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$18.6 billion in road, bridge, rail and public transportation improvements; board also approves VDOT and DRPT’s annual budget

RICHMOND, Virginia – The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approved today the latest Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP) for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), which allocates $18.6 billion to transportation projects over the next six fiscal years beginning July 1, 2017. Projects include highway, road, bridge, rail, transit, bicycle/pedestrian paths and other transportation improvements across the state.

The SYIP provides funding to more than 3,600 transportation projects to improve the state’s infrastructure. This SYIP is the second program to include projects funded through the new funding structure provided by the Governor and General Assembly in 2015, including SMART SCALE distributed High Priority Projects and District Grant programs and State of Good Repair.

FY 2018-2023 Six-Year Improvement Program breakdown:

$15.2 billion – Highway Construction:

  • $1.1 billion – State of Good Repair
  • $2.1 billion – SMART SCALE
  • $0.7 billion – Legacy Programs
  • $3.4 billion – Specialized Programs
  • $1.2 billion – Revenue Sharing
  • $1.6 billion – Maintenance
  • $0.1 billion – Research and Planning
  • $3.9 billion – Public-Private Partnerships
  • $1.1 billion – Local and Regional Funding

$3.4 billion – Rail and Public Transportation

  • $817 million – Rail Initiatives
  • $2.6 billion – Public Transportation*

*Includes $168 million in SMART SCALE funds.

$18.6 billion – Total six-year program

VDOT’s Annual Budget for FY 2018  

The Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) annual budget for Fiscal Year 2018 is $5.4 billion, representing a one percent increase from the FY 2017 budget. The increase from the previous year is due to a large increase in project participation contributions from the regional entities and localities, offsetting a significant reduction in state revenue and lower use of bond proceeds. Without the increased project contributions, the FY 2018 budget would have been $315 million less, or a four percent reduction from the FY 2017 Budget.  The annual budget is based on the most recent official state revenue forecast from December 2016 and estimated federal funding.

Funds that will be provided for highway maintenance and operations represent 35 percent of the total budget, followed by nearly 31 percent for highway construction.

Smaller portions of the budget are directed to address the needs and requirements of debt service, support to other agencies, tolls, administration, and other programs.

The breakdown:

$356 million – Debt Service

$2.13 billion – Road maintenance and operations (includes city and county street payments)

$548.6 million – Support to other agencies, tolls, administration and other programs

$1.87 billion – Construction

$492.5 million – Funding dedicated to Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads Regions for local and regional transportation projects

$5.41 billion – Total VDOT annual budget

DRPT’s Annual Budget for FY 2018

The Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) annual budget for Fiscal Year 2018 is $689 million. The overwhelming majority of these funds are directed to a variety of grant recipients, including: public transportation providers, local and regional government entities, freight railroads, and Amtrak. Over 50 percent of these funds are dedicated to capital improvement projects. The annual budget is based on the most recent official state revenue forecast from December 2016 and estimated federal funding.

The breakdown:

$429 million – Public Transportation Programs

$207.3 million – Passenger and Freight Rail Programs

$1.6 million – Rail Industrial Access Programs

$7.8 million – Rail Preservation Programs

$8.7 million – Commuter Assistance Programs

$13.9 million – Agency Operating Budget

$4.3 million – Planning, Regulation, and Safety Programs

$16.4 million – Human Service Transportation Programs

$689 million – Total DRPT annual budget

Faculty Spotlight: Osman Ozbulut, Ph.D., University of Virginia

As the director of the University of Virginia’s Resilient and Advanced Infrastructure Laboratory (RAIL), Osman Ozbulut applies smart technologies to the development of resilient and sustainable civil infrastructure systems. Ozbulut and his research group, currently five Ph.D. and four M.S students, are focused on developing innovative structural systems and design strategies to enhance the performance and safety of structures. A primary area of expertise is the application of advanced materials to disaster resistant design of structures as well as repair and retrofit of deficient and aging infrastructure.

