June 2014 Catalyst

June 2014
In late 2013, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos reported that his company plans to someday use unmanned aircraft systems to deliver packages. Amazon is not alone in considering these systems as the list of potential uses rapidly expands. Where is this technology headed, and what does it mean for the region, and for transportation? State and national experts discussed these issues at an April 30 forum on the St. Paul campus. The forum was sponsored by the Airport Technical Assistance Program, a part of CTS.
Former U.S. Rep. James L. Oberstar, who represented northeastern Minnesota in Congress for 36 years, died May 3. Oberstar was elected to Congress in 1974 and served until 2011, making him the longest-serving Congressman in Minnesota history. He was a long-time member of the House Transportation Committee and served as its chairman between 2007 and 2011. A strong champion of federal funding for transportation safety and infrastructure, Oberstar was instrumental in establishing University of Minnesota centers and programs to improve transportation. University officials share their thoughts on his passing.
Minnesota’s primary seat belt law continues to save lives and reduce serious injuries more than four years after being passed, according to a study by researchers at the U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The study examined Minnesota crash data collected from June 2009 (when the law was implemented) through June 2013 and compared it to expected data based on crash trends over time. Findings indicate that there were at least 132 fewer deaths, 434 fewer severe injuries, and 1,270 fewer moderate injuries than expected during this time.
Last June a windstorm toppled about 1,800 trees in Minneapolis. Many of the fallen trees were in boulevards (the area between sidewalks and streets) rather than in yards. This raised concerns that recent sidewalk replacement—and resulting severed tree roots—had been a factor. To better understand the higher-than-normal losses, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board turned to the U’s Urban Forestry Outreach, Research and Extension lab. Led by forestry department professor Gary Johnson, the lab researchers found that replacing the sidewalk increased the odds of root failure by 2.24 times.
Publication Credits 

Publisher/Director: Laurie McGinnis
Managing Editor: Pamela Snopl
Editors: Christine Anderson, Amy Friebe, Michael McCarthy
Designer: Cadie Adhikary
Student Intern: Lexi Gusso
Freelance Writers: Nancy Strege, Megan Tsai