photo of a car with headlights shining driving down a road

Session No. 5C

Session Title:  From Distribution to Digestion: Solving a "Bunch" of Problems

Session Description: In the next 25 years, population is expected to grow by 20 percent, but growth in freight vehicle miles traveled is expected to top 60 percent. Is the traveling public ready for this? Are the transportation agencies ready for this? As ports expand, and commercial vehicles increase on our roads, how are we addressing issues related to traffic capacity, safety, and communications? 

This session offers a panel discussion from a variety of perspectives in which we will identify and discuss the challenges of an everyday item, such as a bunch of bananas, traveling from the trees of Costa Rica to your kitchen in Pennsylvania. The panelists will include representatives from the Pennsylvania and Virginia Departments of Transportation, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, the Freight Logistics Industry, and Jacobs.

Moderator: Eric Sponsler, Jacobs

  • Dan Whetzel, Emergency Incident Management Section Cheif, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
  • Chris Lawrence, Principal Port Engineer, Jacobs
  • Carmela Hinderaker, Senior Director of Business Continuity and Customer Support, C&S Wholesale Grocers
  • Todd Leiss, Traffic Incident Management Coordinator, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
  • Michael D. Fontaine, P.E., Ph.D., Associate Director, Safety, Operations, and Traffic Engineering, Virginia Transportation Research Council


Speaker Bios

Dan Whetzel has worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for more than 12 years. Since 2017, he has been the section chief for Emergency Incident Management in PennDOT Central Office. Prior to this position, Whetzel was an Assistant Highway Manager for Mercer County and previously held the position of foreman where he headed up their incident response team. Through the department, he is a state fire instructor and teaches various incident response courses both inside PennDOT as well as outside organizations. Outside of PennDOT, he has been a volunteer firefighter for 15 years holding various titles including assistant chief.

Chris Lawrence is Principal Port Engineer for Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. With more than 30 years of experience in transportation infrastructure engineering, he has managed development or redevelopment programs at major container terminals throughout the mid-Atlantic and Northeast US, in addition to Central and South America. He is currently managing development of the Paulsboro Marine Terminal as a multi-purpose breakbulk facility on the Delaware River. He has successfully led all stages of port development, from initial planning and alternative development, through basic studies, design and final construction.  Lawrence has specialized expertise in site development and cost-effective ground improvement measures frequently required at waterfront locations. He has led the planning of intermodal facilities and support yards associated with many of these facilities.

Carmela Hinderaker is the Senior Director of Business Continuity and Customer Support at C&S Wholesale Grocers. She monitors threats to the largest wholesale grocer’s nationwide network and facilitates the multi-departmental planning and response to business disruptions. She also develops contingency plans with customers and suppliers and coordinates with government partners to keep the food supply chain intact. Born and raised in Mississippi, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina compelled her to the field of emergency management. She became a planner in the New York City Office of Emergency Management and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. During her time there, she developed more than 30 response plans for New York City and the surrounding region. Hinderaker also has experience in planning exercises. As the Training & Exercise Coordinator for the Boston Mayor's Office of Emergency Management, she led Urban Shield 2014: Boston, a continuous 24-hour, full-scale exercise that included 1,000 participants. Additionally, she is a trained Planning Section Chief and has worked multiple incidents including the Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Boston Marathon Bombings, Hurricane Sandy, and the H1N1 epidemic.

Todd Leiss is the Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Coordinator in the Traffic Engineering and Operations Department for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC). Prior to becoming the PTC TIM Coordinator, he worked as an Operations Center Duty Officer for more than 15 years in the PTC Traffic Operations Center. Prior to his tenure at the PTC he worked as an emergency dispatcher at the Derry Township Police Department and at Lebanon County 911. Leiss is a former volunteer firefighter, emergency medical technician and hazardous material team member. Leiss is a 2018 graduate of the I-95 Corridor Coalition Operations Academy, a 2019 graduate of the I-95 Corridor Coalition Freight Academy and was named the 2018 ITS-Pennsylvania Person of the Year and the 2019 Cumberland Valley Volunteer Fireman Association Past President Joseph Bukowski Responder Safety Award for Highway Safety.

Mike Fontaine is the Associate Director for the Safety, Operations, and Traffic Engineering team at the Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC), where he manages the Virginia DOT’s research program in safety, traffic operations, intelligent transportation systems, and connected and automated vehicles. He is also a member of the graduate faculty at the University of Virginia, where he teaches graduate classes in transportation data analysis and highway safety. Prior to joining VTRC, Fontaine worked at Old Dominion University, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, and as a local traffic engineer. He holds a doctoral degree from the University of Virginia. 




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Thursday, December 12, 2019

1:30 to 3:00 p.m.

Room 207

Note: Select presentations are available in PDF format for download by clicking on the highlighted link for each title. If a link is not shown, the presentation was too large to be uploaded to the website.



The Transportation Engineering and Safety Conference (TESC) attracts professionals from throughout Pennsylvania, the mid-Atlantic region, and the country. It is an authoritative source of information on pressing issues from some of the foremost experts in transportation today.

Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute

201 Transportation Research Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4710

Phone: 814-865-1891