Some of the most interesting of these materials are shape memory alloys (SMAs). Typically nickel titanium, iron or copper based metallic alloys, SMAs return to their original state under different loading configurations. They possess excellent corrosion resistance, good energy dissipation capacity, high fatigue properties and have superelastic properties that provide re-centering ability. In other words, these materials help a structure or structural member flex and recover when exposed to an extreme event, such as a hurricane, and provide superior protection and reinforcement capabilities when exposed to adverse weather conditions.

In advancing these interests, Ozbulut has collaborated on several MATS UTC research projects. Working with Devin Harris, Ph.D., associate professor at UVA, and UVA graduate students, Sherif Daghas and Muhammed Sherif, the team studied the use of superelastic SMA fibers to enhance the performance of cementitious composites. They found that SMA fibers provide some advantages over traditional fibers such as the ability to experience larger deformations, crack control, and minimize permanent damages and residual displacements. Ozbulut also investigated the use of SMA fibers in a thermoset polymer matrix to develop a polymer composite that has large failure strains and recover large deformations.

Ozbulut and Harris leveraged their mutual interests to investigate additional ways to improve the durability of materials to minimize cracking, reduce permeability and porosity, improve resistance to freeze-thaw degradation, and mitigate corrosion potential. Working with UVA graduate student, Zhangfan Jiang, the team explored the electrical properties and piezoresistive characteristics of graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) reinforced hydraulic Portland cement composites. They found that GNP-reinforced mortar specimens exhibit good piezoresistive behavior under cyclic compressive loads. Ozbulut is continuing to study the nano-reinforced composites to improve both the conductivity and load carrying capacity of the composites.

Ozbulut is currently collaborating with Wael Zatar Ph.D., Dean of the College of Information Technology and Engineering at Marshall University (MU), and Hai Nguyen, Ph.D., research scientist in civil engineering at MU, to explore how fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) wraps, a technology that has been around for over 20 years, might offer a fresh approach to repairing and fortifying damaged bridges.  Currently used primarily for specialized applications, FRP wraps hold the promise of extending the service life of corrosion-deteriorated concrete. In cleaning and repairing the damaged areas, then applying the optimal number of FRP sheets in the optimal number of directions, the life of the structure could be saved for many more years. However, cost/benefit analyses and assessment criteria are needed before State DOTs widely adopt the approach.

The team is undertaking a non-destructive evaluation approach for projects in West Virginia, a state already using FRP for infrastructure repair. Initially, they will use a variety of damage and inventory parameters to develop a prioritized classification process to help practitioners identify possible candidate structures. Ultimately, they plan to deliver an FRP reference report for bridge inspections and maintenance programs as well as recommendations for field implementations and classroom education initiatives.

In 2016, Ozbulut received an International Young Scientist Fellowship from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSCF). Working with researchers at the Chang’an University, Xi’an, China, he is once again studying GNPs to develop cement sensors that can be embedded in concrete structures. He hopes to show that cement sensors with intrinsic strain- and damage-sensing capabilities can be a more practical and sustainable alternative to monitor the health of concrete structures.

“The capabilities of these advanced alloys and composites really represent the future of high-performance materials,” stated Ozbulut. “We’re showing that they are durable, adaptable and reliable, representing a real step forward in our abilities to improve the health of existing structures and create better ways for new construction projects to be more sustainable.”

Ozbulut is an assistant professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Virginia. He earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in civil engineering from Texas A&M University and was a post-doctoral research associate with the Texas Transportation Institute.

Ozbulut may be contacted at

Reports and papers referenced in this article include:

2017 Competitive Collaborative Projects Announced

MATS UTC is pleased to announce its 2017 competitive collaborative research awards. Selected from among 28 submissions, these eight projects demonstrate the consortium’s commitment to supporting research that accelerates adoption of sustainable practices in the provision of transportation services.

