As of October 1, 2016, the SWUTC concluded its 28 years of operation and is no longer an active center of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The archived SWUTC website remains available here.

600451-00003-4 Compendium Abstract

Compendium of Student Papers: 2015 Undergraduate Transportation Scholars Program

Michelle Anderson, and Katherine A. Foreman, Authors, and H. Gene Hawkins, Editor, September 2015

This report is a compilation of research papers written by students participating in the 2015 Undergraduate Transportation Scholars Program. The 10-week summer program, now in its 25th year, provides undergraduate students in Civil Engineering the opportunity to learn about transportation engineering through participating in sponsored transportation research projects. The program design allows students to interact directly with a Texas A&M University faculty member or Texas A&M Transportation Institute researcher in developing a research proposal, conducting valid research, and documenting the research results through oral presentations and research papers.

The papers in this compendium report on the following topics: 1) Traffic Safety Issues and Commercial Motor Vehicle Crashes: A Case Study in the Eagle Ford Shale; and 2) Differences Between Familiar and Unfamiliar Drivers.

Keywords: Commercial Motor Vehicles, Vehicle, Crash, Driver’s Behavior

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 1.8 MB)

Facilitating Historic Preservation through Transit-Oriented Development

Study examines how communities can use transit-oriented development to revitalize historic neighborhoods around stations.

600451-00050-1 Report Abstract

High Speed Rail Distribution Study

Carol Abel Lewis, Ph.D., Latissha Clark, Grace Asanaenyi, Wu Ying, August 2016

The Texas Central Partners are in the process of developing a high speed rail line connecting Houston and Dallas, Texas. Ultimately, plans are for 8 car trains that accommodate 200 people per vehicle scheduled every 30 minutes. In addition, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and officials in Austin, Houston and San Antonio are investigating intercity (interregional) rail to provide frequent rail service linking those cities. After arriving, passengers will need disbursement throughout the cities from the rail terminal station. The menu of options includes passenger pick-up (private by a friend or relative or purchased through a provider), taxi/limousine, rental car or public transportation. This research investigates the distribution patterns of northeastern cities with a history of intercity ground transportation as well as distribution patterns from a Houston area airport to assess the potential modal choices of passengers disembarking from intercity rail systems in Texas. In addition, a gravity formula is applied to several employment/activity locations to anticipate patrons’ distribution choices. The research focuses on the proposed location for the high speed rail terminal.

Keywords: First Mile, Last Mile, Transit Connectivity

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 362 KB)

600451-00071-1 Report Abstract

Quantification of Infrastructure Consumption under Different Axle Configurations and Wheel Loads

Ambarish Banerjee, Maria Burton, and Jorge Prozzi, January 2016

Recent developments in the energy sector in Texas, in particular oil, gas and wind energy, have resulted in increased volumes of traffic generated in areas such as the Barnett Shale, Eagle Ford Shale, Permian Basin, the Texas Panhandle, and others. In the case of oil and gas, the development and operation of a well site requires significant number of truck movements (including oversize/overweight loads) that accelerate the deterioration of the surface transportation network of the state faster that what was designed for. This unanticipated and accelerated deterioration of the road network imposes additional burden on already insufficient maintenance and rehabilitation budgets that affect most state highway agencies in the United States. The energy sector contributes immensely to the economic competitiveness of the State of Texas and the Southwest Region of the United States, but, under the present situation, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) does not have the necessary resources to keep up with reconstruction, rehabilitation or maintenance of the system to keep it safe for the general public. A solution has to be worked out to address this immediate problem.

Keywords: Oversize, Overweight, Trucks, OS/OW, Equivalent Damage Factor, EDF, DARWin-ME, Load Equivalency

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 2.3 MB)

600451-00114-1 Report Abstract

Analysis of Evacuation Clearance Time under Megaregion Disaster Threats

Zhao Zhang and Brian Wolshon, January 2016

The significance and continuous growth of urbanized areas throughout the world has led to the emergence of the global phenomenon of megaregions. Megaregions often share common historical, cultural, environmental, and topographic/geologic systems as well as close economic ties, facilitated by transportation linkages that connect the movement of people and freight. Another characteristic that megaregions also often share are threats from naturally-occurring and manmade disasters. This paper describes a project to better understand, prepare for, and respond to catastrophic disasters in megaregions In the research, a mass evacuation of the United States Gulf Coast megaregion was modeled based on past hurricane scenarios in the area. The results of the analyses revealed how operational characteristics of the megaregion road network vary and how strategies such as temporally-phased evacuations and regional contraflow operations are able increase overall system effectiveness. The results of the simulations also showed numerous limitations of the network as well as existing modeling and computational processing capabilities to create such simulations.

Keywords: Megaregion, Evacuation, Simulation, Modeling, Regional Planning

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 1.5 MB)

600451-00101-1 Report Abstract

Gulf Coast Megaregion Evacuation Traffic Simulation Modeling and Analysis

Zhao Zhang and Brian Wolshon, December 2015

This paper describes a project to develop a micro-level traffic simulation for a megaregion. To accomplish this, a mass evacuation event was modeled using a traffic demand generation process that created a spatial and temporal distribution of departure times, origins, and destinations based on past hurricane scenarios. A megaregion-scale simulation was required to assess this event because only at this level can traffic from multiple cities, over several days, with route assignments in multiple and overlapping directions be analyzed. Among the findings of the research was that it is possible to scale-up and adapt existing models to reflect a simultaneous multi-city evacuation covering a megaregion. The movements generated by the demand and operational models were both logical and meaningful and they were able to capture the key elements of the system, including the traffic progression over vast spaces and long time durations. They were also adequate to demonstrate benefits of proactive traffic management strategies and the effect of increased and decreased advanced warning times. The project also revealed numerous limitations of existing modeling and computational processing capabilities. The knowledge and results gained from this research can be adaptable and transferable for the evaluation of other locations with different road networks, populations, transportation resources, and hazard threats. Models such as this can be modified to represent anticipated growth and development within large regions and can be used to evaluate the interrelationships between behavioral response and regional transportation management strategies.

Keywords: Megaregion, Evacuation, Simulation, Modeling, Regional Planning

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 802 KB)

5-6758-01-1 Report Abstract

Project Consistency with Transportation Plans and Air Quality Conformity Workshops

Reza Farzaneh, Megan Kenney, and Jolanda Prozzi, April 2015

This implementation project supports streamlined project delivery, one of the goals outlined by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) leadership to achieve an efficient and effective transportation system in Texas. The project benefits TxDOT divisions, districts, and metropolitan planning organizations during the project development process. This project was developed to help TxDOT implement the findings of TxDOT Project 0-6758: Maintaining Project Consistency with Transportation Plans throughout the Project Life Cycle with an Emphasis on Maintaining Air Quality Conformity. The research team organized and conducted four training workshops in Houston, El Paso, and Dallas District offices; and at the 2014 TxDOT Environmental Conference in Galveston. In addition to the training slides, the participants received the Project Consistency Guidebook, which documents procedures, tools, and recommendations to prevent and address project inconsistencies throughout the project development process. The research team collected and documented feedback from the participants. Researchers then finalized the training materials based on workshop feedback. The research team submitted the final training materials to TxDOT’s Human Resources Training Program for inclusion in the TxDOT employee training catalog and the TxDOT iWay training system.

Keywords: Project Development Process, Project Consistency, Transportation Planning, Transportation Conformity, Project Delay, Project Communication

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 208 KB)

2015 SWUTC Robert Herman Award for Most Outstanding Student

Kristie Chin Selected to Receive 2015 Robert Herman Award –

Kristie_Chin_webKristie Chin is a visionary leader in transportation with experience in performance management, strategic planning, and public policy. She is pursuing a M.S./Ph.D. in Transportation Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin as a graduate research assistant to Dr. C. Michael Walton. Her research with the Texas Technology Task Force is focused on developing a Strategic Technology Business Plan (STBP) for the Texas Department of Transportation. Based upon close collaboration with public agencies, industry thought leaders, and research institutions, the STBP identifies key strategies for deploying emerging technologies in an effort to improve safety, mobility, and economic competitiveness. In her thesis, Communicating Value to Stakeholders: A Customer-Oriented KPI System for State DOTs, Ms. Chin develops a framework for aligning state DOT goals with external stakeholder priorities. In addition, Ms. Chin is actively involved in professional development activities. Recently, she represented UT Austin at the 2015 Eno Future Leaders Development Conference. As former president of the Institute of Transportation Engineers student chapter, she served as a leader of the organization by growing a passionate officer team, galvanizing members, and spearheading the inaugural TexITE Student Leadership Summit. Her work experience includes positions at the City of South Bend, David M. Schwarz Architects, DLZ, and Gilbane. Ms. Chin graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Master of Architecture and from Brown University with a Sc.B./A.B. in Civil Engineering and Architectural Studies. Applying her interdisciplinary knowledge, Ms. Chin excels in technical and creative tasks to generate innovative and sustainable solutions.  Because of her demonstrated outstanding academic, leadership and research accomplishments, Ms. Chin was selected to represent the SWUTC as the 2015 Student of the Year.

