News Highlights

Morgan State University Teacher Transportation Institute

Morgan State University held two Institute sessions--one in August 2013 and the second in December 2013--to engage teachers in hands-on-inquiry based lessons that included the use of engineering principles and technology. The Institute had two main foci: (1) STEM and Workforce Development and (2) Distracted Driving. Twelve teachers from 8 schools attended the first session and ten teachers from 9 schools attended the second.

The Institute was sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Universities Transportation Center (MAUTC) and the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT).

A report summarizing the goals, accomplishments and outcomes is available here.

Universities Collaborate on Research Projects

Five collaborative projects were selected for funding:

Structural Health Monitoring to Determine Long-term Behavior of AFRP Composite Bars in Prestressed Concrete Panels for Field Deployment

Morgan State University (lead) and the University of Virginia will investigate the long-term performance of aramid fiber reinforced polymer (AFRP) bars used in prestressed, precast concrete deck panels. In parallel with the primary research objective, the project team will also investigate the feasibility of a non-contact optical method, digital image correlation (DIC), and long-term performance monitoring.

In order for a paradigm shift in the design of concrete transportation structures using composites for improved structural sustainability and design, monitoring and testing of such structures are needed. The anticipated impact of this research has the potential to lead to a new class of precast concrete panels (PCPs) that are prestressed with AFRP bars (and non-prestressed AFRP bars) to provide longer service life for bridge decks, which will be more sustainable and durable.

Using Mobile Probes to Inform and Measure the Effectiveness of Macroscope Traffic Control Strategies on Urban Networks

Dr. Vikash Gayah, Penn State, and Dr. Hesham Rakha, Virginia Tech, will use micro-simulation to derive macroscope traffic relationships of various networks and combine this information with simulated probe vehicle data to develop efficient strategies to reduce congestion. The effectiveness of these strategies will also be examined using the mobile probes themselves, which will provide a foundation for eventually testing these strategies in the field on real networks.

Modeling the Dynamics of Drivers Dilemma Zone Perception Using Machine Learning Methods for Safer Intersection Control
Rural, high-speed signalized intersections are associated with vehicle crashes due to dilemma zone problems. Dilemma zones (DZ) are defined in either time or space, as zones where some drivers may decide to proceed, and some may decide to stop at the onset of yellow. This disagreement among drivers can lead to rear-end crashes (when a driver decides to stop while their follower decides to proceed) and/or right-angle crashes (when drivers end up violating the red light and crash with side street traffic). This joint proposed research between Virginia Tech, Morgan State University, and Penn State will investigate the dynamic nature of driver’s perception of dilemma zone, and whether that perception changes as a function of their experience driving through safe or unsafe intersections. A matching project funded by Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research (VCTIR) is investigating different control methods to minimize dilemma zone related crashes, ranging from traditional advance detector and actuated control optimal configuration to the use of advanced technologies such as Wavetronix, Detection-control systems, etc. These two efforts can lead to better modeling of driver perception, better control algorithms, and ultimately safer intersections.

Needs, Barriers, and Analysis Methods for Integrated Urban Freight Transportation

A reliable system for the flow of goods is critical to the U.S. economy and to our quality of life. However, this activity is adversely affected by congested conditions and scarcity of suitable spaces for loading and unloading vehicles, and itself contributes to urban congestion, emissions, energy use and safety hazards.

The proposed study seeks to help policy makers, planners, and other practitioners to identify and assess alternatives for ensuring efficient and reliable freight movement by trucks in large urban areas while minimizing the negative impacts (e.g., congestion, air pollution, safety, etc.) of freight deliveries. A set of alternatives called urban delivery integration (UDI) strategies will be analyzed. These include (1) improved routing and scheduling efficiency, (2) consolidation of goods for multiple shippers and customers on common vehicles, and (3) restrictions of deliveries to relatively uncongested periods.

