UPDATE: See Cycle 8 blog post for the latest information.
Caltrans has announced plans for $150 million to be distributed during the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) call for projects. The goal of the federally mandated HSIP is to:
Achieve a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads, including non-State-owned public roads and roads on tribal lands.
The state departments of transportation are tasked with maximizing the benefits of their designated funding through a data-driven approach. The Caltrans Division of Local Assistance manages the California HSIP program and has established a protocol of evaluating applications based on a benefit/cost analysis. Details of the California HSIP cycle 7 program can be found at their website: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/LocalPrograms/HSIP/prepare_now.htm.
For this year’s cycle, the minimum required benefit/cost ratio will be a 5.0, meaning applicants must at least show a ratio of 5 to be considered during the selection process. The benefit refers to the economic benefit of the reduction in crashes that can be achieved by implementing a specific countermeasure while the cost refers to the dollars required to construct and apply the countermeasure.
In order to achieve higher benefit/cost ratios, there has been a push in recent years to focus more on systemic, low-cost countermeasures such as striping or signage that can be applied at numerous locations on a corridor or a jurisdiction. These types of countermeasures have been shown to be very effective at reducing collisions and cost a fraction of more traditional spot-location type countermeasures such as installing a new left turn lane at an intersection. A good discussion of systemic vs spot-location techniques are given in the California Local Roadway User’s Manual, the Oregon DOTs Traffic-Roadway-Section page, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
For California HSIP cycle 7 it will be imperative that agencies consider the low-cost, systemic countermeasures when evaluating their local collision data. Agencies with a good collision data management system, such as RoadSafe GIS, will be at an advantage when exploring their data. To further aid agencies, RoadSafe GIS will also soon be releasing a freely available tool that allows you to import your collision data and automatically calculate the potential benefits of all the systemic type countermeasures. Instead of checking individual countermeasures one by one, it can all be done in a single batch to display a ranking of the highest benefits. The available countermeasures and their crash reduction factors will be synchronized with those posted by Caltrans and in the TIMS B/C calculator.
Stay tuned for our next blog post where we will announce the release of this new tool!
Update: The HSIP Helper is now available. Read more about it here.