes are good at making it safer to bike. But they are great at making it safer to walk.
As dozens of thought leaders on street safety gather in New York City today for the Vision Zero for Cities Symposium, some of them will be discussing this little-known fact: On New York streets that received protected bike lanes from 2007 to 2011, total traffic injury rates fell by 12 to 52 percent.

Transportation Board Adopts Public-Private Partnership Reforms

The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) today approved reforms to increase transparency and competition and to better evaluate the public’s risk for transportation projects delivered under the Public Private Transportation Act (PPTA), also known as the P3 process.  The reforms are outlined in new guidelines following a six-month long public outreach effort that resulted in suggestions for improvements from more than 100 individuals, companies and organizations.
“The McAuliffe administration is committed to an open and competitive P3 process that delivers essential transportation projects by maximizing private sector investment and innovation,” said Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. “While a valuable tool to deliver certain projects, the P3 process had to be reformed to draw clear lines of accountability, strengthen competition, increase transparency and public engagement and minimize the risk to taxpayers. Over the last several months, the Virginia Office of Public-Private Partnerships (VAP3) conducted a public review of the P3 guidelines and incorporated many suggestions, including increasing the role of the CTB.  The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) also developed better ways to assess risk with P3 and design-build projects, so taxpayers’ best interests are protected.” 
P3 reforms include:
Engaging decision makers and increasing transparency -
  • Involve CTB members and lawmakers (chairmen of the House and Senate Transportation Committees) as members of PPTA Steering Committees, which independently review potential P3 projects.
  • Provide reviews at critical project milestones with the CTB; the board will take a more active role throughout the life of a P3 project.
  • Inform legislators on the proposals early in the process and during critical phases.
  • Engage the public at every stage of the P3 process.
Increasing competition -
  • Score P3 candidate projects under House Bill 2 to determine the value and need of transportation improvements.
  • Move unsolicited proposals into a standard competitive process.
  • Maximize competition; should only one proposal be received during the Request for Proposals, the commonwealth will conduct a full value assessment of the proposal to determine if best value for taxpayers remains.
Minimizing risk -
  • Identify project risks early in the P3 process; and continue assessing risk throughout the P3 project development and procurement stages with briefings to the CTB at critical project milestones.
  • Establish the P3 project’s scope and risk profile; this information - Findings of Public Interest - will be made public at critical stages in a P3 project’s development. 
  • Restart the procurement process if there are significant changes to project scope, size or complexity.
Additional details and the draft 2014 PPTA Manual are posted on www.vappta.org

Monday, November 17, 2014

Advertisement Kicks Off Construction Of Route 29 Solutions Package

Improvement project bids are due to VDOT on December 17
RICHMOND — The first project in the Route 29 Solutions package advanced toward construction today. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) on Monday advertised for construction bids to improve the Route 29/250 interchange in Charlottesville.
The project will improve the southbound entrance ramp from Route 29 onto the Route 250 Bypass by adding a lane on the ramp and a merge lane on Route 250 west to the Barracks Road exit. It also includes an additional southbound lane to Route 29 south of Hydraulic Road to the interchange. It’s known locally as the “Be st Buy ramp” project.
Bids are due to VDOT on Dec. 17 and construction is expected to begin in the spring 2015. Completion is set for May 21, 2016.
The project is the first in a package of eight in Charlottesville and Albemarle County that will increase capacity and efficiency along Route 29 and provide alternate routes on parallel roads.
Other projects included in the package: widen Route 29 from Polo Grounds Road to Towncenter Drive; construct Berkmar Drive Extended from Hilton Heights Road to Hollymead Town Center; grade separate the intersection of Rio Road and Route 29; extend Hillsdale Drive from Greenbrier Drive to Hydraulic Road; install state-of-the-art adaptive signal technology at the intersections from Hydraulic Road north to Airport Road; complete a study and preliminary engineering for improvements to the Route 29/Hydraulic Road intersection and a possible extension of Hillsdale Drive south of Hydraulic Road.
Information about the Route 29 Solutions package can be found on VDOT’s web site at: www.Route29Solutions.org.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Historic Bridge For Sale In Augusta County

STAUNTON – The Virginia Department of Transportation is seeking to transfer ownership and responsibility for the historic Mount Meridian truss bridge on Route 769 in Augusta County.
The 1907 structure is considered eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Transportation Alternatives Program funds may be available for the bridge to be rehabilitated and re-used as a pedestrian facility.

