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Good Practices: Incorporating Safety into Resurfacing and Restoration Projects

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U.S. Department of Transportation

Federal Highway Administration

December 2006

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The scan destinations were identified through a review of available information. The following were considered indications of a strong State program:

After reviewing available information related to these factors, a number of strong programs were identified. As a practical matter, it was only possible to visit six States. The following States were visited during three separate trips, as shown in table 1.

Table 1: States (and dates) visited by scan team.
State Dates visited
Colorado June 20 - 21, 2005
Washington State June 22 - 24, 2005
Pennsylvania July 18 - 20, 2005
New York July 21 - 22, 2005
Utah August 22 - 23, 2005
Iowa August 24 - 26, 2005

A summary and highlights of the visit to each destination are provided below.

COLORADO (June 20 to 21, 2005)

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) issued its Procedures for Addressing Safety Requirements on Resurfacing, Restoration, Rehabilitation (3R) Projects Design Bulletin in March 2005. The Design Bulletin applies to all resurfacing projects with an overlay of more than 1.5 inches, but does not apply to reconstruction. The new procedures were developed by a process development team with representation from CDOT central and region offices and the FHWA Division Office. The procedures were developed in response to a Quality Assurance Review that found a lack of consistency on the types of safety improvements included in resurfacing projects. The team that developed the new guidance sought to:

The 3R safety consideration procedure is based on analysis of the facility's historic safety performance rather than on dimensional values for specific features. Safety Performance Functions (SPF) are used to assess the magnitude of safety problems on highway segments that will be resurfaced. The SPF reflects a relationship between traffic exposure (measured in ADT) and crash count for a unit of road section. The SPF developed by CDOT provides an estimate of expected crash frequency and severity, as a function of exposure, for similar facilities. A facility's performance and its amenability to safety improvement are classified using a system referred to as the level of service of safety, or LOSS. The LOSS reflects a relationship between a roadway segment's actual and expected crash frequency and severity for a specific exposure level, measured in annual average daily traffic. Additional analysis is conducted in the form of pattern recognition and direct diagnostics to define specific accident patterns susceptible to correction, and proposed improvements within the scope of the project. To expedite project development, the safety analysis is recommended to be accomplished prior to the scoping.

The CDOT central office's Safety and Traffic Engineering Branch, in conjunction with the Region design team, formulate the safety analysis and recommendations. Additionally, the CDOT central office's Pavement Management System section provides input to the resurfacing project selection process. The regional offices have primary responsibility for project delivery and considerable discretion. Project development is results oriented and expedient. When needed, an environmental specialist is included in scoping field views to render decisions. The roles of CDOT region and central office organizations appeared complementary and cooperative.

The Colorado Transportation Commission establishes funding levels for specific programs, including the Surface Treatment Program and Safety Enhancement Pool. The primary purpose of the Surface Treatment Program is to maintain the condition and drivability of the State highway system. A limited number of activities are eligible for this funding. In addition to paving and surface improvements, Surface Treatment Program funds may be used for minor safety work (i.e., signing, striping, delineation etc.), shoulder-up work, guardrail adjustments, and other items needed to complete the surface treatment are also eligible. Additionally, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements are met with Surface Treatment Program funds. Enhancements that are desirable or mandated (e.g., upgraded bridge rail and guardrail) can also be implemented, but are not eligible for Surface Treatment Program funds. The annual Surface Treatment Program allocation is approximately $143 million. Approximately 11 percent of these funds ($16 million) are expended for essential safety items associated with the resurfacing work, including work zone traffic control, raising guardrail, and adding or reapplying pavement markings. The Safety Enhancement Pool funds safety improvements included in resurfacing projects are not eligible for the Surface Treatment Program. Safety Enhancement funds are in the range of $4 to $7 million annually.

