Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Transportation Board Awards 10 Contracts Worth $76.4 Million

RICHMOND, Va. – At its monthly meeting today, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) awarded 10 contracts worth nearly $76.4 million for major infrastructure improvements.
The projects – in the Bristol, Fredericksburg, Lynchburg, Northern Virginia, Richmond and Salem districts of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) – will improve mobility, enhance safety and extend the life of the state’s trnasporation network.
The contracts are for projects that will:
  • Improve traffic flow, upgrade traffic signal equipment and add sidewalks at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Route 620 in Spotsylvania County in VDOT’s Fredericksburg District
The CTB awarded a contract worth approximately $9.8 million to Henderson Construction Company Inc. of Fredericksburg to improve the intersection of U.S. 1 and Route 620 (Harrison Road). 
This project will build additional turn lanes and through lanes at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Harrison Road in Spotsylvania County, as well as extend the length of the existing turn lanes.
The project will also upgrade traffic signal equipment to include pedestrian crossing features. Sidewalks will be built, and new lighting will be added at the intersection.
Project completion is expected in May 2018. For more information, visit the project page.
  • Increase traffic flow and safety for vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles along 10th Street in the City of Roanoke
The CTB awarded a contract worth approximately $12 million to E.C. Pace Company Inc. of Roanoke to improve safety and traffic flow, while developing a bicycle and pedestrian-friendly environment along a 0.78-mile section of 10th Street in the City of Roanoke. 
The project will widen travel lanes and provide bicycle lanes, curb and gutter, and sidewalks from just south of Fairfax Avenue to just north of Andrews Road. Turn lanes will be added at 10th Street’s intersections with Grayson Avenue and Orange Avenue. A new concrete arch structure will be installed to carry 10th Street over Lick Run and the Lick Run Greenway.
The existing traffic signal at the intersection of Orange Avenue and 11th Street will be removed and left-turn lanes will be added on Orange Avenue at the intersection with 10th Street.  Existing signal equipment along 10th Street will be replaced.
Project completion is expected in June 2018. For more information, visit the project page.
  • Rehabilitate bridges on Interstate 81 in Botetourt County
The CTB awarded a contract worth approximately $7.5 million to Lanford Brothers Company Inc. of Roanoke to rehabilitate six bridges on Interstate 81 in Botetourt County. 
The work will include milling off the bridges’ riding surfaces, making repairs and applying a concrete latex overlay.
The bridges carry I-81 over Route 625 (Mount Joy Road), Route 43 (Narrow Passage Road) and the James River in the northbound and southbound lanes.
Project completion is expected in October 2017.
  • Repair pavement and add rumble strips to Interstate 85 in Dinwiddie County
The CTB awarded a contract worth approximately $6.6 million to Denton Concrete Services Company of St. Clair Shores, Mich., to repair and overlay concrete pavement, place underdrains and install rumble strips on I-85 north from Route 650 (Hamilton Arms Road) to the Route 660 (Quaker Road) overpass in Dinwiddie County.
Project completion is expected in November 2016.
  • Widen Route 757 to three lanes in Wise County
The CTB awarded a contract worth approximately $5.1 million to Estes Brothers Construction Inc. of Jonesville to widen a one-mile section of Route 757 in Wise County. 
The project will increase travel lanes from 12 to 14-feet-wide and will add a 13-foot-wide center lane beginning at the intersection of Business Route 23 and extending south approximately one mile. The project also includes curb and gutter and a sidewalk on the west side of Route 757.
Project completion is expected in October 2017.
  • Provide five paving contracts for spring road maintenance
The CTB also awarded five “plant mix” contracts for paving on Virginia’s interstates and primary and secondary roads. The contracts are to the following firms:
  1. W-L Construction & Paving Inc., Chilhowie, approximately $5.5 million (Bristol District)
  2. W-L Construction & Paving Inc., Chilhowie, approximately $8.6 million (Bristol District)
  3. Adams Construction Company, Roanoke, approximately $5.5 million (Lynchburg District)
  4. Superior Paving Corporation, Gainesville, approximately $9.3 million (Fredericksburg District)
  5. Virginia Paving Company, division of Lane Construction Corp., Cheshire, Conn., approximately $6.5 million (Northern Virginia District)
The following chart tracks the dollar amount of major contracts the CTB has awarded in calendar year 2016:
Appointed by the governor, the 17-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. The board normally meets on the third Wednesday of the month in months when action meetings are scheduled,
For more information:
  • Final bid results and projects:
  • CTB meeting, times and locations:

