2020 WDCSITE Annual Meeting Recap – Day 1
The chaotic year that is 2020 led to an unprecedented, all-virtual annual conference and awards meeting. Despite the shift from an in-person setting to an online platform, the annual conference was a resounding success. Day 1 began on the morning of Wednesday, November 18th. Below is a recap of the day’s events.
Opening Remarks and Keynote Speaker
Many thanks to Neil Pedersen, the Executive Director of TRB, for kicking-off WDCSITE’s 2020 Annual Meeting. Speaking to his insightful viewpoint on the Long Term Trends Affecting the Future of Transportation, his presentation gave planners and engineers much to thinking about when considering the future of transportation.
Opening with the thesis that the field of transportation planning is predicated on the assumption that past trends will continue two or three decades into the future, Pedersen questioned the amount of truth this still holds. What uncertainty does the future bear and what changing trends should be consider? COVID is exposing supply chain issues and shows that telecommunication may become a substitute for travel. What will technology enabled transportation services like Uber and the development of connected & automated vehicles bring to travel demand and transportation forecasting. How do we make decisions now on infrastructure that have upwards of a 50 year implication, especially given the constraints of financing our surface transportation network? Additionally, Mr. Pedersen addressed creating equity in transportation access and the role transportation has in climate change.
The members and friends of WDCSITE appreciate Mr. Pedersen sharing his outlook on the uncertainty of tomorrow.
Transportation & COVID-19
Day 1 of the Annual Meeting continued with a panel discussion on transportation and COVID-19. This session was moderated by Ryan Westrom (Ford Mobility) and included presentations from Megan Kanagy (DDOT), Dan Goldfarb (NVTC), and Emil Wolanin (Montgomery County DOT). Ryan kicked off this session by providing a brief update on the mobility changes in a post-COVID world and impacts of COVID-19 on various transportation modes. Next, each panelist gave a brief update on the impact of COVID-19 and their agencies’ responses to COVID-19. Dan Goldfarb first provided a big picture perspective on how COVID-19 affected public transportation in Northern Virginia using transit ridership data. Megan Kanagy and Emil Wolanin then discussed their car-free lanes, streateries, sidewalk extensions, and revised parking regulations to address transportation needs to respond to COVID-19. The presentations were followed by a Q&A session with the participants.
Project of the Year and Award Ceremony
The year 2020 saw two projects, both located in the District, share the honor of winning the Project of the Year award. The C Street NE Rehabilitation and Florida Avenue NE Interim Improvements projects met and surpassed the criteria for judgement and exemplified the spirit of the award. Both projects used innovative techniques to solve a transportation issue for the overall betterment of the community. Vivek Hariharan, last year’s WDCSITE President, announced the winners, which was followed by presentations from the recipients.
A presentation on the C Street NE Rehabilitation project was given by Hari Thaker and Oliver Boehm (Volkert). The project repurposes the existing right-of-way to include separated bicycle lanes in both directions along the corridor. Additional features include bulbouts, raised crosswalks, traffic calming and ADA upgrades, and two high-intensity activated crosswalk (HAWK) signals. Due to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure enhancements, the project improves multimodal transportation along the corridor.
The Florida Avenue NE Interim Improvements project presentation was given by Othman Chebli (DDOT) and Gerard Baxter (JMT). Due to safety concerns along the existing corridor, there was an urgency to accelerate the delivery of the project; the design phase was completed in two months and the project was constructed in four months. A two-way protected cycle track with bicycle signals was built along the section of the corridor west of West Virginia Avenue NE, while one-way protected bicycle lanes in each direction were built east of West Virginia Avenue NE. The project team successfully delivered major bicycle infrastructure improvements while balancing the needs of other users – pedestrians, motorists, and bus users.
After the Project of the Year presentations, current WDCSITE President David Duarte announced the winners of the Section’s annual awards. Please see the list of award recipients below. Congratulations to all the winners! Additionally, we give a special acknowledgement to Jeffrey Bruggeman, a recipient of the Transportation Service award, who passed away in August of this year. Jeffrey’s sister Linda accepted the award on his behalf.
- 2020 Morris J. Rothenberg Past President’s Award – Vivek Hariharan (RS&H)
- 2020 Amy Polk and Selman Altun Young Professional of the Year Award – Adam Greenstein (WSP) and Philip Koloski (RS&H)
- 2020 Appreciation Award – Jeff Paniati (ITE)
- 2020 Transportation Service Award – Jeffrey Bruggeman (Retired from AECOM, Posthumous) and Soumya Dey (DDOT)
- 2020 Community Transportation Award – Clarence Haskett (MDOT SHA) and Ed Rodenhizer (MDOT SHA)
- 2020 Project of the Year Award – C Street NE Rehabilitation (DDOT) and Florida Avenue NE Interim Improvements (DDOT)
- 2020 Pat Timbrook Scholarship – Amirreza Nickkar (Morgan State University) and Sara Zahedian (University of Maryland)