TRB Annual Meeting Zooms Into Week Three

The NAS Transportation Research Board continued its revamped Annual Meeting last week, holding virtual technical committee meetings on a wide range of research topics. In this “snapshot” of what the forums look like this year, can you spot some familiar WTI faces at a Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands Committee event last week?

screenshot of 15 people attending a virtual committee meeting at the TRB Annual Meeting 2021

As a reminder, if you are attending the 2021 Annual Meeting, look for WTI researchers at the following events this week:

  • 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)

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

MSU News Highlights Upcoming Webinar on Workforce Development

The West Region Transportation Workforce Center (WRTWC), which is based at WTI, will host a webinar on October 7 (11 am Mountain Time), which will focus on “Engaging Multidisciplinary Student Talent to Meet Agency Needs.” Four speakers from MSU and the City of Bozeman will highlight the Community-engaged and Transformational Scholarship Initiative (CATS), a successful 3-year partnership between MSU and the City of Bozeman that offers students the opportunity to work on community-based projects through their university courses.

Thanks to MSU News Service for highlighting the webinar with a feature article on its website!  Read more about the CATS program, the upcoming series of webinars on workforce development topics, and insights from WTI’s Education Program Manager Susan Gallagher, who will be one of the featured speakers.

WRTWC Will Kick Off Webinar Series on Transportation Workforce Development

MSU Speakers will highlight successful program offering professional development and career exposure to university students

How do we inspire the next generation of transportation professionals and start filling growing workforce needs in the transportation sector?  Join the National Network for the Transportation Workforce for a 4-part webinar series on how to achieve effective student career engagement and priority workforce development during the pandemic and over the long term.

The West Region Transportation Workforce Center (WRTWC), which is based at WTI, will host the first webinar on October 7 (11 am Mountain Time), which will focus on “Engaging Multidisciplinary Student Talent to Meet Agency Needs.” Four speakers from MSU and the City of Bozeman will highlight the Community-engaged and Transformational Scholarship Initiative (CATS), a successful 3-year partnership between MSU and the City of Bozeman that offers students the opportunity to work on community-based projects through their university courses. Speakers will include:

  • Susan Gallagher, Director, West Region Transportation Workforce Center
  • Susanne Cowan, Professor, Montana State University School of Architecture
  • Larissa Morales, Grad Student, Montana State University School of Architecture
  • Danielle Hess, City of Bozeman Neighborhoods Coordinator

Learn more and sign-up for this free event on the registration webpage.  Future webinars in the series will include:

  • October 27: State of the Transportation and Mobility Workforce
  • November 18: The Role of Industry-Academia Partnerships in Preparing K-12 Students for Transportation Careers
  • December 3: Providing Training and Education During the pandemic: Challenges and Solutions at State DOTs

To learn more about each webinar in the series and to register, visit: https://www.nntw.org/nntw-fall-2020-webinar-series-empowering-the-new-mobility-workforce/

Time for Kids Introduces Wildlife Crossings to Young Students

WTI Road Ecologist Rob Ament is featured in a recent issue of Time Magazine for Kids. A feature article called “Safe Travels” describes the large number of animals that are killed in roadway collisions each year, and how wildlife crossing structures work to protect animals as they move across their habitats. Rob discusses successful designs – like the crossing structures in Banff National Park – and how they are models for new efforts around the world, including a project he is working on in Kaziranga National Park in India.

Time for Kids is a weekly magazine for elementary school children. It offers age appropriate learning material for students and is designed to complement curriculum.

National Safety Council Selects Safety Center as Finalist for Green Cross Award

Logo for National Center for Rural Road Safety

Congratulations to the National Center for Rural Road Safety, which was recently named as one of three finalists in the country for the 2020 Green Cross for Safety Award – Safety Advocate!

Each year, the National Safety Council selects honorees for demonstrating leadership in keeping people safe, with awards in three categories: Safety Advocate, Safety Excellence, and Safety Innovation.  The Safety Center is a finalist for the Safety Advocate Award, which “recognizes those who have made a significant impact on safety by raising awareness and bringing about change.”

