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Rural Transportation Issues: Research Roadmap B-1 A P P E N D I X B Seven Research Needs Statements for Colorado Workshop
Rural Transportation Issues: Research Roadmap B-2 Draft Research Needs Statements for Review at the NCHRP 20-122 Colorado Workshop â¢ Draft 1: Bridge and Culvert Vulnerability Assessment Software Suite â¢ Draft 1: Rural Transportation Agency Marijuana Policies in the Legalization Era â¢ Draft 1: Force Multiplier Toolkit for Rural Traffic Enforcement â¢ Draft 1: A Mode-Neutral Guide for Rural Transportation Investment Analysis â¢ Draft 1: Effects of Rural Rideshare on Public Transportation â¢ Draft 1: Traffic Management for Rural Tourism Communities â¢ Draft 1: Cumulative Effects of Underinvestment in Rural Transportation
Rural Transportation Issues: Research Roadmap B-3 Draft 1: Bridge and Culvert Vulnerability Assessment Software Suite In recent years, flood frequencies and stormwater volumes have increased in most parts of the U.S. (Mallakpour and Villarini 2015, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2016). Many rural transportation agenciesâparticularly those at lower elevations near major riversâhave already experienced multiple bridge and culvert failures, and these agencies report that the resulting repair and replacement costs are substantial. In locations without a nearby alternate route, rural residents, businesses, and first responders must use long detours, resulting in significant social, economic, and health impacts. In some cases, communities have been cut off entirely. A critical issue is that many rural bridges and culverts were designed based on stormwater volume estimates that are no longer reliable due to climate change (Bhatkoti et. al. 2016). Some agencies have identified sources of error, including increasingly intense precipitation, earlier spring snow melt, outdated estimates of runoff from impervious upstream areas, and prior non-use of scientific hydraulic design principles. In some cases, replacement of one flood-damaged structure can reveal downstream bottlenecks during subsequent flood events. Numerous rural counties and municipalities have an immediate need for a low-cost tool to help identify and resolve hydraulic capacity issues. The tool could integrate the following capabilities: â¢ Managing a database of riparian structures such as bridges, culverts, fords, and low-water crossings. â¢ Computing the hydraulic capacity of existing structures based on lidar scans and as-built plans. â¢ Interfacing with available terrain maps, hydrological databases, and climatological models to provide long-term estimates of future stormwater flows (including flow changes attributable to future increases in precipitation intensity) with indicators of the uncertainty of estimation. â¢ Identifying vulnerable structures at a countywide scale. â¢ Modelling the upstream and downstream effects of stormwater management scenarios such as bridge and culvert enlargements and the addition of retention basins and overflow structures.
Rural Transportation Issues: Research Roadmap B-4 Draft 1: Rural Transportation Agency Marijuana Policies in the Legalization Era As of June 2018, recreational marijuana/cannabis had been legalized in 9 states, which together represent 21% of the U.S. population (Robinson, Berke et al. 2018, U.S. Census Bureau 2018). With recent public opinion polling showing that approximately 60% of Americans favor legalization (Geiger 2018), it appears likely that additional states will enact lenient marijuana laws in the future. Consumption of smokable and smokeless cannabis products appears to be rising (SAMSHA 2014). Rural highway and public transit agencies utilize substantial numbers of personnel in safety-critical occupations, including employees, contractors, and (in some cases) volunteers. While large agencies in metropolitan areas generally have the resources required for intensive drug screening to enforce zero- tolerance policies, this is not always the case in small rural agencies. With lean staffing, an agency may face substantial operational problems if the number of available personnel is insufficient. As a result, front- line supervisors in rural agencies can face substantial pressure to turn a blind eye to suspected policy violations, especially if the violations are perceived to be âminor.â While marijuana use by agency personnel during working hours is unquestionably problematic, some states have existing statutes that prohibit employment discrimination based on the off-premise use of lawful products during nonworking hours. Additionally, many rural transportation personnel are deployed in remote locations where face-to-face contact with supervisory personnel is limited. Some rural public transportation strategies rely on volunteer drivers who may not be motivated by the same factors or subject to the same regulations as paid employees. This creates a very complex set of policy issues for transportation agencies. The proposed research will develop guidance to support transportation agency employee marijuana use policies. The project will include the following actions: â¢ Review the effectiveness of existing zero tolerance policies and random drug testing protocols intended to deter and detect personnel substance use in the rural transportation context. â¢ Identify methods for detecting on-the-job use of smokeless marijuana products. â¢ Review the available medical research regarding metabolism of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) and the time required to recover pre-intoxication driving aptitude. â¢ Review the available medical research on long-term cannabinoid use on the ability to perform typical transportation agency job duties safely and effectively. â¢ Analyze existing state and federal legislation and case law to determine the extent to which agencies can legitimately regulate an employeeâs off-duty use of lawful substances. â¢ Identify alternatives to zero-tolerance policies and estimate the associated risks to public safety.
