Kalispell, Montana proved to be an ideal venue for the 12th TRB International Conference on Low Volume Roads, held in late September. Sponsored by the Transportation Research Board and co-sponsored by the Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the conference welcomed 250 participants from 22 countries who experienced low volume roads in northwest Montana firsthand. The conference provided 27 sessions covering 104 presentations, six hands-on workshops, and a field tour highlighting demonstrations of a variety of low volume road management tools.
The Western Transportation Institute (WTI) at Montana State University served as the local host and worked on site details for two years in preparation for this enormous event. WTI researchers Laura Fay, Natalie Villwock-Witte, Jaime Sullivan, Ahmed Al-Kaisy, and Matt Ulberg, Director of Montana Local Technical Assistance Program presented at the conference.
Conference organizer, David Jones, University of California, Davis, was excited that the conference took place in a rural setting where the knowledge shared is most needed. “Since 1975, this conference has been held every four years and provides a forum for the exchange of information and innovative ideas on all aspects of low volume roads,” said Jones. “This year’s conference continues that long tradition. Kalispell, with Glacier National Park nearby, is a beautiful area of the country and our local hosts excelled in providing a great venue with plenty of opportunities for activities.”
Colin Brooks and Rick Dobson of Michigan Technological University demonstrate an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) during the LVR field tour.
Highway agencies systemically screen the road network to identify those sites that are expected to yield the greatest safety benefits from an investment of available improvement funds. Traditional methods for identifying candidate locations tend to focus on well-travelled roadways that experience higher crash frequencies, despite the fact that many low-volume roads may have high levels of risk due to their geometric and roadside features (e.g. curves, low visibility). Further, many of the crashes on remote local roads, particularly those with lower severities, may go unreported.
On behalf of the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), WTI will develop a methodology for identifying and prioritizing hazardous locations on local roads at the network level that are deserving of safety improvement funds. Another objective is to engage Montana counties to work closely with MDT on the development of both the methodology and future safety improvement projects. This project will provide MDT with guidance for its safety improvement programs, enhance its outreach efforts to local agencies, and support its Vision Zero safety initiatives.
Plan now to attend the 12th TRB International Conference on Low Volume Roads, being held September 15–18, 2019 in Kalispell, Montana. Register by May 15 to take advantage of the reduced Early Bird rate. WTI is the local host for this conference, so please help spread the word to colleagues in your network.
The conference will provide a global forum to examine new technologies and new techniques in the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of low-volume roads. Panelists will explore case studies and practical solutions to common problems related to all aspects of low-volume roads.
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.
WTI Research Scientist Laura Fay was interviewed last week by MINNPOST.com on the topic of local road agencies that choose to unpave roads. The discussion focused on Laura’s research sponsored by the Transportation Research Board, in which she surveyed local, state, or federal agencies on how they manage low-volume roads. The survey identified nearly 70 road projects in 27 states in which the road agency chose to convert a road to an unpaved, gravel road instead of re-paving it. The project will also result in a guidebook to help local officials decide if unpaving a road is safe and cost-effective. Read the full article here or go to the WTI website for more information about the research project.
WTI will host the 12th Transportation Research Board (TRB) International Conference on Low Volume Roads on September 15-18, 2019 in Kalispell, Montana. Sponsored by TRB, this conference examines new technologies and new techniques in the planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and administration of low-volume roads. Panelists will explore case studies and practical solutions to common problems related to all aspects of low-volume roads. TRB, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences, announced the dates in its November 20 newsletter. For more information, contact Laura Fay at WTI or Nancy Whiting (firstname.lastname@example.org) at TRB.
We have created a Facebook group for family and guests of attendees in order to share information about activities in the area. Feel free to request to join the group.
Guests of Montana TRB Conference on Low Volume Roads