To analyze such alternatives, Dr. Paul Schofeld, University of Maryland, Dr. Hyeon-Shic Shin, Morgan State University, and Dr. Avinash Unnikrishnan, West Virginia University, will identify and classify various UDI-related schemes through literature review and discussions with private and public sector experts, and develop new algorithms for efficiently managing urban goods deliveries. These algorithms will determine through optimization procedures (1) which vehicles should carry each shipment, and (2) how the multi-stop tours should be routed and scheduled for each vehicle, subject to constraints on vehicle capabilities, costs, pick-up and delivery times, work rules, service quality, environmental effects, energy consumption, and other relevant factors.

2012 Transportation Engineering and Safety Conference
December 5-7, 2012

Martin Pietrucha, general chair
Brian St. John, McCormick Taylor, program chair

Five optional pre-conference workshops are available at this year's transportation conference:
  • Adaptive Traffic Signal Systems in Pennsylvania: The Planning, Design, Construction, and Operation of Systems
  • New Perspectives on Roadside Safety
  • Highway Capacity Manual 2010
  • Posting and Bonding of Local Roads
  • Working with the Highway Safety Manual

  • Wednesday's keynote speaker at lunch will be Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation, Barry Schoch. Thursday's keynote speaker at lunch will be John O. Norquist, President and CEO of Congress for the New Urbanism.

    Thirty sessions are planned covering a myriad of topics in safety, operations, planning, and design. For the complete agenda and information on registering, visit the transportation conference website.

    2011 Outstanding Student of the Year

    Scott Himes, MAUTC's 2011 Outstanding Student of the Year, will be recognized at the Council of University Transportation Centers' (CUTC) annual banquet for his outstanding accomplishments in academics and research.

    Mr. Himes is a research assistant at The Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in civil engineering, having earned both his BS and MS degrees in civil engineering at Penn State. His research focuses on the operational and safety effects of highway geometric design. His current research includes performing research participant assessments and vehicle installations for the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) 2 naturalistic driving experiment. He also co-authored a FHWA informational guide related to speed concepts, and was an investigator on NCHRP Project 15-34, “Performance- Based Geometric Design Analysis of Highways and Streets.” He has been the laboratory instructor for an introductory class in transportation engineering, a class in traffic engineering, and Penn State’s capstone highway design course.

    Mr. Himes is a young member of the TRB Committee on Geometric Design and a friend of the TRB Committee on Operation Effects of Geometrics. He has reviewed papers for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Journal of Transportation Engineering as well as for his TRB committees. He has been involved in the Penn State student chapters of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and the ASCE. He has published four refereed journal articles, two technical reports, and presented findings from his research at several technical meetings. He has been nominated for the MAUTC student of the year award because of his outstanding research contributions, effective teaching, and service to the transportation profession.

    Penn State and University of Virginia Collaborate on Infrastructure Management

    Researchers from Penn State and the University of Virginia (UVA) are collaborating on the regional project, Infrastructure Management. This research will develop a prioritization and funding framework to adequately address critical freight infrastructure needs to maintain economic vitality. The framework will be developed for prioritizing and funding infrastructure investments for highways critical to freight-based factors such as their age and design life, design load, total volume, freight volume, projected freight volume, economics costs and benefits, every usage, sustainability, safety and mobility. The goal of the research is to provide adequate knowledge for decision makers to make sustainable, informed decisions to support freight and economic activity.

    The research is divided into two projects: In project A, Developing a Framework for Prioritizing Infrastructure Improvements on Critical Freight Corridors, UVA will develop performance measures to prioritize infrastructure investments. In project B, Penn State researchers will link fee mechanisms, taxes and other revenue-generating mechanisms and associated institutional structures for varying funding arrangements to the performance measures.

    Virginia Tech and University of Virginia Collaborate on Regional Project

    The researchers seek to extend the current understanding of traffic signal system control through the development of algorithms that characterize the traffic stream state using VII data. In addition, the researchers will identify detection features that can be integrated to improve traffic signal operation. The potential use of VII data to reduce traffic demand on transportation networks through road pricing will also be investigated. This project is being jointly funded by MAUTC and VDOT.