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Volume 23

Issue 1

Puerto Rico Transportation Technology Transfer Center Newsletter
University of Puerto Rico at Mayagez

Inside this

Effective Strategies to Improve Road Safety

Effective Strategies
to Improve Road

American Recovery
and Reinvestment
Act (ARRA) of 2009

Amendments to
Part 6 of MUTCD:
Temporary Traffic

Center News: Staff



Future Seminars
and Events


Message from the



The identification, implementation and evaluation of traffic safety policies and countermeasures have taken prominence due to the high cost to society of road crashes and their related
injuries and severities. Approximately 1.3 million people die and between 20 and 50 million
people are injured each year as a result of road crashes worldwide.
State and local transportation agencies must evaluate and implement strategic approaches to
improve road safety by systematically addressing the risk issues or hazards that account for
the majority of road-related fatalities in a particular State or region. Comprehensive highway
safety plans include strategies for the 4 "E's": Engineering, Education, Enforcement, and
Emergency Medical Services.
Recent data have shown a declining trend in road fatalities in the United States. In the year 2007, the amount
of 41,059 road fatalities represented the lowest number
since 1994. This statistic was complemented with an
average fatality rate of 1.36 per 100 million vehicle-miles
traveled (VMT), the lowest in record. From a National
viewpoint, the most deadly types of crashes are roadway departure crashes, intersection crashes, crashes
involving pedestrians, and speed-related crashes.





(Article continues on page 6)

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

(ARRA) of 2009
On February 17, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). On March 3, 2009,
President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden joined United States Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in announcing that
$48.1 billion of this funding was available for transportation investment.
The main purpose of the Recovery Act is to put America back to work by
making needed investments in America's infrastructure.
Less than two months after funding was made available, more than 2,600 projects have been
approved, committing more than one-third of the available funding. Hundreds of projects have
already begun and during the summer, work will be under way in every state in the country.
This article reviews main aspects of the act.
(Article continues on page 9)

Page 2

Proposed Amendments to Part 6 of the

MUTCD: Temporary Traffic Control
This article presents general information about
some of the proposed amendments to Part 6
Temporary Traffic Control of the Manual on
Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) that
were published in the Federal Register on
January 2, 2008. These amendments are under review for a possible incorporation to the
update version of the MUTCD.

Minimum Taper Lengths

Recommendations are being added that the
length of the short taper and the downstream
taper, which are to be used to guide traffic
back into their original lanes, be a minimum of
50 and 100 feet, respectively.

in the picture on the left margin) to meet

the special needs of these personnel.
Furthermore, a recommendation is being
added that all on-scene responders and
news media personnel in traffic incidents
areas should wear the same apparel.

Flagger Operations
Flaggers in temporary work zones will be
required to use a STOP/SLOW paddle, a
red flag, or an Automated Flagger Assistance Device to control road users
through Temporary Traffic Control (TTC)
450 mm (18 in)


15 to 30 m (50 to 100 ft)

Buffer Space (optional)

900 mm
(36 in)

Buffer Space (optional)

Short taper

15 to 30 m (50 to 100 ft)

4.6 m (15 ft)

Also, minimum taper lengths have been proposed for one-lane, two-way traffic tapers.

High Visibility Safety Apparel

High-visibility public
safety vest

Requirements are being included that all personnel and workers (flaggers included) within
the public right-of-way in both federal-aided
and non-federal aided streets and highways
must use high visibility safety apparel. This
amendment comes as an expansion to the
Title 23 CFR revisions, which extended the
applicability to all roads open to public travel,
and not just federal-aided highways.
An option is being added to allow first responders and law enforcement personnel to make
use of the newly-developed ANSI/ISEA 2072006 standard for public safety vests (shown

El Puente Newsletter, PR LTAP

600 mm
(24 in)


600 mm
(24 in)

This change will remove the exclusive use

of hand movements from the permitted
methods to control traffic.

