USDOT Region V Regional University Transportation Center

Center Director's Summary

The vision of the NEXTRANS Center is to seek integrated and sustainable transportation solutions across multiple stakeholders, and address them in the context of the research, education, workforce development, and technology transfer goals of the Center. The Center will foster the principles of integration and sustainability in developing solutions that range from concepts to deployment in the context of policy, planning, design, implementation, operations, maintenance, and management of transportation-related needs.

Congestion is an ever-increasing phenomenon, especially in the large urban areas and key corridors of the medium/small towns. It leads to energy wastage at a time when the nation can least afford it, has long-term negative environmental consequences, creates a transportation chokepoint in the national economy, and reduces U.S. global competitiveness. A sustainable solution does not seem to exist as congestion is fast outpacing the rate of infrastructure investment. However, the congestion problem does present opportunities for “out-of-the-box” thinking in generating multimodal and intermodal solutions that are more effective and cost-efficient and can leverage public transportation assets. Innovative congestion solutions represent a key motivation for our Center vision.

Safety is a primary goal for any transportation system, whether rural or urban. The fatalities, injuries, and destruction of property caused by traffic accidents motivate the need for newer paradigms that mitigate and, ideally, eliminate safety concerns. Research directly links safety with traffic elements such as congestion, infrastructure design and condition, and human error and vehicle human factor issues. The NEXTRANS Center seeks a multi-faceted integrated approach to addressing safety concerns that analyzes the relationship between safety, mobility, and the infrastructure, as well as between the vehicle and the driver.

Infrastructure addition, maintenance, and renewal are important components in addressing mobility and safety aspects of the national transportation system. One actively promoted approach, intelligent transportation systems, leverages technology to increase infrastructure utilization efficiency. Infrastructure renewal is gaining strategic importance due to its interdependence with safety and mobility goals. The NEXTRANS Center seeks integrated solutions for infrastructure renewal and addition and explores innovative financing strategies that attract private sector investment and foster public-private partnerships for public infrastructure.

Region V shares national needs for mobility, safety, and infrastructure renewal that are amplified by significant regional freight transportation demands and reflect this region’s unique economic characteristics and potential strengths. We have identified an efficient and secure intermodal freight transportation system as a strategic regional transportation need that will be a focus of the Center. We will emphasize transportation issues arising from the agricultural economy of this region, transportation aspects related to biofuels, the rejuvenation of the auto and ancillary industry, intermodal freight issues related to national and global logistics, and the emerging transportation mode of very light jets. In this context, we will address the design and operation of intermodal infrastructure, public-private partnerships, innovative financial schemes, policy issues, VII infrastructure and active safety, and the interplay between the very light jet mode and rural economic development.

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