TTI at TRB
The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) was well represented at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 86th Annual Meeting January 21-25 in Washington, D.C. TTI researchers presented papers on numerous topics, and chaired and participated in committee meetings and other activities.
Richardson receives CUTC award
Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) Director Emeritus Herb Richardson received the 2007 Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) Award for Distinguished Contribution to University Transportation Education and Research during a ceremony preceding the TRB annual meeting.
Awarded annually by CUTC, the honor recognizes individuals with a long history of outstanding contributions to university education and research, resulting in a lasting impact on the transportation field. Richardson was selected by the CUTC executive committee from a list of nominees submitted by council members.
“The CUTC Award for Distinguished Contribution to University Transportation Education and Research is a premier award, reserved for those whose service has been at the highest levels for an extended period, and whose accomplishments have made a significant difference,” says Dan Turner, University of Alabama, President, Council of UTC. “In simple terms, past winners are icons of our profession, and Herb Richardson certainly falls in that category.”
Herb Richardson Honored
Director Emeritus Herb Richardson received the Roy W. Crum Distinguished Service Award January 24 during the Chairman’s Luncheon. The prestigious Crum Award recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of transportation research.
Richardson retired from TTI last fall after 22 years of service to the Texas A&M University System, which included 13 years as TTI director.
Bligh Team Wins Award
Four TTI coauthors were recipients of the K.B. Woods Award for their paper entitled “Low-Deflection Portable Concrete Barrier.” The award was presented January 22.
Roger Bligh, Nauman Mansoor Sheikh, Dean Alberson and Akram Abu-Odeh were recognized for best paper in the area of design and construction of transportation facilities. The paper describes a new barrier system developed for use in a highway work zone.
Bligh was also the recipient of last year’s K.B. Woods Award.
Other Notable Events
- Ginger Goodin was named incoming chair of the High Occupancy Vehicle Systems Committee.
- Jerry Ullman was named incoming chair of the Work Zone Committee.
- Gene Hawkins was honored for his six years of service as chair of the Traffic Control Devices Committee.
- A paper by Dominique Lord and Ravi Agrawal, a former student, was selected as the best paper by young researchers by the Statistical Methodology and Statistical Computer Software in Transportation Research Committee.
Deer-Vehicle Research Set to Begin after Inaugural Meeting
Members of the eight-state Deer-Vehicle Crash Information and Research Center (DVCIR Center) Pooled Fund Project, operated through the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), held their inaugural meeting January 30-31 at the Minnesota Department of Transportation training facility in Shoreview, Minnesota. The group discussed the project organization and status and recent and ongoing deer-vehicle crash projects. They identified and prioritized potential research ideas for project funding. The Pooled Fund Project members decided to pursue four research projects that focus on defining and reducing the number of deer-vehicle crashes.
The members of the Pooled Fund Project are department of transportation employees from Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin. Those states, along with the Federal Highway Administration, have pooled their funds and have assembled more than $300,000. The Southwest Region University Transportation Center and Center for Transportation Safety at TTI are supporting sponsors of the project.
TTI Associate Research Scientist Keith Knapp, who is the director of the DVCIR Center, says the group started with more than 40 ideas and ultimately voted on nearly 20 potential projects. “This list of the top four projects will get us all moving in the right direction. Now, we have to develop the structure and focus for the projects and conduct the studies,” Knapp said.
The potential projects are:
- roadside management and policies including vegetation choices, mowing, and other factors,
- evaluation of crash data to pinpoint and prioritize trouble spots for countermeasures,
- assessment of public opinion and development of effective outreach methods and messages, and
- quantitative methodologies for the placement of existing or redesigned warning signs.
“The problem of deer-vehicle crashes is in almost each state and has been around a long time, so I’m happy that we will soon be moving forward with a plan of action,” Knapp said. Deer-vehicle crashes kill about 200 people a year and cost the traveling public more than $1 billion.
Second Annual Texas Transportation Forum
An efficient transportation network is the lifeblood of economies and communities across Texas and the nation. Join us at the second annual Texas Transportation Forum as local, regional and state leaders join national experts to discuss ways to “Keep Texas Moving.”
Proudly serving as your co-hosts are the Texas Department of Transportation, the Associated General Contractors of Texas, the Texas Good Roads Transportation Association and the Texas Transportation Institute.
Chancellor McKinney Tours TTI
Newly appointed Texas A&M University System Chancellor Michael McKinney toured the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) on March 6. TTI Director Dennis Christiansen kicked off the meeting with an overview presentation, which was followed by summaries of TTI’s work in areas including ground-penetrating radar, teen driving safety and congestion research.
“Through the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), we are doing great work in developing materials and safety devices for the transportation industry. This work is more far-reaching than most of the general public knows,” said McKinney.
McKinney heard about the Institute’s reputation and working relationships during presentations from Civil Engineering Department Head David Rosowsky, Texas Department of Transportation Research Engineer Rick Collins and TTI Council Chair David Cain.
McKinney’s visit concluded with a full-scale crash test at TTI’s Riverside Campus facility, where researchers are developing a new guardrail system.
“TTI’s contribution to the state’s economy through improving the transport of goods and materials across our roads and through our pipelines is tremendous,” McKinney said.
