AUSTIN, Texas — The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded a five-year, multimillion dollar grant to the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin and its consortium partners to fund a transportation center that will aim to enhance mobility in megaregions, such as the Texas triangle between Dallas, San Antonio and Houston.
The School of Architecture will receive $1.4 million for the 2016-17 fiscal year, with subsequent awards through 2020. The grant is one of 32 that will be awarded to lead consortia under the DOT’s University Transportation Centers program.
The research will address critical transportation challenges in megaregion planning such as reducing congestion, increasing accessibility and extending the durability of transportation infrastructure.
“Support from the U.S. Department of Transportation will allow us to advance our research, education and technology transfer initiatives that work to improve the mobility of people and goods in both urban and rural communities of megaregions,” said Dr. Ming Zhang, an associate professor of community and regional planning and a faculty researcher in the Center for Transportation Research at UT Austin who will oversee the Cooperative Mobility for Competitive Megaregions, or CM-2 consortium.“The CM-2 consortium will seek innovations in transportation planning, increased access and equity, and better transportation investment decisions.”
The consortium, which UT Austin will lead, includes researchers from Louisiana State University, Texas Southern University and the University of Pennsylvania. They will come together starting next year to provide education and workforce development and deliver technology transfer for mobility enhancement and economic competitiveness in U.S. megaregions – large networks of metropolitan regions that share environmental systems, topography, infrastructure and economic similarities.
The research will primarily focus on three key areas: regional planning and setting transportation priorities; increasing access to opportunities that promote equity in connecting regions and communities, including urban and rural communities; and innovations in multimodal planning and modeling for high-growth regions.
The new grant will also help position the School of Architecture as a hub for transportation research through the lens of city and regional planning and sustainable development.
“This award speaks to the innovative and forward-thinking work of our faculty,” said Elizabeth Danze, interim dean of the School of Architecture. “We are honored to work with partners across the UT Austin campus, the City of Austin, and at peer institutions to develop accessible transportation solutions that will help shape our nation’s infrastructure and are sure to have a lasting impact.”