Last month Martin Leak attended the Transportation Research Board (TRB) AGM in Washington DC. We asked him to report back:

Q: Martin, what was it like?

ML: It was huge! Over 11,000 transport professionals from around the globe were there, and 10% of those were from outside America.

Q: Who were all those people?

ML: Well, it’s primarily a gathering place for the influencing parties – This includes people involved in scoping and undertaking research across the whole Transportation spectrum. Most of them were from governments, universities and of course, consultancies.

Q: So, what can the people from outside America learn?

ML: Firstly it’s important to realise that Europe and especially America have greater funding than New Zealand for investment in research and technology. As many of their transport problems are similar to ours, we can benefit from their research and learn about all the latest issues and solutions from both the States and Europe.

Q: What was the best paper you heard?

ML: Well, the great thing is that many of the sessions are discussions rather than someone delivering a paper. It is much more interactive. You can sit in and learn about the latest research from an entire research team and even participate in the debate!

Q: So what did you learn?

ML: I gained a lot from a session that looked at new forms of construction and maintenance going on around the world. There was another on ultra high performance concrete materials being developed for bridging. I also heard a suggestion on how to ease congestion that we have not previously tried in NZ and there was a preventative pavement management system that seemed pretty successful.

Q: Personal highlights?

ML: It was great to be amongst the decision-makers and get an understanding of the thinking behind the problems and where the solutions have come from. Also, I was asked to be on the International Road Safety Committee, which is committed to improving road safety for vehicles, roads and legislation.