Vol. 2 No. 1 December 2007
Technovations in Transportation
Six research projects began at NIATT as students
returned for the 2007-2008 academic year. The
projects were selected following review by NIATT's Advisory Board members in the
spring of 2007.
Funding decisions in the Center for Traffic
Operations and Control were based on the following three
- Completing and deploying a data collection
infrastructure, both the Moscow ITS data
collection and a portable video data collection
- Developing a better understanding of driver
behavior at signalized intersections, supporting
the FHWA NGSIM program (KLK712)
- Implementing a field trial of Smart Signals
All three directions are specifically aligned with NIATT
goals/strategies as outlined in its revised Strategic
Plan (approved by UTC in August 2007).
Center for Clean Vehicle Technology are all based on
prior successes and involve
dvancing catalytic plasma torch
technology through basic research,
engine work and demonstration vehicle
Advancing state-of-the-art in
recreational vehicle design, while
increasing opportunities to engage
undergraduate and graduate students in
transportation problems (KLK751)
Converting low-grade glycerol
derived from biodiesel production to
short chain primary alcohols and
applying back to the production process
a state-of-the-art Idaho Engineering Analysis Works (IDEAWorks)
laboratory in the Gauss-Johnson Engineering Building (KLK430)
continued this fall.
This premiere space provides the software and
hardware to conduct mechanical design optimization in
transportation research, to attract and train
graduate students, and to build capacity for future
Education and Technology Transfer Activities
Planned for 2008
- The 8th Traffic Signal Summer
will take place in August 2008. The date
will be announced later.
- A second
Smart Signals conference
in planning for the spring of 2008.
The workshop's goal is to guide
signals research by providing
developers with an opportunity to
users, manufacturers of traffic signal
equipment, and the agencies responsible for installing and
maintaining traffic signal systems.
- A project to improve the level of
understanding of basic transportation
concepts in the introductory
undergraduate transportation engineering
course will begin in the spring.
Special emphasis in the lab is devoted to applications in transmission
design, structural design and intake/exhaust design. In IDEAWorks, mechanical
engineering seniors, in teams along with faculty and and graduate students, use
sophisticated software to reverse engineer projects, studying the subtle
thinking of great engineers and designers.
Reverse engineering processes require students to use critical thinking
skills to intuit designers' intentions. Working in teams leads to greater skills
in communication and an understanding of responsibility and team citizenship,
skills emphasized in the Idaho Engineering Works program.
The lab features a rapid
prototyping machine that takes
virtual designs produced by solid modeling software and
creates a physical object in plastic from that design.
It is a WYSIWYG process where the virtual model and the
physical model correspond almost identically. The
equipment was purchased with matching funds obtained by
Dr. Eric Wolbrecht from an EPSCoR grant.
Each week, at least one researcher and/or his or
her student meet with NIATT staff to review the
progress of current research. In October, Dr. Ahmed
Abdel-Rahim, and graduate students Yongqing Guo and
Cyril Ige, described their progress in logging data
in real-time, directly from a traffic controller (KLK134).
Their device is able to capture input/output data through the 234
pins that send and receive
data via traffic controllers.
Students spent a day at Northwest
Signal Supply, Inc. in Lake Oswego, Oregon, in the
spring of 2007 learning about the different types of
controllers and cabinets, including the most sophisticated
traffic controller/cabinet, the TS2-2, which uses both analog
and digital communication.
TS-1 controllers have been used tested in the NIATT traffic lab. The greatest
challenge so far, according to Ige, has been the
wide range in voltage level that determines the off/on status
of the signals received by the controller.
The aim of this project is to establish the
method by which 24 hours of data, in increments of
up to one-tenth of a second, can be collected from
12 new controllers that will be installed in the
City of Moscow as part of the
Moscow ITS project.
