Sustainability Metrics and Mapping Tool for Environmental Assessment of Rail Infrastructure in Illinois

Launched in 2009, the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program aims to provide 80% of Americans access to an improved national rail network within the next 25 years. Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), all proposed rail projects are subject to an environmental evaluation process. While the NEPA process is designed to protect the environment and promote community involvement, it can be lengthy and expensive.

This webinar will present a comprehensive “sustainable rail scorecard” and mapping tool for environmental impact assessment of rail infrastructure in Illinois. The objective was to integrate the latest development in environmental impact CUTR logo indexstudies and provide a system view of sustainability metrics in a one-stop, spatial planning database accessed through an online interface. Transportation professionals and environmental planners can use this application to consider a wide range of impacts early in the decision-making process, before significant funds and time have been devoted to project design.

Presenter Dr. Ning Ai’s research and teaching interests focus on urban environmental planning and its integration with land use, industrial ecology, and sustainable economic development. Her previous work experiences include the application of GIS in environmental protection, urban sustainability indicators, and socioeconomic impact analysis of natural disasters.

Download a PDF copy of the presentation slides.

Listen to a recorded version of the December 11 webinar.

Recording ID: mapping-tool
Recording Key: not required

Complete an evaluation of the December 11 webinar.

Value Capture Coordination Best Practices and Case Studies for Transit Capital Projects

For the past several years, the presence of public transit has proven to have the potential to boost the value of some nearby properties, leading to more attractive opportunities for developers.  Planners and policy makers have started to work with local governments to allocate a portion of the value gained by transit lines to funding system expansion and improvement.CUTR logo index

Called “value capture,” the process can be used to help fund new transit systems, expand existing ones and modernize stations and terminals.

In this webinar hosted by the Center for Urban Transportation Research, UTC transportation planner/analyst Jordan Snow will discuss completed site visits to New York, Washington and San Francisco and plans to finalize case studies. Research included studying trends in communication, hiring, and project preparation among local governments and the private development sector to identify any best practices.  A literature review and preliminary research showed that sound models for value capture coordination still need to be developed and the outcome of this project will be a report featuring recommendations for best practices for transportation agencies, taxing authorities, and private developers.

Download a PDF copy of the presentation slides.

Listen to a recorded version of the July 24 webinar.

Recording ID: value-capture
Recording Key: not required

Complete an evaluation of the July 24 webinar.

CUTR Webinar: Pedestrian/Bicyclist Warning Devices and Signs at Highway-Rail and Pathway-Rail Grade Crossings

On June 12, 2014, UTC faculty researchers Dr. P.S. Sriraj and Dr. Paul Metaxatos led a webinar to discuss a completed research report: “Pedestrian/Bicyclist Warning Devices and Signs at Highway-Rail and Pathway-Rail Grade CUTR logo indexCrossings.” The webinar was hosted by the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida.

Overview: Federal reporting shows a relatively constant number of pedestrian and bicycle fatalities at highway-rail and pathway-rail grade crossings over the past ten years. This is in contrast to a marked decrease in train–vehicle collisions at highway-rail crossings. There is limited research on the subject of how to reduce the number of collisions between trains and pedestrians and bicyclists at highway-rail and pathway-rail grade crossings.

Objective: The objective of the study was to (a) highlight thematic areas, specific issues and context sensitive countermeasures related to pedestrian safety at rail grade crossings, and (b) discuss issues related to attitudes and behavior of pedestrians at rail grade crossings.  The discussion has implications for the design and placement of signs and warning systems at pedestrian-rail grade crossings are also documented and advance our understanding about the effectiveness of such safety measures.

Scope: The study highlights the multitude of factors related to pedestrian safety and provides an informed discussion for stakeholders to advance safety initiatives.  The focus of this discussion is on individuals who utilize legally authorized highway-rail crossings with pedestrian access, or legally authorized pathway-rail crossings.  Such highway-rail and pathway-rail crossings can be identified as they will have a U.S. DOT inventory number assigned to the location (e.g. 372133T).  Individuals crossing railroad tracks at locations other than legally designated locations are trespassing upon private property.  While trespassing is a major public safety issue, it is not the focus of this research.

Download a copy of the complete research report.

Download a PDF copy of the presentation slides.

Listen to a recorded version of the June 12 webinar.

Recording ID: bike-ped-warnings-rrx
Recording Key: not required

Complete an evaluation of the June 12 webinar.