New Project: Evaluating the Performance of Geosynthetic Materials for Montana DOT

Geosynthetic materials are routinely used in transportation applications to facilitate construction, improve stability, and enhance longevity. Departments of transportation have generally had good experience with these products, although a robust and non-proprietary design process for geosynthetic reinforced paved roads is still lacking. The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) believes that geosynthetics can be used responsibly to provide cost-savings on a number of upcoming highway construction projects in the state, based on their in-house experience as well as previous research and evaluation by WTI. MDT desires experimental evidence of performance for these typical projects in order to proceed with future designs.

Principal Investigator Steve Perkins is leading a new study to conduct full-scale indoor testing of reinforced pavement test sections using a traffic simulator to provide performance data and to evaluate a spreadsheet-based design tool that can be used to augment current design procedures.  The results from this study can be directly implemented into future MDT highway construction designs having similar conditions to the test sections. These recommendations will pertain most directly to operational conditions where a stable construction platform is established over relatively weak subgrade when it is advantageous to reduce base course thickness in order to save both time and money.

To follow this project, visit its webpage on the WTI website.

New Project: Developing a Severe Weather Index for Maryland DOT

A challenge that many state DOTs face is the accurate assessment of winter maintenance operations. One tool that has been successfully used by DOTs is the severe weather index (SWI), which can assess the performance and related costs associated with winter maintenance operations.  It considers the relative severity of each weather event, and relative severity of weather for that season.

Principal Investigator Laura Fay is leading a new project to develop a severe weather index for Maryland DOT by region, Maintenance Shop, and winter storm event.  Maryland DOT can use the  SWI to determine if costs incurred during each event and winter are reasonable, as well as if the resources deployed and contracted amounts are also within reason.

To follow this project, visit its webpage on the WTI website.

Marcel Huijser Presents at Two Western Wildlife Forums

Marcel Huijser

WTI Research Scientist Marcel Huijser was on the road in February, speaking at two major regional wildlife events in Colorado and California.  On February 8, he was invited to give the keynote address (“Road Ecology, are we taking the right turns?”) at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Colorado Chapter of the Wildlife Society.  On February 21, he spoke at the “Bridges and Biology” workshop hosted by the California Department of Transportation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). At this event, Marcel led a workshop session called “National and International Perspectives,” which focused on wildlife usage of crossing structures, including how to increase their effectiveness.


To learn more about Marcel’s research, visit the Road Ecology webpage.

MSU Video Shows Students “Crushing it” in the Research Lab

Professor Mike Berry and his students had the opportunity to show off their efforts to develop and test ultra-high performance concrete in a Montana State University (MSU) feature article and video published on the MSU website last week.  The research stems from a collaboration between the Montana Department of Transportation, MSU College of Engineering, and WTI to formulate an affordable version of ultra-high performance concrete with materials available in Montana.  In the video, Berry also discusses how the research has allowed many students to gain valuable “hands-on” experience testing the strength and durability of construction materials in the lab.  The story also gained national attention last week when it was featured in the Daily Transportation Update of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).  The article, photos, and video are available on the MSU website, and more project information is available on the project’s webpage.

Webinar: Rural Transportation Planning Organizations

Logo for Nation Center for Rural Road SafetyMarch Webinar – Rural Transportation Planning Organizations.

The National Center for Rural Road Safety (Safety Center) is hosting a free 1.5-hour online webinar entitled “Creating a Rural Transportation Planning Organization to Help on the Road to Zero” on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Mountain Time). This webinar will provide an overview of the FHWA funded RTPO Fact Sheets: an RTPO 101 series and an RTPO Noteworthy Practice, as well as, case studies (including tips and tricks on creation of an RTPO) from Ohio and Washington.  For more information and to register, click here.

TRB Summer Workshop on Sustainable Transportation

The Transportation Research Board Committee on Resource Conservation and Recovery (ADC 60) has announced that its summer workshop will be held July 15-17, 2018 in Spokane, WA. This year’s theme will be “Waste Recycling, Upcycling, and Sustainable Transportation.” The call for presentation and poster abstracts is now open, and the deadline is April 9, 2018.  Submission information is available here.

One-Stop Shop Selected as Model for “Research Pays Off”

Cover of December 2017 TRNews Magazine - Feature Article One Stop ShopCongratulations to the One-Stop Shop Traveler Information project, which was featured in the November/December 2017 issue of TR News Magazine, published by the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board. Caltrans Senior Transportation Engineer Sean Campbell and WTI Principal Investigator Doug Galarus authored the article, entitled “The One-Stop Shop: Traveler Information Tool for Multistate Road Trips,” which was selected for a three-page feature in the “Research Pays Off” section of the magazine. The One-Stop Shop application is an umbrella website that can be used as a primary point of reference for trip planning over an 11-state region. It was created through an ongoing research collaboration that began in 2010 between the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Western States Rural Consortium (WSRTC), and the Western Transportation Institute. The article describes how the tool developed from a proof-of-concept project to an internet and mobile application that benefits a broad range of users, including long-distance travelers, local and state transportation agency personnel, emergency responders, and commercial vehicle operators. Additional information is available at the WSRTC website and the WTI website.

View the article ( TRNews OSS Dec2017)

WTI Deicer Research Presented by Laura Fay at National Ecosystem Institute

Laura Fay presents at National Ecosystems Institute
Laura Fay presents deicer research at national event (photo courtesy of the Cary Institute)

Last week, the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies invited WTI Research Scientist Laura Fay to present an overview of her research on winter maintenance deicers at the Institute’s main facility in Millbrook, New York. Laura’s presentation, entitled “Best Management Practices, a National Perspective,” provided an overview of typical deicers, including how and when they are used. In addition, she highlighted easy to implement best management practices that help transportation agencies reduce the amount of deicers they apply to the road, which in turn reduces the impact of deicing practices to the surrounding environment. The Cary Institute is a nationally and internationally recognized independent research organization, focused on understanding how ecosystems work and identifying factors that drive ecological change.