Interim Joint Committee on Transportation


Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 4th Meeting

of the 2011 Interim


<MeetMDY1> November 1, 2011


Call to Order and Roll Call

The<MeetNo2> 4th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on<Day> Tuesday,<MeetMDY2> November 1, 2011, at<MeetTime> 1:00 PM, in<Room> Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Hubert Collins, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.


Present were:


Members:<Members> Senator Ernie Harris, Co-Chair; Representative Hubert Collins, Co-Chair; Senators David Givens, Jimmy Higdon, Paul Hornback, Ray S. Jones II, Bob Leeper, R.J. Palmer II, John Schickel, Tim Shaughnessy, Damon Thayer, Johnny Ray Turner, and Mike Wilson; Representatives John A. Arnold Jr., Linda Belcher, Leslie Combs, Jim DeCesare, David Floyd, Richard Henderson, Melvin B. Henley, Jimmie Lee, Donna Mayfield, Charles Miller, Terry Mills, Lonnie Napier, Rick G. Nelson, Tanya Pullin, Marie Rader, Steve Riggs, Steven Rudy, John Short, Arnold Simpson, Fitz Steele, Jim Stewart III, Tommy Turner, and Addia Wuchner.


Guests: Steve Blackistone, State and Local Liaison, National Transportation Safety Board; Jason Gabbard, Assistant Vice President, The Allen Company, Inc., Chairman, Kentuckians for Better Transportation Safety Board; Mike Hancock, Secretary, Steve Waddle, State Highway Engineer, Department of Highways, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.


LRC Staff: John Snyder, Brandon White, Dana Fugazzi, and Jennifer Beeler


Approval of the minutes from the Committee's October 4, 2011 meeting

Representative Lee made a motion to approve the minutes from the October 4, 2011 meeting as submitted. The motion was seconded by Representative Miller and adopted by voice vote.


Final report of the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation into the fatal crash that occurred on I-65 near Munfordville on March 26, 2010

Steve Blackistone, State and Local Liaison, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the NTSB is an independent federal agency charged by Congress to investigate transportation accidents, determine their probable cause, and make recommendations to prevent their recurrence. The recommendations that arise from investigations and safety studies are the most important tool for bringing about life-saving changes.


Motor vehicle crashes are responsible for more deaths than accidents in all other transportation modes combined. They account for more than 90 percent of all transportation related deaths each year. Distractions from cellular telephones contribute to these accidents, and the failure to use seat belts contributes to these injuries and deaths that result.


Mr. Blackistone stated that the accident that occurred on Friday, March 26, 2010, at approximately 5:14 a.m. involved a truck-tractor semitrailer combination being driven by a 45 year old male. The vehicle was traveling south on I-65 near Munfordville, the truck departed the left lane of southbound I-65 at a shallow angle and entered the 60 foot wide depressed earthen median. The truck traveled across the median, then struck and overrode the median barrier adjacent to the left shoulder of northbound I-65. It then crossed the left shoulder and entered the travel lanes of northbound I-65 striking a 15 passenger van occupied by 11 passengers. As a result of the accident, the truck driver, the van driver, and nine van passengers died. Two child passengers in the van, who were using child restraints, sustained minor injuries.


The NTSB investigation found that there were two primary safety shortcomings that were identified during this tragic accident: the use of a cellular phone by the truck driver and the lack of proper seat belt use.


Seat belts can be the best defense against motor vehicle injuries and fatalities because they protect vehicle occupants from the extreme forces experienced during crashes. In 2009, only 1 percent of vehicle occupants in fatal accidents using seat belts were ejected, while 31 percent of unrestrained vehicle occupants were ejected. Among those occupants totally ejected from their passenger vehicles, 77 percent were killed.


All 15 seat positions in the Munfordville accident van were equipped with either lap belts or lap/shoulder belts. Of the 12 van occupants, only 4 were using safety restraints.


Mr. Blackistone stated that in evaluating the possible role of cellular telephone distraction in the Munfordville accident, the NTSB examined the proximity of cellular telephone use to the time and location of the accident, the nature of the cellular telephone use and how that use would affect driving performance, details about the calls based on witness interviews, and the nature of the driver error committed.


As indicated by the records of his cellular service provider, the truck driver repeatedly used his cellular telephone while driving and after mapping the use of his phone the NTSB found that the driver made an outgoing phone call just seconds before the accident occurred. The NTSB concluded that because the driver was distracted from the driving task by the use of his cellular telephone at the time of the accident, the truck driver did not maintain control of his vehicle.


In addition to the two issues of direct interest to Kentucky, the NTSB investigation also identified concerns with respect to federal standards for the design of median barriers on divided highways and to the federal oversight of interstate motor carriers. The NTSB has issued recommendations to other Federal agencies regarding both issues, and is awaiting responses.


In response to Representative Collins, Mr. Blackistone stated that the approximate speed of both vehicles at the time of collision was 70 mph, but there was no concrete evidence to state what the speed of the truck was at the time of departure from its lane.


In response to Senator Harris, Mr. Blackistone said the driver had approximately five hours sleep the night before the accident occurred and had driven a substantial length of time the day prior.


In response to Representative DeCesare, Mr. Blackistone stated there were cable barriers present and the investigation found that the truck drove over top the median. He added that the NTSB did not include in their investigation making that portion of highway six lanes or adding a concrete barrier.


