Workshop Facilitates Information Sharing Among State, Local Agencies
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) hosted the Transportation and Energy Sector Development Workshop on May 6–7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. The workshop was co-sponsored by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute (UGPTI) at North Dakota State University.
Participants in the workshop included researchers and personnel from state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, local governments, consulting firms and energy-sector development businesses.
TTI Executive Associate Director Katie Turnbull opened the workshop by reviewing recent TRB activities associated with transportation and energy-sector development. She also highlighted the workshop’s objectives of sharing information, developing contacts and networking with peers, identifying areas for further research, and targeting methods for ongoing communication and coordination.
Michael Morris, director of transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, challenged workshop participants to think creatively in addressing the transportation needs associated with the challenges and opportunities presented by current energy developments in Texas and throughout the country. He suggested that innovative engineering, funding and financing, and safety treatments are all needed.
Denver Tolliver, UGPTI director, described freight system impacts from the Baaken Shale boom in North Dakota. Speakers from Louisiana, Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma discussed recent energy developments and highlighted approaches to address short- and long-term transportation needs. Speakers highlighted information on pavements, bridges, safety measures and incorporation of energy developments into the transportation planning process.
Mark Marek, TxDOT’s director of engineering operations, discussed energy-related transportation issues in Texas and approaches being used to mitigate adverse impacts. Randy Bowers from the TxDOT Fort Worth District described the district’s response to the Barnett Shale development. Caroline Mays, TxDOT freight planning coordinator, highlighted the development of the Texas State Freight Plan.
TTI Senior Research Engineer Cesar Quiroga provided participants with tips on collecting and analyzing energy- sector data for decision making based on recent research conducted for TxDOT. TTI Senior Research Scientist David Newcomb highlighted ongoing research for TxDOT examining the cost to industry from deteriorating roadways.
The workshop concluded with a discussion of possible follow-up activities. Pursuing a multi-state transportation pooled-fund study was suggested (see the story below). A variety of research topics were identified, and participants noted that enhancing coordination and communication across TRB committees would be beneficial. Periodic workshops and other information-sharing mechanisms were also suggested.
TTI Assists States in Addressing Their Energy-Sector Transportation Issues
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) is assisting the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and other states to address issues and opportunities associated with energy-sector developments. Six states — Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington — are participating in the Transportation Pooled-Fund (TPF) Project: State Responses to Energy Sector Developments, which TxDOT is leading.
“As discussed by participants in the 2014 workshop, new and expanding energy-sector developments — oil, natural gas, coal, wind, biofuels and solar — are occurring in states throughout the country,” notes TTI Executive Associate Director Katie Turnbull. “Further, activities in one state may influence the transportation system in another state. This project implements one of the suggestions from the 2014 workshop.”
“TxDOT has learned a lot over the past few years responding to the transportation demands from the recent energy boom,” observes TxDOT Deputy Executive Director John Barton. “Other states are facing many of the same issues, and it makes sense to share information and work together on common concerns.”
“The project is examining techniques for infrastructure management, funding and financing, safety, industry engagement, planning and forecasting tools, and other related topics,” reports Joe Adams, implementation manager in TxDOT’s Research and Technology Implementation Office. “The focus is on practical applications for member states to better respond to demands on the transportation system from energy exploration, extraction and production.”
TTI researchers are identifying key issues in the different states, examining multi-state energy supply chains, summarizing current research and studies underway, conducting additional research, and developing problem statements for national research programs. TTI will also organize and facilitate workshops and TPF member state meetings.
“Although we face somewhat different situations, many of the issues are the same,” notes Barb Ivanov, Washington State Department of Transportation Freight Systems Division director. “We have much to learn from each other and much to learn from additional research.”