Page 3

Volume 22

New provisions are being added to clarify that it is optimal

to place a STOP/SLOW paddle on a rigid staff, with a
minimum length of 7 feet, in order to display a STOP or
SLOW message that is stable and high enough to be
seen by approaching or stopped traffic.

This change reflects the current practice in many States

and numerous local jurisdictions as documented in the
Sign Synthesis Study and provides a uniformed legend.

Signs in TTC Zones

Regarding portable VMS, new requirements are being

added pertaining to the:

An option is being added to allow flagger

signs in a TTC zone to be displayed to
road users for up to 15 minutes when
flagging operations are not being carried.
This reflects Official Interpretation #6-200
(I), which was issued by FHWA on September 2004.
plaques are being added that may be mounted with the
Speed Limit sign if increased fines are imposed for traffic
violations within the TTC zone.

Portable Variable Message Signs (VMS)

Number of phases

Number of lines of text

Placement of messages
within each line,

Technique for message display

Interaction between signs if more than one sign is

simultaneously visible to road users.

Also, changes are being made to the recommended

display time for messages phases. These changes are
based on extensive research on changeable message
sign legibility, messaging, and operations.

A new version for the Shoulder

Drop-Off sign symbol is being
added to warn road users of a
low shoulder; consistent with
Chapter 2C. Additionally, an
option is being added to permit
the use of an UNEVEN LANES
supplementary plaque, instead
of the uneven lane word sign, to
be consistent with Chapter 2C.

An alternate diamond display, also called dancing

diamond, is being added
as an option for a flashing
caution display on an arAlternating Diamond Caution
row board, based on successful experiments.

Drums and Channelizing Devices

A previous recommendation is being changed into a
requirement prohibiting weighting drums with water,
sand, or any material to the extent that would make
them hazardous to workers when struck.

A new MUTCD section will describe the use of the NEW

PATTERN TRAFFIC AHEAD sign to provide an advanced
warning in traffic pattern changes, such as: revised lane
usage, roadway geometry, or signal phasing.

450 mm (18 in) MIN.


100 to
150 mm
(4 to 6 in)

900 m
(36 in) MIN.

Another option is being deleted; water will no longer be

permitted as ballast in longitudinal channelizing devices
to provide consistency throughout Part 6, since water
will no longer be allowed to be used as ballast for any
channelizing device.

Page 4

Temporary Lane
Raised Islands



A new section will be added that contains

provisions concerning the use of optional
temporary lane separators that may be
used to channelize road users, to divide
opposing vehicular traffic lanes, or divide
lanes when two or more lanes are open in
the same direction, and to provide continuous pedestrian channelization.

As to the recommended width of temporary

raised islands, it is being reduced from 18
inches to 12 inches to facilitate the use of
existing devices that have been successfully used in many applications.

Temporary Raised Pavement Markers (RPMs)

Rumble strips
Black and orange are acceptable colors for
transverse rumble strips in TTC zones according to new standards based on successful experimentation.

Plans for Special Events

A new GUIDANCE statement is being
added recommending that a TTC plan
should be developed for all planned special
events and approved by the highway agencies having jurisdiction.

Provisions are being added to provide more

information regarding color, patterns, and
spacing of RPMs in TTC zones.

These changes contain requirements and

recommendations from Part 3 and also provide for optional use of temporary short
term (typically no longer than 14 days) use
of a less expensive pattern of raised pavement markers to substitute for a broken line

El Puente Newsletter, PR LTAP

This change helps assure that proper traffic

controls are installed when planned special
events, such as parades, marathons, bicycle races, street fairs, farmers markets,
etc., impact traffic, and responds to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
report on this subject.

Page 5

Volume 22

Traffic Incident Management

TA-16 Surveying Along Centerline of Road with Low

Traffic Volumes

A new STANDARD is being added that the Incident

Command System (ICS) shall be implemented in traffic
incident management areas, as required by the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

A recommendation is added that all lanes should be a

minimum of 10 feet in width to be consistent with
guidance in other TAs.
TA-41 Median Crossover for Exit Ramp
A recommendation is added that channelizing devices should be placed to physically close the ramp
when an exit is closed. This change reflects current
practice and provides positive closure, rather than
just relying on signs.
TAs with Freeway Lane Closure (TA-37, TA-38, TA39, TA-42, and TA-44)
A new standard is added that requires that arrow panels shall be used for all freeway lane closures.