The steel truss bridge crosses the Middle River between Grottoes and Weyers Cave, and is made up of three separate spans totaling 360 feet in length and 15 feet in width. It was closed in 1997 because of structural deficiencies.

VDOT seeks written expressions of interest from individuals, organizations or government agencies. This correspondence must describe:
  • The proposed use of the bridge (on- or off-site) and
    an implementation plan.
  • The organization’s financial and technical capabilities to maintain the structure.
  • The organization’s ability to indemnify VDOT from future liability and claims.

Expressions of interest must be received by December 5, 2014. VDOT reserves the exclusive right to accept or reject any or all expressions of interest to ensure conformity with the Code of Virginia and the historic preservation objectives of this action. For additional information contact Jean Uhl, P.E., Staunton District Structures and Bridge, 811 Commerce Road, Staunton, VA 24402-2249, or atJean.Uhl@VDOT.Virginia.gov.

The VDOT Staunton District serves Frederick, Shenandoah, Clarke, Warren, Page, Rockingham, Augusta, Highland, Rockbridge, Alleghany and Bath counties.

The Staunton District Twitter feed is @VaDOTStaunton. VDOT can be followed on FacebookFlickr,Twitter and YouTubeRSS feeds are also available for statewide information. The VDOT Web page is located at www.VirginiaDOT.org.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

VDOT: Adopt-a-Highway

VDOT, Dominion VA Power, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Create Habitats for the Monarch Butterfly

FAIRFAX – Today the Virginia Department of Transportation, Dominion Virginia Power and Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy planted 1,544 pollinator-friendly plants at four locations in northern Virginia.
The sites will serve as “waystations,” or refuges, for monarch butterflies and other threatened pollinators by providing nectar and shelter to protect and boost populations.
Volunteers dug 900 square-foot beds and planted 386 plants at each of the four VDOT-owned sites in northern Virginia:
  • Southbound I-95 Dale City (car-only) Rest Area
  • Stringfellow Road commuter lot in Centreville
  • Telegraph Road commuter lot in Woodbridge
  • Dulles North commuter lot in Sterling
.All of the plants are native and include 13 species:
  • Common milkweed (asclepias syriaca)
  • Swamp milkweed (asclepias incarnata)
  • New England Aster (Aster nova-angliae)
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Joe Pye (Eupatorium maculatum)
  • Beebalm/Oswego Tea (Monarda didyma)
  • Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
  • Wrinkle-leaved Goldenrod (Solidago rugosa)
  • Blue-stem Goldenrod (Solidago caesia)
  • New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)
  • Stiff Goldenrod (Solidago rigida)
  • Hoary Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum incanum)
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm')
The plants will attract a multitude of pollinators including native and honey bees, monarchs and other butterfly species, and beetles. 
VDOT provided the land along with volunteers to plant the way stations while Dominion provided funding and a cadre of volunteers and Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy provided technical expertise.
“These sites will make for beautiful gardens, with blossoms from late spring through fall,” said Diane Beyer, Roadside Management Planner for VDOT’s Maintenance Division. “We are hoping this pilot project will lead to a statewide pollinator planting program—one all residents of the Commonwealth can be proud of.”                   
“We are pleased to partner with the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and VDOT to put our energies to work for the monarch butterfly and for our environment,” said Carolyn Moss, Managing Director, Mid-Atlantic State and Local Affairs for Dominion Resources. “We each have an obligation to leave our planet in the same condition as we inherited it. Planting way stations for monarch butterflies and other threatened pollinators will go a long way toward preserving the special qualities they bring to our everyday lives.”
“We are thrilled to see two powerhouse organizations like VDOT and Dominion Power not only working together but also putting a focus on habitat restoration and public outreach efforts to help Bring Back the Monarchs and restore pollinator health,” said Nicole Hamilton, President of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. “We need to bring back over one million acres of milkweed and nectar habitat annually to succeed, and both VDOT and Dominion Power manage lands that can help make significant strides in achieving this. The plantings today are a wonderful step in making change happen and a demonstration of how we all can make a difference. Every plant counts.”
The four sites will be registered through the Monarch Watch Waystation Program. More information is available atwww.monarchwatch.org/waystations/

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How Memphis Became a Great Bicycle City

When you think of Memphis, you probably think of Elvis, FedEx, or maybe on a more somber note, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

So you might be surprised to learn that Memphis is also becoming one of America's great bicycle towns. Three urban scholars (Kevin Smiley ofRice University, Wanda Rushing of the University of Memphis, and Michele Scott of North Carolina State) share the story of this unlikely development in anew issue of Urban Studies, and consider what it means for the city's future.