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Governor Congratulates Deputy Secretary On National Award

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today congratulated Deputy Secretary of Transportation Grindly Johnson, one of 14 women leaders to be honored by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) this week.
Grindly JohnsonThe Women Who Move the Nation Award is presented to women leaders who represent a broad cross-section of transportation professionals in both the private and public sectors.
“I am proud to have Deputy Secretary Johnson as a member of our administration, and I am delighted that she is receiving this well-deserved honor,” said Governor McAuliffe. “We’ve made historic progress over the past two years to transform Virginia’s transportation funding system and ensure that it is more transparent and accountable to the taxpayers. Deputy Secretary Johnson has been a key member of our team working on these important issues, and I thank her for all of her hard work and dedication to our Commonwealth.”
“I’m grateful to be recognized by a national organizationof my peers along with such an impressive list of women from around the country,” said Deputy Secretary Grindly Johnson. “The award signifies all of the great accomplishments we have had as a team, including increasing business and job opportunities for women and minorities in the transportationindustry. I thank Governor McAuliffe, Secretary Aubrey Layne, Deputy Secretary Nick Donohue and everyone at the Virginia Departmentof Transportation and our transportation agencies for their support.”  
The award ceremony will take place March 16. Past honorees include former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx is scheduled to participate in the awards ceremony.
COMTO is the nation’s only multi-modal advocacy organization for minority professionals and businesses in the transporation industry.

Monday, March 28, 2016

VDOT Pollinator Projects Receive Virginia Green Travel Star Award

A Monach Butterfly.RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) received a Virginia Green Travel Star Award for Most Innovative Green Project for a commitment to green tourism practices through its Pollinator Habitat Program at Virginia Welcome Centers during a ceremony last month in Arlington.
“We’re honored that the Pollinator Habitat Program was recognized for the role it plays in protecting crucial habitats,” said VDOT Commissioner Charles Kilpatrick.
Pollinators such as butterflies and bees are necessary for growing crops, but their population has been steadily declining. Waystations filled with pollinator-friendly plants like milkweed provide those species the environment needed for survival.
VDOT’s Pollinator Habitat Program began in 2014 through collaboration with the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy with four pilot plots, which were planted in northern Virginia at park and ride lots in Centreville, Woodbridge and Sterling, and the Dale City Rest Area on Interstate 95 south.
A second Dale City project on I-95 north was completed in 2015 through a partnership with Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and Dominion Virginia Power. It features a 15,000 square-foot meadow restoration, along with two smaller plantings near the rest area building that will serve as educational stations with interpretive signage for visitors.
Additionally, three new pollinator habitats were seeded with native plants in southwestern Virginia, and additional projects are planned across the commonwealth as the program is implemented statewide.
Green Travel Star Awards recognize the efforts of Virginia Green participants to promote environmentally friendly practices in the tourism industry. Projects were judged on uniqueness, environmental benefit and the potential for other tourism facilities to learn from the project.
More information about VDOT’s Pollinator Habitat Program can be found online.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Benefits of Slower Traffic, Measured in Money and Lives

In May 2014, three school kids in New Brunswick, New Jersey, were hit by a car on Livingston Avenue while in the crosswalk. They were each injured—one seriously—and rushed to the hospital. A cell phone video taken at the scene is pierced with anonymous screams.

Fortunately, according to news reports, the kids recovered. Unfortunately, the trauma they and their families endured is all too common on the streets of U.S. cities. What makes the situation in New Brunswick so much more regrettable is that city leaders knew about the safety hazards on Livingston Avenue but hesitated to change traffic patterns for fear of offending drivers.