In response to Senator Harris, Mr. Blackistone said that with regard to seat belts in 15 passenger vans, many states’ statutory language is obscure as to which vehicles the seat belt law applies to. He stated that there is no state that prohibits all cell phone use by commercial drivers, both hand held and hands free. There are seven states that have prohibitions on hand held cell phone use, but the drives are able to use hands free devices.


In response to Senator Givens, Mr. Blackistone stated that the phone call the driver was involved in at the time of the accident was not long enough to connect with the recipient of the phone call.


In response to Representative Rudy, Mr. Blackistone said that the NTSB has asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to look into ways to improve safety standards and occupant protection on school buses.


In response to Representative Belcher, Mr. Blackistone stated drivers of large vehicles are trained not to make any sudden corrections if a circumstance occurs that they run off the road. He mentioned that it is unclear as to why the driver did not try and correct the vehicle after he ran off the road.


Legislative Recommendations from the Kentuckians for Better Transportation Safety Committee

Jason Gabbard, Assistant Vice President, The Allen Company, Inc., Chairman, Kentuckians for Better Transportation (KBT) Safety Board started his presentation by discussing how KBT agrees with the NTSBs recommendations that Kentucky’s primary seat belt law should be expanded to include 12-15 passenger vehicles.


Mr. Gabbard mentioned that Kentucky’s seat belt law currently applies to vehicles designed to carry ten or fewer passengers, which means 12-15 vehicle passengers are not required to wear a seat belt. KBT researched the state statutes of other states and found that many other states do not have a primary seat belt law and many other states do not require seat belts in the back seat.


Since September 2005, federal law has required that automakers equip 12-15 passenger vehicles with type 2 seat belts, which are the standard lap and shoulder harness belts. He mentioned the KBT stands behind the General Assembly and urges the improvement in the primary seat belt law.


In response to Representative Collins, Mr. Gabbard stated that up until September 2005, 12-15 passenger vehicle manufacturers were not required to install type 2 seat belts, but after federal law was passed all vehicles are now equipped with both shoulder and lap harnesses.


Update on the Contract Award for Repairs of the Sherman Minton Bridge in Louisville

Steve Waddle, State Highway Engineer, Department of Highways, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet gave a brief overview on the status of the Sherman Minton Bridge construction.


Mr. Waddle stated that the bid process for the Sherman Minton Bridge was an “A+B” bid, which placed a monetary value on the estimated time of completion. Part A of the bid encompasses the material and labor for the project, and is essentially a traditional project bid. Part B of the bid requires the contractor to bid a number of days to complete the project, up to a maximum of 210 days for this project. The number of days bid is multiplied by $100,000 per day to determine the value of Part B of the bid. Part A and Part B are then added to establish a total bid amount for bid letting purposes.


The winning bid was submitted by Hall Contracting of Louisville. Hall bid $13.9 million in project costs with a time frame of 135 days. The contract contains a completion bonus/penalty of $100,000 a day. For early completion the contractor will receive that amount per day, up to $5 million. Conversely, there is a penalty of $100,000 a day for every day over 135 days with no maximum in penalties.


In response to Representative DeCesare, Mr. Waddle stated that the project is projected to cost $13.9 million. He stated that the incentive is just contracted with the prime contractor and it would be up to that company to share the incentives with the sub-contractors.


In response to Representative Collins, Mr. Waddle stated that in the case where the project gets finished early up to the $5 million incentive cap, the project could total approximately $18.9 million.


In response to Representative Floyd, Mr. Waddle said that completion of the project will be determined when all the necessary inspections have been done and traffic is flowing on the bridge.


In response to Representative Collins, Mr. Waddle stated that the federal government provided $5 million towards the project and Kentucky would be responsible for 50 percent of the remaining balance.


In response to Representative Henderson, Mr. Waddle commented that Indiana is the lead state on the project and have hired an expert to inspect the project as it progresses, but Kentucky will also be performing periodic inspections as well.


In response to Representative Lee, Mr. Waddle stated that the added steel will be bolted to the current structure.


In response to Senator Shaughnessy, Mr. Waddle stated that the project was due to start November 2, 2011 and should be completed the first week in March.


In response to Senator Thayer, Mike Hancock, Secretary, Transportation Cabinet stated that the use of a double diamond crossover interchange at the New Circle Road/Harrodsburg Road interchange was a tool to move traffic more smoothly and efficiently in an area that was consistently congested. Secretary Hancock stated that if there is a project in another area where this configuration would be helpful, the Cabinet will use this option again. He stated that one of the drawbacks the Cabinet is finding is that the interchange was opened to traffic prematurely.


Report of the Subcommittee on Kentucky Waterways

Senator Leeper thanked the co-chairs for allowing the Subcommittee on Kentucky Waterways to be formed to bring attention to what Kentucky can do with the waterways and infrastructure improvements. Senator Leeper presented the report from the subcommittee's October 4 meeting where the subcommittee heard testimony David Mast, President/CEO, Mast Solutions about the recent 2011 Midwest Regional Panama Canal Conference and the benefits of the Panama Canal expansion to Kentucky. The committee also heard from Greg Pritchett and Norb Whitlock of the Water Transportation Advisory Board. They presented an overview of the board’s recent actions as well as, a wish list of suggested legislative changes.


Senator Leeper presented the report from the subcommittee’s November 1 meeting where the subcommittee heard testimony from members of the Kentucky River Authority, Kentucky Fish & Wildlife, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Coast Guard. They discussed the procedure for handling abandoned and sunken water vessels on Kentucky’s waterways.


With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 2:35.