At a recent meeting, the county commissioners of Teton County, Wyoming approved a wildlife crossings master plan, which will now become part of the region’s Integrated Transportation Plan. The Plan was developed by WTI’s Road Ecology program, with Research Ecologist Marcel Huijser serving as the Principal Investigator. Focused on key highway segments near Jackson, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park, the Plan identifies and prioritizes locations where the installation of wildlife crossing structures can enhance safety, prevent collisions, and preserve connectivity. During the course of the project, Road Ecology staff also traveled to Wyoming for public meetings to assist with local outreach efforts. Approval of the plan was covered by the Jackson Hole News; the full plan is available on the WTI project page.
- A description of the solution,
- It’s applicability in a rural area,
- Key components of the system,
- Useful tips,
- Examples of implementation,
- Considerations before implementing,
- Cost information, and
- Additional resources.
The most recent issue of the national Transportation Research Board Newsletter has featured an article on a WTI research report sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. “Field Usage of Alternative Deicers for Snow and Ice Control” summarizes non-chloride based deicers available on the market, including acetate, formate, glycol, and succinate based deicing products. The report explores the deicers’ feasibility for use as alternatives to chloride based deicers, and identifies next steps to determine if a non-chloride based deicer is a viable option for implementation in winter maintenance operations by MnDOT and local snow and ice removal providers. TRB and MnDOT have posted a link to the report. You can also read about the project here.
Western Transportation Institute (WTI) research is prominently featured in Solutions, the research newsletter of the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT). Three projects that WTI researchers completed on behalf of MDT are highlighted in the current issue:
- The lead story is an in-depth discussion of “Exploring Traffic Safety Citizenship,” research led by Jay Otto, Kari Finley, and Nic Ward of the Center for Health and Safety Culture. Traffic safety citizenship is an approach to safety that aims to encourage everyone to behave in ways that support the safety of one another (such as reminding others to wear seat belts). The goal of this project was to understand which aspects of culture help to predict engagement in these behaviors.
- “Identifying Disparities in Definitions of Heavy Trucks” summarized research by Yiyi Wang, Karalyn Clouser and graduate student Fahmid Hossain to clarify the myriad of state and federal regulations that affect truck drivers, trucking companies, and enforcement agencies. The team developed a useful handbook with charts and photographs to identify the types of vehicles and conditions that fall under specific regulatory guidelines.
- For “Assessment of the Road Weather Information System (RWIS),” Levi Ewan and Ahmed Al-Kaisy conducted an in-depth review of MDT’s 73 RWIS stations to improve and guide future planning and operations efforts. The findings addressed data and software needs, benefits and costs, and implementation guidelines.
Read the full MDT newsletter click here.
Research Engineer Natalie Villwock-Witte and Research Associate Karalyn Clouser have completed a study for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which compares the travel preferences of Millennials, Generation X, and the Baby Boomer generation. The purpose of this study was to understand how the generational cohorts prefer to access federal lands, particularly their interest in using active transportation modes (such as shuttles, walking, and bicycling) to travel to USFWS Refuges.
To collect the study data, online surveys were administered to residents of California, Colorado, and Texas, three states with large numbers of USFWS Refuges as well as large available sample sizes. One of the unique aspects of the study was that it sought input from the general population within these states, rather than visitors who were already at a Refuge or other federal land.
The findings may provide the USFWS with a better understanding of who visits their refuges now, and how that may change in the future. “Contrary to popular opinion, Millennials may be engaging with federal lands more often than previously understood,” said Principal Investigator Villwock-Witte; “also, Baby Boomers, who in the past have been the most frequent visitors to federal lands, may be less inclined to recreate on them as they age. Almost half of the survey respondents reported physical limitations, and others (i.e. younger generations) the need to accommodate the needs of small children with whom they now travel.”
When published by the USFWS, the final report will be posted to the project page.
In its March newsletter, the Mountain States Chapter of the International Erosion Control Association highlighted the release of Rob Ament’s recent task reports on using woolen products for erosion control. “Evaluation of Effectivenss and Cost-Benefits of Woolen Roadside Reclamation Products” is a research partnership among the Montana Department of Transportation, WTI, and KC Harvey Environmental, LLC. The release of the reports was also announced by the Transportation Research Board’s Daily New Service. The task reports are available on the MDT website here.
Natalie Villwock-Witte’s research on the transportation preferences of Millennials in rural areas continues to draw the interest of regional media outlets. Last week, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle picked up the story, including a feature article in its March 10 edition.
Montana State University has released its research expenditures for 2016, and WTI had the second highest expenditure level among all academic departments and research units. WTI’s research expenditures for the year totaled $6.3 million, and we were just edged out of the top spot by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemestry ($6.6 million). Research expenditures across campus totalled more than $94 million in 2016. Congratulations, everyone!
Montana State University is highlighting WTI research on its website this week. MSU News posted a feature article about Natalie Villwock-Witte’s research on the transportation preferences of rural Millennials, and the publicity it has received by national publications including Wired Magazine. If you missed it, you can read the article here.