Hudson Awarded Grant to Study the Unintended Highway Pedestrian
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has selected TTI to conduct a one-year project on reducing the number of motor-vehicle-related pedestrian fatalities in Texas. Project manager and TTI Associate Researcher Joan Hudson has been awarded the one-year project titled The Unintended Highway Pedestrian — What Would You Do? The grant funding comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
This project aims to equip motorists, passengers and the general public with the tools needed to make the safest decisions when stranded on the highway. Texas had 24,000 reported crashes involving pedestrians and motor vehicles between 2010 and 2014. In 2014, Texas was ranked the highest state in the nation for the number of interstate pedestrian fatalities, with the most reported cases in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Austin.
Hudson and her team of communication specialists at TTI will develop an educational campaign for TxDOT and other supporting organizations across the states, including the City of Austin Pedestrian Advisory Council and Austin’s Vision Zero Traffic Safety Task Force.
“A time may come in some of our lives when we are on the side of a busy highway,” says Hudson. “My goal for this campaign is that it will equip motorists with the knowledge of what to do if they find themselves in that situation.”
Poe Selected as Strategy Lead for TTI’s CV/AV Transportation Research
TTI has selected Christopher Poe, senior research engineer and assistant agency director, as its connected and automated transportation strategy lead. Poe comes to the position with more than 30 years of experience in transportation system operations and intelligent transportation systems research and in leading and executing large, high-visibility research initiatives.
“Currently, the Institute is involved in some 40 connected and automated vehicle [CV/AV] projects at the local, state and national levels,” says Agency Director Dennis Christiansen. “Appointing a leader to help achieve our strategic direction in CV/AV research is a natural next step. This new position signals that TTI is taking an enhanced leadership role in researching and implementing CV/AV technologies and best practices to improve the safety, mobility and infrastructure of our nation’s transportation system.”
Poe will focus on developing collaboration and strategic direction for advanced transportation research at TTI, and will lead the planning and implementation efforts for the Institute’s research and test beds in all areas of connected transportation. He will organize the CV/AV Strategy Team across multiple divisions within TTI and coordinate with Texas A&M University’s CV/AV efforts.
89th Annual Transportation Short Course Brings Research, Implementation Together for Texas
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) held its 89th Annual Transportation Short Course on the campus of Texas A&M University Oct. 12–14. The annual event, organized and co-hosted by TTI and TxDOT, briefs the department’s employees about the latest innovations resulting from TxDOT’s transportation research. It also gives the department an opportunity to look back over the past year and recognize accomplishments, and to set goals for the coming year.
“The greatest accomplishment of TxDOT this year was to solidify and re-earn the respect of the people of Texas and the Texas Legislature,” declared TxDOT Executive Director LtGen Joe Weber USMC (Ret.) at the opening session. “The expectations for us are very, very high.”
Weber spoke at the opening session, where TxDOT’s Extra Mile Awards were given to personnel who, during the course of their jobs, help — and in some cases save the lives of — their fellow Texans. Break-out sessions then highlighted recent research innovations by TTI and the department’s other research partners for those destined to use them in the field: TxDOT personnel and practitioners.
“Short Course is always a highlight of the year for the Texas A&M Transportation Institute,” says TTI Agency Director Dennis Christiansen. “It’s a very visible example of the partnership that exists between TxDOT and the state universities and has led to innumerable advances in transportation innovation — not only in Texas but throughout the country.”
Center for Infrastructure Renewal to Address Aging Roadways, Structures, Pipelines, Power Grid
To meet the challenges of the state’s aging transportation infrastructure, the Texas Legislature has appropriated $5 million for a joint venture between TTI and the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) to construct the Center for Infrastructure Renewal (CIR). The world-class facility will develop advanced and sustainable materials and structural systems that will reduce cost and extend infrastructure life, safety, resiliency and durability.
“We need viable solutions for solving our infrastructure needs without putting more burden on the taxpayers of Texas,” says John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “By investing in new technology development now, we could save hundreds of millions of dollars in construction expenses over the long term.”
Roadways and bridges are aging at a faster rate than they can be repaired. The U.S. power grid is more than 130 years old and vulnerable to natural disasters and terror attacks. There is also a concern regarding the integrity of the nation’s oil, gas, water and wastewater pipeline systems. Modernizing these infrastructures will require interdisciplinary research teams, 21st century technologies and innovative solutions for the demands of a growing population.
“We expect CIR research to address issues such as developing new methods to repair and replace infrastructure at a lower cost, in less time and with new materials that will have a longer lifespan,” says M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering at Texas A&M University and director of TEES.
The facility — at 200,000 square feet one of the largest of its kind in the world — will connect researchers and field experts to develop partnerships with industry to help address Texas’ infrastructure needs. A nationwide search is underway for a director for CIR and is expected to be completed in 2018.
“In our mission to train the next generation workforce that will plan, develop and maintain our roads, bridges, pipelines and electrical infrastructure into the future, this facility offers a living laboratory,” says Dennis Christiansen, TTI agency director.
Newcomb to Head TTI Materials and Pavement Division
TTI Senior Research Engineer David Newcomb has been appointed head of the TTI Materials and Pavement Division. Newcomb replaces Andrew Wimsatt, who’s retiring from the position to lead a TTI effort to coordinate and expand the infrastructure assessment and management duties across the Institute. During Wimsatt’s tenure, the division experienced growth and diversification of its sponsor base, improved relationships with private industry and associations, and increased field activities and support for academic endeavors.
“I want to thank Andrew for his leadership over the last decade, and I look forward to working with David as we continue our efforts to grow and diversify the program,” says TTI Executive Associate Director Jon Epps.
Newcomb joined TTI in 2011 following 12 years as vice president of research and technology at the National Asphalt Pavement Association. He’s the recipient of multiple prestigious awards from the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and has been the chair of the International Society of Asphalt Pavements, president of the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists, and chair of the TRB Committee on Pavement Rehabilitation.
“As head of the Materials and Pavement Division, I will work to forge new relationships as we continue efforts to broaden our funding base,” Newcomb says. “We also want to address bigger issues, like asset management and speed of construction strategies, by reaching out to other experts within TTI.”