WTI wins AARP Community Challenge Grant for Bozeman Street Project

Volunteers paint traffic calming murals along residential street.Congratulations are due to WTI and the City of Bozeman, recently selected for a Community Challenge grant awarded by the American Association for Retired People (AARP). WTI partnered with the City to submit a proposal for a traffic calming project, which will include pedestrian crossings, curb extensions, and traffic circles.  It will build on ongoing efforts of the partnership and neighborhood groups to test and evaluate temporary calming projects for effectiveness and public acceptance.

The AARP Community Challenge project awarded nearly $1.6 million to “quick-action” projects across the country, focusing on community projects that make immediate improvements or help jumpstart long-term progress.  Bozeman was one of only 159 projects to be selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 1600 applications.  In 2017, the City of Bozeman, WTI and their  other partners received an AARP Community Challenger grant for the Mobile Pop-up Project Trailer.

“We’re very excited to have continued support from the Livable Communities initiative at AARP,” said WTI Project Assistant Dani Hess, who led the award submission effort. “It’s great to see these short-term projects move towards longer term improvements with support from the City of Bozeman and the neighborhood groups who took initiative to make their streets friendlier for all.”

A Calming Presence – Street Art Aims to Slow Neighborhood Traffic

Volunteer poses with fish mural painted on Bozeman street as part of traffic calming projectTwo intersections in downtown Bozeman have unusual new inhabitants – brightly colored trout that swim and leap through a water mural painted right on the street.

Neighbors, volunteers, and educators helped create the installation, which is intended as a traffic calming measure to slow down cars traveling through this residential neighborhood.  It is the most recent project in an ongoing collaboration by the City of Bozeman and WTI to test temporary, low cost strategies in areas where neighbors express concerns about speeding vehicles.  In this case, the installations are located on South Church Street at the Olive Street and Bogert Place intersections, near popular pedestrian destinations including the library, Bogert Park, and Peets Hill.  “This is an area that will benefit a lot from these little design features,” WTI project assistant Dani Hess said. “It creates a visual narrowing that makes it a little harder to just cruise through here.”

WTI and the City of Bozeman have implemented other types of temporary calming projects.  Recently, they worked with the Lindley Park neighborhood group to install traffic circles on Cypress Street, which are intended to slow down vehicles driving by Lindley Park during events. Local businesses donated plants for both projects – Cashman’s, Vissers, Gallatin Valley Greenhouses at Bogert, and Greenspace LandGroup of student shows off painted traffic circle project in Bozeman Montana 2019scaping at Lindley.

Earlier in 2019, partners installed pop-up traffic circles near the Fairgrounds, and in the Cooper Park and Valley Unit neighborhoods.  Last year, WTI also worked with the City of Helena on a similar project. These projects have recorded reductions in traffic speeds ranging from 2% to 14%.

The educators who joined in on the painting projects have been in Bozeman participating in the Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program.  High school and community college STEM teachers spend six we

eks learning about transportation research and technology, and then translate it into curriculum to take back to their classrooms.

The fish mural project received great local media attention including an article in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, and a feature story on NBC Montana News.

If you’ve seen the recent installations in person, organizers would love to hear your feedback!  Take a few minutes to fill out the Bogert Park project survey and/or the Cypress/Lindley Park survey.

Volunteers pose with with painted street mural traffic calming project in Bozeman Montana 2019

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.

Bozeman Commuter Challenge off to great start with Bike Week!

Twelve WTI and MDT staff members pose with bicycles in front of MSU transportation building.The Bozeman Commuter Challenge kicked off on June 1 with Bike Week.  Staff from WTI and the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) Design Team enthusiastically joined in by leaving their cars at home and cycling to work!

The Challenge runs through June 30, so it’s not too late to join.  Log your bike, walk, bus, or carpool trips all month long! Are you signed up at bozemancommute.org? Head there to register, and check out how it works by reading the Challenge FAQs.

Bozeman Commuter Challenge has begun!

Graphic for Bozeman Commuter Challenge shows pedestrian, bus, bicycle, and carpool.It’s on folks! The Bozeman Commuter Challenge kicked off on June 1 and runs through June 30. Log your bike, walk, bus, or carpool trips all month long! Are you signed up at bozemancommute.org? Head there to register, and check out how it works by reading the Commuter Challenge fact sheet.

For the first week, check out the daily activities for Bike Week.  Lots of local businesses will be offering free coffee, snacks or other surprises during morning or evening commute hours.

WTI is a partner with the Bozeman Commuter Project for this event, so let’s do our part!