Bicycle Justice or Just Bicycles: Analyzing Equitable Access to Baltimore’s Bike Sharing Program

Celest Chavis (Morgan) and Philip Barnes (UDel)

Bikeshares and bike infrastructure are being implemented in cities across the United States. Bicycling is a low-cost, emission-free form of transportation that has grown in popularity across the United States as jurisdictions look for environmentally friendly transportation options that promote healthy living. Bikeshares serve many purposes; they are used for short, neighborhood trips, tourism, and as a last-mile connection. Bikeshares may induce new trips or result in modal shifts. Moreover, bikeshares can introduce new riders to bicycling.

Deployment of Ground Penetrating Radar and Ultrasonic Tomographer Non-Destructive Techniques for Assessment of Corrosion-Deteriorated Adjacent Prestressed Concrete Box Beams

Wael Zatar (MU), Hai Nguyen (Marshall) and Osman Ozbulut (UVA)

The primary goal of this project is to develop, maintain and implement accurate and manageable processes to evaluate, maintain and repair corrosion-deteriorated adjacent precast box beams in PC bridge infrastructure in the MATS States. Non-destructive techniques and equipment will be used to evaluate existing bridge structures.

Estimating Road Inundation Levels Due to Recurrent Flooding from Image Data

Mecit Cetin (ODU), Khan Iftekharuddin (ODU) and Jon Goodall (UVA)

This research proposes to develop a set of tools and analytical capabilities to estimate water inundations due to recurrent flooding from image data, primarily from video surveillance cameras.

Feasibility of Estimating Commodity Flows on Highways with Existing and Emerging Technologies

Andrew Nichols (Marshall) and Mecit Cetin (ODU)

Each unique commodity (e.g., livestock, fuel, machinery, etc.) is hauled in a specific type of trailer.  Narrowing the trailer type can narrow the possible commodity types.  The goal of this research project is to determine whether the trailer type can be automatically identified using existing technologies, which is a necessary component of estimating the type of commodity being hauled.

An Integrated Dynamic Modeling Approach for Flooding of Coastal Transportation Infrastructure Assessment of Impacts on Emergency Operations

Navid Tahvildari (ODU), Mecit Cetin (ODU), Jon Goodall (UVA) and Pamela Murray-Tuite (VT)

Addressing recurrent flooding of transportation infrastructure is the top priority for the city of Norfolk and many other communities in the region.   Recurrent flooding disrupts access to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital which houses the only level 1 trauma center in the region. The research team proposes to develop a framework to use the state-of-the-art hydrodynamic and hydrologic modeling to forecast flooding of the transportation network in real-time.

Planning for Walking and Cycling in an Autonomous Vehicle Future

Ralph Buehler (VT), Steve Hankey (VT) and Andrew Mondschein (UVA)

Over the last two decades walking and cycling have increased in the United States—in particular in large cities. Efforts to further increase walking and cycling occur during a time of increasingly automated and connected vehicles (AVs). Almost nothing is known about impacts of an increasingly automated vehicle fleet on pedestrians and cyclists. This research seeks to develop planning guidelines for walking and cycling during the transition towards an automated and connected vehicle (AV) fleet.

Removing Nitrate from Stormwater with Biochar Amendment to Roadway Soils

Paul Imhoff (UDel), Pei Chiu (UDel) and Teresa Culver (UVA)

Stormwater from roadways, wastewater facilities, and agricultural operations is a major contributor to deteriorating water quality in many watersheds in the U.S., particularly the Chesapeake Bay in the Mid-Atlantic region.  Municipalities and state departments of transportation must find ways to control their discharge to comply with increasingly stringent regulations.  Nutrients, such as nitrogen, are the leading cause of impaired water quality in the U.S. and worldwide.  Current stormwater treatment technologies, such as bioretention ponds, do not always treat nutrients sufficiently and may require sizable real estate to achieve the necessary removal – unless new technologies are developed.  Successful completion of this proposed study will lay the foundation for use of a sustainable, effective methodology for nutrient management in the field.

