Latest News from KTC

The Center is a national leader in multidisciplinary transportation research. Its talented staff publish their findings in leading research journals, help agencies around the country implement their recommendations, develop new training courses, present their work at prestigious conferences, and even host conferences. The Center’s unparalleled ability to develop and perform applied research and to communicate findings has meant that a wide range of stakeholders — including the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet,  Federal Highway Administration, and a number of  government agencies and transportation organizations — have benefitted from KTC’s work. Keep tuned to this page for the latest research findings and reports, details of projects that are in progress, accolades, and more.

Nancy Albright receives the 2018 Government Civil Engineer of the Year Award

Nancy Albright was selected by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) to receive the 2018 Government Civil Engineer of the Year Award.  The honor represents Nancy’s 25 years of service as a transportation engineer at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and her continued service with the Kentucky Transportation Center. The award will be presented in October at the ASCE National Convention in Denver, Colorado. Nancy has been a member of ASCE since 1991, serving as State President, Frankfort Branch president, and on the Awards Committee. Currently, she is Chair of the Scholarship Committee for the Kentucky Section. She began her career with KYTC as a transportation scholarship student, and earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Kentucky. Throughout her career, Nancy remained dedicated to the Cabinet’s scholarship and mentoring programs. Congratulations to Nancy on this prestigious and well-deserved honor!

Snow and Ice Removal Route Optimization in Kentucky

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spends $40-80 million per year on snow and ice removal and road treatment. Existing snowplow routes are county-based, and each county has a designated amount of trucks and facilities available. KTC’s goal was to analyze the routes in the snow and ice clearance program (SNIC) and improve mobility and safety during salt delivery. While high traffic routes will always receive the highest priority, optimizing the routing system can improve efficiency, increase safety, and reduce the amount of time and funding needed to treat roadways during winter storms. KTC researchers used GIS-based tools to identify routing for trucks and show where more or fewer trucks were needed. The data gathered from ESRI’s Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP) took important factors into consideration such as salt capacity, salt facility location, truck type, and road width, as well as input from local drivers. The analysis was based on a typical winter storm of one inch of snowfall. The route tree concept structures each removal route around a central high priority road and allows truck drivers to become familiar with the roads on their route. As a result, drivers react better to a non-typical winter storm and they understand the safest and most effective way to treat the roads, treat all routes on schedule, and use fewer trucks in the process.

KTC developed optimized routings for four counties located in two of the state’s highway districts, which resulted in eliminating several contract trucks. Since each contract truck costs $25, 000 per year, those four counties will see large reductions in operating costs. KYTC can apply this model in other counties to optimize further cost savings across the state. Preliminary results show that county-level route optimizations can further improve by allowing trucks to cross county lines. More improvements to the optimization could be realized by moving the salt and brine facility to a more centralized location. Implementation will be tested during the next winter season, with the expectation that county-level route optimizations will continue to have a positive effect on cost savings and efficiency.

This project was selected by the AASHTO Region 2 states as one of four High Value Research projects for that region, and it will be included in the Sweet 16 projects highlighted at the summer meeting of the AASHTO Research Advisory Committee and at the 2019 TRB Annual Meeting. To view the full report, click Here


Calvin Grayson talks to KTC

Joe, Doug, and Clark had the opportunity to sit down and discuss transportation with 93-year-old Calvin Grayson, former Secretary of Transportation and former director of KTC. The marketing team of Paul, Michael, and Robin captured the day with film and photos, creating a timeless collection of wisdom and memories from a legend who has seen everything happen in transportation. Mr. Grayson kept the room captivated as he recalled how he was talked into his first job at the Highway Department, was introduced to the first computer in 1956, witnessed the construction of Mountain Parkway, and described his involvement after the Kentucky Transportation Research Program merged with KTC to form the Center as it is known today.

Mr. Grayson’s passion for transportation was apparent and reflected in his praise for KTC and in his nuggets of wisdom. He believes that planning should always be that essential first step and that KTC can never do enough marketing. We are living up to his vision of functioning as a multidisciplinary team and being the place to develop solutions to Kentucky’s critical transportation issues. He says, “I saw the Center as a catalyst for public and private stakeholders to come to consensus about transportation problems.” Mr. Grayson also believes that transportation, mobility, and accessibility are intertwined. Click Here for the full story



The 18th Annual KTC Great Chili Cookoff

This past Friday, KTC staff and faculty gathered together to enjoy the 18th Annual Great Chili Cookoff! And what a feast for the senses it was! Nine different chilis squared off to see who would be crowned the Utilimate Chili for 2017. While our judges savored every spoonful, nine entrants paced the halls with anticipation. Who were the winners and who competed valiently? Click HERE for the full story.

