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Choosing cost-effective culverts using service-life maps

To allow water to flow beneath roads, engineers use culverts. Steel culverts, however, corrode over time, and their service lives depend on the properties of the soil that surrounds them.

culvertTo help engineers choose the appropriate steel pipe materials for culverts in different parts of the state, U of M researchers collected soil data and developed a series of steel pipe service-life maps for Minnesota. The project, funded by the Minnesota Local Road Research Board and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), will help agencies save on costs while developing longer-lasting infrastructure.

Posted in Construction, Environment, Infrastructure, Maintenance, Transportation research

National Freight Economy Atlas illustrates freight flows

freightFreight rail has a profound effect on the economic vitality and competitiveness of Minnesota and, in particular, some of its most important industries. To better understand freight flows and foster the growth of freight infrastructure, U of M researchers are creating a new online platform—the National Freight Economy Atlas.

The project is a combined effort of the U’s Transportation Policy and Economic Competitiveness Program (TPEC), Esri (a geographic information systems company), and the Center for Information Systems and Technology at Claremont Graduate University. Additional funding for the project was provided by BNSF Railway.

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Posted in Economics, Freight, Infrastructure, Planning, Technology

Smartphone app collects detailed data about travel behavior

Man on smartphoneTransportation agencies need travel behavior data to plan changes to their networks, systems, and policies. A new smartphone application developed by a U of M research team makes it easier and less costly to collect this important information and provides richer, more accurate data than traditional methods.

The Daynamica open-source app provides an efficient approach for collecting and processing data for driving, walking, biking or taking transit. It combines smartphone GPS sensing with statistical and machine-learning techniques to detect, identify, and summarize daily activity and travel episodes. The app then allows users to view and annotate information at their convenience.

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Posted in Planning, Technology, Traffic data, Travel Behavior

Men and women have different travel behavior—which has implications for policymakers

Woman loading car with shopping bags
Despite having more similar roles at home and work than ever before, U.S. men and women continue to have different travel behavior. Employed men spend more time commuting and less time on errands and other household support trips than women do. What causes the difference?

Researchers led by Yingling Fan, associate professor in the U’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, tested competing theories. They analyzed publicly available data in various ways across groups of workers with different types of family structures.

Posted in Traffic data, Transportation research, Travel Behavior
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