Would You Consider a “Green” Vehicle?

Donna Chen (UVA) and Rajesh Paleti (ODU)

The research proposed focuses on utilizing a combination of existing RP data and to-be-collected SP survey data to examine the effects of household demographic, vehicle, and transportation infrastructure characteristics on EV ownership.

For more information about these projects, visit our research page at

Upcoming Webinars: Converting Paved Roads to Unpaved Roads

Converting Paved Roads to Unpaved Roads

Tuesday April 4, 2017 from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM Mountain/ 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM Eastern

Add to Calendar

This is an online event.


The National Center for Rural Road Safety (Safety Center) and the Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates (CESTiCC) are co-hosting a FREE, 1.5-hour online webinar.
This webinar will take place Tuesday, April 4th from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM Mountain/1:00 PM to 2:30 PM Eastern.
This webinar will provide an overview of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis 485 Converting Paved Roads to Unpaved. The webinar will present the contents of the synthesis report which summarizes the state-of-the-practice of the road conversion process, tools that can be used to aid in the decision making process of whether to convert from paved to unpaved including available resources and design guides, and what has worked and what has not worked for those in the unpaving process including public outreach and identified impacts.

To register for the webinar, please click on the button below. 
Instructions on accessing the webinar will be sent after your registration is confirmed.

Register Now!
Thank you for letting us be your “Safety Sidekick!”  We look forward to having you join us!
Jaime Sullivan
Rural Road Safety Center

IPA and Marshall University’s RTI Partner on Research of Smart-Growth Evaluation Methods

Few studies have gauged causal linkages between shifting smart-growth agendas and the development of new tools to evaluate smart-growth outcomes. To bridge this gap, a research team comprising staff of the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration (IPA) and Delaware Center for Transportation (DCT), and Marshall University’s Nick J. Rahall, II Appalachian Transportation Institute (RTI) explored factors that have both transformed the concept of smart growth and, concurrently, shaped smart growth evaluation methods and formats. Research was funded by the Mid-Atlantic Transportation Sustainability University Transportation Center (MATS UTC).

The research was conducted in two phases.  A phase one report, The Use of Smart Growth Scorecards/Assessment Tools to Advance Sustainable Land-Use Practices, was published in June 2016 and co-authored by IPA’s Marcia Scott, Philip Barnes, and William Stavru; DCT’s Mingxin Li; and RTI’s Sinaya Dayan, Curtis Jones, Justin Matthews, and Jeff Cragle.  The results of this research reveal that both the concept of smart growth and the development and use of scorecards/assessment tools have co-evolved. Shifting state and federal legislation, leadership, political agendas, and funding have shaped the extent to which smart growth practices are implemented and evaluated at the local government level.

The analysis indicates that a variety of contemporary assessment tools have been developed to provide either qualitative data and/or quantify performance on key indicators of sustainability. Transportation researchers from academia, as well as the public and private sectors, have played an important role in developing models and tools for analyzing smart-growth strategies. Travel demand models are commonly used to assess the impact of smart growth programs. Yet, considerable expertise is required to effectively utilize newer, state-of-the-practice travel forecasting models, which place them out of reach for most local jurisdictions. New assessment tools are being crafted and used to better educate and engage the public through scenario planning and the development of interactive, visualization tools. Further, digital assessment tools offer a much-needed and dynamic platform with which to satisfy mandates for increased transparency, accountability, and participatory public engagement.

A phase two report, GIS Story Maps: A Tool to Empower and Engage Stakeholders in Planning Sustainable Places, was published in October 2016. The study was conducted by IPA’s Marcia Scott and Savannah Edwards (MPA ’17), and RTI’s Sinaya Dayan, Tuan Nguyen, and Jeff Cragle. The research finds that recent changes in geospatial technology offer new opportunities for use in participatory planning processes.  Yet, civic tech as a movement, and public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS) as a discipline, have lagged behind the proliferation of new digital tools that can be leveraged for public engagement purposes.

