Following the announcement of US$300m funding for 32 University Transportation Centers (UTCs) earlier this week, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is now looking for institutions to study future transport trends.
Building on the US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) future-focused Beyond Traffic draft report that was released in early 2015 and outlined upcoming trends for the next 30 years, Foxx has now announced a solicitation for applicants to be designated as USDOT Beyond Traffic Innovation Centers (BTIC). These Centers will be capable of driving solutions to the challenges identified in Beyond Traffic through research, curriculum, outreach and other activities. With the USA’s transportation system experiencing repeated impacts due to population growth, changes in climate, a stressed freight network, the emergence of urban ‘megaregions’, and inaction to address these impacts, such a discourse could not come at a more crucial time.
Developed by a team of USDOT experts, with input from the public, Beyond Traffic was a comprehensive examination of the country’s transportation system, highlighting several challenges, including 45% more freight on the roads and 70 million more people living in the USA by 2045. In the autumn of 2015 Foxx and his team traveled to 11 emerging megaregions to solicit feedback on the report, which revealed the gaps in opportunity exacerbated by disparities in transportation access and past infrastructure decisions.
The designated BTICs will help to continue this conversation in their respective megaregions through curriculum, workforce training, outreach events and research focused on the future of our transportation system.
Applications are open to non-profit organizations or non-profit institutions of higher education, including UTCs, and must be submitted by December 21, 2016. The solicitation notes that designation as a BTIC is not an award of Federal financial assistance.
“Beyond Traffic launched a national conversation about how our country will change in the next 30 years, often in ways that seriously test our transportation system,” said Foxx. “Our educational institutions are critical to helping us solve these challenges. These designations will create a community of forward-thinking researchers, students and thought leaders, who will play an important role in ensuring our economy continues to grow, as we protect our planet and the American people through a safe, strong and sustainable transportation network for decades to come.
“They will address the following questions: How will we build a transportation system to accommodate a growing population and changing travel patterns? How will we reduce freight chokepoints that drive up costs? How will we knock down barriers to new technologies that promise to make travel safer and more convenient? How will we make our infrastructure resilient to more frequent catastrophic weather events? How will we grow opportunity for all Americans? And how will we invest the trillions of dollars our transportation system needs in the smartest way possible? I am announcing a call for applications for entities who want to join this effort as officially designated BTICs. I encourage all entities that are eligible to submit a proposal.”