This award, presented yearly by the SWUTC, comes with a $1,000 cash award.


2015 SWUTC Naomi Ledé Outstanding Masters Student Award

Megan Hoklas Selected to Receive 2015 Naomi Ledé Outstanding Masters Student Award –

Megan_Hoklas_webMegan’s passion for transportation engineering began while she was studying abroad in Vienna, Austria. Riding the U-bahn was her first encounter with a rapid transit system; experiencing its efficiency firsthand ignited a fire in her to learn more about transportation systems and people’s travel behavior patterns.

While completing her bachelors at the University of Texas at Austin, Megan participated in the Undergraduate Summer Internship in Transportation program where she assisted a graduate student with their Transportation Research Board paper. This resulted in her being named co-author on An Empirical Investigation into the Time-Use and Activity Patterns of Dual-Earner Couples With and Without Young Children. Thereafter, she became an undergraduate research assistant under Dr. Chandra Bhat working on various Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) projects, which continued into her master’s program at UT Austin.

Megan wrote her master’s thesis on An Integrated Latent Construct Modeling Framework for Predicting Physical Activity Engagement and Health Outcomes, which focused on the connection between public health and human activity-travel patterns. Beyond academics, Megan was an officer in the Institute of Transportation Engineering UT Chapter, a part of the winning 2014 National Grand Championship Traffic Bowl team, and a grader for undergraduate transportation classes at UT.

She graduated in December 2014 with her Masters and is now a traffic engineer-in-training at HDR, Inc in Austin, Texas. It is her ultimate goal to create an efficient transportation system in Texas that will positively impact the community and those riding it, the same way the U-bahn impacted hers.

This award is presented annually by the SWUTC and comes with a $1,000 cash award.

2015 SWUTC William Harris Award for Outstanding PhD Student

Lacy Brown Selected to Receive 2015 William Harris Award –

Lacy_Brown_small_webLacy received her Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Idaho in 2006 and moved to Denver, Colorado to work as a transportation engineer for a small consulting firm. After gaining a few years of practical experience, Lacy decided to return to graduate school and attended Oregon State University, where she received her Master’s degree in 2012. In the fall of 2012, Lacy was awarded the Dwight D. Eisenhower Graduate Transportation Fellowship which allowed her to make the cross-country move and pursue her doctoral degree at Texas A&M University. Lacy’s research has focused on access management and transportation safety, and she has been involved in several national research projects, including the development of the TRB Access Management Manual. As part of her dissertation, Lacy developed a new method for evaluating corridor access management. Her work has been published in multiple journals and she has also presented her research at many local, regional, and national conferences. During her graduate studies, Lacy has been an active member of ITE and is also a young member of the TRB Access Management Committee. Lacy will be receiving her Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M in December. She is currently working as a transportation engineer at DKS Associates in Oregon, where she is also a registered Professional Engineer.

This award is presented annually by the SWUTC and comes with a $1,000 cash award.

TAMU Undergraduate Transportation Scholars Program Completes 25th Session

2015 Participants and Mentors

2015 Transportation Scholars Program Participants (L-R) Dr. David Bierling (Mentor), Michelle Anderson (Participant), Katherine Foreman (Participant), and Dr. Brad Brimley (Mentor)

The SWUTC sponsored Undergraduate Transportation Scholars Program (UTSP) at Texas A&M University concluded it’s twenty-fifth successful year in August. This annual summer program, directed by Dr. Gene Hawkins, recruits upper-level undergraduate students from diverse academic backgrounds into a 10-week program designed to provide each student with a research/work experience that will help them get a head start on their careers. The individual students are paired with a mentor while in the program, who assist the student in developing a research proposal, conducting a small transportation engineering research project, presenting findings to peers, and preparing a paper in journal format. While in the program, students make field trips to various transportation agencies and attend professional meetings such as the summer meeting of TexITE. At the end of the term, students make presentations on their research and produce a paper for publication.

On July 31st, the two students sponsored this summer by the UTSP made their final research presentations to a room of transportation professionals at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s State Headquarters and Research Building on the TAMU campus.  Katherine Foreman from University of Louisiana at Lafayette (Dr. Brad Brimley, mentor) presented her research on Behavioral Differences between Familiar and Unfamiliar Drivers.  And Michelle Anderson from the University of Alabama Huntsville (Dr. David Bierling, mentor) presented her research on Traffic Safety Issues and Commercial Motor Vehicle Crashes:  A Case Study in the Eagle Ford Shale.

These papers will be published in the Compendium of Student Papers and made available in the publications section of this website.

60059-2 Report Abstract

Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of CNG Urban Taxi Operations

Mark A. Euritt, October, 1993

Increased emphasis on energy efficiency and air quality has resulted in a number of state and federal initiatives examining the use of alternative fuels for motor vehicles. Texas’ program for alternate fuels includes compressed natural gas (CNG). Based on an analysis of 30-year life-cycle costs, CNG is a cost-effective option for high-mileage taxi operations. High mileage is defined as at least 83,586 miles (134,573 km) for a fleet of 5 taxis, 35,769 miles (57,588 km) for a fleet of 25 taxis, and 30,193 miles
(48,611 km) for a fleet of 50 taxis. The largest fleet (50) generates an Internal Rate of Return on investment of 30 percent; 22.5 percent is realized for the medium (25) fleet, and 11 percent for the small (5) fleet. Availability of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) dedicated natural gas vehicles is vital to the future success of CNG taxi operations. OEM vehicles offer important efficiency gains needed to justify the purchase of CNG vehicles.

Keywords: Alternate Fuels, Energy Efficiency, Air Quality, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Vehicles, Life- Cycle Costs, Cost-Effective, High-Mileage (Urban) Taxi Operations, Fleet, Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), Analysis, Internal Rate of Return, Public Refueling

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 5.7 MB)

2014 SWUTC Robert Herman Award for Most Outstanding Student

Brad Brimley Selected to Receive 2014 Robert Herman Award –


Brad Brimley

Brad has been affiliated with the Southwest Region University Transportation Center since 2010 when he was selected to participate in the summer Undergraduate Transportation Scholar’s Program at Texas A&M University. A program designed to attract top students from across the country to research and education opportunities in transportation engineering at TAMU. Brad, who received his BS and Masters from Brigham Young University, chose TAMU to pursue his PhD studies. During his time at TAMU, and as a member of the SWUTC Transportation Scholars Program, Brad has shown that he is an outstanding student and a thoughtful and insightful researcher with extraordinary skills. He has taken the leadership role in conducting research for the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, developing rigorous research methods and pertinent results while authoring and presenting numerous papers related to traffic operations, human factors and transportation economics topics. Brad has also won many awards such as receiving an Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship, scholarships from the Houston Section of ITE, national ITE and ITS Texas, and selected to participate in the 2013 ENO Leadership Development Conference. Brad’s dissertation is titled Visual Attention and Driver Performance on Horizontal Curves. Brad has strong interest in becoming a transportation professor where he hopes his activities as a faculty member will influence both students and practitioners alike.  He is currently a post-doc Associate Transportation Researcher in the Traffic Operations Division at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Because of his demonstrated outstanding academic, leadership and research accomplishments, Brad was selected to represent the SWUTC as the 2014 Student of the Year.

This award, presented yearly by the SWUTC, comes with a $1,000 cash award.

2014 SWUTC Naomi Ledé Outstanding Masters Student Award

Lucien Bruno Selected to Receive 2014 Naomi Ledé Outstanding Masters Student Award –

Lucien Bruno2

Lucien Bruno

With a bachelor from Tulane University, Lucien pursued on his Masters at the University of New Orleans in Urban and Regional Planning. While at UNO, Lucien participated in the SWUTC research program assisting with issues related to transportation and land use policy. During the summer of 2013, Lucien served as an intern in Indore, India with EMBARQ India working on the implementation of the city’s first bus rapid transit project. This position resulted in the publication of “Indore iBus BRT Corridor Safety Audit” and “The iBus Story: Implementing Bus Rapid Transit in Indore.” Both publications were written for EMBARQ India to implement policies towards the adoption of this new high-profile transit system in India. Lucien has an impressive multicultural background for being a US native citizen. He has lived and studied abroad and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. While at UNO, Lucien maintained a 4.0 GPA and is an Eisenhower Transportation Fellow. Lucien wrote his master’s thesis on Contested Road Space: Public Narrative and Bus Rapid Transit in Indore, India. He graduated in May 2014 with his Masters and is now a full time transportation planner with a leading consulting firm based in Seattle Washington.

