Dr. Andrew Nichols loved hunting and fishing as a child growing up in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. His fascination with Legos and enjoyment of math and science naturally set him on a path to become an engineer. It was at Purdue University where he was pursuing his Master’s and Doctorate Degrees in civil engineering that Nichols found out that traffic engineering was a great fit for him.
While at Purdue, Nichols worked in a traffic lab which he credits with giving him invaluable hands-on experience with traffic signals to complement what he was learning in the classroom. He developed skills that allow him to not only use software in the office to study traffic patterns and design traffic signal timings, but he also learned how to program actual traffic signal controllers that are installed at all intersections – expertise, he said, that very few practicing traffic engineers have.
The research he is doing right now as an associate professor of engineering at Marshall University is funded by the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT). His research promotes ways to make West Virginia roads and intersections safer and more efficient. He conducts research in conjunction with the Nick J. Rahall Appalachian Transportation Institute (RTI) at Marshall University – a leader in multimodal transportation and economic development in West Virginia and the Appalachian Region.
HUNTINGTON, WV — To some, Huntington is an unhealthy city on an economic downturn, but that couldn't be any more false for people like Bethany Williams, who live, work and exercise in the city.
Williams, an avid cyclist and program coordinator for the Rahall Appalachian Transportation Institute, a research and economic development firm headquartered in Huntington, is part of a team that manages the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, commonly known as PATH.
The expansive trail system is a pedestrian and bicycle alternative transportation network that connects vital portions of downtown Huntington, neighborhoods and Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District parks.
West Virginians outside of Huntington may not be familiar with PATH, but they could see the trail come to their city if Williams had her way.
"Alternative transportation like PATH is a big piece in the development of every progressive city," Williams said. "My goal is that RTI can keep adding on to it. I'd like to see a trail that connects cities like Charleston and Huntington."
PATH is Rahall Transportation Institute's primary trail project, but the firm is involved in the development and management of others, like the Hatfield and McCoy trails located throughout the state.
While Rahall Transportation Institute is a major sponsor of PATH, the trail is a community project spearheaded by the city of Huntington and the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District. Other sponsors include the Paul Ambrose Charitable Foundation, Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, Cabell County Commission, Cabell Huntington Hospital, St. Mary's Medical Center and other local nonprofits and businesses.
The city of Huntington is the primary administrator of grant funds PATH receives and is responsible for hiring designers and contractors for construction. Charles Holley, director of development and planning in Huntington, said PATH has received a total of $4.5 million in grant money since its inception.
He said the city has sought innovative ways to connect PATH trails, one being the use of cemeteries. He said people were already using them to get between trailheads, but they had to use openings in fences to get inside.
"We have to look at the city a little differently," Holley said. "What are the existing assets we can utilize?"
Holley said the city decided to open Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District-owned cemeteries for PATH users and that it intends to connect more portions of PATH in the years to come. Ultimately, Holley's goal is to see every Huntington resident to be within a half mile of the system.
Williams believes better access to PATH will create more interest among the community and stir more excitement for using alternative transportation.
"We definitely need the community behind this project," Williams said.
Perhaps the most active members of the community are Ken and Sharon Ambrose, whose son Paul has been the main inspiration and namesake for PATH. Paul Ambrose was a Huntington native, a graduate of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University, a student of former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop and a leader in the creation of the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity. Once the call to action was completed, Paul Ambrose flew to a conference in Los Angeles about adolescent obesity. He flew out on American Airlines Flight 177. It never landed, and Paul Ambrose lost his life in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
While his life was taken from him, Paul Ambrose's family and community members, who were affected by his work, were inspired by his passion for preventative health care. He also received national recognition when the Surgeon General's Call to Action was published in December 2001, for which he received a posthumous Surgeon General's Medal of Honor.
Paul Ambrose's work in preventative health care brought obesity (especially in children) to the forefront of the U.S. health care agenda and initiated several healthful eating and exercise initiatives around the country.
He had a particular impact in Huntington. Ken and Sharon Ambrose believe Paul would have been most proud of the work in Huntington being done in his name and for the sake of preventative health care.
Williams said people in Huntington have become more receptive to alternative transportation and healthful lifestyles since the introduction of PATH trails. She said it has health benefits for people who use it and that it relieves traffic congestion and improves the city's air quality by reducing the number of cars on the street.