Critical Path

From initial conception to letting, highway design projects typically span several years. Over that period, subject-matter experts from multiple disciplinary backgrounds participate in project development, but a detailed schedule is not usually provided by consultants involved with the project. Coordinating stakeholder activities poses challenges for even experienced project managers. KYTC and the Kentucky Transportation Center have developed critical path method (CPM) schedules for KYTC Project Managers. Process flowcharts and Gantt chart templates are meant to assist pre-construction project managers with organizing, sequencing, and scheduling project development activities. These tools will improve KYTC’s management of the limited resources needed to deliver the project in a timely and responsive manner. KTC’s CPM training on the critical path method and its intended uses will give KYTC Project Managers the knowledge and tools needed to apply CPMs to their projects.  More information plus files for Critical Path are available here.

Cable Barrier

High-tension cable median barrier (CMB) is a safety innovation in Kentucky, primarily used to prevent crossover crashes. In these crashes, a vehicle leaves the roadway on the left shoulder, crosses the median, and enters opposing lanes of traffic. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) has observed inconsistent performance in CMB after a single vehicle hit; specifically, loss of tension in the cables. Ideally, if a second vehicle struck the cable barrier in a different location from the first hit, cable tension would be sufficient to prevent the second vehicle from crossing the median and causing a head-on collision.

KTC’ s objective during this cable barrier study was to improve the safety and effectiveness of the hundreds of miles of CMB installed across Kentucky. For more information on this topic click here

Update of Data for Estimating ESALs (Equivalent Single Axle Load)

This project involved updating processing traffic characteristics data using a series of quality control and analytical programs to produce an estimate of the following parameters of interest; 1) average daily traffic, 2) percent trucks, 3) percent trucks classified as heavy/coal, 4) axles per truck, 5) axles per heavy/coal truck, 6) ESALs per truck axle, 7) ESALs per heavy/coal truck axle, and 8) total ESALs. Computer programs processed classification data and weight data, and then combined output to calculate ESALs.

Highway Rail Crossing Prioritization

Research team members at the University of Kentucky in the Department of Civil Engineering and the Kentucky Transportation Center (KTC) worked with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) to develop a high-level mechanism for ranking highway-rail crossings for reconstruction and/or rehabilitation. The Highway Rail Crossing Prioritization implementation study yielded the Rail Crossing Improvement Priority (RCIP), which combined qualitative measures of crossing conditions with quantitative measures, including proposed project costs and a valuation of the crossing based on rail and truck traffic. This effort provides a template by which further development can yield prioritization procedures for road-rail grade separation projects.

Commercial Truck Parking and Other Safety Issues

Commercial truck parking is a safety issue, since trucks are involved in approximately 10% of all fatal accidents on interstates and parkways in Kentucky. Drivers experience schedule demands and long hours on the road, yet they cannot easily determine available parking locations. The objective of this study was to identify information related to parking demand, locations with documented or potential safety issues, and potential countermeasures. The literature review indicated substantial research has been done on commercial vehicle parking, and works have outlined the necessary facilities to accommodate trucks before drivers exceed their allowable hours of driving.

Best Practices for the Implementation of the REAL ID Act

The REAL ID Act specifies the minimum standards that must be used to produce and issue driver’s license and identification cards that are REAL ID compliant. Beginning in 2020, if a person does not possess a form of identification that meets REAL ID standards they will not be able to board an aircraft that is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Currently, of the 56 states and jurisdictions required to implement the REAL ID Act, only 23 are in compliance. Although the Commonwealth of Kentucky has not yet implemented the REAL ID Act, an extension allowing Federal agencies to accept state driver’s licenses is currently in effect.

Phase I Inspection of the Stay Cable System on the US 231 William H. Natcher Bridge over the Ohio River

The US 231 Natcher Bridge was opened in 2002. By 2006 cracking was observed in the plastic piping that protected the stay cable strands from the environment at both the deck and tower anchorages. Over time the extent of cracking increased and an investigation was initiated to assess the types of deterioration impacting the cables, their causes, and their impacts on the integrity of the stay cables. From 2012-2015, a series of in-depth field inspections were performed using visual and nondestructive testing. Most of this work focused on the piping at the deck anchorages.

Sealants, Treatments, and Deicing Salt Practices to Limit Bridge Deck Corrosion and Experimental Deck Sealants and Pier Cap Coating on Interstate 471

This project evaluated the ability of concrete sealants to impede the ingress of chloride ions into concrete bridge decks. Laboratory testing evaluated 24 concrete-penetrating sealants and four film-forming products. The sealants chosen for the field-testing were intended to reduce the ingress of chloride ions when deicing materials were applied to road surfaces. Pre- and post-application friction test data were collected – three of the four sealants increased friction resistance.

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