Cornell Local Roads Program

Student Intern’s Work Leads Cornell University To Receive National Honors

Roadway Safety Foundation and Federal Highway Administration

Cornell University Local Roads Program Recognized in Washington, DC
At an awards ceremony on Capitol Hill, the Roadway Safety Foundation (RSF) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today recognized the Cornell University Local Roads Program for developing inspection kits to improve rural sign safety.

L to R: Tony Furst, Associate Administrator, Office of Safety at Federal Highway Administration;

L to R: Tony Furst, Associate Administrator,
Office of Safety at Federal Highway Administration;
David Orr, Senior Engineer, Cornell Local Roads Program; and
Greg Cohen, Executive Director, Roadway Safety Foundation

In 2009, new standards were set for sign retroreflectivity, requiring assessment of current signs to determine if they meet the new standards. In 2011, a Cornell University student intern named Lawrence (Larry) Lin was hired to work with three County Highway Departments in western New York to determine how to best share a single retroreflectometer.

Larry Lin
Larry Lin Inspecting
an Intersection in Livingston County

A result of the strong collaboration between the County Highway Departments, the student intern Larry Lin, and the engineers of the Cornell Local Roads Program was an inexpensive sign inspection kit using clear overhead projector sheets that cost less than $50 each in materials. The kit can be used to quickly confirm the level of retroreflectivity of signs in the field. For example, sign technicians in Wyoming County, NY were able to inspect all of their signs in only three nights with this kit.

“Cornell Local Roads Program and a remarkable student intern named Larry Lin took a daunting task for counties in New York State and made it both manageable and affordable,” said Gregory M. Cohen, P.E., Executive Director of the Roadway Safety Foundation. “Their well thought out solution turned out to be a simple one, which we hope to see replicated.”

“This project is a great example of innovation and the power of collaboration where different viewpoints lead to a solution better than any single organization or person would have developed on their own,” said Dr. David Orr, PE, Senior Engineer with the Program.

National Roadway Safety Award recipients were evaluated on three criteria – innovation, effectiveness, and efficient use of resources. Program categories included infrastructure improvements, operational improvements, and program planning, development, and evaluation.

retroreflectivity kit
Award winning retroreflectivity testing kit

Blue Ribbon Panel Judges included: Philip J. Caruso, Deputy Executive Director for Technical Programs, Institute of Transportation Engineers; Gregory M. Cohen, P.E., Executive Director, Roadway Safety Foundation; William A. Crank, Senior Community Relations Manager, Michelin North America; Anthony Giancola, P.E., Consultant, formerly of the National Association of County Engineers; Michael Griffith, Director, FHWA Office of Safety Technologies; Tony Kane, Consultant, formerly of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and Richard Pain, Transportation Safety Coordinator, Transportation Research Board.

Roadway safety programs are a critical part of the nation’s solutions to saving lives and preventing injuries on our nation’s highways. There were 32,367 people killed in traffic crashes on U.S. roads in 2011.

The Federal Highway Administration and the Roadway Safety Foundation present the biennial National Roadway Safety Awards to programs and projects across the nation exhibiting excellence in roadway design, operations and planning. The RSF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable and educational organization solely dedicated to reducing the frequency and severity of motor vehicle crashes by improving the safety of America’s roadways.

Want more information?

Roadway Safety Foundation logo

For additional information on RSF, please visit; on Facebook; and on Twitter at @roadway_safety, #RoadwaySafetyAwards.

For additional information on FHWA safety programs, please visit; on Facebook; and on Twitter at
@USDOTFHWA, #RoadwaySafetyAwards.

FHWA safety program logo

Want to build you own retrorefectivity kit? Check out our Tech Tip on the subject.

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This work by the Cornell Local Roads Program (CLRP) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.