WTI Schedule for the 2023 TRB Annual Meeting

Many of WTI’s employees will attend the 2023 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting (January 8-12, Washington, D.C.) to participate in an international collaboration and ideas exchange. They will also share their own research and expertise in poster sessions, lectures, and council meetings.

“Expected to attract thousands of transportation professionals from around the world, the meeting program covers all transportation modes, with sessions and workshops addressing topics of interest to policy makers, administrators, practitioners, researchers, and representatives of government, industry, and academic institutions. Workshops take place on the first and last day of the meeting.” (TRB Annual Meeting Homepage)

If you are attending TRB, we’d love to see you! Join us at any of the events listed on the schedule below.

Sunday, January 8th

9:00 AM – 12:00 PM Laura Fay, presiding Low-Volume Roads Sustainable Pavement Design and Rehabilitation Methods (AKD30, AKP30) Workshop 1019 Convention Center, 202A

Monday, January 9th

8:00 AM – 9:45 AM Sajid Raza Statewide GNSS-RTN Systems: Survey of Practice Poster Session 2040, Board Number A203, Presentation Number TRBAM-23-00227 Convention Center, Hall A
8:00 AM – 9:45 AM Laura Fay, presiding Low-Volume Roads Conference Planning Meeting (AKD30) Marriott Marquis, Cherry Blossom (Mezz)
1:30 PM – 3:15 PM Patrick McMahon Blazing Trails in the 21st Century: Using E-Bikes to Map Trail Conditions in National Parks and Beyond Poster Session 3094, Board Number B712, Presentation Number P23-20670 Convention Center, Hall A
1:30 PM – 3:15 PM Charles Gould Laboratories on the Lakes: National Parks in Michigan: Drive, Walk, Ride, and Sail into a Multimodal Future Poster Session 3094, Board Number B713, Presentation Number P23-20672 Convention Center, Hall A
3:45 PM – 5:30 PM Laura Fay

Karalyn Clouser

Brooms, Blades, and Ice Breakers: Alternative Mechanical Snow Removal Innovations Lectern Session 2188, Presentation Number P23-20151 Convention Center, 102B
6:00 PM – 7:30 PM Natalie Villwock-Witte

Karalyn Clouser

Laura Fay

Effectiveness of Highway Safety Public Education at Montana Motor Vehicle Division and Vehicle Registration Stations by Streaming a Variety of Safety Content Poster Session 2227, Board Number A110, Presentation Number TRBAM-23-01300 Convention Center, Hall A

Tuesday, January 10th

10:15 AM – 12:00 PM Jamie Sullivan, presiding Impact of Climate Change on Rural Areas Lectern Session 2057, Introduction & Concluding Remarks Convention Center, 115B
10:15 AM – 12:00 PM Patrick McMahon, presenting Towards a proactive climate adaptation model: Long-term access and resilience planning at North Cascades National Park Lectern Session 2057, Presentation #4 – 15 min Convention Center, 115B
10:15 AM – 12:00 PM Ahmed Al-Kaisy Identification of Potential Improvements to the Highway Capacity Manual Methodology for Rural Bicyclists and Bicyclist Classification Poster Session 3148, Board Number B626, Presentation Number TRBAM-23-02602 Convention Center, Hall A
1:30 PM – 3:15 PM Ahmed Al-Kaisy Capacity at All-Way Stop Control Intersections: A Case Study Poster Session 3147, Board Number B617, Presentation Number TRBAM-23-00822 Convention Center, Hall A
1:30 PM – 3:15 PM Sajid Raza

Ahmed Al-Kaisy

Influence Area at Signalized and Stop-Control Intersections: Operational Analysis Poster Session 3148, Board Number B627, Presentation Number TRBAM-23-01414 Convention Center, Hall A
1:30 PM – 5:30 PM Natalie Villwock-Witte, presiding Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands Committee (AEP20) Marriott Marquis, Liberty Salon K (M4)
6:00 PM – 7:30 PM David Kack, presiding/moderating Performance Assessment of Rural On-Demand Transit Service Lectern Session 3209 Convention Center, 147A