Rural Transportation Issues: Research Roadmap B-5 Draft 1: Force Multiplier Toolkit for Rural Traffic Enforcement Due to budget constraints, many rural counties and municipalities have only a small number of law enforcement officers to cover large roadway mileages. For example, some agencies in the Midwest report that it is not unusual for a rural county to have only two deputy sheriffs on duty at night to cover traffic enforcement on more than 1000 miles of roadways, along with numerous non-traffic law enforcement responsibilities (Russell 2018). Some small municipalities may have only one part-time police officer. As a result of sparse enforcement, rural populations may have lower levels of perceived risk of being intercepted for violations such as speeding, driving while intoxicated, or non-use of seatbelts. It is likely that this perception contributes to rural injury and fatality rates. There are a few âforce multipliersâ that could lighten the burden for rural law enforcement officers. Examples include: â¢ Rural traffic calming strategies to make roadways more âself-enforcing.â â¢ Volunteer programs to engage citizens in alerting law enforcement to serious traffic safety issues and remind minor offenders of the importance of behaving responsibly. â¢ Programs to identify establishments that over-serve alcohol and train their servers to comply with state laws regarding intoxicated patrons. â¢ Deploying a combination of highly visible and stealth patrols at randomized locations to create the impression that law enforcement could be present anywhere, at any time. â¢ Automated speed enforcement. The proposed project will: â¢ Identify additional force multiplier techniques. â¢ Develop a toolkit describing the techniques. â¢ Assemble case examples that describe the characteristics of successful and unsuccessful deployments. â¢ Prepare materials to raise awareness of the techniques and guide implementation at the local level.
Rural Transportation Issues: Research Roadmap B-6 Draft 1: A Mode-Neutral Guide for Rural Transportation Investment Analysis Compared to urban communities, rural communities have limited resources for new transportation projects. Therefore, many rural communities face a crucial dilemma when making transportation investments: they cannot afford to pass up opportunities that will help grow the local economy, and they cannot afford to put money into something that does not work. According to numerous agencies that have proposed new projects, rural transportation investments can be very contentious. Whether the project is a roadway widening, an airport upgrade, an expansion of transit service, or even a bike path, one citizenâs economic advancement opportunity is another citizenâs boondoggle. In small communities where everyone knows everyone else, leaders cite examples of disagreements that pit neighbor against neighbor, with bitterness that can linger for years after a decision is made (or an opportunity disappears). Worse, in the aftermath of a controversy, new ideasâno matter how valuableâare often self-censored for fear of rekindling old battles. A common feature of transportation investments in rural counties and municipalities is that high-stakes decisions often must be made without the benefit of tools that urban analysts take for granted, such as travel demand forecasting models. There is frequently a shortage of reliable data to assess facility use or ridership. If a rural agency has a small staff without specialized planning or analysis expertise, decision makers and staff often have limited experience evaluating non-highway modes. Many projects include both utilitarian and recreational elements, introducing the possibility of under-weighting some benefits and double- counting others. Most fundamentally, revenue is scarce: lengthening the runway could mean not building the bike path; building the bike path means delaying construction of the industrial park connector road. Most of the existing transportation investment analysis guidance is oriented toward the types of projects typically done by state agencies and large cities, and nearly all is mode specific. Between-mode inconsistencies in analytical methods and assumptions are of limited importance when large agencies make decisions about how to allocate projects within narrowly defined programs. Conversely, these inconsistencies profoundly interfere with cross-modal comparison of possible investmentsâthe precise task facing rural decision makers at the county and local levels. To address these issues, the development of a mode-neutral rural transportation analysis guide is proposed. The following features could be useful to many rural agencies: â¢ Providing consistent cross-modal techniques for estimating the costs of new facilities and services, and sources for obtaining unbiased information to support independent estimates of capital, operating, and maintenance costs. â¢ Offering simplified techniques for estimating and validating facility use/ridership levels consistently across modes. â¢ Presenting a consistent set of economic analysis methods that can be used with all modes. â¢ Providing links to relevant sources for keeping analysis parameters and assumptions up to date. â¢ Providing information about how to develop realistic cross-modal assessments of the economic, social, health, and environmental benefits (and disbenefits) of various types of transportation projects. â¢ Discussing start-up growth rate assumptions, including cases where the growth in utilization is not linear. â¢ Acknowledging the uncertainties inherent in rural transportation investment analysis and providing simplified risk analysis techniques (such as Monte Carlo analysis) to allow analysts to develop high, low, and most-likely-outcome scenarios that bracket the range of possible outcomes. â¢ Offering advice on how to present the results of transportation analysis in a manner that is easy for elected officials and the public to understand and apply.