“We’re excited to be recognized as a finalist, especially in the company of other national safety leaders from public, private, and non-profit agencies,” said Jaime Sullivan, Director of the Rural Safety Center.  The full announcement is available in a news release on National Safety Council website. The winners will be announced in a virtual celebration on October 1.

Will Passenger Rail Return to Southern Montana? Join the Conversation on Sept. 17!

black and white image of train wheels

Passenger rail service through southern Montana ended 41 years ago, and now advocates across the state are working to bring it back. Interested in learning more? Plan to attend the virtual Montana Passenger Rail Summit on Thursday, September 17!

WTI is a sponsor of this event, which will bring together elected officials, business leaders, passenger rail experts and others from across Montana who are interested in establishing safe, reliable, and affordable passenger rail service through the region, and connectivity to other transportation services. More details and registration are online at www.montanapassengerrailsummit.org.  The summit is free to attend, and registered participants will receive a personalized Zoom link a few days before the event.

Save the Date: Rural Road Safety Awareness Week

Graphic with logo and dates for Rural Road Safety Awareness Week 2020

The National Center for Rural Road Safety is proud to announce the inaugural Rural Road Safety Awareness Week (RRSAW), which will take place the week of September 28th – October 2nd, 2020.

The goal of RRSAW is to dedicate a week to promoting rural road safety to the public, community leaders, and potential partners by telling the “rural story.” This event will shine a light on rural needs, challenges, and solutions, especially those that help all stakeholders make progress on the Rural Road to Zero fatalities and serious injuries.

RRSAW will be a social media driven campaign, so high levels of social media interaction will be the key to success for RRSAW.  The Center encourages individuals and agencies to use their own social media platforms to extend the reach of RRSAW’s stories and messages:

  • First, please friend the Center on Facebook (@ruralroadsafety) and follow it on LinkedIn (@national-center-for-rural-road-safety) to see daily posts during the week of RRSAW.
  • Next, please share or repost messages (or create original ones that highlight your own agency). Event organizers will be using hashtags #RuralRoadSafety and #RRSAW2020 for posts and encourage you to use the same ones. 

The Rural Safety Center has created daily themes for the week and will release targeted materials for each one:

  • Monday: Defining Rural
  • Tuesday: Rural Safety Champions
  • Wednesday: Rural Road Modes
  • Thursday: Proven Rural Safety Countermeasures
  • Friday: Rural Safety Culture

Through these topics, everyone will have a chance to share their experiences, answer fact-check questions, and learn about the topic of the day. Use the generic hashtags #RRSAW2020 and #RuralRoadSafety AND the specific hashtag of the day to makes sure you are included in the nation-wide conversation. The Rural Safety Center will be releasing a RRSAW Toolkit complete with social media messages and graphics at the end of August on the RRWAW webpage. Please feel free to share this with your colleagues and contact the Rural Safety Center with any questions you might have about the campaign.

WTI Co-hosts National Event on Rural Transportation Safety

vehicle on two-lane rural highway near barn with mountains in background

On Wednesday, August 12, the Western Transportation Institute (WTI), Montana State University (MSU), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) co-hosted a national forum to raise awareness on “The Importance of Focusing on Transportation Safety in Rural America.”

NHTSA officials had originally planned August field tours to western states and public lands to view rural safety conditions and engage with state and local stakeholders on initiatives to enhance rural transportation safety. WTI was slated to host one of the public meetings on the MSU campus. Due to current travel restrictions, the entire field visit was transformed into a virtual forum.

Jason Carter, MSU Vice President of Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education, served as the webinar host, providing the welcome address and introducing remarks by NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens, USDOT Secretary Elaine Chao, U.S. Senator Steve Daines (MT), and U.S. Representative Greg Gianforte (MT).

In a panel discussion moderated by WTI Director David Kack, presenters provided an overview of critical rural transportation issues that impact the safety and effectiveness of the entire national transportation network, as well as current initiatives to enhance travel through rural areas:

The webinar attracted a large, national audience of more than 250 attendees.  To view the presentations in full, download the recorded webinar from the NHTSA website.