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2018 Louisiana Transportation Conference Hits Record Attendance Roundabout and flood sessions draw largest crowds

Featured in Technology Today (Volume 32, Issue 3), a quarterly publication of the Louisiana Transportation Research Center.

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.

Hosted by DOTD and LTRC, the biennial conference provides opportunities for professionals from academia, government, and private industry to present ideas and share information important to the continuation of bettering Louisiana’s transportation system.
With over 80 sessions offered at this year’s LTC, a wide-range of topics were featured from traffic engineering to water resources. One attendee said, “Nothing compares nationwide to the DOTD transportation conference. It is always an excellent exchanging of ideas with many sessions to choose from.” Two sessions featuring presentations on the 2016 flood and roundabouts attracted the most interest during the three-day conference.

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.

Aquadam setup
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.”

Compact Roundabouts

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.

A mini roundabout in Dimondale, MI

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.

1st Place Winner: Rut Buster (District 08 – Brent Ray, Shannon Parker, Roger Moore, and Kerry Lemoine)

Important Links

Save the Date

The next Louisiana Transportation Conference is already in the works and scheduled for March 1-4, 2020.

Credits:

Photos by Chris Melton, LTRC

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