Research Archives

Research Completed in 2015

Planning Guidelines for Pedestrian & Bicycle Projects. The process to determine the feasibility and value of new transportation improvement projects for pedestrians and cyclists can now be more efficient and equitable through recently developed Ped Bike chartguidelines that will let planners rank and measure the impact the proposed project will have on mobility within the immediate community.

Using the guidelines, transportation planners can analyze four criteria to measure its effectiveness and establish a ranking. Seven determinants involving safety, mobility, project cost and other factors contribute to the ranking process.  The guidelines were developed from a research report, “Development of an Analytical Framework to Rank Pedestrian and Cyclist Projects,” completed by Dr. Nadereh Moini, former UTC Research Assistant Professor. Read a news story to learn more and get access to the report.

Percentage ChartMode Choice Model. Planners at Chicago area transportation agencies can now employ a state-of-the-art tool to support more accurate forecasting and policy analysis of the way people make decisions on trips from home to various destinations within their community. The transportation mode choice model was built upon a microsimulation based framework. Through this process, researchers can combine individuals in a study region in order to simulate activities and keep track of transportation options based upon a person’s location. The modeling project is detailed in a report, “A Personalized Mode Choice Model for Chicago Metropolitan Region.” Read a news story to learn more. Or, gain more insight from this online article published April 21 by Mass Transit magazine. The author is Mahmoud Javanmardi, a member of the project research team.

Mapping Accessibility Online Tool. Planners and policymakers in the greater Chicago area can now employ a recently-developed digital resource to better evaluate accessibility by four Mapping accessibilitycommon transportation modes to many types of destinations in the urban environment and use that information to improve livability. The Metropolitan Chicago Accessibility Explorer – accessed at — is a map-based web-tool covering metropolitan Chicago.

Through the Accessibility Explorer, planners, for example, can identify areas lacking access to jobs, parks, shopping, etc. and propose adjustments to transit service or land use to address these shortages. Read a news story about this new resource.  And, read this article posted on the UIC News Center to learn insight from principal investigator Dr. Nebiyou Tilahun.

Truck to Rail Research compressed

Intermodal Logistics Centers. The presence of an intermodal logistics center (ILC) can result in higher property values for industrial properties on or near state highway routes or near roads close to interstate highway interchanges. That’s the key conclusion from research that analyzed the economic impact of the CenterPoint Intermodal Center on industrial properties in parts of Will County, Illinois.

To prepare the report, “Intermodal Logistics Centers and Their Impact on Transportation Corridor Industrial Property Value,” researchers tax assessment, truck volume and U.S. census data from 2002 to 2007 to analyze patterns and property value changes of industrial property along trucking and waterway corridors close to CenterPoint, a master-planned inland port located on 6,500 acres 40 miles southwest of Chicago. Read a news story on this research and get access to the complete report.  Or, read this post from July 1 published in The Source, a blog published by the National Association of Realtors®.

Shared Use Rail Corridors. Operating more passenger trains on a shared rail corridor with freight trains can result in fewer delays for travelers, but may lead to higher costs for freight railroads. That’s a key finding of a transportation research paper undertaken to determine the impact of having passenger and freight trains share a single rail line – specifically the 300-mile route between Chicago and St. Louis, currently under renovation to accommodate 110-mile-per-hour passenger service.Shared Corridor Graph

The paper, completed by UTC researchers, also noted that in most instances the marginal freight-side cost increases due to adding more passenger trains on the shared use corridor would be higher than the cost savings to passengers. This is especially true where frequent services already exist. The complete paper, “Integrated Modeling of High Performance Passenger and Freight Train Operation Planning on Shared Use Rail Corridors: A Focus on the US Context,” can be downloaded here. Read a news story on this research. Download a PowerPoint presentation related to this research.

Research Completed in 2013 and 2014

ValueCapture_Final-390x244Transit Funding Through Value Capture. The use of “value capture” may prove to help get more and more transit projects funded.  The process works this way:  Developers agree to help fund transit expansion or infrastructure because the improvements may result in an increase in property or other values.

A UTC research team studied how value capture principles were applied to transit projects in four major U.S. markets, including Chicago. Three key findings: a) Transit agencies need to recruit people experienced in working with taxing authorities and developers, b) Municipalities need to grow relationships with transit agency capital planners, c) Developers need to understand the value capture process and get on board.  Learn more and download the complete “Value Capture Coordination: Case Studies, Best Practices and Recommendations” research report. Read a news story on this research. Watch a video featuring UTC executive director Steve Schlickman recorded during a presentation August 19 hosted by the US DOT Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology.

Compressed 1MapATransportation Needs for Older Adults. Communities throughout Illinois will need to make significant revisions to current transportation options, explore more varied housing types and greatly augment health and human services alternatives to meet the day-to-day needs of the increasing Baby Boomer population, which is estimated to grow to one-in-five residents by 2030. Greater cooperation between state and federal agencies and a concerted commitment by elected officials charged with managing human services is paramount to ensuring the welfare of adults 60 years of age and older across Illinois in the years to come.

Those are among key findings and policy recommendations detailed in “Planning Transportation to Meet the Needs of an Aging Illinois: An Assessment,” a research report completed by the Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement with participation from the UTC. Read a news story on this research. Or, read this opinion piece by Dr. Janet Smith of the Nathalie P Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement that was published July 13, 2015 in the Springfield Journal-Register.

Pedestrian-Cyclist Safety at Rail Grade Crossings. More powerful messages from local governments and agencies and greater consistency in the design of warning Ped Cycle1devices are among the tactics needed to help reduce incidents of pedestrians and cyclists from being struck by freight and passenger trains at grade crossings. Those are two key findings from a survey completed in 2013 by the Urban Transportation Center on rail “hot spots” in metropolitan Chicago.

Researchers concluded that increased education and enforcement from municipalities and transit providers would help build greater awareness and convince pedestrians and cyclists that it’s illegal to cross railroad tracks while signals or devices are activated and considered trespassing to cross at locations outside a designated pedestrian crossing. Get access to the report, “Pedestrian/Bicyclist Warning Devices and Signs at Highway-Rail and Pathway-Rail Grade Crossings,” and read a news story on this research.