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Associate professor will co-lead national evacuation planning study


BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 18, 2006 – A team of experts co-led by Thomas W. Sanchez, College of Architecture and Urban Studies Associate Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning and research fellow in the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech in Alexandria, Va., will evaluate evacuation plans and develop tools and policies for training professionals across the nation on how to better prepare cities for evacuating residents in the event of natural and terrorist disasters.

Many city dwellers—especially the elderly, disabled and poor—live without access to cars, which proves problematic in the event of an evacuation, as the nation witnessed during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, La. According to the 2000 Census, 56 percent of New Yorkers, 37 percent of Washingtonians, 36 percent of Philadelphians, 35 percent of Bostonians, 29 percent of Chicagoans, and 29 percent of San Franciscoians do not have cars. In New Orleans, 27 percent of the residents were car-less. The team will work on evacuation solutions via a nationally competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration.

The team’s co-principal investigator is John L. Renne, assistant professor in the University of New Orleans (UNO) Department of Planning and Urban Studies and associate director of the UNO Transportation Center. The team also includes: Shirley Laska, professor of sociology and director of the UNO Center for Hazards Assessment, Response, and Technology; Brian Wolshon, associate professor of civil engineering at Louisiana State University (LSU) and a researcher with LSU's Transportation Research Laboratory; Todd Litman, of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in Victoria British Columbia; Judith Espinosa, of the ATR Institute at the University of New Mexico; and Jacky Grimshaw, of the Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago.

In coordination with this project, a National Conference on Disaster Planning for the Carless Society is planned to be held at UNO, Feb. 8 and 9, 2007.

Sanchez, a resident of Dumfries, Va., received a doctorate degree from Georgia Tech, in Atlanta; a master’s degree from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California; and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California in Santa Barbara.

The College of Architecture and Urban Studies is one of the largest of its type in the nation. The college is composed of two schools and the departments of landscape architecture, building construction, and art and art history. The School of Architecture + Design includes programs in architecture, industrial design and interior design. The School of Public and International Affairs includes programs in urban affairs and planning, public administration and policy, and government and international affairs. The college enrolls more than 2,000 students offering 25 degrees taught by 160 faculty members.