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Number 1




Puente EL

Vol. 31 No. 1, 2017


Pages 8-12
Message from the Director 3

Unsignalized Intersection Improvement Guide 4-7

Outstanding Participation of the University of

Outstanding Participation of the University of
Puerto Rico at Mayaguez at the 2017 TRB Annual 8-12 Puerto Rico at Mayagez at the TRB Annual
Meeting Meeting 2017

Meet Engineer Carlos Contreras, the New

Secretary of the Department of Transportation 13-14
and Public Works

Page 13-14
ASCE Infrastructure Report Card:
Mixed Panorama in Transportation

AASHTO Will Publish its Standard Specifications

Meet Engineer Carlos Contreras, the New
Only in Electronic Format Starting with the 2017 16 Secretary of the Department of Transportation
Edition and Public Works

The ITE-UPRM Student Chapter Starts the Year

with its Transportation Week

Pages 17-20
TP Sleeve: a new Option for the Maintenance of
Traffic Cones

Know your Director: Prof. Ismael Pagan-Trinidad 21-22

The ITE-UPRM Student Chapter Starts the Year
Decade of Action for Road Safety Pledge 23 with its Transportation Week

Vol. 31 No. 1, 2017

The Puerto Rico Transportation Technology Transfer Center, PRLTAP/T2, is part of a network of 58 Centers
throughout the United States that comprises of the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) and Tribal
Technical Assistance Program (TTAP). The mission of the PRLTAP/T2 Center is to provide training and technical
assistance to local transportation officials of the 78 municipalities that comprises the Commonwealth of Puerto
Rico, the Department of Transportation and Public Works of Puerto Rico and the Department of Public Works of
the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), with emphasis on promoting a highway safety culture and in the implementation of
the USDOT FHWA Every Day Counts (EDC) initiatives. EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER VOL.31 NO.1, 2017 3

Message from the Director

W elcome! Best
regards to all our
readers in the first
edition of the 31st Anniversary
The fifth article, named The ITE-UPRM Student
Chapter Starts the Year with its Transportation
Week, showcases to readers the main event the
student chapter of the Institute of Transportation
of the Newsletter El Puente! Engineers of the University of Puerto Rico at
The feature article of this edition presents a free-of- Mayagez (ITE-UPRM) celebrates each year. This
charge software tool of interest to local highway year the blanket topic was the Future of
officials, the Unsignalized Intersection Improvement Transportation in Puerto Rico, in which the
Guide (UIIG). This tool has multiple mechanisms to speakers brought to the audience the latest
aid in the selection of improvements for advances and ongoing plans to confront the
intersections lacking traffic control devices, with transportation challenges Puerto Rico currently
stop control, yield control or roundabout control. experiences.
The second article is dedicated to the new generation As part of the brief news section we present the
of professionals soon to join the labor force to drive upcoming changes of the AASHTO Standard
the progress of the transportation profession, in Specifications book, which will be published only
particular the delegation of the University of Puerto in digital format starting with the 2017 edition; and
Rico at Mayagez (UPRM) who attended the TRB the TP Sleeve, an economically priced accessory
Annual Meeting of 2017, in Washington, DC. The that helps extend the service life and protect
article, named Outstanding Participation of the temporary traffic control cones from deterioration.
University of Puerto Rico at Mayagez in the TRB Finally, in the Know your Director section, the T2
Annual Meeting 2017, describes the students Center is proud to recognize professor Ismael
performance in the poster sessions and presentations Pagan Trinidad, Director of the UPRM Department
of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation of Civil Engineering and Surveying. Throughout
Fellowship Program for Hispanic-Serving the years a fruitful collaboration has developed
Institutions (DDETFP-HSI), SaferSim, TransInfo, between the Cetner and the Department, thanks to
the ITE-UPRM and the International Road his willingness to contribute to public service
Federation. through education, research and multiple projects
This editions third article is titled Meet Engineer coordinated with state and federal government
Carlos Contreras Aponte, the New Secretary of the agencies.
Department of Transportation and Public Works, I hope the articles presented in this edition can
presents the professional background and plans of benefit our local collaborators in transportation in
the new member of the Constitutional Cabinet, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. It
named by the Governor of Puerto Rico to lead both is our intent to share and continually update
the Department of Transportation and Public Works innovative transportation research initiatives,
and the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation especially Every Day Counts (EDC), in our
Authority. mission to promote highway safety, workforce
Our fourth article is denominated A SCE development and the management of transportation
Infrastructure Report Card: A Mixed Panorama in infrastructure.
Transportation, Here we present seven of the sixteen
transportation components that form part of the
United States infrastructure, as rated at the start of
each four-year term by the American Society of Benjamn Colucci Ros
Civil Engineers (ASCE).


Unsignalized Intersection Improvement Guide

esulting from a collaboration between the Federal Highway
Administrations Office of Safety and the Institute of
Transportation Engineers (FHWA and ITE, respectively) and
developed through the National Cooperative Highway Research Program
(NCHRP, by its initials), the Unsignalized Intersection Improvement
Guide (UIIG) has been developed. This web-based tool is intended to
aid in the selection process for improvements and/or modifications to
intersections controlled by stop signs, yield signs (includes roundabouts)
or lacking traffic control, a topic of great importance for agencies in
charge of local highway infrastructure.
Throughout the United States, approximately 70% of fatal crashes that
occurred between 2010 and 2012 and related to intersections happen in
sites without traffic signals. However, intersections of this kind are
usually under local authority, such as counties and municipalities. Unlike
state agencies, local agencies may have a shortage of staff and resources,
in particular in-house traffic engineers. The UIIG can thus serve as a tool
to assist agencies in their decision-making process to intervene in favor
of traffic safety, mobility and accessibility of communities.
In the case of Puerto Rico, the 2014-2018 Strategic Highway Safety Plan
considers intersections as an emphasis area, the only one directly defined
in terms of type of network component. This emphasis area is not
specific in terms of which traffic control devices are of interest, meaning
it has room to incorporate the UIIG as a versatile tool to aid the
intervention efforts for traffic safety. At present, traffic fatality trends EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER VOL.31 NO.1, 2017 5

