TTI Shines at ITE Annual Meeting
The Texas Transportation Institute’s Brian Bochner, Scott Cooner and the Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS) program were recognized with major honors at the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) 2007 Annual Meeting and Exhibit in August in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Bochner, a senior research engineer with the Center for Air Quality Studies and the System Planning Program, was elected as an honorary member of ITE’s International Board of Direction, ITE’s highest recognition of notable and outstanding career achievement in transportation. Bochner becomes one of only 75 honorary members since the program began in 1933. ITE currently has 17,000 members. “This is a great honor of which I am very proud, but my transportation engineering accomplishments have resulted from a labor of love for the profession,” he said. “Transportation has been very good to me and extremely enjoyable, too.”
Cooner, program manager with System Operation Management, was the recipient of the Traffic Engineering Council Outstanding Paper Award for his work entitled Operational and Safety Guidelines around Schools in Texas. “This is recognition for a subject that hits home with a lot of people, not only in Texas but across the country,” Cooner said. “I am very pleased and honored.”
Also receiving national recognition was TTI’s TDS program. Director Dennis Christiansen accepted the ITE Transportation Achievement Award in Safety on behalf of the Institute. In recognizing the program, ITE officials said, “It is America’s first peer-to-peer safety program for young drivers. Unlike other safety programs, TDS involves the teen audience directly in both the development and the delivery of safety messages, empowering young people to make a difference and save lives.”
TTI Senior Research Engineer Kay Fitzpatrick and Bochner helped a consultant and the Massachusetts Highway Department develop the 2006 MassHighway Project Development and Design Guide, which was honored with the All Users Transportation Achievement Award.
2nd Annual Texas Transportation Forum Convenes in Austin
Considering the many challenges facing transportation professionals, “Keep Texas Moving” was an apt theme for the second annual Texas Transportation Forum held in Austin on July 18-20.
The conference – hosted by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and co-sponsored by the Texas Good Roads/Transportation Association, the Associated General Contractors of Texas and the Texas Transportation Institute – sparked ideas, the sharing of knowledge and the uniting together toward a common goal of improving the transportation system in Texas.
Among the topics that emerged from the two-day conference included the increase in freight movement, the need for creative financing and updates on the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor.
Keynote speaker and expert on commuting issues Alan Pisarski offered insights on America’s unique challenge, calling it the “tyranny of distance.” Amtrak Chairman David Laney called for multimodalism to stay ahead of the competition.
In his keynote speech, Governor Rick Perry stressed the importance of teamwork and the need for using innovative financing tools to build and maintain the roadways. “We can get there from here and we are going to do it together,” said Perry.
Several of the speakers also praised outgoing TxDOT Executive Director Michael Behrens for his 37 years of service to the state of Texas. Behrens retired at the end of August.
Fighting Traffic Congestion with Teamwork
United States Representative Chet Edwards was in College Station at the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) August 27, announcing he has secured another $600,000 for a Transportation Management Center (TMC) that could become a model for other small to mid-size towns facing congestion and other traffic problems.
Edwards made the announcement at TTI’s TransLink® Laboratory, which might be used as the center’s headquarters. Edwards told reporters that such a center would “improve the quality of life and boost economic growth.”
The TMC could be used to monitor traffic with cameras set up in key locations in the community. It would also help with the coordination of traffic signals, data collection and special events planning. Bryan-College Station traffic is especially congested during the numerous Texas A&M sporting events throughout the year.
TTI Associate Agency Director Bill Stockton echoed Edwards’ comments about teamwork on the project. “The public really doesn’t care if they’re on a state road or a city of College Station road or a road in Brazos County. We want to make travel in our area seamless, and that can happen if all the entities work together.”
TTI Welcomes UT and Colombia Visitors
Three professors from Colombia who have an interest in transportation safety were treated to a tour of the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) on August 20, complete with overview presentations and a cable barrier crash test. The three educators from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia, were brought to TTI by the director of the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH), Sarah Felknor. SWCOEH is affiliated with The University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston.
“The visitors from Colombia are in Texas as part of an international training grant awarded to SWCOEH that emphasizes highway safety and traffic injury prevention, so TTI was a perfect fit,” Felknor said. “The Institute really came through for these visitors, who now have a great understanding of what you are doing in the transportation safety arena. They could not have been treated better.”
TTI’s Center for Transportation Safety (CTS) organized the visit and planned the agenda. “It was our pleasure getting to know the concerns of transportation professionals from other countries,” said CTS Director John Mounce. “This visit could lead to a working relationship with not only the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health and The University of Texas, but with Colombia as well.”
Texas Joins Deer-Vehicle Crash Reduction Research
With fall fast approaching, TTI Associate Research Scientist Keith Knapp, director of the Deer-Vehicle Crash Information and Research Center, has new reason for optimism about his work. “Last month, Texas joined the other members of our pooled-fund study that focuses on the information exchange and research needed to curtail the number of deer-vehicle crashes,” said Knapp. TxDOT’s Environmental Affairs and Maintenance divisions have representatives participating in the pooled-fund technical advisory committee. Fall is the “rut” or mating season for deer species, when many deer-vehicle crashes occur. There are an estimated one million deer-vehicle crashes each year in the United States, costing an estimated $1 billion.
Zietsman Named Center Director for Air Quality Studies
Joe Zietsman, associate research engineer in the Texas Transportation Institute’s (TTI) Center for Air Quality Studies, has been promoted to center director effective immediately. Zietsman takes over the helm from Brian Bochner, who continues as manager of the System Planning Program and who will continue to be heavily involved in TTI’s air quality research.
Zietsman has been a TTI employee since 1998, receiving numerous accolades for his research projects covering areas of air quality, sustainable transportation, performance measurement and transportation planning. He is currently principal investigator of several projects including a $3 million U.S. Environmental Protection Agency project that involves the development of a national deployment strategy for truck stop electrification, emissions testing of 2007 model year trucks and actual deployment of truck stop electrification.