Mobility is us

Bob Freudenthal
APWA President

If it rolls, floats, flies or otherwise moves along in a public right-of-way, it's a public works transportation issue. From skateboards to heavy trucks, mobility is us. Welcome to the July APWA Reporter, an issue devoted to current and upcoming issues about transportation of interest to our members. The newsy items included will affect everyone in public works shortly, if they haven't already. Read about APWA's new Traffic Calming Manual, what members are saying about "Smart Growth" (yes, there is such a thing as dumb growth), life after the gas tax (the current federal highway bill, SAFETEA-LU, depletes the highway trust fund by 2009), and much more.

We also wanted to bring you some material on retroreflectivity (be prepared to evaluate your street signs and replace most of them in about seven years to meet the new MUTCD standards), but that's an extremely fluid situation at this point, so come to APWA's Congress in Kansas City in September to hear the very latest. The APWA Transportation Committee has worked hard to provide the latest information on a number of critical topics affecting your future. This issue is definitely worth a close read.

As a follow-up item to the topic of life after the gas tax, many of you will recall that APWA put together a task force of local government experts, transportation professionals, public works directors, and many others, to guide the APWA legislative advocacy with regard to SAFETEA-LU. The next federal bill is only a few years away, and we are in the process of appointing a new group to focus on this critical issue. Given the rather ominous state of the federal highway trust fund, the next bill will be of critical importance to get right, and you can be assured that APWA will be active from the beginning so as to ensure local public works professionals are well represented as the new bill is framed and moves through the legislative process.

Your Transportation Committee continues to pursue a highly ambitious program of activities including new discussions about a certification program for public works transportation professionals, development of a subcommittee on traffic safety, and continuing to develop collaborative opportunities with such professional organizations as the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and the Transportation Research Board (TRB) so as to represent APWA's member interests within these groups.

The Winter Maintenance Subcommittee has also been hard at work during the past several months on issues that affect the "slippery" side of transportation. The annual APWA North American Snow Conference was recently held in Peoria, Illinois. It was a major success with record-breaking attendance and excellent educational sessions. The APWA Board's decision to allow equipment on the exhibit floor enhanced this year's overall conference experience, and put the "icing on the cake" to assure that this is the premier snow and ice educational and professional development event in North America. Corporate member Caterpillar generously hosted "CAT Night" at its Edwards Demonstration and Application Center. Beyond dinner and entertainment, conference attendees were treated to a synchronized equipment demonstration and fireworks. One of the major roles of the subcommittee is providing assistance to the APWA staff with the planning and educational content of the conference. This team approach has led to significant improvements in the overall conference experience for attendees.

At the subcommittee's semi-annual business meeting, members also brainstormed several ideas for future events such as sponsoring a Snow Plow Roadeo which would be held in conjunction with the North American Snow Conference, and APWA "Excellence in Snow and Ice Awards" to promote "Best Practices in Snow and Ice Removal" and recognize agencies that work toward achieving the developed criteria. The subcommittee is also interested in expanded development of winter maintenance computer-based training. A group of federal, state and local officials met this past winter to begin the process of identifying ideas for this venture.

Storm clouds on the horizon are the new proposed MUTCD standards which will prove costly from two standpoints: sign maintenance/replacement and tort liability. Your APWA will remain a strong advocate for its member interests. This year's Congress will have a session, hosted by FHWA, dedicated to this topic.

This month's APWA Reporter gives voice to a number of transportation-related topics that public works professionals need to be aware of. While one issue cannot address all the concerns or questions you have, I hope that you find this month's issue useful in providing information and stimulating your thoughts.

Projects of the Year recognized
Along with the transportation-related articles, this issue features nineteen "Public Works Projects of the Year" in the Disaster/Emergency Construction/Repair, Environment, Historical Restoration/Preservation, Structures, and Transportation categories. As a group we tend to be rather humble about our accomplishments and hesitant to publicize the public works projects which have an important impact on our citizens. These awards, however, point out the magnitude and scope of our efforts to improve the quality of life throughout North America. Be sure to check out all of this year's award recipients, beginning on page 64.