This is as stated by the Department of Homeland Security and Presidential Directives (DHSPD) #5 and #8,
which require the adoption of the NIMS and the ICS by
all Federal, State, tribal and local governments. In addition, these two systems are required for all planned and
unplanned incidents in the United States.

Also, the standard requires that a separate arrow

panel shall be used for each closed lane when more
than one lane is closed.

The FHWA considers that arrow panels are essential

for safety at all lane closures on freeways due to the
existence of high operating speeds.
The use of light sticks in place of flares is being added
as an option. The use of light sticks is increasingly
common by police and emergency services personnel
and is a more convenient an effective device.

Typical Application (TA) Drawings

Chapters 6H and 6I are being reversed so that the TA
Diagrams will be located at the end of part 6.
A clarification is being added that, except for the notes,
the information presented on the TA drawings can generally be regarded as guidance.
TA-4 Short-Duration or Mobile Operation on Shoulder
A clarification is added that stationary signs may be
omitted if the work is mobile, given that this use often is
not practical.

Deletions from MUTCD

The section on steady-burn electric lamps is being
deleted given that most jurisdictions are using other
types of warning lights, therefore making the previous
Other deletions include the section on floodlights,
crash cushions, vehicle arresting systems, and glare
screens; these items are not traffic control devices
and it is not appropriate for the MUTCD to have regulatory language regarding their design of use.
For complete information about the MUTCD and the
proposed amendments please visit: http://
index.htm. Source: FHWA MUTCD Team.

Page 6

Road Safety (continued from page 1)

The 452 road fatalities observed in Puerto Rico in the year 2007
represented the lowest number in 15 years. On the other hand,
the fatality rate of 2.35 per 100 million VMT, although also declining, still represents the second highest fatality rate among United
States jurisdictions. Main safety issues in Puerto Rico are related
to roadway departure, urban areas, speeding, pedestrians and
bicyclists, alcohol-impaired and motorcyclists. A distressing issue
is the fact that 68.4% of the speedingrelated fatalities occurred
on non-interstate highways with speed limits of 40 miles per hour
or less.

Main Safety Issues in Puerto Rico, 2007 Data

Pedestrians and bicyclists
Urban areas
Roadway departure







Special attention has been provided to develop safety countermeasures to reduce the likelihood of the most deadly types of
crashes. The following nine countermeasures are being promoted
by FHWA for their consideration in state and local safety improvement programs and ARRA
funded projects to reduce highway fatalities and injuries.

Percentage of Road Fatalities, %


Road Safety Audit

A RSA is a formal safety performance examination of an existing or future road segment or

intersection by an independent, multi-disciplinary team. The RSA team identifies the road
elements or traffic operation aspects that may represent a safety concern, considers all road
users and conditions, and identifies opportunities to eliminate or mitigate these concerns.
The benefits of RSA are:
May help produce designs that reduce the number and severity of crashes
May reduce costs by identifying safety issues and correcting them before projects are
Promote awareness of safe design practices
Integrate multimodal safety concerns
Consider human factors in all facets of design
Crash reduction percentages from 20 to 80% have been recorded on existing projects
where a RSA was done. Visit for RSA guidance information.
Rumble strips are grooved patterns on the pavement that can be located outside of the
travel lanes and on the centerline of two-way undivided roadways. Rumble stripes are
ground into the pavement and are painted over with the appropriate striping. These two applications produce an audible warning and physical vibration when traversed by the vehicle
tires to alert drivers who are leaving the traveled way.