The IPA and RTI research team used a case-study approach to explore the practical application of GIS Story Maps in planning for sustainable places.  The case-study method provides an overview of each research team’s experience using map-based storytelling, perceived effectiveness of using GIS Story Maps to convey sustainability issues, potential for using this technology to engage planning stakeholders, and lessons learned. While more research is needed, preliminary findings suggests that online, interactive GIS Story Maps are ideal for fostering citizen engagement, providing meaningful context to complex planning topics and concepts, and empowering informed decision making on sustainability issues.

Final reports for both phases of research can found on the MATS UTC website at RTI’s GIS Story Map on “Moving Towards Sustainability in Extraction Economies of Appalachia” won third place in ESRI’s 2016 International Storytelling with Maps contest in the Infrastructure, Planning, and Government category.  It may be viewed at:

RTI’s GIS Story Map

IPA created a series of GIS Story Maps to illustrate implementation of complete-communities planning practices in Delaware.  IPA’s GIS Story Map on the Downtown Development District (DDD) program was featured in an August 2016 announcement by Delaware Governor Jack about the expansion of the program and designation of five new DDDs in Delaware. This map and others may be viewed on IPA’s gallery of GIS Story Maps at:

IPA’s Gallery of GIS Story Maps

By Marcia Scott, IPA Policy Scientist

Student Spotlight: Cem Sazara Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Old Dominion University

The Transportation Research Institute (TRI) at Old Dominion University (ODU) addresses critical issues in surface transportation systems. Bringing research expertise around traffic operations, intelligent transportation systems, travel demand modeling and simulation, connected vehicles, and choice modeling, TRI offers young researchers and graduate students the opportunity to work at the leading edge of innovative congestion, safety and environmental traffic solutions.

Currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Modeling, Simulation and Visualization at ODU, Cem Sazara is a member of the TRI where his research interests include autonomous vehicles, LIDAR technology and data analysis. He views traffic and congestion issues as constantly evolving, especially as increasing numbers of vehicles and commuters use transportation systems originally built for much smaller volumes of traffic. He is interested in how real-time mobile data, collected from sensors and autonomous vehicles, holds the promise of “hidden nuggets of important traffic information” not unlocked by existing stationary cameras or sensors.

Sazara is currently completing a project using LIDAR (light detection and ranging) remote sensing technology and autonomous vehicles to explore distance measurement and obstacle detection. LIDAR produces point clouds that have important information about the surrounding environment. Sazara and his research partners collected trajectory data on a two lane urban road using a Velodyne VLP-16 LIDAR. Due to the dynamic nature of data collection and limited range of the sensor, some of these trajectories had missing points or gaps. The project proposed a novel method for recovery of missing vehicle trajectory data points using microscopic traffic flow models. The final manuscript entitled, Offline Reconstruction of Missing Vehicle Trajectory Data from 3D LIDAR, is in preparation and will be presented this June at the 2017 IEEE Intelligent Vehicles Symposium in Redondo Beach, CA.

Next, Sazara will turn his attention to a MATS UTC-funded project estimating road inundation levels due to recurrent flooding. The project will develop a set of tools and analytical capabilities to estimate water inundations due to flooding using data primarily from video surveillance cameras.

Dr. Mecit Cetin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the TRI, is Sazara’s advisor. “Cem not only has excellent analytical skills and a curious mind, but also great work ethics,” said Cetin. Sazara will look to leverage these skills as he pursues a research career with either a private company or research institute in the transportation field.

“Our ability to collect data in real-time is a huge leap forward in advancing our capacity to develop innovative solutions based in true driving behaviors and congestion issues,” Sazara stated. “The Hampton Roads region has great opportunities to collaborate with government agencies and other research groups as well as interesting infrastructure such as coastal roadways, bridges and tunnels. It’s exciting to think that this sensor data could be the key to understanding and influencing traffic in a whole new way.”

