Gathering near the future site of the new Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) Headquarters Building, about 200 TTI employees and local, state and A&M System dignitaries were among those who celebrated the beginning of construction of the new TTI headquarters at the newly developed Texas A&M University System RELLIS Campus today.
The $70 million building is slated to be occupied by March 2019. TTI will be the first A&M System institution to have its headquarters located at the newly renovated campus.
“TTI is indeed fortunate to have the support of everyone here today at this particular time in history when transportation has never been more important to our state and our country,” TTI Agency Director Greg Winfree told attendees.
“Sixty-seven years ago this month, TTI was formed to aid the Texas Highway Department (now the Texas Department of Transportation) with research on pavements, bridges and roadway safety,” Winfree said. “Today, TTI is well-known in these legacy areas, but TTI is also significantly invested in forward-thinking transportation technologies and connected-automated vehicle (CAV) research.”
“It is good to be with the best transportation research organization on planet Earth,” Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp told the construction celebration participants. “I don’t know how many tens of thousands of lives that have been saved by the innovative ways that you folks design highways.”
“In the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex where I live, TTI has about 30 staff members who work with local and regional agencies and partners in addressing the transportation challenges of our growing community and improving our citizens’ quality of life,” said Texas A&M System Regent Bill Mahomes. “The support that TTI provides in my backyard is multiplied many times over throughout Texas and the nation. I am proud to join Greg, the TTI staff and all of you in celebrating this significant milestone in the agency’s history.”
Sharp, who announced plans for the RELLIS Campus last year, envisioned a state-of-the-art, high-tech campus for the Texas A&M Engineering Program. It will include seven engineering facilities and two education centers. In part, he wanted RELLIS to become the canvas for connected-automated vehicle testing, CAV research projects, interactions with CAV industry representatives, and modern laboratories to train the next generation transportation workforce.
“The new headquarters building will be a facility where transportation and engineering experts join with partners from government, industry and academia to study, develop and solve the transportation challenges of the 21st century,” said Vice Chancellor and Dean of Engineering M. Katherine Banks. “I am confident that the RELLIS Campus will be known worldwide as a transportation incubator. The impact of the work performed by TTI researchers and staff in this building will touch the lives of millions of people across the country and around the world.”
Once occupied, the new TTI Headquarters Building will house TTI’s Bryan/College Station staff now located in four different locations — the first time that has happened since the early days of the Institute.
“My main purpose here today is to thank you for what you are going to add to RELLIS. The plans, and the number of people that are talking about coming here, boggles the mind. If half of them come, it’s going to be amazing,” Sharp said.
Other speakers at the ceremony included John Barton, executive director of the RELLIS Campus; Marc Williams, deputy executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation; and David Cain, chair of the TTI Advisory Council and president of David Cain Consulting.