As the lifeblood of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the almost 220 standing committees cover all areas of transportation, with a variety of volunteer members from the public and private sectors. Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) researchers currently serve TRB in various capacities, from committee chairs to technical paper peer reviewers to session planners, and in numerous other positions. TTI researchers have been instrumental in establishing and leading committees to address critical issues in transportation.
Fostering Dialog on Emerging Issues in Global Trade
The Committee on International Trade and Transportation was established in 1986 in response to the rapid growth in global trade. Then–TTI Associate Director William J. Harris, Jr., served as the first committee chair, establishing a strong foundation of research, collaboration and outreach. TTI Research Scientist Juan Villa continues that service 33 years later, first as committee secretary and then chair in 2017.
Given the broad scope of international trade, collaborating with other committees and diverse stakeholders has been a hallmark of the committee. Through annual meeting workshops and sessions, mid-year meetings, and conferences, the committee encourages dialog on emerging issues including the impact of new technologies, infrastructure needs, and innovative policies and programs.
From High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes to High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes to Managed Lanes
Interest generated from multiple HOV conferences in the 1980s led to the establishment of the Task Force on HOV Systems, sponsored by the TRB Committee on Freeway Operations. TTI Executive Director Emeritus Dennis Christiansen and Don Capelle of Parson Brinkerhoff served as co-chairs of the task force. Capelle became chair and Christiansen secretary when the task force became a committee in 1989.
A task force and committee member, TTI Executive Associate Director Katie Turnbull served as the second committee chair from 1995 to 2001. Through meetings and conferences across North America, the committee led in sharing best practices and lessons learned, and in developing and monitoring research needs statements for state and national programs. With the advent of electronic tolling and increased interest in congestion pricing, the committee name evolved to the HOV/HOT Committee and then the Managed Lanes Committee. TTI Senior Research Engineer Ginger Goodin provided leadership as the fourth chair from 2007 to 2013. TTI leadership continues today with Assistant Research Engineer Nick Wood serving as the committee research coordinator.
Asphalt Collaborations and Expanded Technology Transfer
Originating in the 1950s, the current Committee on Critical Issues and Emerging Technologies in Asphalt is one of the longest standing TRB committees. Chairs from TTI and Texas A&M University have included Fred Benson, TTI’s first director, Executive Associate Director Jon Epps, and retired Research Engineer Joe Button, who all provided leadership at key points in the committee’s history. Benson’s service in the 1950s and 1960s established the initial committee focus on exploring and moving into practice innovative concepts. Epps (1980s–1990s) and Button (2000–2006) continued this tradition and provided a forum for emerging topics and expanded technology transfer.
The committee has a rich history of nurturing collaboration among academia, state departments of transportation, industry and other stakeholders, including active involvement in the Strategic Highway Research Program. The benefits are evident in the numerous committee-led TRB circulars and e-circulars, annual meeting sessions, and National Cooperative Highway Research Program projects.
Promoting Best Practices for Pedestrians and Bicyclists
Since the early 1970s, the Pedestrian Committee has been instrumental in identifying and promoting needed research, sharing best practices for safer facility designs and operations, and nurturing younger professionals. Since 2001, TTI Research Scientist Shawn Turner has been an active participant in the committee and section, serving as committee chair from 2008 to 2014 and becoming chair of the Pedestrians and Cycles Section in 2014.
One of Turner’s major accomplishments as committee and section chair was to formalize the Bicycle and Pedestrian Data Subcommittee, a joint subcommittee of the Travel Monitoring, Bicycle Transportation, Pedestrian Transportation and Travel Survey Methods Committees, in 2011. The subcommittee has led the way in identifying emerging, critical and cross-cutting issues and opportunities to enhance bicycle and pedestrian data-collection technologies, methods, and management techniques. TTI Associate Research Scientist Phil Lasley serves as the subcommittee secretary; Turner, who is completing his term as section chair, continues his volunteer service as the subcommittee paper review coordinator.