This award is presented annually by the SWUTC and comes with a $1,000 cash award.

2014 SWUTC William Harris Award for Outstanding PhD Student

Meredith Cebelak Selected to Receive 2014 William Harris Award –


Meredith Cebelak

After receiving her BS in Civil Engineering at the University of Florida in 2001, Meredith worked for 10 years in the private sector on issues related to intelligent transportation systems and traffic engineering.  She decided to continue her education at the University of Texas at Austin obtaining her Masters in 2013 and is now pursuing her PhD with an anticipate graduation in 2015. During this time, Meredith has been supported by the SWUTC with scholarships through UT-Austin Advanced Institute. Her Master’s Thesis employed data from FourSquare and other smartphone check-in applications to help understand travel frequency behavior. This innovative work was recently recognized at the ENO Conference in Washington DC. She has also been nationally recognized as a Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation fellow as well as an ENO fellow. She has presented work in the location based social networking travel demand modeling arena at multiple Transportation Research Board conferences as well as at the ITS Europe 2014 conference. While pursuing her academic studies, she has been engaged in several highly visible and demanding research studies supported by TxDOT. She also currently serves as President of the UT student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. For these accomplishments coupled with her excellent communication skills and her intellectual ability to develop insights in complex issues, Meredith was selected to receive the outstanding SWUTC PhD student award.

This award is presented annually by the SWUTC and comes with a $1,000 cash award.

Steve Boyles Receives CUTC New Faculty Award

Dr. Boyles accepting his award

Dr. Boyles accepting his award.

Assistant Professor and SWUTC Researcher Stephen Boyles from the University of Texas was selected for the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC-ARTBA) New Faculty Award.  This award honors tenure-track educators who have made outstanding teaching and research contributions in the transportation field.  Dr. Boyles formally received the award at the CUTC Annual Awards Banquet on January 10, 2015, in Washington, D.C.


Mike Walton Inducted into Texas Transportation Hall of Honor

On December 1, 2014, CTR was honored as Dr. C. Michael Walton was inducted into the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor. The ceremony took place at the AT&T Conference Center with many key figures in the Texas transportation field in attendance.

The Hall of Honor, established in January 2000, provides the opportunity for transportation professionals to recognize the state’s pioneering transportation leaders. Dr. Walton joins as the 40th member of this Hall of Honor.

The induction ceremony followed the 2014 CTR Texas Distinguished Lecture Series in Transportation. After a welcome from CTR Director Chandra Bhat, the Hall of Honor Board Chair Dennis Christiansen provided an overview of the Hall of Honor’s history and role in Texas transportation. Then some of Dr. Walton’s colleagues and collaborators remarked on his distinguished career. These speakers included Bob Skinner (Executive Director, Transportation Research Board), John Barton (Deputy Executive Director, Texas Department of Transportation), Linda Watson (President & CEO, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority), Nicholas Rubio (US President, Cintra), Sharon Wood (Dean, Cockrell School of Engineering), and Valerie Briggs (Director, National Highway Institute).


Dr. Walton’s plaque will be permanently displayed at the Hall of Honor, located in College Station. Presenters pictured (left to right): Rubio, Bhat, Watson, Walton, Barton, Christiansen, Skinner.

600451-00082-1 Report Abstract

Real-time Optimization of Passenger Collection for Commuter Rial Systems

Yao Yu, Randy Machemehl, and Shadi Hakimi, September, 2014

Commuter rail systems are being introduced into many urban areas as an alternative mode to automobiles for commuting trips. The shift from the auto mode to rail mode is anticipated to greatly help alleviate traffic congestion in urban road networks. However, the right-of-way of many existing commuter rail systems is usually not ideally located. Since the locations of rail systems were typically chosen long ago to serve the needs of freight customers, the majority of current commuter rail passengers have to take a non-walkable connecting trip to reach their final destinations after departing even the most conveniently located rail stations. To make rail a more viable, competitive commuting option, a bus feeder or circulator system is proposed for seamlessly transporting passengers from their departing rail stations to final work destinations. The primary research challenge in modeling such a bus circulator system is to optimally determine a bus route and stop sequence for each circulating tour using the real-time demand information. In this paper, we termed this joint routing and stop optimization problem the circulator service network design problem, the objective of which is to minimize the total tour cost incurred by bus passengers and operators while minimizing the walk time of each individual bus passenger. A bi-level nonlinear mixed integer programming model was constructed and a tabu search method with different local search strategies and neighborhood evaluation methods was then developed to tackle the circulator service network design problem.

Keywords: Transit Circulator Service, Leader-Follower Game, Bi-level Optimization Model, Combinatorial Optimization, Traveling Salesman Problem, Tabu Search

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 900 KB)

600451-00026-1 Report Abstract

Performance Measures for Multi-vehicle Allowance Shuttle Transit (MAST) System

Luca Quadrifoglio, Kai Yin, and Wei Lu, September, 2014

This study investigates the performance measures for multi-vehicle mobility allowance shuttle transit (MAST) system. Particularly, researchers were primarily concerned with two measures, waiting time and ride time, to evaluate the performance and help design of m-MAST systems. The MAST system is an innovative concept that allows transit vehicles to deviate from a fixed route consisting of a few mandatory checkpoints to serve on-demand customers within a predetermined service area, and thus can be both affordable and convenient enough to attract the general public. For the MAST system, the fixed route can be either a loop or a line between two terminals. The checkpoints are usually located at major transfer stops or high demand zones and are relatively far from each other. Researchers developed analytical results for the waiting time probability distribution and its expected value as well as the expected ride time for different types of customers in terms of the system parameters for both 1-MAST system and multi-vehicle MAST (m-MAST). Researchers also discussed the assumptions behind the estimation. Based on the analytical results, researchers provided the inherent constraints between these parameters and demand.

Keywords: Hybrid Transit, Analytical Modeling, Performance Measures

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 456 KB)

600451-00045-1 Report Abstract

Safety Performance for Freeway Weaving Segments

Yi Qi, Jie Liu and Yubain Wang, September, 2014

The intensive lane change maneuvers at weaving sections often result in safety and operational problems. Various factors, including the design of ramp roadways, use of auxiliary lanes, and continuity of lanes will have significant effects on the level of service and safety performance of the weaving sections. This study investigated the safety performance of freeway weaving sections and developed a quantitative model for predicting the safety impacts of different types of geometric treatments for freeway weaving sections. The results of this study show that weaving sections with longer length will have lower crash frequency per 1000 ft., more required lane changes for diverge vehicles will result in more crashes in the freeway weaving section, increasing merge traffic in the weaving sections will slightly reduce the crash risk at this section, and increasing diverge traffic in the weaving sections will increase the crash risk at this section. In this study, Crash Modification Factors (CMFs) were also developed based on the developed crash prediction model for estimating the impacts of different safety treatments for the freeway weaving sections.

Keywords: Freeway Weaving Section, Poisson Regression Model, Safety Performance, Crash Modification Factors (CMFs)

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 1.3 MB)

Zhanmin Zhang Selected to Serve as Council Chair

Zhanmin Zhang

Zhanmin Zhang

University of Texas at Austin Associate Professor, and SWUTC Executive Committee member, Zhanmin Zhang has recently been selected to serve as Council Chair of the Mode Spanning Council by the Transportation and Development Institute’s (T&DI) Board of Governors.  T&DI is one of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) eight specialty institutes.  His term begins immediately.

Zhang has worked extensively with T&DI. He was elected to serve as Vice Chair of the Infrastructure Systems Committee from March 2009 to October 2012. Then he was appointed to serve as Chair of the Infrastructure Systems Committee in October 2012.

As Council Chair of the Mode Spanning Council, Zhang will be overseeing four T&DI technical committees for ASCE: Advanced Technologies Committee; Infrastructure Systems Committee; Intermodal & Logistics Committee; and Transportation Safety Committee.


Kara Kockelman Receives ASCE James Laurie Prize

Dr. Kara Kockelman

Dr. Kara Kockelman

SWUTC researcher and transportation engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Kara Kockelman was selected as the recipient of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) James Laurie Prize in Transportation Engineering.

She is recognized for “innovative data acquisition and analysis efforts, outstanding contributions to the study of highway safety and crash occurrence, travel behavior, vehicle and driver characteristics, road pricing, spatial statistics, and energy and climate issues, providing guidance for transportation planners and policymakers.”

