Updated Geometric Design Research Report Released
The Transportation Research Board recently published NCHRP Synthesis 432: Recent Roadway Geometric Design Research for Improved Safety and Operations for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. The report, written by TTI Associate Research Engineer Marcus Brewer, reviews and summarizes roadway geometric design literature completed and published from 2001 through early 2011. It emphasizes impacts on safety and operations, such as intersection control and roundabouts.
NCHRP Synthesis 432’s structure corresponds to chapters in the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, more commonly referred to as the Green Book.
“Being able to see it through from start to finish was very rewarding,” says Brewer. “There are more than 100 references coming from a variety of sources, including many reports that other TTI people have done. We want this to be a one-stop shop for people to come to and find the latest research related to design issues for the past 10 years.”
Additional information on NCHRP Synthesis Report 432, and how to obtain a copy, can be found at http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/166996.aspx.
TTI Recognized by Women’s Transportation Seminar International
A TTI project designed to improve community bicycle facilities received the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) International 2011 Innovative Solutions Award at the organization’s annual conference in Denver in May
The project, Using Smartphones to Collect Bicycle Travel Data in Texas, was first honored March 30 with the WTS Heart of Texas (HOT) chapter’s Innovative Transportation Solutions Award. International winners are selected from the many local chapter awards winners.
“This was an unexpected honor locally, but to win on the international level as well was especially exciting,” says TTI Associate Research Engineer Joan Hudson, who led the project.
The project tested a smartphone application’s effectiveness in tracking bicyclists’ travel routes, logging a total of 3,000 bicycle trips. A final report will determine if the data collection method will be useful for communities wanting to improve bicycle facilities.
WTS’s HOT chapter also honored TTI Planning Division Head Ginger Goodin with its 2011 Woman of the Year award. The award “honors a woman who is an outstanding role model and has contributed to the advancement of women and minorities in transportation.”
“I’m very humbled to have been selected for this award,” Goodin says. “The women recognized in the past are community leaders, women I look up to. To be included in the company of such an elite group is a huge honor for me.” Goodin is nationally known for her research on mileage-based user fees and as an expert on managed lanes.
The WTS HOT chapter awards also included nominations for TTI itself as Employer of the Year and TTI Director of the Center for Strategic Transportation Solutions Cinde Weatherby as Member of the Year. The Texas 2030 Committee — which examined the state’s transportation needs for the next 20 years and was staffed by TTI, The University of Texas (UT) at Austin and UT–San Antonio — was nominated for the Innovative Transportation Solutions Award.
Study Argues for Wider Edge-Line Markings on Rural Two-Lane Highways
Sponsored by the American Glass Bead Manufacturers’ Association (AGBMA), a recent TTI study provides the most compelling evidence yet that wider paint lines on roadway shoulders (commonly called edge lines) are a cost-effective, statistically sound approach to reducing crashes and fatalities on rural two-lane highways.
“This is the first formal evidence of a correlation between wider edge lines and improved crash safety,” said TTI Research Engineer Paul Carlson, one of the authors of the study. “Previous studies over the last 10 years were small and lacked data to provide statistically significant results.”
The study demonstrates that wider edge lines can reduce total crashes by 15-30 percent and fatal plus injury crashes 15-38 percent. In addition, the benefit-cost ratio for wider edge lines is $33 to $55 for each $1 spent, similar to shoulder rumble strips. If an agency is considering installing rumble strips as a safety countermeasure but is concerned about potential noise or pushback from the bicycle community, wider edge lines appear to offer similar results but without the concerns, according to the report.
The study also suggests that the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) amend its minimum edge-line width on rural two-lane highways to six inches.
“With the ultimate goal being highway safety, transportation agencies across the U.S. now have strong data to support the undertaking of a relatively low-cost measure to improve highway safety and reduce fatalities,” said Kevin Goforth, president of AGBMA.
Turnbull Cited for Excellence in Applied Research
TTI Executive Associate Agency Director Katie Turnbull received recognition from the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Managed Lanes Committee on May 23 for her contribution to high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) and high-occupancy toll (HOT) research, an effort spanning more than 20 years.
The citation states that “[Turnbull’s research findings] and her hands-on involvement in specific projects have provided practitioners with the tools and information needed to plan, develop and operate HOV and HOT lanes in the U.S. and abroad for the past two decades, providing the foundation for new applications of managed lanes today.”
The Managed Lanes Committee’s Excellence in Applied Research Award recognizes an individual’s contribution to advancing the practice of applied research through his or her groundbreaking and innovative ideas. Qualification for the award includes one’s research resulting in “changes and improvements in activities by implementing agencies and a heightened understanding and acceptance between operating agencies and researchers.”
“It is an honor to be acknowledged for helping advance applied research in HOV and HOT lanes,” notes Turnbull. “TTI has a history of research in this area, and it is especially gratifying to be recognized by one’s peers on a TRB committee.”
Carlson Profiled in TR News
Paul Carlson, head of TTI’s Operations and Roadway Safety Division, was recently profiled in TR News, published by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies. Carlson currently serves as the chair of the TRB Operations and Preservation Group.
Carlson’s work continues to receive national attention. Most recently, after a five-year process, his test measurement for wet pavement markings was approved by ASTM International. Officially, it’s ASTM E2832-12 Standard Test Method for Measuring the Coefficient of Retroreflected Luminance of Pavement Markings in a Standard Condition of Continuous Wetting.
