An estimated 13,000 people from around the world attended this year’s annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13–17.
As usual, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) was well represented at the meeting. TTI Executive Associate Director Jon Epps presented the Thomas B. Deen Distinguished Lecture on Jan. 14. His talk, Innovative Asphalt Pavement Technology: Paving the Way for the World’s Roadways, summarized the history of asphalt pavements and discussed where the technology is headed.
“Much of the future, I believe, involves the need to develop accelerated construction techniques so we can reduce construction times by as much as 70 percent,” Epps says. “In order to achieve those goals, we must have a workforce skilled in several disciplines, including contracting methods, traffic management, work zone safety, materials, construction operations, economics and construction equipment.”
Best Paper and Poster Awards
TTI Senior Research Scientist Eun Sug Park, Graduate Assistant Jinuk Hwang and Associate Transportation Researcher Shuman Tan received the 2018 Best Paper Award from the Paratransit Committee for their paper, “The Impact of Fare Policy Changes on Paratransit Travel Options: METROLift Case Study.”
“As a public good, the pursuit of humanity attaches more importance to a paratransit program’s service affordability and therefore often brings criticism to the program for fare changes,” Tan explains. “The paper is based on a project TTI conducted for Houtson’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority of Harris County (METRO) evaluating the impact of METROLift’s new fare policies on travel patterns and frequency of its riders. Researchers found that optimizing all existing resources can help paratransit programs sustain their services.”
TTI Associate Transportation Researcher Bahar Dadashova, Senior Research Engineer Karen Dixon and Associate Research Engineer Raul Avelar received the 2018 Best Paper Award from the Safety Data, Analysis and Evaluation Committee. The team’s paper, “Exploring the Effects of Important Predictors of Ramp Speeding Behavior,” was selected as the top paper from approximately 200 entries.
“Our paper looked at driver speed choice on freeway ramps, which is one of the most conflicting roadway network facilities,” explains Dadashova, who was also appointed the co-chair of the Bicycle Research Subcommittee (Bicycle Transportation Committee ANF20). “The results of this paper could be used to provide guidance to roadway traffic engineers and human factors specialists on how to address the speed-related crash risk on the freeway network system and reduce potential conflicts in the future.”
TRB’s Next Generation
Subcommittee of TRB’s Design and Construction Group selected Graduate Assistant Fawaz Kaseer and Assistant Transportation Researcher Haydar Al-Khayat, both in TTI’s Materials and Pavements Division, to present papers at the TRB session Young Practitioner Research in Design and Asphalt Materials.
Associate Research Engineer Charles Gurganus of TTI’s Materials and Pavements Division won the best poster award in the TRB AFD90 poster session for his poster titled “Evaluating Hydroplaning Potential Using Mobile LiDAR Measurements.” Gurganus developed a way to evaluate roadside ditches to ensure proper rainwater drainage using light detection and ranging technology.
Turnbull Completes Term as TRB Executive Committee Chair
Katie Turnbull, Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) executive associate director, served as chair of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Executive Committee during 2018. She completed her term by chairing the day-and-a-half Executive Committee Meeting and presiding at the Chair’s Luncheon at the 2019 TRB Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., held Jan. 13–17, 2019.
“It has been an honor and privilege, and honestly a lot of fun, to serve as Executive Committee chair,” Turnbull notes. “The opportunity to work with the outstanding TRB staff and Executive Committee members developing the 2019 Critical Issues in Transportation report, initiating updates to the TRB strategic plan, and advancing other key initiatives has been extremely rewarding.”
Turnbull is the second person from TTI to chair the TRB Executive Committee, following longtime TTI Agency Director Charley Wootan, who served as chair in 1980. In addition, Herb Richardson, who became TTI agency director in 1993, was chair in 1988 when he was The Texas A&M University System’s deputy chancellor for engineering.
Turnbull has been reappointed to a second term on the Executive Committee. She has also been appointed chair of the Executive Committee’s Subcommittee on Planning and Policy Review (SPPR).
“Katie was a terrific chair of the Executive Committee during the past year, and we are pleased to have her continued leadership on the SPPR,” says Neil Pedersen, TRB Executive Director. “The SPPR, which acts on behalf of the Executive Committee between its twice-yearly meetings, will be leading the finalization and implementation of the updated TRB strategic plan, as well as advancing activities addressing topics outlined in the 2019 Critical Issues in Transportation report.”
Group, Section and Committee Chairs
Chairmanship duties for TRB committees began for TTI Senior Research Engineer and head of TTI’s Systems Reliability Division Beverly Kuhn (Standing Committee on Freeway Operations) and Dixon (Highway Safety Performance Committee). Both rotated into these chair positions last spring.
Bill Eisele, head of TTI’s Mobility Division, chairs the TRB Urban Freight Transportation Committee, which received an Honorable Mention Blue Ribbon award in Leadership for engaging a passionate global membership and disseminating urban freight innovation to stakeholders.
A TRB Blue Ribbon Committee Award was also presented to the Roadside Safety Design Committee, chaired by Roger Bligh, for identifying and advancing ideas for research.
Other TTI staff who serve as chairs of TRB sections, groups or committees include Sue Chrysler, chair, Users Performance Section; Shawn Turner, chair, Pedestrians and Cycles Section; Jim Kruse, chair, TRB Marine Group; Jeff Borowiec, chair, Aviation Systems Planning Committee; William Holik, chair, Transport of Energy Products Committee; Cesar Quiroga, chair, Utilities Committee; Juan Villa, chair, International Trade and Transportation Committee.
TTI Senior Research Engineer Kay Fitzpatrick received a certificate of recognition for her years of service as a member of TRB’s Standing Committee on Operational Effects of Geometrics.