News

NEW PROJECT: WTI to Create a Guidebook for Transportation Agencies on Unpaved Roads

Gravel road in rural Montana with mountains in the background
The guidebook will aid agencies in making effective decisions regarding conversion of paved roads to unpaved.

For roads with very low traffic volumes, some transportation agencies have found that that these roadways can be maintained more economically and at a higher level of service with an unpaved or granular surface, as compared with attempting to maintain an old paved surface. Through this project, WTI will develop a comprehensive information resource on effective practices for converting severely distressed paved roads to acceptable unpaved surfaces. The guide will be developed based on needs identified in a previous WTI project, NCHRP Synthesis 485 Converting Paved Roads to Unpaved.

Laura Fay, who led the NCHRP Synthesis, will also serve as Principal Investigator for this effort. The main benefit of this project will be the availability of an easy to use guidance document for agencies that operate and maintain low volume roads. The guide will help agencies select candidate roads for conversion, conduct more effective and safer conversions, and communicate with the public on how and why a conversion is taking place.

Additional project information is available on the project page of the WTI website.

NEW PROJECT: MDT and WTI to Continue Research on Bridge Support Systems

WTI, MDT Research on concrete cap for bridge deck support
WTI & MDT Will continue research on concrete cap for bridge deck supports as a long lasting, safe and cost effective solution.

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) has found concrete-filled steel tube (CFST) piles connected at the top by a concrete pile cap to be a very cost-effective support system for short and medium span bridges. This type of system offers low initial cost, short construction time, low maintenance requirements, and a long service life. While the gravity load performance of these systems is well understood, their strength and ductility under extreme lateral loads (e.g., seismic events) is more difficult to reliably predict using conventional design procedures.

MDT has sponsored previous WTI research to investigate the performance of these systems under extreme lateral loads and to develop appropriate analysis/design procedures. The primary objective of this research, led by Michael Berry, is to further validate/improve MDT’s CFST to concrete pile cap connection design/analysis methodologies, and to ensure the efficacy of these methodologies for a wide variety of potential design configurations. This research has important potential benefits for evaluating and enhancing bridge performance during earthquakes and other seismic events.

Additional information is available on the project page of the WTI website.

In the News: Streamline Bus Service Celebrates Three Million Rides

Image of passengers boarding Streamline bus. KBZK TV Interviews David Kack about the history and success of the Streamline Bus service.
KBZK TV Interviews David Kack about the history and success of the Streamline Bus service.

The Streamline Bus Service in Bozeman achieved a major milestone in August – 12 years of service and three million rides! KBZK Channel 7 visited the community barbecue hosted by the Human Resources Development Council (HRDC), which operates Streamline, and interviewed WTI’s David Kack on the history and growth of the service over the years. Watch the full news story with David’s interview on the KBZK website.

The Pop-up Traffic Calming Projects, featured in the last issue of Newswire, are also “popping up” in the local news. KBZK Channel 7 traveled to the Bozeman projects locations last week to film the installations in action, and to interview WTI’s Dani Hess (in the rain!). This news clip is available on the KBZK website. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle also featured the story on the front page of the Sunday September 2, 2018 issue.

Vehicle passes over temporary pedestrian crossing.
KBZK TV Interviews Dani Hess about the temporary “Pop Up” traffic calming projects.

WTI helps NW Bozeman neighbors bring their vision for safer streets to life!

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.
WTI’s Bozeman Commuter Project is working with Bozeman neighborhoods to implement Pop-up Traffic Calming projects to reduce drivers speeds on residential streets, and bring more visibility to bikes and pedestrians. This weekend residents of Northwest Bozeman in the Valley Unit neighborhood will be setting up a temporary demonstration of curb extensions and a traffic circle at three intersections near Valley Unit park. Data will be collected via intercept surveys and radar speed detection units to better understand how these designs can reduce vehicle speeds and increase safety for local residents and those traveling by bike, foot, bus, stroller, walker or wheelchair.
Related News Story: AARP Highlights Bozeman Traffic Calming Project in National Publication

Summer Postcards: Alternative Transportation Takes Many Forms Around the World

Even while on vacation, WTI staff members can’t help but notice new and interesting ways that people travel from place to place. Check out David Kack’s photos from Denmark, where the bicycle is a very well-established mode of daily commuter travel, and where boats provide taxi service. Lisa Hughes and Neil Hetherington shared photos and video from San Diego, Los Angeles and Barcelona, where electric scooters and dockless bikes are rapidly growing in popularity. Anyone else have transportation photos to share from summer travels?

