A consortium including Boise State University has been awarded a five-year, $14 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. This year’s funding is $2,570,600; the annual funding will increase by a small amount every year.
PacTrans is one of 10 regional University Transportation Centers (UTCs) in the country and includes University of Washington (the lead institution), Boise State University, University of Idaho, Gonzaga University, Washington State University, Oregon State University and University of Alaska at Fairbanks.
“The UTC program is not new but this is the first time that Boise State University has had the opportunity to participate in it,” said Mandar Khanal, associate professor of civil engineering. “This is a great opportunity for the civil engineering program at Boise State to establish a strong educational and research program in transportation. It is an exciting time.”
The grant, which will be matched by companies as well as local and regional agencies, will be used to study mobility challenges in the region. These include things like bike and pedestrian safety, traffic congestion, improving access for people with disabilities and exploring rural transportation options.
The group has been tasked with advancing transportation “through education, solutions-oriented research and technology transfer, and the exploration and sharing of cutting-edge ideas and approaches.” The universities involved also may partner with industry and others with a strong interest in improving mobility of people and goods across the region.
Areas of research include: creating a more resilient transportation system; developing data, models and tools; utilizing the infrastructure more efficiently; improving safety and expanding mobility; and educating the next-generation workforce.
Boise State will work with the National Institute for Advanced Transportation at the University of Idaho on projects funded by this award in Idaho.
The UTC program, which began in 1988, was authorized by the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987 and has continued to be supported by subsequent transportation funding bills. The current program is funded by President Obama’s Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and is focused on maintaining existing and establishing new initiatives in research, education and workforce development, and technology transfer.