Rumble Strips

The application of rumble stripes or strips has shown reductions between 15 to 80% on freeways and 25% on two-lane roads of run-off-the-road (ROR) crashes and reductions between 20 to 25% of head-on and sideswipe crashes of vehicles in opposite directions on
undivided roadways. Costs vary based on the application, but prices range between $0.20
and $3.00 per linear foot. Visit
rumble_strips/ for more information.
Median barriers are longitudinal barriers that separate opposing traffic on a divided highway
and are used to redirect vehicles striking either side of the barrier. Median barriers can significantly reduce the occurrence of cross-median crashes and the overall severity of median
-related crashes. A median barrier should be installed only if the consequences of striking

El Puente Newsletter, PR LTAP

Volume 22

Page 7

the barrier are expected to be less severe than if no barrier existed. The 2006 AASHTO
Roadside Design Guide encourages the consideration of barriers in medians up to 50
feet wide on high-speed roadways.
As with roadside barriers, median barriers are categorized as flexible, semi-rigid, or rigid.
The most commonly used types of median barriers are cable, w-beam, and safety-shape
concrete barriers. All new median barriers must conform to NCHRP Report 350 criteria.
Studies have observed that median guardrails on divided highways reduce fatal and injury crashes, while increasing property damage only crashes. Installation cost will vary
depending on the material used. Cable barrier systems can be installed for an average
cost of $76,500 per mile. For more information review:
median_barrier.htm or the AASHTO Roadside Design Guide.

Median Barriers


The Safety Edge is a hot-mix asphalt paving
technique where the interface between the
roadway and the graded shoulder is paved
at an angle to eliminate the vertical drop-off.
When a driver drifts off the roadway and
tries to steer back onto the roadway pavement the action may result in over-steering
because of the contact of the tire with the
head of the drop-off.
Studies have shown that crashes involving
pavement edge drop-offs greater than 2.5
inches tall are more severe and twice as
likely to be fatal than other roadway departure crashes. Research has shown that
pavement edges may have been a contributing factor in 15 to 20% of run-off-road
crashes. This technique requires a modification to the paving equipment with a cost of
approximately $1,200. Visit for
more information.

Safety Edge


Roundabouts are circular intersections with specific design and traffic control features
that ensure low travel speeds (less than 30 mph) through the circulatory roadway. The
two basic operational and design principles that govern modern roundabouts are: 1)
yield-at-entry, and 2)deflection of entering traffic. Geometric features such as the radius
of the inscribed circle and the angle and radii of entry approaches provide a reduced
speed environment and improved operational performance compared to most regular
intersections. The size of roundabouts range from mini-roundabouts with inscribed circle diameters as small as 50 feet, to compact roundabouts with circle diameters between 98 to 115 feet, and large roundabouts, often with multilane circulating roadways
and more than four entry approaches, with circle diameters up to 492 feet.
Roundabouts offer safety advantages by theoretically reducing the number of conflict
points, from 32 to 20 at a four-leg intersection. Studies have observed reductions in
fatal and injury crashes from 60 to 87% due to the use of a roundabout. In terms of
costs, roundabouts may require additional right-of-way than a regular intersection. For
more information visit: Roundabout guidelines
are also available from AASHTO, FHWA and ITE.

Modern Roundabout

Page 8


Exclusive Lane

Intersections are defined as the general area where two or more roadways join or
cross. The majority of crash black-spots identified on highway networks are intersections; thus its design must facilitate the convenience, ease, safety, and mobility of all
road users. The installation of turn lanes reduces the crash potential and motorist inconvenience, and improves the intersection operational efficiency. The most frequent
type of collisions at intersections are right-angle and rear-end between vehicles and
vehicles colliding with pedestrians. Adding exclusive turn lanes provides separation
between turning and through traffic and reduces conflicts by separating traffic movements.
Studies have shown that various forms of channelization have a more favorable effect
on the number of crashes at four-leg than T-intersections. The installation of the turn
lanes may require additional right-of-way, which will increase its cost. More information
is available at:
The yellow change is the time interval following a green indication at a signalized intersection during which the yellow signal indication is displayed to warn drivers of the impending change in right- of-way assignment. Yellow change intervals should be appropriate for the speed and distance traveled at a signalized intersection.