Wednesday, January 11th

8:00 AM – 12:00 PM Laura Fay, presiding Low-Volume Roads Committee Meeting (AKD30) Marriott Marquis, Tulip (Mezz)
10:15 AM – 12:00 PM Jamie Sullivan, presiding Rural Issues Coordinating Council (A0040C) Marriott Marquis, Liberty Salon N (M4)

WTI Part of $2.25M Tribal Transport Effort

As part of a consortium that was recently awarded up to $2.25 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation, WTI will provide transportation outreach and technical assistance to tribes across the Upper Great Plains and Intermountain West through the Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP). Led by the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at North Dakota State University, the program will work with 29 tribes within the Bureau of Indian Affair’s Rocky Mountain and Great Plains Regions to build tribal capacity in program management, grow the tribal workforce, cultivate and coordinate partnerships, facilitate technology transfer and the implementation of innovations, and share results of similar initiatives across the country.

“WTI looks forward to sharing with tribes in our region, building their capacity to administer and manage their own transportation programs and systems,” said WTI Executive Director David Kack. “WTI has a long history of solving rural road challenges and collaborating with tribes, as well as partnering with the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute.”

Program funds will be shared through NDSU with MSU, South Dakota State University and the University of Wyoming, which all host and manage existing Federal Highway Administration-funded Local Technical Assistance Programs (LTAPs), that provide transportation outreach to local units of government. The collaborating universities have considerable experience with rural roads, rural road safety, and other transportation issues faced by tribes, Kack noted. The collective resources and outreach experience will be invaluable to the efforts of the Northern TTAP.

The Northern TTAP will also work closely with state departments of transportation in the region to tap expertise within those departments and to help them better integrate tribal transportation networks into their own statewide and regional networks.

To learn more about TTAP visit: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/clas/ttap/

WTI Employees Take the Lead in Transportation as TRB Chairs

This January, three WTI researchers will have the honor and responsibility of presiding over committees they chair at the 2023 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting (January 8-12th) in Washington, D.C. TRB is one of seven programs housed in the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, and facilitates research, the exchange of ideas, and guidance on all modes of transportation. As Chairs, Natalie Villwock-Witte, Laura Fay, and Jamie Sullivan will lead the Standing Committee on Transportation Needs in National Parks and Public Lands, the Standing Committee on Low-Volume Roads, and the Rural Transportation Issues Coordinating Council, respectively. The 2023 TRB theme will be Rejuvenation Out of Disruption: Envisioning a Transportation System for a Dynamic Future.

 

Jamie Sullivan, P.E., a Senior Research Engineer at WTI, has extensive experience in applied rural safety and operations research for Departments of Transportation and public lands management agencies. Her work focuses on advanced transportation technologies, including Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) design, implementation, and evaluation. Jamie is currently the Director of the National Center for Rural Road Safety (Safety Center) and Manager of the Public Lands Transportation Fellows program. She has employed her leadership skills as Chair of the TRB Rural Transportation Issues Coordinating Council, A0040C, since its inception in April 2020. It is “the hub of rural transportation issues, conversation, and research in the transportation community,” said Jamie, “and its mission is to promote rural transportation research needs and opportunities across all modes and disciplines within the entire TRB committee structure.” 

A0040C is one of four councils established to lead the TRB Technical Activities committees. “As a new council, I am excited for us to provide more support to committees and information on what we do and how we can work together,” noted Jamie, adding that the Council is currently organizing a group of rural-state representatives to help committees review and develop their rural research problem statements. A0040C will also host a session on the impacts of climate change on rural transportation at the upcoming Annual Meeting and publish a Rural Issue of TR News in Fall 2023.

