Pothole and Winter Recovery Program Announced
MassDOT Secretary Richard A. Davey announced the 2014 Pothole and Winter Recovery Program to support and accelerate the repair of potholes and other damage caused by the recent severe winter weather. The $40 million one-time program will assist all municipalities and MassDOT in performing necessary repairs on state and local roadways and facilities.
“We experienced an extraordinary winter season that caused damage to our roads, bridges, and vehicles well beyond the typical year,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey. “This one-time, targeted program will speed repair and recovery and maintain safe travel for motorists.”
“Our cities and towns already challenged by what seemed to be never ending snow and ice removal now face higher than expected costs in fixing streets, signs, and other transportation facilities,” said MassDOT Highway Division Administrator Frank DePaola. “These funds to be spent immediately this spring and summer will allow all communities to make the most basic and necessary repairs and provide quick improvements for the traveling public.”
The $40 million program includes $30 million allocated to all municipalities according to the same Chapter 90 formula used to provide longer term local road and bridge project funds.  MassDOT will receive $10 million to address the greater than normal winter damage to Interstate highways and other state roads.
The Pothole and Winter Recovery Program is funded through existing FY2014 authorizations available to the department prior to the expected passage of the Transportation Bond Bill and requires all work to be completed by September of 2014.
MassDOT also appreciates the public’s help throughout this winter season in reporting pothole locations on state roads, allowing repairs to be made as quickly as possible.
If you see a pothole, please call MassDOT at 857-DOT-INFO (857-368-4636), Toll Free at 877-MA-DOT-GOV (877-623-6846), or visit our online contact information web page to send us an e-mail.  
Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

Pothole and Winter Recovery Program Announced

MassDOT Secretary Richard A. Davey announced the 2014 Pothole and Winter Recovery Program to support and accelerate the repair of potholes and other damage caused by the recent severe winter weather. The $40 million one-time program will assist all municipalities and MassDOT in performing necessary repairs on state and local roadways and facilities.

“We experienced an extraordinary winter season that caused damage to our roads, bridges, and vehicles well beyond the typical year,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey. “This one-time, targeted program will speed repair and recovery and maintain safe travel for motorists.”

“Our cities and towns already challenged by what seemed to be never ending snow and ice removal now face higher than expected costs in fixing streets, signs, and other transportation facilities,” said MassDOT Highway Division Administrator Frank DePaola. “These funds to be spent immediately this spring and summer will allow all communities to make the most basic and necessary repairs and provide quick improvements for the traveling public.”

The $40 million program includes $30 million allocated to all municipalities according to the same Chapter 90 formula used to provide longer term local road and bridge project funds.  MassDOT will receive $10 million to address the greater than normal winter damage to Interstate highways and other state roads.

The Pothole and Winter Recovery Program is funded through existing FY2014 authorizations available to the department prior to the expected passage of the Transportation Bond Bill and requires all work to be completed by September of 2014.

MassDOT also appreciates the public’s help throughout this winter season in reporting pothole locations on state roads, allowing repairs to be made as quickly as possible.

If you see a pothole, please call MassDOT at 857-DOT-INFO (857-368-4636), Toll Free at 877-MA-DOT-GOV (877-623-6846), or visit our online contact information web page to send us an e-mail. 

Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

Take Care of Your Bridges Now Before It’s Too Late!
Municipal Bridges - Maintenance Recommendations for MunicipalitiesBy Daniel S. Crovo, P. E., District 5 Bridge Engineer
The lack of simple bridge maintenance in many Massachusetts municipalities is significantly affecting bridge structural capacity, personal safety, and overall condition. Under Federal law, MassDOT inspects, or receives inspection reports on all bridges on public highways in the state every two years. These reports must be reviewed by MassDOT within 90 days of the field inspection. The reports are then sent to each municipality.
In these biennial inspections, the MassDOT inspection crews typically find that municipal bridges and minor spans are not well maintained and very little attention is generally paid to them. If a major concern is evident, then MassDOT will immediately contact that municipality. In some cases, bridges have been closed or severe restrictions have been recommended to the local municipal officials.
It should be noted that MassDOT simply performs the inspection and makes recommendations on weight posting, repairs, or other limitations. In some cases, MassDOT may provide limited engineering services and other assistance through the District Bridge Engineers. However, the maintenance of minor spans on town ways and low-use bridges is the full responsibility of municipalities. 
It is recommended that all towns budget for basic maintenance, deck repair, paint, and other minor repairs. Otherwise, it is likely that more expensive repairs or full replacement will face decision-makers in the future.
Here is a checklist of basic maintenance which municipalities should perform on their bridge(s) and/or minor spans:Annual CleaningRemove all sand and debris from the deck and around beams at least once a year (preferably spring). Use fire trucks to wash down and remove salt, because salt readily deteriorates concrete and corrodes steel. This activity provides you with the most benefit — at the least cost — and provides an opportunity to check the condition of the structure for needed repairs.ErosionCheck under and around abutments to spot eroded areas (the best time to do this is when water is at its lowest in late summer). Add stone protection (rip rap) to stabilize eroded areas and provide bridge support. Remove excess winter sand from approaches to allow runoff to flow into the ditches instead of onto the bridge.Wood DecksCheck planks for breaks, rotting, excessive wear and looseness. Replace damaged planks (“piecing in” is not recommended), re-nail planks to beams, add a waterproofing layer (tarpaper) between the beams and planks and treat with a preservative when dry.Concrete DecksLook for signs of leakage, cracks and rust stains from underneath. Don’t pave over concrete decks (this accelerates concrete deterioration). Every two years coat exposed concrete decks with a sealer. Sealing should be done yearly for the first two years for new concrete.Steel BeamsRemove all dirt and/or debris yearly and paint beams, as needed, to prevent corrosion. Complete painting is usually needed every 10-20 years with occasional touch-up painting in between. Touch-up painting mainly involves the beam ends and bearings.Timber BeamsCheck for deterioration. Test with a hammer and/or occasionally drill holes to sample the interior condition. Holes must be filled in after drilling to prevent further decay.Abutments and PiersCheck for movement and stability. Look for cracks, movement of rocks, leaning or bulging, scour and undermining. Cut and remove all brush and trees growing close to the abutments to improve air flow and limit potential damage. Repair any damaged or missing stones or concrete. Remove debris that can potentially plug bridge openings from the upstream channel.GuardrailsIf none exist, install something sturdy. If wood or steel rails (or wire cables) are bent, broken, or in poor condition, replace or reinforce deteriorated parts.Bridge ApproachesTrim all trees and bushes to create adequate sight distance, especially around signs. Fill all ruts and eroded areas. Check for a smooth transition from the road onto the bridge. Vehicles ramping and landing on a bridge deck can cause a force equal to double their weight.SignsInspect, straighten and clean warning signs. If necessary, erect new signs (both at and in advance of the structure). Two conditions require additional signage — weight posting and overpass clearances of less than 14’6”. All signs must meet MUTCD standards. Remove any brush that is obstructing warning signs. Bearing DevicesIdentify all fixed and moveable bearing devices. Clear any obstructions that would prevent a moveable support from functioning.CracksMeasure and keep a record of any cracks in — or movement of — the abutment main wall and wing walls.    Remember to take care of your bridges now, before it’s too late!   
Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

Take Care of Your Bridges Now Before It’s Too Late!

Municipal Bridges - Maintenance Recommendations for Municipalities
By Daniel S. Crovo, P. E., District 5 Bridge Engineer

The lack of simple bridge maintenance in many Massachusetts municipalities is significantly affecting bridge structural capacity, personal safety, and overall condition. Under Federal law, MassDOT inspects, or receives inspection reports on all bridges on public highways in the state every two years. These reports must be reviewed by MassDOT within 90 days of the field inspection. The reports are then sent to each municipality.

