Vermont Local Roads and New Hampshire LTAP held the fourth workshop in the pilot Transportation Systems Academy held at Northeast Correctional Facility in Newport, Vt. on January 14. The workshop “Basics of a Good Road,” gave the 18 students in attendance an overview of what it takes to establish and maintain a road in good working order. Topics covered included the importance of drainage and drainage systems, road design and materials, and preventive maintenance.
The course was taught jointly by Steve Jerome, Vermont Local Roads Circuit Rider and Butch Leel, Technical Support Assistant at the UNH Technology Transfer Center. “A good built and designed road is built from the bottom up,” Leel said to the students.
The many questions generated by the students sparked discussions on icing, maintenance cost and homeowner driveway installation. The class was able to view video footage of a failed culvert and the formation of a frost heave.
The TSA began in October 2009 and consists of nine workshops. Five topics will be covered by Vermont Local Roads. The grant funded program, the first of its kind in the nation, is possible through a partnership between Vermont Local Roads, the UVM Transportation Research Center, Maine Dept. of Transportation, Vermont Agency of Transportation, UNH Technology Transfer Center, Vermont Dept. of Corrections, Community High School of Vermont and the Vermont Chapter of AARP.
The program’s goal is to offer hands-on training to students in state correctional systems and at technical high schools to expose the students to the transportation sector. Up to 50 percent of the existing state, local and federal transportation workforce will be eligible to retire in the next five to fifteen years. The Department of Corrections Community High School of Vermont enrolls over 4,100 students and is an untapped potential source of workers to enter the transportation industry. The multidisciplinary nature of today’s transportation needs and solutions coupled with the changing workforce demographics in the coming decade highlight the importance of strong educational programs. The TSA is one way to help meet workforce needs in a time when limited funding is available to public works agencies.
Vermont Local Roads will conduct a Work Zone Flagging class March 11 for the TSA at the Northeast Correctional Facility. We are hopeful that TSA students will be able to take part in job shadows in the transportation workforce following graduation and their release. If you are interested in hosting a job shadow please let us at Vermont Local Roads know and we can help to coordinate it.