Call to Order and Roll Call
The6th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on Thursday, November 6, 2014, at 10:00 AM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Ernie Harris, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll. The minutes from the October 7, 2014 Interim Joint Committee on Transportation meeting were approved.
Members:Senator Ernie Harris, Co-Chair; Representative Hubert Collins, Co-Chair; Senators Chris Girdler, Jimmy Higdon, Paul Hornback, Ray S. Jones II, Morgan McGarvey, Dorsey Ridley, Albert Robinson, John Schickel, Brandon Smith, Johnny Ray Turner, and Whitney Westerfield; Representatives Denver Butler, Leslie Combs, Jim DeCesare, David Floyd, Keith Hall, Kenny Imes, Jimmie Lee, Charles Miller, Terry Mills, Rick G. Nelson, Tanya Pullin, Marie Rader, Steve Riggs, Sal Santoro, John Short, Arnold Simpson, Diane St. Onge, Fitz Steele, Jim Stewart III, Tommy Turner, and Addia Wuchner.
Guests: From the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet: Mike Hancock, Secretary; Dav Kessinger, Project Manager, Department of Highways, District 5; William Bell, Executive Director Highway Safety, Office of Highway Safety; Steve Waddle, State Highway Engineer; Rodney Kuhl, Commissioner, Department of Vehicle Regulation; Rick Taylor, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Vehicle Regulation; and Kim Jenkins, Legislative Liaison.
Recognition of members leaving General Assembly
Chairman Harris welcomed members and guests to the meeting and recognized six legislators that would not be returning to serve in the General Assembly: Senator Bob Leeper, Representative Keith Hall, Representative Richard Henderson, Representative Toby Herald, Representative Jimmie Lee, and Representative John Will Stacy. The Chairman along with several members of the committee commented on and complimented the members on their service to Kentucky. Representative Hall and Representative Lee expressed their gratitude for the well wishes and thanked the Chairmen, committee members, and all legislators for their cooperation.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet: reconstruction methods used for Milton Madison Bridge
From the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Dav Kessinger, Project Manager, Department of Highways, District 5 and Steve Waddle, State Highway Engineer testified about reconstruction methods used for the Milton Madison Bridge.
Mr. Kessinger stated the Milton Madison Bridge links Milton, Kentucky and Madison, Indiana. A unique quality of the bridge is that it was slid into place, rather than shutting the connection down for the projected year that it would have taken to demolish the old bridge and construct a new one. Walsh Construction’s design team constructed the new bridge next to the old bridge. Examples of the existing substructure were drilled and evaluated to see what could be reused. The construction team drilled holes, put in rebar and a rebar cage around the existing structure and then encased it in concrete. The next step was to take the larger structure and then put in countermeasures to alleviate potential scour, the removal of sand or sediment around bridge piers that can compromise a bridge’s structural integrity.
From the existing bridge, temporary ramps were tied on both ends for the flow of traffic. The new bridge was built downstream 15 feet away and after the new bridge was built, the old bridge was demolished. The pier caps were then completed and the new structure was slid over, reconnecting it and placing it in its permanent place.
There are two distron bearings on every pier cap, which the floating bridge was sitting on. The deck was poured as one combined deck so it all moved together. The bridge was then slid 55 feet to the final location using a sliding plate. During the movement of the bridge a threaded bar that was used to be able to monitor the movement of the slide was used as a brake. There was a laser and target that would monitor and keep it within one inch of each target location to eliminate the potential for internal stresses into the structure.
A time lapse video showed the reconstruction of the new bridge and demolition of the old bridge.
Chairman Harris praised the engineering work and asked about total cost. Mr. Kessinger stated the cost of the bridge was done by an A+B – C type of bidding, which deducts the value of time in reduced closure from the actual cost of labor and materials. The project cost was $108 million, with a time value of $40,000 a day. By shortening the bridge closure from 365 days down to 10, over $14.2 million in savings was realized. Senator Harris stated that the economies of a few surrounding communities were helped greatly by only closing the bridge for a short amount of time.
Senator Hornback stated he enjoyed the video and expressed that the Milton Madison Bridge was a remarkable engineering feat.
