Civil and Environmental Engineering


First Advisor

Laurence R. Rilett

Second Advisor

Sharon Medcalf

Date of this Version


Document Type



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Civil Engineering, Under the Supervision of Professor Laurence Rilett. Lincoln, Nebraska: May 2021

Copyright 2021 Sydney James


Rural counties and Native American Reservations often lack the resources and planning to respond to a hazardous material release which can cause catastrophic results. Many rural counties and Native American Reservations do not have close access to a fire department or medical facility, which would increase response times during a time of crisis. Jurisdiction issues further complicate the matter since Native American Reservations are sovereign nations,.

Thurston County, home to two Native American Reservations, served as a case study to perform a safety analysis for vehicles transporting hazardous material. Stakeholders within the county from tribal, county, and state levels were surveyed to determine jurisdiction, as well as awareness and preparedness in regards to a hazardous material release event. It was concluded Thurston County is likely underreporting crash data, an issue common among Reservations. Even with underreported crash data, it was determined fatal crashes and crashes involving pedestrians or alcohol were also overrepresented. Using a crash tree analysis, it was determined crashes involving vehicles transporting hazardous material occurred most often at highway intersections. This finding was further confirmed by a hot spot analysis performed in GIS for HazMat crashes within the state of Nebraska. This analysis showed crash hot spots along Highway 77 from the village of Walthill to Winnebago, and around the village of Pender. Based on the results of the crash tree analysis and GIS analysis, countermeasures were identified from the Crash Modification Factors Clearinghouse. The countermeasures may decrease the likelihood of a crash. Further research is recommended.

Advisor: Laurence Rilett