Kockelman will receive the award during the 2nd T&DI Congress in Orlando, Florida in June 2014.

SWUTC Researcher Wins CUTC New Faculty Award

Dr. Amit Bhasin

Dr. Amit Bhasin

Dr. Amit Bhasin, SWUTC researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded the New Faculty Award from CUTC during their January 2014 meeting in Washington D.C. This award recognizes significant achievements of young faculty members.

“We are so fortunate to have Amit. He’s a research leader in his field, and an incredible mentor for our students. His research is absolutely cutting-edge, and he truly deserves this credit. It’s another great example of our faculty and researchers being at the forefront of intellectual innovation” stated fellow faculty member, Dr. Chandra Bhat.

600451-00062-1 Report Abstract

Wetting Characteristics of Asphalt Binders at Mixing Temperatures

Patricia Hennig Osmari, Zelalem Arega, and Amit Bhasin, October 2013

Conventional hot mix asphalt (HMA) is produced by heating the aggregate and the asphalt binder to elevated
temperatures that are typically in the range of 150C to 160C. These temperatures ensure that the viscosity of the asphalt binder is low enough to effectively coat the aggregate particles. During the past decade, warm mix asphalt (WMA) has been introduced to reduce the mixing temperatures by approximately 30C compared to HMA. Workability at these reduced temperatures is typically achieved by the use of chemical additives in the asphalt binder or by foaming the asphalt binder using small percentages of water. The use of WMA is associated with advantages such as reduced emissions during mixture production, extended paving season and reduced aging in the asphalt binder. In case of the WMA and the HMA, one of the important physical properties that dictates the quality of coating is the surface tension of the asphalt binder at mixing temperatures. In this study, the surface tension of different liquid asphalt binders was measured at typical mixing temperatures. The effect of binder type, temperature, and chemical additives used to produce WMA on the surface tension of the binder was evaluated. Three different binders with and without three different chemical additives were used in this study. The dynamic surface tension was measured using four different rates of surface formation and at several different temperatures within the range of 140C and 170C. Results show that the surface tension of asphalt binder depends on the rate of surface formation, temperature and source of the asphalt binder. Dynamic surface tension of asphalt binders suggests that asphalt binders behave similar to surfactants. The addition of chemical warm mix additives did not significantly reduce the surface tension of the binder compared to the control.

Keywords: Warm Mix Asphalt, Hot Mix Asphalt, Workability, Surface Tension, Asphalt Binder

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 6.4 MB)

600451-00012-1 Report Abstract

Comparison of Fatigue Analysis Approaches for Hot-Mix Asphalt to Ensure a State of Good Repair

Amy Epps Martin, Edith Arambula, M. Emin Kutay, James Lawrence, Xue Luo, and Robert Lytton, October 2013

Fatigue cracking is a primary form of distress in hot-mix asphalt. The long-term nature of fatigue due to repeated loading and aging and its required tie to pavement structure present challenges in terms of evaluating mixture resistance. This project focused on comparing stiffness and fatigue life output from two recently developed approaches that use repeated direct tension tests: the Modified Calibrated Mechanistic with Surface Energy (CMSE*) approach and the Push-Pull Viscoelastic Continuum Damage (PP-VECD) approach.

The CMSE* and the PP-VECD approaches were applied to both laboratory and field specimens for two mixtures, one from SH 24 in the Paris (PAR) District and one from US 277 in the Laredo (LRD) District of the Texas Department of Transportation, and the results were compared. Both approaches can be used to characterize mixture fatigue resistance with relatively low variability. Based on stiffness, both approaches predict better resistance (lower stiffness) for the PAR mixture based on laboratory results but that the mixtures would have equivalent resistance based on field results for the CMSE* approach. There was also good agreement between laboratory and field specimens for the LRD mixture.

The two approaches define fatigue failure in different ways, and thus the rankings of mixture resistance may be different. For the CMSE* approach, the stiffer LRD mixture based on laboratory specimens results in a longer fatigue life, while for the PP-VECD approach, this mixture results in a shorter fatigue life. In addition, the PP-VECD approach outputs significantly lower fatigue lives than the CMSE* approach does due to differences in the analysis including critical strain values and accumulation of damage.

The CMSE* approach only requires a single test sequence, and thus fewer resources in terms of specimens and time are needed. However, the PP-VECD approach is more user friendly in terms of the analysis, and some of the required inputs (E*) can be used to evaluate mixture resistance to other distresses. Field specimens can be tested and analyzed using both approaches. Ultimately, the laboratory approach used should tie to field performance.

Keywords: Fatigue Resistance, Direct Tension Testing, Asphalt Mixtures, Push-Pull Testing

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 583 KB)

600451-00021-1 Dissertation Abstract

Performance Analysis of Isolated Intersection Traffic Signals

Kai Yin, October 2013

This dissertation analyzes two unsolved problems to fulfill the gap in the literature: (1). What is the
vehicle delay and intersection capacity considering left-turn traffic at a pre-timed signal? (2). What are the mean and variance of delay to vehicles at a vehicle-actuated signal?

The first part of this research evaluates the intersection performance in terms of capacity and delay at an isolated pre-timed signal intersection.  Despite of a large body of literature on pre-timed signals, few studies have examined the interactions between left-turn and through vehicles.  In order to examine this missing part of study on the signalized intersection, two probabilistic models are proposed to deal with the left-turn bay blockage and queue spillback in a heuristic manner.  The second part of this research studies an isolated intersection with vehicle-actuated signal.  The actuated system dynamically allocates the green time among multiple approaches according to vehicle arrivals.  We develop a model to study the vehicle delay under a general arrival distribution with a given unit extension.  The model allows optimizing the signal performance over the unit extension.  The third part of this research applies graphical methods and diffusion approximations to the traffic signal problems.  We reinterpret a graphical method originally proposed by Newell in order to directly measure the variance of the time for the queue clearance at a signalized intersection.  Furthermore, we investigate the problems of disruptions occurred during a pretimed traffic signal cycle.  By diffusion approximation, we provide the quantitative estimation of the duration that the effects of disruptions dissipate.

Keywords: Traffic Signal, Isolated Intersection, Left-turn Traffic, Actuated Signal, Graphical Methods, Diffusion Approximation

ENTIRE DISSERTATION (Adobe Acrobat File – 18.5 MB)

Godazi Elected as National Technical Association Officer

khosr 2013 reduced

Mr. Khosro Godazi

Khosro Godazi, SWUTC Associate Director for Transportation Research at Texas Southern University was elected as Southwest Region Director for the National Technical Association (NTA) on September 20, 2013.

As the nation’s oldest (since 1925) technical association of minority scientists and engineers, NTA remains pledged to insure that science and technology serve the needs of the minority community.  Through this appointment, Mr. Godazi will coordinate NTA activities in the southwest region.  Including, supporting the annually hosted Technical Symposium which allows minorities who are our future scientists, engineers, doctors, technicians, machinists, information systems and programmers the opportunity to enrich their science awareness.

600451-00022-1 Dissertation Abstract

A Methodology for Developing Performance-related Specifications for Pavement Preservation Treatments

Litao Liu, September 2013

Current materials and construction specifications for pavement preservation treatments are predominantly prescriptive and they have little or no methodical linkage between initial treatment quality and future performance.  There is an imperative need for performance-related specifications (PRS) that link the initial quality of pavement preservation treatments to their long-term performance and life-cycle costs so that rational pay adjustment and acceptance decisions can be made.  However, the current literature lacks a methodology for developing PRS for pavement preservation treatments.  The aim of this research is to fill this gap in the literature, with focus on thin HMA overlays.

In this dissertation, a novel approach was devised for developing performance prediction models for pavements that received preservation treatments.  In this approach, the model consists of two tightly-coupled components:   the first component is responsible for predicting the performance (e.g., IRI) of the existing pavement if no treatment was applied. The second component is responsible for predicting the reduction in pavement deterioration due to the application of the treatment. Inputs to the first component include material and construction properties of the existing pavement layers, climatic conditions, and traffic factors. Inputs to the second component include the treatment’s acceptance quality characteristics (AQCs), climatic conditions, and traffic factors.  The artificial neural networks (ANNs) and the Bayesian regression methods were used for developing the two model components.  Using this approach, a model was developed for predicting the International Roughness Index (IRI) of flexible pavement treated with thin HMA overlay.  The data used for developing and testing this model was obtained from the Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) database. Artificial neural networks (ANNs) and Bayesian regression techniques were employed for developing the first and second components of this model, respectively.

