Last week, Explore Big Sky published a special feature on its picks for the most important local news stories of the year. Top of the list – the $10 million federal TIGER grant awarded to the Big Sky, Montana region for roadway, transit, and trail improvements. In the article, WTI Program Manager David Kack discusses working with partners in the Big Sky community to identify critical transportation needs and develop the successful proposal. More information about the grant is available on the WTI news page.
Laura Fay, David Kack and Natalie Villwock-Witte (PI) recently traveled to the Jasper, Texas area for six meetings related to the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) transportation voucher program. This pilot project will show how transportation vouchers can be used to provide basic mobility to those who have limited options. Meetings were held in Jasper, as well as Ivanhoe, Newton, Pineland and San Augustine. Similar to many rural areas in Montana, people in the DETCOG area often travel 45 miles or so (one way) for groceries, medical care, and other essential services. Currently, this pilot project is focused on those who are 60 years old or older. The long-term vision is to secure additional funding so that those with low incomes or a disability will also be able to use the voucher program.
The pilot program should start in May and will include approximately 25 participants. Demand for the vouchers already exceeds existing funding, so data from the pilot project will be used to reach out to potential funding sources. The WTI staff is supporting the DETCOG staff to ensure that this program can grow and meet the needs in this rural part of Texas. The new program was big news in the City of Ivanhoe – the photo shows the City marquee informing community members about the meeting to discuss the voucher program.
For the second time in less than six months, TR News magazine has selected a WTI project for its “Research Pays Off” section, which highlights research that has produced tangible and valuable benefits. “Wyoming Intercity Bus Service Study: Finding and Filling the Gaps in Rural Areas” is featured in the March/April 2018 issue of TR News, published by the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board. Authored by Principal Investigator David Kack, the article describes a project conducted for the Wyoming Department of Transportation to identify potential Intercity bus routes that would increase access for underserved communities. The study led directly to the expansion of available services after a transportation provider contacted the Wyoming DOT to initiate a partnership that resulted in new service on one of the identified routes. The full article is posted on the project page.
(TR News is copyright, National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; posted with permission of the Transportation Research Board.)