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The George Wright Society has honored RSG Sr. Director Steve Lawson with their Social Science Achievement Award. The award is given in recognition of excellence in social science research, management, or education related to parks, reserves, and other protected areas.
Steve stands in a unique position at the intersection of theory and practice in public lands planning and management. He has conducted research in some of the United States’ most iconic national parks and has published extensively in the field’s most prominent journals, authoring and co-authoring dozens of influential papers. Though he secured a tenured faculty position in academia, he chose to transition to a consultancy where he could focus on applied projects—putting ideas into action at national parks, national forests, and other protected lands.
To celebrate his dedication, he will receive a Social Science Achievement award plaque, a year’s complimentary membership to the GWS, and recognition at a future GWS award ceremony.
In December of 2015, President Obama signed into law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act—the first federal law in over a decade to provide long-term funding certainty for surface transportation infrastructure and investment. It expires in September 2020 which, in legislative terms, is right around the corner.
Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) International President Bruce Belmore just appointed RSG Director Steve Gayle to serve on a new ITE Reauthorization Task Force around this legislation. Steve, a past president of ITE, has been asked to contribute his policy expertise and knowledge of transportation planning and the federal requirements that govern MPOs.
The Task Force will deliver specific bill recommendations to the ITE Board of Direction later this year. They will use these to develop the official policy of ITE and both organization and individual members will then use this policy as a basis for talking to Congress.
We are proud to have played a key role in the report Who’s on Board 2019: How to Win Back America’s Transit Riders published by TransitCenter, an organization committed to improving transit through innovation. The study, released last week, draws on results from focus groups and a survey of 1,700 transit riders in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Denver, and New Orleans. The findings provide insight into the causes of declining transit ridership and shape solutions for transit agencies aiming to win back riders.
RSG-led research for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) is featured in the latest issue of the Transportation Research Board’s TR News. The article, “Research Offers Insights on Highway Noise,” highlights two of RSG’s research projects, NCHRP 25-52 and 25-44.
Traffic noise from highways can negatively affect human health and quality of life. Though federal legislation has required state DOTs to anticipate and mitigate noise effects of proposed new highways and expansion projects since the 1970s, they continue to receive traffic noise complaints. These two NCHRP reports offer new insights for noise specialists, project designers, and policy makers.
Have you thought about how you’ll get to work (or home? or the grocery store?) over the next two decades? Under requirements for long-range transportation planning, state departments of transportation and regional metropolitan planning organizations are required to have a multimodal transportation plan with a minimum time horizon of 20 years. Because manufacturers and shared fleet operators suggest that CAVs will be present on the highway system in significant numbers well before 2038, the planning community will require procedures and methods to address the potential positive and negative direct and indirect outcomes from their deployment.
In response to this, TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) recently published Research Report 896: Updating Regional Transportation Planning and Modeling Tools to Address Impacts of Connected and Automated Vehicles, co-authored by RSG. Volume 1 of the report summarizes guidelines to help agencies update their modeling and forecasting tools to address expected impacts of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) on transportation supply, road capacity, and travel demand components. Volume 2 explores ways to develop new planning and modeling processes that include CAVs in the transportation environment.
Find more, including a presentation that can be adapted for presentations to agency decision makers, here.
Is transit dying? While transit agencies once celebrated that millennials were unusually predisposed to use transit and live in urban areas served by transit, today we find that the demographic boost is largely over. The TransitCenter recently published “Growing Up and Away from Transit,” co-authored by RSG’s Greg Spitz. The article explores this shift, what it may mean for the future of transit, and what transit agencies will need to do to keep up.
Noise barriers do not just block noise, but can also generally change the way noise is experienced around them. To further explore this issue, the Transportation Research Board (TRB)’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) recently published the RSG-coauthored report Field Evaluation of Reflected Noise from a Single Noise Barrier, which analyzes the characteristics of sound reflected from a noise barrier to the opposite side of a highway. Residents living opposite newly added single noise barriers sometimes complain about increased traffic noise. Currently available analytical tools are limited in their ability to evaluate this reflected noise and some of the subtle changes in the quality of sound that can occur when it is reflected. Therefore, it is a challenge to determine conclusively if complaints about reflected noise are the result of actual or perceived changes in noise characteristics, and to identify locations where absorptive surface treatments could be beneficial.
