By David Dill. Now that we are about halfway through the summer construction season, many Vermonters have become aware that the Agency of Transportation is replacing all the road signs along Vermont’s interstate system. This work has prompted many questions, the most common is why?Understandably, many motorists believe that our old highway signs are just fine and that the money we are using to replace these highway signs could be better spent repairing bridges, expanding public transit and paving roads. I too would prefer to put every available dollar into these kinds of high-priority programs, but we do have to address our other responsibilities as well.The bottom line is that from an engineering and safety perspective, those old signs are not OK and the state must replace them. Here is why.Congress recently directed the Federal Highway Administration to adopt a national standard for retro-reflectivity for traffic signs and pavement markings. These new standards, which were established in 2008, apply to all roads open to public travel. Compliance with these new retro-reflectivity rules is a requirement that VTrans must meet by 2015 to continue to receive the critical federal-aid highway funds that come to Vermont.Federal-aid highway funds make up $250 million of the state’s $595 million transportation budget, and are used in all facets of the state’s highway, bridge and public transportation programs.The goal of this new reflectivity mandate is to provide signs that are legible during all times of day and weather conditions. This is largely accomplished through the retro-reflectivity of the sign sheeting. The expected life of this sheeting is approximately 15 years. Many of the signs on our interstate system are at least 20 years old, and some that were recently replaced on northern portions of I-91 were the original signs from way back in the 1960s and 70s.The posts and foundations for these signs are also being replaced. All new signposts are designed to be “breakaway” if struck by a vehicle. This modern technology is a valuable safety tool that will prevent injury and save lives. On the financial front, these sign projects do not tap funds that could otherwise be used for bridge, public transit or pavement projects, so they are not in conflict with those programs. Instead, the new signs are 100 percent federally funded with money called “Section 148 Highway Safety Improvement Program” funds, which can only be spent on safety-related projects.Sign improvements are one of several allowable project categories under Section 148. The federal government identified sign retro-reflectivity as an important safety feature, which led to the Highway Administration’s adoption of the mandate requiring states to upgrade their existing signs. As a result, VTrans, over the next few years, will replace all traffic control signs on a system-wide basis, prioritized by sign age, which is why the northern section of I-91 was completed first, followed by the current I-89 projects. The rest of the interstate system will follow so that we complete the work by the federally mandated 2015 deadline.David Dill is the Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Transportation8.4.2010
Last week, I had the pleasure of serving as a panelist during a nationally-televised event. Hosted by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the event brought together several credit union industry leaders to discuss strategies for improving financial service to Hispanic consumers. Rounding out the panel were Maria Martinez, president and chief executive officer of Border Federal Credit Union and co-chair of the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals; Robert Peterson, president and chief executive officer of One Source Federal Credit Union;and Sergio Osuna, a supervisory examiner with NCUA’s Region V office.Before both a live and a streaming audience of more than 200 individuals, I had the opportunity to share some of my own family’s story to illustrate the challenges credit unions may face as they look to execute financial inclusion strategies.First Build TrustAmong the issues we discussed is unbanked, first-generation Hispanics simply aren’t being courted by traditional financial institutions. My family and I belonged to this group. My parents were intimidated by banks. We came from Mexico, and like many other Latin American countries, banks there tended to cater only to the wealthy. continue reading » 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
Despite ranking fourth in the Big Ten, the Wisconsin women’s softball team has been one of the hottest teams in the country for the past month with a record of 15-2 in April. The Badgers looked to carry that momentum into the month of May.Wisconsin (33-17, 15-7 Big Ten) traveled to Ann Arbor, Mich., in the last regular season series against the conference’s top-ranked Michigan (40-11, 18-5), and in an upset, walked away with the “W” in two of the three games.In the first game of a three-game series, the Badgers hit the ground running, scoring a run right away in the top of the first. After leadoff hitter Mary Massei reached first base on a dropped third strike, teammates Michelle Mueller and Stephanie Peace hit her the rest of the way around the bases on a single and a lineout to center field, respectively.The Wolverines responded in the bottom of the second when designated hitter Taylor Hasselbach hit a home run to center field off UW pitcher Taylor-Paige Stewart, and again in the next inning when shortstop Sierra Romero did the same, taking the early lead away from Wisconsin.The Badgers kicked it into gear over the next two innings, however, putting up a couple more runs of their own.Right fielder Katie Christner started things off in the fourth with a single to the right side of the diamond, followed by Massei who was intentionally walked by Michigan. With two of Wisconsin’s fastest players on base, second baseman Sara Novak doubled to right center, bringing in both runners and taking the lead back.Novak had a little more in her yet. After pinch runner Caitlyn Warren scored another UW run in the fifth, Novak nearly doubled Wisconsin’s side of the scoreboard with a 7th-inning grand slam to right field, bringing in teammates Marissa Mersch, Christner and Maria Van Abel. The Wolverines put up an additional run of their own in the bottom of the inning, but couldn’t undo Novak’s work, ending the game at 9-3.Wolverines tie the seriesMichigan wasn’t going to go quietly in the second game of the series Saturday.The Wolverines were the first to score this time around, with Hasselbach scoring the first run after she reached second on a double, and catcher Lauren Sweet capitalized on a UW throwing error, scoring a second run of the inning.Wisconsin fought back and scored a run of its own when Mueller, having singled through the right side herself, reached home on a single by teammate Ashley Van Zeeland.But Michigan proved relentless, tacking on three additional runs in the bottom of the third off a series of singles and doubles, including ones by Romero and Sweet.The Wolverines solidified the win three innings later when they put together another string of hits, with Abby Ramirez, Nicole Sappingfield and Caitlin Blanchard all singling, Romero hitting a double, and Hasselbach polishing off the inning with another home run to centerfield off Wisconsin pitcher Cassandra Darrah, making the final score a lopsided 10-1.Wisconsin takes the series win in extrasWith only one game left in the series between the No.1 and No. 4 ranked teams in the conference, both came prepared and determined, fighting tooth-and-nail and pushing the game into extra innings.The score remained 0-0 until the bottom of the third inning, when Michigan finally broke through. After Sappingfield doubled to right field, Romero hit her second home run of the weekend, bringing in two RBIs for the home team.UW responded by putting four-spot in the top of the next inning, starting with a single by Mueller. Marisa Gonzalez pinch ran for the third baseman, and advanced to third when Peace doubled to center field. Van Zeeland loaded the bases when she reached on a fielder’s choice, and catcher Chloe Miller brought in the first run when she drew a walk. With bases still loaded, Mersch brought in both Gonzalez and Peace on a single to right field, and Miller scored an unearned run when she made it home on a Michigan error, putting the score at 4-2.Michigan tied the score back up in the bottom of the inning with a single from third baseman Lindsey Montemarano right before a home run from center fielder Lyndsay Doyle, bringing in both batters. Both teams brought in an additional run in the seventh inning, keeping the score tied and forcing the game into extra innings.After a scoreless eighth inning, Sara Novak hit her well-placed second home run of the weekend in the ninth, pushing Wisconsin into the 6-5 lead. Michigan failed to respond in the bottom of the inning, giving the Badgers a 2-1 series win on the weekend. Wisconsin couldn’t ask for a higher note to finish out the regular season on as they head into conference tournament next weekend.