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

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.