Two new transportation research centers were approved by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents on Thursday, Jan. 21. Both centers were established to improve the transportation system in Texas and across the country. The centers are part of the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), a member of the Texas A&M System.
The Center for Strategic Transportation Solutions (CSTS), created by the 81st Texas Legislature, will focus on long-term transportation solutions for the state of Texas. The center will provide credible and objective expertise to aid state and local officials in addressing transportation problems and opportunities that are statewide or global in nature. CSTS will analyze “big picture” transportation challenges and evaluate strategic solutions to address various statewide transportation issues, including: transportation financing, mobility, freight movement, public transportation alternatives, border transportation planning, air quality issues and energy-related implications.
“The transportation system we build, how we develop and pay for it, and how we operate and maintain it are all changing,” says TTI Agency Director Dennis L. Christiansen. “The CSTS establishes a framework to develop future-oriented analyses to assist state leaders in making decisions that affect the long-term viability and sustainability of the Texas transportation system.”
“Through this new center, we will assist transportation leaders in our state through research-based solutions as they confront significant transportation challenges,” says Cinde Weatherby, CSTS director. Weatherby has 35 years of experience in planning and implementing a wide variety of transportation projects, both in the public and private sectors.
With headquarters at the TTI Austin Office, the CSTS will utilize the extensive expertise and talent of TTI staff and other transportation, finance and policy experts to respond to information and data needs of the state’s transportation leadership.
The Board of Regents also established the Transportation Economics Center (TEC), which will provide economic-based analyses in formulating transportation policies and programs at the national level. TTI was selected to operate this center through a competitive procurement process by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“The TEC will help address transportation issues that are critical to the global competitiveness of our nation,” says TTI Executive Associate Agency Director Katie Turnbull, who is the director of the TEC and has more than 32 years of experience in all facets of transportation planning, policy and economics. “We are very pleased that TTI was selected to operate the center, and we look forward to supporting the initiatives of the USDOT Office of Transportation Policy.”
In addition to the involvement by TTI researchers, various other experts will assist in TEC research initiatives. Faculty from the Department of Agricultural Economics and the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University will play key roles in various center projects.