April 28th, 2011

PUSHING INNOVATION

Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

The Utah Transportation Research Advisory Council Workshop is an important step in selecting  research projects that help UDOT stay innovative.

The Construction and Materials Group discusses proposed research topics at the UTRAC Workshop

Research helps UDOT adopt innovations — many new technologies and practices at UDOT have an origin in research. UDOT’s Research Division’s UTRAC Workshop is aimed at narrowing the field of potential research topics that will ultimately help UDOT improve standard practices and incorporate innovations. “UTRAC’s purpose is to prioritize needs for the department,” says David Stevens, Research Project Manager who coordinated the event. “Most of the research we do comes out of the workshop.”

Cameron Kergaye

In April, UTRAC gave experts from UDOT, FHWA, university researchers, private sector partners and other transportation agencies a chance to meet, network, share solutions and most importantly, prioritize research topics. Having a broad range of participants makes a strong process – each brings a different point of view or expertise to contribute.

The Research Division is working hard to make the product of research “responsible, relevant and accessible,” says Director of Research Cameron Kergaye in introductory remarks he gave at the event.  Kergaye and his division are looking for new ways to present that information about research to end users – the people who will benefit from the knowledge gained by researchers.

FHWA Administrator for Utah James Christian (left) and UDOT Director of Systems Planning and Programming, Cory Pope

The event also features a keynote address – this year James Christian,  FHWA Administrator of the Utah Division, spoke about the Every Day Counts initiative, a USDOT effort to prompt departments of transportation to adopt practices that contribute to safe, quick project delivery. UDOT is a leader in many forward-looking transportation practices.

The Research Division solicits topics by inviting participants to submit well thought-out problem statements each year the UTRAC Workshop is held.  Problem statements are grouped into similar topic areas and posted online for participants to read before the event.

Participants divided into groups to consider problem statements and then vote on priorities for each topic area. 2011 topic areas included Construction/Materials, Maintenance, Traffic Management/Safety, Geotechnical, and Structures. Each group had a leader to direct discussion. The next step in the research selection process is to present the prioritized list to the UTRAC Council, a five member board representing groups and regions at UDOT.

To learn more:

About UTRAC, see the UDOT Research Division website.

Blog posts that give information about 2009 research topics:

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Responses to “PUSHING INNOVATION”

  1. It’s crucial to stay innovative, since traffic is constantly evolving. New methods for controlling congestion, for example, make all our lives easier! Great post.

  2. With a lot of America’s infrastructure falling apart, it is imperative DOT stays innovative. Great information.

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