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?
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.
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)
In 2015, WTI’s Small Urban and Rural Livability Center and West Region Transportation Workforce Center embarked on a collaborative project with partners from the Russian University of Transport (RUT), the Russian Federation’s largest university focused on transportation science and engineering. The project assessed and shared education and training resources to foster accessible transit services in small urban and rural areas.
Since that time, the international exchange of information between RUT and MSU has continued. On November 18, RUT hosted an international conference under the auspices of UNESCO and co-organized together with the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO and the Russian Academy of Sciences, titled “The Role of Transport Science and Education in Achieving Social, Environmental and Technological Sustainability of Societies.” RUT invited WTI to identify speakers for the conference on topics related to mobility, accessibility, sustainability and safety.
Andrea Hamre, Research Associate at the Western Transportation Institute, presented “Poverty, Race, and Transport Justice in Rural and Small Urban Communities.” Former WTI graduate research fellow and current Wildlife Biologist for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Whisper Means, presented “Relationships Across a Highway: Roadkill, Politics and Landscape Connectivity on the Flathead Indian Reservation.” Judy Shanley, Assistant Vice President at Easterseals and Director of the National Center for Mobility Management, presented “Developing a Transportation Workforce that Values the Inclusion of Individuals with Disabilities in Service and Operations.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 –
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.
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.
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
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
The Rural Safety Center
has created daily themes for the week and will release targeted materials for
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.
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
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:
Nic Ward, Director of the Center for Health and Safety Culture at MSU, discussed the importance of addressing driver behavior to improve safety and gave an overview of how traffic safety culture approaches can be effectively used for issues such as seat belt usage, speeding, and impaired driving.
Loren Smith, USDOT Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, introduced the federal ROUTES Initiative, which addresses transportation infrastructure disparities between rural and urban areas. He included an overview of the new ROUTES Applicant Toolkit, which is designed to help rural agencies access federal grants and resources.