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A Message from the New England Section President
JENNIFER CONLEY, PE, PTOE
New England Section President
Happy Summer NEITE Members!
The New England Section of NEITE has had a busy spring and is looking forward to the second half of 2021 and opportunities to get together in person! We have made great strides towards meeting the goals of the strategic plan, are contemplating how we will be organized in the future, and are unveiling our new Chronicle Newsletter in an online format more consistent with other organizations. For a year when we have not been able to meet in person, we have gotten a lot done!
Thank you to the Publicity Committee! Co-chairs Noah Yoskowitz and Ariel Greenlaw have worked hard to keep NEITE members informed of our virtual events with frequent email updates. They, working with our webmaster, Colin White, have now also taken on the duties of creating an online Chronicle. We will continue to offer the same great content that you are used to and are looking for additional ways to add value. Please email me any suggestions you may have.
We continue to make great strides towards the Goals of the NEITE Strategic Plan by better engaging with our Chapters and our members. Meeting virtually has allowed members to attend meetings that may have previously been too costly or involved too much travel. We look forward to continuing to offer this type of program. Our Emerging Professionals Committee has been very successful and continues to meet monthly. If you have younger professionals at your firm, please encourage them to join this lively group for networking and guest speakers. Although our student chapters have not been active over the past year, we look forward to re-engaging with them. We have had an inquiry regarding formation of a new student chapter and look forward to growing.
Ian McKinnon, NEITE Past President, Rachel Dooley, Vice President, and I have been meeting with each of the state chapters to discuss how we want NEITE to operate in the future. International has asked if it makes sense to be organized in a different way and the New England board and each state chapter are discussing the potential options in detail. Because many of our state chapters are as large as sections in other parts of the organization, we have the opportunity to reorganize with one less level to the organization. We are hashing out what the implications of any reorganization might be to members from our largest state chapter down to our smallest. If you would like more information, or to be a part of future discussions, please contact your state chapter leadership or me directly. We value all input and still have a lot to consider.
In April, CT ITE and NEITE met jointly (virtually) for the annual spring meeting. This meeting hosted a panel discussion on initiatives that CTDOT and local municipalities are making to improve pedestrian safety and prevent traffic fatalities.
May was a busy month with many ITE events. On May 6th was the VT ITE Roundabout Roundtable event which included a brief presentation regarding the state of the practice in Vermont followed by discussion of various roundabout topics. Next followed the NH ITE virtual meeting on May 12th which discussed the MUTCD revisions currently underway as well as the changes to the NHDOT Driveway Permit procedures.
Also in May, the Met Section of ITE hosted an incredibly successful virtual ITE Northeastern District Annual Meeting. In addition to the interesting technical content that we have come to expect from this meeting, this event included innovative networking.
Looking forward, NEITE will next meet jointly with MA ITE at their fall meeting on September 30th. NEITE’s annual meeting will be held on November 2nd. Our final NEITE meeting of the year will be held jointly with RI ITE on December 6th. We look forward to seeing you at a future event!
Finally, congratulations to NEITE Secretary Christina Hodge. Her twins, Millie Rose and Carter David, were born on June 17th and all are doing well. Thank you to Derek Hug and Jeff Santacruce who are covering the Secretary duties while Christina is on maternity leave.
We look forward to seeing you at an ITE event soon!
Travel Trends Through the Pandemic
NOAH YOSKOWITZ, PE
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the northeast region as well as much of the nation saw a surprising change in vehicle travel trends. At the peak of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, traffic volumes on major roadways experienced a steep decline in daily traffic volumes, which have since recovered. Depending on the specific roadway and region, some roadways have been quicker to recover than others. A few examples were summarized from the northeast region.
In Connecticut, roadway traffic volumes in early 2020 saw moderate decreases across the state. In the early spring, as executive orders limiting essential business and the stay-at-home order were announced, roadways experienced traffic volume decreases ranging from 25 to 50 percent or more. Then, as the state announced phased re-openings, vehicular travel slowly returned to the roadways and traffic volumes rebounded towards little or no change. The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) is closely monitoring traffic count data on their major roadways as can be seen on their website, and a COVID-related “Story Map”.
Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has been reviewing traffic volumes on several of the Interstate Highways in the state on a regular basis since the pandemic began. In both April and May of 2021, that review noted that traffic volumes on the Interstates were approaching volumes noted prior to COVID, or were within 10% of pre-COVID volumes. During the pandemic, RIDOT revised work hours on some projects to allow increased or longer duration lane closures due to change in traffic volumes. Now that volumes are much closer to pre-COVID conditions, the traffic managements plans were revised to reflect the original pre-COVID restrictions.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) maintains a regularly updated mobility dashboard, which tracks traffic volumes, travel times, vehicle miles traveled, toll transactions, transit trends, bike and pedestrian activity, freight miles traveled, airport flight operations, speeding violations, trip purpose, and parking trends. During the peak of the pandemic traffic volumes on Massachusetts roadways, especially those in the vicinity of Boston, dropped to lows of 20% to 50% compared to pre-COVID levels. Vehicle volumes on the roadways have since gradually recovered to at, or near, pre-COVID levels on most roadways. However, I-90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike) has only recovered to about 80% of pre-COVID levels.
In recent months most roadways in the northeast region have recovered to pre-COVID levels while others have been slower to recover. State transportation agencies are continuing to closely monitor traffic trends on their roadways.