WASHINGTON STATE (June 22 to 24, 2005)

Government in Washington State, at the State and county level, is very engaged in transportation, and resurfacing and pavement restoration programs are quite refined.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) approach to project development and design, including consideration of safety improvements, is provided in the DOT Design Manual. The DOT Design Manual includes five design matrices; each provides applicable standards and criteria for various project types (e.g., preservation, improvement) and highway facility elements (e.g., NHS route, mainline; non-NHS route, mainline). "Basic Safety" is generally provided for preservation projects and refers to a list of required and discretionary items, including delineation; rumble strips in accordance with roadside safety policy; adjustment of existing features affected by resurfacing; replacement of deficient signing; relocation, protection, or provision of breakaway features for sign supports, luminaires, and electrical service poles inside the design clear zone; sight distance restoration at intersections and curves; nonstandard bridge rail upgrades; and barrier terminals and bridge end protection, including transition upgrades in accordance with traffic barrier policy. Other improvements are also considered such as spot safety improvements and roadside safety hardware.

WSDOT operates with specific allocations and eligibility directives. Preservation is a legislatively established program; Pavement Preservation was funded at $255.1 million for the 2003 to 2005 biennium. For the same period, $140.3 million was provided for the Safety Improvement program. WSDOT was directed by its legislature to use a project selection process that preserves the existing State highway system and restores existing safety features, while giving consideration to lowest life-cycle cost. This mandate applies to the approximately 19,000 lane miles of State-maintained pavements. The objectives of the Safety Improvement program are to provide the safest possible highways with the available resources and to improve pedestrian safety. Safety Improvement-funded projects typically consist entirely of safety measures and extend along a corridor or throughout an area. Safety Improvement funds are not normally used for resurfacing projects, although a project may be funded from both the Preservation and Improvement programs when the work can be completed within the Preservation program cycle time. Approximately 12 percent of Pavement Preservation funds are expended on safety restoration; they consist mostly of Basic Safety, as previously described.

Local governments in Washington State have a significant role in transportation. There are 39 counties in Washington State, all of which have legislated responsibilities for highway maintenance and improvement. Counties obtain funds from several sources including local taxes, Federal-aid (i.e., FHWA-administered funds passed through WSDOT), and State resources. In 2005, approximately $250 million in Federal-aid highway funds was suballocated to Washington State local governments (i.e., counties, cities, towns, port districts, and Native American tribes). This amount is approximately 50 percent of all the Federal funds allocated to Washington State; 100 percent of Federal-aid Hazard Elimination-Safety (HES) funds are passed through to local governments.

The County Road Administration Board (CRAB) is an independent entity of Washington State created by State statute. The mission of the CRAB is to preserve and enhance counties transportation infrastructure by providing standards of good practice, fair administration of funding programs, visionary leadership, and integrated progressive and professional technical services. The CRAB and WSDOT are separate organizations that cooperate in several areas related to county highway programs. To receive State and State-allocated funds, a county must comply with certain organizational and accountability requirements. State law requires that each county have a properly staffed road organization, headed by a professional engineer who serves as the county engineer. The CRAB issues annual certificates of compliance for county road programs that are found to meet all requirements. In those cases where the CRAB does not issue a certificate of compliance to a specific county, the governor may withhold funds. The CRAB also administers the Rural Arterial Program (RAP), which funds reconstruction of rural high-volume arterials. The RAP was established in 1983 by the Washington State Legislature to mitigate the effects of heavy freight (e.g., timber) traffic on rural arterials caused by rail system abandonment. RAP funding is derived from 2 percent of the 28-cent-per-gallon State gas tax. County engineering departments have relationships with, and accountability to the CRAB and WSDOT.

PENNSYLVANIA (July 18 to 20, 2005)

The Pennsylvania DOT (PennDOT) is a decentralized organization. Central office bureaus provide specialized expertise and organization-wide services (e.g., crash database organization, network-level safety analysis and screening, pavement management). Each of the 11 districts develops and executes a business plan. The plans include numerous components that address PennDOT's five strategic focus areas, including those related to infrastructure preservation and safety. There is substantial variety in district priorities, capital and maintenance budgets, customer expectations, and staffing. During the scan, the team visited two district offices; this report is based on observations at those districts.

