In the News: Ennis Traffic Calming Project Featured in Local News

Traffic calming delineators installed along Main Street in Ennis, Montana

The Madisonian, a newspaper for Montana’s Madison Valley, reports on a completed WTI research study in a recent feature article.  “Traffic calming data released” summarizes the findings of a traffic calming project in Ennis, Montana, for which WTI and the Montana Department of Transportation collaborated on a “pop-up” installation of curb extensions and other strategies to reduce speeds on the town’s Main Street, which is also a state highway.  For the analysis, the WTI research team, led by Matt Madsen, collected data on speeds, pedestrian counts, and the number of drivers yielding to pedestrians before and after the installation. The final report is available on the WTI website project page.

In the News: Traffic and Transit Magazine Showcases Rural Research Roadmap Project

An NCHRP project led by WTI is the focus of a current feature article in Traffic and Transit, a national transportation publication.  “Mapping the Future of Rural Transportation Research” highlights the development of the Research Roadmap for Rural Transportation Issues (NCHRP 20-122), which will provide a detailed, long-term agenda for research aimed at improving rural transportation throughout the U.S., including the creation of a series of research needs statements on specific topics. The project is led by Principal Investigator Jaime Sullivan, in collaboration with Iowa State University.

graphic listing 15 rural transportation research categories

To date, the project team has produced 15 topical research portfolios; 26 research needs statements; and 13 research problem statements, which are more fully developed project proposals ready to submit for funding consideration.  Sullivan provided an update on the project at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, during the Rural Transportation Issues Coordination Council meeting, which she chairs. The new Council will serve as the home for ongoing activities related to the Research Roadmap project.

TRB Annual Meeting Kicks off Four Weeks of Virtual Events

Each January, the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board holds its Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., a week-long forum that brings together thousands of transportation researchers and leaders from around the world.  Due to COVID, this year’s committee meetings, workshops, and other events will all be hosted virtually, but will be spread over four weeks to facilitate broad participation.

WTI staff members continue their long tradition of leadership in TRB committees and other activities.  During the first week of the Annual Meeting, which kicked off on January 6, highlights included:

  • On January 7, Jaime Sullivan was introduced as the Chair of the newly formed Rural Transportation Issues Coordination Council at the Council’s kick-off event
  • Also on January 7, Natalie Villwock-Witte presided over the Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands Committee, for which she serves as Chair
  • Matt Ulberg participated in the Low Volume Roads Committee on January 7
  • Andrea Hamre serves as the Paper Review Coordinator of the Public Transportation Marketing and Fare Policy Committee, which met on January 8
screen shot of Andrea Hamre presenting at TRB virtual meeting
Andrea Hamre presenting at TRB committee meeting

Committee meetings will continue this week, followed by presentations, workshops and poster sessions during the last two weeks.  If you are attending the Annual Meeting, look for WTI researchers at the following events:

  • January 21 – Moving Research to Practice – Ahmed Al-Kaisy will present on research to create a new method for screening low-volume roads. (Workshop #1016)
  • January 22 – Rob Ament and Natalie Villwock-Witte will facilitate a workshop on National Standards for Wildlife Vehicle Data Collection (Workshop #1041)
  • January 22 – Ahmed Al-Kaisy will participate in a panel discussion on new safety developments on low-volume roads (Workshop #1044)
  • January 25 – Laura Fay will present her research on Deicing Alternatives at a lecturn session on Winter Maintenance (#1093)
  • January 26 – Advances in Travel Behavior Research – Andrea Hamre will present a poster on the Chittendon County, Vermont project (Poster Session #1203)
  • January 26 – Laura Fay will preside over a Lectern Session on Low Volume Road Improvements under the Great American Outdoors Act (#1241)
  • January 27 – Jaime Sullivan will facilitate a Lectern Session on Hot Topics in Rural Transportation (#1280)
  • January 28 – Hot Topics in Ecology – Mat Bell will present a poster on the FRP wildlife crossing project (Poster Session #1363)

More updates to follow throughout the month!

IN THE NEWS: WTI Road Ecologist Offers Insights Into Utah Project

Head shot of Rob Ament

In 2018, the Utah Department of Transportation completed the state’s largest wildlife crossing, which traverses six lanes of traffic on Interstate 80.  The crossing structure made the news again last week, when research footage captured deer, moose, elk, bears, bobcats and a variety of smaller mammals using the bridge.  In news coverage by Smithsonian Magazine, “Animals are Using Utah’s Largest Wildlife Overpass Earlier Than Expected,” WTI Road Ecologist Rob Ament is quoted regarding the high percentage of collision reductions that typically occur after the installation of crossing structures.  Rob’s quote is also included in a similar article by Nature World News.

STUDENT NEWS: Students in CATS Program Spearhead Local Stormwater Survey

Logo for CATS student engagement program including icons of different project types

The City of Bozeman and Montana State University (MSU) students are partnering up to strengthen stormwater outreach efforts. Dr. Sarah Church, a professor in MSU’s Department of Earth Sciences, is leading a group of undergraduate students in a Geography course in the development of an online survey. This project is in collaboration with City staff who implement the City’s Stormwater Management Program. Bozeman residents received an insert in utility bills last month to encourage participation in the survey. Survey responses will help the City understand how to best create effective messaging and tailor programs specifically for Bozeman residents.

Dr. Church said that the students have worked hard over the past two months to learn about survey design and have developed excellent survey questions. “We are all excited to see the survey responses and the students are eager to begin analyzing the data to report back to the City – the more responses we get the more robust our findings will be,” Church said.

Frank Greenhill, a Water Quality Specialist with the City’s Stormwater Division, said that he is excited for the opportunity to work with such a talented group of students at MSU. “This is a great example of how a strong relationship between the City and MSU can work to solve complex local challenges.”