Sazara received a BS in Electrical-Electronics Engineering from Bogazici University (Turkey) and an MS in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Colorado State University. He expects to graduate in 2018.

Contact Cem Sazara at

IPA Presents Research Outcomes at 96th Annual TRB Meeting

Researchers from the Institute for Public Administration (IPA) at the University of Delaware presented research outcomes at the 96th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in Washington, D.C. on January 9 and 10, 2017.

Intermodal Facilities Presentation

IPA policy scientists Marcia Scott and Christopher Kelly presented at Session 464, “Data and Technology for Rural and Intercity Decision Making.” The presentation highlighted findings of a paper selected for inclusion in the TRB’s 2017 Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers entitled, “Research of Viable Attributes and Potential to Integrate Curbside Intercity Buses in Intermodal Transportation Facilities.” The paper was co-authored by Scott, Kelly, former public administration fellow Eileen Collins, IPA Director Jerome R. Lewis, Ph.D., and Professor Ardeshir Faghri, Ph.D. and Research Associate Mingxi Li, Ph.D., of UD’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. The paper may be downloaded from UD Space at

The research paper provides a synopsis of a more in-depth report, co-authored by Scott, Kelly, and Collins and published in November 2013 on, “Intermodal Transportation Facilities: Research of Viable Attributes and Potential to Integrate Curbside Intercity Buses.” The research highlighted benefits of successful intermodal transportation facilities that support and enhance transit usage, promote seamless transfers among modes, provide clear access to transportation networks, maximize transportation options, and create efficiencies of shared costs and transportation infrastructure. In addition to transportation benefits, the report explored the potential for intermodal facilities to serve as centers of revitalization and hubs of economic, commercial, and mixed-used development activity.

While barriers to intermodalism exist, report findings suggest that development and investment in intermodal transportation facilities—which serve as a hub for all modes of transportation, including curbside intercity buses—will promote a more integrated and sustainable transportation system.

Public Involvement Poster Presentation

IPA policy scientist Marcia Scott and public administration fellow Savannah Edwards presented a poster at TRB Session 697, “Current Issues in Transportation Public Involvement.” The poster was among the 25 selected for presentation by the TRB Committee on Public Involvement. Entitled “GIS Story Maps Empower and Engage Stakeholders in Planning for Complete Communities in Delaware,” the 4’ x 8’ poster was designed by IPA policy specialist Sarah Pragg. It summarizes research, funded by the Mid-Atlantic Transportation Sustainability University Transportation Center (MATS UTC), which explores the use of GIS Story Maps to satisfy mandates for increased transparency, accountability, and public engagement in planning for transportation-efficient and sustainable places. IPA developed a series of GIS Story Maps to illustrate Delaware’s complete communities planning framework that is designed to build capacity of local governments to create “attractive, inclusive, efficient, healthy & resilient places.” Each Story Map conveys one of the five elements of a complete community. IPA’s GIS Story Map Gallery can be viewed online at

By Marcia Scott, IPA Policy Scientist

Bike Routes Sea Level Rise 6 ftClimate change is a highly charged issue with much debate focusing on how sea level rise, heat waves, flooding and extreme weather events will impact major transportation infrastructure such as roadways, bridges, tunnels, subways, rail and bus stations, parking lots and airports. Not much attention has been given to the potential impact of these climate events on non-motorized transportation including sidewalks, hiking trails, bicycle paths, public parks and recreational facilities. With growing interest in healthy lifestyles, as well as increasing use of non-motorized modes for daily commutes, it is imperative that future planning and policy decisions consider mitigation strategies that accommodate pedestrians and bikers.

