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Development of a Cold Region Rural Transportation Test Bed in Lewistown, Montana

Started: September, 2006 Ended: September, 2012 Project ID #4W1352 Status: Completed


To improve transportation maintenance, operations and safety with cold-regions research through the collaboration of academia, industry and government.


Northern tier states as well as many countries must address similar issues regarding the impacts of harsh winter conditions on operation and maintenance activities, and how these activities affect the environment, roadway infrastructure, and travelers safety. Oftentimes it becomes necessary to research innovative designs, maintenance practices and technology applications to address these challenges. However, conducting this type of research can create a public nuisance or safety hazard. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, transportation research can oftentimes be one-dimensional. For example, winter maintenance has many interrelated issues such as road surface friction and travelers safety, environmental concerns to surrounding ecosystems, optimal timing of mitigation measures, and impacts to infrastructure. Researchers worldwide recognize and appreciate the multidimensional aspects of this type of research, yet do not have the opportunity to simultaneously study them in a controlled environment. The Western Transportation Institute was recently given the opportunity to create a nationally recognized transportation research test bed for national and international researchers to study rural transportation issues related to design, maintenance and operations in a colder climate using the runways, taxiways, and other underutilized assets at the Lewistown airport. This transportation research test bed will provide an excellent opportunity to pool resources from various partners to answer a variety of basic and applied transportation research questions. For instance, a research project to study the performance of various roadway deicing chemicals may coincidentally investigate a host of concerns related to their use such as, their affect on the frictional characteristics of the road surface, impacts to adjacent vegetation and bodies of water, or corrosive impacts to vehicle or highway infrastructure. The opportunity to control and study multiple test variable associated with a particular research topic is afforded by the large-scale laboratory-like facility at the Lewistown airport. The overall objective of this efforts is to develop the existing Lewistown airport facility to be a state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary research facility capable of addressing multiple transportation challenges. By establishing a single research facility that has the capability to conduct a broad array of transportation research will save much needed resources over time.


Sponsors & Partners

  • U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Sponsor
  • Research and Innovation Technology Administration (RITA) Sponsor

Part of: Infrastructure Maintenance and Materials, Infrastructure Longevity and Sustainability

Project Tagged In: Cold-Region Transportation Test Bed

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