Tuesday, December 06, 2016

USDOT awards $300M for UTC grants

USDOT awards $300M for UTC grants UTC

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced Dec. 5 that $300.3 million in grants will go to 32 university transportation centers (UTCs) to accelerate research and education programs dealing with the county’s transportation challenges. 

 

 

The announcement includes awards of as much as $72.5 million for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. Representatives say additional funding will be made available through awards allotted in years to come using Federal FY17–FY20 funds, which will be contingent on the availability of funds and recipients’ compliance with grant terms and conditions.

“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 Secretary 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.” 

This round of UTC grants will establish a new rail-focused program. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) plans to create a Tier-1 UTC to facilitate studies of rail infrastructure through support from a $1.4 million federal grant. UNLV will collaborate with the University of Delaware and Virginia Tech to analyze design, construction and maintenance efficiencies for future high-speed rail projects.

UTCs is expected to aid the U.S. with their work to address the country’s transportation needs as outlined in Beyond Traffic, a draft report detailing trends and obstacles for the nation’s transportation systems throughout the next three decades. Paired with the $40 million Smart City Challenge competition and programs such as the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Program and the Mobility-on-Demand Sandbox, the U.S. Department of Transportation aims to bolster several programs to yield innovative transportation solutions for cities nationwide.

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) specifies six research priorities which UTCs selected through the competition must address: improving mobility of people and goods; reducing congestion; promoting safety; improving the durability and extending the life of transportation infrastructure; preserving the environment; and preserving the existing transportation system. 

Nine of the grant recipients chosen through the competition are receiving their first UTC program grants, and representatives say 30 partners in the grantee consortia are Minority Serving Institutions and seven partners are two-year institutions.

Two-year institutions of higher education also became eligible to partner in the UTC consortia for the first time this year. UTCs work with regional, state and local transportation agencies and partners in the private sector to help find solutions to challenges in their communities that impact the nation’s transportation system efficiencies.

The complete list of 2016 UTC grant recipients is available here

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