6. Vehicle conflicts with non-motorists

7. Poor operational performance

8. Misjudgment of gaps in traffic

9. Speeding

10. Non-compliance with intersection traffic

control devices

At the time of this edition, the UIIG has a total of

seventy-five (75) treatments or countermeasures,
of which thirty-seven (37) consist of traffic
control devices, twenty-eight (28) consist of
geometric improvements, two (2) on roadside
conditions, two (2) on pavement conditions, two
(2) on miscellaneous engineering treatments and
Five-year moving average trend of fatal crashes at four (4) in law enforcement.
intersections in Puerto Rico. The Strategic Highway Safety
Plan calls for a target reduction of this trend to 42 fatal The selection of these treatments using this tool
crashes by 2018. Source: PR SHSP 2016 Annual Report. can be done in six (6) different ways:
associated to intersections in Puerto Rico indicate Citizen Traffic Request Form, which allows
a slow reduction of fatal intersection crashes, as communities to express their concerns about
measured through the five-year moving average. problems they confront.
From the 2013 baseline of 47, the goal for 2018 is
a reduction to 42 fatalities, for year 2015 the value
was at 46 fatalities. The reduction rate goal is
indicative of an opportunity to add the UIIG to the
set of options available for traffic safety
improvements for intersections.

The UIIG was initially developed to address ten

(10) categories of common problems associated to
unsignalized intersections, including but not
limited to:

1. Inappropriate intersection traffic control

2. Inadequate visibility of the intersection or
regulatory traffic control devices

3. Inadequate intersection sight distance

4. Inadequate guidance for motorists

5. Excessive intersection conflicts within or near The UIIG has a matrix if improvements, which groups
the intersection alternatives depending on the improvement type and the
type of problem addressed. Source:

Assessment and Inventory Form, a

spreadsheet that allows the documentation of
intersection characteristics.
Treatment Alternatives Filter allowing
users to screen treatments to find those most
relevant to the intersection of interest.

Treatment Keyword Search allowing user s

to use words or phrases related to the
identified problem(s).
Complete List of Treatments allowing user s
to familiarize themselves directly with all
treatment options. Each treatment has an
informational sheet explaining its purpose,
considerations and corresponding references.

This tool also has an information section, which

provides guidance about its use, the intervention The UIIG has a citizen request form that helps agencies gather
citizen complaints and petitions to intervene to address
process, the importance of federal regulations,
problems related to unsignalized intersections. This document
including ADA and the MUTCD, maintenance is available for agencies to use, edit and adapt to their needs.

Each alternative has an information sheet describing its purpose, citation of relevant technical references, practical
considerations for the alternatives use, as well as examples of implementation. Source: EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER VOL.31 NO.1, 2017 7

as part of the process to ensure the effectiveness

of improvements and a directory of additional
references and resources of interest.
As part of the Annual Technical Conference of
the ITE, Puerto Rico section (ITE-PR), celebrated
on Friday, October 21, 2016, an interactive
workshop was used to introduce the UIIG. This
activity was led by Juan Carlos Rivera, engineer
from the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation
Authority (PRHTA, by its initials), and David
Petrucci, engineer from FHWA. The workshop
started with an interactive component in which
the audience contributed to define the UIIG,
followed by a practical session in which
Eng. David Petrucci (shown), a representative of the
attendants practiced its use in a teamwork-based
FHWA Office of Safety, together with Eng. Juan Carlos
session to improve one of two real unsignalized Rivera, from the PRHTA Safety Projects Division, were the
intersections from western Puerto Rico. Each speakers who presented the UIIG during the ITE-PR 2016
team used the UIIG to select traffic safety Annual Technical Conference.
treatments based on crash history, geometric
characteristics and site conditions. The results
were then presented to the other participants of
the event.
To learn more about the UIIG, readers can visit
its website, This tool is
available free of charge.

Unsignalized intersection can be very different, ranging

Participants of the UIIG workshop had the opportunity to from crossings of local streets in rural and residential areas
use the guides components to propose solutions for one of (above) up to multi-lane roundabouts joining arterial roads
two intersections located in western Puerto Rico. (below).

Credit: Bryan Ruiz

Outstanding Participation of the University of Puerto Rico

at Mayagez at the TRB Annual Meeting 2017

This is an opportunity he 96th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research
to meet professionals, board was celebrated from January 8th to 12th of 2017, at
the city of Washington D. C. This outstanding event
academic institutions and
gathers a great variety of academics, government officials,
businesses dedicated to businesspeople and ideas, all hailing from more tan 70 countries,
transportation who are who presented in more tan 800 workshops and sections, containing
recognized worldwide. more tan 5,000 presentations for an audience of more tan 12,000
participants. Everyone present came together under one motto,
Transportation Innovation: Leading the Way in an Era of Rapid
Bryan Ruiz Change. The main topics of the 2017 Annual Meeting consist of
UPRM Master of Science transformational technologies, transportation and health, and
in Civil Engineering Student transportation resilience.