Rural Transportation Issues: Research Roadmap B-7 Draft 1: Effects of Rural Rideshare on Public Transportation Rideshare services have continued to increase over the last several years, especially with the advent of private services such as Uber and Lyft. While these services are not as widespread in rural areas as in their urban counterparts, the number of these services continues to increase including dedicated rural rideshare services such as Liberty Mobility Now, JAUNT, and Madison Transit Authority (Rural Health Information Hub 2018). Rideshare services could meet the mobility needs of rural residents, particularly in communities where public transportation is nonexistent or limited. The need for transportation alternatives in rural areas continues to grow as more older Americans choose to âage in placeâ and rideshare services may provide a mode of transportation that older Americans may be more familiar with compared to public transportation. In rural areas, rideshare services could provide a viable mobility option to get rural residents to medical appointments, work, school, and even tourist destinations. Rideshare services could have a lasting effect on rural public transportation. This effect could be positive with the collaboration between the services (rideshare providing first/last mile services to a fixed route or allowing someone to take public transportation one way to a medical appointment and rideshare the other). It could also have detrimental impacts if riders begin to use rideshare in lieu of existing public transportation, further decreasing already low ridership, possibly impacting the ability for a service to get future funding. This report will examine, and where possible quantify, the effects of rural rideshare on public transportation. To the extent feasible, the report will compare metrics across states and regions. Components of this study will include: â¢ Cost benefit of rideshare versus public transportation in a rural area â¢ Effect of rideshare on public transportation ridership â¢ Case studies on rideshare/public transportation partnerships â¢ Preference of specific rider user groups (elderly, mobility impaired, cognitive limitations) for ridesharing services versus public transportation â¢ Contrast volunteer rideshare and for-profit rideshare effects on public transportation
Rural Transportation Issues: Research Roadmap B-8 Draft 1: Traffic Management for Rural Tourism Communities According to the U.S. Travel Association, 2.7% of the gross domestic product (GDP) is attributed to travel and tourism, with rural sightseeing ranking in the top 5 leisure travel activities (U.S. Travel Association 2018). While tourism has a large economic impact on rural communities, it has a significant impact on the congestion in these areas as well. The seasonal congestion for these tourism areas is primarily found during peak vacation periods for Americans, such as during the summer and other holidays (e.g., Presidentâs Day weekend, Labor Day weekend, Memorial Day weekend) or on weekends when commuter congestion is nonexistent. Unique natural events also cause non-recurring congestion such as the 2017 eclipse. This congestion is further exacerbated by limited alternative routes, constraints of natural features, and secondary safety and mobility impacts (e.g., backups on a mountain for a congested ski area can leave vehicles vulnerable to an avalanche in the area). Many tourism communities have implemented solutions to combat congestion, including public transportation, reservation systems, park and ride lots, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and traveler information. However, some communities have noted that there is not a one size fits all solution, because there are several types of tourism communities, each with unique transportation needs and challenges. Tourism community types include: â¢ ski areas, â¢ small beach towns, â¢ gateway communities, â¢ resort/themed areas (such as Branson, MO; Wisconsin Dells; Pigeon Forge), and â¢ natural recreation areas such as public lands (e.g., National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuges, U.S. Forest Service Lands, Bureau of Land Management Lands, state parks, etc.). A synthesis and evaluation of these techniques across the varying types of tourism communities could improve the planning guidance available to them. The study could identify new techniques that would be beneficial to specific types of communities, as well as cross-cutting techniques that could be useful in multiple locations. The proposed synthesis project will: â¢ Identify traffic management techniques in each of the tourism communities. â¢ Develop a toolkit describing the techniques. â¢ Assemble case study examples that describe the characteristics of successful and unsuccessful deployments for each of the tourism communities. â¢ Identify which techniques could be cross-cutting among the tourism communities. â¢ Prepare materials to raise awareness of the techniques and guide implementation at the local level.
