US Transportation Secretary, Elaine L Chao, has completed the official ground-breaking of the new US Department of Transportation (USDOT) John A Volpe Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Volpe Center currently occupies approximately 14 acres of land in the Kendall Square section of the city. Following the conclusion of a two-phase solicitation process, the US General Services Administration (GSA) entered into an Exchange Agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which will pay US$750m to design and construct a state-of-the-art-facility for Volpe on approximately four acres of land. In exchange, the portion of the property no longer needed by the federal government will be conveyed to MIT for mixed-use development. The new facility will replace Volpe’s six existing buildings and surface parking lots with an energy efficient structure accompanied by underground parking and approximately 100 bicycle parking spaces. The new facility will meet LEED Gold v.4 standards, focusing on sustainability.
A leader in transportation systems, analysis, and innovation, the USDOT’s Volpe Center is flexible and responsive to the needs and strategic goals of the Department and the priorities of the Secretary of Transportation. The Volpe Center is a unique federal organization that is 100% funded by sponsored projects. Although the majority of its work is sponsored by USDOT, the Volpe Center also lends key technical support to over a dozen other federal agencies including the US Department of Defence, NASA, Department of the Interior, and Department of Homeland Security, as well as state and local governments. Since its founding in 1970, the Volpe Center has established a rich legacy of looking beyond the horizon to anticipate emerging and future transportation challenges and technologies.
“The Volpe Center’s multidisciplinary workforce supports all facets of the Department of Transportation’s mission, including safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems and commercial space vehicles into the National Airspace System; developing, testing, and evaluating automated mobility applications; and ensuring the safety and reliability of terrestrial-based global positioning systems, to give just a few examples,” said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, USDOT’s deputy assistant secretary for research and technology. “No other center can match Volpe’s impressive concentration of multimodal transportation expertise.”
The Volpe Center’s director, Anne Aylward, said, “This innovative opportunity will allow the US Department of Transportation to strengthen the Volpe Center’s technical capabilities at no cost to taxpayers and continue our important work. For 50 years, the Center’s extensive cross-modal partnerships have led to innovative solutions that advance national and global transportation systems for the public good. We look forward to working with the transportation enterprise to meet the nation’s current and future needs and priorities.”
Transportation Secretary Chao, added, “This new facility will provide important research in transportation technologies, and help create policies that will increase safety and protect lives.”