In an 11-page letter sent to the Federal Highway Administration on March 17, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials urged the agency to “carefully consider” the impact of potential safety regulations on infrastructure projects – especially in terms of cost and completion timelines.
[Above image by AASHTO]
“Every state DOT in the nation and the AASHTO community stand with USDOT and FHWA in our collective and unwavering commitment to do everything in our power to make our roads safer for all users,” the organization said in its letter.
“[Yet] potential safety impacts of projects need to be considered along with operational, environmental, equity, and other impacts of decisions, and the relationship between the various factors and impacts in individual jurisdictions needs to be clearly understood,” the group said.
AASHTO noted that there are currently only a “limited number” of facility and project types for which safety performance analysis methods are available and – as use of these methods continues to grow – so does the interest in developing methods for additional types of projects and users.
“It takes a significant investment of funds and time to research, develop, and validate new methods,” the group emphasized.
“Among the states, there is a range in analysis needs, and time, expertise, and funds are also needed to ensure states have the data and software tools needed to support their use, train practitioners to use the procedures, and develop policies on how to use the methods and their results,” the organization said.
“Without the analysis methods and other associated resources needed, requirements for analyzing safety performance of all federal-aid projects for all users will delay state programs as [new safety] methods are developed and implemented,” the group pointed out.
AASHTO noted that new and additional requirements, such as those related to design standards and safety performance analysis, could impact transportation project costs and schedules.
However, the letter emphasized that AASHTO and state DOTs “fully share” FHWA’s desire to “proactively and comprehensively” consider safety for all road users in all projects – and remain committed to working with FHWA to make this possible.
“For over a century, states have worked closely with federal, local, and other partners to build a world-class transportation network based on strong engineering principles and sound fiscal approaches,” AASHTO said.
This is why AASHTO noted it remains committed to “supporting state DOT initiatives” to provide critical resources that meet the needs of all road users through design and operations guidance, analytical tools, research, and forums for states to learn from each other.