 

Transportation Voucher Program wins National Award

Image of the front cover of a report called Deep East Texas Council of Governments Transportation Voucher Program Final ReportThe Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) Transportation Voucher Program has been selected for a 2019 Excellence in Regional Transportation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO).  DETCOG and the Area Agency on Aging launched the 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 to help create and launch the program.  The project was a team effort by Principal Investigator David Kack, who spearheaded the partnership with NADO; Project Manager Natalie Villwock-Witte, who worked closely with Laura Fay to develop the program framework, conducted outreach to potential program participants, and analyzed the use of the program; and Neil Hetherington, who created numerous original training and promotion materials. “It’s rewarding to develop an effective public transportation program for a rural area where there are so few travel options,” Natalie noted; “it’s even more gratifying when you find out that it’s making a real difference in the lives of residents who may use the program to go buy fresh, healthy food or to connect with friends and family.”

NADO is a Washington, DC-based association that promotes programs and policies to strengthen local governments, communities, and economies through regional cooperation, program delivery, and comprehensive strategies.  The Excellence in Regional Transportation Awards showcase organizations for noteworthy projects and practices in rural and small metropolitan transportation planning, program delivery, and special initiatives.  Winners will receive their awards at the 2019 National Regional Transportation Conference in June.

The DETCOG project page on the WTI website includes more information on the project and a link to the final report.

Pop-up Traffic Circle Installed in Helena, Montana

A new traffic calming device is making its debut in Helena! WTI, Bike Walk Montana, and neighborhood volunteers teamed up to install a pop-up traffic circle, which is designed to slow vehicles on a road near a popular trail head where there are many pedestrians.  The circle will be in place for one month, during which time a camera will record traffic speeds and researchers will gather public feedback on potential long-term solutions. KTVH Montana posted a news report showing the installation on its website. WTI has participated in similar neighborhood traffic calming projects in Bozeman.

Examples of temporary "pop up" street features for safer streets in Bozeman. These features use chalk, straw bales and planters to build temporary roadway features.
Examples of temporary “pop up” street features for safer streets in Bozeman.

It’s Never Too Cold for Alternative Transportation in Bozeman!

Logo for Bozeman Commuter Project with sub text "Rethink Transportation" Text overlays on arrows pointing in opposite directions, imply directions of commute. Background graphic of mountains.Winter Bike to Work Day and new campus shuttle promote transportation options

Snow is falling and so are the temperatures, but hearty Bozeman residents never shy away from going outside in the winter.  With that in mind, the Bozeman Commuter Project is sponsoring Winter Bike to Work Day on March 8, 2019 to encourage local commuters to continue (or even start!) cycling to work through the winter months. Participants who register at bozemancommute.org can earn reward coupons for local coffee shops and breweries.  The project also provides cyclists with tips for cycling safely in winter conditions.  WTI is a partner in the Bozeman Commuter project and is helping to promote this event.  “We always get a great response to our commuter challenges in the summer months,” said project coordinator Dani Hess; “we want to keep that momentum going and keep encouraging the folks who choose to get around by bike in the winter months as well.”

 

In other commuter news, the Associated Students of Montana State University have launched a campus shuttle that makes loops around the perimeter of campus every 20 minutes on weekdays from 7:40 a.m. until 5:40 p.m.  The service is free to students, staff, faculty and visitors, so check out the route map and additional information here. WTI has also provided support to this pilot effort through the Bozeman Transportation Demand Management project.  “We’re excited to see the growing interest in transportation options at MSU from student leadership and are happy to be a part of piloting and evaluating new services like the campus shuttle,” said Hess.

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

UTC Students Honored at TRB

The 2019 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting kicked off over the weekend in Washington, D.C.  At the Council of University Transportation Center (CUTC) banquet on Saturday, the University Transportation Center (UTC) Students of the Year were honored.  Each UTC nominates an outstanding graduate student who receives a certificate from the U.S. Department of Transportation, a $1000 award, and travel expenses to attend the TRB Annual Meeting.  The Small Urban and Rural Livability Center (SURLC) and the Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM), both led by WTI, each had the opportunity to recognize the research accomplishments of an exemplary student this year.

Karalyn Clouser

Congratulations to Karalyn Clouser, who was selected as the SURLC Student of the Year.  Karalyn has been a Research Associate at WTI for five years and is currently pursuing a Master’s of Sustainable Transportation at the University of Washington.  With her background in Planning and GIS, she has provided invaluable research assistance not only to SURLC, but also to the National Center for Rural Road Safety and the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Technical Assistance Center.  Most recently, she completed a project where she developed four different bus route combinations for a potential new transit service in Lebanon, Missouri. She also helped update the Rural ITS Toolkit, a USDOT-sponsored resource on advanced transportation technologies.

 

 

 

Zach Becker

Kudos also go out to Zachary Becker who was selected to represent SURTCOM.  Zach attends Eastern Washington University, where he is nearing completion of a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning.  His research focuses on the mobility and accessibility challenges faced by tribal reservations in northwestern states. He created a parcel-level, GIS database containing network distances from nearly every parcel in Washington state to the nearest healthcare facility.  The database compares distances on tribal reservations to distances on nontribal lands. Zach has been invited to present this research at four national conferences.

Visit the WTI website for more information on our UTC Research Centers and our Education Programs.