The U.S. Department of Transportation's Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) today announced approximately $63 million in grants to 33 University Transportation Centers (UTCs) to advance research and education programs that address critical transportation challenges facing our nation.
"University transportation centers are key to helping us address today's transportation needs, from environmental sustainability to safety," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "The participating universities are a critical part of our national transportation strategy and to developing a professional workforce with the expertise and knowledge to tackle the challenges of the future."
The UTCs conduct research that directly supports the priorities of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to promote the safe, efficient and environmentally sound movement of good and people. 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. UTCs may be a single institution or a consortium of two or more non-profit institutions of higher education led by one lead institution.
Reflecting the popularity of the program, more than 142 applications were submitted to RITA. The grants being announced include five National UTCs, which address national transportation issues in line with DOT's key strategic goals, with awards of $2.8 million each. Eight Regional UTCs, which focus on regional transportation needs, received awards of $2.59 million each. Twenty additional UTCs received awards of $1.4 million each.
"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 Acting Administrator Gregory Winfree.
UTCs work with regional, state, local and tribal transportation agencies to help find solutions to challenges that directly impact their communities and affect the efficiency of the nation's transportation system. Pursuant to MAP-21, the Department is, to the maximum extent practicable, consulting external stakeholders to evaluate proposals. The selected universities will research a wide range of transportation-related issues including: improving health and safety for all users of the transportation system, including bicycles, pedestrians and transit modes; reducing carbon emissions and other environmental impacts of transportation through a transition to zero-emission vehicles and fuels; and evaluating how increasingly autonomous vehicles affect driver behavior, safety and performance.