Five-year grant to fund cutting-edge research in regional planning, enhance mobility in megaregions
The United States Department of Transportation has awarded a five-year, multi-million dollar grant to The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture and its consortium partners to fund its Tier 1 University Transportation Center Cooperative Mobility for Competitive Megaregions project. The School of Architecture will receive $1,402,200 for its 2016-17 fiscal year, with subsequent awards through 2020. The grant is one of thirty-two that will be awarded to lead consortia under the University Transportation Centers (UTC) program. Per the UTC program, “Consortia are selected to advance research and education programs that address critical transportation challenges facing our nation.”
Dr. Ming Zhang, Associate Professor of Community and Regional Planning at the School of Architecture and faculty researcher in the Center for Transportation Research at UT Austin, will oversee the Cooperative Mobility for Competitive Megaregions, or CM-2 consortium. “Support from the U.S. Department of Transportation will allow us to advance our research, education, and technology transfer initiatives that work to improve the mobility of people and goods in urban and rural communities of megaregions like the Texas Triangle,” states Dr. Zhang. “CM-2 seeks innovations in institutional cooperation for transportation planning, multi-modal integration for increased access and equity, and better transportation investment decisions and public engagement achieved through improved information technologies.”
The CM-2 consortium, which UT Austin will lead, includes researchers from Louisiana State University, Texas Southern University, and the University of Pennsylvania. They will come together in 2017 to conduct mobility research, provide education and workforce development, and deliver technology transfer for mobility enhancement and economic competitiveness in U.S. “megaregions” – large networks of metropolitan regions that share environmental systems, topography, infrastructure, and economic implications.
Research will primarily focus on three key areas: regional planning and setting transportation priorities; increasing access to opportunities that promote equity in connecting regions and communities, including urban and rural communities; and innovations in multi-modal planning and modeling for high-growth regions.
“This award speaks to the innovative and forward-thinking work of our faculty,” remarks School of Architecture Interim Dean, Elizabeth Danze, FAIA. “We are honored to work with partners across the UT Austin campus, the city of Austin, and at peer institutions to develop accessible transportation solutions that will help shape our nation’s infrastructure and are sure to have a lasting impact.”
A five-year grant of this magnitude positions the School of Architecture as a hub for transportation research through the lens of city and regional planning and sustainable development. UT Austin faculty and students, located in one of the fastest-growing regions in the nation, will bring unique insight and perspective to issues that are both immediately pressing in their community and relevant nationwide.