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Recent Highlights

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FHWA’s Executive Director Led Meeting at TRB with World Road Association (WRA) on Efforts of U.S. Representatives

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) held its annual meeting of Road Transportation professionals between January 12-16, 2020, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.

TRB brings together a large number of transportation officials from across the U.S. and around the world. It provides a unique opportunity for the FHWA and State DOT officials, involved in the work of the World Road Association (PIARC), to review significant undertakings in the organization, identify U.S. priorities and confirm concrete measure to ensure successful execution of the work and value to the global transportation community. This meeting was important because it is timed at a change in the Association’s Strategic Plan and the beginning of a new work cycle.

The meeting brought together committee members who were ending their tenures and U.S. representatives beginning their term. This meeting was also an opportunity for Representatives to exchange ideas about the experience and content of the PIARC work to ensure continuity in those matters that are transcending the change in the cycle, and to discuss new approaches for items that are being introduced in the new 2020-2023 Strategic Plan. The U.S.’ First Delegate, Thomas Everett, chaired the meeting that included a round table involving the U.S. reps to the various technical committees.

In his welcome address, Mr. Everett, spoke of the successes of the last cycle, noting that U.S. participation in the PIARC has been steadfast yet growing as demonstrated by the increased commitment of resources and the time invested in the Organization. He noted that the Technical Committee members’ quick assimilation in the work of the committees strengthens the U.S. participation in the overall success of PIARC as well as the U.S. domestic dissemination of PIARC information.

Review of the PIARC 2016-2019 Cycle – Accomplishments

Patrick Malléjacq, Secretary General, PIARC

Mr. Malléjacq provided a brief overview of PIARC’s accomplishments during the 2016-2019 cycle. Mr. Malléjacq spoke of recent changes of the Organization’s name. The World Road Association will now be referred to as PIARC, which derived from the organization's original English name: “The Permanent International Association of Road Congresses.” PIARC, however, became the official name of the World Road Association, after the Communications Commission recommended the use of the acronym for purposes of marketing, promotion, and social media. It also aims to ensure better recognition of the association's identity in all countries and to ensure consistency in its communication. (PIARC) unveiled its new identity at the opening ceremony of the 26th World Road Congress in Abu Dhabi in October 2019.

Mr. Malléjacq highlighted some of the accomplishments of the 2016-2019 cycle such as the fact that almost all PIARC reports for the 2016-2019 cycle have been published and are available free in the PIARC website.

Mr. Malléjacq also called attention to a successful International Seminar and Workshop program that included 45 events in 26 countries. He underscored the successful Winter Congresses in Gdansk (2018), and World Road Congress in Abu Dhabi (2019) and how these meetings provide essential opportunities for face-to-face collaboration of all transportation experts. He noted the publication of special projects such as the (1) Unpredicted Infrastructure Failures – Best Practices, (2) the use of Unmanned Aerials Systems (Drones), and the (3) Electric road systems. Mr. Malléjacq also spoke of ongoing special projects such as the contributions to the development of road transport, the road related data and how to use them, and legal weight limits standards and their implications. He also noted that PIARC, in collaboration with TRB, conducted several webinars: (1) Road Tunnel Operations, jointly with Technical Committee D5 and the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and (2) on Road Safety, presented jointly by the Technical Committee on Road Safety and TRB.

Report from Jim Tymon, President of the National Committee, AASHTO

Mr. Tymon spoke to the collaboration that exists among experts who share dual roles in PIARC and AASHTO. He stressed the need for members who are in these positions to share what has been learned in the international organization with domestic organizations such as AASHTO and TRB. He notes that the U.S. experts in the international organization can greatly enhance the U.S. domestic transportation base by leveraging that information at home and saving the U.S. time, money, and effort in to kick-starting necessary improvements to its transportation systems.

Neil Pedersen Executive Director, Transportation Research Board

Neil Pedersen used his introduction to the meeting to highlight the unique relationship that exists between the TRB and the World Road Association. Mr. Pedersen noted that this mutually beneficial relationship has been enshrined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which focuses on efforts to make this relationship stronger and more valuable to the transportation industry in the U.S. He also touched on the special role that TRB members play in making this relationship a successful one. TRB, in coordination with FHWA and AASHTO, he said, will continue to be a resource for Technical Committee representatives.

Open Discussion/Individual Perspectives from the 2016-2019 Cycle

This being the close of 2016-2019 Work Cycle and the introduction of new Technical Committee members, the U.S. Representatives to the World Road Association (PIARC), presented and discussed the results and benefits of their last cycle (2016-2019). They also shared insights on challenges and lessons-learned from the experience.

Christos Xenophontos, Assistant Director, Rhode Island Department of Transportation

Rhode Island DOT’s Christos Xenophontos highlighted that one of the most valuable aspects of being a member of a PIARC committee was collaborating with colleagues from around the world and working on similar issues we all face. A suggestion Mr. Xenophontos passed on to the new committee members was to develop a good relationship with committee chairs and with colleagues to successfully complete the work of the committee.

