June 17, 2015
Emily Feenstra, Director for Infrastructure Initiatives of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), spoke at the PacTrans-sponsored Transportation Seminar on June 4. Her talk, “The Case for Engaging in Public Policy – Your Projects Depend on It,” related the current status of infrastructure funding, how ASCE has engaged in the policy debate, and the importance of engineers’ involvement in policy.
Making infrastructure visible is a main priority for ASCE, explained Feenstra. Often, the public does not notice the aging infrastructure, in part due to the slow – and undramatic – nature of deterioration. ASCE aims for infrastructure to be as high a priority as health care and education, and one step toward this goal is communicating ASCE’s Report Card for America’s Infrastructure (Report Card).
The Report Card provides an assessment of current infrastructure conditions and needs, assigning grades in an A to F school report card format, and makes recommendations on how to raise these grades. With America’s cumulative GPA for infrastructure at a D+ in 2013, Feenstra demonstrated the need for increased investment. By investing an additional $157 billion per year through 2020, the country can prevent a $3.1 trillion loss in GDP, $3.5 million job losses, and a $3,100 per year drop in personal disposable income per household.
To improve the Report Card, Feenstra offered three key solutions: bold leadership and a compelling vision, sustainability and resilience, and prioritize, plan and fund. Several issues at the national level, however, remain important to consider, including infrastructure spending decreasing relative to other countries, and the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund.
Feenstra suggested a host of ways civil engineers can get involved. To influence policy and issue awareness, Feenstra proposed engineers share their state’s infrastructure report card through social media, host an infrastructure event, or tweet questions to state legislators and members of congress.
Feenstra’s talk clearly broadens PacTrans students’ knowledge by introducing the policy side of projects.
June 15, 2015
PacTrans is proud to sponsor the ITS America Symposium on Building a Smart, Diverse, and Shared Travel Network. Technology is advancing traveler mobility at an unprecedented rate, and Seattle and the Puget Sound region are leading the way in the adoption and deployment of many shared-use transportation options. From the new Pronto cycle sharing system, to the region’s evolving transit environment, infrastructure improvements and more, technology is making the commute faster, smarter and more efficient for the traveling public.
For more information and to register, read on.
June 11, 2015
On May 26, PacTrans welcomed transportation professionals from Japan as part of an international exchange to share best practices in data, organizational collaboration, and road management. Kenji Saita, Assistant Manager, West Nippon Express Company (NEXCO), and Seishu Kitamura, Senior Researcher and Kzuhiko Makimura, Deputy Director, both of the Institute of Behavioral Sciences, visited the PacTrans STAR Lab to learn about the center’s work in intelligent transportation systems (ITS).
The group discussed the different types of traffic detectors employed by Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and those under development at the University of Washington, and ways to navigate the privacy concerns of data collection in Japan.
PacTrans, Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC), and WSDOT have a history of close collaboration. Doug Brodin, WSDOT Research Manager for ITS, Traffic and Congestion, and Freight, emphasized the importance of the long-term relationships with PacTrans and TRAC and considered it the key in the successful collaborative efforts between WSDOT and universities, which is visible in the many PacTrans intern students working in WSDOT.
Dr. Yinhai Wang, PacTrans director, highlighted the center’s interest in international collaborations and potential future partnership with NEXCO and IBS and the Japanese delegation responded very positively.
June 10, 2015
PacTrans joined University Transportation Center representatives from across the nation for the 2015 Council of University Transportation Centers Summer Meeting, June 1-4 in Brunswick, New Jersey. Held at Rutgers, the event brought transportation and university professionals and administrators together to share best practices and success stories to advance research, education, and development in the transportation field.
May 28, 2015
The PacTrans Region 10 Transportation Safety Workshop on May 5 drew representatives from universities, public agencies, and private companies across the Pacific Northwest to discuss important regional transportation safety issues. This workshop was jointly organized by PacTrans, ITE Washington, ITE Oregon, ITE Idaho, and ITE Alaska. Open only to invited participants, more than 70 attendees, both in-person and online, joined the workshop at the Talaris Conference Center to identify critical regional transportation safety issues for PacTrans to study. Regional transportation experts representing industry, agency, and university perspectives contributed to PacTrans’ research agenda, shared ongoing efforts in addressing critical safety problems, and solidified partnerships in transportation safety research and practice.
The morning sessions included keynote talks on transportation safety priorities at federal and state levels from Kenneth Feldman, Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and Chris Madill, Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC), respectively. From a national standpoint, Feldman explained the FTA’s vision to make safe transportation safer and to see safety management systems (SMS) embedded in every transit agency. As executive director of WTSC, Madill outlined Target Zero, which aims for zero deaths and serious injuries on roadways by 2030, and highlighted key issues including motorcycles and pedestrians.
The transportation agency panel, moderated by Dongho Chang, City of Seattle, was comprised of representatives from Washington State Department of Transportation, Idaho Transportation Department, City of Portland, and Alaska Department of Transportation. Common threads throughout the panel included prioritization of decreasing vehicle run off the road crashes, communicating effective safety messages with the public, and the importance of enforcement.
Carlos Ortiz, ITE Western District President, moderated the ITE panel with representatives from the City of Seattle, Toole Design Group, and Leidos. While covering a range of topics, conversational themes emerged on more and better data for vulnerable users, such as bicyclists and pedestrians, and regulatory and societal trends with safety implications.
To address specific research and education needs, the final session placed participants into several working groups to concentrate separately on safe infrastructure, safe users, and safe operations. The safe operations group identified pedestrian risk locations and behaviors as a top priority, as well as acquiring data on speed, research on bicycle improvements, and collision data. Among the priorities outlined by the safe infrastructure group, effectiveness of measures to reduce collisions, a template for collection and analysis of collisions, implications of measures on all users, and high-tech solutions for managing risk to lifelines ranked in the top four. Finally, the safe users group cited defining the tipping point of bicycle usage, data acquisition, changing user demographics in transportation, and the notion of designing transportation facilities to elicit safer operating speeds as vital issues for research in the region.
With this information and support, PacTrans is equipped to continue investing in high-impact transportation safety research for the Pacific Northwest.