Society of Women Engineers selects WTI Researcher to lead workshop at Annual Meeting

Each year, the Society of Women Engineers receives more than 1000 submissions to present at its Annual Meeting, known as the “The World’s Largest Conference for Women Engineers.” WTI Researcher Natalie Villwock-Witte and her research partners at Minnesota Department of Transportation and Bike Minnesota were selected to lead a presentation entitled “Bicycles and Pedestrians: Advocacy, Planning, and Research” at the upcoming Annual Meeting in October. Congrats, Natalie!

Summer Postcards: Researchers on the Road

Passengers utilize the Columbia Gorge Shuttle
Passengers utilize the Columbia Gorge Shuttle
WTI Research Engineer Natalie Villwock-Witte just returned from Cascade Locks, Oregon, where she participated in the mid-year meeting of Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on the Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands (ADA 40). Committee members had the opportunity to try out the new Columbia Gorge Express shuttle service, and visit Multnomah Falls and the Bonneville Dam.


Graduate students participate in a road ecology field trip with Marcel.
Graduate students participate in a road ecology field trip with Marcel.
In Brazil, Research Scientist Marcel Huijser continues his research and academic exchange at the University of São Paulo, where he is serving as a guest professor. He shared this picture of a road ecology field trip with graduate students at the University’s Botucatu campus.

AARP Highlights Bozeman Traffic Calming Project in National Publication

In 2017, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) awarded a Community Challenge grant to WTI and the City of Bozeman to purchase a mobile Pop-up Project Trailer, which neighborhoods and local groups can use to work towards safer multimodal streets. WTI and the City, in partnership with volunteers from Big Brothers and the community, used the trailer to install the Tamarack/Tracy traffic calming demonstration project last fall.

Temporary traffic calming installation in Bozeman, Montana with pedestrian crossing marked in temporary paint
Temporary traffic calming installation in Bozeman, Montana

The project is now highlighted on the AARP website, as part of a feature showcasing what the grant winners achieved with their funding. It is also included in AARP’s 2018 publication Where We Live: Communities for All Ages — 100+ Inspiring Examples from America’s Local Leaders.

The traffic calming installation was one component of the Transportation Demand Management partnership between WTI, the City of Bozeman, and Montana State University.

Going forward, the trailer will be available for use by other neighborhoods and local groups who want to take the first step in working towards safer multimodal streets in Bozeman.

Student Success: Two WTI students join Professional Staff

When WTI hires and mentors great students, it is a win-win for the organization and for aspiring young professionals. WTI’s two most recent hires both started as part-time student employees while pursuing their undergraduate degrees at Montana State University.

New staff members Dani Hess (Left) and Kelley Hall (Right) ride bikes outside WTI offices in Bozeman, MT
New staff members Dani Hess (Left) and Kelley Hall (Right) ride bikes outside WTI offices in Bozeman, MT

Kelley Hall has been part of the WTI family since 2014. She started as a Student Administrative Assistant, staffing the front desk and helping out in the Business Office.  She progressively added more responsibilities, including assistance on various projects.  After graduating from MSU with a B.A. in Political Science, she joined WTI as a Research Assistant. She currently serves as a Project Assistant in the Road Ecology program, focusing on the Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Data Coordination project for the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  In addition, she serves as a Research Associate for the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC), managing technology transfer activities and providing support to several projects on traffic safety culture, seat belt use, and underage drinking.

A native of Sheridan, Wyoming, Kelley moved to Bozeman in 2012 as an MSU freshman.  In addition to juggling her many responsibilities at WTI, she loves outdoor sports (both summer and winter) and photography.  Somehow, she has even found time to begin classes toward a Master’s in Public Administration!

Danielle (Dani) Hess was recently named a Project Assistant for mobility projects with the Small Urban and Rural Livability Center and the Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility.  Dani first joined WTI in February 2016 as a student assistant in the Mobility program, helping with community outreach for the Bozeman Commuter project and other local initiatives.  In early May, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Community Health (with Highest Honors!) from MSU and was promoted to a full-time WTI employee. She will now be able to continue her work on the Transportation Demand Management project with the City of Bozeman and the “pop-up” traffic calming projects on local roads.

Dani grew up in Helena, Montana, and has lived in Bozeman for the last five years.  When she is not encouraging people to walk, bike, or take the bus to work, you will probably find her enjoying the outdoors, most likely on her mountain bike.  This summer, she is looking forward to coaching kids with Bozeman Youth Cycling’s summer mountain biking program.