During the 2016-2019 cycle, Mr. Xenophontos was English-Speaking Secretary of Technical Committee A.1 on Performance of Transport Administrations. The Technical Committee conducted two highly attended international seminars over the four-year cycle. In addition, the TC produced several reports on priority topics including Framework on Measuring Effectiveness and Efficiency of Transport Administrations. The report discusses, in the wider context of performance management, the need for integrated reporting to bring together material information about a Transport Administration’s governance, strategic planning, performance and future directions. The TC also produced a report on Evaluating the Transformation of Transport Administrations. Finally, and as follow-up to prior work conducted on the topic, the TC published a report on Good Governance and Anti-Corruption and Response Measures Including the Development of a Culture of Transparency and Accountability. This report explores links to external organizations that have looked at the issues of good governance, anti-corruption and transparency measures.

Tiffany Julien, Freight Transportation Specialist, Federal Highway Administration

Tiffany Julien is the U.S. Representative and English-Speaking Secretary to PIARC’s Technical Committee 2.3 on Freight. Ms. Julien apprised the panel of her experiences as a professional in the freight industry and as a technical committee member. During the 2016-2019 cycle, Ms. Julien, worked as a group leader on the freight transportation committee for PIARC. Her focus was on multi modal freight transportation policies.

During the 2016-2019 cycle, Ms. Julien, was instrumental in producing a report on National Policies for Multi-Modal Freight Transport and Logistics. The objective of the report is to provide an understanding of multi-modal freight policies. More specifically, the report focuses on trends and challenges affecting multi-modal freight transportation, the drivers behind national multi-modal freight policies, a summary and analysis of key survey findings and recommendations. In addition, Ms. Julien produced a report on Good Practices on Multi-modal Freight Transport Policies and Truck Management on Highways. The purpose of these fact sheets is to highlight projects, initiatives, and policies that have been utilized by member countries to provide increased efficiencies within their respective freight transportation systems. In publishing the practices prior to the final report, Ms. Julien said that the committee, was able to share some of the good practices around the world in freight transportation.

Gina Ahlstrom, Pavement Materials Team Leader, Federal Highway Administration

The U.S. Representative and English-Speaking Secretary to PIARC’s Technical Committee 4.1 on Pavements, Gina Ahlstrom, was excited about the network of contacts she made from the sessions on pavement and noted that traveling to other countries and experiencing their transportation network in comparison to the U.S.’ is something she can never put a price tag on. She described the U.S. as being unique in terms of not only having a federal government but also 52 state agencies. Elaborating on her experience, she said that being on an international committee she realized people have a general perception that U.S. Technical Representatives are very action oriented.

During the 2016-2019 cycle, Ms. Ahlstrom participated in a knowledge exchange through the 8th Symposium on Pavement Surface Characteristics, held in Brisbane Australia. Jointly organized by the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) and the Association's Technical Committee on pavements, the conference included an exhibition, workshops, panel discussions as well as technical sessions. More than 150 experts, including infrastructure owners and managers, road surfacing researchers, academics, industry professionals, participated of the event. The discussion addressed recent developments in pavement surface characteristics, methods to improve the quality of road infrastructure, and effective management of road infrastructure assets. Through PIARC, Ms. Ahlstrom also participated in the South African Road Federation and International Road Federation’s Regional Conference for Africa. Nearly 4000 participants from 35 countries participated to address the theme of roads to social and economic growth for African countries. Valuable information and resources from the U.S. were shared on topics aimed at benefitting developing and middle developing African countries.

Ms. Ahlstrom also pointed to the many resources available to practitioners on the road pavements knowledge-based section of the Association’s website. The section includes links to publications, reports, articles, and proceedings from workshops and seminars addressing road pavements.

Dr. John Milton, Director of Transportation Safety and Systems Analysis

Washington State Department of Transportation

Washington State DOT’s John Milton stated that safety is an evolving field, and practices and procedures are carried out differently in the United States than in other countries. Dr. Milton’s focus was the dissemination of information - getting details out to people. He said sustainable safety from different countries can be brought in as good practice in the U.S.

Dr. John Milton is the U.S. Representative on PIARC Technical Committee 3.1 on Road Safety. During the 2016-2019 cycle, Dr. Milton was responsible for upgrading the 3rd version of the Road Safety Manual (RSM) that was released during the World Road Congress in Abu Dhabi, in October 2019. The RSM is a comprehensive state of the art international reference document and a living tool for low-middle-and high-income countries in mitigating fatal and serious crashes world-wide which is aligned with the Safe System approach to road safety management. The RSM, Dr. Milton said, provides the practitioner with accessible technical information on road safety management throughout the planning, design, and operations stages. The RSM highlights effective management and policy frameworks, providing technical references, case studies, and guidance on the management of interventions to achieve results in reducing crashes.

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