 

 

Natalie Villwock-Witte, Ph.D., P.E., is an Assistant Research Professor/Research Engineer for WTI and has multi-disciplinary research experience. Her work has covered diverse topics from the development of transportation voucher programs to surveys of millennial’s transportation preferences. Natalie has also developed transportation safety solutions for the National Park Service and other federal agencies, which has prepared her to chair the Committee on Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands – AEP20. The Committee considers transportation of all forms on public lands, including national parks, federally managed lands such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holdings, and state parks.  

Natalie has a decade of experience with the Committee on Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands, where she started as a Young Member in 2012 before transitioning to Member in 2016. She took over as Chair in April of 2020 and has accepted the role for another three years. Under Natalie’s leadership, AEP20 was recognized with a TRB Blue Ribbon Award: Moving Research Ideas into Transportation Practice for utilizing new funding and re-engaging state representatives through the NCHRP program. 

Because public land stakeholders are so numerous and diverse, AEP20 has become a vital platform for ideas exchange and identification of research issues and directions between industry leaders in land management, tourism, university systems, consulting, and beyond. “I often find that listening to presentations provides me with a multitude of ideas for additional research avenues, some of which may tie into on-going research and some which may be entirely new,” noted Villwock-Witte, who expressed excitement for the new year. “The Committee recently completed a draft of our Triennial Strategic Plan, and we look forward to discussing its implementation. Our committee has also taken on the task of developing content for TR News and we’ve seen an incredible transition as our long-time members mentor and encourage participation by the next generation of transportation researchers.”

 

 

scenic portrait of laura fay with snow covered mountains and lake in backgroundLaura Fay, M.S. is a WTI Research Scientist who specializes in the intersection of transportation and cold climates. With over a decade of research experience, her work has explored a range of topics, including deicer impacts on pavements and Road Weather Information System (RWIS) development, and guided the implementation of new and innovative winter maintenance practices. Laura serves as the Program Manager for WTI’s Cold Climate Operations and Systems research group and chairs the TRB Standing Committee on Low-Volume Roads – AKD30. The committee focuses on new technology and practices that best support low-volume road users and owners, such as construction, operation, and maintenance techniques and administration strategies.

“The TRB Annual Meeting is an opportunity to meet face to face with committee members, colleagues, and friends to learn from others and share ideas,” said Laura, who has a long history with the Low-Volume Roads Committee. She served as a member for three consecutive years and was awarded the TRB Blue Ribbon Award for Implementation for her work as a key organizer of the 2019 Low Volume Roads Conference in Kalispell, MT. Laura was appointed Chair in 2021 but, due to Covid-19, was unable to attend the meeting in person last year. “That would have been my first annual meeting as committee chair,” she noted. “I feel like I missed out on the experience so I’m excited to be there in person and see all the hard work of the committee in action. I expect a lot of activity and excitement after the disruption of the last couple of years!”

WTI Researchers to Teach MSU Course on the Intersection of Transportation & Health

Transportation systems that prioritize motor vehicles have been linked to poor air quality and negative health outcomes such as asthma, may endanger walkers and cyclists, and disproportionately shift the negative effects onto minority and low-income communities. As a new generation of transportation engineers, planners, and policymakers join the workforce, it is important that they understand and have the skills to address the relationship between transportation and public health.

WTI researchers Rebecca Gleason and Matthew Madsen have partnered with the MSU College of Engineering to teach ECIV 491: Sustainable Transportation and Community Health. The 3-credit spring semester course is for students with Junior standing or above who are studying engineering, community health, planning, or a policy discipline. “Cities and towns are not built within silos by only engineers,” said Madsen. “For them to be sustainable and healthy, they need to be planned and developed by many different professionals. This class will give engineers and students in other disciplines the chance to learn from each other.”

Sustainable Transportation and Community Health is designed to provide students with a broad perspective on transportation design by exploring the evolution of both the U.S. and Dutch transportation systems, their divergence, and the design standards that support active infrastructure. “The Netherlands used to be much more car-dependent,” Gleason noted, “but due to a concerted effort starting in the 1970s they have become a model for a more people-focused transportation network. However, the U.S. fully embraced the private automobile, especially after World War II, and while there are some places around the country that are more bicycle, pedestrian, and transit-friendly, they are now the exception.”

