Research Partners Reunite at National Regional Transportation Conference

David Kack, Lonnie Hunt, and Bob Bashaw at the 2019 National Regional Transportation ConferenceSURTCOM Director David Kack traveled to Columbus, Ohio last week for the National Regional Transportation Conference, which is hosted by the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). David caught up with Lonnie Hunt (center) and Bob Bashaw (right) from the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG), which partnered with WTI and SURTCOM on a project to create a voucher program in five counties in southeast Texas.   Natalie Villwock-Witte was the PI for the DETCOG project, which won a 2019 Excellence in Regional Transportation Award from the NADO Research Foundation and Rural Planning Organizations of America (RPO America). In total, WTI worked with the NADO Research Foundation on three projects: the DETCOG project; a transit feasibility Study for Lebanon, Missouri (also led by Natalie); and a feasibility study for a commuter transit service between Cortez and Durango, Colorado (led by David). WTI staff Karalyn Clouser, Laura Fay and Rebecca Gleason also contributed to these projects.

Suffrage, Social Justice and the Bicycle

Dani Hess shows photos of women suffragettes during presentation on bicycle historyAs part of Women’s History Month, the Montana State University Women’s Center invited WTI Researcher Dani Hess to make a presentation last week on the bicycle and its key role in the women’s suffrage movement.  She detailed how bicycles provided women with a means of solo travel to political, educational, and employment opportunities, which inspired Susan B. Anthony to say that bicycles have “done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”

Matt Bell Competes in Finals of Three Minute Thesis Competition

Collage of photos showing Matt Bell making presentation on wildlife collision models before an audienceFinal 7! On Friday, March 1, the MSU College of Engineering hosted the finals of its Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition. Road Ecology Graduate Student Matt Bell was one of seven finalists vying for best presentation of their thesis research in only 180 seconds, using only one slide.  Matt’s presentation, “Modeling Risk of Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions,” focuses on his research with mentor Dr. Yiyi Wang to develop a real-time risk model that alerts drivers of areas with higher risk of collisions with large animals.

Three Minute Thesis is a research communication competition developed by the University of Queensland in Australia (www.threeminutethesis.org). It encourages graduate students to develop their presentation skills and learn how to explain complex concepts to general audiences.  More than 200 universities in the U.S. now participate.

Rural Transit – Deep in the heart of Texas

 

Natalie Villwock-Witte (at right) speaks at a podium. A presentation screen and two other seated panelists are shown.
Natalie Villwock-Witte (at podium)

Natalie Villwock-Witte traveled to San Augustine, Texas in January to report on a rural transit pilot program to the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG).  DETCOG and the Area Agency on Aging launched a pilot program in 2018 to provide monthly vouchers to seniors in five counties to pay for rides to medical appointments, shopping trips, and social events.  WTI, in partnership with the National Association of Development Organizations Research Foundation and the USDA, provided technical assistance for the program.  Natalie reported that more than 50 area residents aged 60 and older signed up and used the program during the pilot period.  “Thanks to the support of the Area Agency on Aging, the program will continue to provide rides to seniors,” said Natalie; “if DETCOG and other partners are able to secure additional funding sources, there may be opportunities to expand the program to serve other populations with transportation needs.”

DETCOG recently highlighted the project presentation on its website. Additional information about WTI’s other NADO technical assistance projects in rural communities is available on the WTI website. The pilot project final report is also available on the SURTCOM/WTI website.

Image of the front cover of a report called Deep East Texas Council of Governments Transportation Voucher Program Final Report

TRB – The Show Must Go On

Natalie Villwock-Witte (far left) presenting from a lecturn at a panel discussion.
Natalie Villwock-Witte presents at TRB Annual Meeting

WTI researchers braved heavy snow, transit closures, and the partial government shutdown to attend the 2019 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. in January.  Nonetheless, they had a busy week with many productive opportunities to share their research and collaborate with peers.

A few highlights include:

  • WTI Director Steve Albert received a certificate of appreciation from the TRB Committee on Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands in recognition of his 12 years of leadership on committee activities.
  • Three Fellows from the Public Lands Transportation Fellows program had the opportunity to present posters highlighting their current projects:
    • Corinne Jachelski presented on trail, bicycle, and other alternative transportation upgrades underway at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Colorado.
    • Dylan Corbin’s poster highlighted his efforts to create a transportation plan that will expand public transportation and alternative transportation access to four sites within the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
    • Vince Ziols presented on the bicycle network, shuttle services, and water taxis that are enhancing regional access to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.
Fellows Corinne Jachelski, Vince Ziols and Dylan Corbin stand in front of their research posters at TRB poster session.
Fellows Corinne Jachelski, Vince Ziols and Dylan Corbin
  • Workshop Participants seated at tables view a presentation slide called "Categories for Rural Critical Needs"
    Workshop on Rural Research Roadmap project

    Jaime Sullivan’s workshop on the NCHRP Rural Research Roadmap project attracted an audience of more than 70 attendees interested in her progress report on the identification of the most critical research needs related to improving rural transportation. More than 500 research needs displayed on 20 posters inspired a lively discussion.

 

  • Karalyn Clouser and Zach Becker, our UTC Students of the Year (read their profiles here), were honored at a banquet during the opening weekend of the TRB meeting. The weather and transportation delays prevented Zach from attending, but Steve Albert and David Kack were on hand to cheer on Karalyn when she received her award.

 

David Kack, Karalyn Clouser, and Steve Albert