PECOS- A unique public-private collaboration was born this week when the final papers were signed creating the Southwest Center for Transportation Research and Testing. The 5,800 acre complex is an academic-industry-public collaboration between the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), Applied Research Associates (ARA) and the Pecos Economic Development Corporation (PEDC).
TTI Deputy Director Dennis Christiansen said the innovative collaboration will create a first-class testing facility. “The Southwest Center provides us with an opportunity for developing work with new sponsors as well as being able to do more kinds of research and testing for traditional sponsors,” he said. The facility is now being staffed with researchers and technicians.
The TTI/ARA/PEDC endeavor will focus on many kinds of transportation research, including vehicle and component testing, state of the art intelligent transportation systems (ITS), safety and environmental projects, and pavement materials research. ARA Vice President of Transportation Curt Beckemeyer said he is excited about the future of the Southwest Center and the unique arrangement between the public and private sectors. “I’m confident the Center will provide the transportation community with technological advancements that could not be achieved otherwise,” Beckemeyer said.
The Southwest Center has numerous tracks and road courses in place to help support various projects. There’s a 9-mile, 3-lane high-speed circular track allowing speeds up to 200 mph as well as several off-road courses consisting of crushed rock, gravel and caliche. The site also has a 1.2 mile serpentine road course, a salt bath pit, a hill climb and much more. There are numerous buildings on the property including a 30-bay garage. The facility was built in 1961 by B. F. Goodrich as a tire testing facility.
When President George Bush signed the Transportation Bill into law August 10th, $1 million was earmarked for the center. The funding was made possible through the support and leadership of the Texas Congressional delegation, especially U. S. Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison and Congressman Henry Bonilla.
Pecos Economic Development Corporation President Mike Burkholder was pleased with the funding announcement and the finalization of a two-year process creating the collaboration. “The PEDC is delighted with this funding and the improvements that will be realized at the facility. We all are focused on good things down the road. I also want to thank U.S. Senators Cornyn and Hutchinson, Congressman Bonilla as well as State Representative Pete Gallego of Alpine for their efforts and support,” Burkholder said.
The dry climate of Pecos allows for year-round research and testing.