This year heralds the 23rd occasion in which a representation from

the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagez (UPRM) attends,
establishing a tradition in which our universitys community
contributes to the Meeting and this field. In this occasion we had a
numerous group, including five (5) professors, fourteen (14) UPRM
students and four (4) alumni of the institution. Noteworthy members
of this delegation include Dr. Enrique Gonzlez, Dr. Ivette Cruzado,
Dr. Didier Valds, Dr. Daniel Rodrguez and Dr. Benjamn Colucci,
Director of the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship
Program for Hispanic Serving Institutions (DDETFP-HSI). EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER VOL.31 NO.1, 2017 9

Among the awarded DDETFP-HSI 2016-2017

students, representing the UPRM, are two Ph. D.
candidates: student and engineer Josie Bianchi and
student ngel Alicea; representing the Masters
level are students Ricardo Prez, Kennia
Maldonado, Heriberto Pujols and Mara G. Torres,
president of the UPRM Institute of Transportation
Engineers Student Chapter (ITE-UPRM).

Representing the Bachelors degree level were two

students: ngel Rivera and Rolando E. Gonzlez. Credit: Maria G. Torres
In representation of the Safety Research Using Eisenhower fellowship program awardee students together
Simulation, SaferSim, were graduate students of the with Dr. Enrique Gonzlez (center), they are: Mara G.
Master of Civil Engineering program Bryan Ruiz, Torres, ngel Alicea, ngel Rivera, Rolando E. Gonzlez,
Heriberto L. Pujols, Ricardo Prez and Kennia Maldonado.
activities director of the ITE-UPRM, Johnathan
Ruiz and Ricardo Garca, as well as the Bachelor of
Eisenhower Awardees
Science in Mathematics student Enid M. Coln.
As part of the DDETFP-HSI
In representation of the TransInfo consortium were
2016-2017 requirements,
Armando Gonzlez, a graduate student of the each of the students
Master of Civil Engineering program, and developed a research Project
indirectly the Bachelor of Science in Computer sponsored by the fellowship
Engineering, Jessica Cotrina, who could not attend fund and were invited to
but whose research project was showcased at the attend the Annual Meeting.
Annual Meetings poster session. Other attendants From this group of eight (8)
include noteworthy UPRM alumni, among them awarded students from the UPRM, five (5)
Kenneth Vlez, Jennifer Aponte, Wilfredo Cordero members attended the event and two (2) projects
and David R. Soto. were presented at the professional forum.

From the DDETFP awardees we were able to

contact Heriberto L. Pujols, who told us about his
ongoing research about curriculum needs of the
UPRM graduate program in transportation
engineering. Nowadays we need to prepare
transportation engineers through graduate studies.
Transportation is a dynamic field, and in
accordance to what the new challenges require we
need courses that are equally dynamic. Heriberto
also told us of his experience attending the
professional event. This is a good opportunity to
grow in the professional level and obtain the
feedback on whats happening nowadays, what is
Credit: Bryan Ruiz
being currently considered, what are the newest
Representing the SaferSim research consortium were ideas being tested. This is an experience in which
Ricardo Garca, Enid M. Coln and Johnathan Ruiz, one opens up, with networking, a complete package
co-authors of a research project about toll plazas.
for professional growth. Its very positive.

This is a good opportunity to Meanwhile, engineer and PhD candidate, Josie D.

Bianchi, has the privilege of being an Eisenhower
grow in the professional level and
awardee for two consecutive years. This is my
obtain the feedback on whats second year in a row receiving the Eisenhower
happening nowadays, what is being fellowship, this is a great honor for me. During her
currently considered, what are the attendance to the meeting, she had the opportunity
to get up-to-date with the latest projects and
newest ideas being tested. initiatives of the transportation discipline. An
opportunity that TRB provides you with is meeting
Heriberto L. Pujols other colleagues from Puerto Rico residing outside
the Island, but with similar interests within civil and
UPRM Master of Science in
Civil Engineering student This is my second year in a row
receiving the Eisenhower fellowship,
Another program awardee, Ricardo Prez, told us this is a great honor for me.
about his project, Load Rating of Reinforced
Concrete Box Culvert Without Plans Using
Statistical Parameters to Estimate Their Steel Eng. Josie D. Bianchi
Reinforcement. This project is still ongoing, but it PhD candidate in Civil Engineering
was presented at TRB. It seeks to eliminate two of the UPRM
types of uncertainty: lack of design drawings and the
possible biases of inspectors. He also told us about transportation engineering. I had the opportunity to
the value of being involved with transportation mingle with them and we could compare the
despite hailing from a structural engineering ongoing projects were developing in Puerto Rico
background. I really like the topic of bridge versus those being developed at different agencies
analysis because it is one of those topics structural and universities of the United States. This is a very
engineers arent necessarily knowledgeable of and enriching experience that helps you expand your
because it is an example of interdisciplinary practice knowledge base and network throughout the
within civil engineering. different activities.


