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NDUS Home  |  News  |  Campus Happenings


NDSU to participate in two $3.5 million national transportation center grants

Posted on 1/31/2012

NDSU is a part of two U.S. Department of Transportation competitive grants awarded this month.

The grants, each for about $3.5 million, were among only 22 awarded across the country in the University Transportation Centers Program administered by the DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration. Funding from the grants will support work at NDSU's Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute.

"These grants represent significant support for our work at the Transportation Institute," said Denver Tolliver, the institute's associate director. "With the high expectations that come with these awards, there is also a recognition that the work we do at NDSU and with our collaborators has established a foundation for future success."

"Efficient and safe mobility is critical to North Dakota and the region," NDSU Provost Bruce Rafert said. "As NDSU continues to build its capacity for high-quality teaching, research and outreach, transportation will continue to be an important part of our overall program."

One grant is for an NDSU-led collaborative program called the Mountain-Plains Consortium involving eight universities across the Upper Great Plains and Intermountain West. Efforts will range from development of techniques to extend the life of bridges to improved transportation planning for Indian reservations to improved road safety. Partners with NDSU include Colorado State University, South Dakota State University, University of Colorado-Denver, University of Denver, University of Utah, University of Wyoming and Utah State University. NDSU's share will be about $1.3 million.

The second grant was one of only two awarded nationally to focus specifically on public transportation. NDSU is a partner with the University of Illinois at Chicago and Florida International University in Miami. The University of South Florida in Tampa will lead the effort. The Small Urban and Rural Transit Center, a part of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at NDSU, will provide expertise in rural and small urban transportation. NDSU will receive about $700,000 from the grant.

NDSU has led the Mountain-Plains Consortium since 1988, successfully competing three times since then for the designation as a federally funded University Transportation Center. The program has generated a library of more than 200 research publications and has helped establish the successful transportation and logistics graduate program at NDSU. The consortium also has established itself as a leader in using technology for training and outreach.

"Each of the participating universities has key strengths and programs. The consortium will combine them into a comprehensive and coordinated program that addresses key transportation issues in the region," Tolliver said. The consortium has on-going programs in several areas including transportation and sustainable energy development, bridge monitoring and performance, tribal transportation planning, transit oriented development and urban sustainability, workforce skill development and development of online courses and training.

The Small Urban and Rural Transit Center was established at NDSU in 2002 and has developed nationally recognized programs in rural and small urban transit. Researchers have conducted unique research on transit coordination, mobility needs of elderly in rural areas, use of technology by rural small transit agencies and other topics. Training and outreach by center staff include topics as diverse as transit agency management, tribal transit management, risk management and customer service with staff members conducting nearly 30 training courses in 17 different states during the past year.

"NDSU's participation in this program will bring a rural or small community focus," noted Jill Hough, director of the Small Urban and Rural Transit Center. "We will also gain ideas from our partners that may be transferable to the smaller transit providers that we serve. Each of the four partner universities brings unique strengths and accomplishments to this consortium, but by working together we will enhance our overall collective contribution to the transit industry."

For more information on the grants, contact Tom Jirik, communications coordinator for the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, at 231-9629 or thomas.jirik@ndsu.edu.


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