PennDOT has jurisdiction for about 40,000 of the approximately 120,420 roadway centerline miles in Pennsylvania. Two-lane rural roads comprise much of the highway network, including the State system. Many miles of roadway were constructed with 18-ft wide bases and usable roadways of approximately 16 ft; 33-ft rights-of-way are common. District 3 has been pursuing a multiyear program to attain a 20-ft minimum roadway within existing rights-of-way, in conjunction with resurfacing. Roadway segments have been prioritized based on traffic volumes. Much of the work is completed with State forces through a phased approach. Early work consists of extending culverts, base widening and clearing; follow-on activities are paving, pavement markings, and appurtenance installation. Approximately 30 to 47 highway miles are widened within District 3 annually. The 5-year plan has specific goals and is updated annually.

Contract resurfacing projects are common in all PennDOT districts. Generally, the resurfacing program is initiated and managed by the maintenance manager for a geographic area. Pavement conditions, known performance problems, and input from external sources are considered in developing the program. Senior district managers, including a design manager and bridge engineer, field view the designated route segments. This group determines the scope, specific features to be addressed or provided, and identifies potential problems. Crash histories are reviewed as part of project definition.

Resurfacing work is funded primarily with State maintenance and capital funds. Capital funds are programmed and maintenance funds are distributed for State highways in each county on the basis of a legislated formula. Except for Interstate routes, Federal-aid is used infrequently for resurfacing. Generally, a conceptual scope is determined first and funding options are then considered based on eligibility. A final determination on scope and funding is made after scheduling and project development (e.g., criteria, environmental, right-of-way) factors are considered. Projects involving geometric improvements require environmental review and are generally developed over a 2-year period if no additional right-of-way is required. When geometric alterations are not proposed, the development process is expedient and nearly always performed by State forces. Safety improvements are considered for all resurfacing projects, with or without geometric improvements. PennDOT has a Low Cost Safety Improvement (LCSI) program with a 2005-2006 budget of $10 million. However, this is not the upper limit (i.e., maximum permissible level) of expenditures for the safety strategies identified in the LCSI program. The same LCSI strategies are often incorporated in capital and maintenance projects and funded through other programs. The LCSI implementation guidance identifies 12 crash categories and 32 suggested countermeasures, with each crash category having from one to six countermeasures.

PennDOT has adopted the national safety goal to reduce fatalities to 1.0 per 100 million-vehicle miles (100 MVM) by 2008. Each district's plan identifies strategies to be executed (e.g., intersection improvement, tree removal, curve legend replacement, rumble strips) on an annual basis in pursuit of the goal. The calendar year 2004 rate of 1.40 fatalities per 100 MVM was an all-time low for Pennsylvania. Each district has a Safety Review Committee that reviews project scopes and design exceptions.

NEW YORK (July 21 to 22, 2005)

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) delivers programs through a decentralized organization using very systematic and process-oriented approaches. Centralized responsibilities include policy setting, coordination, technical assistance, and information systems functions. Technical guidance and procedures for its programs are quite sophisticated. Project development and operational functions are executed primarily in NYSDOT's 11 regional offices. These general characteristics and division of responsibilities extend to the scan topics. The NYSDOT's Main Office has established a set of programs and promulgated corresponding procedures related to the incorporation of safety improvements in resurfacing projects.

The New York State safety strategy is comprehensive and involves several agencies. Figure 1 shows the NYSDOT elements of the strategy. Development, maintenance, and ongoing improvement of the Safety Information Management System (SIMS) are centralized functions. As shown, the safety goal is pursued through a series of routine operations (e.g., resurfacing) and proactive strategies.