David Kack Named “Business Person of the Year” by Big Sky Chamber of Commerce

Glass award plaque in glass with the following wording. "Big Sky chamber of Commerce. 2018 Business Person of the Year. David Kack, Western Transportation Institute."Congratulations to WTI’s own David Kack, who was honored with a Big Sky Chamber of Commerce Award at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner last week. David was selected for the “Business Person of the Year” Award, in recognition of his 15 years of work to establish and grow the Skyline bus service, as well as his more recent leadership efforts in partnership with the Chamber and other stakeholders to successfully secure a $10 million federal TIGER grant for improvements to the transportation network in the Big Sky region. The Awards dinner was also featured in today’s issue of Explore Big Sky.

New Project: 2018 Transportation Fellows to Serve in National/International Wildlife Refuges

Logo banner for the Public Lands Transportation Fellows Program managed by WTIThe Public Lands Transportation Fellows (PLTF) program provides fellowships to outstanding graduates in a transportation-related field to spend eleven months working directly with staff of Federal Land Management Agencies on key visitor transportation issues. The PLTF program began in 2012 and was modeled after the very successful Transportation Scholars program managed by the National Park Foundation (NPF) that serves the National Park Service (NPS). The program, managed at WTI by P.I. Jaime Sullivan, is mutually beneficial for both participants and agencies: recent masters and doctoral graduates gain a unique opportunity for career development and public service, while public land agencies gain staff support to develop transportation solutions that preserve valuable resources and enhance the visitor experience. The 2018 class of fellows will be stationed at the following three refuges:

  • San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex in San Diego, California.
  • Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Complex near Denver, Colorado.
  • Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge near Detroit, Michigan.

Once selected, the fellows and their projects will be profiled on the PLTF page of the WTI website. WTI Project page

Travel Voucher Project Kicks Off in Texas

Laura Fay, David Kack and Natalie Villwock-Witte (PI) recently traveled to the Jasper, Texas area for six meetings related to the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) transportation voucher program. This pilot project will show how transportation vouchers can be used to provide basic mobility to those who have limited options. Meetings were held in Jasper, as well as Ivanhoe, Newton, Pineland and San Augustine. Similar to many rural areas in Montana, people in the DETCOG area often travel 45 miles or so (one way) for groceries, medical care, and other essential services. Currently, this pilot project is focused on those who are 60 years old or older. The long-term vision is to secure additional funding so that those with low incomes or a disability will also be able to use the voucher program.

Ivanhoe, TX announces pilot program meeting on city marquee

The pilot program should start in May and will include approximately 25 participants. Demand for the vouchers already exceeds existing funding, so data from the pilot project will be used to reach out to potential funding sources. The WTI staff is supporting the DETCOG staff to ensure that this program can grow and meet the needs in this rural part of Texas. The new program was big news in the City of Ivanhoe – the photo shows the City marquee informing community members about the meeting to discuss the voucher program.

Research Pays Off… Again! TR News Publishes Second Article on the Benefits of WTI Research

For the second time in less than six months, TR News magazine has selected a WTI project for its “Research Pays Off” section, which highlights research that has produced tangible and valuable benefits.  “Wyoming Intercity Bus Service Study: Finding and Filling the Gaps in Rural Areas” is featured in the March/April 2018 issue of TR News, published by the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board.  Authored by Principal Investigator David Kack, the article describes a project conducted for the Wyoming Department of Transportation to identify potential Intercity bus routes that would increase access for underserved communities.  The study led directly to the expansion of available services after a transportation provider contacted the Wyoming DOT to initiate a partnership that resulted in new service on one of the identified routes. The full article is posted on the project page.

The November/December 2017 issue of TR News highlighted the One-Stop Shop Traveler Information project in the “Research Pays Off” feature.  This article is also available on the WTI website.

(TR News is copyright, National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; posted with permission of the Transportation Research Board.)

University Transportation Centers Focus on Mobility at D.C. Summit

Image of conference poster describing the work and purpose of WTI's SURLC and SURTCOM centersDavid Kack, WTI’s Mobility and Public Transportation Manager, traveled to Washington D.C. last week to participate in the First Annual National Mobility Summit. This event, sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, was designed to enable a discussion among all of the University Transportation Centers (UTCs) that focused on the topic of mobility. Nine UTCs representing 48 colleges and universities attended, along with representatives from USDOT, the Department of Energy, and several other mobility related entities (for a total attendance of about 60 people).

David gave a ten-minute presentation on both the Small Urban and Rural Livability Center (SURLC), as well as the Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM). During a reception, David displayed a Poster and discussed the challenges of providing mobility in rural and tribal areas. Carnegie Mellon University expects this to be an annual event for the next four years.