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Transportation center receives federal funding boost

Researchers at the College of Engineering and other Midwest universities received nearly $1 million Wednesday from the U.S. Department of Transportation to continue their studies into highways, road safety and infrastructure needs.

Samuel Bonasso, acting administrator of the Department of Transportation's Research and Special Programs Administration, presented the Midwest Regional University Transportation Center (MRUTC) with a check for $916,000 for its programs and research. Bonasso visited with center staff and researchers during National Transportation Week.

The center, which includes faculty and staff at seven Midwest universities and colleges, is based at the College of Engineering and affiliated with its Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Bonasso praised MRUTC faculty and staff for their willingness to tackle many of the difficult transportation and infrastructure issues facing the country.

"I am impressed with the integrated nature of what you're doing," he says during an afternoon meeting with MRUTC officials, which was followed by a tour of transportation-related activities on the College of Engineering campus. "You have a sense intuitively of integration and it's profoundly important."

The grant from the federal government will allow the center to continue its research into a variety of transportation issues, including winter highway operations, managing infrastructure through data derived from remote sensors, and road surface safety issues.

Bonasso, whose DOT administration oversees transportation safety issues, also noted the center's work incorporates many of the themes highlighted in proposed federal transportation legislation that emphasizes safety and infrastructure improvements.

"You are the architects of the future of a nation on the move," he says. "Together we can make the 21st century the transportation century."