WTI Part of $2.25M Tribal Transport Effort

As part of a consortium that was recently awarded up to $2.25 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation, WTI will provide transportation outreach and technical assistance to tribes across the Upper Great Plains and Intermountain West through the Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP). Led by the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at North Dakota State University, the program will work with 29 tribes within the Bureau of Indian Affair’s Rocky Mountain and Great Plains Regions to build tribal capacity in program management, grow the tribal workforce, cultivate and coordinate partnerships, facilitate technology transfer and the implementation of innovations, and share results of similar initiatives across the country.

“WTI looks forward to sharing with tribes in our region, building their capacity to administer and manage their own transportation programs and systems,” said WTI Executive Director David Kack. “WTI has a long history of solving rural road challenges and collaborating with tribes, as well as partnering with the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute.”

Program funds will be shared through NDSU with MSU, South Dakota State University and the University of Wyoming, which all host and manage existing Federal Highway Administration-funded Local Technical Assistance Programs (LTAPs), that provide transportation outreach to local units of government. The collaborating universities have considerable experience with rural roads, rural road safety, and other transportation issues faced by tribes, Kack noted. The collective resources and outreach experience will be invaluable to the efforts of the Northern TTAP.

The Northern TTAP will also work closely with state departments of transportation in the region to tap expertise within those departments and to help them better integrate tribal transportation networks into their own statewide and regional networks.

To learn more about TTAP visit: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/clas/ttap/

UTCs – TCUs Exchange Ideas at Albuquerque Summit

The Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM) hosted a University Transportation Center (UTC) -Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU) Summit in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The October 21st event, sponsored by a CUTC New Initiatives grant, brought together representatives from UTCs and TCUs nationwide to discuss strategies for advancing partnerships that will help connect Native American students to transportation careers and higher education.  Arlando Teller, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Tribal Affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation, opened with a welcome and overview of the UTC program as well as additional US DOT grant opportunities. Patrick Nemons, Director of the Office of Safety Programs with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, provided attendees with resources and strategies for obtaining federal grants, focusing on the important role minority-serving institutions play in advancing the nation’s transportation programs.

Representatives from UTCs provided attendees with an overview of their research themes and outreach and education efforts, highlighting any existing UTC-TCU partnerships.  The majority of the Summit was spent on roundtable discussions with TCU attendees exploring themes related to research, training, and workforce development needs, linkages between two-year and four-year institutions, and education and outreach efforts to attract diverse students to transportation careers. The workshop wrapped up with a discussion on strategies and guiding principles for establishing mutually beneficial TCU/UTC partnerships.

WTI Researchers to Teach MSU Course on the Intersection of Transportation & Health

Transportation systems that prioritize motor vehicles have been linked to poor air quality and negative health outcomes such as asthma, may endanger walkers and cyclists, and disproportionately shift the negative effects onto minority and low-income communities. As a new generation of transportation engineers, planners, and policymakers join the workforce, it is important that they understand and have the skills to address the relationship between transportation and public health.

WTI researchers Rebecca Gleason and Matthew Madsen have partnered with the MSU College of Engineering to teach ECIV 491: Sustainable Transportation and Community Health. The 3-credit spring semester course is for students with Junior standing or above who are studying engineering, community health, planning, or a policy discipline. “Cities and towns are not built within silos by only engineers,” said Madsen. “For them to be sustainable and healthy, they need to be planned and developed by many different professionals. This class will give engineers and students in other disciplines the chance to learn from each other.”

Sustainable Transportation and Community Health is designed to provide students with a broad perspective on transportation design by exploring the evolution of both the U.S. and Dutch transportation systems, their divergence, and the design standards that support active infrastructure. “The Netherlands used to be much more car-dependent,” Gleason noted, “but due to a concerted effort starting in the 1970s they have become a model for a more people-focused transportation network. However, the U.S. fully embraced the private automobile, especially after World War II, and while there are some places around the country that are more bicycle, pedestrian, and transit-friendly, they are now the exception.”

The course will also introduce students to the policies and tools used to incorporate health into transportation planning, as well as provide hands-on experience to plan, implement, and evaluate a quick-build traffic-calming project. “The course goal,” remarked Madsen, “is to demonstrate the need for a balanced transportation system that incorporates health and focuses on equity in relation to all users, especially the more vulnerable ones.”

Registration for ECIV 491: Sustainable Transportation and Community Health is now open for spring 2023. The class will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:2am5 to10:40am. For more course information please contact Rebecca Gleason or Matthew Madsen.

 

IN THE NEWS: City of Bozeman Awarded Grant for Park and Trail Planning

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that the City of Bozeman has received a planning grant from the Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities. “Bozeman partners with HRDC to hire part-time help for parks planning” describes the collaboration between the City, the Human Resources Development Council, and WTI to gain more input from the public on park and trail access.  The grant funds will be used to hire community liaisons who will seek to document the needs of local populations that have been underrepresented in planning discussions in the past. Ultimately, the public feedback will be used to update the City’s parks, recreation, open space and trails plan and an “active transportation” plan.

WTI assisted with the development and submittal of the grant application and will provide technical assistance and training to liaisons, HRDC, and the City of Bozeman.

SUMMER IS HERE – Time for Transportation Camp!

Students mix cement at transportation camp 2019

WTI is excited to announce two upcoming sessions of the Summer Transportation Camp at Montana State University – free weeklong camps for middle school students.

For: Middle School students (entering grades 6-9 in Fall 2021)

What: Two weeklong camps at the MSU Western Transportation Institute (9am – 3pm) to get everyone moving. Each day camp participants will explore a variety of science, engineering, and design topics related to promoting active, safe, and sustainable transportation systems.

Students prepare to use a microscope during a camp activity 2019

Activities will include:

– hands-on design challenges

– local trail explorations by bike

– field trips of discovery

When: June 21-25 and July 12-16, 2021

Cost: Free! There is no cost to camp participants thanks to a generous grant from the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

For more information and to register: http://wrtwc.org/center-initiatives/middle-school-summer-camp/

OUTREACH: WTI Director Updates Big Sky Chamber on $10 million Infrastructure Grant

Portrait of David Kack from 2020

In late April, the Big Sky (MT) Chamber of Commerce hosted a meeting focused on upcoming infrastructure projects in the region.  WTI Director David Kack presented an update on the $10 million federal TIGER Grant, which will fund safety and mobility improvements along U.S. Highway 64/Lone Mountain Trail.  WTI partnered with Gallatin County, Sanderson Stewart, and other regional stakeholders on the proposal that secured the grant. In his remarks, Kack emphasized the importance of this partnership in helping a rural region win a major federal award.  Construction is anticipated to begin this summer on individual projects, to include new turn lanes, vehicle pull-out areas, wildlife crossing signs, a pedestrian tunnel, and recreational paths.  More highlights from the meeting were covered in an article by Explore Big Sky.

STUDENT NEWS: CATS Participants Create Designs for Bozeman Park

Group of students listen to speaker during field trip to Soroptimist Park in Bozeman

In a recent feature article, Montana State University News Service detailed the contributions of MSU students to future plans for Soroptimist Park in Bozeman, Montana. The students are part of the Community-Engaged and Transformational Scholarship (CATS) program, led by WTI, which matches projects identified and prioritized by Montana communities with students and faculty in relevant disciplines at MSU to assist in making those projects reality.  During the Fall 2020 semester, students in two undergraduate courses in the MSU College of Agriculture gained hands-on experience working with the city of Bozeman on research, site visits, and design workshops, which culminated in recommendations and designs for renovating the park into a multi-use urban plaza.

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