When the travel option favors alternative transportation, Williams would rather take her bicycle.
"It (using alternative transportation) is a different way of life that takes getting used to," Williams said. "But once you do, you don't ever want to go back."
Williams is part of a growing cycling community that uses the PATH system in Huntington. Williams said about 15 miles of off-road PATH trails have been completed, but they are often separated by stretches of road that can be difficult to cross, especially for pedestrians.
Rahall Transportation Institute and the city of Huntington plan to move forward with the development of PATH by connecting the current sections and creating a more cohesive alternative transportation system. Accomplishing that will not be easy, Williams said. To connect PATH trails, portions of heavily-trafficked commercial and residential properties will have to be crossed.
Both Williams and Holley remain optimistic that PATH will continue to grow and be looked to as other cities create alternative transportation infrastructure.
For West Virginians interested in learning more about PATH and using its expansive trail system, there are several events like Tour de PATH scheduled throughout the year.
Tour de PATH is an event that promotes and increases awareness of cycling as a means of travel, fitness and recreation. Proceeds from the event go to additional public awareness, map creation and development of PATH.
The next Tour de PATH has yet to be scheduled but will take place sometime this fall.
Charleston, W.Va. -- The economic impact of the Jan. 9 chemical spill that contaminated the water supply for 300,000 people is $61 million, according to a preliminary study.
The Marshall University Center for Business and Economic Research conducted a preliminary investigation, which looked at establishments such as schools, medical offices, restaurants, hotels and some retail stores that needed clean water to provide service.
The CBER estimates the initial impact to be slightly more than $19 million for each business day during the "Do Not Use" water order issued for nine counties.
"This amounts to 24 percent of the economic activity of the affected area," a press release states.
In the four days following the ban, CBER estimates the total impact around $61 million, including two business days and two weekend days.
The study estimates the number of affected workers to be nearly 75,000 for each business day the ban was in place, representing about 41 percent of area workers.
Some were hit harder than others, the study shows.
"This high share is an indicator of the nature of the impacts, where the lower-wage, service-producing sector was more acutely impacted than higher-wage industries," the release states. "Establishments in the restaurant and lodging industries are less likely to recover lost revenues and are among those most affected by the inability to use water."
The study suggests state and local government and industries such as mining and construction to be unaffected.
The estimated impact does not include clean-up costs of the spill or emergency expenditures made as a result and thus does not represent the full economic impact, the release states.
A portion of the impact is permanently lost revenue and employee income that will not be recovered. Further analysis is needed to uncover the full effect, the release states.
Last week, the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau told The Charleston Gazette financial losses from only 12 businesses are totaling $1 million.
HUNTINGTON -- A large portion of West Virginia's economy passes by Huntington each day, and many residents may not even see it happening.
The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates the state's waterways and ports account for $1.6 billion of the state's economy as well as 9,980 of its jobs, which made the need for a simulator at the waterways academy all the more necessary, said Capt. John Whiteley, director of the Inland Waterways Academy at Mountwest Community and Technical College.
"In Huntington, like many other cities on a river, people don't realize there's a river out there," he said. "When they built the floodwalls in these cities, you couldn't see the rivers anymore. They don't realize how much traffic travels on the river and how important it is to our economy."
The Full Mission Wheelhouse Simulator was unveiled to the legislators, media and the public during an event at the waterways academy, which shares space with the Tri-State Fire Academy along W.Va. 2.
The simulator includes seven visual channels to give pilots- and captains-in-training a 180-degree view forward from the wheelhouse and a channel that allows them to see the view behind them. The channels simulate the river settings at busy inland ports including Cinicinnati, New Orleans and the Port of Huntington Tri-State, which is the largest inland port in the United States, Whiteley said.Whiteley also has the ability to simulate water and weather conditions as well as scenarios with other water bound traffic to test the capabilities of the nearly 500 students that come through the program each year.
"The biggest thing is safety. We use a simulator to train people safely," he said. "If you take a brand new guy going through Cincinnati, Cincinnati has five bridges you have to go through and they're not lined up, so you have to learn how to wiggle your way through the bridges. If you miss, you knock down the bridge. With this, if you hit the bridge, it says, 'OK. Let's start again,' and there's no damage."