The collected data, than, will be used to
evaluate cycle failure and green time utilization,
for example, in signalized intersections. The
data-logging device developed as part of this
project provides traffic system operators,
especially in small- and medium-sized cities, with a
means of monitoring the operations at signalized
intersections throughout the day. This allows them
to identify possible problems and make the system
more reliable and efficient.
Jan-Mou Li left Knoxville, TN, in August 2007 and
made the long drive across the United States, along
with his wife Yu-chen Chang and two children, Irene
and Iris, to join us at the University of Idaho as a
post-doctoral scholar. Li
received his PhD from the University of Tennessee,
where he served as a visiting scholar in the
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
and graduate research assistant at the Oak Ridge
National Laboratory. His PhD dissertation was
"Evaluation of Impacts on Delay, Cycle-Length
Optimization, Control Types, and Peak-Hour Factor
with the Randomness of Traffic."
Before coming to the US, Li held
several teaching positions at the Central Taiwan
University of Science and Technology.
Li has several publications to his
name, including "Short or Long--Which Is Better?
Probabilistic Approach to Cycle-Length
Optimization," which he presented at the 86th Annual
Transportation Research Board (TRB) meeting.
With his experience in data mining
and information, Li is contributing to NIATT's
project related to FHWA's NGSIM program, developing
new data sets and algorithms for next-generation
Stop by Poster Session 442 at the 87th Annual TRB
Meeting on Tuesday, January 25, to meet Li, who,
with co-authors Lee David Han and Thomas Urbanik of the
University of Tennessee, will be presenting "Control
type Selection at Isolated Intersections Based on
Control Delay under Various Demand Levels."
On November 8, the Office of Highway Operation
and Safety of the Idaho Transportation Department
arranged for one person from each of ITD's six
districts to attend a workshop at the NIATT to
learn how to use VISSIM.
Graduate student Guillermo Madrigal introduced
the simulation software to the engineers, which was
fairly new to most of them. Each of the district
traffic engineers brought with them information
about a traffic network in their district, sometimes
with backgrounds from Google Earth.
Guillermo explained that VISSIM is a powerful
microsimulation tool that provides detailed output
files. After showing them an animation of a Moscow,
Idaho, intersection, he showed the class of
engineers how to create a new file and input their
background images. how to set up a skeleton
intersection, add links and nodes, and then to add
signals, detectors, signal heads, etc.
Many of the "students" were surprised that the
navigating through the various menus and making
accurate choices was so time consuming. By
lunchtime, at least one engineer said he was
"drowning" in information!
During the day, a number of other graduate students
provide assistance to the learners as they attempted
to model their sample networks. The ITD personnel
were able to come away with a general understanding
of VISSIM, its capabilities and uses. Many of them
said that the training would help them when they get
consultant work to review. As a group, they wee very
appreciative of the graduate student help. As one
engineer said, “Your students did great, and the
hands-on and one-on-one was more than I had ever
Seven civil engineering graduate students and one
undergraduate electrical and computer engineering
member of the UI Institute of Transportation
Engineers (ITE) chapter have been especially busy
this fall studying the operational efficiency of the
US-95 corridor north of I-90 in Kootenai County.
By happenstance, Adam Miles, current ITE chapter
president and his father Glenn Miles, director of the Kootenai
Metropolitan Planning Organization (KMPO), were
having one of their chats about local transportation
issues. "Father" Miles was describing the traffic
problems in the area that have resulted from
increased growth and development, and "son" Miles was explaining how the ITE
chapter was looking for a project for 2007-2008
academic year. Voila! A connection was made, and
soon the ITE chapter
agreed to complete a US95 Access Management Study.
Other ITE Chapter Activities
Chapter members are also preparing to participate in
the Region X student conference, a WashDOT symposium on
Transpor-tation Planning, and the annual traffic bowl.
The chapter also hosted students from a north
Idaho tribal high school, who had an opportunity to
experience Dr. Michael Dixon's racetrack introducing
traffic signal design.
ITD has been concerned about the traffic flow in
the US-95 corridor, where there are a number of unsignalized intersections with access to
leading to more congestion and accidents than either KMPO or ITD find acceptable.
