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UGPTI Staff and Students Present at Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting

Posted: Feb 5, 2020

Staff and students from NDSU's Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute attended and presented at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in Washington, D.C., Jan 12-16. The meeting covered all modes of transportation with more than 5,000 presentations in nearly 800 sessions and workshops. The UGPTI attendees were among the nearly 14,000 scholars, professionals, practitioners, students, and policy makers from around the world who attended.

UGPTI staff and students who presented research at the meeting included the following:

Bhavana Bhardwaj, Pan Lu, Raj Bridgelall, and Neeraj Dhingra presented "Signal feature extraction and combination to enhance the detection and localization of railroad track irregularities." Bridgelall is director of the Center for Surface Mobility Applications and Real-Time Simulation Environments, Lu is a researcher with UGPTI, and Bhardwaj and Dhingra are NDSU transportation and logistics Ph.D. students. The researchers developed an approach to enhance the location identification accuracy of track geometry irregularities by combining measurements from low-cost sensors aboard revenue service trains. In the study, they introduced a method for analyzing data from multiple traversals to locate and characterize irregularities of track geometry.

Bridgelall also presented a poster, "Autonomous Vehicle Impacts on Traffic: Model Contrast for Two Cities." Derek Hungness of SRF Consulting Group was a co-presenter. The researchers modified travel demand models for Madison, WI, and Gainesville, FL, to show how autonomous vehicles may impact traffic congestion, vehicle miles traveled, and other factors.

Lu also moderated a keynote presentation at the annual International Association of Chinese Infrastructure Professionals Workshop during TRB. The keynote, "Empowering and Rejuvenating the Civil Engineering Profession with Informatics, Automation and Actuation," was presented by Genda Chen, professor of civil engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Ranjit Godavarthy, UGPTI researcher, presented "Opportunities for State DOTs to encourage Shared Use Mobility Practices in Rural Areas" to two standing TRB committees: the Committee on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation, and the Committee on Emerging and Innovative Public Transportation and Technologies.

Dale Heglund, director of the North Dakota Technical Assistance Program, presented "Development of a New Daytime Process for the Evaluation of Sign Retroreflectivity." Heglund described work to validate a process developed by Burke County (North Dakota) Road Department employees to assess the retroreflectivity of road signs. The low-cost method can be completed during normal working hours, and allows road agencies to use the full life of each sign.

Jill Hough, director of the Small Urban and Rural Center on Mobility, presented "Mobility Services and Needs of North Dakota's Transit System to provide for North Dakota Residents" as part of a panel titled "Rural Transportation for Everyone: Policy and Practice in 2020." She also served as one of several facilitators who guided small group discussion on how equity can be addressed in a variety of transportation issues and modes.

Ihsan Khan, transportation and logistics Ph.D. student, presented "Survival Analysis of the North Dakota 24/7 Sobriety Program to Predict Recidivism" as a poster. The research examined the effectiveness of North Dakota's 24/7 Sobriety Program for those legally mandated to participate in the program after a second impaired driving offense. It also aimed to identify the likelihood for recidivism related to known characteristics, such as gender, age group, and location. The study results provide licensing and law enforcement agencies with insight for preventing recidivism when dealing with repeat impaired driving offenders. NDSU mathematics Ph.D. student Shantanu Awasthi, NDSU transportation and logistics Ph.D. student Yun Zhou, and NDSU assistant professor of statistics Bong-Jin Choi were co-authors of the study along with UGPTI researchers Kim Vachal and Seguy Tchakounte-Wakem.

Jeremy Mattson, UGPTI researcher, presented "Relationships between Land Use, Transit, and Household Expenditures in Small Urban Areas." In the research, Mattson developed models to estimate the relationships among land use, transit ridership, and household expenditures, with a focus on small urban areas.

Elvis Ndembe, UGPTI researcher, presented "U.S. Ethanol: Evolving Supply Chain and Rail-Truck Competition." His research examined the relationship between corn ethanol and modal competition for local freight transportation. The results point to the potential for rail to compete in local freight markets where trucking was thought to dominate.

Denver Tolliver, UGPTI director, and Pan Lu, UGPTI researcher, presented "Forecasting Railroad Fuel Consumption by Train Type." In the paper they proposed a method for estimating railroad fuel consumption that offers greater accuracy than system-average comparisons, but is much less data intensive than train performance calculators or other analytical methods. The proposed method allows distinctions among types of trains utilized in a corridor and uses a model based on data available from the Surface Transportation Board.

Kim Vachal, director of the Rural Transportation Safety and Security Center, presided over the "Occupant Protection in Rural Communities" session. Presentations covered measurement issues, spatial effects, Native American lands and other geographic areas, and the impact of county-level enforcement.

Vachal also presented a poster, "Promoting Youth Occupant Restraint Based on Need." The study showed that drivers transporting youths between the ages of four and 14 years are in need of programs promoting youth and driver occupant restraint use. When those drivers used seat belts, it was 35 times more likely that youth occupants also used safety restraints. The study also indicated a focus on pickup truck drivers may be needed.

Vachal also presented "Assessing Administrative Record Systems for Use in Impaired Driving Prevention Programs" at a TRB poster session. The research identified opportunities to improve DUI record data quality, facilitate interagency database linkages, and compile sample data. The study was limited to North Dakota records, but it provides insight for other states seeking to advance state agency record quality and accessibility for interdepartmental use in programs such as injury prevention. Former UGPTI researcher Andrew Kubas was a co-author of the study.

Others staff from UGPTI who attended included Joy Annette, Jody Bohn Baldock, Alan Dybing, Brenda Lantz, Diomo Motuba, Kshitij Sharma, and Seguy Tchakounte-Wakem. Transportation and logistics Ph.D. student Yihao Ren also attended.

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