In these biennial inspections, the MassDOT inspection crews typically find that municipal bridges and minor spans are not well maintained and very little attention is generally paid to them. If a major concern is evident, then MassDOT will immediately contact that municipality. In some cases, bridges have been closed or severe restrictions have been recommended to the local municipal officials.

It should be noted that MassDOT simply performs the inspection and makes recommendations on weight posting, repairs, or other limitations. In some cases, MassDOT may provide limited engineering services and other assistance through the District Bridge Engineers. However, the maintenance of minor spans on town ways and low-use bridges is the full responsibility of municipalities.

It is recommended that all towns budget for basic maintenance, deck repair, paint, and other minor repairs. Otherwise, it is likely that more expensive repairs or full replacement will face decision-makers in the future.

Here is a checklist of basic maintenance which municipalities should perform on their bridge(s) and/or minor spans:

Annual Cleaning
Remove all sand and debris from the deck and around beams at least once a year (preferably spring). Use fire trucks to wash down and remove salt, because salt readily deteriorates concrete and corrodes steel. This activity provides you with the most benefit — at the least cost — and provides an opportunity to check the condition of the structure for needed repairs.

Erosion
Check under and around abutments to spot eroded areas (the best time to do this is when water is at its lowest in late summer). Add stone protection (rip rap) to stabilize eroded areas and provide bridge support. Remove excess winter sand from approaches to allow runoff to flow into the ditches instead of onto the bridge.

Wood Decks
Check planks for breaks, rotting, excessive wear and looseness. Replace damaged planks (“piecing in” is not recommended), re-nail planks to beams, add a waterproofing layer (tarpaper) between the beams and planks and treat with a preservative when dry.

Concrete Decks
Look for signs of leakage, cracks and rust stains from underneath. Don’t pave over concrete decks (this accelerates concrete deterioration). Every two years coat exposed concrete decks with a sealer. Sealing should be done yearly for the first two years for new concrete.

Steel Beams
Remove all dirt and/or debris yearly and paint beams, as needed, to prevent corrosion. Complete painting is usually needed every 10-20 years with occasional touch-up painting in between. Touch-up painting mainly involves the beam ends and bearings.

Timber Beams
Check for deterioration. Test with a hammer and/or occasionally drill holes to sample the interior condition. Holes must be filled in after drilling to prevent further decay.

Abutments and Piers
Check for movement and stability. Look for cracks, movement of rocks, leaning or bulging, scour and undermining. Cut and remove all brush and trees growing close to the abutments to improve air flow and limit potential damage. Repair any damaged or missing stones or concrete. Remove debris that can potentially plug bridge openings from the upstream channel.

Guardrails
If none exist, install something sturdy. If wood or steel rails (or wire cables) are bent, broken, or in poor condition, replace or reinforce deteriorated parts.

Bridge Approaches
Trim all trees and bushes to create adequate sight distance, especially around signs. Fill all ruts and eroded areas. Check for a smooth transition from the road onto the bridge. Vehicles ramping and landing on a bridge deck can cause a force equal to double their weight.

Signs
Inspect, straighten and clean warning signs. If necessary, erect new signs (both at and in advance of the structure). Two conditions require additional signage — weight posting and overpass clearances of less than 14’6”. All signs must meet MUTCD standards. Remove any brush that is obstructing warning signs.

Bearing Devices
Identify all fixed and moveable bearing devices. Clear any obstructions that would prevent a moveable support from functioning.

Cracks
Measure and keep a record of any cracks in — or movement of — the abutment main wall and wing walls.

    Remember to take care of your bridges now, before it’s too late!  

Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

It Takes a Community
By Dr. Rockie BluntContributing WriterI was in Lenox recently, conducting a workshop entitled Succeeding as a Foreman V. When the class ended and the room was empty, I unplugged my computer, packed away my notes and wheeled my equipment out to the car. Looking across the large parking lot, I noticed a group of my students clumped together in front of their trucks talking with each other. They were still there when I waved to them and drove away. One phrase came to my mind, and I said it out loud: “Communities of Practice.”
If you have taken a Baystate Roads workshop with me, or heard me talk about how people learn, you know that I have said repeatedly that learning does not have to be restricted to schools or training courses, and it doesn’t have to be organized and led by a teacher or expert. Learning takes place anywhere and anytime, and nowhere is this more true than with Communities of Practice (CP). Consider these three points:
Communities of Practice is “social learning.”
The main thrust of CP is that people are inherently social; we need to interact with others and we are quick to form groups. We do this for a variety of reasons—to report on our experiences, exchange information, seek advice—all of which lead to an increase in our knowledge. When we share tips and techniques for doing a job, or discuss ideas for solving a problem, we are learning from others.Communities of Practice is informal learning.
Learning doesn’t have to be formal, or even planned. When two or three people gather around the water cooler—or their trucks in the parking lot—they are probably discussing a common business issue (unless they’re bemoaning this year’s Celtics). I was once told by a chief of police that when you see two cruisers parked side by side off the road, chances are the officers are updating each other on a recent crime or reviewing goings-on in the neighborhood that bear watching. In both these examples, the learning is informal or spontaneous, and for that reason, managers should not be too quick to break up the conversation. As Thomas Davenport and Laurence Prusak mention in their book, Working Knowledge, “Managers shouldn’t underestimate the value of talk.”Communities of Practice takes place everywhere.
Although it’s easy to assume that our learning is somehow separate from our daily lives, CP reminds us that we learn as part of everyday experiences—on the job site, on the athletic fields, in the office and at home. It reminds us, too, that we are constantly changing roles in the process: sometimes we’re learners, sometimes teachers, and sometimes observers.
Etienne Wenger, a leading authority on Communities of Practice, has written, “If you’re serious about knowledge, you have to be serious about communities.” I like to think that the foremen in Lenox who attended my training session learned something in class. But, I’m also betting that by the time they drove away that day, they had done some serious learning outside of the classroom.    Who is in your community? Who do you learn from?   Rockie Blunt, President of West Boylston, MA-based Blunt Consulting Group, has worked with municipal and state agencies for many years.
Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

It Takes a Community

By Dr. Rockie Blunt
Contributing Writer

I was in Lenox recently, conducting a workshop entitled Succeeding as a Foreman V. When the class ended and the room was empty, I unplugged my computer, packed away my notes and wheeled my equipment out to the car. Looking across the large parking lot, I noticed a group of my students clumped together in front of their trucks talking with each other. They were still there when I waved to them and drove away. One phrase came to my mind, and I said it out loud: “Communities of Practice.”

If you have taken a Baystate Roads workshop with me, or heard me talk about how people learn, you know that I have said repeatedly that learning does not have to be restricted to schools or training courses, and it doesn’t have to be organized and led by a teacher or expert. Learning takes place anywhere and anytime, and nowhere is this more true than with Communities of Practice (CP). Consider these three points:


Communities of Practice is “social learning.”

The main thrust of CP is that people are inherently social; we need to interact with others and we are quick to form groups. We do this for a variety of reasons—to report on our experiences, exchange information, seek advice—all of which lead to an increase in our knowledge. When we share tips and techniques for doing a job, or discuss ideas for solving a problem, we are learning from others.

Communities of Practice is informal learning.

Learning doesn’t have to be formal, or even planned. When two or three people gather around the water cooler—or their trucks in the parking lot—they are probably discussing a common business issue (unless they’re bemoaning this year’s Celtics). I was once told by a chief of police that when you see two cruisers parked side by side off the road, chances are the officers are updating each other on a recent crime or reviewing goings-on in the neighborhood that bear watching. In both these examples, the learning is informal or spontaneous, and for that reason, managers should not be too quick to break up the conversation. As Thomas Davenport and Laurence Prusak mention in their book, Working Knowledge, “Managers shouldn’t underestimate the value of talk.”