In the Mid-Atlantic region, there are many low-lying areas that will certainly be affected by flooding caused by sea level rise, increased precipitation and storm surges. Researchers at the University of Delaware and Morgan State University are assessing the vulnerability of non-motorized transportation facilities, starting with an analysis of trails and bike routes in Delaware. Ardeshir Faghri, PhD, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Delaware, and Hyeon-Shic Shin, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture and Planning, Morgan State University, are modeling sea level to predict the number of trails and bike routes in Delaware that will be impacted by low, medium and high sea level rise at the end of 2100. In addition, they are estimating the length of trails inundated by various levels of sea level rise. Understanding sea level rise and its impact on pedestrian and bike facilities will enable the development of strategies to minimize or eliminate the negative impacts.

The researchers have developed a GIS-model of sea level rise to identify the number of facilities projected to be affected by the three different scenarios of sea level rise. Both the length of inundation and the maximum depth of water were estimated. Next, the team will allocate a level of service required to repair and reinstate the facility to good working condition, ranging from minor rehabilitation (A) to hazardous requiring major rehabilitation (F). The prototype model (a 1740 meter trail in Sussex County, Delaware) projected if the sea rises 0.5 meters by the end of century, the trail will have level of service C and if sea level rises 1 meter, the level of service will be F. With sea level rise of 1.5 meters, the model projected almost complete inundation of the trail – a finding that implies the trail would be “gone”.

The next stage of research will assess flooding related to storm surge. A survey will also be conducted to establish baseline attitudes toward walking and biking during heat waves. Future work includes expanding the study to trails and bike routes in Maryland.

Ultimately, the researchers hope to share a better understanding of how climate change will impact non-motorized transportation facilities along with guidelines on how to integrate the impacts of climate change in short- and long-range planning for these facilities. Strategies might include elevating parts of a trail or moving it land-ward.

“Direct impacts of climate change have been investigated in many fields,” said Faghri. “However, there is a lack of knowledge and research on how non-motorized transportation facilities will be influenced by climatic stressors such as sea level rise. This MATS UTC-funded research represents a step forward in our understanding of probable significant impacts for bikers and pedestrians. We’re expecting to publish the work in February 2017.”

Dr. Faghri may be contacted at

Research Highlight: FRP Wraps for Next Generation Sustainable and Cost-Effective Rehabilitation of Coastal Transportation Infrastructure

Exposure to harsh winter conditions can cause cracking in concrete bridges, leaving interior structural supports vulnerable to outside elements. De-icing salt, applied to wintry roads, often penetrates the cracks, causing these structural supports to corrode. Salt water has the same effect on coastal infrastructure. Over time, this corrosion destabilizes the concrete, resulting in costly repairs and unsafe conditions.

Researchers at Marshall University (MU) and the University of Virginia (UVA) are exploring how fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) wraps, a technology that has been around for over 20 years, might offer a fresh approach to repairing and fortifying damaged bridges. Currently used primarily for specialized applications, such as earthquake resistance, FRP wraps hold the promise of extending the service life of corrosion-deteriorated concrete. In cleaning and repairing the damaged areas, then applying the optimal number of FRP sheets in the optimal number of directions, the life of the structure could be saved for many more years. However, cost/benefit analyses and assessment criteria are needed before State DOTs widely adopt the approach.

Working closely with WVDOH and VDOT, the research team is developing a practical guidebook for selecting suitable bridges and outlining evaluation, design, construction and training guidelines. Wael Zatar, PhD, Dean of the College of Information Technology and Engineering at MU, Hai Nguyen, PhD, Research Scientist in Civil Engineering at MU, and Osman Ozbulut, PhD, Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering at UVA, are undertaking a non-destructive evaluation approach for projects in West Virginia, a state already using FRP for infrastructure repair. Initially, they will use a variety of damage and inventory parameters to develop a prioritized classification process to help practitioners identify possible candidate structures.

Zatar serves as chair of the National Committee on Structural Fiber Reinforced Polymers for the Transportation Research Board, a group of national and international experts committed to expanding the current state of knowledge and practice related to repair technologies. He suggested that this MATS UTC-funded project is an important component in understanding the optimum use of FRP wraps.

