In addition to racking up the PDH credits at the end of the year, transportation engineers across Pennsylvania attend the Penn State Transportation Engineering and Safety Conference (TESC) to hear directly from experts on the leading edge of many aspects of transportation. This year, the conference is going virtual and inviting attendees from other states to tune in.

Now in its 26th year, the TESC was started by John Mason (former Penn State Professor and current Chancellor at Penn State’s Harrisburg campus) and Tom Bryer (former Director of Bureau of Highway Safety and Traffic Engineering at PennDOT) as a means to offer a professional development opportunity for practitioners in Pennsylvania.

“A signature element of the conference is the number of presentations that are focused on engineering practice and afford participants with the opportunity to learn about the state-of-the-art (research) and the state-of-the-practice,” said conference organizers Nikhil Kharva of HNTB and Vikash Gayah of Penn State. “Because of this, the conference offers a unique chance to blend the two into future project implementation activities. This will be maintained in the current program when TESC moves to the virtual delivery.”

"A signature element of the conference is the number of presentations that are focused on engineering practice and afford participants with the opportunity to learn about the state-of-the-art research and the state-of-the-practice."

- Nikhil Kharva, HNTB and Vikash Gayah, Penn State University

The event will run from December 9 to 11, 2020, kicking off with a keynote address from Yassmin Gramian, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Then in each time slot of the conference (11:30-12:30, 1:00-2:00, 2:30-3:30, and 4:00-5:00), sessions will be held concurrently in each of the following categories:

  • Safety
  • Operations
  • Planning
  • Design
  • Technology
  • Leadership

Presentation topics range from the latest transportation design guidance to equity in virtual meetings to smart cities and shared mobility in a post-COVID-19 world.

The TESC Goes Virtual

As with most conferences this year, the TESC will be fully virtual. The conference website points out that while the virtual format changes many aspects of the traditional conference, the advantages include value (a reduced registration rate), convenience (you can tune in from anywhere) and time savings. In fact, due to the virtual nature of the conference, the TESC expects and welcomes more participation from outside the state of Pennsylvania.

“The virtual format will allow TESC to reach a much wider audience than in the past and opens up the set of potential speakers dramatically,” said Kharva and Gayah. “We already have speakers identified from outside of the region and expect many new attendees, as well. We have consistently been shattering attendance records over the past few years and we believe this will be another year that we set a record for number of attendees.”

"The virtual format will allow TESC to reach a much wider audience than in the past and opens up the set of potential speakers dramatically."

- Nikhil Kharva, HNTB and Vikash Gayah, Penn State University

Kharva and Gayah noted that the interactivity in sessions that the TESC is known for will be maintained in as many ways as possible.

“To help ensure dialogue between presenters and attendees, we plan to have several interactive sessions, such as panels on various topics of interest, in addition to traditional presenters. These panels will consist almost entirely of presenter responses to attendee questions,” they said. “In addition, the virtual platform being used will encourage interaction both during sessions and between sessions through chat options and virtual “meeting spaces” outside of the presentations. There will be a virtual lounge for people to meet informally or formally, as would have occurred in a traditional format. We will also maintain a virtual exhibit hall and there will be booths there where attendees can get together to discuss specific sessions or topics.”

Those interested in attending can explore the conference schedule and register here.

Kittelson-Led Presentations at the 2020 TESC

Many of Kittelson’s Pennsylvania staff have been involved with the TESC for years, and we’re excited to participate in several presentations at the 2020 TESC.

FREEVAL (FREeway EVALuation)

December 9, 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. (Pre-Conference)

FREEVAL-PA is a freeway analysis tool developed by PennDOT. The computational engine is based on the Highway Capacity Manual and is intended to be utilized prior to the consideration of all maintenance, construction and permit planned projects on any Pennsylvania limited access highway. It can also be used prior to the determination for requiring any more advanced modeling or simulation. This session will provide an overview of FREEVAL-PA and topics from FREEVAL-PA training materials. It will be moderated by Ed Myers and presented by Kittelson’s Shannon Warchol, Alexandra Jahnle, and Bastian Schroeder.

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Ped Bike Facilities

December 10, 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.

This session will highlight case studies of three pedestrian/bicyclist infrastructure projects of varying size and scope. Join to learn about the planning and design process, implementation, and lessons learned. This session will be moderated by Owen Hitchcock (RK&K) and presented by Richard Montanez (City of Philadelphia), Matthew Ridgway (Fehr & Peers), Nathan George (RK&K), and Laura Ahramjian (Kittelson & Associates).

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New Guidance on Bike/Ped Intersections

December 10, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

This session will cover the new guidance for pedestrian and bicycle safety at intersections and interchanges along with real world examples of what some cities are doing in for their cyclist and pedestrian populations. Joe Rusiewicz (TranSystems) will moderate and Bastian Schroeder (Kittelson & Associates) will present and cover the “20 flags method,” a quantitative analysis of pedestrian & bicycle quality at intersections.

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Today’s Actions for Tomorrow’s Technologies

December 10, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

With the long lifespan of transportation infrastructure, engineers and planners need to be thinking today about what infrastructure will need to look like in 20, 30, or even 40 years. Join this session to hear the latest thoughts connected and autonomous vehicles will have on network capacity and traffic signals, as well as how to safety manage the transition when both CAVs and non-CAVs will be on the road. This session will be moderated by Shannon Warchol (Kittelson & Associates) and presented by Abby Morgan (Kittelson & Associates), Barry Einsig (CAVita), Anthony Castellone (Pennoni), and Ozan Tonguz (Carnegie Mellon University).

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Innovative Alternative Intersections

December 10, 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.

Shannon Warchol (Kittelson & Associates) will present on the latest national design guidance. This presentation will provide a sneak peak of NCHRP Report 948 which provides concept level designs for pedestrian and bicycle facilities at CFIs, RCUTs, and MUTs, and DDIs. Joe Rusiewicz (TranSystems) will talk about the evolution toward cost effective roundabouts in Howard County, Maryland, and Andrew Thompson (Urban Engineers) will share lessons learned from the US 222 roundabout corridor. This session will be moderated by Michael Mastaglio (Urban Engineers).

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Ensuring Equity in Virtual Public Meetings

December 10, 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Do you find yourself wondering how to equitably reach all stakeholders during these times of limited in-person public input? Are you hesitant to try something new for fear you may find yourself on the wrong side of a federal regulation? This panel will focus on considerations for ensuring equity during virtual public meetings. Plan to join us for this discussion by bringing your questions as well as your ideas. The session will be moderated by Kittelson’s Shannon Warchol and panelists will be Yanisa Techagumthorn (Nelson\Nygaard), Carolyn Nelson (FHWA), and Alison Hastings (Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission).

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Lessons Learned from Quantitative Approaches to Transportation Safety

December 10, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Moderated by Vikash Gayah (Penn State University) and presented by Pete Jenior (Kittelson & Associates), Eric Donnell (Penn State University), and R.J. Porter (VHB), this session will focus on various quantitative and data-driven approaches to quantify and improve transportation safety outcomes. The focus is on situations where quantitative methods are used to learn more about relationships between safety performance and other factors, as well as quantitative methods can be used to improve estimates of safety performance in the future.

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