Communities of Practice takes place everywhere.

Although it’s easy to assume that our learning is somehow separate from our daily lives, CP reminds us that we learn as part of everyday experiences—on the job site, on the athletic fields, in the office and at home. It reminds us, too, that we are constantly changing roles in the process: sometimes we’re learners, sometimes teachers, and sometimes observers.


Etienne Wenger, a leading authority on Communities of Practice, has written, “If you’re serious about knowledge, you have to be serious about communities.” I like to think that the foremen in Lenox who attended my training session learned something in class. But, I’m also betting that by the time they drove away that day, they had done some serious learning outside of the classroom.

    Who is in your community? Who do you learn from?   

Rockie Blunt, President of West Boylston, MA-based Blunt Consulting Group, has worked with municipal and state agencies for many years.

Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

Tech Note #67-WORK ZONE SAFETY
BackgroundConstruction and maintenance are ongoing activities aimed at keeping our roadways safe and efficient for roadway users; however, the very work zones that contain these construction and maintenance activities can create an unexpected condition along the roadway for motorists. Both the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have established formal policies to help keep work zones safe for both drivers and workers, alike.
A work zone should be established at any location where construction or maintenance work is ongoing, which may include long-term or temporary work zones as well as moving work zones. The work zone should be set up such that traffic is separated from potential hazards, whether they be on the shoulder or in the center of the traffic lane. Work zones should last for the duration of time work is being performed. If necessary, a work zone should remain in place even when the worker are not present to separate traffic from roadway hazards. Work Zone SafetyA fundamental safety element in a work zone is managing vehicle speeds. Some measures that help manage speeds are posting signs for a speed reduction by the work zone or providing advance signage alerting motorists of the potentially unexpected conditions ahead. Yet another method is to reduce lane width, abiding acceptable guidelines and standards, within the work zone itself. Although this may already occur as a result of construction, it may encourage drivers to find a safer, slower speed.
Construction of an adequate transition and termination zone before and after the designated work zone is another important consideration. This will smoothly move traffic into a path away from workers and equipment and safely back into the lane following the work zone, which can typically be done using signage. Dimensions for these geometric transitions can be found in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD Part 6). This signage should inform the driver of the geometry of any potential lane changes as well.
Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

Tech Note #67-WORK ZONE SAFETY

Background
Construction and maintenance are ongoing activities aimed at keeping our roadways safe and efficient for roadway users; however, the very work zones that contain these construction and maintenance activities can create an unexpected condition along the roadway for motorists. Both the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have established formal policies to help keep work zones safe for both drivers and workers, alike.


A work zone should be established at any location where construction or maintenance work is ongoing, which may include long-term or temporary work zones as well as moving work zones. The work zone should be set up such that traffic is separated from potential hazards, whether they be on the shoulder or in the center of the traffic lane. Work zones should last for the duration of time work is being performed. If necessary, a work zone should remain in place even when the worker are not present to separate traffic from roadway hazards.

Work Zone Safety
A fundamental safety element in a work zone is managing vehicle speeds. Some measures that help manage speeds are posting signs for a speed reduction by the work zone or providing advance signage alerting motorists of the potentially unexpected conditions ahead. Yet another method is to reduce lane width, abiding acceptable guidelines and standards, within the work zone itself. Although this may already occur as a result of construction, it may encourage drivers to find a safer, slower speed.


Construction of an adequate transition and termination zone before and after the designated work zone is another important consideration. This will smoothly move traffic into a path away from workers and equipment and safely back into the lane following the work zone, which can typically be done using signage. Dimensions for these geometric transitions can be found in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD Part 6). This signage should inform the driver of the geometry of any potential lane changes as well.

Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

Work Zone Safety Tips (Tech Note #67 Continued)
EducationInforming the public about upcoming or ongoing construction or maintenance can provide enhanced safety and operational benefits. Informing the public regarding a work zone may allow them to seek out alternate routes and be aware of the work zone.
Pedestrian, Bike, and Transit AccommodationsPedestrian and bicyclist safety is as important as motor vehicle safety. Make accommodations for any work zone that shifts pedestrians or bicyclists out of their normal path. A temporary sidewalk or temporary bike lane is one possible solution. If the work zone obstructs a bus stop or roadside pull out, create temporary ones to accommodate users. (MUTCD Chapter 6D)
BarriersLimit access to the work zone. Allow for vehicular traffic to pass through the work zone, but delineate the zone with barriers to provide safety to the workers. This doesn’t necessarily require the use of “Jersey Barriers”; something as simple as traffic cones, reflectorized plastic drum barrels, or Type III barricades can be effective.
Police/Road Flagger PresenceMassachusetts requires a police presence or a certified civilian road flagger within a work zone. A police officer and road flagger help direct traffic and increase work zone visibility. More information on civilian road flaggers can be found at http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/highway/RoadFlaggers.aspx
LightingAn additional safety measure is to provide additional lighting to the project site, which may allow drivers to better see obstructions and possible hazards at night.
Important ReminderAll work zone signs and other traffic control devices shall comply with the MUTCD Part 6
Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

Work Zone Safety Tips (Tech Note #67 Continued)

Education
Informing the public about upcoming or ongoing construction or maintenance can provide enhanced safety and operational benefits. Informing the public regarding a work zone may allow them to seek out alternate routes and be aware of the work zone.

Pedestrian, Bike, and Transit Accommodations
Pedestrian and bicyclist safety is as important as motor vehicle safety. Make accommodations for any work zone that shifts pedestrians or bicyclists out of their normal path. A temporary sidewalk or temporary bike lane is one possible solution. If the work zone obstructs a bus stop or roadside pull out, create temporary ones to accommodate users. (MUTCD Chapter 6D)

Barriers
Limit access to the work zone. Allow for vehicular traffic to pass through the work zone, but delineate the zone with barriers to provide safety to the workers. This doesn’t necessarily require the use of “Jersey Barriers”; something as simple as traffic cones, reflectorized plastic drum barrels, or Type III barricades can be effective.

Police/Road Flagger Presence
Massachusetts requires a police presence or a certified civilian road flagger within a work zone. A police officer and road flagger help direct traffic and increase work zone visibility. More information on civilian road flaggers can be found at http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/highway/RoadFlaggers.aspx

Lighting
An additional safety measure is to provide additional lighting to the project site, which may allow drivers to better see obstructions and possible hazards at night.

Important Reminder
All work zone signs and other traffic control devices shall comply with the MUTCD Part 6

Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

Work Zone Signage Choices (Tech Note #67 Continued)

Although the signs below do not necessarily represent the actual sequence of signage within a work zone, they do provide information about various signs that may prove useful regardless of the work zone location.

Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

Give ample time and sight distance for drivers to realize that they are approaching a work zone. (Example Sign W21-1)
Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

Give ample time and sight distance for drivers to realize that they are approaching a work zone. (Example Sign W21-1)

Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

If the roadway path has changed, give ample time and distance to drivers so they know what the roadway geometry will be in the upcoming work zone. (Example Sign W20-5)
Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

If the roadway path has changed, give ample time and distance to drivers so they know what the roadway geometry will be in the upcoming work zone. (Example Sign W20-5)

Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

If the roadway changes path, show the change in geometry of the roadway so that the driver can prepare for any required maneuvers. (Example Sign W1-4)
Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

If the roadway changes path, show the change in geometry of the roadway so that the driver can prepare for any required maneuvers. (Example Sign W1-4)

Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

If the work zone creates potential roadway hazards, alert drivers of those hazards. This includes pavement changes, roadway dips, or bumps, as shown here. (Example Sign W8-1)
Mass Interchange, Summer 2014

If the work zone creates potential roadway hazards, alert drivers of those hazards. This includes pavement changes, roadway dips, or bumps, as shown here. (Example Sign W8-1)

Mass Interchange, Summer 2014