A quick bio on Memphis: Years of interstate expansion, urban renewal, and white middle-class flight took a big toll on the city center. City population has been on the decline...

Read the rest of the story here: http://www.citylab.com/commute/2014/10/how-memphis-became-a-great-bicycle-city/382061/

Oregon to Test Mileage Based Gas Tax

Some drivers in Oregon will soon pay gas taxes based on how many miles they travel, instead of how many gallons they buy, according to a report from Portland. 
The plan, known in transportation circles as Vehicle-Miles-Traveled (VMT), faced opposition over privacy concerns in Washington, when it was floated as alternative to the 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax that is currently used to pay for infrastructure projects.

Monday, November 3, 2014

New App Involves Parents in Education of Teen Drivers

It was National Teen Driver Safety Week recently, and a new app is helping parents
become more involved in the process of educating their children about driving.
Brandon Ripplinger has been teaching drivers education for nearly a decade, and it’s a job he takes seriously.“Drivers ed is a subject that, obviously, we feel is very important,” he said. “It’s a subject where students’ lives are literally on the line.”Two years ago, Ripplinger had the idea for an app to make the drivers ed process safer as well as easier.Maneo Drive is a cloud based educational management system that allows teachers to do instant reports and automatic scheduling. It also includes access toparent involvement tools.“When you get parents involved with their kid’s learning, the student does so much better, and so this software, a big part of what it does is it bring the parents into the loop, which is going to lead to better drivers on the road,” he said.Once in the car, the instructor marks which things the student will be tested on. Then the iPad is put away until after the drive, allowing the teacher to pay full attention to the road.Afterward, the teacher makes notes on what the student needs to practice and sends it to the parent.“I think it has potential to have a huge impact,” Ripplinger said. “I think it has the ability to make the roads a lot safer. When you get parents and teachers on board together… great things happen, and so this is a tool that makes that easier for teachers.”Parents said this new app will give them more peace of mind when their kid is behind the wheel.“I think it’s really exciting,” parent Polli Wakley said. “I think anytime you get parents involved in the educational process, you’re maximizing your learning potential.”In return, the group Zero Fatalities believes it will result in safer drivers on the roads.“Parents are the key to teen driving success,” said Stacy Johnson, who is the coordinator for Zero Fatalities in Utah.  ”When parents are involved in the teen driving process, teen fatalities go down 50 percent.”Four school districts—Granite, Emery, Davis and Cache–will roll out Moneo Drive in November as a pilot program. They expect even more schools to have the program next year.

