Attracting the largest crowd yet, the 2018 Louisiana Transportation Conference (LTC) brought together 1,877 transportation professionals, industry partners, and academics from across the nation. This year’s theme was Transportation Infrastructure: Driving the Economy and took place February 25-28, 2018, at the Raising Cane’s River Center.
The conference’s general session included key speeches by DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson, Ph.D., LTRC Director Sam Cooper, Ph.D., P.E., and Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne. This year’s featured speaker was Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner and AASHTO President John C. Schroer.
Flood Impacts and Lessons
The most popular session was titled “2016 Flood Events” and presented by Chad Vosburg, DOTD Baton Rouge District Engineer Administrator. The session focused on the unexpected events from the Louisiana flood, the impacts on local roads and travel time, and how DOTD coordinated forces with limited resources. Vosburg expanded on the challenges the Department faced, which included working with only 50% of the workforce, road closures, communication, work units flooding, debris removal, among others. Session attendees were also able to see how DOTD was able to utilize aquadams, tigerdams, temporary signals, and the largest pump available to keep as many lanes open as possible during the weeks to follow.
Looking back on lessons learned during the 2016 flood, Vosburg explained, “Mother Nature will always throw you a curveball—the best of plans will always need to be modified. Communication with the public and sister agencies is critical. Be open to new unconventional ideas, be prepared for a long battle with whatever workforce you available, and take care of your workforce.”
Washington State Traffic Design Engineer Brian Walsh, P.E., led the next highly attended session entitled “Compact Roundabouts.” He explained that roundabout design does not have to be a one-size fits-all approach. Walsh expanded on right-sizing roundabouts and the use of Washington State DOT “compacts,” which are smaller roundabouts designed as a fully mountable central island with raised splitter islands to define entry and provide additional deflection. Walsh said, “Compact roundabouts are designed with the idea of containing passenger cars while allowing trucks to negotiate however they need to.” The session also included a round table panel discussion where design and construction personnel discussed what works and what to avoid in roundabout construction plans.
To close out this year’s transportation conference, attendees gathered in River Center Ballroom for the transportation excellence awards ceremony. Special achievements and best projects were honored as well as students receiving scholarships and design awards. Most notably, the first DOTD Innovations Showcase award winners were recognized and received a budget transfer ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 to their respective district/gang from the HQ maintenance division.
Photos by Chris Melton, LTRC