University of Vermont

University Communications

UVM Launches $32 Million National University Transportation Center

Release Date: 07-17-2006

Author: Jeffrey R. Wakefield
Email: Jeffrey.Wakefield@uvm.edu
Phone: 802/656-2005 Fax: (802) 656-3203

The University of Vermont formally launched the National University Transportation Center at a ceremony this morning that also served as an occasion to publicly thank retiring U.S. Senator James M. Jeffords for his efforts on behalf of the university over the years and, specifically, for his work to secure the National UTC designation in Congress last year for UVM.

The event was held at the site of the new center, UVM’s Farrell Hall.

Jeffords, U.S. Department of Transportation acting secretary Maria Cino, Representative Bernie Sanders, University of Vermont president Daniel Mark Fogel, Vermont governor Jim Douglas, and Vermont secretary of transportation Dawn Terrill were on hand for the event and delivered remarks.

Fogel also announced the center’s new director, Dr. Lisa Aultman-Hall, former director of the Connecticut Transportation Institute at the University of Connecticut.

Jeffords secured $16 million for the project in last year’s federal highway bill, which he co-authored. That legislation designated UVM as one of only 10 National University Transportation Centers nationwide.

The university will receive the federal money from the U.S. Department of Transportation over a five-year period to build core faculty, programs, and technologies to create multi-disciplinary research in the transportation sector.

UVM and several public and private partners will match the grant funds for a total $32 million investment.

"As a national leader in cutting-edge research, particularly environmental research, UVM will provide a great home for this important center," said Jeffords, who secured the funding through his post as ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee."Vermont’s rural terrain and northern climate present a unique set of challenges in building roads, bridges, and rail lines. The state of Vermont will benefit immensely from the center we open here today."

"The new center will do the research and develop the technologies we need to fight traffic congestion so commuters, travelers, and businesses can get where they need to go safely and on time,” said Acting Secretary Cino. "In addition, this center will bring new jobs, new investments, and new opportunities to the community and neighboring regions."

"We’re deeply grateful to Senator Jeffords for his support of UVM over the years and for his tireless work in helping us launch the National University Transportation Center at UVM,” said Fogel.

"UVM has a long history of extending classroom learning and faculty research into practical knowledge that improves the world,” said Fogel. "The center is squarely in that tradition. I’m also confident that it will lead to the kind of economic development – in the promising area of sustainability identified by the governor – that will help attract and retain the talented professional workforce that is vital to our state’s economic future."

Governor Douglas said the center would play a leading role in achieving his goal of making Vermont an international leader for marketable environmental products and technologies.

"This is exactly the kind of partnership between private industry, government, and institutions of higher learning that is necessary to succeed in making Vermont a world leader in sustainable environmental technology and products,” the governor said. "This center is a perfect fit for Vermont and will be the spark that ignites an increase in entrepreneurial efforts and the creation of more and better paying jobs. On behalf of every Vermonter, I want to congratulate Senator Jeffords and the University of Vermont for this splendid, collaborative effort.”

"Signature" projects that draw on UVM’s environmental expertise, technology resources

Drawing on UVM’s expertise as one of the nation’s premier environmental universities and its resources as a major research institution, the center will employ sustainable systems and advanced technologies to address regional and national transportation challenges, especially those in northern communities.

The center will emphasize large-scale"signature” projects, which have the best chance of making an impact on sustainable transportation policy and planning, led by multi-disciplinary teams of faculty, reflecting the multi-faceted nature of transportation challenges. The signature projects will exploit UVM’s strengths in multi-disciplinary systems analysis, community-based decision-making tools, and cutting-edge technology development.

Examples of potential signature projects the center might pursue include three dimensional computer aided visualization of sustainable transportation systems; travel and tourism transportation opportunities advancing economic development and sustainability; freight issues for Vermont commerce; and medical service delivery and public health.

The center will also help UVM with its own efforts to become a more sustainable and pedestrian-centered campus.

Aultman-Hall brings established track record

Aultman-Hall, who is also on the civil engineering faculty at the University of Connecticut, has been the director of the Connecticut Transportation Institute since 2003 and has an established record of management, research, and collaborative work with local, state, and national transportation interests.

She will arrive on campus in early September.

"I am thrilled to be part of this exciting opportunity at the University of Vermont," said Aultman-Hall. "I look forward to moving north and getting started developing the center and its projects as soon as possible."

Synergy with other centers

The transportation center’s work will be facilitated by two other centers co-located in Farrell Hall: the Advanced Computer Center and the UVM-affiliated Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET).

"Having these three centers in one building will create tremendous opportunities for synergy and will be a special boon to transportation research and technology transfer," said Fogel.

The transportation and advanced computing centers will be housed on the first and second floors of Farrell Hall. Planning for the renovations is underway. Renovation designed for the administration of the transportation center will happen first. VCET is located on the basement level of the building.

Program first established in 1987

The University Transportation Centers (UTC) program was established in 1987 to advance transportation technology and expertise through research, education, and technology transfer at university-based centers of excellence across the country. The program is managed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Research and Innovative Technology Administration. With passage of last year's highway bill, the UTC program expanded from 26 to 60 universities, 40 of which are designated by law and 20 of which are being competitively selected this year. The University of Vermont is one of 10 schools nationwide to be designated as a National University Transportation Center, a designation which authorizes U.S. DOT to provide $16 million in matched funds over five years for the university to build its core faculty and research programs.

Sites of other National University Transportation Centers are the University of Alaska; Marshall University in West Virginia, on behalf of a consortium of West Virginia colleges and universities; the University of Minnesota; the University of Missouri, Rolla; Northwestern University; Oklahoma Transportation Center; Portland State University, in partnership with the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and the Oregon Institute of Technology; Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University; and the University of Wisconsin.

For more information on the National University Transportation Center at the University of Vermont, see http://www.uvm.edu/~transctr/.