Jim Carvell Retires
After 26 years with the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), Senior Research Engineer Jim Carvell now has more time to fish, visit with grandchildren and play guitar with fellow engineers who make up a group of “musicians” known as Tonedef.
At his retirement reception on December 14 in Dallas, Carvell reflected on his many friends at the Institute. “I had friends and colleagues who came from Nevada, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado, Houston and College Station to wish me well,” Carvell said. “This is absolutely the best place in the world to work. There is a certain camaraderie here that you can’t find anywhere else.”
Among the speakers for his reception were TTI Director Dennis Christiansen, TTI Director Emeritus Herbert Richardson, Carvell’s former boss and TTI Houston Office head Dick McCasland, TTI Associate Director Ed Seymour and Robert Wunderlich, international director of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), who presented Carvell with a citation from the International Board. Also on hand was TTI Associate Research Engineer Jason Crawford who presented Carville with a resolution from TexITE. Carvell’s family presented TexITE with an endowed fund which will generate funds for an ITE student member to attend the annual ITE meeting.
“I am most proud of the work that has been done on freeway management projects and the relationship with TxDOT,” Carvell said.
TTI Research Engineer Receives ASCE’s Kapp Award
TTI Research Engineer and Buchanan Chair Professor of Civil Engineering Jean-Louis Briaud received the prestigious Martin S. Kapp Foundation Engineering Award during ceremonies at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Geo-Institute conference in Denver.
The Kapp Award is given on the basis of the best example of innovative or outstanding design or construction of foundations, earthworks, retaining structures, or underground construction. Emphasis is placed on constructed works where serious difficulties were overcome or where substantial economies were achieved.
Briaud’s plaque reads “for his many contributions to innovative foundation engineering through his work in academia and private consulting practice, and for his efforts leading to numerous practical innovations which have permitted difficult foundation problems to be overcome.”
TTI’s Robert Lytton Receives NOVA Award
Robert Lytton, TTI research engineer and Benson Chair Professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University, received the 2006 NOVA Award from the Construction Innovation Forum for his Pavement Composition Analysis (PCA) research.
Lytton’s award-winning research uses an air-launched, ground-penetrating radar to aid highway construction quality control. The radar is swept over a completed section of pavement to analyze its properties, including its composition, number of layers and the thickness of each layer. Engineers can then plot lane-width maps with contours of each composition element, helping them pinpoint flaws in the construction process and ultimately resulting in safer, longer-lasting roadways. This method is equivalent to analyzing 18,000 core samples in a given lane-mile of a project, while only two cores every four lane-miles is required for calibration with Lytton’s PCA method, saving both time and money.
HEART Crash Cushion wins award
The HEART Crash Cushion is much easier to say than the Hybrid Energy Absorbing Reusable Terminal. But that’s what it is. The crash cushion, developed by Texas Transportation Institute researchers Dean Alberson and Lance Bullard, is designed to be reusable after most crashes and therefore, a money saving product for taxpayers.
Alberson and Bullard were honored February 23 by the Texas A&M University System Office of Technology Commercialization during its 2007 Patent and Innovation Awards Luncheon. In all, 21 Texas A&M researchers were recognized for their ideas.
“It was a five-year project to get the HEART Crash Cushion developed, tested and patented,” Alberson said. “We came up with the idea on a notion that we could improve what was on the road at the time.”
Alberson says the Federal Highway Administration has given its acceptance to the crash cushion.
Managed Lanes Open House
With several managed lanes proposed in the Austin region in coming years, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) helped the Austin District of the Texas Department of Transportation organize an open house February 20 at The University of Texas Thompson Conference Center to explain how this relatively new concept offers options for commuters.
“We answered a lot of questions,” says TTI Research Engineer Ginger Goodin. “The open house was well attended and it prompted plenty of media attention.”
Managed lanes are a cousin to the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes that have been in operation for decades around the county. The most common type is one where lower-occupant vehicles are allowed into HOV lanes by paying a toll, providing the driver with the option of a less-congested trip on a one-time or regular basis. These vehicles are charged a varying toll based on traffic conditions in the lanes in order to keep the lanes flowing.
Currently, managed lanes with this kind of variable pricing are in operation in Denver, Colorado; San Diego and Orange County, California; and Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a new facility under construction in Houston on the Katy Freeway.
During the open house, displays representing several projects were on hand for public viewing, experts were available for one-on-one Q&A, and a brief presentation was provided to the public every 30 minutes explaining how managed lanes operate.
Briaud Recognized for Engineering Innovations
Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) Research Engineer and Buchanan Chair Professor of Civil Engineering Jean-Louis Briaud has been awarded the 2007 Ralph B. Peck Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The awards ceremony was February 19 at the National Congress of the Geo-Institute in Denver.
In a letter notifying Briaud of the award, the Executive Director of ASCE, Patrick Natale told him “the selection committee particularly noted your development of a new method for prediction of bridge scour depth which was applied to the design of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge.”
In addition, Briaud received the Martin Knapp Lecture Award after his presentation to the ASCE in New York City on December 14. The lecture included details of three major research projects over the last 15 years that led to advances in foundation engineering.