UVM TRC Research Expo ’13 Highlights Transportation Challenges, Innovation, and Research Across Disciplines

Michael Lewis

AASHTO President Michael Lewis speaks at the TRC Expo

“We have a massive amount of infrastructure to take care of”, according to AASHTO President Michael Lewis, and whatever the transport options of the future are it will still be essential for the foreseeable future.  Lewis, also the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and UVM alum, was the keynote speaker at Wednesday’s TRC Research Expo.  He focused on the present issue of under-investment in transportation, while highlighting a larger time scale, from the beginnings of transportation to its future nearly a century from now.   Lewis believes the future holds the potential for innovation, such as connected, smaller vehicles and improved transit, but there will still be a need to move freight across our nation’s roadways.

Despite the future technologies that may improve transportation in the long-term, he likened the current time to standing at a cliff edge, due to the vastly inadequate support for maintenance of our transportation system.  Damages from increasingly powerful and frequent storms, such as Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy, have only worsened the problem.  While Lewis believes the nation is largely finished with building more highways, it is now time to bring the focus to maintaining what we have, an issue that he is working to convey in Rhode Island as well, where soon 40 percent of bridges will be structurally deficient.  Despite this current challenge, Lewis finds great potential in research to support innovative solutions for transportation in the years and decades ahead, such as that on display at the Expo, which took over the entire first floor of Billings Library.

The Expo highlighted transportation innovation and research from the University and around the state with a student and professional poster session and competition.  Vermont Deputy Secretary of Transportation Sue Minter joined Michael Lewis in highlighting the importance of the research conducted at UVM that stretches across disciplines to meet the many challenges we face in the present and future.  Topics on display at the Expo ranged from pervious pavement to emissions testing to land use modeling to bicycling.   See abstracts here.

Student Research Poster Competition


Posters

Attendees at the Expo Poster session

TRC Graduate Scholar Kristine Harootunian (CEMS) took first place in the poster competition with her entry, “Drive Like a Local! Findings from the Vermont State Crash Database”.  The study drew from reported crashes statewide and among the findings determined that out-of-state drivers had twice the chances of being in a single vehicle crash.  Other prizes included Geoffrey Battista’s (CDAE) examination of the effect of food choice and mobility’s impact on obesity, Nathan Belz’s (CEMS) examination of roundabout non-compliance, and Isaac Lawrence’s (RSENR) modeling with UrbanSim.

 

A series of presentations and discussions were also organized to parallel the research poster session.  These included:

·      Rubenstein School Prof. Bob Manning presenting his new book, Walking Distance

·      Regina Mahony, Michele Boomhower and Charile Barker from the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission discussing the ECOS project, an new approach to combined regional land-use, economic development and transportation planning

·      Sue Minter, Deputy Secretary of VTrans, and Leon Heyward, Deputy Commissioner of NYC Department of Transportation, reviewing lessons learned from the recent natural disasters (Irene and Sandy) faced by their respective regions.

 

The TRC Transportation Research Expo seeks to highlight innovative research in the transportation field from UVM faculty and students, as well as partners from around the state.  It organizes key speakers and discussions to continue to advance dialogue for future research and action between UVM and its partners in the state and community.  This year’s Expo once more demonstrated the vibrancy and breadth of the research and project work contributing to the transportation field.

 

For more on the event, check out the new article in the Burlington Free Press

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