In response to a question asked by Senator Harris, Mr. Waddle stated there are no immediate plans to use the sliding bridge model for reconstruction on other bridges, but now that it has been tested successfully, the approach will not be ruled out in the future.
Walsh Construction, Indiana Department of Transportation, Mr. Kessinger, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and Vapor Engineering were recognized for their part in making the Milton Madison Bridge project a success.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet: guardrail safety and design
Mike Hancock, Secretary, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet stated a product in wide usage on highways across highways in the United States, including Kentucky, has recently been in the news. The product is a guardrail terminal, also known as an end treatment, called the ET Plus. ET Plus is a brand of one type of guardrail terminal that for many years has been authorized by KYTC for use on Kentucky’s highways. The ET Plus guardrail end treatment system is manufactured by Trinity Industries of Dallas, Texas. On October 20, 2014 a federal jury in Marshall, Texas determined that Trinity Industries had committed fraud against the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) by altering the design of the ET Plus system without disclosing that fact FHWA or to the states that were using the system. As a result, FHWA ordered Trinity Industries to submit the ET Plus system to a new round of crash testing. As Secretary of KYTC, Secretary Hancock stated he supported that action by FHWA, as did the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, of which he is President. In the days following the directive to retest ET Plus, Secretary Hancock decided it would be prudent for KYTC to temporarily take the ET Plus system off of the approved products list, pending the outcome of the new crash test.
On October 24, 2014 Trinity Industries announced it would take the ET Plus product off of the market, also pending the outcome of the new crash test. On October 27, 2014 a memo was sent from KYTC to notify contractors as well as employees that the Cabinet was D listing the ET Plus system as a permitted option for installation or replacement of type one guardrail end treatment. Now, like the FHWA and all of the other states, the Cabinet is awaiting the completion of the crash tests. Once those test results are in, the decision will be made for future use or removal of the ET Plus guardrail end treatment system. If there is real evidence or a directive from FHWA that says the ET Plus system needs to be replaced, the cabinet will not hesitate to take the necessary action. The cabinet will do what it takes to make Kentucky’s roads as safe as they can be.
The cabinet is developing a plan to inventory the ET Plus system locations across the Commonwealth. Secretary Hancock stated that, if it is determined that the ET Plus guardrail end treatment systems need to be removed and replaced throughout Kentucky, the cabinet will do that.
Secretary Hancock stated because the ET Plus issue is in litigation, he is limited on how he responds to questions. In response to a question asked by Senator Jones, he stated that there was a design change in the ET Plus guardrail end treatment system that was not reported to the appropriate officials and there is some debate over whether that design change was tested at the time the change was made. He added there have been suggestions that there is something faulty with the newly designed system, but KYTC has not identified a problem with the ones used in Kentucky.
Senator Jones stated one allegation is that instead of the guardrail absorbing the energy from a collision, the ET Plus guardrail end treatment system is impaling the vehicle. In response to a series of questions asked by Senator Jones, Secretary Hancock stated KYTC is investigating collisions with these end terminals, and one of the reasons it is taking more time than some might deem necessary to complete the evaluation is due to there being two types of the ET Plus guardrail end treatment systems that were installed in Kentucky. One system was installed in 2000 and the other system was installed in approximately 2005 or 2006. The only way to know if the guardrail system in question is the one being evaluated by the cabinet and the FHWA is to physically look at each individual system that has been installed across the state and identify the serial number to see which of the two systems it coincides with. It is a very time consuming process and it is his hope that the retest of the system by the FHWA will determine if the ET Plus guardrail end treatment system is satisfactory and available for use.
Secretary Hancock also stated he is unsure how many ET Plus guardrail systems have been installed across Kentucky. The cabinet is interested in recovering the costs of replacement if deemed necessary.
Chairman Harris expressed his appreciation for the cabinet putting safety first.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet: traffic safety statistics
William Bell, Executive Director Highway Safety, Office of Highway Safety, KYTC, stated since 2005, with cooperation from the General Assembly, KYTC along with several partners has made a huge difference in highway safety. One partner is The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which was formed in 1970 after fatalities reached an all-time high of 56,000 nationally. In Kentucky, the high number of fatalities reached 1,117 in 1973. Kentucky is in the Mid-Atlantic region, one of the better performing regions covered by NHTSA.