The course will also introduce students to the policies and tools used to incorporate health into transportation planning, as well as provide hands-on experience to plan, implement, and evaluate a quick-build traffic-calming project. “The course goal,” remarked Madsen, “is to demonstrate the need for a balanced transportation system that incorporates health and focuses on equity in relation to all users, especially the more vulnerable ones.”

Registration for ECIV 491: Sustainable Transportation and Community Health is now open for spring 2023. The class will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:2am5 to10:40am. For more course information please contact Rebecca Gleason or Matthew Madsen.

 

WTI Employees Recognized for Years of Service

Every October, Montana State University hosts the Milestones in Service Award banquet to recognize employees who reached five-year employment increments during the previous fiscal year. This year’s event included seven WTI employees celebrating significant work milestones. Of special note are David Kack, WTI’s Executive Director and Director of the Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM), and Neil Hetherington, WTI’s Visual Communications Manager, for whom 2022 marks 20 years as MSU employees.  Thank you all for your years of hard work and expertise!

20 Years

Neil Hetherington, Visual Communications Manager (WTI)

David Kack, MS, Executive Director (WTI) & Director (SURTCOM)

15 Years

Laura Fay, MS, Senior Research Scientist (WTI) & Program Manager (Cold Climate Operations & Systems)

Rebecca Gleason, MS, PE, Research Engineer II (SURTCOM)

5 Years

Luca Allaria, IT Support Specialist (WTI)

Shawna Page, Field Training Professional (Local Technical Assistance Program; LTAP)

Matthew Ulberg, PE, Director (LTAP)

New Staff: Welcome Anna Price!

WTI is excited to welcome Anna Price as a new member of the communications team. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Anna moved to Bozeman to attend Montana State University where she graduated with an Honors Baccalaureate, a B.S. in Earth Science with a focus in Snow Mechanics, and minors in Math, Physics, and Water Resources.

Anna joins WTI with experience working in Bozeman transportation, most recently as the Sustainable Transportation Program Manager at MSU. While with the university, she developed staff and student programming, notably founding the Guaranteed Ride Home program, developing the student-led design and installation of campus-covered bike parking, and working on the 2017 MSU Bicycle Master Plan planning team.

In her new role as a Communications Specialist, Anna focuses on technical editing for WTI’s many researchers, ensuring that readers pay attention to the science, not the spelling. She is also writing for the WTI newsletter and developing public communications. Research and discovery is more useful when people know about it, and Anna is hooking readers with interesting articles.

Working in the office and remotely, Anna appreciates the comradery of her coworkers – good people and good scientists. She also enjoys the wide variety of projects on which she works and will continue honing her writing and communication skills so that the public remains informed on, and interested in, WTI’s ongoing research. When the opportunity arises, Anna loves to step away from her computer, get outside, and assist researchers with their fieldwork.

Outside of work, Anna wanders in the woods with her dog, Laszlo, packrafts, reads, and knits. She also takes care of her cabin, where she lives full time, and is currently prepping for winter. When not fending off the bears, rattlesnakes, and squirrels who also call the cabin “home,” Anna stacks huge quantities of firewood and tries to finish knitting that one sweater before the snow falls (third year’s the charm).

New Staff: Welcome Jen MacFarlane

The Western Transportation Institute is pleased to announce that Jen MacFarlane has transitioned from a temporary to permanent position as a public health research assistant. Originally from Colstrip, Montana, Jen is a student of both Montana State University and the University of Montana, where she earned a B.S. in Health and Human Performance and is currently working towards a master’s degree in Public Health.