That’s the frustrating conclusion one gets from a new case study about implementing a road diet on Livingston. The analysis finds that the safety benefits of reducing automobile space and speeds on the street would far outweigh any losses from driver delay. But the report’s authors state that officials were concerned from the start about upsetting the car-centric status quo:

Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Is Your City Pedestrian Unfriendly?

As more and more people say they want to live in walkable neighborhoods, it’s fun to watch the old-school, suburban developers squirm.  Unwilling to change what they do, they instead attempt to market their car-centric products as “pedestrian friendly.”  Generally, this occurs at planning commission meetings, where words like “walkability” and “pedestrian amenities” are tossed around like claims in a presidential debate.  It sounds great when they say it, but there’s no substance behind the jargon.
Really, guys.  Painting a crosswalk across a double-wide drive-thru does not make your restaurant “pedestrian friendly.”
Photo by Sarah Kobos
Photo by Sarah Kobos
Here are just a few of my favorite pedestrian unfriendly amenities.

Read the rest of the story here.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Streetfighting Woman: Inside The Story of How Cycling Changed New York

Janette Sadik-Khan, who in alliance with her then-boss, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, arguably did as much to transform the city’s streetscape as anyone in its recent history, recalls an early moment when she wondered whether people were ready for such rapid change.
It was August 2008 and the city was experimenting with a so-called summer streets programme, where almost seven miles of central streets were closed off to cars for three Saturday mornings in a row. The idea was not new – Bogotá introduced its equivalent, the Cicloviá, in the 1970s – but it was entirely untested in New York.
“I remember, hours and hours before it opened, being out on the streets with my team and looking around, thinking, ‘What if no one shows up? What if this is a disaster?’,” said Sadik-Khan, who was Bloomberg’s transport commissioner from 2007 until he left office in 2013.
“I remember being truly relieved when I saw people walking and biking, and kids out there playing. It turned out New Yorkers knew exactly what to do with their streets. We had 300,000 people coming to play, and cha cha, and take basketball lessons.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

6 Examples of What Makes a Great Public Space

People often ask us, “What makes a public space great?”
When PPS was recently approached by USA Today to provide a list of the best city parks in the U.S. for their upcoming interactive webpage, we were excited for the opportunity share our thoughts on this question that has been at the core of our work for 40 years. After narrowing down our extensive library, our co-founder Kathy Madden submitted 20 parks for consideration. A handful of our selections were chosen for the shortlist (now available online for your vote)! Some of those chosen included some longtime favorites, such as Central Park in NYCJackson Square in New OrleansMillennium Park in Chicago, and Boston Public Garden.
Although famous spaces like Central Park will always top lists like these, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight some other examples of great public spaces around the world—including a few that may sometimes fly under the radar.
So, how do we decide if a public space is great? Good question, since it might seem pretty subjective—one person might feel deterred from the same place that another feels a deep attachment to. This is why we created our Place Diagram.
See the diagram and read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

NYC Rethinking Left Turns

It's been two years since the city launched its Vision Zero approach to traffic safety, and while the mayor is touting the drop in fatalities as encouraging, he says the progress is "just beginning."
"Vision Zero is going to move ahead with even more intensity in the coming year," said de Blasio.
One area of intensity: left turns.
As WNYC has reported, the move is difficult for drivers — and can have disastrous consequences for pedestrians. In New York City, they account for 30 percent of vehicle-pedestrian crashes. Now, they're coming under increased scrutiny by the city, and the mayor says making them safer is one of his Vision Zero goals for the coming year.
Read the rest of the story here.

Monday, March 7, 2016

"Zipper Truck" Changes The Way We Build Tunnels

'Zipper' truck
This 'zipper' truck is radically changing the way we build tunnels.
Posted by Tech Insider on Sunday, February 28, 2016

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Real Source of America's Urban Revival

Something strange happened in U.S. cities circa 2000: people started to move downtown. Not all people. If you look at the top 100 metro areas between 2000 and 2010, only two downtowns grew faster than their outlying suburbs in terms of total population. Two. But among young college graduates—a key indicator of an area’s growth potential, in the eyes of urban economists—moving downtown became more the rule than the exception.

