New York Times Gives Shout Out to WTI’s Unpaved Roads Report

Start spreading the news… Recently, the New York Times published a feature article titled “Omaha’s Answer to Potholes? Go Back to Gravel Roads,”describing cities that are choosing to maintain low usage streets in disrepair by converting them back to gravel roads as a lower-cost alternative to repaving. The article cites the NCHRP study on unpaved roads authored by WTI Program Manager Laura Fay, which documented similar conversions in 27 states across the country, as well as best practices for this type of road project.

WTI Selected to Host International Conference

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) Low Volume Roads Committee has selected the Western Transportation Institute to host the 12th TRB International Conference on Low Volume Roads in Montana. WTI proposed the Flathead Valley of northwest Montana (Kalispell/Whitefish) as the venue for the Spring/Summer 2019 meeting, which will bring 150-300 participants and presenters to the area. The Flathead Valley provides an ideal location for conducting field tours of local low volume roads within a 30 minute drive, not to mention the proximity of Glacier National Park. Special thanks to the U.S. Forest Service (Flathead National Forest) and the Northwest Tribal Technical Assistance Program for their letters of support for the WTI application. There will be opportunities for WTI staff to assist during the event, as well as develop papers for publication and present at the conference, host booths (UTCs, Transcend, etc.), and more, so stay tuned for more information.

MDT Highlights WTI Research Projects

The Montana Department of Transportation selected multiple MDT/WTI collaborative research projects to highlight in its Winter 2017 Research Newsletter.  Eli Cuelho’s project to develop a standard specification for a new gravel base course design was featured on the front page (“Development of a ¾-inch Minus Base Course Type A Specification for Montana”).  The newsletter also provides an update on the Traffic Safety Culture Transportation Pooled Fund, which is a joint effort by the Center for Health and Safety Culture, WTI, MDT and nine other states.  In addition, there is a feature article about one of the Pooled Fund projects (“An Assessment of Traffic Safety Culture Related to Driving After Cannabis Use”), a study conducted by Nic Ward, Jay Otto, Kari Finleyand Kelly Green. To read the full issue of MDT’s newsletter “Solutions,” click here.

Stateline Highlights Unpaved Roads Research

Stateline, a national website covering trends in state policy, published a feature story on a recent WTI project on the pros, cons, and costs of converting low-volume paved roads to unpaved roads. In “Dirt Roads Help Some Cities, Counties Drive Down Costs,” Stateline interviewed Principal Investigator Laura Fay about her research for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, which sought to explore how commonly and under what conditions transportation agencies are converting paved roads to unpaved roads. Through a national survey, the project identified 48 agencies that have completed conversions, 70 conversion projects, and 550 miles of converted roadway. Click here to read the Stateline article.

WTI at TRB 2017

Thanks to the WTI staff members who shared photos from the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting, held in Washington, D.C. last week. Numerous staff facilitated workshops, presented their research, or submitted posters.

Natalie Villwock-Witte presided over a TRB session on “Workforce, Millennials, and the Implications of Baby Boomer Retirement.” Session presenters included (from left to right): Dr. Stephanie Ivey (Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Memphis), Joan M. McDonald (most recently former New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner), Natalie, and Yvonne Lopez-Diaz (Human Resources Director and Vice President at HNTB).


Alex Roy (left)  and Dan Brooks (right) present posters on alternative transportation on federal lands. Alex and Dan are Transportation Scholars through the Public Lands Transportation Institute.

View Alex’s Poster Alex Roy_TRB Poster-Parking AlternativesL

View Dan’s PosterDan Brooks_TRB Poster-Reducing Barriers to ATS

MSU Students take Presentation Awards at I-HEEP Conference

The Highway Engineering Exchange Program (HEEP) is an international organization that promotes advances in transportation engineering through the exchange of knowledge and information technology. The 2016 International HEEP Conference was held September 11-15 in Helena, Montana.

HEEP offers a student competition with cash prizes as part of its Educator Student Participation Program (ESP). Maia Grudzien, an MSU undergraduate in Civil Engineering mentored by Computer Science faculty member Brittany Fasy, took home the top student prize of $1,000 for her presentation on “Safer Roads Tomorrow through Analyzing Today’s Accidents.” Sam Micka, a PhD student in Computer Science mentored by faculty advisor Brendan Mumey, received the second place award of $750 for his presentation on “Efficient Monitor Placement for Multipath Traffic Flows.”

Student presenters provide a 20 minute presentation before the general meeting audience and a judging panel during the IHEEP annual conference. Presenters are evaluated based on their understanding of the subject, the strength of their oral presentations, effective use of presentation aids, professional appearance and demeanor, and their interactions with the audience. Congratulations to our two MSU award winners and their faculty mentors!

Welcome to the Unpaved Roads Institute

The Road Dust Institute (RDI) has changed its name to the Unpaved Roads Institute (URi) to better reflect the increased interest general unpaved road management issues. We would like to welcome you to our new website.  First conceptualized in 2008, we are continually evolving with input and support from our founding partners and the Federal Lands Highway of FHWA.  Today, URi is ready to assist industry, local governments, and private landowners with the design and maintenance of our nation’s unpaved roads.Image of Home Page Unpaved Roads Institute