A PRS methodology was developed for quantifying the difference between the initial quality levels of as-constructed and as-designed treatments. This methodology consists of a novel approach for determining the probability distributions of service life and present-worth value (PWV). This approach allows for transforming the probabilistic distribution of future IRI (predicted by the Bayesian model) into probability distributions for service life and PWV. Pay factors are then estimated based on the difference between the as-constructed and target PWVs. Finally, this dissertation provides insights into the relationships between initial quality (measured in terms of both mean and standard deviation of key acceptance quality characteristics) and expected pay factors through analysis of real world case studies of asphalt pavements treated with thin HMA overlays.

Keywords: Pavement Preservation, Performance-related Specifications, Performance Prediction Models, Life-cycle Cost Analysis

ENTIRE DISSERTATION (Adobe Acrobat File – 4.7 MB)

600451-00070-1 Report Abstract

Cycling in the African American Community:  Safety Training Guidelines and Findings

Talia McCray, Teri Durden, Eileen Schaubert, August 2013

This report is a program user’s manual for the Cycling in the African American Community (CAAC) safety training intervention.  The CAAC safety training intervention was designed to “nudge” more African Americans, who are often beginning cyclists or non-cyclists, to participate in a physical activity that promotes health and builds community.  One of the most cited reasons for not riding is that cycling is perceived as being unsafe.  The CAAC intervention attempts to address this issue through a carefully designed safety intervention that encompasses a pre and post survey, used in conjunction with an on-road cycling curriculum.  The report includes best practices for staging the intervention and analyzing outcomes.  Preliminary findings show that the safety training is significantly improving perceptions of cycling.

Keywords: Cycling, Transportation, Training, African Americans, Safety, Bicycle

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 1.7 MB)

600451-00063-1 Report Abstract

A New Spatial Multiple Discrete-Continuous Modeling Approach to Land Use Change Analysis

Subodh K. Dubey and Chandra R. Bhat, September 2013

This report formulates a multiple discrete-continuous probit (MDCP) land-use model within a spatially explicit economic structural framework for land-use change decisions. The spatial MDCP model is capable of predicting both the type and intensity of urban development patterns over large geographic areas, while also explicitly acknowledging geographic proximity-based spatial dependencies in these patterns. At a methodological level, the report focuses on specifying and estimating a spatial MDCP model that allows the dependent variable to exist in multiple discrete states with an intensity associated with each discrete state. The formulation also accommodates spatial dependencies, as well as spatial heterogeneity and heteroscedasticity, in the dependent variable, and should be applicable in a wide variety of fields where social and spatial dependencies between decision agents (or observation units) lead to spillover effects in multiple discrete-continuous choices (or states). A simulation exercise is undertaken to evaluate the ability of the proposed maximum approximate composite marginal likelihood (MACML) approach to recover parameters from a cross-sectional spatial MDCP model. The results show that the MACML approach does well in recovering parameters. An empirical demonstration of the approach is undertaken using the city of Austin parcel level land use data.

Keywords:  Spatial Econometrics, Multiple Discrete-Continuous Model, Random-coefficients, Land Use Analysis, MACML Approach

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 1.9 MB)

600451-00074-1 Report Abstract

Future Mobility Demand in Megaregions:  A National Study with a Focus on the Gulf Coast

Ming Zhang and Wenjia Zhang, September 2013

About three fourth of national population and wealth are concentered in the 11 megaregional areas that occupy one fourth of the land areas in the US. NHTS reveal that megaregions also concentrate current and future mobility demand. This report presents an approach that utilizes aggregate data for mobility study (for both passenger and freight) in a megaregional scale through a case study of the Gulf Coast megaregion (GCM). GCM exhibits unique travel characteristics relative to the national trend. A preliminary analysis on freight flow was also conducted for the GCM areas utilizing the 2002 and 2007 Commodity Flow Survey (CFS) data. The study shows that the GCM area would experience an enormous amount of mobility growth by year 2050. The per capita traffic volume generated by each traveler in 2050 would double the 2010 level. The total traffic volume in 2050 would grow much faster, four times higher than in 2010. Freight demand in the GCM area is also fast growing. The projected trends of future travel demand indicate a growing pressure on the transportation infrastructure in GCM. It is unlikely that the demand for high-speed travel can all be met by air travel. Accordingly, planning for megaregional transportation should seriously consider high-speed travel in the form of High Speed Rail (HSR) to accommodate the future travel demand in the GCM area.

Keywords: Travel Demand, Megaregion, the Gulf Coast Megaregion (GCM), High-speed Travel

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 1.6 MB)

600451-00015-1 Report Abstract

U in the Driver Seat – A Peer-to-Peer Pilot Program for Decreasing Car Crashes by College Students

Stacey M. Tisdale, April 2013

The goal of this project was to build a peer-to-peer (P2P) model targeted toward the college-age audience called “U in the Driver Seat” at two college campuses. We performed the following tasks:

  • Conducted pre- and post-assessments of driving risk awareness and self-reported driving behavior;
  • Performed field observations of seat belt use and driver’s use of electronic device(s);
  • Established a leadership team at each campus;
  • Provided safety messages and promotional items to the team;
  • Provided ideas for project/safety messaging activities to the team;
  • Assisted the teams in establishing a student-run designated driver program

Objectives of the study included:

  • Gaining a better understanding of risk awareness and attitudes towards driving dangers;
  • Measuring success of P2P messaging and activities for college-aged audience;
  • Increasing understanding of safety messaging and design elements effective with this age group;
  • Improving the program model

Keywords: Traffic Safety, Peer-to-Peer, College Program, Risk Awareness, Young Adult, Peer Leader

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 1.9 MB)

600451-00067-1 Report Abstract

Life-cycle Energy Implications of Different Residential Settings:  Recognizing Buildings, Travel, and Public Infrastructure

Brice Nichols and Kara Kockelman, August, 2013

The built environment can be used to influence travel demand, but very few studies consider the relative energy savings of such policies in context of a complex urban system. This analysis quantifies the day-to-day and embodied energy consumption of four different neighborhoods in Austin, Texas, to examine how built environment variations influence various sources of urban energy consumption. A microsimulation combines models for petroleum use (from driving) and residential and commercial power and natural gas use with rigorously measured building stock and infrastructure materials quantities (to arrive at embodied energy). Results indicate that the more suburban neighborhoods, with mostly detached single-family homes, consume up to 320% more embodied energy, 150% more operational energy, and about 160% more total life-cycle energy (per capita) than a densely developed neighborhood with mostly low-rise-apartments and duplexes. Across all neighborhoods, operational energy use comprised 83 to 92% of total energy use, and transportation sources (including personal vehicles and transit, plus street, parking structure, and sidewalk infrastructure) made up 44 to 47% of the life-cycle energy demands tallied. Energy elasticity calculations across the neighborhoods suggest that increased population density and reduced residential unit size offer greatest life-cycle energy savings per capita, by reducing both operational demands from driving and home energy use, and from less embodied energy from construction. The results support the notion that transportation and the built environment are strongly linked, and improving urban energy efficiency must come from policies and designs targeting embodied sources, not just a household’s travel and daily energy consumption.

Keywords:  Life-cycle Energy Use, Urban Systems, Neighborhood Design, Built Environment, Vehicle-Miles Traveled, Land Use Patterns, Sustainability Levers, Smart Growth

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 817 KB)

Tooley Named ARTBA Vice Chairman at Large

Melissa Tooley

Dr. Melissa Tooley

Melissa Tooley, SWUTC Director at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), has been elected vice chairman at large for the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). Results of the nominating process were announced during ARTBA’s National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September 8-12. Tooley’s election represents the first time a TTI employee has been elected to ARTBA’s executive committee.

“This is a significant position in a very powerful national organization,” says TTI Agency Director Dennis Christiansen of Tooley’s election.

Established in 1902, ARTBA is the nation’s oldest and largest transportation association “whose primary goal is to aggressively grow and protect transportation infrastructure investment to meet the public and business demand for safe and efficient travel.”

Based in Washington, D.C., ARTBA consists of 5,000 public- and private-sector members and is actively involved in all transportation-related issues. The executive committee consists of 15 transportation professionals from around the country, each of whom serves a one-year term. Six of the individuals, including Tooley, were elected to at-large positions and will help determine ARTBA’s stance on issues impacting the association.

“This is a huge honor and responsibility,” Tooley notes. “ARTBA is known worldwide for its visionary leadership and I look forward to the coming year.”

