TTI Hosts Annual Short Course
TTI hosted the 93rd Annual Transportation Short Course, held at the Texas A&M University Campus Oct. 14–16. A record-breaking 2,848 transportation professionals attended to learn about the latest innovations and findings from Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)–funded research. As happens each year, TxDOT’s Extra Mile awards were presented to agency workers who helped save a life or prevent a life-threatening situation from happening.
“Together, we (TTI and TxDOT) are taking steps to be good stewards of our resources, such as by researching the latest innovations in recycled asphalt, which reduces our environmental impact and saves millions of dollars annually,” said TTI Agency Director Greg Winfree. “We, the state universities, are TxDOT’s state transportation solutions providers, working alongside our partners in the industry, our contractors and our suppliers.”
In September, TxDOT adopted a new mission statement, “connecting you with Texas,” to embody all that TxDOT employees do for Texas. “TxDOT isn’t our goals; it’s not our programs; it’s not our plans — it’s our people. It’s you,” stated TxDOT Executive Director James Bass.
During her keynote address, former U.S. Department of Transportation Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office Director Shelley Row highlighted storytelling’s value to the transportation industry. Row is now president and CEO of Shelley Row Associates LLC.
“I was eager to tell [my boss] about the program I was managing so she’d continue to fund it. … She said, ‘Yeah, but Shelley, what’s the story?’” recalled Row. The key, she argues, is to understand your audience and compose a story that’s visceral and vivid. “Whatever it is that you’re selling, you’re not the only one [who needs to understand its value].”
Epps Receives Multiple Honors
TTI Executive Associate Director Jon Epps received the Bob M. Gallaway Award from the Texas Asphalt Pavement Association (TXAPA)/Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Seal Coat Committee Sept. 18, 2019. The committee also announced the creation of the Dr. Jon Epps TXAPA/TxDOT Quality Seal Coat Awards Program. TXAPA was founded with just 11 members in 1944 and has grown into one of the largest U.S. asphalt pavement associations. Its mission is “to enhance the quality, performance, and usage of asphalt pavement through technical, educational, and training services.”
“It’s an honor to receive this award,” says Epps, who’s spent 40 years in the seal coat industry. “The award has been around for years, and Gallaway was my mentor early in my career.”
Today, Epps embraces Gallaway’s legacy by encouraging others in the industry, and his people-first attitude inspired the TXAPA/TxDOT Seal Coat Committee to create the Dr. Jon Epps TXAPA/TxDOT Quality Seal Coat Awards Program. TXAPA has worked with Epps over the years on numerous projects. “Though he’s not one to list his accomplishments, we’re proud to congratulate him on the Bob M. Gallaway Award,” says Harold Mullen, TXAPA executive vice president. “We believe the Dr. Jon Epps TXAPA/TxDOT Quality Seal Coat Awards Program allows us to tap into his heart for others in the industry.”
Seymour Teaches Course in India
TTI Executive Associate Director Ed Seymour recently traveled on an Indian Government grant to the National Institute of Technology Warangal in Telangana, India. Seymour taught a five-day course entitled Transportation in a High-Tech, Automated and Connected Vehicle World to students in the Civil Engineering Department’s Transportation Division. The grant is part of India’s Global Initiative of Academic Networks in Higher Education to garner and transfer the best international experience to an Indian audience. Seymour also spoke at a university conference focused on engineering for sustainable development and visited with university faculty and post-graduate students regarding career development.
Longest Delays on Houston, Austin Freeways in Texas
TTI researchers use traffic volume and speed data to compile the annual listing of the most crowded roadways in Texas, comparing the time it takes to travel on a congested roadway against the time needed to travel the same corridor in uncongested conditions. Fueled by the state’s steady growth and healthy economy, Houston’s West Loop this year repeats its 2018 rank as the most gridlocked corridor in the state. Interstate 35 in central Austin comes in a close second, with the Southwest and Eastex Freeways in Houston and the Woodall Rodgers Freeway in Dallas rounding out the top five.
Only 13 road segments are new to this year’s top 100. A total of 92 are concentrated in Texas’ four biggest metro areas, but roadway delay is becoming more common in urban areas of varying sizes. This year’s complete list of congested road rankings includes 1,854 segments spread across 66 counties, available online at Texas’ Most Congested Roadways 2019.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) initiative Texas Clear Lanes has increased efforts to address roadway gridlock, largely through two voter-approved funding initiatives directing more resources to the State Highway Fund for non-tolled projects.
“TxDOT’s mission is ‘Connecting you with Texas,’ and we are focused on getting people where they need to go efficiently and reliably by paying attention to where improvements are needed most,” said TxDOT Deputy Executive Director Marc Williams. “Congestion relief is a priority for our top chokepoints as we balance the many demands on our roadways across the state.”
Epps Martin Becomes ASCE Fellow
TTI Research Engineer Amy Epps Martin has been elected an American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Fellow, an honor awarded to ASCE members who are mentors and leaders in the civil engineering profession. Founded in 1852, ASCE is the oldest engineering society in the United States and includes over 150,000 members in 177 countries. The society’s vision is for civil engineers to become global leaders who help build a better quality of life.
Epps Martin first joined ASCE as an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. Through her research at TTI, Epps Martin has developed sustainable practices for asphalt materials, performance-based specifications for asphalt pavement materials, and design and construction guidelines for specialty asphalt mixtures. In April 2019, she was elected director-at-large on the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists board of directors.
With over 22 years at TTI and Texas A&M University, Epps Martin teaches civil engineering materials courses as a professor in Texas A&M’s Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Besides teaching, she continues to make an impact on civil engineering students and researchers, focusing on giving back to the next generation as a mentor to graduate and post-doctoral students.
“We would like to congratulate Amy Epps Martin on being elected ASCE Fellow, a distinction awarded to fewer than 3 percent of ASCE members,” says ASCE Executive Director Tom Smith. “Dr. Epps Martin achieved this distinction through a unanimous vote of the membership applications review committee.”