Mr. Greenhill also said that he is looking forward to analyzing the results of the survey as they will help the City key in on certain program areas and introduce new opportunities. “Surveys provide a valuable opportunity to hear from the customers we serve, and to reflect on what works, what does not, and, most importantly, what we can do better.”

Are you a Bozeman resident?

Support this project by completing the 10-15 minute survey available at the following link: www.tinyurl.com/bozemanstormwater

NEW PROJECT: MSU Researcher Receives Seed Grant for Commuter Project

outdoor portrait of Matt Madsen

Congratulations Matt Madsen!  He received a seed grant from MSU’s Outreach and Engagement Council, which will support a collaboration between MSU students and community partners, including Gallatin County and the city of Bozeman, to develop a social marketing plan and rebranding for BozemanCommute.org. The website encourages people to replace drive-alone trips to work with trips by bike, foot, bus, carpool, or vanpool and telework in the greater Bozeman area. Organizers hope the project will encourage higher participation and a greater understanding of transportation options available to people living in and around the greater Gallatin Valley.

Logo for Bozeman Commuter project including tagline Rethink Transportation

Watch for updates, including an announcement of student research opportunities related to this project.  To learn more about the seed grants and the other recipients, read the full MSU news release.

In the News: Humboldt County Transit Study Collecting Public Input

The Redheaded Blackbelt, a local online news outlet in Northern California, has published a feature story about a WTI-led transit study that is getting started in Humboldt County.  “New Study will Identify Ways to Improve Public Transit in McKinleyville” discusses the project which is currently in a public outreach phase.  The overall objectives are to assess public transit service within McKinleyville, identify connections between McKinleyville and other communities in the County, and develop recommendations for improving public transit in the area. Principal Investigator Andrea Hamre is leading the effort, in partnership with the Humboldt County Association of Governments (HCAOG) and the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities (CRTP).  Further information is available on the WTI project webpage.

Vermont Travel Study Featured in TRB Newsletter

The National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board (TRB) is raising awareness of a new WTI study on travel behavior, by highlighting it in its weekly newsletter.

Researchers Andrea Hamre and Jonathan Fisher recently completed “Travel Behavior and Transportation Planning Insights from the Small Urban Area of Chittenden County, Vermont: An Application of Traveler Segmentation,” sponsored by the Small Urban, Rural, and Tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM).  The primary purpose of this project was to analyze transportation planning and travel behavior of County residents, using data from four travel surveys conducted over the last 20 years.

The survey series collected information from respondents about travel preferences and priorities for regional transportation investments. The research team applied traveler segmentation to classify the survey sample into three modal orientations — Alternative [transportation] Oriented, Car Tolerant, and Car Oriented.

graphic for Vermont travel survey project showing that 49% of respondents are car tolerant, 28% are alternate dominant, and 23% are car dominant

According to the team’s analysis, nearly half (49%) of the respondents fell within the Car Tolerant segment. These respondents use their cars frequently, but also show a high willingness to change their travel behavior, as well as strong support for incentives to use alternative transportation. The team also found that Chittenden County adults would like fewer resources devoted to highways than are currently being allocated, and that support for gas tax increases is higher for non-highway purposes than for use exclusive to highways. These findings may help Chittenden County officials prioritize future transportation investments and develop multi-modal systems that meet a range of public needs.

The full report is available on the project webpage.

In the News: NBC Montana Highlights Traffic Calming Project in Ennis

Traffic calming delineators installed along Main Street in Ennis, Montana
Delineator installation on Main Street in Ennis, Montana

In the small town of Ennis, Montana, local officials and residents are concerned for the safety of pedestrians and motorists on Main Street (US 287), which is experiencing issues with increased traffic and speeding. WTI, in partnership with the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and the Town of Ennis, recently completed the testing phase of a pop-up traffic calming installation to evaluate potential strategies. Spearheaded by WTI researchers Matt Madsen and Danae Giannetti, the project consisted of delineators placed in key locations on Main Street to slow down vehicles coming from the main highway. NBC Montana aired a feature story and interviewed WTI Director David Kack about the status and next steps for the project, which include evaluating its effectiveness and reviewing public feedback.

See the full news story on the NBC Montana website. To learn more about WTI’s traffic calming projects in other Montana towns, see our articles about traffic circles in Helena and street art in Bozeman.

New Facility Ready for Fish Passage Studies

Two students test waterway used for fish research
Two Montana State University students test waterway used for fish passage research (photo courtesy of MSU News Service)

Researchers in Montana have a new tool for designing fish passage structures that meet the needs of both fish and agricultural producers.   A feature article by the MSU News Service highlights a recently completed artificial waterway at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fish Technology Center on the outskirts of Bozeman, which researchers can use to test the designs of small fish passage structures that allow grayling and other species to overcome irrigation structures that might otherwise hinder their seasonal movements.

The state-of-the-art upgrade will facilitate ongoing research by Montana State University’s Fish Passage and Ecohydraulics group, who have collaborated for more than a decade.  The group includes researchers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MSU’s Departments of Ecology and Civil Engineering, and WTI.  WTI Road Ecologist Matt Blank has been on the team since its inception, and he is currently one of the team members on a new project to redesign fishways to use less water.  As he stated in the news article, “”If we can get the fish to swim through less water, that’s a win. We want to find solutions that benefit not only the fish but the irrigators who use the river, and this study is exploring how to do that.” More information about current and past research is available on the MSU Fish Passage and Ecohydraulics group webpage, and on WTI’s project webpages (Fish Passage Research and Fish Passage Research Phase 2).