Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) researchers joined nearly 12,000 attendees from around the world at the 93rd annual meeting of the National Academies’ Transportation Research Board (TRB) Jan. 12–16 in Washington, D.C. This year’s attendance set a new record.
“TTI researchers continue to play leadership roles in all aspects of TRB,” notes Katie Turnbull, TTI executive associate director and chair of the TRB Technical Activities Council. “Researchers at all levels within the Institute were active chairing and attending committee meetings, presiding at sessions, and delivering papers and invited presentations. In addition, TTI Communications developed a new video for TRB that opened the New and Young Members Welcome Session.”
Several TTI researchers were recognized with special awards during the annual meeting. Both the Committee on Operational Effects of Geometrics — chaired by TTI Roadway Design Program Manager Kay Fitzpatrick — and the Committee on Geometric Design received TRB‘s Blue Ribbon Award for Advancing Research. Other TTI researchers on these committees include Research Engineer Karen Dixon, Assistant Research Engineer Vichika Iragavarapu and Associate Research Engineer Marcus Brewer. The two committees jointly developed a strategic geometric design research program in consultation with the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials Technical Committee on Geometric Design.
TTI Transportation Planning Program Manager Ed Hard and Research Scientist and Mobility Management Program Manager Stacey Bricka are members of TRB‘s Travel Survey Methods Committee, which received the Blue Ribbon Award for Communications. This award recognizes the committee’s work providing the travel-survey community with access to the best, most current information on travel-survey methods.
TTI Executive Associate Director Jon Epps was appointed as a new emeritus member of the Committee on General Issues in Asphalt Technology. The emeritus membership category recognizes the long-term contributions and outstanding service of individuals through participation in TRB standing committees.
TTI Roadside Safety Program Manager Roger Bligh, Associate Transportation Researcher Dusty Arrington and Rory Meza of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) were honored by the TRB Design and Construction Group with the Practice-Ready Paper Award. The paper, “MASH TL-2 Guardrail-to-Bridge Rail Transition Compatible with 31-Inch Guardrail,” received the top honor from among the almost 1,000 papers reviewed by the 60 committees that comprise the group. A Practice-Ready Paper Award is bestowed each year based on the potential for immediate implementation in the design and construction of transportation facilities, and is selected using criteria that include “readability, breadth of applicability and impact.”
TTI Research Engineer Melisa Finley won the best paper award in the TRB Committee on Work Zone Traffic Control. Her paper, “Field Evaluation of Automated Flagger Assistance Devices (AFADS) in Work Zones on Two-Lane Roads,” details a two-year research project sponsored by TxDOT. The AFADs are operated remotely by flaggers, away from the danger of work-zone traffic. As a result of the research, TxDOT has used AFADs in nearly every district across the state.
Kay Fitzpatrick, TTI Assistant Transportation Researcher James Robertson and TTI Associate Research Scientist Raul Avelar received the top award in the TRB Pedestrian Committee for their paper, “Closed-Course Study of Driver Detection of Pedestrians Beyond Flashing Beacons Within a Sign Assembly.”
In addition, TTI conducted four focus groups at the annual meeting to assist TRB with updating the TRB Strategic Plan. Moderated by Associate Research Scientist Tina Geiselbrecht, manager of TTI‘s Public Engagement Planning Program, the four focus groups included members of the young members’ council; university representatives; committee, section, group and panel chairs; and a cross section of additional transportation professionals. Results of the focus-group meetings will be combined with a survey to assist the TRB Executive Committee in the development of a new strategic plan.