Mr. Bell stated recognizable campaigns that the Cabinet promotes every year include the “Click it or Ticket” campaign, the “Drive sober or get pulled over” campaign, and the recent “U Text, U Drive, U Pay” campaign. He stated the “U Text, U Drive, U Pay” campaign is the no texting while driving enforcement.
Mr. Bell also shared with the Committee the daily fatality statistics report, which is broken down by ADD district, highway district, and KSP post. The report includes alcohol related fatalities, in which Kentucky is one of the lowest in the country (19.3 percent of accidents). In the category of restraint belt not in use, 52 percent of Kentucky fatalities were not wearing seat belts, down from 55 percent last year.
Mr. Bell stated when referencing total crashes, he is comparing crashes using a 2005 base number. In 2005 there were 128,600 crashes in Kentucky as opposed to in 2013 where there were 123,258 crashes, a decrease of about 4 percent. Injury crashes are down 21 percent and fatalities are down 35 percent in that same time frame. Last year saw a record low of 638 fatalities in Kentucky.
Mr. Bell stated it is important to note that in 2005 the primary seat belt law was passed. The Kentucky State Police as well as every law enforcement agency has enforced the seat belt law and as a result in 2013, all of the agencies combined wrote over 100,000 seat belt citations. That number has steadily increased since 2005. The observed seat belt use has gone from 67 percent in 2005 to 86.1 percent in 2014.
In response to a question asked by Chairman Collins concerning texting and driving, Mr. Bell stated proving that a driver is texting is complicated and difficult to enforce. He added that when a law enforcement agency takes an incentive grant from the cabinet, it is required that there be two people in the vehicle, one as a spotter and the other as a driver. If the officer designated as the spotter sees someone texting, which by their standards consists of the person not having a phone to the ear, or it does not look like they are talking to themselves, and if they are playing with a phone, then they receive a citation.
In response to a question asked by Chairman Collins, Mr. Bell stated the phone in question would not have to be present in court to prove the texting while driving case. The word of the officer is taken as proof just as in a reckless driving case. He added that in the case of a fatality collision case, the phone records would be subpoenaed. It is impossible to subpoena the records for every case.
Representative DeCesare voiced his concerns over an officer being able to tell if the driver is dialing a phone number or texting. He also voiced his opinion that the texting while driving issue could be covered under the umbrella of reckless driving. Representative DeCesare added that he agrees something must be done to address the texting while driving issue because it is dangerous.
Representative Hall commended Mr. Bell on the work that the cabinet has done with regards to safety issues. He addressed Mr. Bell and thanked him for working with him for several years on the booster seats for 7 and 8 year olds issue. Representative Hall expressed that it is his wish that after he leaves the General Assembly someone will continue to advocate for 7 and 8 year old booster seat laws.
Senator Jones commented that there are several products that could be used to account for distracted driving such as the use of cell phones, computer tablets, or GPS systems. He added that since 2012 there have been 400 traffic deaths in Kentucky where distraction or inattention with cell phone use has been listed as a contributing factor. He agreed that something needs to be done.
Mr. Bell stated technology has been a problem for traffic safety, citing the trend of rising collisions in 2009, 2010, and 2011. He believes the spike occurred during those years due to social media and the usage of smart phones increasing. He also stated there is an issue with phones as well as in the dash of some vehicles.
Mr. Bell stated there is a need for advancements in technology to help deal with the distracted driving issue. Kentucky offers a free text limit application for smart phones that will disable the phone if going more than 10 MPH. If there is an emergency, the driver or passenger can override it. Kentucky needs to make laws conducive to today’s society.
Representative St. Onge stated she would like to see what other factors were involved in determining the correlation between the implementation of the primary seatbelt law and the decrease in incidences of death or serious injury and to have those same factors maintained throughout each of the studies the cabinet conducts as the years progress. She requested the committee be provided with a list of what those factors are.
