USDOT Region V Regional University Transportation Center

NEXTRANS receives $2.1 million federal transportation research grant

August 30, 2010

The NEXTRANS Center at Purdue University has been awarded a $2.1 million research grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop integrated and innovative solutions to transportation challenges by capturing the interactions between vehicle, traveler, and infrastructure.

The Purdue grant is part of $13.8 million in funding announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation earlier this month for eight University Transportation Centers (UTC) to advance research and education programs designed to address the nation's critical transportation challenges.

This NEXTRANS grant was matched with $2.1 million in additional funding from partners of the Purdue-led center. It also is separate from the DOT's $2 million annual operating grant for NEXTRANS.

"Through an integrated interdisciplinary outlook, NEXTRANS is developing solutions that leverage limited resources to address multiple goals in the transportation and logistics contexts, while preparing students for the future transportation workforce," said Srinivas Peeta, director of NEXTRANS and a Purdue civil engineering professor.

The awards were made by the DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA). UTCs conduct research that directly supports the Department of Transportation's priorities and are a critical part of the national transportation strategy.

"By investing in research at our nation's universities, we are helping to address today's transportation's needs while we train tomorrow's transportation professionals," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Funding was also awarded to transportation research centers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of California-Berkeley, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of Tennessee, University of Vermont, and a consortium of nine universities from five states for the Southeastern Transportation Center.

"Sound science and rigorous analysis provide a solid foundation for the development of transportation policy," said RITA Administrator Peter Appel. "The UTC program plays a key role in supporting collaborative research and transportation workforce development that will help us create a truly 21st century transportation system."

NEXTRANS, launched with $13 million in total funding in 2006, is focused on integrating three overall areas: mobility, safety, and infrastructure renewal, with an emphasis on developing an "intermodal transportation systems," meaning a system that efficiently coordinates the movement of freight and passengers using a combination of highways, rail, airports, waterways, and pipelines.

Researchers are working toward applying technologies and developing strategies to alleviate congestion by pursuing short-term goals that strive to use the current infrastructure more efficiently and long-term goals of improving highways and other elements of the transportation infrastructure.

The center, which is administered by Purdue's Discovery Park, is one of ten university transportation centers in the nation's ten federal transportation regions. NEXTRANS covers the U.S. Department of Transportation's Region V, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

NEXTRANS is led by Purdue with major partnerships with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Ohio State University. The center's non-university partners include the Indiana Department of Transportation, Illinois Department of Transportation, Ohio Department of Transportation, state Local Technical Assistance Programs, and Ports of Indiana within the public sector. The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, NAVTEQ, Delphi, Motorola, and SemMaterials are among NEXTRANS' private sector partners.

UTCs maintain vital partnerships with regional, state and local transportation agencies to help find solutions to challenges impacting their local communities. In addition, RITA's UTC Program is now leading the efforts to develop a National Transportation Workforce Development Strategy to ensure our nation has access to a diverse, multi-disciplinary, and highly skilled workforce capable of meeting the needs of a 21st century transportation system.

RITA provides $81 million in annual funding to 136 colleges and universities conducting transportation research and providing the training needed to manage today's modern transportation infrastructure through the UTC program. UTC colleges and universities trained 32,000 practicing transportation professionals in 2009.

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