TxDOT – SWUTC Collaborate on New Educational Opportunity for Summer 2013

TxDOT Undergraduate Summer Internship

This pilot TxDOT program, coordinated by the SWUTC, was a paid 10-week program for undergraduate engineering or planning students with an interest in transportation research. After a competitive selection process, two students were chosen to participate in this year’s program. Gabriel Landaverde and Hunter Smith, are both Texas A&M University students with an interest in transportation. They are studying construction management and urban planning, respectively.

2013 TxDOT Summer Interns-2

TxDOT Interns with TTI Research Supervisors. L-R Boya Dai, Gabriel Landaverde, Hunter Smith and Joan Hudson.

While participating in the program, the students divided their time between the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Austin office where they were paired up with senior researchers and participated in sponsored research efforts, and the TxDOT Headquarters Office in Austin where they gained a behind-the-scene look into the operations of a major state agency.

At TTI, the students helped create a bicycle crash database with Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Analysis Tool (PBCAT) and Google Earth.  The database contains details associated with crashes between motor vehicles and bicycles.  The development and analysis of this database will help improve bicycling safety.  They also assisted TTI researchers with updating the shoulder width data from the 2010 Road-Highway Inventory Network (RHiNO) file.  This work is part of the Austin Bicycle Master Plan.  The data will be used for prioritizing bike lane projects along the on-system roadways in the Austin region.

2013 TxDOT Summer Interns-1

Gabe and Hunter with TxDOT RTI Program Manager Cary Choate

During their time at TxDOT, the interns attended numerous TxDOT functions, including project meetings and the RTI process of awarding transportation research contracts.  The interns were also tasked with creating a condensed database of the last five years of TxDOT research projects to provide a more efficient means to analyze research implementation and reduce unnecessary research duplication.  The students with their internship advisor, RTI Program Manager Cary Choate, also traveled to College Station to view a crash test at TTI’s Proving Ground and attend presentations at the TTI State Headquarter and Research Building.  The presentations included details of recent research studies including pedestrian crosswalk research and transportation infrastructure finance methods.

This program concluded with a group lunch on August 15th.

600451-00064-1 Report Abstract

Electric Vehicles and Public Charging Infrastructure:  Impediments and Opportunities for Success in the United States

Eric J. Borden and Leigh B. Boske, University of Texas at Austin, July 2013, 53 pp.

This report seeks to reach conclusions over the role that electric vehicles (EVs) and public charging infrastructure should play in the future U.S. transportation system As demonstrated in this report, electric vehicles are neither new nor technologically infeasible. Current circumstances have initiated what appears to be a revival of the EV – these circumstances include high oil prices, geopolitical instability, and growing awareness of environmental concerns resulting from conventional vehicles (CV) usage. Nevertheless, impediments remain. One of the most important is the prospect of building public charging infrastructure to allow drivers to use an EV like their conventional vehicle, for both long and short distances. Public charging infrastructure, however, cannot be built without some critical mass of EVs on the road to use them – otherwise they are not economically feasible. This report analyzes various facets of both EVs and public charging infrastructure to give the reader a clear understanding of the complex criteria that must be understood to assess EVs in the United States. Texas is given special consideration as a case study in this report, particularly the Austin area where public charging infrastructure for EVs is currently being implemented.

Keywords: Electric Vehicles, Charging Infrastructure, Economics, Case Study, Austin, Texas

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 1.8 MB)

600451-00069-1 Report Abstract

Development of an Interactive GIS Based Work Zone Traffic Control Tool

Jack Bringardner, Mason Gemar, and Randy Machemehl, University of Texas at Austin, August 2013, 90 pp.

The purpose of this study was to include consideration for intersections into the previously created GIS traffic control planning tool. Available data for making intersection control calculations were collected and integrated into the design of the tool. The limitations created by required assumptions were addressed, as well as more advanced techniques for overcoming these problems. The tool can be used to estimate capacity calculations at any signalized intersection within the NCTCOG modeling region. These calculations can be used to inform users about the effects of a construction plan. Inputs for using dynamic traffic assignment to further understand these effects is then addressed, focusing on the development of a subnetwork to reduce computation time for multiple temporary traffic control plans.

Keywords: Network Modeling, Subnetwork Selection, Capacity Estimation, Dynamic Traffic Assignment, DTA, Traffic Control Plans

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 4.4 MB)

600451-00075-1 Report Abstract

Simulation of Investment Returns of Toll Projects

Weiyuan Yuwen and Zhanmin Zhang, University of Texas at Austin, August 2013, 53 pp.

This research develops a methodological framework to illustrate key stages in applying the simulation of investment returns of toll projects, acting as an example process of helping agencies conduct numerical risk analysis by taking certain uncertainties associated with toll projects into consideration. The numerical financial model provides a deterministic financial evaluation for the project. Next, there are four risk sources identified in this research, including project-based risks, cost-based risks, toll-based risks and finance-based risks. For each risk source, critical variables are recognized and probability distributions are suggested. The deterministic financial evaluation result is obtained through the projected single-value estimates of these variables. By considering the variability associated with the components of a project, the Monte Carlo simulation technique is used to estimate the overall project risks. Risk simulation results are interpreted through various numerical measures of project’s risks, which further provide agencies with quantitative information to set investment decision criteria. For risk optimization, exploration of optimal value-combination of variables and utilization of single-variable control method are discussed, which could assist agencies in setting threshold toll prices in order to achieve the goal revenue and maximize potential returns on the investment. The risk analysis, consisting of risk simulation and risk optimization, can give the statistical distribution of investment returns for a project under analysis, providing decision makers with a direct approach to the evaluation of the projects’ financial risks and the development of recommendations for risk control measures.

Keywords:  Public Private Partnership, Risk Analysis, Financial Evaluation, Toll Projects

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 1.2 MB)

2nd Annual Transportation Security Institute Held

Recruiting the Next Generation of Professionals

This two week event, held June 8th – June 19th on the Texas Southern University campus, focused on providing a select group of high school students with opportunities to learn more about career options within the transportation security sector.

From the 75 applications received, a total of twenty-five students were invited to attend this year’s program which provided them the opportunity to learn more about the transportation security industry via hands-on technical activities, field trips to transportation facilities, lectures by transportation professionals, and on-site seminars. This year’s curriculum addressed the three principal modes of transportation (air, land and rail) with activities led by transportation and academic professionals.

While participating in the lectures and hands-on activities included in the program, students were able to:

  • learn about aviation with practice on flight simulators;
  • gain knowledge about the complexity of city planning through a city planning simulation game;
  • learn the value and incredible versatility of GIS and how it is used by many different professions;
  • view solar power demonstrations, including an exercise where the students constructed personal solar panels that attached to their phone and ipod/ipad chargers;
  • participate in a signal timing exercise utilizing real-time traffic counts obtained by the students;
  • discover the intricacy of highway bridge design utilizing a student competition to see who could come up with the most efficient bridge design at the lowest cost and still support a simulated truck without collapsing;
  • and learn the importance of geoscience and the role it plays with the construction of roads and rail lines.

This year’s field trips included visits to:

  • the Houston METRO Rail Operating Center where the students learned about the function and history of Houston METRO and the security procedures in place for the protection of all METRO riders.  They also learned, through a hands-on demonstration, about the METRO police dogs and the training they receive;
  • and Houston Transtar’s Control Center as well as the Emergency Operations Center. While at Transtar, they learned who the organization serves, and what they do to help protect the citizens of Houston and surrounding counties on the roadways. Different career opportunities were discussed in emergency management and how Transtar facilitates mass evacuations during emergencies.

Full Program Report

For more information on this program, please contact Khosro Godazi @ [email protected]

2013 TAMU Summer Undergraduate Program Concludes

2013 UGTSP

2013 UGTSP Students: (L-R) Parker Moore, Mark Membrano, Adrian Contreras, Kevin Mackan and Daniel Bartilson

The SWUTC sponsored Undergraduate Transportation Scholars Program (UTSP) at Texas A&M University concluded it’s twenty-third successful year in August. This annual summer program, directed by Dr. Gene Hawkins, recruits upper-level undergraduate students from diverse academic backgrounds into a 10-week program designed to provide each student with a research/work experience that will help them get a head start on their careers. The individual students are paired with a mentor while in the program, who assist the student in developing a research proposal, conducting a small transportation engineering research project, presenting findings to peers, and preparing a paper in journal format. While in the program, students make field trips to various transportation agencies and attend professional meetings such as the summer meeting of TexITE. At the end of the term, students make presentations on their research and produce a paper for publication.

Student Presenter

Daniel Bartilson presents his study findings to transportation faculty and staff.