SaferSim is a research
consortium for traffic safety
formed by several
universities of the United
States and its territories.
This group performs studies
examining a variety of
situations and designs in a
virtual environment, by means of exposing
Credit: Bryan Ruiz
volunteer participants to a virtual driving simulator
Poster sessions provide an opportunity for new researchers, in the contexts being researched. This program thus
in particular students, to showcase their projects to a diverse allows for an effective way to study human factors
and professional audience.
in traffic safety. EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER VOL.31 NO.1, 2017 11

Representing the four-member strong SaferSim Last but not least, Enid M. Coln brings us a
delegation we were able to contact Ricardo Garca, different perspective, given her different academic
Johnathan Ruiz and Bryan Ruiz, all three belonging background in mathematics. I consider this to be
to the Master of Science in Civil Engineering an excellent experience to expand your knowledge
graduate program, and Enid M. Coln, from the in topics beyond the academic scope provided by
Bachelor of Science in Pure Mathematics program. the UPRM.
They are all co-authors of a study denominated
Comparative Analysis of Toll Plaza Safety Features
Condecorated TransInfo Delegation
in Puerto Rico and Massachusetts Using a Driving
Simulator, which examines different scenarios The Transportation
involving lane configurations and traffic control Informatics
devices in toll plazas. (TransInfo)
Consortium is
Ricardo Garca told us about the value of the
dedicated to
TRB experience, for me this is an excellent
research and
experience to expand your knowledge in topics
development of information technology in
beyond the academic scope offered at the UPRM. I
transportation, an emerging discipline within
also take the opportunity to share topics of interest
transportation engineering. Its focus consists of
with students and professors from other
obtaining and developing methods, tools, models
institutions. Meanwhile, Bryan Ruiz told us about
and data within information technology for use in
the professional growth opportunities he has been
transportation. As in the case of Safer Sim, a
able to become aware of, this is an opportunity to
consortium of universities from the United States
meet professionals, academic institutions and
and its territories coordinating research and
businesses dedicated to transportation who are
innovation in this discipline.
recognized worldwide. As for Johnathan Ruiz, he
told us about the academic value he has obtained
from the experience. I attended one of the poster
I consider this to be an
sessions, named Managed lanes: Implementation of excellent experience to expand
Guidelines and Research Findings. This was a great your knowledge in topics beyond
aid for my thesis project.
the academic scope provided by the

Enid M. Coln
UPRM Bachelor of Science
in Mathematics Student

This year, Mara G. Torres, a graduate student from

the Master of Science in Civil Engineering program,
Credit: Maria G. Torres was recognized with the Outstanding Student
Award by the University Transportation Centers,
Credit: Maria G. Torres the umbrella organization that groups research
A complimentary component of the personal growth and consortia such as TransInfo and SaferSim.
professional networking experience consists of learning
about Washington, D. C., host city of the Annual Meeting.

The ITE-UPRM is present! phone app you can obtain information about
numerous topics from the exhibition booths, in
The student chapter of the particular those of FHWA, relevant to my research. I
Institute of Transportation gathered about ten pounds worth of books and
Engineers at the University informational material. The university and company
of Puerto Rico at Mayagez receptions were all nice. The Eisenhower staff was
(ITE-UPRM) brings together also very polite with us.
civil engineering students passionate and aspiring to
join the transportation engineering profession. As She and other members of the ITE-UPRM attended
part of their activities they perform a variety of the reception event from their professional
projects in which their membership learn about and counterpart. One of the past student chapter
contribute to this discipline. presidents, Wilfredo Cordero, considered the
reception to be exciting due to being full of
attendants representing the full spectrum of the UTE
membership, not limited only to transportation
engineers. This year the ITE reception was stuffed!
This gave me the opportunity to meet other
colleagues from Puerto Rico, such as Dr. Nelson
Gmes, from the Department of Civil Engineering of
the Turabo University. This year was the first time in
which Turabo participated of the Eisenhower
Credit: Mara G. Torres fellowship program.
Shown above is the Puerto Rican delegation attending This year the ITE reception was
the 2017 TRB Annual Meeting. Its members gathered at
the Institute of Transportation Engineers reception,
stuffed! This gave me the opportunity
bringing together students, academics and professionals to meet other colleagues from Puerto
from both government and private industry.
Wilfredo Cordero Cruz
The current president of the student chapter, Mara G.
Torres, attended as par t of the delegation of UPRM Alumni
DDETFP-HSI awardees and new attendee. Going to and former president of the ITE-UPRM
the TRB Annual Meeting is truly fascinating. There
are lots of research, and it truly is a wonderful The students obtain a great benefit by being exposed
opportunity, a place at which you gather so much to transportation problems in different environments
people.Its organization is neat, with the mobile and cultures thanks to the DDETFP-HSI fellowships.
At the time of this publication, all the students of the
Going to the TRB Annual 2016-2017 program have presented reports about
their experiences at the Annual Meeting and their
Meeting is truly fascinating. There research projects. By mid-2017, the awarded
are lots of research, and it truly is a students will present the results of their research to
wonderful opportunity, a place at professors, students and other staff of the University,
as well as a report addressed to the fellowship
which you gather so much people programs office, as part of the corresponding
Mara G. Torres
For more information about the Fellowship Program,
UPRM Master of Science in Civil Engineering readers can visit under special projects.
student and president of the ITE-UPRM EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER VOL.31 NO.1, 2017 13


Meet Engineer Carlos Contreras, the New Secretary

of the Department of Transportation and Public Works

We often focus on his past December 8, 2016, the governor elect, Ricardo
Rossell, publicly announced his nomination for the chair of
the big projects, the the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Public
asphalt, the ones that fill Works (DTPW) and Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Highway
the eye. However, projects and Transportation Authority (PRHTA), engineer Carlos Contreras,
that fill the eye are not who was later officially confirmed for the position on January 2017.
necessarily the ones we The new Secretary stands out due to his vast experience within
need most. DTPW and dependent agencies. He is native of the municipality of
Eng. Carlos Contreras San Lorenzo and a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico at
Mayagez, with both a Bachelor in Civil Engineering and a Masters
Secretary of DTPW and Degree in Civil Engineering with specialty in transportation.
Executive Director of PRHTA Throughout his career he has performed key roles in the DTPW and
the PRHTA, including: Chief of the Traffic Engineering Office
(PRHTA), A ssistant Executive Director of Traffic and Freeways
(PRHTA), as well as president of both the Bidding Board (PRHTA)
and the Revision Committee (DTPW). His experience in the private
sector includes supervision of traffic and mass transit studies at the
international company Multisystems. He also has the professional title
of Professional Traffic Operations Engineer (PTOE) and being
designated by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) as
Distinguished Engineer in 2012.
Among his key priorities are attaining digitalization of services, such
as those of the Service Center for Drivers (CESCO, by its Spanish
initials), prompt development of federally-funded projects, for which

