WTI Researchers are
collaborating on a research project to develop, implement and evaluate a
wildlife crossing structure made of Fiber-reinforced polymers (FRPs), a strong
but lightweight composite material that could significantly reduce the
construction and maintenance costs of wildlife overpasses and associated
infrastructure elements. In recent
project news, an FRP wildlife crossing will be designed for a location on US Highway
97 in Siskiyou County, California – the first of its kind on this continent.
The project has evolved out of several research collaborations at WTI. In May 2018, WTI and its partners, Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, and ARC (Animal Road Crossing) Solutions hosted a design collaboration laboratory (Co-lab) on FRP-based wildlife crossing structures. The Co-lab engaged experts in engineering, landscape architecture, and ecology from across North America and set the stage for further exploration of FRP material use in wildlife crossing infrastructure.
Also, in 2019 WTI was selected to lead a team of researchers for a Transportation Pooled Fund Study (PFS) administered by the Nevada Department of Transportation and co-sponsored by the State Departments of Transportation of AK, AZ, CA, IA, MN, NM, OR, and WA, as well as Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation and Parks Canada Agency. The FRP structural design, implementation and evaluation will be conducted as part of the Pooled Fund Study. Marcel Huijser is the PI for the overall Transportation Pool Fund Study, which will identify a range of cost-effective solutions to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. Matthew Bell, Damon Fick and Rob Ament are leading the FRP design project component; Mat had the opportunity to present a poster on FRP research at the TRB Annual Meeting in Washington, DC in January 2020.
Welcome to Melissa Schaak, who recently joined the Montana Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) as a Program Coordinator II. Melissa will manage the LTAP main office, provide training coordination for statewide workshops and meetings, provide program management in conference planning, and develop communications and outreach for Montana LTAP.
Melissa grew up on a farm and ranch in Eastern Montana and graduated from Montana State University in 2007 with Bachelor of Science Degrees in Business Marketing and Agricultural Business. She has worked at MSU for almost 10 years, previously in the Counseling & Psychological Services Office as the Medical Records Administrator, in Professional Development and Training as the Training Program Manager, and most recently in the Office of the President and Office of Legal Counsel. In her free time Melissa enjoys spending time with her husband at their home in Springhill, hiking, cooking, entertaining, and traveling around the U.S. and abroad.
The National Center for Rural Road Safety Center is hosting a FREE, 1.5-hour online webinar, which will feature information on converting distressed paved roads to engineered unpaved roads. This webinar will be held Tuesday, February 18, 2020 from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM Mountain/1:00 PM to 2:30 PM Eastern. This webinar will feature information on how to identify a candidate road for unpaving, how to conduct a road investigation, unpaved road design considerations, and more. Webinar and registration information is available on the Center website.
The West Region Transportation Workforce Center has released the University Partnership Playbook, a step-by-step guide for creating multi-project collaborations between public agencies and universities. The collaborations offer students hands-on transportation project experience within their university courses and provide agencies with added expertise and capacity for community-based projects.
The Playbook uses the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities (EPIC) Model, a framework for making university resources (faculty, students, laboratories, specialized and multidisciplinary expertise, etc.) available to public entities to help solve their priority challenges. At the same time, it promotes professional development and career awareness opportunities for university students.
Designed for public agencies and other potential partners who are interested in starting or expanding a partnership with a university, the playbook includes:
Tried and true implementation steps for organizing a successful university partnership
Common challenges and fixes
Adaptations to the model
Success stories from different locations around the country, which highlight potential outcomes and benefits
Welcome to Andy Merkel and Maddy Pernat, who are new undergraduate research assistants at WTI. By supporting projects conducted by the National Center for Rural Road Safety, they will have the opportunity to develop not only new research skills, but other valuable professional development skills related to communications and outreach. For example, Andy is helping with social media planning, developing marketing materials for Rural Road Safety Awareness Week, and contributing to training modules for the Road Safety Champion Program, a new safety training program for public health, law enforcement, and transportation practitioners. Maddy is helping with summaries of TRB workshops, providing support to the Fellows program, and will soon begin background research for the new project with the Montana Department of Transportation to stream traffic safety videos at motor vehicle licensing and registration offices.
Andy is originally from Hamilton, Montana, and is now a junior at Montana State University pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in transportation. When he isn’t working, he enjoys mountain biking, mentoring youth, kayaking, aerial photography, Montana State Chorale, and volunteering at his church.
Maddy grew up outside of Minneapolis, Minneapolis, but chose Montana State University to pursue her education, in part to be closer to the mountains. She is a third-year Civil Engineering student with an emphasis on transportation engineering. Outside of school, Maddy can be found racing her mountain bike, backpacking, rock climbing, playing her guitar, or learning how to play her banjo.
The Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) has announced a new webinar for March, entitled “The Center for Health and Safety Culture: Who We Are and How We Support Efforts to Improve Health and Safety.” This free event will be presented on Wednesday,March 18, 2020 from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm (Mountain Time)
This webinar will introduce CHSC and its staff, the Positive Culture Framework for improving health and safety, and the many services offered to support communities and organizations in their efforts to transform culture. The Center uses the latest science to address complex social issues to improve health and safety in a sustainable way and can help organizations and communities reach their health and safety goals. For more information or to register in advance, visit the CHSC webinar webpage.
After the TRB Annual Meeting in Washington D.C., Laura Fay (left), Karalyn Clouser (right), and Natalie Villwock-Witte traveled on to Maryland to meet with the Maryland Department of Transportation (DOT) about the Severe Weather Index (SWI) project. An SWI is a management tool that can assess the performance and related costs associated with winter maintenance operations. P.I. Laura Fay is leading the development of an SWI specifically for Maryland DOT, which assesses operations and costs by region, Maintenance Shop, and winter storm event.