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Infrastructure Longevity and Sustainability

The Infrastructure Longevity and Sustainability program area at WTI pursues research to improve the design, construction, and maintenance of rural highway infrastructure, with a focus on physical longevity and environmental sustainability.

Our unique expertise centers on addressing challenges faced by transportation agencies responsible for operating road networks in a rural environment:

  • Designing and maintaining low-volume roads, including paving options, dust control, and condition monitoring
  • Identifying cost-effective and durable structural materials, including newer alternatives such as recycled and geosynthetic options
  • Managing roadside environmentsthat affect structural integrity, including slope stability, erosion control, and vegetation management.

The Challenge

In recent reports, the nation’s aging transportation infrastructure has received poor ratings due to increasing demands and limited resources for maintenance and expansion. The issue is often magnified in rural areas, where limited routes and budgets require tough decisions to be made on road and bridge maintenance and surfacing. To address this challenge, we utilize the knowledge of the past and innovative solutions to find solutions to maintenance, preservation, and new construction needs.

What We Do

With our in-house research staff and affiliated faculty, our program features a diverse combination of expertise in civil, mechanical, and industrial engineering, materials science and engineering, environmental science, road ecology, data analysis and modeling, and related field. We offer inter-disciplinary teams that serve complex user needs.

Our end goal is to provide tools and resources that facilitate the daily operations, management and planning responsibilities of transportation practitioners.  Examples of recent projects include:

  • Developing an App to document, rate, and track unstable slope conditions in public lands
  • As the state of the practice of on unpaving and development of guide for unpaving
  • Formulating a non-proprietary, affordable version of ultra-high performance concrete using locally-sourced materials for the Montana Department of Transportation.
  • Identifying best practices that facilitate identification, inspection and maintenance of culverts and other underground drainage infrastructure assets, including recommendations for implementation of a Culvert Asset Management System (CAMS).

Our Research Partners

As a pioneer in the field of rural transportation solutions, WTI has been at the forefront of developing specialized research partnerships to meet rural infrastructure needs.

  • WTI spearheaded the creation of the Road Dust Institute, which expanded into the Unpaved Roads Institute, in partnership with the University of Alaska, Fairbanks; the University of California, Davis; and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
  • WTI plays a leadership role in the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on Low Volume Roads and was recently selected to host the TRB International Conference on Low Volume Roads in Montana in 2019.

We also work closely with many other prominent research partners, including:

  • National Center for Rural Road Safety
  • Center for Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates (University of Alaska, Fairbanks)
  • USDOT, National Cooperative Highway Research Programs
  • World Bank
  • National Academy of Sciences, Transportation Research Board
  • American Public Works Association
  • International Erosion Control Association
  • Montana Local Transportation Assistance Program (LTAP)

Contact us to find out how to put this multi-disciplinary group to work for you and fast-track your needs for problem-driven, solution-oriented research.