Blog Archives

The economy, the environment, and the future: A student’s reflection on visiting Hong Kong

HK7In May, the Global Transit Innovations (GTI) program coordinated a study-abroad course that took 16 University of Minnesota students to China. The intensive two-week course focused on high-density urban and regional development and included visits to five cities in the Yangtze and Pearl River Delta regions.

In this guest post, student Joseph Ward offers highlights from Hong Kong, the final stop on the course’s itinerary. Ward’s reflections focus on pedestrian infrastructure, density, the economy, and the environment.

Posted in Economics, Education, Environment

New recommendations aim to help turfgrass thrive on Minnesota roadsides

Truck watering a narrow strip of roadside turfgrassKeeping Minnesota’s roadsides green is about more than just aesthetics—healthy turfgrass can improve water quality, reduce erosion and road noise, and provide animal habitat. However, harsh conditions such as heat, drought, and salt use can make it difficult for roadside turfgrass to thrive.

In 2014, as part of a study funded by the Minnesota Local Road Research Board (LRRB), researchers in the Department of Horticultural Science identified a new salt-tolerant turfgrass mixture that could be used on Minnesota roadsides. But, when the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) began using the mixture, called MNST-12, the agency experienced a series of installation failures.

Now, led by Professor Eric Watkins, the research team has identified new best management practices for installing and establishing this type of salt-tolerant turfgrass. The study, funded by the LRRB, specifically focused on watering practices, soil amendments, and planting date for both seed and sod.

Posted in Environment, Transportation research

Public awareness: living in complexity—A reflection on travel to China

In May, the Global Transit Innovations program coordinated a study-abroad course that took 16 University of Minnesota students to China. The intensive two-week course focused on high-density urban and regional development and included visits to five cities in the Yangtze and Pearl River Delta regions.

Over the next several weeks, students will be sharing their personal observations and reflections on the course in a series of guest posts.

In this post, student Emilie Hitch focuses on issues surrounding the environment and sustainability planning, offering her perspective on the differences in how these concepts are perceived in China and the United States.

Posted in Education, Environment, Planning, Sustainability

How can the transportation community help reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Car emissions photoMinnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act, legislation put in place in 2007, set goals for energy conservation, renewable energy use, and greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions. This includes reducing GHG pollution from 2005 levels by 30 percent and 80 percent by 2025 and 2050, respectively.

In February, CTS convened all five of our research, education, and engagement councils for a joint meeting focused on how the transportation community can help reduce GHG emissions. The meeting was held in conjunction with our Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon on February 15.

Posted in Environment, Events, Transportation research

U of M provides freeway ‘lid’ expertise for Rethinking I-94 project

052516-prototypical-lid-diagrams_mdcMnDOT is exploring the development of freeway “lids” at key locations on I-94 in the Twin Cities. To analyze the potential for private-sector investment and determine what steps might be needed to make lid projects a reality, MnDOT invited the Urban Land Institute (ULI) MN to conduct a Technical Assistance Panel with real estate experts and other specialists. The U’s Metropolitan Design Center (MDC) provided background and research for the panel.

A lid, also known as a cap or land bridge, is a structure built over a freeway trench to connect areas on either side. Lids may also support green space and development above the roadway and along adjacent embankments. Although lidding is not a new concept, it is gaining national attention as a way to restore communities damaged when freeways were first built in the 1960s.

According to MnDOT, roughly half of the 145 bridges on I-94 between the east side of Saint Paul and the north side of Minneapolis need work within the next 15 years. A shorter window applies in the area around the capitol to as far west as MN-280. In anticipation of the effort to rebuild so much infrastructure, the department wanted a deeper understanding of how attractive freeway lids and their surrounding areas would be to private developers and whether the investment they would attract would generate sufficient revenue to pay for them.

Posted in Bridges and structures, Environment, Infrastructure, Planning, Urban transportation

Method pinpoints ‘hot spots’ for bus emissions

buses1U of M researchers have developed a way to identify the exact location of “hot spots” for air pollutants created by transit buses—work that could be used to create new strategies for addressing emission hot spots in the future.

The research team, led by Professor David Kittelson of the Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME), began by collecting data using two different instrumented buses, one with a standard diesel engine and automatic transmission and another with a hybrid engine and selectively enabled start-stop technology (both model year 2013). Nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions and GPS data were recorded for each bus during spring, summer, and fall on an inner city route with frequent stops and slow speeds, a medium-speed route with longer distances between stops, and an express route that required little braking.

Posted in Environment, Public transit, Transportation research, Urban transportation

CTS Scholar Ying Song receives two awards

DSC_0006(2)Congratulations to CTS Scholar Ying Song, an assistant professor in the U’s Department of Geography, Environment, and Society, who recently received two awards for her 2015 dissertation.

Posted in Accessibility (access to destinations), Environment, Planning
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