Transportation Research and Academic Collaborations

The Transportation Demand Management team, led by Stacey DeLorenzo, works closely with campus researchers and students on several projects.  Visit our Crowd Management and Vision Zero pages to learn about those projects. Other transportation research and academic collaboration projects are described below.

Solar Canopy

A group of freshmen students in CEE 398 class performed a feasibility study for the implementation of a solar canopy system over parking lot E-14. The students, Ryan Day and Ben Manaugh, reached out to F&S to discuss their findings and gain a holistic understanding for a project of such scale. F&S TDM department introduced the students to the Parking department representatives as well as representatives from Willard airport. E-14 was ruled out due to logistic issues.

Willard airport has been looking at options for covered parking, and they were very interested in the adding a solar canopy at a portion of their parking lot. The F&S TDM department assisted Ryan and Ben fill out the SSC funding application, which is currently in the Step-2 phase of the funding cycle.

Taking the initiative to install a solar system on a university parking lot would be incredibly beneficial to the university’s image as a sustainable, innovative institution. Based on the CEE 398 feasibility study and similar projects undertaken at other universities around the country, a solar canopy system would save the university millions of dollars, significantly reduce campus emissions, and create an optimal environment for parked cars that is protected from precipitation and excessive heat.  

Bicycle Parking Canopy at Newmark

F&S has agreed to helping support the activities of the proposal entitled “Adaptive Aluminum Tensegrity Structure as a Bike Parking Canopy” with Dr. Ann Sychterz and Dr. Nishant Garg as the Principal Investigators.

We agreed to undertake the tasks as described in the project description and with a non-exhaustive list below and/or commit to provide or make available the resources designated in the proposal.

  • Consideration for construction of an outdoor bike parking canopy at the south entrance of the Nathan Newmark Civil Engineering Building at 205 N Matthews Ave, or as mutually agreed upon, with Architectural Review Committee approval
  • Aid in the administrative tasks required for campus construction
  • Access to service drawings and demarcations in the vicinity of the canopy as to avoid hitting university services in digging of the canopy foundation

Bio-oil as a biobinder with ISTC and ICT

Dr. Lance Schideman, Sr. Research Engineer at Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, and his group works on hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) of algal biomass and manure that produces bio-oil. Dr. Yuanhui Zhang and his group uses HTL to process food waste to produce bio-oil. Bio-oil can be blended in the binder material used in Asphalt construction projects.

In spring 2020, F&S TDM department met with Dr. Schideman and his group to discuss the possible application of this biocrude oil in a gradual amount as well as some possible locations for this project. Goodwin Ave Extended was finally agreed upon by all as the location for this project. F&S TDM department and Dr. Schideman reached out to Dr. Imad Al-Qadi at the Illinois Center for Transportation (ICT) to perform the chemical and material analysis of the bio-oil. Dr. Al-Qadi’s group would also examine the blending option and strength of the blend. 

Goodwin Ave Extended was going to be repaired in FY21, however, due to COVID-19 the Transportation Asset Management Program (TAMP) funding was rescinded. Due to this, the bio-oil project has been put on hold.

ICT-IDOT PHB reference study

Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons (PHB) are a special type of traffic control device used to warn road users and control traffic at an unsignalized location to assist pedestrians in crossing a street or highway at a marked crosswalk.  They are a traffic control device consisting of beacon heads and signs on mast arms above traffic, pedestrian actuated push buttons, pavement markings, and electrical controls.  The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) Section 4F.01 indicates they may be considered for installation to facilitate pedestrian crossings at a location that does not meet traffic signal warrants, The Illinois Supplement to the MUTCD adds that PHBs shall not be installed at locations where any signal warrants of Chapter 4C are met.

The MUTCD Section 4F.02 Paragraph 04 (A) indicates PHBs should be installed at least 100 feet from side streets or driveways that are controlled by stop or yield signs.  The Illinois Supplement to the MUTCD states that PHBs shall be installed at least 100 feet from side streets or driveways as in the MUTCD, and extends this distance to 300 feet from traffic signals or railroad grade crossings with active warning devices.  As the Illinois Supplement changes the distance from side streets to a shall statement, PHB use in Illinois is limited to “mid-block” locations.  Other states allow the installation of PHBs at intersections.

The MUTCD does not establish an upper speed limit where PHBs should not be considered, nor does it establish a maximum number of lanes or crossed distance for pedestrians

The Illinois DOT studied pedestrian treatments at uncontrolled locations in research report number FHWA-ICD-17-016.  This report recommended that PHBs not be used on roads with operating speeds above 40 mph, over 35,000 Annual Daily Traffic (ADT), more than 4 lanes without a raised median pedestrian refuge, and more than 6 lanes with a raised median pedestrian refuge.  The results of this study have been consolidated into the draft IDOT policy “TRA-23 Guidelines for Pedestrian Crossings at Uncontrolled Locations”.  The guidance is generally, but not fully, consistent with the July 2018 FHWA EDC publication “Guide for Improving Pedestrian Safety at Uncontrolled Crossing Locations”.

Several agencies in the United States are implementing PHBs on a widespread basis, and have installed them at intersections, roads with operating speeds of 45 mph and greater, ADT over 35,000, and locations with six lanes or more of crossing distance.  The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has published statements indicating that PHBs are a proven countermeasure on “busy or higher-speed roads”.  Illinois DOT Designers, geometrics engineers, traffic operations engineers, and district safety committee members are receiving inquiries from pedestrian and bicycle advocacy groups regarding allowing more widespread installations.

The literature review will establish 1) What states/agencies are allowing PHBs, 2) What are their specifications, warrants, and parameters for installation, 3) How many have they installed, 4) What limitations are placed on intersection offsets (if any), and 5) What are the applicable laws from these states/agencies with regard to vehicles driving through dark signals and/or beacons?

This review will inform the Illinois DOT as to the current national state of practice for PHBs, and inform decision making as to continued use of the device.  The final document will include a single page (front and back) summary of current national practice.

CEE Project Based Learning class and other student collaborations

F&S staff represents the Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE) Project Based Learning class as subject matter experts as they assist students with a wide range of information on their projects. In fall 2020, the F&S TDM department has provided information to the following students:

  • Bicycle Registration System with Shayna Talpallikar
    Provided her the history of bicycle registration on campus. Also, provided her information on how to register a bicycle, benefits of registering, number of bicycle registrations in the new national system, how many of these registrants are students, how many bicycles reported as stolen, how many bicycles recovered, etc.
  • MTD promotion to students with Taylor Jones
    The student reached out to the F&S TDM department on ways to promote transit system at the University of Illinois to the new students. Due to COVID-19, the Housing department could not provide students with much information on how to ride the MTD, its routes, bus tracking, bikes on buses, etc. The F&S TDM website’s Transit page answers all of these questions, which includes a video demonstration on how to ride the bus by MTD.
  • Permeable pavers for the sidewalk area by Grainger Library
  • Bicycle program with Vivian La (Journalism 200 report)
    The student was interested in writing a piece about the bicycle culture on campus, which involves the bike-sharing program, recreational programs, and cycling -- as well as how things have changed this semester (fall 2020). We provided the student with all the requested information and resources, including additional information such as number of bicycles on campus, number of bicycles registered in the new system, and Campus Bike Center.