On August 2nd, the five students sponsored this summer by the UTSP made their final research presentations to a room of transportation professionals at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Gilchrist  Building on the TAMU campus. Parker Moore from Georgia State University (Dr. Ben Sperry, mentor) presented his research Preliminary Development of a Trip Generation Manual for Texas. Mark Membreno from Texas A&M University (Mr. Bradford Brimley, mentor) presented his work on the Classification of Horizontal Curves and Evaluation of Chevrons.  Adrian Contreras from Texas A&M University (Ms. Melisa Finley, mentor) presented his work on Evaluating Driver Response to Prototype Traffic Control Devices at Access Points. Kevin Mackan from Texas A&M University (Dr. Jerry Ullman, mentor) presented his research Effective Capacities Through Freeway Lane Closures. And Daniel Bartilson from Texas A&M University (Dr. Stefan Hurlebaus, mentor) presented his work on the Validation of Computer Vision for Structural Vibration Studies.

These papers will be published in the Compendium of Student Papers and made available in the publications section of this website.

2013 UT-Austin Undergraduate Summer Internship in Transportation Program Concludes

2013 USIT Students

2013 UTSI Students at Farewell Party: (L-R) Matt Reiter, Essam Nassar, Daniel Ward, Anisah Cross, Kelsey McElduff and Megan Mosebar. UTSI students not shown in photo: Peter Kozey and Rydell Walthall.

The SWUTC sponsored 2013 Undergraduate Summer Internship in Transportation (USIT) program at the University of Texas in Austin concluded it’s 11-week summer program on August 15th with the student final presentations and  farewell reception.  This demanding and rewarding program conducted each summer, under the guidance of Dr. Chandra Bhat,  provides students with a unique insight into transportation engineering education and a possible career in the field.  During the summer, students gain firsthand experience in conducting transportation studies and actively participate in transportation research with graduate students under the supervision of Transportation faculty.  The 8 students participating this year (and their university of origin) were:  Anisah Cross – University of Arizona, Peter Kozey – Vanderbilt, Kelsey McElduff – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Megan Mosebar – Washington State, Essam Nassar – UT-Arlington, Matt Reiter – UT-Ausitn, Rydell Walthall – UT-Austin and Daniel Ward – Lamar University.

This program, and the similar program at Texas A&M University, has been highly successful for twenty-three years in cultivating a new generation of transportation professionals.  Evidenced by the fact that about half of the summer interns apply back for transportation graduate studies to the UT and TAMU programs.

600451-00003-1 Report Abstract

Compendium of Student Papers: 2012 Undergraduate Transportation Scholars Program

H. Gene Hawkins, editor, Texas A&M University, May 2013, 56 pp. (600451-00003-1)

This report is a compilation of research papers written by students participating in the 2012 Undergraduate Transportation Scholars Program.  The 10-week summer program, now in its 22nd year, provides undergraduate students in Civil Engineering the opportunity to learn about transportation engineering through participating in sponsored transportation research projects.  The program design allows students to interact directly with a Texas A&M University faculty member or Texas A&M Transportation Institute researcher in developing a research proposal, conducting valid research, and documenting the research results through oral presentations and research papers.

The papers in this compendium report on the following topics: 1) Analysis of Factors Influencing Run-off Road Crashes on Horizontal Curves; and 2) Impact of Nighttime Work Zone Lighting on Motorists’ Detection of Objects.

Keywords: Safety, Traffic Control Devices, Curves, Work Zones, Illumination

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 2.1 KB)

Voice-to-text Apps Offer No Driving Safety Benefit; as with Manual Texting, Reaction Times Double

Texting and DrivingTexting drivers may believe they’re being more careful when they use the voice-to-text method, but new research findings suggest that those applications offer no real safety advantage over manual texting.

The study is the first of its kind, as it is based on the performance of 43 research participants driving an actual vehicle on a closed course. Other research efforts have evaluated manual versus voice-activated tasks using devices installed in a vehicle, but the TTI analysis is the first to compare voice-to-text and manual texting on a handheld device in an actual driving environment.

Drivers first navigated the course without any use of cell phones. Each driver then traveled the course three more times performing a series of texting exercises – once using each of two voice-to-text applications (Siri for the iPhone and Vlingo for Android), and once texting manually. Researchers then measured the time it took each driver to complete the tasks, and also noted how long it took for the drivers to respond to a light which came on at random intervals during the exercises.

Major findings from the study included:

  • Driver response times were significantly delayed no matter which texting method was used. In each case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren’t texting. With slower reaction times, drivers are less able to take action in response to sudden roadway hazards, such as a swerving vehicle or a pedestrian in the street.
  • The amount of time that drivers spent looking at the roadway ahead was significantly less when they were texting, no matter which texting method was used.
  • For most tasks, manual texting required slightly less time than the voice-to-text method, but driver performance was roughly the same with both.
  • Drivers felt less safe when they were texting, but felt safer when using a voice-to-text application than when texting manually, even though driving performance suffered equally with both methods.

Christine Yager, a TTI Associate Transportation Researcher who managed the study, says the findings offer new insight, but only a part of the knowledge that’s needed to improve roadway safety. “Understanding the distracted driving issue is an evolving process, and this study is but one step in that process,” she says. “We believe it’s a useful step, and we’re eager to see what other studies may find.”

The study’s results are being published during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Numerous agencies, including the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) are sponsoring public awareness campaigns to highlight the dangers of driving distractions, particularly those associated with cell phone use.

Another TTI study now underway is examining the motivations and attitudes of distracted drivers. Results from the focus groups and a 3,000-driver survey are expected in late summer, and will include a look at which demographic groups are most affected by the distracted driving issue.

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute is a member of the Texas A&M University System.

Complete SWUTC Voice-to-Text Study Report

For more information about this study, contact:  Christine Yager, Associate Transportation Researcher, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, (979) 845-6528

Students Present Design Ideas for Sedimentation and Erosion Control Lab

Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Hydraulics, Sedimentation and Erosion Control Laboratory (HSECL) is a leading research, testing and educational facility in soil erosion and stormwater topical areas. The lab is continuously updating its expertise and services, and has lately moved into the new knowledge areas of low impact development (LID) techniques and green infrastructure. Demand for continuing education courses on stormwater management and LID subjects are high. However, currently available courses do not offer hands-on experiences or practical demonstrations. Therefore, an opportunity has been identified for the HSECL to fill this void and provide hands-on professional training, and high-impact learning experiences for students, regional municipalities, and other professions in the design and construction industries.

Student_PresentationsDuring the spring 2013 semester SWUTC sponsored graduate students in Texas A&M University’s Landscape Architecture Department while they developed alternative master plans for the redesign of the HSECL into a premier comprehensive educational facility. The plans were then presented for review and evaluation March 4th to a panel of faculty and research staff.

Group 1:  Clean-Collect-Convey
Ruisi Guo, Zhihuang Li, Yue Yao and Jingling Zhao

Group 2: TAMU Riverside Campus Design Project:  LID Education Program
Xiaotian Su, Yucheng Wang and Bitong Yang

Group 3: Grey to Green:  Teaching LID Through Contrast
David Danielson, Siaman Ning, Wonmin Sohn and Yixun Zhang

For more information on this effort, contact:  Ming-Han Li, Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, (979) 845-7571

2012 Urban Mobility Report Released

Microsoft Word - 2012 FINAL UMR, 1-30-2013.docxIncludes New Measures of Congestion

As traffic congestion continues to worsen, the time required for a given trip is becoming more unpredictable, and researchers now have a way to measure that degree of unreliability, introduced for the first time as part of the annual Urban Mobility Report (UMR). The 2012 UMR is published by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), with sponsorship from the Southwest Region University Transportation Center,  and in partnership with INRIX, a leading private-sector provider of travel time information for both commuters and shippers. The combination produces a thorough and detailed illustration of traffic problems in 498 U.S. urban areas.

The eroding reliability of travel conditions nationwide is illustrated by the Planning Time Index (PTI), which measures the amount of extra time needed to arrive on time for higher priority events, such as an airline departure, just-in-time shipments, medical appointments or especially important social commitments. If the PTI for a particular trip is 3.00, a traveler would allow 60 minutes for a trip that typically takes 20 minutes when few cars are on the road. Allowing for a PTI of 3.00 would ensure on-time arrival 19 out of 20 times.

PTIs on freeways vary widely across the nation, from 1.31 (about nine extra minutes for a trip that takes 30 minutes in light traffic) in Pensacola, Florida, to 5.72 (almost three hours for that same half-hour trip) in Washington, D.C., according to the study by TTI, a member of The Texas A&M University System.

Rankings of the nation’s most congested cities vary slightly from year to year, and many of this year’s top 10 are repeat performers. Washington, D.C. tops the list, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, New York-Newark and Boston. The second five include Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle. The report provides a detailed illustration of traffic problems in a total of 498 U.S. urban areas.

