The purpose of these web pages is to disseminate information about my research and education work at the Western Transportation Institute.
I am a Research Engineer at the Western Transportation Institute (WTI) at Montana State University where I work on projects relating to rural transportation issues. I obtained my BS (1994) and MS (1996) in Civil Engineering from Montana State University, and my PhD (2006) in Transportation Systems at the University of California, Irvine. I have been a licensed professional civil engineer in Montana since April 2000. My key focus areas are transportation impacts to wildlife and travel demand modeling. I have also done significant work related to rural ITS, transportation policy, livability and safety.
Although not currently teaching, I have taught a number of college level transportation engineering courses through the Civil Engineering Department at Montana State University. I am attempting to develop an introductory level transportation engineering course that can be delivered online at multiple universities.
University Trip Exchange District Study Completed
When a new development is constructed, a fee can be charged based on the estimated impact to the city facilities and services including water, sewer, fire and street systems. The transportation portion of the impact fee is typically based on an estimate of how much traffic the site generates, and an estimate of the cost of the congestion impact that the new traffic creates. Some cities will allow for special zones to be designated providing a reduction in impact fees for these zones (typically mixed-use urban village developments). The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility of creating such a district around a university and measuring how travel to and from a university is different from other types of developments. Using Montana State University (MSU) as a case study, the research showed that such a designation is appropriate. Further the study estimated the difference in traffic generated by developments in and around MSU. The study found that when auto trips were made to and from MSU, they were on average the same length as travel in other areas of the city. However, the number of auto trips generated was significantly less; 25-62 percent depending on the specific development type. The full report can be found on City of Bozeman's Website
Highway Mitigation for Wildlife in Northwest Montana: Piloting Process for Projecting Future Challenges
WTI, in collaboration with the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, the Sonoran Institute, and Future West, recently completed a study for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Currently, when mitigating transportation impacts on wildlife, we use data to try to solve yesterday’s problem. Considering some mitigation tools have a 50 year lifespan (i.e., wildlife crossing structures), projecting future challenges may better inform infrastructure investment decisions. Our project piloted a process in northwest Montana to project future land use and future traffic in order to prioritize future wildlife mitigation priority locations.
You can download the report from this page
Congestion Management Toolkit for National Parks
The National Park Service recently released the WASO Congestion Management System (CMS) Phase 2: Congestion Management Toolkit. This was a joint effort by WTI (David Kack, Jenni West, Jaime Eidswick, and Pat McGowen) OTAK Inc. and Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. This is intended as a tool for use by park staff to use when dealing with transportation congestion issues.
Mongolia Wildlife and Transportation
We recently completed an assessment of the planned wildlife mitigation for the OT-GS road that connects the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia to China. The wildlife species of concern are Khulan (Asiatic Wild Ass), Black Tailed Gazelle and Argali (similar to big horn sheep) in the Gobi Desert. The political will and financial resources of the mining industry give a promising outlook for minimizing the impact of recent and ongoing developments in the region. View our recommendations here: Recommendations for OT-GS Road
The McGowen-Berger Model
There are many rural and small urban communities that experience dramatic population growth. Decision makers in these communities need sound estimates of future traffic in order to set land use and transportation policies. We know that citizens travel differently when urban form changes (i.e., increased mixed use and higher densities). The more complicated travel demand models may be sensitive to urban form, but require too many resources for smaller communities to afford. Rapid assessment travel demand models typically used in rural and small urban communities utilize the basic four-step model and factors based on national data. Current literature almost entirely states the basic four-step model is not sensitive to urban form.
Pat McGowen and Aaron Berger have developed and implemented a modified rapid assessment model that is relatively easy to implement, uses existing data and is sensitive to urban form. Development of the McGowen-Berger model led to the surprising discovery that the basic four-step model was sensitive to urban form, contrary to common belief.
This work was accomplished through a project with the Sonoran Institute "Travel Demand Forecasting Model for Gallatin County," and Aaron's MS thesis work funded by the WTI fellowship program. Aaron's thesis contains details of the model. A more succinct version of the results are currently being submitted for journal publication.