Hall of Honor Inducts Dwight D. Eisenhower
Former President Dwight David Eisenhower was inducted into the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor Dec. 6 in a ceremony at the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site in Denison, Texas.
Eisenhower’s induction recognizes his leadership in creating the U.S. Interstate Highway System, which is 60 years old this year. During his early years in the army, traveling across the country impressed upon Eisenhower the importance of good roads. In June 1956, then-President Eisenhower signed the act that created a 41,000-mile National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.
Today, Texas has more interstate highway mileage than any other state. The system has contributed some $3.2 trillion dollars to the Texas economy over its lifetime and more than $126 billion in 2015 alone.
“The purpose of the hall is quite simple,” said TTI Agency Director Dennis Christiansen at the event. “From the period of Texas statehood to present, to give recognition to those who have made a difference in transportation in the state of Texas.”
Eisenhower’s granddaughter, Mary Jean Eisenhower of Kansas City, Missouri, attended the the event and accepted the honor on his behalf. “[My grandfather] saw the interstate highway system as a solution,” Eisenhower noted. “It is so touching and dear to us that this is being memorialized for our family and for future generations.”
Eisenhower is the 42nd member of the Hall of Honor, which was established in 2000 by TTI. Each individual inducted is recognized by a plaque on permanent display in the Hall of Honor, which is located at TTI on the campus of Texas A&M University.
Researchers Testify on Funding and Truck Weight Issues for Texas House Subcommittees
Researchers from TTI’s Transportation Policy Research Center (PRC) shared research findings on Sept. 28 with two subcommittees of the Texas House Committee on Transportation. PRC Director Ginger Goodin and Senior Research Scientist Rafael Aldrete outlined their research on transportation reinvestment zones for the Subcommittee on Long-Term Infrastructure Planning. Subcommittee Chairman Ron Simmons voiced his appreciation for TTI’s work in this area and expressed his desire for TTI to continue research into financial tools for transportation.
Goodin was joined by Research Scientist Jolanda Prozzi in an afternoon hearing convened by the Subcommittee on Contraflow Lanes and Gross Weight Allowances. They addressed the issue of state highway corridors designated for shipments involving oversized and/or overweight vehicles, and explained that TTI has studied how these corridors are currently designated in Texas, the details of each implementation, and potential metrics that can be used for corridor designation and performance monitoring. Rep. Celia Israel asked TTI a series of questions about how to make overweight corridors safer, and Prozzi described the most effective possible approaches.
TTI Leads New USDOT Center, Assists with Two Others
Joe Zietsman, head of TTI’s Environment and Air Quality Division, will lead the Center for Advancing Research in Transportation Emissions, Energy and Health (CAR-TEEH), one of three new University Transportation Centers (UTCs) recently awarded through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s competitive grant program. Other consortium members include the Georgia Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, The University of Texas at El Paso, and the University of California, Riverside.
In addition to leading CAR-TEEH, TTI joins San Diego State University as a member of the National Tier center Safety Through Disruption: Goal Zero, led by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The Institute is joined by Jackson State University, Louisiana State University, the University of New Orleans and Vanderbilt University as a member of the Tier 1 Maritime Transportation Research and Education Center, led by the University of Arkansas.
“I am delighted with TTI’s success in the 2016 UTC Grant Competition, which is the culmination of almost 30 years of experience in the UTC program,” says TTI Director of External Initiatives Melissa Tooley.
The UTC program affords educational opportunities to graduate students who help conduct research alongside leading experts in their fields of study. Hundreds of students have worked on TTI’s UTC projects since the 1980s. The three centers could receive as much as $50 million in research funding over five years.
“The new center led by Dr. Zietsman will provide leadership in the emerging area of transportation and public health, while our partnerships with VTTI and the University of Arkansas will enable us to continue to enhance the body of knowledge in safety and maritime transportation,” says TTI Agency Director Greg Winfree. “We’re looking forward to working with our faculty partners to implement the educational initiatives in these new centers.”
Christiansen Honored by Board of Regents
TTI Agency Director Dennis L. Christiansen was presented with a resolution in honor of his 45 years of service to TTI, including 10 years as agency director, at the Nov. 10 meeting of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. The resolution recognizes the significant growth of TTI’s research program and reputation under his leadership. The resolution states that during his tenure as agency director, TTI research expenditures increased by 60 percent, the total operating budget increased by 52 percent, and TTI’s intellectual property portfolio generated more than $76 million in gross royalties. The resolution also notes Christiansen’s emphasis on research diversification, the creation of new research programs and products, and the expansion of TTI’s offices and research facilities during his leadership, among other accomplishments.
Christiansen thanked Chancellor John Sharp and board members for their support of him and of TTI, saying that the agency is in a strong position to move forward under incoming Agency Director Greg Winfree’s leadership.
