• Making high-speed rail tracks safer

    High-speed rail requires prestressed concrete railroad ties, as wooden cross ties are too flexible; for these ties to be effective, prestressing forces must be applied at a considerable distance before the rail load is applied; this is called the transfer length; to resist the heavy impacts the concrete ties utilize about twenty steel wires, each stressed to around 7,000 pounds; if the prestressed force is not properly transferred, failures can occur in the track

  • 47,000 pedestrians killed in last decade

    A recent study shows that walking in the United States has become increasingly dangerous; in the last ten years, nearly 50,000 pedestrians were killed and 688,000 injured in accidents; the study, conducted by Transportation For America (TFA), a coalition of transportation, environmental, and business groups, found that four of the top five most dangerous areas for pedestrians were located in Florida; 67 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred on federal-aid roads, which are eligible for federal funding and have federal guidelines and oversight for their design

  • Senators outline long-term transportation spending plan

    On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of senators announced that they had come to an agreement on a long-term transportation spending bill; since 2008, highway and transit construction programs have had an uncertain fate, but the proposed bill would allocate roughly $56 billion a year to highway and transit construction; it is unclear what the final bill will look like as the Senate, House, and executive branch each have diverging views on highway funding; funding the transportation bill will be no small feat; a two year Senate bill would require $12 billion in additional fuel tax revenues and a six year bill would require an addition $70 billion

  • Boston tries to bar hazmat trucks from downtown -- again

    On average, 317 big trucks and tankers carrying hazardous materials travel through downtown Boston every day; in 2006 Boston had barred hazmat trucks from entering downtown, but federal officials voided the restrictions last year, saying Boston did not show sufficient cause to justify the restrictions; the city commissioned a study on the issue, which recommended diverting hazmat traffic from downtown to a route which will see the truck take the already-congested Route 128, which cuts through Boston’s western suburbs; businesses and cities along the proposed rout object

  • How safe are U.S. railroads?

    Following the revelation that al Qaeda had aspired to attack U.S. railways, security experts, the media, and lawmakers have turned their attention to improving security for American trains; in a recent interview with CNN, Brian Michael Jenkins, the director of the Mineta Transportation Institute’s (MTI) National Transportation Security Center of Excellence, discussed the current state of railway security, how realistic creating an airline style screening system for railroads would be, and what measures need to be taken to secure railroads; to realistically improve rail security in a cost effective manner, Jenkins urged passengers to begin taking a more active role; Jenkins also urged the United States “to be more realistic about risk”

  • Schumer wants more security funding for railroads

    Following revelations that Osama bin Laden had been considering attacks on American railroads, Senator Chuck Schumer (D - New York) is requesting additional funding for security measures to protect U.S. train infrastructure; Schumer wants to use the money to conduct more comprehensive track inspections and to monitor railway stations throughout the United States; he has also called for the creation of an Amtrak “No Ride List” similar to the “No Fly List” that is designed to keep suspected terrorists from boarding airplanes

  • Hazmat trucks stopped in downtown Dallas

    City of Dallas police are enforcing city laws prohibiting truckers from hauling hazardous materials through downtown Dallas; last week the police stopped twenty-seven trucks in downtown Dallas, carrying, among other things, cyanide, gasoline, and dynamite

  • Train No-Ride list proposed to enhance train security

    Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) proposes creating a train No-Ride list to bolster train security; the proposed new screening process would require passengers, who already have to give their name when purchasing tickets for the train, to show photo ID before boarding; the IDs would be compared to the name on their ticket and matched against a list of known or suspected terrorists; if there is a match, that passenger would be prevented from traveling; the proposal comes the same week the administration a announced a $2 billion 22 inter-city rail projects; the project includes $795 million to upgrade the railroad in the heavily used Northeast Corridor, increasing speeds to 160 mph from 135 mph in some stretches; $404 million to expand high-speed rail between Detroit and Chicago; and $300 million to advance a high-speed rail project between Los Angeles and San Francisco

  • 7/7 attacks could not have been prevented: report

    An inquest into the 7 July 2005 attack on London transportation concluded that any suggestion MI5 could have stopped the attacks was “based to a considerable extent on hindsight”; there were failures in the response by emergency workers — confusion, a shortage of first aid supplies, and radios that did not work underground, but the report concludes that government errors had not increased the death toll

  • Al Qaeda's plans for 9/11 anniversary: attack U.S. rail

    The treasure trove of documents, multimedia, and computers seized in the raid on bin Laden’s hideout is being exploited by intelligence experts for information on the terror network and future plots; on Thursday the FBI and DHS circulated to law enforcement units around the United States the first piece of information from the bin Laden raid: in February 2010 al Qaeda operatives discussed attacks on U.S. trains as a way to commemorate the 9/11 attacks; the discussions show that the planners, in order to achieve a maximum-casualty attack, were thinking of derailing a train so that it plunged into a ravine or fell off a bridge; the FBI-DHS Thursday warning urged local la enforcement to be circulated for clips or spikes missing from train tracks, packages left on or near the tracks, and other indications that a train could be vulnerable

  • Michelin developing puncture-proof tires

    Michelin, the French tire manufacturer, has invented the “Tweel” which could make vehicles impervious to punctures or even explosions; The Tweel is a combination tire and wheel that infuses the best elements of both designs; the Tweel has no pneumatic rubber shell leaving nothing to deflate or puncture; the Tweel resembles a wagon wheel with polyurethane spokes and rubber for the treads, but is not entirely rigid as the spokes are flexible; despite these improvements in design, Tweels have several flaws that have kept them from being widely implemented

  • Wyoming soon to get quieter railroad crossings

    Residents living near railroad crossings in Wyoming will soon be getting a break from the noise; this summer the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) will begin analyzing the state’s noisiest crossings to determine what is needed to make these areas quieter; lawmakers appropriated $5 million to fund the improvements and local communities would be required to match anywhere from 5 to 50 percent of the project costs

  • Randomizing Boston Harbor security patrols

    Typically, before attacking a target facility, terrorists (and criminals) watch the facility’s security routines: how often, for example, the guards patrol what section of the fence; for the facility under threat, such routines are dangerous, because they let the would-be attackers learn about gaps in security coverage, gaps than can be exploited in the attacks; USC researchers have developed a system of randomized security patrols that make it impossible for observers to predict the security patterns; LAX is already using the system, and now the Coast Guard is testing it in Boston Harbor

  • Rail, chemical companies recognized for safety measures

    TRANSCAER (Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response) companies train local emergency responders through a combination of hands-on activities, emergency planning assistance, and community drills and exercises, including the use of actual rail and truck equipment, table-top exercises that discuss responses to a possible emergency situation, and whistle-stop tours that bring emergency preparedness training to response organizations in communities across the country

  • Inviting terror targets in New York City poorly guarded

    A list of Port Authority facilities especially vulnerable to terrorist attacks inadvertently released; the list contains some of the most heavily trafficked bridges, tunnels, and transit hubs in the world