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News Digest DOT 38-16

Friday, April 8, 2016

Secretary Foxx Designates Three Marine Highway Projects. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has designated three new Marine Highway Projects. The Mississippi River, previously designated as the M-55, will serve as the primary route for the Baton Rouge-New Orleans Shuttle project.  Sponsored by the Port of New Orleans in partnership with the Port of Greater Baton Rouge and SEACOR AMH, LLC, the proposed container-on-barge service will operate between the Ports of Greater Baton Rouge and New Orleans, reducing congestion and bridge traffic on Louisiana’s Interstate 10.  Also operating along the M-55 from Chicago, IL to New Orleans, LA, the proposed Illinois Intrastate Shuttle project is structured to shift about 5,500 containers in its first year of operation from congested north-south Interstate 55 to the Mississippi River.  Sponsored by America’s Central Port located in Granite City, IL, the container on barge service will provide soybean and grain shippers a new routing option.  The third service, the Lake Erie Shuttle, is a proposed route that will carry cargo for shippers between the ports of Monroe, MI; Cleveland OH; and Detroit, MI.  The service is sponsored by the Port of Monroe. 

A Marine Highway Project is a planned service, or expansion of an existing service, on a designated Marine Highway Route, that provides new modal choices to shippers of cargo, reduces transportation costs, and provides public benefits including reduced air emissions, reduced road maintenance costs, and improved safety and resiliency.  Contact: Kim Strong – Tel: 202-366-5807.

FTA Issues Safety Advisory to Collect Information on Stop Signal Overruns.  The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) this week issued Safety Advisory 16-1 to collect information on the frequency of stop signal overruns in the rail transit industry and the actions being taken to address these occurrences.  FTA is aware of stop signal overrun incidents, but lacks an industry-wide database on the issue.  Some State Safety Oversight Agencies (SSOAs) require rail transit agencies under their jurisdiction to report stop signal overruns while others do not, and definitions, reporting thresholds and data analysis are inconsistent across the industry.

Specifically, FTA Safety Advisory 16-1 is requesting that each SSOA provide FTA with the total number of stop signal overruns that occurred during calendar year 2015 at each rail transit agency within the SSOA’s oversight, including the definitions of a stop signal overrun and of a stop signal/stop aspect (e.g., hand signal, stop sign, cab signal).  In addition, FTA is asking for a description of the process each rail transit agency uses to internally detect stop signal overruns and the process it uses to report stop signal overruns to its SSOA.  FTA requires that SSOAs submit the requested information within 90 days.  Contact:  Steve Kulm 202-366-9260.

SBIR Selects 3 Awardees to Receive Research Funding - The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (U.S. DOT) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program recently named three awardees that will receive funding to move forward with their research. Each year, the SBIR program taps into the power of small businesses to develop cutting-edge solutions to some of U.S. DOT’s most pressing challenges. “SBIR is a great opportunity for small businesses to grow and fund work targeting research areas that are important to the U.S. DOT and the nation’s transportation system,” said Rachael Sack, DOT’s SBIR program director at Volpe. SBIR received 68 submissions in response to U.S. DOT’s 2016 Phase I solicitation. Three businesses were selected to receive a total of $450,000 in the following topics:

  • Technological Enhancements to Improve and Expand Casual Carpooling Systems
    Awardee: Applied Engineering Management Corporation
    Casual carpooling may be an important strategy to help reverse the downward trend of traditional carpooling’s decline in the United States, which has remained at a low level since 2004. Casual carpooling enables participants to ride with different commuters for each trip with no ongoing commitment and make rideshare arrangements instantaneously.  This project will develop a detailed concept that demonstrates the viability of one or more tools and/or approaches to catalyze casual carpooling in a corridor where it does not exist, or to improve casual carpooling in an existing corridor in the Washington, D.C. area.
  • Connected Bicycle: Communicating with Vehicles and Infrastructure
    Awardee: Charles River Analytics
    Dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), one of the emerging technologies for vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, can provide safety information and cooperate with DSRC-equipped traffic signals to provide improved bicycle detection, as well as convey information to bicyclists about signal phase changes. This project will design and demonstrate a Multimodal Alerting Interface with Networked Short‐range Transmissions (MAIN‐ST) that will bring cyclists onto the V2V and V2I networks.  MAIN‐ST will allow cyclists to take advantage of the safety benefits of being on these networks by providing automated hazard assessment capabilities with a multimodal alerting symbology designed to communicate hazard information to cyclists in an intuitive and non‐distracting format.
  • Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection Devices for Transit Buses
    Awardee: Novateur Research Solutions LLC
    This project will develop a robust and cost-effective pedestrian and cyclist detection and collision warning system for transit buses. It uses inexpensive but robust sensors and incorporates state-of-the-art object detection techniques to enable effective pedestrian and cyclist detection near transit buses in different environmental conditions.