TTI aids Mexican government with GPR
In an effort to make sure its new road construction meets specifications, the Mexican state of Coahuila has turned to the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) for help in obtaining a ground penetrating radar (GPR)-equipped vehicle. Officials from Coahuila took possession of the system June 4. TTI also trained Mexican transportation personnel to operate the system and its software, COLORMAP and PAVECHECK. The software was developed by researchers at TTI lead by Tom Scullion, manager of TTI’s Flexible Pavements Program.
GPR is a nondestructive geophysical method that “sees” underground and produces a record of subsurface features—without drilling, probing, digging or coring. Since 1988, researchers at TTI have been developing, testing and implementing GPR technology for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to use in its road repair and maintenance activities. GPR can monitor changes in layer thickness of pavements and detect areas of either trapped moisture or air voids beneath the roadways. Keeping track of these factors is vital to efficient roadway maintenance.
“We are receiving worldwide interest in GPR,” Scullion says. “An official from the Malaysian government visited just a week ago to take a look at our Texas system.” Scullion acknowledges TxDOT’s efforts to spread the word about GPR as being a big reason for the technology’s growing popularity. “We are excited about having GPR in Mexico,” said Ricardo de León Garcia, Coahuila’s verification director. “It will allow us to inspect new and old roads very quickly, and will save us time and money.” Garcia says the GPR vehicle cost his government $82,000 but will more than pay for itself in the long run.
Little receives major recognition
Senior Research Fellow Dallas Little has been recognized by the Association of Asphalt Pavement Technologists due “to his many services to the association, for his research efforts, his publications, and because of the high esteem in which he is held.” The association’s award of recognition is presented each year and represents the fourth award Little has received from the organization.
“It is very special for me personally to be so honored by this preeminent department and distinguished colleagues with whom I have had the pleasure of working,” said Little, an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). “I have the honor of holding a (master’s) degree from UIUC, which makes this all the more special.”
82nd Annual Transportation Short Course
The 82nd Annual Texas Department of Transportation Short Course will be held at Texas A&M University’s Rudder Auditorium October 14-15. Both TxDOT and the Texas Transportation Institute are proud of this long-standing record of collaboration and cooperation. Over the years, the Short Course has provided a unique opportunity for these two agencies to exchange important technical information that improves transportation in Texas.
Register for this event at http://tti.tamu.edu/conferences/tsc08/.
Upcoming Statewide Traffic Safety Conference
Researchers, engineers, law enforcement personnel and many others are facing challenges to do more to help reduce the estimated 43,000 deaths occurring on our highways each year.
In an inaugural conference focusing entirely on safety, the Texas Transportation Institute’s Center for Transportation Safety (CTS), the Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Texas Department of Transportation are organizing the first Statewide Traffic Safety Conference in Houston November 17-19, 2008.
Topics at the conference will include young and old driving behaviors, alcohol and safety planning. Motorcycle, pedestrian and bicycle safety, as well as crash data, enforcement technologies and freight safety, will also be highlighted.
“Progress is being made every year in making transportation safer,” says CTS Director John Mounce. “It’s our hope that this conference will highlight the things that are working and focus more attention on areas that still need improvement.” Engineering issues and federal safety initiatives will also be discussed.
Register for this event at http://tti.tamu.edu/conferences/traffic_safety/.
Federal funding accelerates teen driving safety
With over 100 Texas high schools in some phase of deploying Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS) initiatives, new federal funding totaling $343,000—announced by U.S. Representative Ciro Rodriquez in April—will help the Texas Transportation Institute’s teen driver safety program continue to grow.
TDS is America’s first peer-to-peer program that alerts young drivers to the distractions and behaviors that are responsible for the majority of teen crashes: driving at night, using a cell phone, texting, having too many teen passengers, speeding, not wearing a seat belt, and drinking and driving. Every year, 6,000 teenagers die in U.S. car crashes. That’s more than 16 dead teens every day.
“We are, in fact, facing an epidemic and a public health crisis,” Rodriquez said at a San Antonio news conference April 7. “There is an important role for law enforcement and parents, but the most important role is the one taken on by young drivers. That’s what Teens in the Driver Seat is all about, and I want to congratulate the young people behind me.”
The funding for TDS was part of a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration special appropriation approved by Congress.
Students learn TTI Message: Transportation can be fun
A group of 61 students—who normally would not have the opportunity to learn about engineering—toured the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) for a behind-the-scenes look at transportation research, including crash testing, driving simulation and transportation technology. The idea was to focus on areas of interest for 12- to 14-year-olds and perhaps open their eyes to exciting careers in transportation.
The students from a Harker Heights middle school are part of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program. AVID’s goal is to reach out to “average” students who are capable of succeeding in college but may not have the right motivation to reach their full potential.
“It was very rewarding to see these young people asking questions and being engaged,” says TTI Associate Research Engineer Melisa Finley, who organized the tour. “For many of the kids, you could tell a light went on. I think TTI sparked their interest.”
TTI Day emphasizes leadership and teamwork
It was clear that the 15th TTI Day, held April 29, was aptly named “Mission: Possible” after hearing Agency Director Dennis Christiansen’s state of the institute presentation. Christiansen emphasized numerous positive developments and initiatives for the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), including:
- a 40 percent increase in non-Texas Department of Transportation expenditures;
- about $1 million in international contract work;
- the successful dissemination of the 2007 Urban Mobility Report, which received lead story status from every major TV network and newspaper in the country;
- the current negotiations underway for implementing TTI’s Universal Freight Shuttle; and
- the overwhelmingly positive results from the employee Survey of Organizational Excellence.
2008 TTI Day Award Winners
TTI/Trinity Administrative Professional Staff Award
Walter R. Simpson III
TTI/Trinity Administrative Support Staff Award
TTI/Trinity Administrative Technical Support Award
TTI/Trinity Research Support Staff
Linda S. Chatham
TTI/Trinity Research Technical Support
TTI/Trinity New Researcher Award
Jodi L. Carson, Ph.D., P.E.
TTI/Trinity Researcher Award
Anthony Voigt, P.E.
TTI/Trinity Senior Researcher Award
Gerald (Jerry) Ullman
TTI/Trinity Charles J. ‘Jack’ Keese Career Achievement for Agency Support Award
TTI/Trinity Charley V. Wootan Career Achievement for Research Award
Joseph Wade Button
TTI/Trinity TTI Team Award
2007 Transportation Short Course Planning Committee