Awards and More

Horsley presented Director’s Research Champion Award

John Horsley and Dennis Christiansen

TTI Director Dennis Christiansen (right) presents John Horsley with the 2008 TTI Director's Research Champion Award.

John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), was presented with the 2008 Texas Transportation Institute Director’s Research Champion Award at TTI‘s January 11 reception at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. The award is sponsored by Trinity Industries in memory of Kenneth W. Lewis.

The Director’s Research Champion Award recognizes individuals at the national level who have been strong and effective advocates for transportation research. Horsley received the 2008 award for his leadership in advancing transportation research. From 1993 to 1999 he served at the U.S. Department of Transportation. As Associate Deputy Secretary, he was an advocate for intermodal policies, quality of life initiatives, and liaison to State and Local Governments, U.S. Congress, and transportation constituencies.

A native of the Northwest, Horsley was elected to five terms as County Commissioner in Kitsap County, a community just west of Seattle. He is a graduate of Harvard, an Army veteran, a former Peace Corps volunteer and Congressional aide, and did graduate study at Georgetown. He is Past President of the National Association of Counties and was founding Chairman of the Rebuild America Coalition.

2009 Texas Transportation Forum

On January 5, some 1,200 transportation professionals gathered in Austin, Texas, for the Fourth Annual Texas Transportation Forum. Executive Director of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Amadeo Saenz told the crowd that finding adequate funding for transportation will be TxDOT‘s priority in the coming year. He referred to the recent findings of the 2030 Committee that showed Texas will need to spend $315 billion to maintain the current quality of highways over the next 22 years.

Several of the forum speakers said it was time that Texas approved an increase in the fuel tax, or at least tied it to inflation. Since the early 1990s, the Texas Legislature has turned down similar proposals. Keynote speaker T. Boone Pickens, founder of BP Capital, detailed his now-famous plan to reduce our dependency on foreign oil with the help of wind power and natural gas.

TxDOT, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the Associated General Contractors and the Texas Good Roads Transportation Association co-hosted the forum. The Fifth Annual Texas Transportation Forum will be held January 6-8, 2010, in Austin, Texas.

Work Zone Clearinghouse spreads safety worldwide

group receiving an International Road Federation award

Receiving an International Road Federation award for their group's work on the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse are (from left to right) Morris Oliver of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Brad Sant of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, Joe Toole of FHWA, Research Librarian Hong Yu and Director Dennis Christiansen of TTI.

The effort to make highway work zones safer worldwide has led to a Global Road Achievement Award for the Texas Transportation Institute’s (TTI‘s) National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse. The International Road Federation award was presented in Washington, D.C., January 12.

“This global award is a great honor for TTI and all of the other groups involved in this endeavor,” says Jerry Ullman, manager of TTI‘s Work Zone Program. “We have all come together to make a real difference in making work zones safer.” (An estimated 1,000 people are killed and 45,000 injured in U.S. roadway work zones each year.)

The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse is the largest online resource for roadway construction safety. The clearinghouse is a joint effort of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, the Federal Highway Administration and TTI. Since it went online in 1998, the clearinghouse has assisted half a million users from every state and 27 countries.

Visitors to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse website “can find a wealth of information about crash data, laws and regulations, safety standards, research publications, training courses and safety products’just about anything related to work zone safety,” says Research Librarian Hong Yu, who maintains the website. “If they cannot find what they are looking for on our website, they can always contact us for help.”

Button retires, can’t say goodbye

Joe Button and family

TTI Senior Research Fellow Joe Button and his family at a reception ceremony in his honor.

Some 40 years later, Senior Research Fellow Joe Button knew he had made the right decision to start working for the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) as a chemical engineering student in 1968. “TTI was created when I was six years old, but I got here as fast as I could,” he told attendees of his retirement party December 12.

Former bosses, colleagues and people who worked for Button took turns at the podium but were a bit redundant in their descriptions of the man for whom they hold enormous respect — using words like “dependable,” “professional,” “devoted” and “reputable.”

“You have to look a long time to find someone more sincere,” said Assistant Agency Director Gene Buth, who was first to hire Button for TTI 40 years ago at the Riverside Campus. Buth was not surprised about Button’s accomplishments. “He became one of the world’s leading experts in pavements.”

Earlier this year, Button was the recipient of the TTI/Trinity Industries Charley V. Wootan Career Achievement for Research Award, which was announced at TTI Day.

Despite his retirement, Button has decided four decades is not enough. He will continue working at TTI — on a part-time basis.

Tim Lomax honored by A&M System Board of Regents

Bill Jones, Tim and Jeannine Lomax, and John White

Chairman of the Texas A&M Board of Regents Bill Jones (left) and Vice Chairman John White (right) pose with Tim Lomax and his wife, Jeannine, after Lomax was honored with the Regents Fellow Service Award.

World-renowned for his work on the Texas Transportation Institute’s (TTI‘s) Urban Mobility Report, Research Engineer Tim Lomax has been awarded the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents’ highest honor. Lomax was presented with the Regents Fellow Service Award during ceremonies held Dec. 4.

The Regents Fellow Service Award is reserved for those A&M System employees “who have provided exemplary professional service to society that has created large and lasting benefits to Texas and beyond.”

“I am extremely honored to receive this award,” Lomax said. “I’m not usually speechless, but how does one person accept an award that is a reflection of a team effort? My wife and son, researchers in the Mobility Analysis Program and many other colleagues at TTI have created an incredible environment. It’s easy to provide ‘exemplary service’ when you collaborate with creative, hard-working people on interesting projects for sponsors who appreciate our ideas—I am only a small part of that process.”

The Regents Fellow Service Award was established in 1998. So far, 66 agency professionals have been named Regent Fellows including four others from TTI: Hayes Ross, Gene Buth, Dock Burke and Dennis Christiansen.

“I am in great company,” Lomax observed.

At a dinner in their honor, Regents Fellows received a $9,000 stipend, a commemorative medallion and a certificate.

SWUTC celebrates milestone, shared accomplishments

Since its beginning in 1988, the Southwest Region University Transportation Center (SWUTC) has grown into one of the most highly respected University Transportation Centers (UTC) in the U.S. DOT-sponsored program. Dock Burke, SWUTC director, is quick to identify the institutional sources of the center’s accomplishments.

“There are two main reasons why SWUTC has flourished since October of 1988,” Burke notes, “and those are our strong and continuous support from TTI [SWUTC is headquartered within the Institute] and the robust collegial relationship with our consortium partners: Texas A&M University; The University of Texas at Austin and its Center for Transportation Research; and Texas Southern University and its Center for Transportation Training and Research.”

Established “to advance U.S. technology and expertise in the many disciplines comprising transportation through the mechanisms of education, research and technology transfer,” SWUTC is one of 10 regional UTCs around the country founded with federal grants that must be matched on the state level.

In 1992, the Texas Legislature approved TTI‘s request for matching funds from the State of Texas. “That one act did more to stabilize our funding base than anything else,” Burke says. More recently, TxDOT has become an active partner in the research project evaluation and selection process.

“With the 20-year anniversary of SWUTC upon us, it’s time to reflect and re-emphasize the unique qualities of the UTC program. Our consortium colleagues on the teaching and research faculties provide the core energy for our enterprise. The students’ educational experiences are greatly enhanced by their SWUTC activities.”

27th Annual Texas Aviation Conference

27th Annual Texas Aviation Conference; May 11-13, 2009; Austin, Texas