Center for Safety Equity in Transportation

rural • isolated • tribal • indigenous

RITI Outreach and Baseline Data Collection

  • Active

    CSET Project #: 1701

    Project Funding: CSET

  • Start Date: September 2017

    End Date: August 2021

    Budget: $333,000

Principal Investigator(s)

Nathan Belz

Dr. Belz is an Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering, specifically Transportation Engineering, at UAF. He is also the faculty advisor for the UAF Green Bikes program, faculty member of the Master Planning Committee, and serves on the FNSB Public Transportation and FMATS Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committees. Dr. Belz’s research and expertise primarily surrounds the transportation needs of rural communities including safety data analysis and non-traditional forms of transportation and has a background in driver behavior, human factors, and GIS applications in transportation.

Billy Connor

Billy G. Connor, PE, retired from the Alaska DOT&PF after 30 years of service. He spent twenty years in AKDOT&PF’s research branch as a research engineer, ten of these as the Chief of Research for the department. His work covered a wide range of transportation activities including developing Alaska’s pavement design procedures, pavement management, maintenance and forensic engineering, permafrost, frost heave and thaw weakening research, hydraulic research including fish passage, rip rap design and development of Alaska’s Hydraulic Manual, and numerous other transportation related activities. 

Mr. Connor regularly provides training to transportation professionals in project management, permafrost design and construction, roadway design, construction and management.  He also provides training to rural Alaska village administrators in dust management techniques and road maintenance. He is also working with the Alaska DOT&PF to improve its workforce development program.

Over the last 12 years Mr Connor has been the director of the Alaska University Transportation Center.  During that time he was the director of a National University Transportation Center.  He has continued to perform research in dust management of gravel roads and airfields, permafrost research, construction management, development of a Maintenance Decision Support System for the Alaska Department of Transportation, the use of geosynthetics, development of stabilization of sands and fine grained soils and other diverse research projects.

Project Summary

Recognizing that Alaska has an incredible diversity of rural communities and indigenous cultures, UAF outreach efforts in Year 1 will be three-fold in an attempt to develop a knowledge gathering program that is as comprehensive as possible. First and foremost, UAF will develop a partnership with the Newtok Village Council in order to be a resource for their relocation project. This partnership will set the stage for discussions and dialogues with other rural and indigenous communities in the State of Alaska. Now is an incredibly opportune time to get involved with the community and help them understand what good road design can look like for very rural communities that have no experience with cars. We need from them how they plan to use their “new” roads and what they want and need out of a rural transportation system. We are being provided with the opportunity to get inside a community at the beginning of a road system development and figure out what will fit their needs and be safe considering that they are transitioning from boardwalks and ATVS to gravel roads and some automobiles.  Second, UAF will help coordinate and be involved with several meetings and summits that involve rural and indigenous partners (e.g., Alaska Federation of Natives Annual Convention, Tanana Chiefs Conference, and Alaska Tribal Transportation Symposium and Annual Meeting). Third, we will conduct community visits and listening sessions in certain locations to develop key relationships. The intent of these activities is to: 1) effectively engage relevant parties needed for future research efforts; 2) better evaluate what work has been done and what the research needs of RITI communities are; and 3) establish a baseline using existing and relevant data to inform and evaluate CSET safety efforts.




Pictured above are an ATV commuter with passenger in Fort Yukon, AK (left) and a snowmachine using the road shoulder in Nome, AK. (right).