Earlier this month, WTI Road Ecology Program Manager, Rob Ament, traveled to Nairobi, Kenya for the first African meeting of the Transport Working Group (TWG). Formed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group (CCSG), the TWG provides guidance on strategies that avoid, minimize, mitigate or compensate for the impacts of surface transportation systems on wildlife connectivity. The TWG is mobilizing road ecologists and transport professional around the world to develop connectivity-minded infrastructure development guidelines for governments and development banks to adopt.
The meeting took place at the campus of the Africa Wildlife Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya. Members represented consultants, NGOs, government agencies, researchers and academia. The agenda and discussions covered the TWG’s scoping document, work plan, and communications support of TWG, as well as the development of guidance documents and transport mitigation resources. Rob Ament, who serves as co-chair of the group, will help develop a briefing paper for the TWG regarding the Multilateral Development Bank Team and how to engage them in transport projects in Africa as well as on other continents. Rob also gave a presentation about the TWG in Arusha, Tanzania, at another meeting hosted by the CCSG in east Africa.
WTI Research Scientist Laura Fay was interviewed last week by MINNPOST.com on the topic of local road agencies that choose to unpave roads. The discussion focused on Laura’s research sponsored by the Transportation Research Board, in which she surveyed local, state, or federal agencies on how they manage low-volume roads. The survey identified nearly 70 road projects in 27 states in which the road agency chose to convert a road to an unpaved, gravel road instead of re-paving it. The project will also result in a guidebook to help local officials decide if unpaving a road is safe and cost-effective. Read the full article here or go to the WTI website for more information about the research project.
Montana State University News Service interviewed three WTI researchers for an in-depth article on WTI’s “influential research” on reducing wildlife vehicle collisions. “MSU’s Western Transportation Institute featured for research on wildlife crossings” is currently on the MSU website and was highlighted on the home page last week. Tony Clevenger was interviewed regarding his 17 years of research in Banff National Park, which has documented the effectiveness of the wildlife overpasses on the Trans-Canada Highway. Rob Amentand Steve Albertdiscussed how the crossing structures are influencing the development of similar efforts by transportation agencies around the world, and how the research helped establish WTI as an internationally recognized center for road ecology.
WTI Research Scientist Tony Clevenger was interviewed by WHYY radio in Canada regarding his 17-year research project to evaluate the wildlife crossing structures in Banff National Park. The discussion highlighted the research techniques used to determine which animals were using the crossing structures; these techniques included animal tracks, hair traps, and remote wildlife cameras. The entire audio interview is available on the WHYY website. The online article also features photos of a fox, wolf, elk, linx and bear using the wildlife crossings, and a video clip of a bear and two cubs on one of the structures.
WTI researchers have returned from a busy week at the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Attracting transportation leaders from around the country, the TRB Annual Meeting is the premier national transportation research gathering of the year. Many WTI researchers are leaders and members of TRB committees, are selected to lead workshops, or invited to present their research.
TRB also provides an opportunity for graduate students to gain professional presentation skills, and network with transportation researcher and practitioners. MSU doctoral student Amir Jamali presented two projects on pedestrian safety at a TRB poster session: “Pedestrian Crash Hotspot Identification Using Two-Step Floating Catchment Area Method and Machine Learning Tools,” and “Analysis of Pedestrian Injury Severity Levels for Intersection Crashes in Rural and Small Urban Areas.” The posters were based on findings from a WTI project to develop a pedestrian safety planning tool, led by Dr. YiYi Wang.
WTI Researchers had the opportunity to present research and collaborate with colleagues on topics that included traffic safety culture, crash reduction strategies, unpaved and low volume roads, design features of two-lane highways, transit accessibility, and workforce development:
Laura Fay presented “National Updates on Converting Distressed Paved Roads to Engineered Unpaved Roads” at a Lectern Session on Converting Distressed Paved Roads to Engineered Unpaved Roads. As Host of the 2019 Low Volume Roads conference, she also presented conference updates to the Low Volume Roads Committee, and the Conference Planning subcommittee.
Ahmed Al-Kaisypresented on three of his current research topics. He discussed “Traffic Operations on Rural Two-Lane Highways: A Review on Performance Measures and Indicators” at a session on Uninterrupted Flow; he presented an “Evaluation of Passing Lane Design Configurations on Two-Lane Highways” at a session on Performance-Based Geometric Design: Criteria for Horizontal Curves and Sight Distance; and he discussed an “Investigation of Passing-Lane Effective Length on Two-Lane Highways” at a session on Speed Effects of Highway Design Features.
Nic Warddiscussed his research on”ASafe System Approach to Reduce Wrong-Way Driving Crashes on Divided Highways by Applying Access Management and Traffic Safety Culture,” at a poster session on Network Considerations of Access Management.
As part of a lectern session on Paratransit, Safety, and Performance-Based Planning: Challenges and Opportunities for Small and Medium-Sized Areas, Jaime Sullivangave a presentation entitled “On the Road to Zero, We Cannot Ignore Rural.”
Susan Gallaghergave presentations on two topics: transit accessibility and transportation workforce development. She presented “Comparative Approaches to Fostering an Accessible Transportation Environment in the United States and Russia” at a lectern session on Accessible Transit Connectivity and Equity: Local to Global Approaches. She also presented “New Directions for Career Paths in the Maintenance and Operations Workforce” at the Maintenance and Operations Personnel Committee meeting. On the last day of the conference, Susan moderated a break out session during TRB Workshop 873: National Transportation Career Pathways Initiative Stakeholder Engagement: Scoping Transformative Technologies. Susan’s work in transportation workforce development builds on the initiatives of the West Region Transportation Workforce Center, where she serves as Project Manager.
YiYi Wang participated in the ABJ80 Statistical Analysis Committee and judged a doctoral student research competition.
On January 11, the Lone Peak Lookout published an online feature article about the transportation challenges along MT 64, the route that connects Big Sky, Montana to the rest of the state. The article includes an interview with Program Manager David Kack, who has worked on numerous projects over the years to enhance transportation options between Bozeman and Big Sky, and within the Big Sky community itself. Recently, he coordinated a $500 million federal grant proposal focused on improvements to MT 64. The full article is available here. Read more about past and current mobility projects in Big Sky and other rural communities on our Mobility and Public Transportation page.
The national Motorcycle Advisory Council (MAC), which provides guidance and recommendations to the USDOT Federal Highway Administration, held its first meeting in December 2017. WTI Researcher Craig Shankwitz, who was invited to serve on the Council, gave a presentation on his research to develop a “smart license plate,” which could enable vehicle to vehicle communications, such as safety messages regarding the presence and position of motorcycles on the road. The MAC meeting was covered in detail in a feature article on the online blog Common Tread.