Kay Fitzpatrick, senior research engineer and manager of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Roadway Design Program, has received numerous awards over the course of her 33-year career at TTI. But the one she received at the 15th International Conference on Managed Lanes in Miami, Florida, held May 4-6, holds special significance.
Fitzpatrick accepted the inaugural Dennis Christiansen Award for Excellence in Managed Lane Applied Research after leading the recently completed National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Project 15-49, which created Guidelines for Implementing Managed Lanes.
“It’s a pure coincidence that a TTI researcher is the first winner of the Dennis Christiansen Award,” says Chuck Fuhs, co-chair of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Managed Lanes Committee. “The award subcommittee reviewed all of the research projects, and Guidelines for Implementing Managed Lanes was the most deserving of the Christiansen Award. The document will certainly become the bible for planning, design, operations and maintenance of managed lanes. It’s that significant.”
Fuhs explains that Christiansen was among the pioneers of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane research and successfully petitioned TRB to create a managed lanes committee in 1987.
“Dennis Christiansen has been involved in managed lanes since its beginnings in the 1970s, and that’s why naming an award after him was so logical—and probably overdue,” Fuhs explains. “Years ago, Dennis became co-chair of the committee he helped to establish, and is currently an emeritus member.”
TTI researchers who worked on NCHRP 15-49 included and led the research in specific topic areas were Marcus Brewer, Sue Chrysler and Nick Wood. Other TTI researchers contributing to the project were Raul Avelar, Tomas Lindheimer, Beverly Kuhn and Ginger Goodin.
“This award stands out for me because it is named for the current director of TTI,” notes Fitzpatrick. “It shows a continuity in TTI’s leadership in this topic area. Dennis was a key player in the HOV arena when research first started, and TTI staff continue to be key players in advancing the profession knowledge on this topic. We may be calling it by a different name now—managed rather than HOV lanes—but the overall goal remains: investigating and promoting the best use of our roadway space in moving people.”