The goal of the chapter's work is to "Determine
ways to effectively manage and balance access to US
95 from adjacent streets and roads, without
adversely impacting overall transportation system
performance for intra- and interstate travelers."
Students initially had to move data from VISUM, a
planning software, into VISSIM, a traffic operation
simulation tool. Using GIS information, Google
Maps, and personal visits to the sites, the students
will use simulations to study scenarios
presented by KMPO and develop more of their own,
evaluating outcomes of relocating some traffic from
the intersections to parallel streets. They will
eventually present possible solutions to the
Kootenai County Area Transportation Board (KCATT),
participate in two public open houses, and prepare a
report on findings and recommendations based on
feedback from local jurisdictions, KCATT and the
Each year, the ITE members volunteer to spend
their own time working on some problem in the
Northwest that needs exploration. In the past, the
chapter has volunteered their expertise to Kittelson
and Associates and to the Idaho Transportation
Department, among others.
Projects like this provide great experiences for
NIATT students. Not only do they become more
experienced with applying their classroom knowledge
real-life situations, they also become aware of the
many stakeholders involved in local transportation
problems and conflicting issues that must be
UI's Clean Snowmobile, which placed first in the
2007 Clean Snowmobile Competition in Houghton,
Michigan, was featured at
two local snow shows that attracted snowmobilers and
from across Washington and Idaho. Members of the UI
clean snowmobile team traveled to Boise, Idaho,
September 28 and 29 and displayed the snowmobile at
the Idaho Snowmobile Show, sponsored by SnoWest
On Saturday, November 10, team members took the
snowmobile north to the Spokane's Washington
Interstate Fairground, site of the 27th Annual Snow
and ATV Show sponsored by the Spokane Winter Knights
Snowmobile Club. Since a feature of the show was new
technology on two-stroke engines, the students drew
quite a bit of attention from both manufacturers and
Our research institute has made significant and
lasting local, state and national contributions over its
nine years as a University Transportation Center. This
Report celebrates those achievements as reflected in
the thoughts of the researchers, students and partners
involved in those activities.
Dr. Fouad Bayomy, Dr. S. J. Jung.
Dr. Richard Nielsen, Dr. Thomas Weaver, of the University of Idaho's Civil
Engineering Department, Dr. Safwan A. Khedr of the
American University in Cairo (AUC), and three UI graduate
students are combining efforts as three pavement projects
are underway in the Center for Transportation
A joint project between UI and
AUC and funded by NSF, a
USDOT-funded project, and an
Transportation Department (ITD) project, involve new pavement technologies that can be put
to use in
Idaho, other states, and around the world.
The original Superpave mix design
method, as released by the Strategic Highway
Research Program (SHRP), included mix performance
evaluation tests in additional to traditional
volumetric criteria. However, the SHRP testing
methods were not readily applicable for
implementation in routine DOT labs, so the Superpave
method was released and recommended as a
volumetric-based design system. Many US state
agencies, such as ITD, need to evaluate the mix
performance at the mix design stage.
In Idaho, NIATT researchers in the
CTI have worked closely with ITD materials engineers
to develop plans for the full implementation of the
Superpave mix design systems. One of the
achievements of this work was the development of the
Contact Energy Index, an energy-based
parameter that indicates the mix stability using a Superpave gyratory compactor. Further research at
NIATT led to the development of the Gyratory
Stability for Superpave mixes.
The primary outcome of the DOT and
ITD projects will be the integration of reliable
performance measures into the Superpave mix design
process, facilitating successful implementation of
the Superpave mix design system in Idaho and serving
as a model for other state DOTs across the nation.
Likewise, by characterizing the
Egyptian asphalt mixes using modern advanced
techniques that are part of the Superpave mix design
system, Bayomy and Khedr are collaborating to develop data that
will serve as a test pad for future implementation
of the pavement mix design system in Egypt and other
countries around the world.