Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thundersnow, Traffic Anarchy, and the Disaster Recovery and Mitigation Planning and Resilience Panel at TRB

I caught the 3PM flight out of Reagan National Airport yesterday as many of the later flights were being canceled. I had the pleasure of having our congressmen, Richard Neal and John Olver, being on the same flight so I figured that we would make it to Bradley airport on time and we did (Thanks to Republic Air / USAIRWAYS)! I had flown to DC for the Transportation Research Board (TRB) meeting to speak on a panel (appropriate title, I might add -- see below).

This TRB annual meeting had attracted 10,000 transportation professionals from around the globe. This past Wednesday I arrived to no snow and 45 degree temperature with joggers in shorts! What a difference a day made! Thundersnow arrived yesterday shortly after our plane took off and paralyzed DC after 4PM! The Washington Post is reporting that it took some commuters 13 hours to make it home! People were stuck for hours on the parkway with The Post calling the gridlock -- traffic anarchy! And less than 24 hours before, President Obama had given his State of the Union speech in DC!

According to The Post: In the District, at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Albemarle Street NW in Van Ness, buses and cars were tangled in every direction, blocking the intersection for hours. One bus blocked three lanes of Connecticut Avenue for more than two hours. A pair of Metrobus drivers - who declined to identify themselves because they said they were not authorized to speak to reporters - called it the worst travel conditions they have seen in the city during their combined 23 years behind the wheel. (I stayed in a fabulous hotel -- the Normandy Hotel -- just off of Connecticut Avenue and had checked out only hours before. I told the reservations desk clerks that if my flight was canceled I would be back.)

Event Number:700
Event Title:Disaster Recovery and Mitigation Planning and Resilience
Event Date:Jan 26 2011 10:15AM- 12:00PM
Event Location:Hilton, Lincoln West
Presiding Officers: Murray-Tuite, Pamela - Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Sponsored By: Policy and Organization (AB000)
Critical Transportation Infrastructure Protection (ABE40)
Planning and Environment (AD000)

Event Description:Transportation systems throughout the world are greatly affected by natural disasters and human-created events. These systems are critical for daily activities and the economy. The magnitude of the U.S. transportation infrastructure makes protecting it extremely challenging and costly. This special session highlights innovative approaches to disaster recovery planning and assesses improving transportation infrastructure resilience to extreme events.

Update on TRB Activities (P11-1419)
Western, Jeffrey L. - Western Management and Consulting, LLC
Building Resilience into Fragile Transportation Networks in an Era of Increasing Disaster (P11-1394)
Nagurney, Anna - University of Massachusetts
Infrastructure: Critical Link and Cutting Edge for Disaster Recovery and Mitigation (P11-1397)
Zimmerman, Rae - New York University
Learning from the Haiti Reconstruction Efforts (P11-1399)
Lissade, Herby - California Department of Transportation
U.K. Perspective (P11-1464)
Kollamthodi, Sujith - AEA Group, United Kingdom

The panel and discussions were fantastic and I took copious notes. As the panelists noted, one never knows when the next disaster will strike (with the snowstorm unveiling before our eyes shortly thereafter). The interconnectedness of our critical infrastructure systems was also emphasized (and 422,000 lost power yesterday on the DC area because of the snowstorm)! We are truly in the era of supernetworks!

Since I have had requests, I have posted my presentation on this link. And, yes, I mentioned the price of anarchy for traffic in my talk and how it is related to the indices that we have developed in our research to identify the most critical nodes and links in various network systems from transportation ones to the Internet, electric power networks, and even financial ones.

I wish all the TRB conferees safe travels back to their homes! It was great to see so many wonderful colleagues from throughout the US and abroad in DC!