How could a free transportation class for people living in the Salt Lake City region strengthen community conversations and advocacy around local priorities in transportation policy? Researchers at Portland State University (PSU) and University of Utah (UU) explored that question by bringing a well-known learning model from Portland, Oregon to SLC.

For over 25 years, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has partnered with PSU to offer the Portland Traffic and Transportation Course – a free 10-week course designed to provide local community members the skills and knowledge to participate in transportation decisions affecting their neighborhoods. This model has proven to be a success story in public agency-university partnership in community education. Building upon a 2015 project that documented the Portland course and developed a curriculum handbook, the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) has provided more funding for a pilot community transportation class–the Wasatch Transportation Academy– in Salt Lake, City Utah. Their first class was held on January 24, 2022 (view class recordings here) and ran through...

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How can relocating services away from a downtown center change the transportation decisions and patterns for persons experiencing homelessness? And how do those changes affect access to the services they need? New research from the University of Utah (UU) examines the impacts of decentralizing homeless service locations through a case study in Salt Lake County, Utah. 

Prior to 2019, resources for people experiencing homelessness in the county were concentrated in a single location: The Road Home – a nonprofit social services agency located downtown within the free fare zone for TRAX light rail. In 2019, Salt Lake County transitioned to a decentralized, scattered site model with multiple shelter locations. The downtown shelter closed and three new Homeless Resource Centers (HRCs), operated by various providers, were opened outside of downtown Salt Lake City.

Funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), researchers Sarah Canham, Jeff Rose, Ivis Garcia Zambrana, and Shannon Jones of UU surveyed clients of the three new HRCs (106 respondents) and conducted qualitative interviews with 19 HRC clients who had previously accessed services at the old downtown shelter. They also interviewed 24...

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Jennifer Leslie is a City and Metropolitan Planning graduate student at the University of Utah. She earned a BS in Parks, Recreation and Tourism from the University of Utah in 2019, and completed an internship at the National Park Service helping to manage the increasing visitation to parks across the country through collaboration in multi-agency projects. She has also volunteered as a surveyor for the University of Utah's Outdoor Education, Recreation and Tourism Lab. Jennifer is currently working with researchers Kristina Currans and Danya Rumore on a Research Roadmap for the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC).

Connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn


Tell us about yourself?

I am a first-year masters student of city and metropolitan planning at the University of Utah. Before graduate school, I studied parks, recreation and tourism at the U of U. I am an environmental advocate and passionate about how natural spaces influence communities. My favorite way to experience the outdoors is through backpacking.

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

As someone that cares about access to parks and trails, I have been very interested in active transportation and accessibility to green spaces. As I become more involved in the...

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In recent years, shared electric scooters (e-scooters) have taken cities around the world by storm. But how are people using this new mode of transportation? Seeking to understand the potential impacts of e-scooters on land use, infrastructure and sustainability goals, researchers have some new interesting data to share on e-scooter users, exploring the interplay between demographics, behaviors and trip purposes.

Funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) and led by Kristina Currans and Nicole Iroz-Elardo of the University of Arizona and Reid Ewing of the University of Utah, the study combines a user survey with on-the-ground observations to characterize the use and safety of e-scooters. The research team also included students Dong-ah Choi,...

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Transportation and land use planning, as a field, is shifting away from segregated uses connected by highways and streets to more compact, mixed-use developments connected by high-quality transit. This new paradigm has brought special attention to transit-oriented developments (TOD), which are sometimes touted as being among the most affordable, efficient places to live. But how affordable are they, and who has the power to effect change?

Is Transit-Oriented Development Affordable for Low and Moderate Income Households?, a study funded by the National Institute of Transportation and Communities (NITC), examines housing costs for households living in TODs. Led by Reid Ewing of the University of Utah, the team examined the housing affordability of TODs in U.S. cities across 23 regions. Register for a February 15 webinar to learn more about the project.

The analysis of housing costs revealed a lot of variability across different regions. Of all the examined housing developments, only 16 projects/developments out of 117 across 85 TOD sites were deemed 100% "affordable" – meaning that ...

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The 101st annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) is coming up January 9 - 13, 2022, and has returned to an in-person gathering in Washington, D.C. Supported by funding from the U.S. DOT, research from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities will be featured at this annual gathering.

Below we've rounded up some highlights of research being presented by transportation experts from our participating NITC-funded campuses: Portland State University (PSU), University of Oregon (UO), University of Utah (UU), University of Arizona (UA), and University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). Please check out our full NITC guide for all of the sessions:

*Due to the evolving status of speaker attendance and TRB programming for next week, please check your TRB schedule for the most current information in the event...

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NITC research led by Reid Ewing of the University of Utah, examining impacts that the built environment and development patterns have on transportation, has produced a number of journal articles in the past year. Three 2021 articles highlighted below each focus on different aspects of the body of work, which revolves around polycentric development and trip generation.

A May 2021 article in the Journal of Transport Geography estimated a vehicle ownership model that contributes to our understanding of vehicle ownership and improves the accuracy of travel demand forecasts. "The built environment and vehicle ownership modeling: Evidence from 32 diverse regions in the U.S.," authored by Sadegh Sabouri, Guang Tian, Reid Ewing, Keunhyun Park and William Greene, draws on findings from the NITC project Key Enhancements to the WFRC/MAG Four-Step Travel Demand Model

Two main outcomes of this paper are:

  1. The number of vehicles owned by a household increases with socio-demographic variables and decreases with almost all of the built environmental variables. For the urban planning and design practices, this finding suggests that car shedding occurs as built environments become more dense, mixed, connected,...
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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 $530,419 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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