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News|College of Engineering and Applied Science

Wyoming T2/LTAP Studies Roads, Roads & More Roads


November 8, 2010 — The Wyoming Technology Transfer Center (WYT2/ LTAP) has been serving the transportation community in the state of Wyoming for over 20 years. Dr. Khaled Ksaibati, Director of the Center, started working for UW in 1990 after finishing his graduate education at Purdue. He also worked for the Indiana DOT as a pavement structural engineer prior to coming to Wyoming. Other full-time staff members at the Center include: George Huntington, Bart Evans, and Mary Harman. Several undergraduate and graduate students are employed by the Center on a regular basis.

The WYT2/LTAP Center sponsors more than 36 workshops and training sessions every year. These workshops cover a variety of timely topics such as work zone safety and traffic control, design and maintenance of gravel roads, pavement management systems, concrete pavement design, winter survival and the annual Transportation and Safety Congress. In addition to the general training sessions, the Center provides transportation professionals around the state with certification training in aggregate, asphalt, as well as concrete. Last year, there were over 900 workshop participants from all 23 counties in Wyoming. The Center also maintains a lending library that includes relevant publications, manuals, and training videos, and is available to all residents of Wyoming.

The Center is sponsoring a number of research projects which are useful to transportation professionals around the state, regionally, and nationally. One of these studies concentrated on developing the methodology for the Wyoming Rural Road Safety Program (WRRSP) with funding from WYDOT and FHWA and in cooperation with Wyoming counties. The primary objective of this study was to help counties identify high risk rural locations, and then develop a strategy to obtain funding for the top-ranked sections to reduce crashes and fatalities on rural roads statewide. The methodology developed in this project has been presented nationally at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting and the National LTAP Association annual meeting. Workshops and presentations have also been given in Wyoming and throughout the broader Mountain-Plains region.

Additionally, the Center identified a need for a management methodology for unsealed dirt and gravel roads suitable for small local agencies. It also developed the methodology for a Gravel Roads Management System (GRMS), which provides two outputs. The first output provides elected officials with useful information that lets them make good financial decisions. The second output provides road managers with information that helps them maximize the efficiency of gravel road maintenance and rehabilitation. The next phase of this study involves the implementation of the developed methodology in three Wyoming counties.

Recently, the WYT2/LTAP Center started a new study to evaluate the validity of automated data collection methods used to determine the shoulder slope and drop off. Pathway services’ shoulder drop off sensor technology is on the cutting edge of road profiler data collection methods. Network level testing of this sensor will help to determine the validity of the data collected. The sensor will be tested on five different sections of highway in Wyoming. This kind of testing is critical in determining the usefulness of the data to WYDOT. 

Another recent study addresses speed limits on gravel roads. The default speed limit of Wyoming gravel roads without a posted speed limit is covered under the same speed laws as the state highway system. The default statutory speed limit is 65 mph on all local gravel roads throughout the state. It has become a concern that excess speeds on gravel roads are unsafe, cause unnecessary road damage, and are irresponsible. This study was conducted to determine whether or not the speed limit should be altered. Speed and crash data were collected on gravel roads in eight counties throughout Wyoming.

Traffic counters were placed on 83 roads to collect the necessary information to conduct the study. The speed data collected included the average, 50th percentile, and 85th percentile speeds as well as vehicle counts. Crash data were then collected from the Critical Analysis Reporting Environment (CARE 9) database on the number of fatal, injury, and property damage only crashes on those road sections. The state of Wyoming is moving forward to reduce the default speed limit from 65 to 45 mph on gravel roads in Wyoming.

In another project, the WYT2/LTAP Center and two Wyoming counties investigated the use of Recycled Asphalt Pavement (RAP) in gravel roads. The Wyoming DOT along with the Mountain Plains Consortium funded this study. The investigation explored the use RAP as a means of dust suppression, and considered its effect on road serviceability. Test sections constructed in two Wyoming counties were monitored for dust loss. Surface distress evaluations of the test sections were performed using a technique developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The data collected were summarized and statistically analyzed. The results of the contrast analysis allowed for fundamental conclusions and recommendations to be made for RAP and its ability for dust suppression. It was found that RAP incorporated into gravel roads reduces dust loss. Other counties and agencies can expand on this research to add another tool to their toolbox for dust control on gravel roads. More test sections will be built in Sweetwater County to confirm the findings of this study.

These and other programs have been success stories, showing how applied and relevant research conducted by the WYT2/LTAP Center staff, faculty, and UW students, help make Wyoming roads safer and more efficient. More detailed information on these and other studies can be found at the Center's website: wwweng.uwyo.edu/wyt2.

 

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