In a recent article, the Wall Street Journal interviewed WTI Research Ecologist Marcel Huijser about the wildlife crossing structures on U.S. 93 in Montana, and how roadkill numbers for large mammals have dropped by as much as 80% near highway sections served by these crossings. “Wildlife Crossings Get a Whole New Look” highlights WTI’s evaluation of the U.S. 93 crossing structures, and includes one of Marcel’s photos. The article also describes other recent and planned crossing structures in Wyoming, Washington, California and Louisiana. Read the whole article on the WSJ website.
WTI Research Scientist Matt Blank has been on the road this spring, presenting findings of fish passage research at several leading conferences. Along with his colleagues from the MSU Ecohydraulics Research Group and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, he was invited to speak at both the Annual Meeting of the Western Division of the American Fisheries in May, and at the International Conference on Engineering and Ecohydrology for Fish Passage in June. Topics for these presentations included:
· A Baseline Swimming Assessment for Arctic Grayling: Characterizing the Volitional Swimming Performance of Arctic Grayling to Inform Passage Studies
· Arctic Grayling and Denil Fishways: A Study to Determine How Water Depth Affects Passage Success of Arctic Grayling through Denil Fishways
· Swimming Performance of Sauger in Relation to Fish Passage
The research team conducts studies at MSU, at the Bozeman Fish Technology Center, and in the field. Their studies explore how irrigation installations, flow management structures, and other infrastructure serve to prevent, limit, and allow successful fish passage for various species. The findings can inform design improvements and conservation efforts for species of concern.
In a recent press release, MSU describes CHAPTA, a proposed WTI program to study how to safely integrate driverless technology into the nation’s trucking fleet.
View the article: http://www.montana.edu/news/16951/msu-s-wti-launches-program-to-study-safe-integration-of-semi-autonomous-trucks
Visit the CHAPTA web page: http://wti-truckplatoon.org
A WTI project on developing viable transit options in Wyoming is the subject of a feature article in the Spring 2017 issue of Rural Connections Magazine. David Kack, Jaydeep Chaudhari, and Taylor Lonsdale authored “Exploring Transit Feasibility in Park County, Wyoming,” which highlighted their collaboration with the Powell Economic Partnership, Inc. and the Forward Cody, Inc. to identify transportation alternatives that nurture economic development and expand job opportunities for residents. The full article is available to read here
Craig Shankwitz spoke to the Montana Traffic Educators Association conference in Great Falls, Montana last week, delivering a presentation on emerging vehicle technologies. In his remarks, he stated that the connected vehicle technologies are more likely to be widely deployed before autonomous (or driverless) vehicles. Connected vehicles communicate to other vehicles or to roadside infrastructure, which enables important updates and alerts about safety, traffic, or road conditions that can be sent directly to one’s car. Craig’s presentation was featured in a TV news story in Great Falls.
Start spreading the news… Recently, the New York Times published a feature article titled “Omaha’s Answer to Potholes? Go Back to Gravel Roads,”describing cities that are choosing to maintain low usage streets in disrepair by converting them back to gravel roads as a lower-cost alternative to repaving. The article cites the NCHRP study on unpaved roads authored by WTI Program Manager Laura Fay, which documented similar conversions in 27 states across the country, as well as best practices for this type of road project.
In its March newsletter, the Mountain States Chapter of the International Erosion Control Association highlighted the release of Rob Ament’s recent task reports on using woolen products for erosion control. “Evaluation of Effectivenss and Cost-Benefits of Woolen Roadside Reclamation Products” is a research partnership among the Montana Department of Transportation, WTI, and KC Harvey Environmental, LLC. The release of the reports was also announced by the Transportation Research Board’s Daily New Service. The task reports are available on the MDT website here.
Natalie Villwock-Witte’s research on the transportation preferences of Millennials in rural areas continues to draw the interest of regional media outlets. Last week, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle picked up the story, including a feature article in its March 10 edition.
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) Low Volume Roads Committee has selected the Western Transportation Institute to host the 12th TRB International Conference on Low Volume Roads in Montana. WTI proposed the Flathead Valley of northwest Montana (Kalispell/Whitefish) as the venue for the Spring/Summer 2019 meeting, which will bring 150-300 participants and presenters to the area. The Flathead Valley provides an ideal location for conducting field tours of local low volume roads within a 30 minute drive, not to mention the proximity of Glacier National Park. Special thanks to the U.S. Forest Service (Flathead National Forest) and the Northwest Tribal Technical Assistance Program for their letters of support for the WTI application. There will be opportunities for WTI staff to assist during the event, as well as develop papers for publication and present at the conference, host booths (UTCs, Transcend, etc.), and more, so stay tuned for more information.
The Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences has published the journal article “Swimming Performance of Sauger Sander Canadensis in Relation to Fish Passage” on its website. The article, authored by David Dockery, Thomas MaMahon, Kevin Kappenman, and Matt Blank, discusses research to study the swimming abilities of sauger, a migratory species, in order to inform the design of fish passage strutures and help prevent habitat fragmentation for this species. The research is a collaboration among WTI, the MSU Department of Ecology, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.