$400 million are designated to pending and non- responsible of. Public Works is something people
disbursed projects and an annual allocation of $150 associate with asphalt, Public Works is far more than
million from the Fixing A mericas Surface just that. He is also aware of the key role his agency
Transportation Act (FAST Act) available throughout has in attaining well-being for the Island, We will
the 4-year term, reprogramming of traffic signals, figure out what we should repeat that worked, and
efficiency improvements to mass transit systems with what we have to change, because transportation is an
emphasis to the ferry service to Vieques and Culebra integral part for economic development. People need
as well as the integration of buses to the Tren Urbano transportation to receive education, to go work. He
service, perform targeted repairs based on traffic also defined the efficient use of resources as a top
safety data and maintenance of storm water drainage priority. We often focus on the big projects, the
systems. asphalt, the ones that fill the eye. However, projects
that fill the eye are not necessarily the ones we need
We will figure out what we should most.
repeat that worked, and what we have to
His nomination also represents a historical milestone
change, because transportation is an
due to his physical condition, as he is the first legally
integral part for economic development. blind person to be designated to lead DTPW and
People need transportation to receive PRHTA. His visual limitations are a result of retinitis
education, to go work. pigmentosa, a degenerative condition that causes a
gradual loss of sight and which resulted in his legal
Eng. Carlos Contreras designation as a blind person in 2008. Being blind is
Secretary of DTPW and not what will stop me. I have to compensate my
Executive Director of PRHTA weaknesses using my abilities. He also emphasized
that for his job what matters are merits, talents and
Spearheading his vision are two guiding principles: calling. The job isnt about seeing, its about
performing his job based on 21st century principles thinking, analyzing data. What matters is what lies
and not those of the previous 20th century, as well as behind the eyes. Aiding his everyday activities, both
guiding efforts for the effective provision of the full in his personal and professional lives is a service dog
spectrum of services of which his agencies are named Pilgrim.

The job isnt about seeing, its

about thinking, analyzing data. What
matters is what lies behind the eyes.

Eng. Carlos Contreras

Secretary of DTPW and
Executive Director of PRHTA

This article was developed based on interviews

Source: El Nuevo Da published in newspapers El Nuevo Da, Primera
Hora, El Vocero and CyberNews, as well as the
Secretary Contreras has the aid of a service dog, named opening conference of the Transportation Week,
Pilgrim, to take care of both his everyday life and his duties as celebrated by the Institute of Transportation
the person in charge of both the DTPW and PRHTA.
Engineers from March 7 to 9, 2017. EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER VOL.31 NO.1, 2017 15



ASCE Infrastructure Report Card:

Mixed Panorama in Transportation

T he American Society of Civil Engineers Highways: the system ear ned a D gr ade, stable
(ASCE) publishes at the start of each compared to 2013. Although the pavement condition
governmental four-year period a study of the has improved this is in contrast to congestion and
USAs infrastructure condition in the format of a traffic safety problems (an increase to 35,092
report card. Such study considers the levels of decay, fatalities in 2015). The investment gap is estimated in
operations and required investment to ensure $713 billion without including bridges, of which $420
optimum conditions and service. Of the 16 million correspond to road repairs. Despite this, there
infrastructure categories it examines, 7 correspond to has been development and adoption of non-traditional
the transportation sector, including airports, inland practices to obtain funding, economic and effective
waterways, highways, railroads, bridges, seaports and improvement and use of non-traditional materials
mass transit. with other benefits.

Aviation: this system was r ated at D, a stable Railroads: the r ailr oad system obtained a r ating of
grade compared to 2013. The main challenges B, the highest of all 16 categor ies of infr astr uctur e
confronted by airports are congestion, restrictions for and improving compared to 2013. This is due to
charging capital improvement fees to passengers and substantial capital investments by freight railroad
the operation of an outdated air traffic control system, companies, adding up to $27.1 billion in 2015.
this corresponds to an investment gap of $42 billion. However, passenger systems still lack funding and
experience deteriorated facilities.
Inland waterways: the navigable system of r iver s
and canals earned a D, an improvement compared to Bridges: br idges wer e r ated at C+, stable
2013. The main converging factors are high levels of compared to 2013, due to an ongoing gradual
congestion (49% of ships experience delays) and rehabilitation and replacement process over the last
ancient infrastructure (over half are older than 50 decade. However, 9.1% of bridges are rated as
years), contrasting with an increase of the barge fuel structurally deficient and approximately 40$ are past
tax and the acceleration of critical projects. Currently, the typical service life of 50 years. The U. S.
the United States Army Corps of Engineers estimates Department of Transportation estimates that $123
the investment gap at $4.9 billion. billion are required to complete all pending