Texas Senate Transportation Chairman Visits TTI
On Nov. 2, Texas Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) visited TTI to learn more about the agency’s work. First elected to the Texas Senate in 2006, Nichols chairs the Transportation Committee after serving eight years on the Texas Transportation Commission.
At TTI, Nichols toured research facilities at the Gibb Gilchrist Building and Texas A&M University’s RELLIS Campus. The senator was hosted by Dennis Christiansen, TTI agency director; Tommy Williams, vice chancellor for state and federal relations for The Texas A&M University System; and Norman Garza, assistant vice chancellor for government relations for the A&M System. TTI staff who provided briefings to Sen. Nichols included Agency Director Dennis Christiansen, Executive Associate Director Katie Turnbull and Transportation Policy Research Center Director Ginger Goodin.
“It’s a great privilege to provide our legislators a glimpse of TTI’s capabilities,” Goodin says. “It’s hard for busy elected officials to schedule time in College Station, so when we can get them here, we really like to show off our work. They always leave impressed with the innovations we produce every day, the passion of researchers, and the potential for making transportation in the state faster, safer, cheaper and better.”
Turnbull Appointed Vice Chair of TRB’s Executive Committee
TTI Executive Associate Director Katie Turnbull has been appointed vice chair of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Executive Committee. Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the National Research Council (NRC), made the appointment. The Executive Committee is responsible to NRC for recommending policy and providing administrative oversight for all TRB programs and activities.
“This is a significant milestone not only for Dr. Turnbull, but also for TTI,” states TTI Agency Director Dennis Christiansen. “She has served TRB with distinction for nearly three decades. We are extremely proud, and her appointment to vice chair is well deserved.”
Active in TRB committees, conferences and projects, Turnbull has served as chair at the task force, committee, section and group levels. She served as the chair of the Technical Activities Council (2011–2014) and was appointed to the Executive Committee in 2016. Turnbull was named a lifetime national associate of NRC in 2012 and honored with TRB’s W.N. Carey Distinguished Service Award in 2015.
“It is an honor to be named vice chair of the TRB Executive Committee,” Turnbull notes of the appointment. “Contributing to TRB has been very rewarding, and I look forward to working with TRB staff, Executive Committee members, and other groups in continuing to address critical transportation issues.”
TTI Staff Plays Major Role in Automated Vehicles Symposium
TTI researchers helped organize breakout sessions at the Automated Vehicles Symposium (AVS 2016) held July 19–20 in San Francisco on topics such as truck platooning, ways to shape policy, physical infrastructure and traffic flow. Over 1,200 people attended, making it one of the largest gatherings in the world of automated vehicle research. The symposium was co-sponsored by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.
“TTI’s significant involvement in TRB translated into our significant role in the Automated Vehicles Symposium,” explains TTI Assistant Agency Director and Connected Automated Transportation Research Lead Christopher Poe.
Institute researchers organizing breakout sessions included Mike Manser, Ginger Goodin, Johanna Zmud, Chris Poe, Paul Carlson, Jerry Ullman and Alireza Joshaghani. Katie Turnbull is completing a summary for TRB.
“A central theme that permeated TRB AVS16 was the need to consider the driver as a critical element contributing to safety within an automated vehicle environment,” says TTI Human Factors Program Manager Michael Manser. “The driver, vehicle and infrastructure form a close partnership to ensure overall levels of safety are maintained.”
TTI Senior Research Engineer Paul Carlson moderated the Physical Infrastructure Breakout Session and has been involved in the symposium since its inception.
“This is TRB’s second largest conference of the year behind annual meetings,” notes Carlson. “Attendance increased by nearly 50 percent from last year, and it is becoming an important conference where industry, academia and government come together to talk about research and deployment of automated vehicles.”
TTI Participates in TRB Transformational Technologies Research Symposium
TTI was a Platinum Patron of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Partners in Research Symposium: Transformational Technologies, held in Detroit, Mich., Oct. 31–Nov. 1. Sponsored by the Michigan Department of Transportation and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), the symposium brought together researchers, industry representatives and agency personnel to discuss issues and opportunities for deploying transformational technologies to improve the transportation system.
Allan Rutter, head of TTI’s Freight Mobility Division, provided comments in the breakout session on heavy-duty vehicles. Executive Associate Director Katie Turnbull served as co-moderator for the infrastructure breakout session. Associate Director Ed Seymour served as a breakout session recorder. Assistant Director Christopher Poe also participated in the symposium, as did John Barton, Texas A&M University System associate vice chancellor and director of the RELLIS Campus.
The results from the breakout groups will be used to develop research problem statements for NCHRP and other programs, as well as to expand the dialog within the TRB standing committees and to reach out to diverse stakeholders.