Rural Transportation Issues: Research Roadmap B-9 Draft 1: Cumulative Effects of Underinvestment in Rural Transportation Over the past few decades, many rural transportation agencies (especially at the county and municipal levels) have experienced continuous or nearly continuous reductions in budgets and buying power. According to some agencies, these cuts have repeatedly increased the pressure to defer capital investments and reduce services. Examples of some budget reduction actions taken by rural highway departments include reducing winter maintenance, allowing pavement striping to wear away, delaying bridge repairs, and reverting paved roads to gravel. Similarly, rural transit agencies have eliminated routes and shortened service hours to make ends meet (ENO Center for Transportation 2012). Anecdotal reports by agency leaders suggest that the effects of these cuts snowball as time goes on. For example, an initial delay in maintenance can hasten pavement deterioration, resulting in the need to replace rather than repair the road. Similarly, under investments in rural traffic enforcement and road safety infrastructure contribute to elevated crash rates; the resulting medical costs are ultimately borne by drivers and employers in the form of higher insurance rates, or by the public in the form of healthcare taxes for the uninsured. This report will examine, and where possible quantify, the long-term effects of rural transportation investment levels on the health, safety, and economic wellbeing of U.S. rural communities. To the extent feasible, the report will compare metrics across states and regions to explore how varying levels of rural transportation expenditure affect: â¢ Long-term costs of providing rural transportation infrastructure â¢ Rural population, income, and employment â¢ Life expectancy and public health â¢ Crime and public safety â¢ Quality-of-life indicators
Rural Transportation Issues: Research Roadmap B-10 References Bhatkoti, R., G.E. Moglen, P.M. Murray-Tuite, and K.P Triantis. 2016. âChanges to Bridge Flood Risk under Climate Change.â Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, Vol. 21, Iss. 12, Dec. 2016. ENO Center for Transportation. 2012. The Consequences of Reduced Federal Transportation Investment. Bipartisan Policy Center, Washington D.C. Geiger, A. 2018. "About Six-in-Ten Americans Support Marijuana Legalization." Retrieved 07-Sept-2018 from http://pewrsr.ch/2E9u3hd. Mallakpour, I. and G. Villarini. 2015. "The Changing Nature of Flooding Across the Central United States." Nature Climate Change 5: 250-254. Robinson, M., J. Berke, and S. Gould. 2018. âThis Map Shows Every State That has Legalized Marijuana.â Business Insider. New York, NY. Rural Health Information Hub. 2018. âRidesharing Models. Rural Health Information Hub.â Retrieved 01-Aug-2018 from https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/toolkits/transportation/2/models-to-improve-access/ridesharingmodels. Russell, K. 2018. âRural sheriffâs departments struggle with low staffing levels, tightening budgets.â Retrieved 20-Dec- 2018 from https://www.thegazette.com/IowaIdeas/stories/rural-sheriffs-departments-struggle-with-low-staffing-levels- tightening-budgets-20181220 SAMSHA. 2014. Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD, U.S. Census Bureau. 2018. "American FactFinder." Retrieved 18-Sept-2018 from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2016. "Climate Change Indicators: Coastal Flooding." Retrieved 14-Aug-2017 from https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-coastal-flooding#ref3.