In addition to PTI, the 2012 UMR also debuts an estimate of the additional carbon dioxide (CO2)emissions attributed to traffic congestion: 56 billion pounds – about 380 pounds per auto commuter. The analysis of CO2 was made possible by funding from the National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education (CFIRE).

Traffic congestion in U.S. cities has remained relatively stable in recent years and continues to underscore the link between traffic and the economy, according to the UMR. As the nation’s job picture has slowly improved, some congestion measures in 2011 were generally comparable to the year before.

Fuel wasted in congested traffic reached a total of 2.9 billion gallons – enough to fill the New Orleans Superdome four times. That’s the same as 2010, but short of the 3.2 billion gallons wasted in 2005. The Travel Time Index (the difference in time required for a rush hour commute compared to the same trip in non-congested conditions) remained steady at 1.18, still short of the 1.23 level in 2005.

dallas_congestion_webThe total financial cost of congestion in 2011 was $121 billion, up one billion dollars from the year before and translating to $818 per U.S. commuter. Of that total, about $27 billion worth was wasted time and diesel fuel from trucks moving goods on the system.

“The methods and measures developed by TTI and used in the Urban Mobility Report have been successfully implemented for policy making and prioritizing congestion-mitigating projects,” says report co-author and researcher Tim Lomax. “In light of the recent signing of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, there is greater importance on using such measures to prioritize transportation improvement spending to get the highest investment return for the public.

Researchers recommend a balanced and diversified approach to reducing traffic congestion – one that focuses on more of everything. Their strategies include:

  • Get as much use as possible out of the transportation system we have.
  • Add roadway and public transportation capacity in the places where it is needed most.
  • Change our patterns, employing ideas like ridesharing and flexible work times to avoid traditional “rush hours.”
  • Provide more choices, such as alternate routes, telecommuting and toll lanes for faster and more reliable trips.
  • Diversify land development patterns, to make walking, biking and mass transit more practical.
  • Adopt realistic expectations, recognizing for instance that large urban areas are going to be congested, but they don’t have to stay that way all day long.

The complete report, including individual data for all major urban areas, is available at

A Green Energy Application to Traffic Control


A recent SWUTC study examines the deployment of solar-powered traffic control devices by evaluating the installation and maintenance costs of solar panels and LED retrofits versus traditional incandescent bulb installations.  Using data gathered in Houston, Texas researchers found that retrofitting traditional incandescent bulbs to LED, while initially costly, will yield benefits in less than five years.  And with the installation of solar panels, energy consumption would be pushed to virtually zero.  With the solar panel’s 35-40 year life span, the long-term benefits of their installation outweigh the initial costs.

Latest study results were highlighted in the January 2013 issue of Roads & Bridges in an article titled:  Traffic Sunlights: Houston Takes a Hard Look at Solar-Powered Devices.

For more information on this study, contact:  Khosro Godazi, Texas Southern University, (713) 313-7925

Walton Receives 2013 ASCE Presidents’ Award


Dr. C. Michael Walton

Dr. C. Michael Walton, SWUTC Executive Committee member and Ernest H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, was selected to receive the 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Presidents’ Award.  With this award, Dr. Walton is recognized for his exemplary career and contributions to civil engineering education and research and for his extraordinary professional and technical leadership in the fields of intelligent transportation systems, freight transport, transportation planning, economics and policy analysis.

The ASCE Presidents’ Award was established in America’s Bicentennial year in commemoration of the nation’s first President, who was a civil engineer and land surveyor.

Walton Receives 2013 Frank Turner Medal

Prof. Mike Walton

C. Michael Walton

C. Michael Walton, SWUTC Executive Committee member, professor of civil engineering and the Ernest H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, received the 2013 Frank Turner Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Transportation.

The award recognizes lifetime achievement in transportation, as demonstrated by a distinguished career in the field, professional prominence and a distinctive, widely recognized contribution to transportation policy, administration or research.

Walton was honored for his influential 40-year career in transportation, in which he has combined distinguished university teaching and research, exceptional service to government at the state and federal levels, active engagement with the private sector and extraordinary service to professional organizations.

Walton received the award during a luncheon on Jan.16 at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 92nd Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. A committee composed of top staffers from the Federal Highway Administration, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Public Transit Association, the Texas Transportation Institute and TRB selects the award recipient. TRB, which is also the secretariat for the award, is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council, which is jointly administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.

As a researcher on transport systems engineering and policy analysis, Walton has contributed to more than 500 publications in the areas of intelligent transportation systems, freight transport, and transportation engineering, planning, policy, and economics. He is internationally respected by his colleagues and peers and has received numerous awards and honors. His election to the National Academy of Engineering in 1993 gave formal recognition to the high esteem in which he is held in the professional engineering community. As an educator, Walton has influenced the lives of several generations of transportation engineering students and has been a strong mentor to many who have worked closely with him.


SWUTC Sponsors Guest Lecturer

Cesar Queiroz

Cesar Queiroz

Mr. Cesar Queiroz, former World Bank Highways Advisor, was invited by the SWUTC to visit students and faculty at the University of Texas at Austin’s transportation engineering department on October 12 and give a presentation titled: “Technical and Financial Factors for Successful Infrastructure Public-Private Partnership Projects.”  He spoke of the dire state of transportation funding around the world, and how successful utilization of public-private partnerships (PPP’s) can lessen the impact of funding shortfalls.  One major criticism of PPP’s is that they will often take the form of toll roads, which are seen to be undesirable to many road users.  But, Queiroz used an anecdote from his time at the World Bank to demonstrate user’s willingness to pay for use of transportation facilities.  One day, while riding down a one-lane dirt road in rural Ghana, he passed a man working alone to fix potholes on the road.  Intrigued, Queiroz stopped and asked the man his story.  The man made a decent living; he was even able to send his children to school.  All of his income came from tips that were thrown out of the windows of passing vehicles.  These travelers knew that if it were not for this man maintaining the road, they would have no way to travel this route.  This convinced Queiroz that if road users understand that there are no better alternatives, they will be willing to pay to use the facility.

He also described a toolkit developed by the World Bank that can be used to determine the feasibility of pursuing a project as a PPP.

167901-1 Report Abstract

Travel Demand Forecasting Models: A Comparison of EMME/2 and QRS II Using a Real-World Network

Peng Yue and Lei Yu, Texas Southern University, October 2000, 135 pp. (167901-1)

In order to automate the travel demand forecasting process in urban transportation planning, a number of commercial computer based travel demand forecasting models have been developed, which have provided transportation planners with powerful and flexible tools in modeling a traffic network for planning or traffic impact studies. It is commonly recognized that none of the existing travel demand forecasting software is perfectly suited for all application network scenarios and traffic conditions. A particular model, which is strong in one application scenario, may be weak in a different application scenario. This report intends to present a comparative study of two widely used computer based travel demand forecasting models: QRS II vs. EMME/2. The comparative study is designed to identify main features and differences of the two models, with an attempt to provide some useful information to practitioners. The comparative description of basic features of two models in this report includes model structure, network development, data input, network modification, parameter calibration, and modeling output. In the comparison of advanced features, the calculate function in QRS II and macro language in EMME/2 are presented. A real-world small urban network, South Missouri City Network, is used to support the comparison effort. The study has found that both QRS II and EMME/2 models are reliable to model real-world networks. However, QRS II is relatively easy to use for inexperienced users because of its comprehensive default parameters, calculation formulas, procedures and the embedded four-step travel demand forecasting process. On the other hand, EMME/2 provides more powerful and flexible modules for users to perform more complex tasks.

Keywords: Travel Demand Forecasting, EMME/2, QRS II, Model Comparison, Transportation Planning

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 1,254KBytes)

60027-1 Report Abstract

The State-of-the-Art of Alternative Fuels: A Review and Annotated Bibliography of Theoretical, Empirical and Case Studies

Naomi W. Ledé and Mohammed Hamid, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX, 1992, 70 pp.

This annotated bibliography was compiled during the initial phases of the study designed to assess costs associated with fuel conversion projects in selected public transit systems. It is also the prelude to a relatively in-depth analysis of those energy-related projects that specifically address energy conservation and alternative fuel issues as well as technology transfer. In addition, this phase of the study provides comprehensive information for use by researchers in the field. It is designed to guide scholars whose interest are in applied research, and to aid transportation planners in their research and technology efforts to develop viable alternatives to transportation fuels currently in use.

Keywords: Methanol, Ethanol, Hydrogen, Liquid Natural Gas, Propane, Fuel Alternative, Alcohol, Vegetable Oils

Report not available electronically.
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Reference Report #60027-1