With two decades of public health experience, Jen has devoted herself to helping Montanans. Her first public health position, as an AmeriCorps volunteer in West Yellowstone, focused on substance abuse prevention. Jen has since worked, and lived, across Montana developing programming for HIV prevention, tobacco use prevention, diabetes and hypertension, and other chronic health conditions. Most recently, she worked at the Gallatin City-County Health Department where she focused on chronic disease prevention and forming the department’s Cultural and Linguistic Appropriate Services committee. Jen also focused on coalition building and policy change; she was instrumental in the adoption of local policy that recognized e-cigarettes in the Clean Indoor Air Act and the inclusion of health-promoting language in the Gallatin County Growth Policy, Triangle Trails Plan, and Triangle Transportation Plan.

However, Jen’s professional passion is creating opportunities for and promoting, physical activity in communities. This led her to recognize the physical activity barriers related to the built environment, including transportation. At WTI, and as practical experience through her master’s program, Jen has worked to reduce activity barriers by installing traffic calming projects, educating students with bike rodeos, and creating a Traffic Calming Primer. She is currently assessing whether Montana’s ten most populous counties are including health performance measures in their transportation plans, thereby gaining insight into how, and if, local governments recognize the intersection of health and transportation. Long term, Jen’s goal is to create cross-sector collaborative efforts that lead to healthy communities.

Jen spends her free time with her family: three children, her husband, her parents, two dogs, a cat, a goose, and seven chickens. Because her children are nearly grown, they focus on the “fun stuff” such as running, biking, skiing, and backpacking. Jen is also a potter, a soapmaker, and a middle school cross-country and track coach. Once she completes her master’s degree, Jen plans to spend more time coaching and traveling. The first trips on her bucket list: bikepacking in Europe, and hiking in Peru.

IN THE NEWS: New York Times Showcases Video of Wildlife Using Crossings

The New York Times has posted an online feature article highlighting excellent footage of wildlife using various forms of highway crossings.  “How Do Animals Safely Cross a Highway? Take a Look” includes footage of a herd of antelope crossing a highway in Wyoming; moose, bear, wolves and deer using crossings in Utah; and an alligator and panther using underground passages in Florida.  WTI Road Ecologist Marcel Huijser was interviewed for the article in which he discusses that despite the upfront installation costs, wildlife crossings yield significant safety and conservation benefits that save money in the long run. Whisper Camel-Means, a tribal wildlife program manager who collaborated with WTI on US 93 wildlife crossing projects in Montana, was also interviewed for the article.

IN THE NEWS: Embracing Biodegradable Erosion Control

Erosion control blankets installed on hillside in Idaho 2018

Stormwater Magazine recently interviewed WTI Road Ecologist Rob Ament on advancements in the use of environmentally friendly products for erosion control. “Saving Mowers and Wildlife” highlights state departments of transportation that are working to replace plastic netting used on roadsides with flexible, biodegradable options.  In the article, state DOTs report benefits such as reduced need for removal and disposal of nets, less risk of water contamination, and fewer animals becoming entangled. Ament discusses his research on wool erosion control blankets, which are created from waste wool not suitable for clothing or blanket production.  The wool erosion blankets release nitrogen into the soil as they decompose and are showing promising results related to fertilization of the sites where they are used.

STUDENT NEWS: Meet Alex Musar

outdoor portrait of Alex Musar

Welcome to Alex Musar, who joins WTI this month as an Undergraduate Research Assistant for the summer. He will be working with David Kack, Andrea Hamre, and other WTI team members on a number of mobility projects, including the NADO technical assistance project in Southern Ohio and the MPO Travel Survey project in Montana.

Originally from Seattle, Washington, Alex arrived in Bozeman in 2018 when he transferred from North Seattle College to Montana State University.  He is now pursuing a dual degree in Architecture and Political Science, with a long-term goal of working in public policy development, especially promoting sustainable growth models for small rural municipalities.  This summer, he is excited to learn more about the links between transportation and urban design, and how a community can build a public transit system from the ground up.

Outside of school and work, Alex is an avid rock climber, backpacker, hiker, and “passionate follower of the Everton [UK] Football Club” (yes, that’s soccer to those of us on this side of the pond).