From 2000 to 2010, more college-educated professionals aged 25 to 34 moved downtown than to the suburbs in 39 of the 50 largest U.S. metros. For 35-to-44-year-olds, the same held true in 28 of the 50 largest metros. This revival was true in the places you might expect, like New York City or San Francisco, and in places you might not, like Cleveland. It was true despite historical trend lines showing that, for the better part of a century, the wealthy typically moved one way when it came to cities: out of them.

Read the rest of the story here.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

How Fast are We Really? Bring on the Concept of Effective Speed

Judging by the numbers from the Berliner Senat (or from speedometers), cars are a lot faster than bikes. However, a re-evaluation of the way in which we think about speed would have cyclists (and in some cases pedestrians) whizzing by motorists almost all the time: enter the concept of effective speed.
How fast do we go when we move around our cities? For Berlin, estimates of the average speed are about 25 km/h for motorists. But that’s just the average speed from the time a journey begins to when it ends, depositing you at your destination. But when does a journey really begin? Did you have to brush snow off your windshield or pump up your tires? If you walk, did you include the time it took to tie your shoes? Is the last hour you spent at work dedicated to earning the cash to enable your drive home? Or the first fifteen minutes of your income allotted to paying your bike mechanic for the tune-up you got last week?
Traditionally, we measure speed in terms of distance traveled divided by the time it took to travel that distance. That’s how we arrive at ideas like ‘kilometers per hour.’ The most recent data released by the Berliner Senat claims that motorists in Berlin travel at an average of 24.9 km/h. Cyclists, it reports, have an average speed of 12.3 km/h. This difference might seem large, but what if we figure in the time that motorists and cyclists invest in paying for and maintaining their vehicles?
Read the rest of the story here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The New Science of Street Design

In his excellent recent book Street Smart, veteran New York transportation engineer Sam Schwartz recalls a 1980s battle over the Williamsburg Bridge. Schwartz was the city’s transportation commissioner when he received the bad news: The 1903 bridge, which carried a quarter-million New Yorkers daily, was in danger of collapse.
Schwartz faced a choice that required federal funding: Replace the span or repair it. Replacement did not strike Schwartz as the right thing to do. "Had we decided to replace the bridge, New York would have had to spend [an extra] three-quarters of a billion dollars on a bridge whose primary effects would have been to destroy existing neighborhoods on both sides of the East River and put even more cars and trucks on Manhattan streets."
The feds wanted to do just that. The bridge did not fit the prevailing theories on safe streets. The Williamsburg Bridge’s lanes were narrow—less than 9 feet at the towers. To convince the federal government that replacement would be the wrong course, Schwartz mapped traffic collisions on the bridge for a three-year period. It turned out the safest part of the bridge was the narrowest part—even though its lanes there were far short of the standard, recommended 12-foot lane widths. Schwartz’s hypothesis, since confirmed by many studies, is that drivers are more careful when lanes are narrow.  
Although the bridge was saved along with (what is now) billions of dollars’ worth of homes and businesses, the findings raised no curiosity among transportation and traffic engineers. No one suggested further studies. The incident was quickly forgotten, except by Schwartz. At least since the 1960s, engineers had designed urban thoroughfares on the theory that wide streets, lacking in nearby obstacles like trees, parked cars, and lampposts, are the safest. To the detriment of people and communities, these designs suppressed other uses of urban streets—such as walking, biking, socializing, and transit—but that outcome was either ignored or deemed an acceptable trade-off.
Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

By Neglecting Bikes, Transit, Wisconsin is Losing Young People

For the last decade, Wisconsin has been experiencing a “brain drain,” with more college graduates leaving the state than staying. Based on what we’ve learned from numerous recent surveys of millennials, including a new WISPIRG Foundation survey of 530 college students at 14 Wisconsin campuses, one factor could be our crumbling transit infrastructure and lack of driving alternatives.
Growing evidence suggests that young people choose where they want to live largely on the lifestyle and amenities of those communities, and that they gravitate toward more walkable, bike-able and transit-friendly communities where lifestyles are less dependent on driving.
Could modernizing transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure be one strategy to reverse the brain drain and make Wisconsin communities a destination where millennials seek to locate?
Read the rest of the story here.