In response to a question asked by Representative Combs concerning federal funding potentially being impacted due to these risk factors, Mr. Bell stated the federal funding comes in multiple ways. First is 402 funding, which is overtime enforcement and non- law enforcement grants, such as the University of Kentucky doing their annual seatbelt surveys. There are also 402 grants that go to health departments, and those grants have increased due to the push for booster seats, which Mr. Bell added the cabinet is starting to call belt positioning seats to better describe what the 7 and 8 year olds need to be in. There are also 405 grants which are incentive grants that the cabinet receives for traffic records, motorcycle and seatbelt safety, and alcohol and impaired driving. The cabinet applies and receives those grants every year.
Representative Combs stated the cabinet needs to stay focused on these grants and continue to work on things that keep the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky safe but at the same time that can also be directly related to funding options that might be available to Kentucky.
Status of emergency regulations for TNCs (ride sharing companies)
Rodney Kuhl, Commissioner, Department of Vehicle Regulation, KYTC stated the cabinet has been working very closely with other agencies especially the Department of Insurance to make sure the emergency regulation concerning TNCs that is to be filed will cover all of the cabinet’s concerns and the concerns of all the stakeholders involved. Commissioner Kuhl stated that, since the meeting, the cabinet has met with the taxi industry and other TNC companies for their concerns and comments. The draft of the emergency regulation has addressed all of the areas and concerns that Kentucky and the stakeholders have had concerning TNCs.
Because TNCs are such a new business model for all states, Commissioner Kuhl stated the cabinet wanted to ensure that all aspects of the business model were able to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth. At the request of some committee members, the cabinet has observed other state laws and city ordinances concerning TNCs, and they seem to work well and benefit all parties involved. The cabinet is looking forward to incorporating those laws and ordinances in Kentucky.
Commissioner Kuhl stated the current draft of the emergency regulation is being given the final review before it is released to TNCs for review. The emergency regulation should be available to come before the Administrative Regulations Committee at its December meeting.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s 2015 legislative agenda
Kim Jenkins, Legislative Liaison, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said that the cabinet’s 2015 legislative agenda is not yet finalized, but that she would take issues and suggestions back to the cabinet and Governor’s Office for review.
Representative Riggs stated flashing yellow left turn arrows, especially in metropolitan communities, are being widely requested. Secretary Hancock stated he has been made aware of the popularity of them and added that they function reasonably well. The cabinet is placing more flashing yellow left turn arrows throughout the state and continues to look for opportunities to put those in motion. Concerning the funding of the flashing yellow left turn arrows, Secretary Hancock stated the cabinet is working those through the traffic budget as they address intersection issues and as part of the overall intersection redesign.
Representative Pullin requested evaluating the speeds in school zones. Some school zone speeds have increased recently and it is her opinion that is an unnecessary safety concern. She asked if there is a change that could be made to keep school speed zones where they are and not faster.
Chairman Harris directed the attention to two pieces of correspondence. The first was a KAVIS update letter in which the cabinet advised that it will be taking over development of KAVIS after the Finance Cabinet formally rejected the 3M Software. The KYTC will construct KAVIS in modules developed independently, starting with print-on-demand registration decals and real time document scanning in 2015. The second correspondence piece was the response from the Kenton County Airport Board to the Auditor’s report on the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport presented at the committee’s October meeting. The Kenton County Airport Board will be implementing all of the auditor’s recommendations under the board’s control.
Chairman Harris said that the average wholesale price (AWP) of gasoline, which is used to calculate the variable portion of the motor fuels tax, will decrease tremendously in October. This will result in a 4 to 4.5 cent drop in the per gallon tax. He said that the General Assembly should examine the idea of amending the statutes to limit the potential decrease in the gas tax to 10 percent in any year, similar to the existing 10 percent limit on any increase. He will introduce appropriate legislation in the upcoming session.
Representative DeCesare expressed concern that hybrid and electronic vehicles are not paying their fare share of road usage because the gas tax is not being collected through drivers of those vehicles.
With no further business to come before the committee, Chairman Harris adjourned the meeting at 11:30 P.M.