Can the Next Generation of Wildlife Crossing Structures be Made from Plastic?

WTI Hosts International Workshop to Inspire Creative Designs

In early May, WTI hosted a group of engineers, ecologists, and landscape architects from Canada and the U.S. for a two-day workshop to create innovative designs for wildlife crossing structures. In particular, they were focused on whether a high-strength, fiber reinforced plastic could be used to build bridge-like structures over roadways.  If feasible, using plastic structures could make it easier and less expensive to install wildlife crossing structures in more locations.

The workshop was led by Rob Ament, Program Manager for WTI’s Road Ecology research, and Nina-Marie Lister, Director of the Ecological Design Lab at Canada’s Ryerson University.  Participants were split into two teams to create “competing” designs for prototype wildlife crossings at Hyalite Canyon and Bozeman Pass on Interstate 90.  Also taking part were WTI Research Scientist Tony Clevenger, and graduate student Matt Bell, who is conducting research on wildlife crossing structures while pursuing a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering at MSU.

 MSU News highlighted the workshop in a recent feature story, which is available on the MSU website.

Rob Ament to lead webinar on woolen erosion control products (March 29)

On Thursday, March 29, Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament will lead a webinar entitled “Evaluation of Effectiveness and Cost-Benefits of Woolen Roadside Reclamation Products” for the Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates (CESTiCC) at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. The presentation will focus on Rob’s research, which took a fresh look at wool and explored its potential for incorporation in erosion control blankets (ECBs) and to increase the establishment of vegetation along Montana roadsides after highway construction or other right-of-way disturbances. The project targeted the use of low quality wool that is substandard or unmarketable, thus offering both environmental and economic benefits.

The webinar will be held on Thursday, March 29 at 9:00 a.m. Alaska time (11 a.m. Montana time)

Related Projects:
Evaluation of Effectiveness and Cost Benefits of Woolen Roadside Reclamation Products – 4W5283
Evaluation of Effectiveness and Cost Benefits of Woolen Roadside Reclamation Products – 4W4813

MDT Research Newsletter Profiles Three WTI Projects

WTI research is prominently featured in the new issue of Solutions, the research newsletter of the Montana Department of Transportation.  Three recently completed projects are profiled in feature articles:

  • “Prefabricated Steel Truss/Bridge Deck Systems.” This study was a WTI and MSU Civil Engineering project led by Damon Fick, Tyler Kuehl, Michael Berry, and Jerry Stephens. It evaluated a prototype of a welded steel truss constructed with an integral concrete deck, which has been proposed as a potential alternative for accelerated bridge construction (ABC) projects in Montana. Steel truss bridges are relatively light weight compared with plate girder systems, which makes them a desirable alternative for both material savings and constructability. See the WTI website for more information.
  • “Evaluation of Effectiveness and Cost-Benefits of Woolen Roadside Reclamation Products.” This research project developed three types of products for study: woolen erosion control blankets (ECBs), wool incorporated into wood fiber compost, and wool incorporated into silt fence. The project, supported by Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and the Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, compared the wool products’ performance to roadside reclamation products commonly used for revegetating cut slopes. Rob Ament (P.I.) and Eli Cuelho served on the research team. Additional information is available on the WTI website.
  • “Feasibility of Non-Proprietary Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC) for Use in Highway Bridges in Montana.” Ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) has mechanical and durability properties that far exceed those of conventional concrete. However, using UHPC in conventional concrete applications has been cost prohibitive, costing 20 times that of conventional concrete. The overall objective of the Phase I research was to develop and characterize economical non-proprietary UHPC mixes made with materials readily available in Montana. The research was led by Michael Berry. Additional project information is available on the WTI website.

The MDT Solutions newsletter is available on the MDT website.

Two New Research Reports Released: Wool Reclamation Products and High Performance Concrete

The Montana Department of Transportation has released the final reports for two projects by WTI researchers:

  • “Evaluation of Effectiveness and Cost-Benefits of Woolen Roadside Reclamation Products.” This research project developed three types of products for study: woolen erosion control blankets (ECBs), wool incorporated into wood fiber compost, and wool incorporated into silt fence. The project, supported by Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and the Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, compared the wool products’ performance to roadside reclamation products commonly used for revegetating cut slopes. Rob Ament (P.I.) and Eli Cuelho served on the research team. The final report and project summary are available on the MDT website. Additional information and all of the reports related to this project are available on the WTI website.
  • “Feasibility of Non-Proprietary Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC) for Use in Highway Bridges in Montana.” Ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) has mechanical and durability properties that far exceed those of conventional concrete. However, using UHPC in conventional concrete applications has been cost prohibitive, costing 20 times that of conventional concrete. The overall objective of the Phase I research was to develop and characterize economical non-proprietary UHPC mixes made with materials readily available in Montana. The research was led by Michael Berry. The final report and project summary are available on the MDT website and additional project information is available on the WTI website.

Native plants for roadside revegetation in Idaho

Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament and colleagues in the MSU Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences will have an article published in the Spring 2017 edition of Native Plants Journal. “Native plants for roadside revegetation in Idaho” documents their field study to evaluate the success of sustainable roadside revegetation strategies on 16 sites in Idaho.

Citation: Ament, R., Pokorny, M., Mangold, J., and Orloff, N. (2017). Native plants for roadside revegetation in Idaho. Native Plants Journal, vol 8 (1): pp 4-19.

Wool Blankets for Erosion Control: Research Highlighted in International Publication

Wool blankets used as erosion control along roadsides
Experimental plots along U.S. Highway 287 near Three Forks, Montana

Environmental Connection, the magazine of the International Erosion Control Association, published a feature article about Rob Ament’s wool research in its July 2017 issue.  “Bullish for Wool: Using Wool in Erosion Control Blankets Shows Promising Results in Montana Study” summarizes the results of  a WTI project funded by the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and the Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates (CESTTiCC). The goal of the field study was to conduct a side-by-side comparison of the performance of wool products with the performance of more commonly used roadside reclamation products (straw/coir ECBs and wood fiber compost). The woolen reclamation products developed for this project demonstrated notable results: all six types of wool erosion control blankets outperformed the control products. Since the project targeted the use of waste wool or other harvested fiber that is substandard or currently unmarketable, the use of this wool for erosion control offers both environmental and economic benefits.  View the article IECA Magazine Bullish On Wool.

MSU Extension Highlights Roadside Vegetation Research

Using native plants for roadside revegetation is the lead story in the “Weed Post,” a monthly newsletter by the Montana State University Extension Office and the Montana Noxious Weed Education Campaign.  The article describes successful research by Rob Ament (WTI), Monica Pokorny (Natural Resources Conservation Service), Noelle Orloff (MSU) and Jane Mangold (MSU), which demonstrated that establishing diverse, perennial plant communities on roadsides is a sustainable technique that helps to manage noxious weeds and other invasive plants.  This project was funded by the Idaho Department of Transportation. You can read the full newsletter article here.

http://www.msuinvasiveplants.org/documents/extension/weed_posts/2017/July%202017%20Weed%20Post_roadside%20revegetation-native%20plants%20and%20noxious%20weeds.pdf