SIMS is used to identify Priority Investigation Locations, which are roadway segments or intersections targeted for review because of their crash history. SIMS is also used to analyze the safety record of segments targeted for resurfacing. Pavement conditions, operations and safety are principal considerations in determining project types (i.e., 1R, 2R, and 3R).

Figure 1. Chart depicts elements involved in New York State DOT's process to develop safety strategies. NYSDOT uses a Safety Information Management System (SIMS) to identify intersections to target for safety improvements based on their crash history. Specific elements involved include standards (design, AASHTO, work zone, etc.) review and SIMS analysis and integration with ongoing safety programs to meet the State's overall safety goal.
Figure 1. NYSDOT elements of State safety strategy.

The NYSDOT project development guidance is fairly specific guidance on what safety treatments should be considered or provided and when the safety features should be completed. Safety measures are designated for completion in one of the following three time frames:

Project development and delivery cycles vary for the array of resurfacing program types. The 1R projects are implemented in 4 to 6 months and even less time when the work is added to ongoing contracts. The 2R projects generally proceed from inception to construction in less than a year, whereas 3R projects take 2 to 3 years.

NYSDOT's regional offices are responsible for project development. The Scan Team observed a number of completed NYSDOT and county resurfacing projects in the field, including a completed safety edge (30o to 35o asphalt fillet). This recently developed technique is used to mitigate the edge drop-off that can result from resurfacing without backing up the adjacent shoulder.

UTAH (August 23 to 24, 2005)

Within the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), project design, including plan development for resurfacing projects, is delegated to four regional offices. Several functions and controls remain at the central office, including bridge design, right-of-way acquisition, and management of the traffic and safety program.

UDOT fund categories are designated on the basis of primary purpose. Approximately $50 million, consisting of Federal and State funds, is programmed annually for surface preservation. Approximately $11 million is available for traffic and safety work, of which approximately $7 million funds traffic signals and intelligent transportation systems (ITS). Projects with multiple funding sources are rare. The scan focused on surface preservation projects, which may incorporate safety improvements.

UDOT has three different sets of procedures and guidance for various scopes of resurfacing projects. The Resurfacing, Restoration, and Rehabilitation Standards for Non-Freeway Systems were issued in January 2005. The Purple Book is a guidance document for only resurfacing work, which is a subset of 3R projects. Projects developed using the Purple Book must fit a fairly specific profile. In addition to pavement work, which may involve overlays up to 4 inches of resurfacing, curb ramps that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), and selected safety improvements are included in these projects. The safety features are identified through an Operational Safety Review (OSR). The Orange Book is the third guideline. The Orange Book addresses pavement preventive maintenance, primarily thin overlays and surface treatments; geometric improvements or enhanced safety features are not provided. Both Purple Book and Orange Book projects are completed within existing rights-of-way, which are generally wide enough to accommodate geometric and roadside improvements. The UDOT is working on programmatic Federal-aid eligibility for both Purple Book and Orange Book projects.

The OSRs are prepared by the UDOT central office Traffic and Safety unit and include a review of infrastructure conditions (e.g., geometry, appurtenances, traffic control devices, etc.) and safety history. Three years of crash count data are collected. Historical crash rates and severities are computed and compared to expected rates. Single-vehicle crashes are broken into more specific types (e.g., wild animal, domestic animal, run-off-road, etc). Safety recommendations are formed on the basis of cost-benefit analysis. Typical improvements include a variety of traffic control (e.g., signing, delineation) and roadside (e.g., mail box supports, culvert extension, and guardrail) treatments. Generally, when guardrail meets NCHRP 230 crash requirements, it is not replaced. If an installation does not meet NCHRP 230 but is warranted, NCHRP 350 compliant guardrail is installed.

UDOT has adopted the national safety goal to reduce fatalities to 1.0 per 100 MVM by 2008. Highway fatalities have declined steadily in recent years. Ironically, this positive trend has increased the challenge of securing safety funds as some high-level decision makers consider recent safety performance to be adequate.