Yellow Signal Interval

Yellow change intervals that are not consistent with normal operating speeds create a
dilemma zone in which drivers can neither stop safely nor reach the intersection before
the signal indication turns red. The length of the yellow change interval should be increased at any intersection where the existing yellow change interval time is less than
the time needed for a motorist traveling at the prevailing speed of traffic to reach the intersection and stop comfortably before the signal turns red. Increasing yellow change
interval (up to certain time) has been associated with reductions in red-light running.
More information at:

Median Refuge Areas

Pedestrian refuge areas (also known as crossing islands, center islands, pedestrian islands, or median slow points) are raised islands placed in the street at an intersection or
at a segment midblock to separate crossing pedestrians from motor vehicles. Providing
raised medians or pedestrian refuge areas at pedestrian crossings at marked and unmarked crosswalks has shown reduction in pedestrian crashes. Installing such raised
channelization on approaches to multi-lane intersections has been shown to be particularly effective. This application can also be integrated with raised cross-walks. More information at:


Pathways, sidewalks, or paved shoulders should be provided wherever possible, especially in urban areas and near school zones where there are high volumes of bikes and
pedestrians. Walking along road pedestrian crashes typically represent around 7.5% of
all pedestrian crashes in a location (with about 37% of that 7.5% being fatal and serious
injury crashes). The presence of a sidewalk or pathway on both sides of the street, or
providing paved, wide shoulders (with a minimum of 4 feet) on roadways that do not have
sidewalks have been associated to reducing more than half of the walking along road
pedestrian crashes. More information at:
Adapted from a FHWA publication and other sources. For more information about these
safety countermeasures visit FHWA Safety Office at:

El Puente Newsletter, PR LTAP

Page 9

Volume 22

Recovery Act (continued from page 1)

The objectives of the ARRA include:

Job preservation and creation

Assistance to the unemployed
State and local fiscal stabilization
Energy efficiency and science
Infrastructure investment

The $48.1 billion in ARRA for transportation investment is divided as shown below.


High speed rail




Selected projects must follow the regular Federal-aid processes of NEPA, Disadvantaged
Business Enterprises, Buy America, and
Davis-Bacon wage rules (no exemption for
local roads and rural minor collectors). Projects will generally follow the rules of the Surface Transportation Program (STP).
Many states are using ARRA funds for resurfacing projects. There is opportunity to add
safety improvements to these resurfacing projects, as well as developing safety improvement projects, such as:

Installation of rumble strips

Upgrade of guardrails and barriers
Paving of shoulders
Upgrade of pavement markings and installation of reflectors
Replacement and upgrade of road signs
Roadway hazard elimination
High Risk Rural Roads
Improvement of data collection and analysis

It is expected this investment will create or

sustain 1.8 million jobs and generate $322
billion of economic activity.
In selecting projects for funding, priority is
to be given to projects that are:

Projected for completion within 3 years

Located in economically distressed

In addition, federal planning requirements

still hold:
Projects must be in an approved Statewide Transportation Improvement Program
In urbanized areas over 50,000 people,
projects must be consistent with the
metropolitan transportation plan
In air quality non-attainment and maintenance areas, non exempt projects
must meet conformity requirements
Projects in metropolitan areas are coordinated with the MPO, State DOT,
and transit agency.
Projects outside metropolitan areas are
coordinated with the State DOT.

The investment in transportation infrastructure

under ARRA will lead to more highway construction and active highway work zones.
There is need to place emphasis on work
zone planning and traffic control on these projects to keep road users and workers safe.
ARRA Formula Funds provided to Puerto Rico
and the U.S. Virgin Islands include:

($, Mill.)

($, Mill.)

Highways & bridges


Transit capital



Fixed-guideway modernization



Clean water SRF



* Territorial Highway Program receives $45 Mill. Under P.L. 111-5.

Visit the ARRA website for more information:

Federal share for

ARRA projects is
up to 100%, with
no match required.

