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/
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that the City of Bozeman has received a planning grant from the Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities. “Bozeman partners with HRDC to hire part-time help for parks planning” describes the collaboration between the City, the Human Resources Development Council, and WTI to gain more input from the public on park and trail access. The grant funds will be used to hire community liaisons who will seek to document the needs of local populations that have been underrepresented in planning discussions in the past. Ultimately, the public feedback will be used to update the City’s parks, recreation, open space and trails plan and an “active transportation” plan.
WTI assisted with the development and submittal of the grant application and will provide technical assistance and training to liaisons, HRDC, and the City of Bozeman.
WTI recently completed a feasibility study for a “Smart” transit hub to serve an eight-county rural region in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. The study presents a menu of technologies and programs that help connect people experiencing transportation barriers in rural communities to healthcare, employment, and higher education opportunities.
WTI’s Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM) conducted the project in partnership with the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation, Western Arkansas Planning and Development District, and Frontier Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). NADO and WTI have been collaborating on a series of projects that assist rural communities with passenger transportation projects that enhance mobility options for residents.
“A traditional transit hub is a physical location where travelers can access multiple services in one place,” said Principal Investigator Rebecca Gleason; “while physical hubs are not always viable in rural areas, regional coordination and emerging technologies offer new ways to connect people to transportation information and services.” The study findings, which are highlighted in a newly released Executive Summary, include recommendations that can be implemented over time, such as hiring a regional mobility manager, exploring methods to connect more people with rides on existing systems, creating a 5-year transit development plan, and piloting a new transportation program. The Executive Summary and full study are available on the project page of the WTI website.
The Madisonian, a newspaper for Montana’s Madison Valley, reports on a completed WTI research study in a recent feature article. “Traffic calming data released” summarizes the findings of a traffic calming project in Ennis, Montana, for which WTI and the Montana Department of Transportation collaborated on a “pop-up” installation of curb extensions and other strategies to reduce speeds on the town’s Main Street, which is also a state highway. For the analysis, the WTI research team, led by Matt Madsen, collected data on speeds, pedestrian counts, and the number of drivers yielding to pedestrians before and after the installation. The final report is available on the WTI website project page.
Improving safety on rural roadways is a multi-faceted challenge – to make progress, it helps to collaborate with many partners. WTI’s Jaime Sullivan, who is also the Manager of the National Center for Rural Road Safety, has been on the road in recent weeks meeting with key safety partners at national meetings and conferences.
At the April annual meeting of the National Association of County Engineers (NACE), Jaime exhibited the Safety Center booth to promote the Center’s resources, trainings, and initiatives. Montana LTAP Director Matt Ulberg was also in attendance. NACE, LTAP, the Safety Center, and the West Region Transportation Workforce Center have all been collaborating on the development of a Local Road Safety Certificate that will provide engineers and transportation professionals with specific training on assessing safety challenges and implementing countermeasures.
Jaime then traveled to the Safety Committee meeting of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), where she presented an update on the Local Road Safety Certificate program. She was also invited to give a presentation on the safety components of the NCHRP Rural Research Road Map project, which is identifying and prioritizing the most critical issues facing rural transportation. “The AASHTO meeting, which was led by Montana DOT Director Mike Tooley, was a great opportunity to get input and recommendations from transportation leaders and practitioners who see the challenges and consequences of safety issues on a daily basis,” said Jaime; “this firsthand input really improves and invigorates our research and training efforts at the Center.”