VDOT's Winter Budget and Equipment In Place

Agency Estimates $145.5 Million Available for Statewide Snow Removal
RICHMOND, Va. – Ready for winter again this year? The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is. VDOT has its initial budgets, materials, equipment and staffing in place across the state in preparation for whatever this year’s weather brings to keep your roads clear. Last winter proved that weather patterns pay no attention to the calendar, with snow on the ground in various parts of the state from late October into early April.
VDOT’s estimated snow-removal budget is $145.5 million for the winter of 2014-2015. The snow-removal budget is part of VDOT’s overall FY 2015 maintenance budget of approximately $1.5 billion.
“Maintaining roads – no matter what the weather brings – is VDOT’s number-one job,” said VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick. “On the front lines clearing snow, in control rooms managing traffic flow, in the districts reporting conditions to the public or elsewhere allocating necessary resources – our employees train year-round to keep you moving. We ask you to slow down and give our equipment operators plenty of room to do their job on the road, which is primarily to get you where you need to be – safely.”
VDOT snow-removal budget, equipment, materials
The snow-removal budget covers all materials, staff and contractor time. Here’s a breakdown by each VDOT district:
Last winter, VDOT’s preseason snow-removal budget for 2013-2014 was $157 million, a figure based on the average expenditures from the previous five winters. The agency spent approximately $350 million by the end of the season.
Materials and supplies in stock for the 2014-2015 season for snow and ice removal include:
  • 366,678 tons of salt,
  • 122,766 tons of sand,
  • 60,850 tons of treated abrasives,
  • 564,405 gallons of liquid calcium chloride, and
  • 1.1 million gallons of salt brine.
VDOT replenishes supplies as they are used throughout the winter.
What’s new: Recycling runoff into brine
When VDOT loads salt onto snow-removal trucks on a paved area – called a “mixing pad” – at its salt-storage facilities, the runoff is directed either to impermeable ponds or underground tanks, since the mixing pad is normally wet during the loading process due to water or snow.
To manage such runoff during the salt-loading process, VDOT is reusing some of this water from the ponds or tanks to produce brine, a solution of salt and water, to turn an environmental challenge – disposing of that runoff – into a supply opportunity.
In the past few years, VDOT has relied more and more on applying brine to roads in areas where feasible before winter storms. This is because it can prevent frozen precipitation from bonding to the pavement, and it’s more environmentally friendly than salt.
As part of a multi-year pilot, most salt facilities in VDOT’s Richmond District now recycle this runoff into brine. The water in the holding ponds doesn’t evaporate quickly, and offsite disposal that meets environmental standards is often quite costly, averaging 46 cents per gallon in some areas. The Richmond District used approximately 550,000 gallons of brine last winter, most of which came from runoff processed from its holding ponds.
VDOT is looking to increase the number of locations where such recycling would be feasible and cost effective. In-house research has determined that VDOT could reduce the volume of water requiring disposal by at least 50 percent. The research also concluded that, based on average statewide pre-wetting and brine applications before winter storms, more than 20 million gallons of such runoff could be reused around Virginia.
OngoingOnline snowplow tracker in Northern Virginia
For the past three years, VDOT has activated an online neighborhood tracking map that monitors the status of plowing in Northern Virginia neighborhoods when it snows two inches or more.
You can access the snowplow tracker at http://www.vdotplows.org/.
A video on how to use the website is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMRaItZLgyo&feature=youtu.be.
Pretreating roads
When snow or ice is predicted, VDOT crews pretreat trouble spots on interstates and other high-volume roads with anti-icing chemicals, including salt brine and liquid calcium chloride.
As part of a pilot to reduce costs, VDOT’s Northern Virginia District will only apply a brine mix in part of Chantilly, in lieu of any road salt, to determine if this is a viable alternative to applying salt after plowing.
Road-clearing priorities
  • VDOT’s goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after a winter storm ends.
Crews first begin clearing interstates, primary roads and major secondary roads that connect localities, fire stations, employment hubs, military posts, schools, hospitals and other important public facilities. Secondary roads and subdivision streets will be treated if multiday storms hit the commonwealth, but crews will focus efforts on those roads that carry the most traffic.
A statewide network of 77 weather sensors in roadways and bridges, plus 16 mobile video data platforms, allows crews to quickly identify when and where road surfaces might be freezing.
VDOT maintains all roads in Virginia, except those in incorporated cities and in Arlington and Henrico counties.
Have a plan before you drive
VDOT advises motorists to have a winter driving plan and to get where you need to be ahead of the bad weather. Visitwww.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/stayinformed/winter for more winter-weather preparedness tips from VDEM.
To avoid accidents during winter storms, VDOT always suggests delaying travel when possible. If you see a slow-moving snowplow or other vehicles treating roads, slow down and give the operators the right of way for their safety and yours.
Before traveling, you can get the latest traffic conditions by calling 511, or go to www.511virginia.org. You also can download Virginia’s free 511 mobile app at http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp#app.


Additional Winter-Weather Information Sources
The following fact sheets on VDOT’s website contain more detailed information about tips for safe winter-weather driving and the agency’s snow-removal policies, budget and equipment:
Travel resources
Call 511 or use the 511 website for real-time updates on Virginia road conditions and traffic incidents.
  • 800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623)
Report road hazards or ask road-related questions at VDOT’s 24-hour Customer Service Center by calling this statewide toll-free number.
  • Facebook
“Like” www.facebook.com/virginiadot  to learn more about VDOT news and programs, and to receive updates.
  • YouTube 
Visit VDOT’s YouTube site (www.youtube.com/vdotweb) for videos on snow removal.
For more winter driving information, please visit http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/snow.asp.