Roadside construction – be it a detour, a closed lane, or a slow weave past workers and equipment – work zones impact traffic flow and travel times on a system-wide level. The ability to predict exactly what those impacts will be, and plan for them, would be a major help to both transportation agencies and road users. Funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, the latest Small Starts project led by Abbas Rashidi of the University of Utah introduces a robust, deep neural network model for analyzing the automobile traffic impacts of construction zones.

The top three causes of non-recurring traffic delays are crashes, work zones, and adverse weather conditions, with work zones accounting for 10% of all non-recurring delays. Precise work zone impact prediction could significantly alleviate fuel consumption and air pollution.

"Machine learning and deep learning are powerful tools to build different types of data and predict future situations. Using AI for analyzing data is the future of transportation engineering in general," Rashidi said.

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) collects various types of data related to work zone operations. Working with these data, Rashidi and graduate research assistant Ali Hassandokht...

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The National Institute for Transportation & Communities (NITC) research consortium, led by Portland State University, has awarded $485,456 in total funding for seven new research projects spanning five universities. With the extension of the FAST Act, NITC received one additional year of funding, and given this limited time frame, we emphasized projects that were relatively short in length, relied on existing expertise, and would yield specific outputs and outcomes. Several of the projects have an equity focus, and much of the research aims to make it easier to get around multimodally and/or by walking. The seven new projects are:

Led by Danya Rumore of the University of Utah and Philip Stoker of the University of Arizona
  • Rumore and Stoker focus on the unique transportation challenges of 'gateway' communities, or small towns adjacent to natural areas that attract large populations. Their previous...
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How can we use a variety of data-driven speed management strategies to make transportation safer and more efficient for all modes–whether you’re driving, walking or taking transit?

The project was led by Yao Jan Wu, director of the Smart Transportation Lab at the University of Arizona. Co-investigators were Xianfeng Terry Yang of the University of Utah, who researches traffic operations and modeling along with connected automated vehicles, and Sirisha Kothuri of Portland State University, whose research has focused on improving signal timing to better serve pedestrians. Join them on Sept 15, 2021 for a free webinar to learn more.

"We want to improve mobility for all users, be it pedestrians, vehicle drivers or transit riders, and there are different strategies to do this. How do we harness data to drive us to these strategies?" Kothuri said.

Funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), this multi-university collaboration addressed the question from three angles:

  • Wu and his students in Arizona looked at the impact of speed management strategies on conventional roadways...
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Research demonstrates that marginalized populations experience significant barriers in accessing transit. The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) and the Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative (HRAC) at Portland State University are working with the University of Utah in a project funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) to understand how people from selected historically marginalized communities experience discrimination and harassment on transit and in public areas such as sidewalks, bus stops, and transit platforms when accessing transit.

The study will be conducted in two sites: Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah. In Portland, the study population will include racially and ethnically diverse people experiencing homelessness and people who identify as transgender and gender nonconforming; and ride TriMet. In Salt Lake City, the study population will include people experiencing homelessness as well as diverse groups based on their gender, racial, and ethnic identity; who ride Utah Transit Authority. We are seeking transit riders to help inform the study through photos and interviews. Participants will be compensated up to $50 for their labor. The researchers will be recruiting participants for this study through the end of August. 

PARTICIPATION INVOLVES:

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Brandon Siracuse recently earned his master's degree in city and metropolitan planning from the University of Utah. While at the U of Utah he worked as a research assistant, earned a NITC scholarship, and served as an officer in the university's transportation student group, Point B. As of June 2021, he now works as a planner for the City of Council Bluffs, IA. Before enrolling in his master's program, Brandon worked as a full-time intern at the Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corporation in St. Louis, where he primarily did GIS work and data analysis to aid in the nonprofit organization's community planning efforts. Brandon is interested in land use, transportation, and the intersection of the two, and is particularly passionate about active transportation.

Connect with Brandon on LinkedIn

Tell us about yourself?

