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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:
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 utc.dot.gov.
UNIVERSITY TRANSPORTATION CENTERS
The University Transportation Centers are currently hosted by the following universities:
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration