For the 96th year, the Transportation Short Course was held by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) on the Texas A&M University campus, Oct. 10–12. In partnership with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) the event was hosted virtually and in-person with about 4,000 attendees. Highlighting the latest technology and advancements that are transforming Texas roadways, the theme of this year’s event was innovation.
After a warm welcome from TxDOT Chief Engineer Lance Simmons, TTI Agency Director Greg Winfree kicked off the opening session at Short Course. Winfree highlighted the innovations that are being led by TxDOT and TTI to advance the transportation world. Automated vehicle technology, flood warning systems and award-winning design safety scoring tools are just a few examples of innovations that have risen through collaboration between the agencies.
“The need for innovation is as strong as ever,” noted Winfree. “In TTI’s longstanding partnership with TxDOT, our mission has been to assist the agency in the next generation of advancements and innovations. By identifying existing innovations and sharing resources, we promise to continue our commitment to help the transportation world achieve safety and efficiency.”
Continuing to touch on the theme of innovation, TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams engaged attendees with the steps that TxDOT has taken to fulfill the five focus areas of safety, performance, innovation/technology, diversity and project diversity highlighted at last year’s Short Course. Through investment in a comprehensive data set, collaboration with stakeholders and advancement of technology, TxDOT and Texas have been leading the way for innovation in transportation.
Williams also announced the creation of the Connected and Automated Transportation (CAT) program within the Strategy and Innovation Division at TxDOT. The CAT program will provide an accelerator for ideas and initiatives in the growing area of transportation innovation for TxDOT and the State of Texas.
“Innovation isn’t new, it’s been a part of TxDOT for over 100 years. There have been success stories and there have been failures,” said Williams as he walked the audience through a history of TxDOT’s innovations. “Innovation is about inspiration and creativity, and you all are the key. Help us continue to meet our challenges by turning ideas into solutions.”
The opening session included the presentation of TxDOT’s Extra Mile and Big Five Awards. During the Big Five ceremony, former TTI Director Dennis Christiansen received the Russell H. Perry Award which recognizes a non-TxDOT employee who has helped raise public awareness of transportation in Texas.
The three-day event concluded with breakout sessions discussing the environment, alternative delivery, bridges, maintenance and pavement management, construction, traffic operations, materials, planning, project management, right of way, hydrology and hydraulics, consultant management and design. “Every year [Short Course] brings together a diverse group of professionals, both public sector and private sector. A wealth of technical information is exchanged, relationships are developed and relationships are renewed,” Christiansen said in his acceptance speech. “This event is a venue where major ideas and decisions are established, and it will continue to play a key role the in the future of transportation.”