From MSU News– BOZEMAN – A proposal written by researchers at Montana State University’s Western Transportation Institute has resulted in a $10.3 million federal grant for improving safety and traffic flow on the road leading to the Big Sky community.
The funding comes from one of the most highly coveted and competitive sources of federal transportation dollars: the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program, known as TIGER. Read the full story
On Thursday, March 29, Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament will lead a webinar entitled “Evaluation of Effectiveness and Cost-Benefits of Woolen Roadside Reclamation Products” for the Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates (CESTiCC) at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. The presentation will focus on Rob’s research, which took a fresh look at wool and explored its potential for incorporation in erosion control blankets (ECBs) and to increase the establishment of vegetation along Montana roadsides after highway construction or other right-of-way disturbances. The project targeted the use of low quality wool that is substandard or unmarketable, thus offering both environmental and economic benefits.
The webinar will be held on Thursday, March 29 at 9:00 a.m. Alaska time (11 a.m. Montana time). It’s not too late to register online for this free event.
Is your agency looking for innovative solutions to your most common transportation safety challenges? Are you interested in using technology, but not sure which one best fits the needs of your rural area? Or maybe you’ve considered Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) before, but are afraid they are too expensive or only applicable in an urban setting?
The National Center for Rural Road Safety’s (Safety Center) newly released Rural Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Toolkit can answer these questions and more! Updated and expanded from its 1997 version, the new toolkit contains 42 fact sheets focused on the most common critical needs in rural areas today including: Crash Countermeasures; Traffic Management; Operations & Maintenance; Emergency Services; Surface Transportation & Weather; Rural Transit & Mobility; and Tourism & Travel Information.
Each fact sheet provides detailed information including:
A description of the solution,
It’s applicability in a rural area,
Key components of the system,
Examples of implementation,
Considerations before implementing,
Cost information, and
Explore the new Rural Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Toolkit on the Safety Center’s website.
Geosynthetic materials are routinely used in transportation applications to facilitate construction, improve stability, and enhance longevity. Departments of transportation have generally had good experience with these products, although a robust and non-proprietary design process for geosynthetic reinforced paved roads is still lacking. The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) believes that geosynthetics can be used responsibly to provide cost-savings on a number of upcoming highway construction projects in the state, based on their in-house experience as well as previous research and evaluation by WTI. MDT desires experimental evidence of performance for these typical projects in order to proceed with future designs.
Principal Investigator Steve Perkins is leading a new study to conduct full-scale indoor testing of reinforced pavement test sections using a traffic simulator to provide performance data and to evaluate a spreadsheet-based design tool that can be used to augment current design procedures. The results from this study can be directly implemented into future MDT highway construction designs having similar conditions to the test sections. These recommendations will pertain most directly to operational conditions where a stable construction platform is established over relatively weak subgrade when it is advantageous to reduce base course thickness in order to save both time and money.
To follow this project, visit its webpage on the WTI website.
A challenge that many state DOTs face is the accurate assessment of winter maintenance operations. One tool that has been successfully used by DOTs is the severe weather index (SWI), which can assess the performance and related costs associated with winter maintenance operations. It considers the relative severity of each weather event, and relative severity of weather for that season.
Principal Investigator Laura Fay is leading a new project to develop a severe weather index for Maryland DOT by region, Maintenance Shop, and winter storm event. Maryland DOT can use the SWI to determine if costs incurred during each event and winter are reasonable, as well as if the resources deployed and contracted amounts are also within reason.
To follow this project, visit its webpage on the WTI website.
WTI Research Scientist Marcel Huijser was on the road in February, speaking at two major regional wildlife events in Colorado and California. On February 8, he was invited to give the keynote address (“Road Ecology, are we taking the right turns?”) at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Colorado Chapter of the Wildlife Society. On February 21, he spoke at the “Bridges and Biology” workshop hosted by the California Department of Transportation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). At this event, Marcel led a workshop session called “National and International Perspectives,” which focused on wildlife usage of crossing structures, including how to increase their effectiveness.
To learn more about Marcel’s research, visit the Road Ecology webpage.
In February, Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament participated in a five day Road Ecology workshop in Nagpur, Maharashtra, India, entitled “Capacity Building in Designing Mitigation Measures along Linear Infrastructure in Tiger Landscapes.” Rob gave seven presentations at the event, where attendees from India, Nepal, and the U.S. gathered for three days of talks and two days of field trips to central India highway, railway and canal mitigation locations. The week was hosted by the Wildlife Conservation Trust and co-sponsored by Global Tiger Forum and the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of International Programs. Rob also had the opportunity to view other protected species, including rhinos and elephants.