The State of Utah provides assistance to counties and incorporated municipalities under the Class B and C Road Program. Apportionments are made on the basis of road and street mileage open to public travel, over which a two-wheel drive vehicle may travel. Fund distribution is based 50 percent on population and 50 percent on weighted road miles. One paved road mile has a weight of five (5); a gravel road mile has a weight of two (2); and other road types carry a weight of one (1) per road mile. Class B and C Road Program funds may be used for construction; maintenance; equipment purchases and rental; engineering and administration; right-of-way; Federal fund match; ancillary buildings; and yards. The Class B and C Program is administered by UDOT through its Local Government Liaison Unit. Technical assistance is available from the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) centers.

The Scan Team was not able to meet any local government officials or visit any locally administered projects, but members did learn about the UDOT Roadway Safety Improvement program that uses Federal-aid Hazard Elimination-Safety (HES) funds to assist counties to improve warning and regulatory signing. The UDOT provides both technical assistance (e.g., reviewing designs) and sliding-scale funding. The actual match required by participating counties is sometimes less than 7 percent. The UDOT has a goal of assisting two counties per year under this program.

IOWA (August 24 to 26, 2005)

Over the past several years, Iowa Department of Transportation (IADOT) has changed its 3R program development approach. State highway resurfacing project typically entails a 4-inch overlay (two lifts of 2 inches each) with an anticipated service life of 20 years. Annual Statewide 3R program expenditures are approximately $60 million. As of March 2001, IADOT's six district offices are responsible for scoping, designing, and delivering the 3R program. Previously, the central office was also involved in project development. The IADOT Central Office staff developed and executed a transition plan to assist in decentralizing 3R project delivery. District office staffs were trained on conducting inventories and project scope concepts. After the decentralization was complete, the Office of Traffic and Safety conducted a quality improvement program (referred to as 3R Safety Audit Field Reviews). This was not an audit in the conventional sense or a compliance review; rather, it is a proactive educational and advocacy initiative. The audit team consisted of personnel from the IADOT Office of Traffic and Safety, FHWA Division Office, Iowa State University Center for Transportation Research and Education, and an independent safety consultant. Resident IADOT district office staff also participated. The six district offices were visited between November 2001 and October 2004. Written reports of each district visit and a Statewide summary report were prepared. Observations, strengths, and potential improvements were noted. In addition to the 3R Safety Audit Field Reviews, the IADOT Office of Traffic and Safety delivers an ongoing educational program of instruction and workshops for project-level decision makers. Several safety-related courses are offered annually.

The following safety countermeasures are considered for all 3R projects:

In addition to the above, the following additional improvements are considered on NHS routes:

Safety improvements are selective rather than "all or nothing." Individual hazards and corresponding improvements are assessed individually. Crash analysis is a routine part of these evaluations and project development.

The proportion of 3R expenditures for safety features was previously estimated at 3 percent, mostly for guardrail. Subsequent to that review and estimate, the type of safety improvements and proportion of 3R expenditures has increased.

There are approximately 113,518 centerline miles of roadways in Iowa of which approximately 8,881 are under IADOT jurisdiction. Counties own approximately 88,740 miles of the 102,812- (86.3 percent) mile rural system. Local government units (e.g., counties, cities, towns) own approximately 9,956 of the 10,706 (93.0 percent) centerline miles of roads and streets within urban areas. IADOT and the 99 counties have substantial rural highway maintenance and enhancement responsibilities. IADOT has an active outreach and partnership with local government units. Training, policy and technical guidance (e.g., cost-benefit analysis, guardrail systems), and crash data and analysis are provided at no cost. A series of County 3R Safety Workshops were delivered under IADOT leadership and assistance from Iowa State University and consultants. County personnel are provided with hard copy crash location maps and instructed on how to generate additional crash reports. Local Systems Engineers located in each IADOT district participated in the workshops and provide ongoing, routine assistance to counties and municipalities.

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