Tag Archive for infrastructure

Highway Infrastructure Upgrades : The Good News

Webtech-FHWA

Commonwealth of Kentucky, Governor Steve Beshear at the ground breaking ceremony for the $1.3 billion Downtown Crossing project. Courtesy FHWA

Our customers know the challenge of deploying the infrastructure needed for a successful GPS/AVL deployment. The Commonwealth of Kentucky has been a leader in using telematics to improve its fleet performance, increase fuel efficiency, while keeping everyone who uses its fleet accountable. The Commonwealth is now leading the way in new highway infrastructure development. But first, a little background on this critical US infrastructure is in order.

The US Interstate system accounts for just 1.2 percent of U.S. highway miles, but at 47,000 miles, it carries 24.2 percent of all highway traffic. Since it was inaugurated during the Eisenhower administration in 1956, it’s been hard pressed to match maintenance and upgrades with the forces of wear and tear. Daily life and businesses are inconvenienced by highway construction, but that’s nothing compared with how inconvenienced people feel if a bridge fails or a route has to be shut down? Consider the long line ups on the I-5 following the recent collapse of the bridge over the Skagit river in Washington to know what inconvenience is.

According to the US Department of Transportation’s FHWA (Federal Highway Administration), “The movement of freight dominates trucking activity and is a significant component of highway traffic. Three-fourths of VMT by trucks larger than pickups and vans is for carrying freight, with much of the rest being for empty back-hauls or serving construction and utilities. Single-unit and combination trucks accounted for every fourth vehicle on almost 28,000 miles of the NHS in 2007, and 6,000 of those miles carried more than 8,500 trucks on an average day.” In other words, the US economy relies heavily on the smooth movement of freight along its interstate highways. While the bill to repair aging infrastructure may seem astronomical ($688 billion at last count), the cost to the economy of not maintaining it is much higher.

As part of the grants program for new technologies, the Federal government is deploying an ambitious program to help states improve safety and reduce congestion using new technologies. For example, on June 4, 2013, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood awarded more than $16 million to 14 innovative highway and bridge projects in 13 states (and the District of Columbia) designed “to improve safety, create jobs and enhance the quality of transportation infrastructure”.

FHWA Highways for LIFE FY2013 Discretionary Grants. Courtesy http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pressroom

The FHWA’s Highways for LIFE (HfL) grants “encourage the use of innovative technologies and practices on America’s roads and bridges, such as accelerated bridge construction, cutting-edge building materials and advanced methods for construction project management. FHWA received 29 applications requesting more than $43 million.”

Governor Steve Beshear, of The Commonwealth of Kentucky recently launched the ground breaking ceremony for the $1.3 billion Downtown Crossing project over the Ohio River. The states of Indiana and Kentucky are working together to build the bridge between the cities of Jeffersonville and Louisville. “These bridges link more than just two banks of this historic river,”  Beshear said. “They connect people. They create possibilities. They keep commerce flowing and jobs growing. They preserve our way of life and they promise a better tomorrow.”

Like Governor Beshear, we want to create a better tomorrow by automating fleets with our GPS/AVL solutions.

Going Down the Road with Terry Fox

Webtech Wireless Remembers Terry FoxIn 1912, when Thomas Wilby set out from Halifax, Nova Scotia in his four-cylinder REO Special bound for Canada’s distant west coast, he knew his arrival in Victoria, British Columbia would mark the first time anyone successfully crossed Canada by automobile. It took two months. Last week, across Canada (and around the world), runners laced up and prepared to pay respect for another great Canadian, Terry Fox. Webtech Wireless employees also took part in the Terry Fox Run, a run that in some ways also commemorates transportation in Canada. This is the story of a Canadian hero and legend who joined a nation in his Marathon of Hope—to find a cure cancer.

Owing to its geographical size (second only to Russia), Canada has historically been challenged to provide a high level of communications to a relatively small population spread across a vast land. This is the reason highways were so important to Canada’s emergence as a leader in the post-war period.  Like the Federal-Aid Highway Act in the United States, Canada’s Trans-Canada Highway Act paved the way to build the transportation infrastructure needed to move the bounty of natural resources to waiting ports and to move people—including new immigrants—around a continent untouched by war.

But unlike the United States, Canada has always been a one-highway nation and that highway is the Trans-Canada Highway stretching 7,821 kilometres (4,859 miles) from St. John’s, Newfoundland in the east to Victoria, British Columbia in the west. It is this highway that 22-year-old Terry Fox set out to conquer and set the stage for conquering cancer too. In 1980 with little initial fanfare, he aimed west with his skip-hop-run that would later became his signature (he’d already lost his right leg to cancer) he began his long journey. Sometimes, it’s said that his journey was cut short by a return of the cancer that eventually killed him, but when he was forced to stop near Thunder Bay, Ontario, he had completed 5,373 kilometres (3,339 miles) of his journey. That’s almost two Tour de Frances or 1½ times across Australia.

Webtech-Wireless-Teams Terry Fox run 2012

With a total of 17 runners, the two Canadian Webtech Wireless offices (Webtrekkers) ran in Toronto’s High Park and Vancouver’s Stanley Park to raise a total $5,496.62 for the Terry Fox Foundation. Congratulations to all.

Fresh Life for Long Island’s Aging Infrastructure

InterFleet Hempstead, New YorkWith a population over 750,000, Long Island’s town of Hempstead prides itself as ‘the largest township in America’. Due to its proximity to New York City’s Borough of Queens, Hempstead was one of the first post-war communities to be suburbanized and now, with aging infrastructure, Hempstead must balance its many assets with diverse new 21st Century challenges.

According to The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), “In a country as vast as the U.S., with such great geographical, historical and political diversity, one challenge seems sadly universal: the infrastructure we rely on to live and thrive is rapidly coming unraveled. Roads, bridges, public transit, airports, water and sewage systems—most are failing to keep pace with the expanding needs of a burgeoning population, and some are virtually on the brink of collapse.” The ASCE, which also annually releases a state-by-state infrastructure report card, New York’s current top-three infrastructure concerns are roads, bridges, and mass transit.

While Hempstead is no exception, the Town has been able to breathe fresh life into its road maintenance fleet using an InterFleet GPS/AVL solution from Webtech Wireless. Describing that solution, Deputy Commissioner of Highways, Craig Mollo says, “It’s fantastic. We love it! We had 35 units installed into sweepers and 30 installed in snowplows (about one third of our fleet), and within a year, we were able to re-organize our entire mapping system. As a result, we found that we could reduce our equipment and drivers by five, redeploying them where they could be used most effectively.”

For communities, such as Hempstead, that boomed over 50 years ago and now suffer from aging infrastructure problems, there is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of federal funding. Last week, Washington’s Transportation Secretary, LaHood, announced $787 million to “repair and modernize the nation’s aging transit infrastructure”. With improvements coming to mass transit, road maintenance cannot be far behind.

Even so, Hemptead has found that, with the success of a GPS/AVL for its sweepers and snowplows, the Town plans further InterFleet deployments for its payloaders, pickup trucks, and other vehicles used for highway maintenance, sanitation, and traffic control—eventually 400 pieces of equipment. “With public safety and wellbeing of residents a priority for us, we also plan to install safety buttons to send emergency alerts,” says Mollo.