Summer Postcards: Researchers on the Road

Passengers utilize the Columbia Gorge Shuttle
Passengers utilize the Columbia Gorge Shuttle
WTI Research Engineer Natalie Villwock-Witte just returned from Cascade Locks, Oregon, where she participated in the mid-year meeting of Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on the Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands (ADA 40). Committee members had the opportunity to try out the new Columbia Gorge Express shuttle service, and visit Multnomah Falls and the Bonneville Dam.


Graduate students participate in a road ecology field trip with Marcel.
Graduate students participate in a road ecology field trip with Marcel.
In Brazil, Research Scientist Marcel Huijser continues his research and academic exchange at the University of São Paulo, where he is serving as a guest professor. He shared this picture of a road ecology field trip with graduate students at the University’s Botucatu campus.

Congratulations, Graduates!

WTI was well-represented at the Montana State University graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 5.  Congratulations to Amir Jafari, Ph.D., and Amir Jamali, Ph.D., who were awarded their doctorates in Engineering. Both students conducted transportation research at WTI during their graduate studies, under the mentorship of Dr. Ahmed Al-Kaisy and Dr. Yiyi Wang. Best of luck from everyone at WTI!

Amir Jamali, Yiyi Wang, Ahmed Al-Kaisy, and Amir Jafari

MSU News features WTI’s Proposal that brings $10.3 million for road and public transit improvements.

Semi Trucks and other vehicles travel along HWY 191 alongside the Gallatin River on the way to Big Sky.
Semi Trucks and other vehicles travel along HWY 191 alongside the Gallatin River on the way to Big Sky.
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

http://www.montana.edu/news/17541/wti-proposal-wins-big-sky-10-3-million-for-road-improvements

Native plants for roadside revegetation in Idaho

Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament and colleagues in the MSU Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences will have an article published in the Spring 2017 edition of Native Plants Journal. “Native plants for roadside revegetation in Idaho” documents their field study to evaluate the success of sustainable roadside revegetation strategies on 16 sites in Idaho.

Citation: Ament, R., Pokorny, M., Mangold, J., and Orloff, N. (2017). Native plants for roadside revegetation in Idaho. Native Plants Journal, vol 8 (1): pp 4-19.

Benefits of Wildlife Crossings Touted in New Video

Vox Media has produced a new video about wildlife crossing structures, which it released to its news website Vox.com last week.  “Wildlife crossings stop roadkill. Why aren’t there more?” is a six-minute video that introduces why wildlife crossings are needed, how they work, where they are currently used, and how effective they are. Much of the foundational information and data about wildlife vehicle collisions is attributed to the 2008 National Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reduction Study and Report to Congress, which was authored by WTI’s Marcel HuijserPat McGowenTony ClevengerRob Ament, and additional researchers from the WTI Road Ecology program. Also, Tony Clevenger is interviewed on-camera in the video about the successful wildlife crossing structures in Banff National Park.  The video is available to view on the vox.com website.

https://www.vox.com/videos/2017/7/3/15914648/wildlife-crossings-roadkill-highway-design

National Transit Program Promotes Intercity Bus Report

Last week, the National Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) highlighted a report by the Small Urban and Rural Livability Center (SURLC) in its online newsletter. The “Intercity Bus Stop Analysis,” authored by WTI’s Karalyn Clouser and David Kack, analyzed demographics in each of the forty-eight contiguous states, and provided an analysis of the number of rural and small urban communities that have access to the Greyhound intercity bus service network. RTAP described the publication as a resource that “should help state DOTs as they determine whether intercity bus service needs are being met in their states.” Read the RTAP newsletter here, or access the full Intercity Bus Stop Analysis on the SURLC website.

 

MSU Extension Highlights Roadside Vegetation Research

Using native plants for roadside revegetation is the lead story in the “Weed Post,” a monthly newsletter by the Montana State University Extension Office and the Montana Noxious Weed Education Campaign.  The article describes successful research by Rob Ament (WTI), Monica Pokorny (Natural Resources Conservation Service), Noelle Orloff (MSU) and Jane Mangold (MSU), which demonstrated that establishing diverse, perennial plant communities on roadsides is a sustainable technique that helps to manage noxious weeds and other invasive plants.  This project was funded by the Idaho Department of Transportation. You can read the full newsletter article here.

http://www.msuinvasiveplants.org/documents/extension/weed_posts/2017/July%202017%20Weed%20Post_roadside%20revegetation-native%20plants%20and%20noxious%20weeds.pdf

WTI cruises through the May Commuter Challenge

Another Montana Commuter Challenge is in the books, and WTI made a solid showing in this year’s standings. Logging 781 miles over 98 trips, we just barely missed the top ten, falling in line behind Bangtail Bikes with 101 trips. Together we saved 765.38 lbs of CO2 emissions and burned 38,269 calories. That’s approximately 163 tacos, for something easier to wrap your head around. 😊

Sixty teams participated in the Bozeman Commuter Challenge this year, making up a significant portion of the 171 teams statewide. We’re looking forward to an even bigger crowd next year as we work with businesses and employers around Bozeman to encourage active transportation and sustainable commutes!

Bozeman Commuter Challenge starts today!

Logo for Bozeman Commuter Project with sub text "Rethink Transportation" Text overlays on arrows pointing in opposite directions, imply directions of commute. Background graphic of mountains.Got your bike, walking shoes, or bus schedule ready? May 1 is the first day of the Bozeman Commuter Challenge. Special thanks to the Montana State University News Service for highlighting the event last week in a story on the MSU website.  WTI will use Bike Walk Montana’s Commuter Challenge website to keep track of miles and compete both statewide and locally. It’s not too late to sign up at www.mtcommuterchallenge.org  Look first for the WTI Team and register yourself with our team. The Challenge is open to anyone working in the greater Bozeman area, there is no cost to enter, and participants are eligible to win great prizes from some of Bozeman’s best local businesses. WTI’s Dani Hess was featured in KBZK’s coverage on the event last week. For questions, email Dani Hess at daniellehess@montana.edu

USDOT designates WTI “Beyond Traffic Innovation Center” serving rural areas following competitive process.

Breaking News – WTI named “Beyond Traffic Innovation Center” by USDOT

USDOT designates WTI “Beyond Traffic Innovation Center” serving rural areas following competitive process.
Map indicating Beyond Traffic Innovation Centers

This morning, the US Department of Transportation announced that the Western Transportation Institute has been selected as one of its new “Beyond Traffic Innovation Centers.”  These Centers will build on the Department’s Beyond Traffic 2045 Report, which outlined critical transportation trends for the next 30 years.  According to USDOT, the selected centers were recognized as “forward-thinking and influential institutions that are capable of driving solutions to the challenges identified in Beyond Traffic through research, curriculum, outreach, and other activities.”  WTI is one of only 18 universities nationwide to receive this designation; moreover, it is one of only three centers selected to focus on the mobility challenges in rural areas of the United States.  Watch for updates as we receive more details on our new center!

See U.S. DOT Announcement https://www.transportation.gov/BeyondTraffic

See MSU news announcement http://www.montana.edu