February 2014 Catalyst

February 2014
With increasing amounts of freight traffic on U.S. roadways, commercial truck drivers often struggle to find safe and legal places to park. If parking spaces are not available at a nearby rest area or truck stop, drivers may be forced to pull over in unsafe locations—such as on freeway ramps or shoulders—or become dangerously fatigued if they continue driving. In response to this issue, a team from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, University of Minnesota, and American Transportation Research Institute is developing a system that can identify available truck parking spaces and communicate the information to drivers, helping them determine when and where to stop.
There’s no dispute that an adequate transportation system is necessary for economic development. What’s unclear, however, is how transportation innovations in fields such as technology and finance can drive growth. Gaining a better understanding of such innovations and their impacts is the purpose of the new Transportation Policy and Economic Competitiveness Program at the University of Minnesota. The five-year program, managed by the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, will seek to further define and promote the relationship between transportation and economic development in Minnesota and the region.
Nearly every time a highway or airport expansion is proposed, transportation planners are faced with opposition from residents who fear the increased noise levels in their homes and businesses. Traffic noise is often mitigated with physical noise barriers, but the large, thick walls often draw opposition as well. Now, new active noise control technology for windows developed at the U of M could provide a nearly invisible solution for transportation noise cancellation—and give transportation planners another tool for overcoming project opposition.
Capacity—too much of it, or too little—is a top concern in the freight industry, according to speakers at the 17th Annual Freight and Logistics Symposium in December. In the keynote presentation, Rosalyn Wilson, senior business analyst with Delcan Corporation, said both ocean and air cargo have too much capacity. On the flip side, trucking, which is the largest component of the supply chain industry, has operated at 95 to 97 percent capacity for the past three years. Other speakers also noted capacity issues—whether a shortage of drivers or an abundance of data.
Publication Credits 

Publisher/Director: Laurie McGinnis

Managing Editor: Pamela Snopl

Editors: Christine Anderson, Amy Friebe, Michael McCarthy

Designer: Cadie Adhikary

Student Interns: Lexi Gusso

Writer: Megan Tsai