Founded in 2014, The Ray is a Georgia-based corporate venture devoted to roadway technology testing and collaborates with a number of state departments of transportation across the country. For example, in 2019, it formed a public-private-philanthropic partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation to create and install a digital testing environment focused on critical interstate use cases, such as crash and weather warnings, for stakeholder engagement and education.
Nick Nigro, founder of Atlas Public Policy, joins the ITE Talks Transportation podcast to share the latest trends and challenges in the electrification of transportation and give an update on where the industry currently stands. He addresses deployment readiness and workforce issues facing the market, and highlights the economic benefits that more widespread electrification will bring. Nick was the closing plenary speaker at the ITE Annual Meeting in New Orleans this summer.
Bill Lambert, P.E., Administrator/Traffic Engineer with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, joins the ITE Talks Transportation podcast to talk about transportation safety and operations challenges in rural environments and how they’re being addressed in his state. He discusses the recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and how the funding could potentially be utilized by state DOTs with more tribal and rural areas, as well as how public agencies are grappling with the current staffing shortages and other challenges brought on by COVID-19.
“Every Litter Bit Matters” seeks to get state residents to ensure that every piece of their trash, regardless of size, is disposed of properly as research shows only 3 percent of Pennsylvanians approve of littering, yet 40 to 50 percent of them admit to littering roadways and other public areas.
“Every Litter Bit Matters” also seeks to educate state residents about “situational littering,” such as leaving trash on the ground next to a full can or in a stadium, as well as reminding them that litter of all sizes stacks up and creates problems, Gramian and Frackler explained.
PennDOT noted that a 2019 Litter Research Study found that Pennsylvania has more than 500 million pieces of litter on its roadways, with more than 85 percent of those pieces measuring less than four inches in size. That study also found that litter-related cleanup costs currently total around $350 million each year.
The study focused on the potential deployment of buried, high-voltage/direct current or HVDC transmission lines within Minnesota interstate and highway ROWs – an effort that offers broader implications for highway ROW strategies in other states.
Projects listed include renewable energy generation, electrical transmission and distribution projects, broadband projects, vegetation management, inductive charging in travel lanes, and alternative fueling facilities, among others.
“At the heart of this study is the need to examine the energy transmission infrastructure we will need in order to electrify our transportation network; part of a broader effort to decarbonize the U.S. economy,” Oh explained during the podcast.
“The concept we’re evaluating looked specifically at burying [electric power] transmission lines in the highway ROW,” she noted. “Only three states allow for that now. Yet the use of existing distributed ROW could contain the visual impact of expanding our electric grid while lessening the need to acquire more land to support more transmission.”
Building transmission capacity in existing highway ROW could also reduce project-siting timelines by seven to 10 years, Oh added, while reducing the need to work with hundreds of landowners on a project down to dealing with a single state department of transportation.
“There is a great benefit for communities if they allow transmission capacity to be built in the highway ROW,” she emphasized.
Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson joins the ITE Talks Transportationpodcast for a dynamic conversation on the state of the industry and why he feels it’s “the most exciting time” ever to work in transportation. He shares his perspectives on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and how the funding can help state DOTs address safety, especially for vulnerable users. He also addresses the myriad of challenges brought on by COVID-19 for DOTs, and discusses how agencies can gain a competitive edge among the current workforce. Dr. Wilson was a plenary speaker at the ITE Annual Meeting in New Orleans and spoke alongside U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg.
Dr. Shihab Kuran discusses the key role state departments of transportation play in helping establish a national electric vehicle or EV charging network.
Kuran is the co-founder and CEO of Power Edison as well as co-founder and executive chairman of its sister company EV Edison – companies offering innovative renewable energy, EV charging, and mobile energy storage solutions for the grid. Kuran explains how a “vision” for a peaceful world with universal access to clean and sustainable sources of energy, food, and water drives his efforts in the EV sector. Here, Kuran lays out a variety of approaches and solutions for meeting the electric grid demand generated by EV charging – how state DOTs can support those efforts.
The United States is a country with no national language, and with over 150 Indigenous languages still spoken today. With 5.2 million Indigenous people residing in the US today, speaking these 150+ languages—why aren’t more of our road signs printed in these native languages? Teams from the Iowa and Minnesota Departments of Transportation, along with Indigenous partners set out to change that. Joining us today on the podcast to discuss this project are: Brennan Dolan, the Cultural Resources Team Lead and Tribal Liaison at Iowa DOT; Ed Fairbanks, the retired Tribal Liaison for the Minnesota DOT and Mary Otto, the Tribal State Relations Training Manager in Minnesota DOT’s Office of Tribal Affairs.
Equity in transportation has become a major topic of interest the past few years, but the need for a more just transportation sector is not new. Groups like the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) began working to promote equity in transportation decades before the concept became mainstream. COMTO was founded in 1971, just over 50 years ago, and as the association representing minorities in transportation they aim to ensure opportunities and maximum participation in the transportation industry for minority individuals, veterans, people with disabilities, as well as minority, women, and disadvantaged business enterprises. COMTO’s work towards equity heavily intersects with environmental topics such as environmental justice, workforce diversity, public involvement and more. Joining us to chat about equity, transportation and the environment is April Rai, the President and Chief Executive Officer of COMTO.