It's not often the Super Bowl is treated like another one of its commercials. But at the American Traffic Safety Services Association's (ATSSA) 34th Annual Convention and Traffic Expo, Jan. 30-Feb. 3 in San Antonio, Texas, the biggest football game of the year will be one of many great breaks of entertainment.
Show officials are expecting 3,000 work-zone safety fans to move through the gates at this year's show, and the list of must-sees includes: former Major League pitcher Jim Morris as the featured speaker at the Opening General Session and Breakfast; ATSSA's Super Bowl Bash; NASCAR driver Todd Bodine's appearance in a work-zone safety video; and a new mix of educational programs and workshops.
Most are familiar with Morris' big-screen story. Dennis Quaid played the fireballer in Walt Disney's The Rookie, which portrayed a pitcher's brief but remarkable baseball career. During the Opening General Session and Breakfast (Sunday, Feb. 1, 8:45-10:45 a.m.) Morris will provide a look into how he pursued his made-for-Hollywood dream.
"The past few years we've had more of a political speaker," Melanie Myers, director of meetings and conventions for ATSSA, told Roads & Bridges. "We had a list of different speakers and (ATSSA Executive Director) Roger (Wentz) and I talked about it and our whole convention is themed around sports."
The momentum will continue into the night behind ATSSA's Super Bowel Bash (5-10 p.m.). Large-screen TVs will fill the ballroom and raffle drawings will be held throughout the contest.
But perhaps the most valuable information will come the following day, when attendees will sample a fresh tray of educational sessions and workshops. In an attempt to lure more, Myers said, ATSSA formed an Educational Workshop Committee to generate more worthwhile topics. Consisting of association members and staff, the committee formed the lineup through a number of teleconferences and e-mails.
"The point of this is to really get what the members want," said Myers. "It's a big thing because I felt like our educational programs year after year were the same old thing. Some of the attendance was dropping off and we really needed to do something to make it more entertaining."
The complete schedule of programs and workshops is as follows:
Monday, Feb. 2, 9-10 a.m.
Funding Our Highways--Is Safety Still Important?
Federal Regulators: How They Impact You, Your Workers, And Your Business;
Legally Blind: Defending the Roadside;
The 2003 MUTCD--Soon to be in a Bookstore Near You!;
The True Strength of Your Employees: Developing Political Clout;
How to Access Federal "Soft Safety" Funding;
2003 MUTCD--Part VI Update; and
ITS in the Work Zone--A Do-It-Yourself Guide.
Tuesday, Feb. 3, 8:30-10 a.m.
Traffic Control Through Incident Management Areas;
Roundabouts--A New Approach to Intersection Safety;
Meeting the Needs of the Older Driver;
Texas State Pavement Marking Handbook;
Zero Tolerance for Roadway Fatalities;
2003 MUTCD--Part VI Update; and
Using Technology to Save Workers Lives.
Adding even more juice to the presentation is the new Power Talk Sessions (Tuesday, 7:30-8:30 a.m.). Among the topics up for roundtable discussion are: Work Zone of the Future; Moving Lane Closures; Performance Measures for State Agencies; Night Work; Workman's Comp and Health Insurance Issues; Performance Contracting; and What Changes Do You Think Need to be Made to the MUTCD?
"Sometimes people just want to sit around and talk about something, hash out an issue or get other people's opinions," said Myers.
ATSSA's annual New Product Showcase will take place on Monday, Feb. 2, from 12:30-2 p.m.
San Antonio has become a personal favorite of ATSSA. This year's show marks the third time in the last eight years the safety outfit has set up temporary camp in the Alamo region. And, according to Myers, the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center has experienced some changes.
"Since the last show the convention center has been remodeled," she said. "The carpet is a story of the city. Each block tells a story. You'll have to look when you go there."