Emergency Communication Systems Installed on Sections of the Interstate Highway System in Maryland, Michigan, and Texas

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-01-28.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

Dear   )ir.   Turnei-   :

       The General         Accounting       Office      has reviewed     the Federal       Higli~::ay
Administration’s            (FIJWA) research        program     of experimental       emergency
communication          systems      to assist      stranded     or disabled     motori_sts      a.nd
improve      safety     on Federal-aid          highways,     which   includes    the Intcr-
state     System.       The program       prov-i.des     for the installation,          at selected
locat ions on these            highways.      of various      types   of communication           systems
which will        allow     stranded     motorists       to communicate      a need for       service.

         The objectil:c     of the program         is to test        2nd compare       the uses and
benefits      of the various       sj ‘stems and subsequently               establish     criteria
to assist       States   3n the selection,           evaluation,         and approval      of future
emergency       communication      systems.        FWA     a1;ticipete.s       that   such    cl-5 tcria
would     appiy    to type,   design,      construction,          and operation        of the systems.

       FK\‘Ats policy         cells     for     the Government           to bear at least        90 percent
of the c.;,sLs fzr a State              tJ CPi~?St~l.iCt      Z;iii; -install   crilergcncy     CommWii-
cation    systems     on the Interstate                S>rstem ~~,nd at least         50 percent     of the
costs   to evaluate         them.       As of Aueust   <       Li’iO     FH’dA had sponsored       five    such
sy st em urkclTo- r 1.Ii s rcdsearch        p:*r?~can; at a !-:~gal Go..:crnment            cost of a.bout
$1.1 milli.on      of which         $1. ci million        was for consiruction            and installation
and $*l million          Cc,I- ev3 !.uaticn        studies     c

         b?e selected         for review      three     systems        Installed      on sections       of the
Interstate         System !~?cated          in biaryland,       ?!ichigan,       and Texas,        Mar!: land
and Te-x~s installed              non-voice      push button           type call-box        systems.
Michigan        installed        a telephone       system.        Our review        was directed        pri-
marily      towards       ascertaining        whether      the objectives           of the program          were
being      achieved,          WKLpreviously,       reported       to the Regional          Federal      Highway
Administrator,            Region     2, by letter         dated     January      9, 1970,      on the extent
of Federal         participation          in the cost of constructing                   the emergency        com-
municat’ion         system on the Capital             Beltway        (I-495)     in slaryland.

        FII!.;‘A instructions         i-n effect    at the initiation         of the research
program        in 1965 required           that   the three   States     perform      an evaluation
study     to determine          the effectiveness         of the sponsored          systems.      We
noted,      however,       that    FHlv’t?. had not issued     specific      guidelines      for
obtaining        the information            needed   to make such a determination.
                                                                             t co1l”CtQd fc>r
the evaluation     studic.s   'Lo d~:I-elii;i~?t~ tl-ic cflccti~~eri~~ss       0:‘ the thrt <
systems.      FHWA recognized     that      additional       data was needed and, on
March 26, i970,      issued   an instructional            memorandum      including    guide-
lines    to be used in performing           future     research     studies.

         The guidelines        require    the systematic          accumulation          and analysis
of more comprehensive             data than had been required                 by earlier       instruc-
tions.      We believe       the new guidelines           should      permit     more meaningiul
evaluation       studies     of future       emergency     communication           systems.       How-
ever,     we believe     FI-IWA should       also consider         re-evaluating          the three
existing      federally      sponsored       emergency     communication           systems     on the
basis     of the requirements          of the new guidelines.                  Such an approach
could reduce        the scope for future            experimental         systems      in order      to
develop     the data required          to establish        criteria        for the guidance           of
the States       in determining        their     emergency       communication           system needs,

        We appreciate    the cooperation        and courtesies      extended  to us by
both FHWA and State        highway  officials      during    our review.     We would
appreciate     your advice     as to any consideration          which may be given
to developing       more meaningful     evaluation      data on the three     systems

                                                              Sincerely      yours,

                                                              Richard     W. Kelle)
                                                              Assistant     Director

Mr. Franci.s        C. Turner
Administrator,         Federal      Highway
Department        of Transportation