U.S. DOT awards Iowa State $5.2 million to establish Midwest Transportation Center

AMES, Iowa – The U.S. Department of Transportation is supporting establishment of a Midwest Transportation Center based at Iowa State University with a grant of $2,592,500 for each of the next two years.

The center, pending approval by the Iowa Board of Regents, will focus its research on data-driven performance measures of transportation infrastructure, traffic safety and project construction, said Shauna Hallmark, the leader of the grant, the interim director of Iowa State’s Institute for Transportation and a professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering.

“One example is studying the life-cycle performance of pavement,” Hallmark said. “We want to develop performance measurements that tell us how well the system is doing.”

In addition to research, the grant from the U.S. DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration will also support education programs, leadership development, diversity promotion and outreach efforts.

“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 in a statement. “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 Midwest Transportation Center will include researchers and students from six universities: Iowa State, Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, the University of Missouri-Columbia, the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Wichita State University in Kansas.

Hallmark said researchers at the partner schools will work with their state transportation departments and other agencies to identify transportation projects and programs important to the Midwest and the various states.

At Iowa State, Hallmark estimated 40 students and 18 researchers could be involved in Midwest Transportation Center projects.

“This is a gigantic deal,” she said. “This will keep us busy. And it will allow us do all kinds of projects – everything from basic transportation research to K-12 outreach programs.”

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