Images of established alternate transportation modes in Denmark. Water taxis and bicycle commuting. Photos by David Kack
Images of established alternate transportation modes in Denmark. Water taxis and bicycle commuting. Photos by David Kack

Collection of images of the public using the Popular dockless electric scooters in use around Los Angeles.
Popular dockless electric scooters in use around Los Angeles.


Shared electric scooters provide an easy way to get around cities.

Enhanced alternates to traditional bike commuting with bike share, eBikes and other electronic conveyances take advantage of bike lane infrastructure. A selection of images showing bikes, Segways and eBikes in Barcelona.
Enhanced alternates to traditional bike commuting with bike share, eBikes and other electronic conveyances take advantage of existing bike lane infrastructure in Barcelona.

CHSC Researchers Invited to Present at National Conferences

Annmarie McMahill from Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) will present at the National Prevention Network (NPN) Conference
Annmarie McMahill from Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) will present at the National Prevention Network (NPN) Conference
Two researchers from the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) will be traveling to major national conferences in the coming weeks to present their research on critical safety topics.

Annmarie McMahill will be presenting at the National Prevention Network (NPN) Conference on Tuesday, August 28, 2018. Her presentation titled, “Reducing Underage Drinking in Montana with Practical Tools that Develop the Social and Emotional Skills of Parents and Their Children,” involves a recent study showing Montana parents with higher social and emotional parenting skills were over six times more likely to engage in best-practices to reduce underage drinking. Her presentation will review social and emotional skills, how they are protective for youth, and a project creating practical tools for parents to reduce underage drinking and strengthen social and emotional skills.


Dr. Nic Ward will present at the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) Scientific Conference
Dr. Nic Ward will present at the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) Scientific Conference
Dr. Nic Ward will present at the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) Scientific Conference in Nashville, TN this October. The AAAM Scientific Conference will focus on the “Haddon Matrix,” which addresses pre-crash, crash, and post-crash related research, as well as topics that explore ways to eliminate road traffic injuries worldwide. Nic’s presentation is titled, “Preliminary data to identify cultural predictors of impaired driving from combining alcohol and cannabis.

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.

Safety Center Announces August Webinar on Rural Bike Safety

The National Center for Rural Road Safety (Safety Center) is hosting a free 1.5-hour online webinar, entitled “Designing for Rural Bike Safety.” This webinar will provide an overview of why bicycle travel should be included in rural transportation networks. Participants will gain an understanding of key safety principles for bicyclists, and learn about design treatments, countermeasures, and the latest guidance. The webinar will be held on Thursday, August 16, 2018 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Mountain Time). For more information and to register, click here.

Teachers Translate Transportation Research into Classroom Experiences

At the West Region Transportation Workforce Center (WRTWC), the first Research Experience for Teachers in Innovative Transportation Systems (ITS-RET) program is well underway. Ten middle, high school, and community college faculty participants are conducting multidisciplinary transportation research for six weeks at Montana State University this summer. The research topic areas focus on the unique challenges of rural transportation systems and developing solutions to transportation challenges through innovation. In addition to working with faculty and research mentors on research, the ITS-RET participants are translating their research experiences into classroom curricula.

On July 31 and August 1, the teachers were able to implement new teaching materials they developed during a two-day workshop held for middle and high school students. The classroom activities demonstrated what an excellent vehicle transportation is for integrated STEM learning. The young workshop participants were able to hone computational thinking skills during a programming challenge, test the strength of different materials, build and test crash attenuators, and use drones to survey a landscape before designing and building wildlife crossing structures. The classroom modules will be posted to the WRTWC website next month as a resource for other teachers. Teachers interested in participating in the RET program next summer can visit the Center website for additional information: http://wrtwc.org/resources/for-educators/

View the WTI project description

Students try out new teaching materials for designing and building wildlife crossing structures. Part of the Teachers in Innovative Transportation Systems (ITS-RET) program.
Students try out new teaching materials for designing and building wildlife crossing structures.

Students try out new teaching materials for computational thinking skills. Part of the Teachers in Innovative Transportation Systems (ITS-RET) program.
Students try out new teaching materials for computational thinking skills.

Students try out new teaching materials for designing and building wildlife crossing structures. Part of the Teachers in Innovative Transportation Systems (ITS-RET) program.
Students try out new teaching materials for designing and building wildlife crossing structures.

WRTWC is sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and based at the Western Transportation Institute.