MNTRC Newsletter Vol 19, Issue 3: Winter 2012

Distinguished seminars discuss mobility issues

Hualiang (Harry) Teng, PhD, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Students and educators attending mobility seminar.

Seminar given by Dr. Edward Neumann

UNLV News –The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) presented two distinguished seminars with the support of MNTRC and the Institute of Transportation Engineers Intermountain Section, Nevada Chapter.

The first seminar – “Railroads, Civil Engineering, and Nation Building” – was given by Dr. Edward Neumann, a senior faculty specialized in transit technology in transportation engineering of the Civil Engineering Department at UNLV.

High-speed rail rooted in history

In his presentation, Dr. Neumann provided an historic overview of railroad construction in the US, from the first railroad to the formation of a national railroad network. He provided the background of railroad technology development, the financial mechanism for construction, the engineering characteristics of initial railroads, the manpower required to construct the railroads, including Chinese participation, how some railroads failed, and the people who became wealthy from railroad construction.

The discussion had implications regarding high-speed rail currently under construction in the US. For example, what should be the financial mechanism to fund high-speed rail? Would private investment always be profitable? How could railroad engineering firms work together? These issues are relevant to current high speed rail construction because it is critical to avoid the mistakes from the past.

Graduates, undergrads and faculty attend

Approximately 50 graduate and undergraduate students and faculty from various engineering departments attended the seminar. It was an encouraging success for this first seminar in the series.

In addition to the support from MNTRC, other student organizations also participated in this seminar, including AREMA Student Chapter at UNLV, ITE Student Chapter at UNLV, and ASCE Student Chapter at UNLV. The students from the CEE 495/695 Railroad Engineering course also attended.

Metropolitan planning, transit, and street operations covered

The second distinguished seminar was given before an audience of 50 people by Ms. Tina Quigley, general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC). RTC performs three primary functions: metropolitan planning organization in Southern Nevada, Transit service, and freeway and surface street operations. RTC is the only agency combining these three major functions under one roof, making them easier to integrate and coordinate.

Ms. Quigley introduced the contributions RTC made in each of three areas, with significant coverage on transit service in southern Nevada. By presenting the bus rapid transit (BRT) map, she demonstrated how BRT has evolved and expanded to serve the entire metropolitan area. The audience also was interested in the likelihood of constructing a light rail line in the valley, particularly along the Maryland Parkway connecting Las Vegas downtown to Las Vegas Airport and running through a variety of land uses such as university, shopping mall, hospital, etc.