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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Folks here know that the convergence of two interstate highways, local traffic and frequent construction can make West Knoxville traffic a headache of congestion and delays.

Jennifer Harper knows it, and she’s doing something about it.

Harper, a graduate student in transportation engineering at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, is working on a computerized laboratory simulation of West Knoxville traffic that could help reduce the area’s traffic problems.

Harper, a UT-Knoxville civil engineering graduate, is working as a UT-Knoxville graduate research assistant for Oak Ridge National Laboratory. She is setting up a computer network that will enable engineers to create a laboratory simulation of West Knoxville traffic.

The project will allow traffic engineers to predict how road blocks and other stoppages on I-40 in West Knoxville will affect traffic in other areas. It will allow engineers to operate signs on the interstate that can be changed via computer to give traffic instructions to motorists.

Harper, a Chattanooga native with a 4.0 grade point average as a UT-Knoxville graduate student, has been recognized by the Southeastern Transportation Center as the Southeast’s top transportation student.

Dr. Steve Richards, who heads the UT Transportation

Center and the STC, said Harper and nine other regional award winners will be honored Jan. 8 at the U.S. Department of Transportation annual research board meeting in Washington, D.C.

The STC is a federal DOT-sponsored research group representing Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North and South Carolina and Tennessee, Richards said. It includes several universities in the region and is headed by the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

“Talented students like Jennifer Harper are the key to ensuring safe and efficient transportation now and in the future,” Richards said. “We are very proud to have one of our students win this award.”

Dr. Fred Wegmann, UT-Knoxville civil engineering professor, said Harper’s thesis project will review traffic court procedures in Tennessee and establish communications links between court officials. Her goal is to publish a reference manual for traffic court officials and to produce an information and training home page on the World Wide Web.

Other projects in which Harper has been involved include:

* Developing a strategic plan for the Traffic Record Improvement Program for the State of Tennessee.

* Working with ORNL to develop transportation safety plans for a uranium cleanup operation in Utah.

* Helping ORNL conduct an environmental impact statement on proposed alternatives to a section of the Foothills Parkway in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Harper is president of the UT Student Chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers and founder of the

student chapter of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.


Contact: Dr. Steve Richards (423-974-5255)