UWP students aid Wis DOT in setting standards for studies

October 28, 2002

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Pictured from left to right are UWP civil engineering students Joakim Osthus of Stockholm, Sweden, Scott Bohman of Rhinelander and Robert Reid of Cobb. The students are working on a project for Wis DOT that will provide developers with an example for traffic impact report regulations.

PLATTEVILLE -With development exploding in many areas throughout Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has turned to students from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to aid them in setting standards for traffic impact studies submitted by developers.

UWP students Robert Reid of Cobb, Scott Bohman of Rhinelander and international student Joakim Osthus of Stockholm, Sweden, have taken on the semester-long project for Assistant Dean of the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science Lisa Riedle's senior design class.

"We'll be designing a traffic impact analysis example for the Wis DOT guidelines and a packet describing what the Wis DOT expects of developers in regards to traffic impact studies," said Bohman, the student project manager. "Right now, developers often send random data or may send no impact study at all. Now the Wis DOT is in the process of requiring a standardized impact study from all developers."

Thus far, the students have obtained current traffic data on a specific area of Highway 151 from a UWP traffic engineering class. The information has been sent to the Wis DOT, which will in turn communicate back to the students a projected report, forecasting future traffic use without any new developments.

"We're currently developing a site designed for a theoretical, proposed development for the specified area of Highway 151, based on a number of variables provided by the Wis DOT," Reid said. "The theoretical development includes a gas station, a fast food restaurant, a sit-down restaurant and a home improvement superstore."

Once the students receive the projected traffic data from the Wis DOT, they will begin calculating how much traffic will be generated from the theoretical development.

"We'll calculate a traffic impact report for the development using current traffic data and for traffic data 10 years from now," Osthus said. "Then we'll take those numbers and determine if Highway 151 as it is now would need improvements. For example, if a traffic light will need to be added in the future, that will be in our report, along with a proposed design for the traffic signal."

At the end of the semester, the students will have spent a combined 250 to 300 hours on the design and impact guidelines. The project will conclude with an evaluation of the current and future site and a summary of the students' findings.

"We'll present our project to the Wis DOT and hopefully it will be used as an example in the Wis DOT's traffic impact analysis guidelines," Bohman said. "A project like this is really beneficial because we get the experience of working on a bigger project with a group of people that is more representative of what we will most likely being doing in the real world."

Not only do students benefit from the hands-on learning experience provided through the project, but having clear guidelines and an example for developers to refer to will benefit to the Wisconsin DOT.

"It's important for developers to provide a traffic impact analysis so the state does not have to bear the whole burden of improving a traffic system made inadequate due to traffic increases resulting from new developments," Reid said. "It will save the state money by requiring developers to sustain some of the costs of those improvements."

Bohman is a graduate of Rhinelander High School and the son of Janice and David Bohman, now of Glendale, Ariz. He anticipates graduating in December 2002 with a degree in civil engineering and an emphasis in transportation and construction.

Reid is a graduate of Iowa-Grant High School and the son of Jim and Sharon Reid of Cobb. He also anticipates graduating in December 2002 with a degree in civil engineering and an emphasis in transportation and construction.

Osthus is a graduate of Vasalund High School in Sweden and is the son of Laila Osthus of Solna, Sweden. He anticipates graduating in December 2002 with a degree in civil engineering and an emphasis in transportation and structural engineering.

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