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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > February 1999 > University Transportation Centers: Building on Success
February 1999

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University Transportation Centers: Building on Success

Among the many significant steps taken under last year's Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) was the expansion of the University Transportation Center (UTC) program. TEA-21 established 13 new UTCs, and reauthorized 14 existing UTCs and 6 centers that were formerly known as University Research Institutes. For the highway community, these 33 centers will serve as valuable sources of innovative research and technology transfer programs.

Twenty-three of the centers will be located at universities named in TEA-21. Ten existing regional centers will compete against other universities in 1999 for selection as the 10 new regional centers authorized under TEA-21. This competition will be conducted by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

The centers reflect the following goals:

  • A multidisciplinary program of course work and experiential learning that reinforces the transportation theme of the center
  • A diverse group of students, faculty, and staff involved in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs of the center
  • An ongoing program of basic and applied research, with products of this research being judged by peers or other experts in the field in order to advance the body of knowledge in transportation
  • An objective process for selecting and reviewing research that balances the center's multiple objectives
  • An emphasis on technology transfer efforts in order to make research results available to potential users

TEA-21 authorized up to $194.8 million for the UTC program in fiscal years 1998-2003. Centers are required to match the Federal grants with outside funding.

The UTC program started in 1987 with the goal of educating tomorrow's transportation professionals and advancing the skills of current practitioners. The program also aims to address transportation challenges through research covering all modes of transportation, accompanied by technology transfer initiatives that put the research into action.

The centers' work spans a range of transportation issues. The University of California Transportation Center, for example, is devoting its research and education activities to improving accessibility to transportation for all citizens. Current research projects include "Measuring the Role of Transportation in Facilitating the Welfare-to-Work Transition" and "Towards an Accessible City: Removing Functional Barriers for the Blind and Vision-Impaired."

The Mack-Blackwell National Rural Transportation Study Center at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville is focusing its research on such issues as rural transit for the low income and elderly and safety standards for rural local roads.

For more information on the UTC program, contact the DOT's Research and Special Programs Administration at 202-366-4434. Information can also be found on the Web at


The University Transportation Centers are currently hosted by the following universities:

  • University of Denver and Mississippi State University
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Southern California and California State University at Long Beach
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Missouri at Rolla
  • South Carolina State University
  • Joseph P. Kennedy Science and Technology Center, Assumption College, Massachusetts
  • Purdue University
  • University of Arkansas
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • University of Idaho
  • University of Alabama
  • Morgan State University
  • North Carolina State University
  • San Jose State University
  • University of South Florida
  • North Carolina A. and T. State University
  • University of Minnesota
  • Marshall University, West Virginia, on behalf of a consortium of West Virginia colleges and universities
  • George Mason University, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech University
  • Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University-Bozeman
  • University of Rhode Island
  • Northwestern University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • City University of New York
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • University of Tennessee-Knoxville
  • University of Michigan
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • North Dakota State University
  • University of California
  • University of Washington

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Updated: 02/20/2015

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