I am originally from Omaha, NE, and I have also had the great privilege of getting to live in St. Louis and Salt Lake City. I got my undergraduate degree in Environmental Science from Saint Louis University, and while I was there I realized I wanted to become an urban planner. I recently graduated from the Master of City and Metropolitan Planning program at the University of Utah, where I served as secretary and then treasurer...

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Dr. Sadegh Sabouri, the newest PhD graduate of the University of Utah's Department of City and Metropolitan Planning, will be working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this coming fall as a postdoctoral researcher. Sadegh (Sadi for short) has worked on numerous NITC projects with his advisor Reid Ewing, and has presented this work in two NITC webinars: New Travel Demand Modeling for our Evolving Mobility Landscape and Transportation Benefits of Polycentric Urban Form

Follow Sadi: LinkedIn | Twitter

Recent publications include an article in Landscape and Urban Planning, "Exploring the relationship between ride-sourcing services and vehicle ownership;" another in Transportation Research Part D on "...

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Led by Xiaoyue Cathy Liu of the University of Utah (UU) and funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, researchers have created a web-based modeling tool (see GitHub repository built for the Utah Transit Authority) that enables U.S. transit providers to explore the impacts of changing over their systems to electric buses*. The researchers ran the model for TriMet in Portland, OR as well, with TriMet results and analysis presented in the final report (PDF).

"The interactive visualization platform lets users explore various electric bus deployment budget scenarios, so that transit agencies can plan the most cost-effective way to transition their fleet from diesel to electric buses – while prioritizing disadvantaged populations," Liu said.

The research team, at University of Utah, Portland State University (PSU), and University of California, Riverside, set out to answer three questions: 

  1. What costs and benefits are associated...
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The world's largest transportation research conference is celebrating its 100th birthday online, with over 14,000 RSVP's. TRB 2021 officially began this week, and while we're not out roaming the snowy streets of D.C, we’re still able to enjoy each other’s expertise from our homes. So instead of bemoaning what we'll miss, we’re celebrating the NITC-funded researchers who are presenting their work. On January 6, 2021 the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) honored NITC Student of the Year Gabby Abou-Zeid, along with Hau Hagedorn, NITC associate director, who won the CUTC-ARTBA Award for Administrative Leadership.

VIEW THE ONLINE GUIDE TO NITC AT TRB 2021

DOWNLOAD NITC PRESENTATION FILES

NITC AT TRB 2021 HIGHLIGHTS

We’ve compiled an online NITC...

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Image: Left - Crosswalk with blue lines to illustrate the concept of ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems); Right- Hanna Hutcheson with a ponytail and a blue shirt. Text reads: NITC student spotlight, Hanna Hutcheson, University of Utah.
Photo by metamorworks/iStock

Hanna Hutcheson is a second-year Masters of City and Metropolitan Planning student at the University of Utah. Her specialization is in Transportation and SMART Growth, and she is passionate about increasing accessibility to transit, designing cities to be more pedestrian and cyclist friendly, and improving environmental conditions through planning. Hanna also works as a graduate teaching assistant, and in the summer of 2020 she completed an internship with the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. 

LinkedIn


Tell us about yourself?

Hi! I’m originally from Eugene, OR, but I got my undergraduate degree in geography from BYU and have been living on and off in Utah ever since. I’m in my second year of the MCMP program at the University of Utah, focusing on SMART growth and transportation; my passion lies specifically with transit and, to a lesser degree, active transportation and complete streets. Outside of school, I’m a big fan of reading, Netflix, ‘80s music, and embroidery.

What (or who) has influenced your career path in transportation?

I have to give a shout-out to Ted Knowlton, the deputy director of the SLC region’s MPO, for really sparking my interest in...

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Bus riders board a bus at a stop with a shelter, sign, and benches.
Photo by Ja Young Kim
Keith Bartholomew, University of Utah; Arlie Adkins, University of Arizona, Tucson

 A bus stop can be anything from a simple signpost stuck in the grass, to a comfortable shelter with seating and paved access to the sidewalk. For many U.S. transit agencies across the country, improving facilities at bus stops is a priority. But how much do these improvements actually affect ridership? A lot, it turns out. A new NITC study, co-funded by the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and led by Keith Bartholomew...

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