Once students have completed training there, Whiteley said they are on track to start careers that could put them in the six-figure salary range within eight to 10 years.
Before the simulator was built at the waterways academy, the nearest wheelhouse simulators to Huntington were in Paducah, Ky., and Virginia Beach, Va.
Funding for the simulator came through a grant partnership with the Marshall University Research Corporation and the Rahall Transportation Institute.
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., recited the statistics that illustrated the economic impact of the state's waterways, and he pointed to the motto of the American Waterway Operators Association, "Barges are Beautiful."
"I went to Congress believing transportation builds jobs," Rahall said. "That's the motto of the Rahall Transportation Institute. In my book that's the real beauty."
The Mingo County Redevelopment Authority announced today the launch of its new interactive website, and that the site is now live at www.mcra-wv.org.
According to Deputy Executive Director Leasha Johnson, the new website was designed with broadband marketing strategies in mind that allow for business attraction, the promotion of Mingo County’s business and industrial development assets and infrastructure, and assisting both new and existing business with development initiatives.
“The new website is an impressive showcase of Mingo County’s ability to leverage our natural assets into value-added, job-creating industries,” Johnson said.
With grant funding from the West Virginia Geologic & Economic Survey’s Broadband Grant Program, the MCRA partnered with the Rahall Transportation Institute and Bulldog Creative Services to design an entirely new website which is dynamic, interactive and informational. Bulldog Creative Services provided the technical and graphic design component of the project, and RTI identified the web structure, branding concept, and developed the new GIS web application which acts as an interactive site selector tool within the website.
Christine Borders, vice president of Bulldog Creative Services, said, “We were thrilled to be asked to partner with Mingo County Redevelopment Authority for this project. We worked closely with their team to give the website a fresh look that is clean and modern, all while creating a functional, user-friendly site.”
The geographic information system application which was built by RTI combines industrial site information, such as location, property size, lease/purchase prices, and other information, with existing infrastructure layers, enabling developers to have the ability to evaluate economic data available for Mingo County.
“The new MCRA website will provide businesses and developers with the resources and information needed to identify development opportunities within the county,” said Robert H. Plymale, CEO and director of the Rahall Transportation Institute.“The site-selector application on the new and modern website will provide ease and flexibility to developers, both public and private, in gathering information and determining optimal sites for business and production.”
Steve Kominar, the Authority’s executive director, said, “As we move into the phase of marketing Mingo County’s rich assets, we must present technology that will allow us to compete in the worldwide arena. I am extremely pleased with the product developed by the Mingo County Redevelopment staff led by Leasha Johnson. I feel we are in the position to showcase Mingo County to the world.”
WEIRTON - Ridership on Weirton Transit Corp. buses increased to an all-time high of 5,710 during October, beating the previous record of 5,509 set in March 2012. September ridership ranked fifth highest ever.
"Three of the last four months have been huge months," according to Transit Manager Kevin Beynon. "Almost across the board we have a pretty good increase from what we had last year."
"I think it shows that there's a definite need, and that need is increasing," WTC board member Walter Angelini said. "But also it shows that you and your staff are doing something right."
On Nov.13 Weirton Transit purchased a 2013 Econoline high-top van with two wheelchair positions, child seats, on-board recording equipment and additional safety features like a rear-view camera for backing up. A new bus that seats 18 passengers is expected to be added to the fleet in early December with some help from the state.
Last Saturday Weirton Transit drivers underwent intellectual disability training provided by associates of the Rahall Transportation Institute at Marshall University. One employee described it as a "fantastic program," according to board members
"They learned a lot about how to handle different situations and what to look for," Beynon said.
In other business, members discussed the need to fill an open board position as well as participation in the upcoming Christmas parades in Weirton and Wellsburg.
- See more at: http://www.weirtondailytimes.com/page/content.detail/id/606803/Weirton-Transit-ridership-reaches-record-level.html?nav=5006#sthash.2871Ur8s.dpuf
Coal shipments by rail may be down in southern West Virginia, but more of those containers hauling high-value freight are up.
In a little over a year, southern West Virginia will play a bigger part in the worldwide movement toward container-based shipping.