In the TR News article, Carlson said, “When you find your niche, your days on the job will be fun, time will fly, and your overall quality of life will be top-notch.”
TTI to Study High-Speed Rail in Texas
TTI has signed a three-year interagency contract with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to study high-speed rail and help determine its viability in the Lone Star State. Two Texas high-speed rail corridors are currently being considered: one connects Dallas to Houston; the other would stretch from Oklahoma City to South Texas.
“High-speed rail needs to be thoroughly investigated and researched,” TTI Manager of Rail Passenger Research John Sedlak says. He’s the principal investigator on the contract and was recently hired by TTI to lead the project. Sedlak spent his career planning and designing major transit projects, including Atlanta’s rapid rail system and Houston’s first light-rail project. He was Houston Metro’s executive vice president before retiring last year.
“Our job is to compile all the facts about high-speed rail — the existing and planned operations around the world and the corridors that are proposed for Texas. It’s a big undertaking,” Sedlak says. “TTI will assist TxDOT in educating decision makers, stakeholders, and interested groups and individuals on proposed high-speed rail. The research effort will also identify the roles that the state and TxDOT might play in advancing high-speed rail.”
Amy Epps Martin Wins AAPT Award, Elected to Board of Directors
TTI Research Engineer Amy Epps Martin was recently awarded the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists (AAPT) Board of Directors Award of Recognition during their annual meeting in Austin, Texas. Epps Martin also began her term as one of two AAPT directors at large.
“I’ve been involved with this organization for several years, so it was a big honor to receive this award,” says Epps Martin, who is also a professor of materials engineering at Texas A&M University.
AAPT is a leader in the advancement of asphalt paving technology with over 800 members from every continent in the world. Members depend on the association as an authoritative source for the latest developments in the field and as a hub for communicating with fellow professionals. The organization meets annually, and their activities include asphalt-related technical sessions, symposia, poster sessions and workshops presented by experts in all aspects of asphalt paving technology from around the world.
TTI Has Major Role in State Congestion Relief Proposals
After months of working with local agencies about proposed transportation projects in the most congested corridors in the state, TTI presented a detailed report to the Texas Transportation Commission Feb. 23.
The document, titled Mobility Investment Priorities — Early Recommendations Report, includes recommendations that will advance major projects to improve mobility for the areas of the state with the most congestion — Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.
“We are working with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) on an interagency agreement to coordinate studies, identifying projects that will have the greatest impact on congestion,” says Tim Lomax, TTI senior research engineer and TTI’s project leader. “And just as important, TTI’s work will examine how the state can pay for the improvements.”
The Mobility Investment Priorities Project was developed in coordination with agencies in each of the four metropolitan areas to identify studies, identify design efforts, or purchase rights-of-way that meet the goals of the Rider 42 legislation, which allocated $300 million in Proposition 12 bond proceeds. TTI will help implement the studies that examine congestion relief and the resulting economic benefits.
“This is a two-year project and is really a team effort,” Lomax points out. TTI is working closely with metropolitan planning organizations, regional mobility authorities, city and county governments, transit agencies, and others on the TxDOT interagency contract. “The goal of all this is to make sure the improvement plans reflect the needs of local entities and local commuters.”
After the Institute’s first recommendation report is examined, TTI Research Scientist Dave Ellis will begin the economic analysis process. “We have the TRENDS model and other tools to examine a menu of potential funding options for policy makers and to assess the potential economic impact of the projects,” he says.
TTI’s final report to the commission is expected in August 2013.
TTI’s Weatherby Elected to WTS International Board
Cinde Weatherby, director of the Center for Strategic Transportation Solutions at TTI, began a two-year term on the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) International Board of Directors in May. She has been an active member in both the Greater Dallas-Fort Worth and Heart of Texas (HOT) chapters of the organization.
WTS International boasts nearly 5,000 members — both men and women — in 49 local chapters across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The HOT chapter has also sponsored one of the few student chapters in the country at The University of Texas. The international association was established in 1977 to help women “find opportunity and recognition in the transportation industry.”
Weatherby was also recently spotlighted in the March edition of the Transportation Research Board’s Strategic Management Committee newsletter as the committee’s featured member. When asked her biggest transportation fear in the article, she responded: “Funding is the thing that gives me the most worry. We are not the little boy calling wolf. Our infrastructure, if not already, will soon be in a crisis.”
TTI Employees Honored for Patents
TTI researchers have been honored by The Texas A&M University System Office of Technology Commercialization for a highway safety product patent issued in 2011. Patent number US 7,883,075 B2 is for a new guardrail end terminal they designed and tested. The product will soon be manufactured by Trinity Highway Products.
Akram Abu-Odeh, Gene Buth, Lance Bullard, Dean Alberson and Roger Bligh, all from TTI’s Roadside Safety and Physical Security Division, were honored for their invention, which will be marketed under the name Soft Stop.
“I believe this new guardrail system is the next generation of end terminals,” Dean Alberson, TTI assistant agency director, explains. When the end terminal is struck by a vehicle, the tension on the guardrail is not released like the other guardrail terminals. “Upon impact, the Soft Stop terminal squeezes the guardrail vertically into a series of folded plates that are diverted under the vehicle once they exit the head of the device,” Alberson explains.