Seaports: the por t system was r ated at C+, an

improvement compared to 2013, owing to
improvements aimed at accommodating larger
vessels and intermodal transfers, thanks to TIGER
and Fast Act funding. Current estimates indicate that
$154.8 billion are required to get ports up-to-date
during the 2016-2020 period.
Mass transit: mass tr ansit systems wer e r ated at D
-, worsening compared to 2013 and being the lowest
rated infrastructure category. This situation results
from a combination of maintenance underfunding for
guideways in railroad system, fleets with significant
portions out of service (10% in the case of urban
buses) and an emphasis on maintenance operations AASHTO Will Publish its
rather than expansion. Despite the $90 billion Standard Specifications Only in
rehabilitation funding gap,, mass transit has
experienced innovative transformations, spearheaded Electronic Format Starting with
by alternative fuels, non-traditional service models the 2017 Edition
and the use of mobile phone technology as a tool.
When rating infrastructure, the ASCE designates a
volunteer committee consisting of 28 civil engineers
from throughout the United States and with decades
T he American Association of State Highway
and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
announced through its online store that
worth of expertise corresponding to all categories. publications Standard Specifications for
When rating it, they examine the infrastructures Transportation Materials and Methods for
capacity, conditions, funding levels, future needs, Sampling and Testing and AASHTO
operations and maintenance, public safety, resilience Provisional Standards will no longer be
and innovation. Findings of each category are then published in print book format.
summarized with the report card format. The rating
scale used consists of five grades, whose meaning is Users of the electronic documents will pay an
presented below: annual subscription to gain access to the contents,
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Report Card website: collection_detail.aspx?ID=149 EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER VOL.31 NO.1, 2017 17

The ITE-UPRM Student Chapter Starts the Year

with its Transportation Week

uring the second week of March the student chapter of the Institute
of Transportation Engineers of the University of Puerto Rico at
Mayagez (ITE-UPRM) celebrated its traditional Transportation
Week at the Civil Engineering and Surveying Auditorium at the
UPRM Campus. This event is celebrated annually, its main purpose is
ensuring undergraduate students have access to technical conferences
related to the transportation profession. This years Transportation Week
had The Future of Transportation in Puerto Rico as its main theme. On
Tuesday, Mach 7th, the event had for its opening conference the presence of
the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Public Works
(DPTW) and Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Highway and
Transportation Authority (PRHTA), engineer Carlos Contreras. Eng.
Contreras shared with the audience the agencies plans for improvement of
Puerto Ricos transportation network.
During the afternoon, the student chapter had the participation of Planner
Ivelisse Gorbea, supervisor at the PRHTA Strategic Planning Office and
President of the Puerto Rico
Section of the Institute of
Transportation Engineers
(PRITE). Her presentation
had as its main theme The
Role of the PRITE in the
Transportation of Puerto
Rico. Closing the first day
was the presence of Dr.
Benjamn Colucci, director
of the Puerto Rico
Transportation Technology
Transfer Center. Dr. Colucci
instructed us about Public- Dra.Mara Torres, President of the ITE-UPRM,
Ivette Cruzado, ITE-UPRM advisor together
Private Partnerships in with Eng. Carlos Contreras, el the new Secretary of
DTPW and Executive Director of PRHTA

Planner Ivelisse Gorbea, the ITE-PR President, addressing Mara Torres, ITE-UPRM President, together with
attendants during the 2017 Transportation Week Eng. Maribell Prez in the second day of the event

Transportation as an Economic Development Alternative dedication of the Transportation Week to her. She was
for Puerto Rico. With this conference, he told us about awarded a plaque for her trust of the student team and for
the new concept for economic development, the all her support and dedication.
Participation-based Public-Private Partnerships. During the Wednesday evening the Traffic Bowl
On Wednesday, March 8, we had a representative from competition was held. Here, students and professors acted
the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Eng. as participants to train the ITE-UPRMs delegation for
Maribell Prez, coordinator of the Every Day Counts the summer competition of the Institute of Transportation
(EDC) program in Puerto Rico. Eng. Prez told us about Engineers Florida Districts Summer Meeting. This event
the new stage, which started in January 2017 and will is a trivia game in the style of Jeopardy, in which
continue until December 2018. In the case of Puerto contestants answer with a question a variety of topics in
Rico, a total of four initiatives will be implemented, these transportation engineering and about the Institute of
are: Data-Driven Safety Analysis, Pavement Transportation Engineers itself.
Preservation, Automated Traffic Signal Performance
Measures and Using Data to Improve Traffic Incident
As part of the activities of Wednesday, March 8,
International Womens Day, a special recognition was
made. In this case, the ITE-UPRM student chapter
acknowledges its advisor, Dr. Ivette Cruzado, with a

The ITE-UPRM advisors, Dr. Ivette Cruzado and Dr. Enrique

Gonzlez joined by Eng. Maribell Prez and the student
chapters directive board

For the third day of events the main topic was traffic
safety in Puerto Rico and its latest achievements. During
the morning session we had the presence of Eng. Juan
Carlos Rivera, supervisor of the Traffic Safety Division
of PRHTA. His speech was about the progress of the
Puerto Rico Strategic Highway Safety Plan and examples
Mara Torres, PITE-UPRM President, Dr. Enrique
of its focus areas. This plan is a procedure currently
Gonzlez, Co-Advisor of ITE-UPRM joining performed with crash data in order to determine locations
Dr. Benjamin Colucci, Director of the Puerto Rico with potential for improvement.
Transportation Technology Transfer Center. EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER VOL.31 NO.1, 2017 19

Eng. Juan Carlos Rivera interviews the surprise board,

Competition teams of the Traffic Bowl, celebrated at the composed of UPRM undergraduate and transportation
Civil Engineering and Surveying Departments auditorium engineering graduate students.