“Although FRP is a costly material, it offers clear benefits in terms of remedial repairs,” he explained. “Maintenance on these deficient structures is imperative and, if not done correctly or in a timely manner, may result in the need for complete bridge replacement. If we can develop an assessment tool that weighs the long-term repair and replacement benefits of FRP wraps against the cost, then we can make significant advances in efficient and sustainable structural safety improvements.”

Ultimately, the team plans to deliver an FRP reference report for bridge inspections and maintenance programs as well as recommendations for field implementations and classroom education initiatives.

For more information about this project, contact Dr. Zatar at

Student Spotlight: Jeffrey Sadler named MATS UTC Student of the Year

SadlerJeffrey Sadler’s academic path has been steady. Whether collaborating on research projects related to coastal flooding or mentoring students on projects related to sea level rise, he has remained focused on protecting coastal communities and infrastructure from adverse environmental conditions related to climate change.

Now undertaking his PhD as a member of the Goodall research group at the University of Virginia (UVA), Sadler is well positioned to pursue this interest. Jonathan Goodall, PhD, an associate professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering at UVA, teaches and studies environmental and water resources engineering, with research interests in urban hydrology, resilient infrastructure systems and stormwater management, among others.

With Goodall’s guidance, Sadler has contributed to a number of research studies. Most recently, he and several other students worked with Goodall and Venkataramana Sridhar, PhD, assistant professor at Virginia Tech, on a MATS UTC- funded project titled, Impact of Climate Change and Sea Level Rise on Stormwater Design and Reoccurring Flooding Problems in the Hampton Roads Region.  The team conducted three related studies on the impact of sea level rise on transportation infrastructure in coastal Virginia.

In the first study, the UVA group used geospatial data and geographic information system data processing to estimate roadways vulnerable to flooding in various sea level rise scenarios. They found by 2100 with intermediate sea level rise predictions, more than 10% of major roadways will be inundated at high tide.

The second UVA study examined how rainfall variability impacts the ability to accurately measure rainfall using gauging stations. Experiments were conducted to understand how local rainfall observations for problem-area watersheds around Virginia Beach impacted the ability to accurately predict rainfall on the watershed. The findings showed having a gauge within 1km of the watershed greatly reduced the precipitation prediction error, especially for a 15-minute time step. These results suggest the need for a dense rainfall monitoring network for coastal cities where flooding risks are increasing due to sea level rise and climate change.

Sadler’s PhD research focuses on using machine learning to predict flooding in urban coastal environments and prioritizing resource spending for maintaining roadway infrastructure. Given the multiple factors and complex interactions influencing coastal flooding, such as precipitation, groundwater, tides and sea level rise, machine learning approaches are good candidates for prediction of flooding over traditional, physically-based models. His thesis represents some of the first research to use machine learning approaches to predict urban coastal flooding. He expects to graduate in 2018.

In addition to his research, Sadler considers mentorship of other students one of his top academic accomplishments. He mentored a group of undergraduate students studying sea level rise and roadway flooding as part of either their senior capstone project or the MATS UTC undergraduate summer research internship program. The work resulted in a submission to the Journal of Infrastructure Systems.

MATS UTC has taken notice of his many consortium-related activities, recently naming Sadler ‘2016 Student of the Year’. His contributions to the MATS UTC-funded project on the impact of sea level rise on flooding in Hampton Roads, as well as his leadership with other students, warranted the honor.

His research advisor concurs. “I am thrilled to have Jeff as a PhD student,” stated Goodall. “He is not only an excellent student, but is quickly becoming an excellent researcher as well. He has already taken on a leadership role in his research to better understand and predict flooding impacts to roadways in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, and I expect big things from him as he continues to advance in his career.”

Sadler completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Brigham Young University where he majored in hydrology. Upon graduating from UVA, he plans to continue to study climate effects on coastal communities and infrastructure. “If we can understand the coastal environment and its impact on infrastructure, then we can take steps to manage water resources and improve the quality of life for people.”

Sadler may be contacted at