Renewable Energy in the Right of Way

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At SSTI’s first Sustainability Directors Community of Practice meeting in June 2015, attendees discussed their states’ interest in siting solar and other renewable energy generation facilities in the highway right-of-way but cited uncertainty regarding FHWA rules and unfamiliarity with the business side of renewable energy production as major hurdles. In an effort to support these efforts and allow interested states to learn from others, SSTI has gathered the technical documents gathered here, under the headings below, comprise a living repository for state DOTs and others to use as examples as they develop their own ROW renewable energy projects. Read More >

Trip-making and accessibility: New tools, better decisions (SSTI, 2016)

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Transportation researchers and practitioners have long sought other tools to complement or perhaps replace conventional methods—tools that would better analyze trips rather than speed at points in the system, speak to non-auto modes of travel, address land use solutions as well as highway infrastructure, and so on. Fortunately, new sources of data and emerging methods, as well as new-found interest in performance and scenario planning, are yielding the types of tools that the field needs. Read More >

Effects of Parking Provision on Automobile Use in Cities: Inferring Causality (McCahill, Garrick, Atkinson-Palombo and Polinski, 2015)

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Automobile use has been on the rise in cities for nearly a century and so has the supply of parking. Because driving often seems unavoidable, policymakers, developers and the public push endlessly for more parking to meet demand. That push, however, might only be making matters worse. SSTI Senior Associate Chris McCahill’s research suggests that abundant parking in cities causes people to drive more, shedding important light on the question of cause and effect. Read More >


FEATURED RESOURCE

Trip-making data, TDM, and connectivity in Northern Virginia (SSTI and Michael Baker International, 2016)

Commercially available GPS data offers valuable new insight about trip origins, destinations, and routes, including short trips that travel demand models often cannot capture. Using this data, SSTI worked with Michael Baker International, the Virginia DOT, and local stakeholders to identify opportunities for managing travel demand and improving connectivity throughout Northern Virginia. This final report describes the full data set and 17 selected case studies, along with recommended projects and policies, estimated costs, and benefits for each. More Resources...

NEWS

Accessibility for all: Open source options for measuring access to destinations

As highlighted in two recent SSTI webinars in March and April of this year, accessibility measures are becoming more useful in practice. The most notable examples rely on proprietary data and methods, but open source approaches are also gaining traction, while highlighting the need for more reliable, open data. Accessibility measures describe how easily people can reach destinations, usually in terms of travel time, given the existing transportation system and land use patterns. Read More >

Can autonomous vehicles co-exist with bicyclists and pedestrians?

While major automakers rush to promote the next level of autonomous features and release videos of hand-free driving, serious questions have been raised about whether autonomous vehicles will be able to safely co-exist with bicyclists and pedestrians. A recent essay from a researcher in robotics—written after a test drive in a Tesla—points out the problems posed by bicycles for AV programmers and drivers. Attentive human drivers will still be needed until those problems are solved. Read More >

Google’s Street View cars are measuring and mapping air pollution

Last week, Google and the Environmental Defense Fund published the first in a series of maps with data on pollution levels collected using Google Street View vehicles. The initiative, a partnership between EDF, Google Earth Outreach, and San Francisco-based company Aclima, will make it possible to assess air pollution at a level of detail that was nearly impossible previously. The project team hopes the body of data created will help regulators and local and state officials develop a greater understanding of pollution levels on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, making it possible to target investments and other interventions to the populations facing the greatest health risks. Read More >

Study of variable speed limits highlights the trade-off of throughput and safety

Varying a posted speed limit based on current conditions can improve operations and safety in congested work zones, a team from Missouri found. This study from the University of Missouri-Columbus explores this phenomenon in a congested work zone in St. Louis, Missouri. The findings? Results depend on whether DOTs are looking to prioritize safety over capacity. Read More >

Bridging the gap between research and practice: new study on the role of induced vehicle travel

A newly released study sponsored by CalTrans offers a thorough review and analysis of research and practice related to the limitations of existing travel forecasting models. The authors focus on limitations in forecasting induced vehicle travel generated by adding lane miles during a capacity expansion. Acknowledging that many practitioners may not have access to more advanced travel models capable of capturing induced demand, the authors recommend project staff in these cases rely on general elasticities while acknowledging the shortcomings in the analysis. Read More >

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