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NEWS RELEASE
USDA Forest Service
Washington, D.C.
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Release No. FS-0608

Contact:

Heidi Valetkevitch, (202) 205-0914

USDA Forest Service Recognized For Effective Road Safety Procedures Implemented During Wildfires

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2005 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service was recognized today by the Roadway Safety Foundation and the Federal Highway Administration for an innovative road safety project implemented after a major outbreak of wildfires in Montana.

"A wildland fire directly affects highways in the fire area, presenting travelers with potentially dangerous driving conditions, including changing visibility and traffic patterns as well as many roadside distractions," said Forest Service Associate Chief Sally Collins who accepted the award at a ceremony at the National Press Club. "In 2000, a major outbreak of wildfires in Montana motivated the agency to work with the Montana Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources to develop signing to direct motorists' as well as firefighters' attention to real hazards along roadsides and at fire camps."

Pictured in the photo, from left to right, are: J. Richard Capka, Federal Highway Administration Acting Administrator; Donna Sheehy, Forest Service Traffic Management Engineer in Region 1 (Montana); Doug Moeller of the Montana Department of Transportation; John Bell, Forest Service National Road System Operations and Maintenance Engineer (Washington, DC); Sally Collins, Forest Service Associate Chief (Washington, DC); and Gregory Cohen, Roadway Safety Foundation Executive Director.

The Forest Service's project included developing standard signs to maximize visibility in smoky conditions at ongoing large fires. The agency is implementing the project nationwide and is distributing an installation guide to all wildland fire managers for the upcoming fire season, which begins in February. The work is in accordance with national standards for uniform signing and traffic control devices.

The Forest Service, which is the largest firefighting entity in the country, worked in concert with the Montana Department of Transportation and the Montana Department of Natural Resources, who were also recipients of the award.

A total of 14 roadway safety award recipients were evaluated on three criteria for a program or project across the nation exhibiting excellence in roadway design, operations and planning: innovation, effectiveness and efficient use of resources.

For more information on the awards, visit www.roadwaysafety.org.

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