WTI

Western Transportation Institute - Small Urban and Rural Livability Center

Small Urban and Rural Livability Center (SURLC)

SURLC combines the talents of the Western Transportation Institute (WTI) and the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute (UGPTI) into an organization that can enhance livability in small urban and rural communities.

Mission

The mission of the Small Urban and Rural Livability Center is to conduct research and provide leadership, education, workforce development and technology transfer in all transportation related aspects of livability focusing specifically on small urban and rural areas.

Livability Principles

SURLC will focus on the six key livability principles (as defined by the U.S. DOT), which are:

Key Staff

David Kack, Director
Phone: 406-994-7526
Email: dkack@coe.montana.edu
Fax: 406-994-1697
Mailing address:
Western Transportation Institute
College of Engineering
Montana State University
PO Box 174250
Bozeman, MT 59717
Jill Hough, Deputy Director
Phone: 701-231-8082
Email: jill.hough@ndsu.edu
Mailing address:
Small Urban & Rural Transit Center
Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute
North Dakota State University
P.O. Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050

Projects

Incorporating Livability and the Urban Form into Travel Demand Forecasting Models in High Growth Rural and small Urban Communities

University Montana State University
Principal Investigator Pat McGowen
PI Contact Information Western Transportation Institute
Montana State University
2327 University Way, Suite 6
Bozeman, MT 59715
406-994-6529
patm@coe.montana.edu
Funding Source(s) (Amounts provided by each agency or organization) USDOT - $149,818
Total Project Cost $149,818
Agency ID or Contract Number DTRT13-G-UTC46
Start and End Dates 07/01/2014 – 12/31/2015
Brief Description of Research Project

There are many Decision makers in rural and small urban communities experiencing dramatic population growth need sound estimates of future traffic in order to set land use and transportation policies. Metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) of major metropolitan areas have dedicated staff that build and run travel demand forecasting models (TDFM) costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. TDFMs provide current and future traffic estimates based on different land use and infrastructure improvement scenarios. Rural areas cannot afford these full models and rely on a very simple TDFM (the rapid assessment model) built once every five to ten years (or not at all).

The rapid assessment model could be improved to incorporate aspects so that future traffic estimates are sensitive to livability policies and programs. One such effort involved adding sensitivity to urban form (Berger and McGowen, in prep). We know that citizens travel differently when urban form changes (i.e., increased mixed land use and higher densities). Rapid assessment models, typically used in rural and small urban communities, utilize a basic model structure and factors based on national data; this approach is thought to ignore urban form. McGowen and Berger have developed and implemented a modified rapid assessment model that is relatively easy to implement, uses existing data and is sensitive to urban form.

Building on the McGowen-Berger model, the urban form sensitivity will be further refined by "ground-truthing" with data for the case study in the Greater Bozeman Area TDFM. Additionally, other livability metrics will be incorporated such as bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and sidewalk connectivity.

This project will:

  • Develop a consolidated list of livability metrics that could be incorporated into TDFM,
  • Conduct initial analysis on the feasibility of incorporating each of these metrics into TDFM for a rural or small urban area,
  • Fully implement at least one livability metric into a full TDFM, and
  • Share results through technical transfer activities.

The tools developed by this research effort will allow travel demand forecasting models to be sensitive to livability policies and programs. With these improved TDFMs, planners and policy makers can make better decisions to direct how cities are developed. By the time communities have the critical mass (tax base) to allow them enough resources for fully developed TDFMs, it can be too late to shape a community through policy, incentives, and infrastructure improvements. With better tools, planners and policy makers in these small, but high growth communities will be able to better shape the future of the city and incentivize growth for livable communities.

Describe Implementation of Research Outcomes (or why not implemented) Pending project completion.
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation (actual, not anticipated) Pending project completion.
Web Links
  • Reports
  • Project website
Reports: Pending project completion.

The North Dakota Oil Boom's Impact on Livability in Western North Dakota

University North Dakota State University
Principal Investigator Del Peterson
PI Contact Information Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute
North Dakota State University
NDSU Dept. 2880
P.O. Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
701-231-5908
del.peterson@ndsu.edu
Funding Source(s) (Amounts provided by each agency or organization) USDOT UTC - $70,568
NDSU - $71,058
Total Project Cost $141,626
Agency ID or Contract Number DTRT13-G-UTC46
Start and End Dates March 1, 2014 – February 28, 2015
Brief Description of Research Project

The western half of North Dakota has experienced tremendous growth in recent years due to increased oil exploration and drilling. Along with this has come transportation and housing issues that affect everyone involved. The Highway 2 corridor in northwest North Dakota has seen a dramatic increase in traffic volumes while local airports have seen a substantial increase in passenger boardings leading to greater demand for additional flights. Also, increases in housing and apartment rental costs have forced some to relocate to other communities. These issues highlight a number of livability related topics such as affordable housing, transportation mode choice, and the sustainability of existing communities among others.

A study will be conducted in northwest North Dakota to analyze these topics with a focus on travel mode choice and housing affordability. Special consideration will be given to seniors and disadvantaged populations who rely largely on fixed incomes.

Analysis will include the impact of increased travel and housing costs on individuals who have lived in the area for long periods of time and are now forced to make possible relocation decisions. The effect on public transit will also be studied to gain a better understanding as to how the oil boom has impacted local transit services. Analysis will also explore changes to various modes of transportation in northwestern North Dakota while focusing on intermodal solutions for individual travel.

Describe Implementation of Research Outcomes (or why not implemented) Pending project completion.
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation (actual, not anticipated) Pending project completion.
Web Links
  • Reports
  • Project website
Reports: Pending project completion.

Center Progress Reports

Program Progress Performance Report #1