Auburn goes virtual with 64th annual Alabama Transportation Conference

Published: Feb 23, 2021 12:00 AM

By Jeremy Henderson

Despite its virtual format, organizers say the 64th Alabama Transportation Conference held Feb. 9-11 was as successful as any in recent memory.

Developed by the Auburn University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Alabama Department of Transportation, the conference annually highlights Auburn University's regional and national prominence in transportation research and workforce development.

This year's technical sessions once again provided opportunities for nearly 1,000 federal and state highway personnel, road building contractors, general contractors, heavy construction contractors, utility contractors, county engineers, consulting engineers, construction material vendors, researchers, professional society representatives and university faculty members to share advances in transportation planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance.

Topics covered included highway safety, roadway design, emerging technologies, geotechnical engineering, asphalt pavements, construction projects and bridge engineering.

"Thanks to taking the conference online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we could deliver the conference over three days instead of one and a half, which meant that we did not have any overlapping technical sessions and could therefore offer almost double the usual professional development hours (PDHs) to our attendees," said Anton Schindler, the Mountain Spirit Professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Auburn University Highway Research Center.  "Another advantage of going virtual is that we were actually able to more easily attract and accommodate out-of-state speakers."

Schindler cited the new spotlight session as an example of the conference's widened scope.

"During the session titled 'Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) for Alabama,' our attendees were able to learn from experts with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation about successful, innovative methods that can help engineers rapidly build bridges to better serve Alabama drivers,” Schindler said.

Participation by Auburn researchers was again especially robust.

Rod Turochy, the James Madison Hunnicutt Professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Alabama Transportation Assistance Program, presided over the opening general session, which opened with remarks from Gov. Kay Ivey and Transportation Director, Mr. John Cooper.

Huaguo Zhou, the Elton Z. and Lois G. Huff Professor of civil and environmental engineering, presented successful Alabama case studies on mitigating wrong-way driving.

Jack Montgomery, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, delivered a presentation titled “Geotechnical and Geophysical Investigations of the US-231 Landslide.”

Research professor Buzz Powell, associate director and research professor at the National Center for Asphalt Technology, delivered a session titled "Balanced Mix Design: The County Experience."

Justin Marshall, director of Auburn's new $22 million Advanced Structural Engineering Laboratory, presented on "Experimental Determination of Horizontal Braking Force Distribution in Pile Bent Bridges."
“Even under extenuating circumstances, the Alabama Transportation Conference is must-attend event for Alabama's best and brightest minds in the transportation, highway, construction, design and associated industries, and has been for more than six decades," Turochy said. "We’re proud of Auburn’s role in providing the premiere event in Alabama for keeping transportation professionals up to date on the latest innovations and ideas on how to deliver the safest, most efficient transportation system possible for Alabamians."

Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson,, 334-844-3591

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