The Mexican Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes (National Transportation Department) sponsored its first national Road Ecology workshop in Hermosillo, Senora, Mexico in early October. WTI Research Scientist Tony Clevenger was one of three presenters invited to lead this inaugural forum. Organizers, including the Secretaria, the Wildlands Network, and other partner agencies, anticipated only 50 attendees, but the event attracted more than 100 participants.
Tony Clevenger (left) at the first national road ecology workshop in Mexico.
The Center for Health and Safety Culture’s research scientist Kari Finley has been selected to present at the Thirteenth International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences in Granada, Spain in July 2018. Her presentation, “Understanding the Culture of Traffic Safety Citizenship” will highlight exciting new research from the center. Attendees will learn about traffic safety citizenship, cultural factors predictive of prosocial traffic safety behaviors, and ways to grow citizenship behaviors.
In late September, Research Scientist Tony Clevenger was invited to speak at the Howard H. Baker Jr Center for Public Policy. Located at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the Baker Center holds nationally prominent events pertaining to the Center’s three areas of focus: Energy & Environment, Global Security, and Leadership & Government. Previous speakers have included U.S. Ambassadors, private industry CEOs, and renowned policy experts. Tony was the keynote speaker for the Center’s Energy and Environment Center, and his presentation addressed “The Changing Landscape of Transportation: Designing Roads for Wildlife Conservation.”
WTI Researchers Address Future of Transportation in Public Lands at National Conference
The Western Transportation Institute played a prominent role in the recent Transportation Research Board (TRB) Conference on Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands, held in Washington, DC from September 11 -13. Steve Albert and Natalie Villwock-Witte served on the planning committee for this national conference, which brought together practitioners from around the country to exchange ideas on how to enhance mobility, environmental stewardship, and visitor expericence in public land settings. Several researchers were invited to present their work during the three day forum: Tony Clevenger co-led a workshop on wildlife crossings in Banff National Park, Rebecca Gleason and Taylor Lonsdale presented guidance on improving safety on rural roads with both vehicle and bicycle traffic, and Natalie Villwock-Witte gave presentations on both collaborative approaches to road safety plans and generational interest in visiting US Fish and Wildlife Refuges. Linda MacIntyre of the National Park Service led a workshop on congestion management, in which she highlighted the Congestion Management Toolkit developed by Jaime Sullivan and David Kack. Karalyn Clouser’s research project on using GIS to create a route identification system for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was presented by her BLM co-author T.J. Clifford. At the end of the conference, Steve Albert led and facilitated the closing session, which addressed future transportation issues and challenges facing public lands.
WTI has a long history of leadership on public lands transportation issues. In 1999, WTI helped create and host “National Parks: Transportation Alternatives and Advanced Technology for the 21st Century,” one of the first national forums to call attention to the unique challenges of developing sustainable and context-sensitive transportation solutions in these environments. Steve Albert has served on the TRB Committee on Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands since 2002, including six years as Chair of the Research Subcommittee.
Steve Albert leads closing session on the future of transportation in public lands
Katie Dively of the Center for Health and Safety Culture was invited to speak at the 30th National Prevention Conference in Anaheim, CA on September 12, 2017. She presented the results of a recent CHSC study aimed at understanding safety citizenship and proposed strategies for increasing prosocial behaviors. “Safety Citizenship” promotes the concept of instilling a sense of responsibility in everyone for enhancing the safety of others.
Nic Ward of the Center for Health and Safety Culture recently traveled to Wisconsin to participate in the Governor’s Conference on Highway Safety. Wisconsin is launching a Zero in Wisconsin Campaign to reduce traffic fatalities, and Nic spoke on the importance of transforming culture in order to achieve sustainable change in safe driving behavior. You can watch his interview with a local TV station here.
On August 10-11, 2017, the Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates (CESTiCC) hosted its annual summer workshop at Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman. CESTiCC is a USDOT University Transportation Center, led by a consortium that includes the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Montana State University (WTI) and WSU. The annual forum provides an opportunity for the Center to showcase its projects, and for researchers to exchange ideas on a variety of topics related to environmentally sustainable transportation issues, which spurs collaboration and new directions for upcoming research.
The workshop attracted participants from numerous western states
The presentations covered a broad range of topics related to transportation in cold climates, including the properties, durability and longevity of construction materials; winter maintenance practices and products; and impacts of transportation on water and air quality. Laura Fay, WTI’s Winter Maintenance and Effect Program Manager, presented her research on “Lab Testing of Alternative Deicers and Estimation of Remaining Deicers on Pavement,” and WTI Research Scientist Matt Blank gave a presentation on “Sizing Hydraulic Structures in Cold Regions to Balance Fish Passage, Stream Function, and Operation and Maintenance Cost.”
Six graduate students were also invited to discuss their research in a student poster session and competition, providing an excellent professional development opportunity for young researchers. The second day of the event featured tours of the WSU lab facilities, and a field trip to the Kamiak Butte Park, a National Natural Landmark that boasts more than 150 bird, mammal, and vegetation species.
Students present their research and network with professional researchers at poster session
Marcel Huijser and Rob Ament traveled to Jackson, Wyoming on July 19, 2017 to collect public feedback on a proposed wildlife plan for Teton County. WTI is leading the development of a Wildlife Crossings Master Plan for the county, which will propose strategies for reducing the impacts of roads on wildlife that live in or migrate through the area. At the meeting, Marcel (Principal Investigator) and Rob presented preliminary findings, such as the collision hotspots identified, as well as a number of potential solutions, such as overpasses, underpasses, sensors, and improved lighting. Members of the public who attended the forum had the opportunity to review maps, ask questions, and make suggestions regarding elements of the plan, which is scheduled for completion at the end of the year. The Plan is designed to provide planning guidance to the Teton County Board of County Commissioners.
Marcel Huijser presents a proposed Wildlife Crossings Master Plan at the Teton County Library in Jackson, Wyoming.
The meeting was well-attended by the public and local media. For a more in-depth account, read the feature articles by the Jackson Hole News before and after the event. Project information is also available here.
Craig Shankwitz spoke to the Montana Traffic Educators Association conference in Great Falls, Montana last week, delivering a presentation on emerging vehicle technologies. In his remarks, he stated that the connected vehicle technologies are more likely to be widely deployed before autonomous (or driverless) vehicles. Connected vehicles communicate to other vehicles or to roadside infrastructure, which enables important updates and alerts about safety, traffic, or road conditions that can be sent directly to one’s car. Craig’s presentation was featured in a TV news story in Great Falls.
Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament just returned from a week in the West African nation of Gabon. The World Bank Group invited Rob as an expert speaker for a special meeting of its Global Wildlife Program, which provides more than $130 million in grants to reduce human-wildlife conflicts. Representatives from 19 countries in Asia and Africa that will be receiving funds participated in the meeting. During the meeting, Gabon received notification that its projects were approved and will receive $9 million in funding. Rob gave a presentation on wildlife connectivity and how it is affected by various forms of transportation. He also discussed several specific efforts in which he is involved, including connectivity conservation initiatives by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and long range transportation efforts by the U.S. National Park Service and USFWS National Wildlife Refuges.