As part of the presentation, a surprise discussion board Design Guide. Both presented to the audience their work
was celebrated, which consisted of an assortment of plan and ongoing pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure
undergraduate and graduate students in transportation improvement projects for Puerto Rico, as well as those
engineering, among them the ITE-UPRM president, intended to encourage drivers to shift to other
Mara Torres, and Kennia Maldonado. This forum transportation modes.
consisted of interviewing the board members about For the last activity we had the presence of Eng. Josu
countermeasures to address traffic safety in multiple Cruz, in charge of the Traffic Incident Management
areas, including: pedestrians, drunk driving and crashes at (TIM) area, one of the emphasis areas for the Strategic
intersections. Plain. He was accompanied by Eng. Ashley Vargas, who
During the afternoon we had the participation of four works for the Metric Engineering company. Both spoke
excellent professionals. The first round was about the about the development of TIM in Puerto Rico, as well as
the strategies and future plans for the Island.
Other noteworthy guests include the Fiesta Colegial team,
who joined us during all three days of the 2017
Transportation Week. Their members provided guidance
and interactive demonstrations to attendants of the event,
as well as awareness of programs such as if you drink,
pass on the key, intended to discourage drunk driving
and informing about the dangers this involves.
The Transportation Week is an event prepared with great
enthusiasm by the students with the purpose of promoting
awareness about transportation as a career. Here they

Eng. Juan Carlos Rivera, addressing the audience as part of

his speech about the Strategic Highway Safety Plan

cyclist and pedestrian comprehensive plan, presented by

planner Martha Bravo Colunga, in representation of the
Strategic Planning office of PRHTA, and who is in
charge of several programs related to the improvement of
pedestrian and cyclist facilities, among them the
Complete Streets Program, the Pedestrian and Cyclist
Program and the Transportation Alternatives program,
among others. Planner Bravo was accompanied by Eng.
Yilian Baucage-Bou, partner of the Steer Davies Gleave Dr. Enrique Gonzlez and Mara Torres acknowledge
company, which is in charge of the Complete Streets Eng. Josu Cruz Martnez and Eng. Ashley Vargas

present the latest innovations in order to inform students

about available research and development opportunities Source:
available in the transportation engineering profession.
The members of the ITE-UPRM directive board thank
everyone who contributed to the successful celebration
of this event, with special tanks for our advisors, Dr.
Ivette Cruzado and Dr. Enrique Gonzlez, the Puerto
Rico Transportation Technology Transfer Center and
for the presence of the ITE-UPRM membership.

TP Sleeve: a New Option

for the Maintenance
of Traffic Cones

Dr. Enrique Gonzlez and Mara Torres Rodrguez

T he TP Sleeve is a new option to prolong
the service life or traffic channelizing
devices for highway work zones. This product
acknowledge Plan. Martha Bravo Colunga and
Eng. Yilia Baucage-Bou consists of an LDPE plastic cover resistant to
ultraviolet radiation for placement over traffic
This article was written thanks to a collaboration by cones presenting signs of deterioration or for
masters degree student Mara G. Torres, current those to be protected from its occurrence.
president of student chapter of the Institute of
This cover can resist forces applied by wind, up
Transportation Engineers at the University of Puerto
Rico at Mayagez, as well as from Dr. Enrique to speeds of 110 mph, as well as the wear and
Gonzlez, co-advisor of the aforementioned tear resulting from its use and stacking in
organization. storage.
Available at a price starting at $2.75 per unit
these are an alternative able to reduce up to
75% the maintenance and replacement costs of
traffic cones belonging to construction
enterprises and government agencies.

For more information, readers can visit the

manufacturers web page, T. P. Products, with
the following link:
Representatives of the UPRMs FIESTA Colegial project
greeted attendants of the Transportation Week with their
traditional traffic safety awareness campaigns. EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER VOL.31 NO.1, 2017 21

Know Your Director: Prof. Ismael Pagan-Trinidad

P rofessor Ismael Pagan-Trinidad is the Director of

Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying at
the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagez (UPRM).
He has been a member of the Faculty since 1982 and has
Professor Pagan witnessed the foundation and development
of the Transportation Technology Transfer Center (T2
Center), of which the Department of Civil Engineering and
Surveying is host. He recalls that about three decades ago
been connected to UPRM since 1970 when entered the Dr. Leandro Rodrguez (R. I. P.), as Department Director at
institution as an undergraduate student. He has served in all that instance, brought the unique and novel opportunity to
elective deliberative bodies at the University of Puerto Rico the Department, namely, participating in a proposal to
at Department, College, UPRM, UPR, and former Board of establish a technology transfer center in the Department.
Trustees levels. He also serves as the Executive Director of This was a unique opportunity because the department was
the UPRM Intramural Practice Program, through which the changing from a totally teaching into a hybrid teaching and
university provides institutional services to the external research department. He recalls that a brave team of
community; as the UPRM-NCAA Faculty Academic partners, Dr. Benjamn Colucci (current T2 Center Director).
Representative (FAR), and as a member of the National Dr. Felipe Luyanda, and Dr. Sergio Gonzlez, built up a
NCAA D-II Management Council representing the NCAA team and came out with a winning proposal which
Independent Institutions. Most recently he has been established the Center in the Department.
appointed to represent the UPRM at the Interagency-UPR
After over 30 years of professional and academic services
Alliance for promoting collaboration between government
through teaching, training, research, development, and
agencies and the UPR as a government measure to enhance
advice to government agencies and public employees in
the economic efficiency of public institutions. He also
Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands, Professor Pagan commends
serves the community as a member of the Community
the extraordinary work that the Department and UPRM has
Board for the Mayagez Territorial Plan (Plan de
provided our community through the Center. He
Ordenacin Territorial).
acknowledges the extraordinary contribution this
His main professional interests focus in teaching and professional development program has brought to
research initiatives to enhance engineering education for
Hispanics to create pathways to advanced degrees in
engineering which help develop outstanding professionals
and entrepreneurs in the nations workforce. His main
educational research interests have been in Tropical
Hydrology, Hydraulics, Urban Drainage, Mitigation of
Natural Hazards, Engineering Education, Tropical Climate
and Resiliency of Coastal Infrastructure. He has taught over
a dozen undergraduate and graduate courses in the field. He
has coordinated various local and international conferences
in Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Rescue of American
Infrastructure, and Resiliency of Coastal Infrastructure. He
has ample contributions in publications and presentations in
local, national, and international forums in these areas. He
is a member of the Editorial Committee of the International
Journal on Natural Disasters, Accidents, and Civil
Infrastructure, published by the Department.

