Exploring the language of ‘the biz’ — paving and road building

ALMOST EVERY INDUSTRY has its own unique “language” — words, phrases, nicknames, shorthand, acronyms, and definitions the insiders comprehend but outsiders likely don’t or won’t understand without a guide or some time on the job. The paving and road-building industry — and the associated transportation sector — isn’t an exception. We at Tucker Paving and our colleagues in the field know what’s meant when we casually use acronyms like “TIP” and phrases like “contraflow lane.”

So, what do these terms mean and what are some of the others we use in “the biz”? We present, and explain, a baker’s dozen below (in no particular order). We’ll have another baker’s dozen in our next blog post.

Friction course — The topmost layer of asphalt on a roadway.

TPO — Transportation Planning Organization. Most counties have one. (Polk County does.) Most large cities do, too.

Access management — The careful planning of the location and design of driveways, median openings, interchanges, and street connectors in order to maximize safety and traffic flow.

Contraflow lane — A lane reserved for buses in which the direction of bus traffic is opposite the flow of traffic in the other lanes.

Road base — An aggregate mixture of sand and stone.

TIP — Transportation Improvement Program. The document identifying the state highway, transit, aviation, and bicycle/pedestrian projects within the TPO area that are funded over the next five years.

ASCE — Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers is the oldest national professional engineering society in the United States.

DMS — Dynamic Message Sign — A permanent electronic sign placed on state roads to provide motorists with real-time traffic information.

Borrow pit — In simple terms, a sand box — an area where material (usually soil, gravel, or sand) has been dug for use at another location.

Reverse curve — A section of the horizontal alignment of a route (highway or railroad) in which a curve to the left or right is followed immediately by a curve in the opposite direction.

ITS — Intelligent Transportation System. ITS makes transportation safety and mobility communication better and increase productivity through the use of technology. ITS can include electronic toll collection points, traffic cameras, electronic message boards, and Road Ranger service patrols.

FAST — Fixing America’s Surface Transportation. This is the six-year federal bill, enacted in December 2015, that reauthorized federal transportation funding.

Bringing up the rear in our first list of 13 is a term we’re sure is familiar to most motorists all across the Sunshine State:

FDOT (or, sounded out, “F-Dot”) — The Tallahassee-based Florida Department of Transportation. The state agency operates through seven districts in Florida. Polk County falls within District 1 (Southwest Florida), which has its headquarters in Bartow.

Sources: The Florida Department of Transportation, the North Florida TPO, the Dictionary of Construction Terminology from Complete Designs, Inc., and EnglishLink.