The study compares reflected noise from sound barriers with different surfaces and examines both the levels, frequencies, and quality of reflected noise to better understand how it is experienced by communities. The report is accompanied by several appendices, a tool, and a guide. Learn more and check them out at: http://www.trb.org/NCHRP/Blurbs/178305.aspx
While car manufacturers once touted their acceleration and high performance, now, it’s the included safety features that garner the most attention. RSG Director Jonathan Slason shares his recent experience with new assisted driving technology in his article “A Plea for Drivers to Slow Down… Assisted by In-Vehicle Technology.”
Did you know that meteorology can affect the sound adjacent to highways? RSG will be leading a Transportation Research Board (TRB) webinar on September 25 titled, “Meteorological Effects on Roadway Noise.” Presenters will describe the quantitative research and public outreach materials that state highway agencies can use to screen for meteorological influences and explain the effects to the public. Presenting alongside RSG’s Ken Kaliski will be Roger Wayson of AECOM, Darlene Reiter of Bowlby and Associates, and Erik Salomons of TNO. It will be moderated by Aaron Hastings of Volpe Center.
Learn more and register at: https://webinar.mytrb.org/Webinars/Details/1220
RSG Director Chris Leggett’s research was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. The article, “Estimating the Value of Lost Recreation Days from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill,” describes a recreation choice model developed for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to assess recreation-related losses resulting from the spill.
TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) recently published Research Report 882: How Weather Affects the Noise You Hear from Highways, which documents the meteorological effects on roadway noise propagation under different atmospheric conditions. Highway noise changes from day to day and hour to hour—not just because of variations in traffic volumes, vehicle mix, and speed, but also because of the weather. The report, authored by RSG in cooperation with Bowlby & Associates, TNO, Wyle, Northeast Wind, and Volpe Center, develops guidance to identify when atmospheric conditions should or should not be considered in noise analyses.
Tools were developed to help explain these effects to the public, including a self-paced narrated slide presentation as well as a customizable four-panel brochure. In addition, a tool was developed to help predict the frequency of favorable and unfavorable atmospheric conditions given specific airport weather data. Check out the report and download these at http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/177926.aspx.
With the hustle and bustle of today’s busy world, we now have more sound and light pollution than ever before. Have you ever wondered what impact that has on the world around us, especially the great outdoors?
In their new book, “Natural Quiet and Natural Darkness,” RSG’s Steve Lawson and co-authors explore that concern and suggest best practices for studying, managing, and protecting natural quiet and natural darkness in the national parks and related reserves.
With the prevalence of online shopping, it isn’t all that surprising that many consumers are now using the internet to purchase their groceries as well. Buyers that once couldn’t imagine not personally picking out their produce are now turning to grocery delivery services for the ease and convenience. But, with that ease and convenience come environmental and societal implications. Recognizing this, food-centered site Epicurious explored the issue in their article “Everything You Should and Should Not Feel Guilty About When Ordering Groceries.”
The article quotes RSG Director Erica Wygonik’s research on the topic, which found that “ordering groceries online could reduce carbon emissions anywhere from 20 to 75 percent.” But, before you fill up your virtual shopping cart, the article also points out that “though there is potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions, there are other toxic side effects of delivery trucks that are felt more immediately.”
Learn more and check out the full article at: https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/environmental-impact-online-grocery-shopping-article
RSG’s household travel diary study in the Twin City region was recently featured in the Metropolitan Council’s newsletter. The article highlights this spring’s data collection, which is using a smartphone-based travel survey (rMove™) for the first time. We’re excited to get rMove in the hands of Twin City residents and to help the region keep pace with all the factors changing the way we travel.
RSG Director Chris Leggett was published in the University of Chicago Journal Marine Resource Economics. His article, titled “Assessing the Economic Benefits of Reductions in Marine Debris at Southern California Beaches: A Random Utility Travel Cost Model,” evaluates the influence of marine debris on an individual’s choice of which beach to visit for recreation.