Intermodal traffic on Norfolk Southern's Heartland Corridor in the third quarter was up 19 percent from the year before. The corridor runs from the ocean port at Norfolk and through southern West Virginia on its way to Cincinnati and Chicago.
The third-quarter growth comes as the Heartland Intermodal Gateway at the Wayne County community of Prichard nears completion. When it's finished in late 2014 or early 2015, the infrastructure will be in place for businesses in southern West Virginia and nearby parts of Ohio and Kentucky to join the movement to move merchandise by both rail and truck.
"The Heartland Corridor continues to be robust. We don't expect quarter-to-quarter increases of 19 percent," Donald W. Seale, chief marketing officer of Norfolk Southern, said in a conference call last week. "That would be a compounding phenomenon. But it's going to continue to be a robust growth corridor for us."
In an interview with The State Journal, Jeff Heller, vice president of intermodal and automotive for Norfolk Southern, said most of the traffic that moves on the Heartland Corridor runs from Hampton Roads to the Midwest, but it also handles some traffic from Charlotte, N.C., to Columbus, Ohio.
Prichard will open around the time upgrades to the Panama Canal are completed. Those upgrades are expected to increase shipments to East Coast ports, including Hampton Roads.
The port of Hampton Roads has picked up market share from other East Coast ports this year, and "we're the beneficiary of a good part of that," Heller said. Some containers originate overseas, are transferred to rail at Hampton Roads and eventually make their way to the West Coast, he said.
Many of the containers that move on the corridor are filled with consumer goods such as electronics, footwear and clothing, Heller said.
The Heartland Intermodal Gateway is being built by the West Virginia Public Port Authority. The port authority has contracted the marketing of the facility to the Rahall Transportation Institute, or RTI, at Marshall University.
The intermodal facility at this point is 25 percent complete, with completion scheduled for December 2014 or early 2015, said state Sen. Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, CEO of the RTI.
While consumer goods may dominate traffic on the corridor at the present, Plymale said he sees the Prichard facility as a place for rail-truck transfer for consumer goods and industrial goods.
The Huntington area and surrounding areas have a number of industries that serve the automotive, transportation and industrial equipment markets.
"We're looking at a 120-mile radius," Plymale said. "That includes about 4,000 shippers that are already using containers in some way."
When it opens, Prichard will be the only terminal between Roanoke, Va., and Columbus. James D. York, executive director of the state port authority, said Prichard will serve 60 counties in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.
York described intermodal shipping as a way of getting traffic off the state's clogged highways.
And, he said, with opening about a year away, it's not too early to be signing companies that want to use Prichard's off-loading and warehouse space.
HUNTINGTON -- More than 100 bicyclists took to the streets -- and trails -- of Huntington on Saturday for the fourth annual Tour de Path.
The growth of the event, which featured guided, family-friendly ride options of four, seven 10 and 20 miles, shows that a cycling culture has taken root in Huntington, organizers said.
"More and more people are wanting to ride and support cycling," said Bethany Williams, a program coordinator for the Rahall Transportation Institute. "It's an exciting change happening in Huntington."
A lot of that change, Williams said, has occurred simultaneously with development of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, a cycling and walking trail that aims to link all of the city's parks and major employers. PATH is named after Dr. Paul Ambrose, who was a promising young physician whose life ended Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Ambrose focused his medical career on family health and using preventative medicine to fight obesity.
The first phase of PATH began this year and is almost complete. Trail sections in Guyandotte and Harveytown are finished, and a trail on top of the earthen levee from 3rd Street West to Westmoreland is almost done. The rides during Tour de Path used those sections.
"It's given people new places to ride, but it's also helped people become a little more comfortable with riding on the road since the trail sections are not connected just yet," Williams said.
Commuter bike maps of Huntington also were unveiled during Tour de PATH and distributed to all of the participants. Copies also will be made available at Jeff's Bike Shop, 740 6th Ave., and at Huntington Cycle and Sport, 1455 4th Ave. Both bike shops made donations to print the maps.
Carrie-Meghan and Harold Blanco were among the cyclists who went on the 20-mile ride Saturday. Carrie-Meghan Blanco said the trail system has made cycling more visible in the community.
"It's brought awareness to the fact that we need a safe place to ride," she said. "Cycling is free, healthy and fun. You can't beat that."