professionals and government officials for three decades. He embraces the

excellent collaboration and support the Center and the Department have shared in
the past making the Department a stronger and more relevant nationally for the
benefits our curriculum has gained with the Center.
Professor Pagan-Trinidad served as Instructor to the Transportation Technology
Transfer Center offering various courses (Applied Hydrology and Hydraulics,
Urban and Highway Drainage, Modeling and Design of Hydraulic Structures) in
Puerto Rico and the University of Virgin Islands. He expresses his gratitude and
recognition to the Center and its administration for all the opportunities it has
brought to him as a faculty, our students, and the institution.
He is the liaison of the Educational and Research Partnership between the UPRM
and the Engineer Research and Development Center of the US Army Corp of
Engineers and Principal Investigator/Program Manager of the Educational and
Research Internship Program under the UPRM-ERDC Partnership Agreement.
This internship program promotes in our students the pursuit of graduate studies
and careers in research and development, and generates a source of human capital
resources for the STEM workforce. Over 500 UPRM students have participated
in the Program. He also coordinates the collaboration between UPRM faculty and
ERDC researchers in projects of mutual interest through the same Program. He
welcomes all the opportunities that can help both institutions work jointly
towards fulfilling their missions.
Prof. Pagan-Trinidad (PI) in collaboration with Dr. Ricardo Lpez (Co-PI and
Director of the Civil Infrastructure Research Center), are in charge of the UPRM
Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence (CRC), where they direct the project
entitled Education for Improving Resiliency of Coastal Infrastructure, as part of
the Educational Component of the CRC. The CRC, which is sponsored by the
Department of Homeland Security and co-led by the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill and Jackson State University, aims to develop resiliency for
managing the impact of natural events on coastal built and natural communities
and environments. The project sponsors courses, seminars, conferences,
certificates, constituencies networking, and support the formal and informal
education and professional development to be better prepared to withstand coastal
Prof. Pagan-Trinidad is cofounder and member of the Administrative Board of
the Latin American and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Education
(LACCEI), an educational consortium that gathers over a hundred (100)
universities in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean, for
promoting and enhancing engineering education, research and collaboration.
He is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Puerto Rico
Construction and Infrastructure Cluster, which fosters initiatives to enhance
sustainable activities and job opportunities that stimulate the Islands economic
and infrastructure development, and the PR Materials Characterization Center,
which is affiliated to the UPR and serves the industrial community in Puerto
Professor Pagan-Trinidad was born and raised in Ciales, Puerto Rico. He has two
daughters and three grandchildren. He earned a BS in Civil Engineering and a
MS in Civil Engineering (Environmental) at the University of Puerto Rico at
Mayagez and conducted PhD (ABD) studies in Hydrosystems at the University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has received multiple recognitions either for
his university work as well as for his community engagement in sports
throughout his career. However, he expressed to us, that my most fulfilling
experience at the UPRM is that as a faculty member I remain a student forever, as
well as having the extreme privilege of serving thousands of extremely gifted
students from which I have learned lifelong lessons. Life is a continuous learning
process, he added. EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER VOL.31 NO.1, 2017 23

Together we can save millions of lives!

I, ___________________________, pledge to do my part to help save lives on the road.

I pledge to:
____ 1. Not text while driving.

____ 2. Obey the traffic laws applicable to drivers.

____ 3. Comply with the speed limits.

____ 4. Pass the key if I am under the influence of alcohol.

____ 5. Have no distractions while driving a motor vehicle.

____ 6. Share the road with pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.

____ 7. Always buckle my safety belt.

____ 8. Require my vehicle occupants to always buckle the safety belt.

____ 9. Always buckle my children with a safety belt.

____ 10. Use the protective safety devices while on a motorcycle,

bicycle or motor vehicle.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Fundacin Lus A. Seeriz

Administration of Automobile Accident Compensation

PRLTAP Center Staff
Director & Editor


University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez
Alexander Molano Santiago
Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying
Call Box 9000, Mayaguez, PR 00681 Administrative Staff
787.834.6385 PHONE Irmal Franco Ramrez
787.265.5695 FAX

Grisel Villarubia Echevarra EL
Nichole C. Romn Vlez

Student Staff
Brenda I. Lpez Rivera
Anne M. Mndez Ramrez
Jaime Lpez Martnez
Andrs Matos Ortiz
Alejandra Nez Candelaria
El Puente Newsletter
Vol. 31, No. 1, 2017

EL PUENTE is published by the Puerto Rico Transportation Technology Transfer

Center located at the Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying.

The opinions, findings or recommendations expressed in this newsletter are those of the Center Director and Editors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the
Federal Highway Administration, the Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Publics Works, the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority, or the U.S
Virgin Islands Department of Public Works.

Puerto Rico LTAP