Developing and adopting innovative technologies to solve America's transportation challenges takes time and money. But before that, we need outstanding research. And where better to do research than the many respected universities spread across the country?
Today, our Research and Innovative Technology Administration is announcing grants to 22 University Transportation Centers (UTCs) to advance research and education programs that address the critical transportation challenges facing our nation. Research at these programs directly supports DOT priorities, and the participating universities are a critical part of our national transportation strategy.
At DOT, we're proud of the 25-year history of our UTC program. From congestion relief to safer driving and more durable infrastructure, the work done by students and faculty at these institutions has become crucial to shaping the progress of our nation's transportation. In the past year UTC’s have worked on projects as varied as traffic forecasting, bridge replacement and a “Trusted Truck” wireless inspection system. The proposals awarded grants this year involve research into a wide range of transportation-related issues including distracted driving, shared rail corridors, innovations in multimodal freight and infrastructure, bridge inspection methods, and reducing roadway fatalities and injuries.
The competitive process used to select this year's grants was more rigorous than ever. And, it put a premium on collaboration by encouraging each UTC to form a consortium with at least one other school. The awardees include ten UTCs, two Transit-Focused UTCs, and ten Regional UTCs. Altogether, 121 different schools will participate in UTC research.
The designated UTCs will work with regional, state and local transportation agencies to develop real solutions to challenges that directly affect their communities as well as the nation’s transportation system. By working to solve local problems, UTCs also provide a snapshot of what innovations can work most effectively for America. And, by involving undergraduate and graduate students directly in this important work, UTCs are also developing the transportation professionals of the future.
As Acting RITA Administrator Greg Winfree said, “We're excited about the proposals these consortia put forward. They have the potential to advance basic and applied transportation research today and ensure a robust pipeline of professionals for the transportation workforce of tomorrow.”
Whether we think about it or not, transportation matters in all of our lives each and every day. And the work these research centers do will help us solve the transportation challenges we face today and those that we know lay ahead of us. The UTC program helps keep our country moving forward.