US Dept. of Transportation announces US$72.5M in funding for US universities to conduct transportation research, develop next generation of transportation professionals

Cindy Allen

Cindy Allen

Dec 21, 2012 – U.S. Dept. of Transportation

WOONSOCKET, Rhode Island , December 21, 2012 (press release) – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Transportation Administration (RITA) today announced that $72.5 million in funding will be available to eligible nonprofit institutions of higher education to establish and operate University Transportation Centers (UTCs). RITA previously solicited public comment on requirements for awarding the grants.

The UTC Program awards grants to universities across the United States to conduct state-of-the-art transportation research and develop the next generation of transportation professionals. Selections will be announced in mid-2013.

“These transportation centers will be key in addressing today’s transportation and infrastructure needs and help us develop a professional workforce trained to tackle the challenges of the future,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Authorized by Congress under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the UTC Program provides approximately $72.5 million for each of fiscal years 2013 and 2014 for up to 35 competitive grants. As laid out in MAP-21, during both years the Department plans to competitively select five national UTCs with an award of $3 million each, ten regional UTCs with an award of $2.75 million each, and up to 20 Tier I UTCs with an award of $1.5 million each. Funding is subject to congressional appropriations.

“These funds will support UTC programs that provide students with real opportunities to take part in cutting-edge research and to work on transportation issues with leading experts in the field,” said RITA Deputy Administrator Gregory D. Winfree.

UTCs work with regional, state, and local transportation agencies to help find solutions to challenges that directly impact their communities and affect the efficiency of the nation’s transportation system. Past UTC projects include a 2012 Rahall Transportation Institute study that identified substantial economic benefits from using public-private partnerships for construction of the I-73/74 National Highway System Corridor in West Virginia. In addition, a transit-focused research study from the University of South Florida helped develop a mobile application for GPS-enabled cell phones that assist transit riders with disabilities in navigating public transportation systems in Florida.

Interested universities will have 90 days to submit their applications. Selections will be announced next year.

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