Page 10

Center News: Staff Achievements

The Puerto Rico Transportation Technology Transfer Center is pleased to announce that our director, Prof. Benjamn Colucci Ros, was recognized as a
Titular Member of the Pan American Academy of Engineering on December 2,
2008. This acknowledgment was also granted to another 32 engineers of Pan
American countries, including the United States and Canada.
The ceremony was held in Brasilia as part of the XXIII Convention of the Pan
American Federation of Engineering Societies and the III Convention of the
World Federation of Engineering Societies, events that attracted more than
3,000 engineers and professionals. The federations recognition is given to engineers for relevant ethical, academic and professional merit, and evaluating
the contribution to the progress of engineering in their countries and the American Continent.

Future Seminars and Events

The Center would be offering the
following seminars:
Practical Guides for the Placement and
Compaction Inspection of Hot-Mix Asphalt Pavements
Instructor: Dr. Benjamn Colucci, P.E.
September 16, 2009
Municipality of San Juan
Estrategias Efectivas para la Conducta
tica en Proyectos de Construccin
Instructor: Dr. Francisco Maldonado
September 23, 2009
Amphitheatre of the Department of Civil
Engineering and Surveying
UPR-RUM, Mayagez
Basic Concepts and Success Stories in
the Application of Road Safety Audits
(RSA) in Pan American Countries
Instructor: Dr. Benjamn Colucci, P.E.
September 25, 2009
CIAPR Hato Rey

El Puente Newsletter, PR LTAP

Basic Concepts of Mass Transportation with

Applications to Puerto Rico and Latin America
Instructor: Dr. Felipe Luyanda, P.E.
September 25, 2009
CIAPR Hato Rey
For information about seminars please contact:
Ms. Grisel Villarrubia
Telephone: 787-834-6385
E-mail address:
UPADI 2009 Intermediate Meeting
September 23-26, 2009
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Telephone: (787) 758-2250/1-800-981-5791
E-mail address:
89th Annual Meeting
Transportation Research Board
January 10-14, 2010

Page 11

Volume 22

Message from the Editor

Greetings. This new edition of EL PUENTE includes an interesting article about nine effective safety countermeasures that
can be applied to state and local roads to improve the safety of all users. In addition, this newsletter contains important information about the updates being proposed to Part 6 of the MUTCD that will have an effect on work zone safety and temporary
traffic control plans designed and implemented by state and local agencies and other organizations. The third main article
provides a general review about the objective and funds available for transportation in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The Puerto Rico T2 Center celebrated the 23th anniversary of its creation on April 1st, 1986 at the Department of Civil Engineering of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagez. Through the years, the Center has provided training and technical assistance to more than 25,000 officials of the 78 Puerto Rico municipalities and the Department of Transportation and Public
Works (DTPW), and the US Virgin Islands Department of Public Works (DPW) and has promoted research and professional
development in highway and transportation, including highway safety, human factors, intermodal and community service. The
Center wants to offer its appreciation and gratitude to our present and past staff and trainers for their hard work and professionalism and to the PR DTPW, the USVI DPW and the UPR for their trust in the Centers contribution to the development of
Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Alberto M. Figueroa Medina, Deputy Director

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University of Puerto Rico at Mayagez, Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying
Box 9000, Mayagez, PR 00681-9000
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Fax: (787) 265-5695

Volume 23
Issue 3

Puerto Rico Transportation

Technology Transfer Center
University of Puerto Rico at Mayagez
Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying
Call Box 9000
Mayagez, PR 00681-9000

Benjamn Colucci
Deputy Director
Alberto M. Figueroa Medina
Program Administrator
Gisela Gonzlez
Administrative Coordinators
Grisel Villarubia
Irmal Franco
Gloril Fernndez
Assistants to the Editor
Daniel Rodrguez
Walter Zeno

El Puente is published by the Puerto Rico Transportation Technology Transfer

Center at the Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying of the University
of Puerto Rico at Mayagez.

The opinions, findings, or recommendations expressed in this newsletter are

those of the Center staff and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal
Highway Administration, the Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and
Public Works and the Highway and Transportation Authority, or the U.S. Virgin
Islands Department of Public Works.