US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has announced US$300.3m in grants to 32 University Transportation Centers (UTCs) to advance research and education programs that address critical transportation challenges facing the USA.
The work of UTCs will help the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) meet the impacts outlined in the ‘Beyond Traffic’ report, which documents the trends and challenges to the country’s transportation system over the next 30 years. Combined with the projects resulting from agency’s ‘Smart City Challenge’ competition, and programs such as the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Program and the Mobility-on-Demand Sandbox, USDOT is using multiple programs to bring innovative transportation solutions to cities across the country. To support the agency’s work, the UTC funding includes awards of up to US$72.5m for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, and subsequent awards using Federal FY17-FY20 funding will be made annually, subject to availability of funds and grantee compliance with grant terms and conditions.
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) specifies six research priorities that UTCs selected through this competition must address:
Improving mobility of people and goods;
Improving the durability and extending the life of transportation infrastructure;
Preserving the environment;
Preserving the existing transportation system.
Each UTC is a consortium of two- and four-year colleges and universities that come together to form a unique center of transportation excellence on a specific research topic.
Consistent with the FAST Act, the UTC program supports applied and academic research on national transportation priorities at up to 35 competitively-selected colleges and university consortia across the USA, currently encompassing over 100 institutions of higher education. This year, for the first time, two-year institutions of higher education were eligible to partner in the UTC consortia as they work with regional, state, and local transportation agencies and private sector partners to help find solutions to challenges that directly impact their communities, and affect the efficiency of the nation’s transportation system, while educating the next generation of transportation professionals.
“Our nation faces unprecedented challenges from population growth, a changing climate, and increasing freight volumes. Universities are at the forefront of identifying solutions, researching critical emerging issues, and ensuring improved access to opportunity for all Americans,” said Foxx.
“This competition supports the future transportation workforce by providing students with opportunities to take part in cutting-edge research with leading experts in the field. Through the USDOT University Transportation Centers Grant Program, we’ve witnessed tremendous interest in propelling our aging transportation system into a cleaner, more efficient and connected future.
“Since 1987, the UTC program has funded critical academic research on issues vital to the long-term safety and vitality of the nation’s transportation system, while opening doors for men and women who want to use their careers to do something about it. That’s why I am pleased to announce the recipients of over US$300m in five-year grants to 32 UTCs.”