The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at The Texas A&M University System RELLIS Campus at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. The multilevel, 178,380-square-foot facility supports research programs and administrative offices for TTI’s Bryan-College Station staff, previously housed in four different facilities. The TTI headquarters building at RELLIS marks the first time since TTI’s early days that local staff are officed in a central location. The move also relocated two TTI research laboratories — the Driving Simulation Laboratory and the Visibility Research Laboratory — to the new headquarters.
“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,” said TTI Agency Director Greg Winfree to ceremony attendees. “I’m pleased to say, with the A&M System’s investment in this building — as well as the Center for Infrastructure Renewal next door — these two facilities will be the A&M System’s nucleus for conducting transportation and infrastructure research and testing for many years to come.”
The TTI Headquarters Building joins other Institute facilities — the Roadside Safety and Physical Security Division’s Proving Ground; the Environmental and Emissions Research Facility; and the Sediment and Erosion Control Laboratory, among others — already located at RELLIS. The headquarters building — built at a cost of $71.8 million — follows Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver guidelines, ratings developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to promote sustainable construction. Energy Architecture provided architectural design services, and the contractor for construction was Bartlett Cocke General Contractors. The facility’s five floors include offices and community areas as well as conference and meeting rooms.
“Do you like your new digs? We have here the magic — the students, and the agencies. That’s why we’re number one in research,” said Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. “When it comes to RELLIS, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
In addition to Winfree and Sharp, the stage party included:
- Al Alonzi, Texas Division Administrator, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA);
- James Bass, Executive Director, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT);
- Dan Chen, VP and General Manager, 3M Transportation Safety Division;
- David Cain, Chair, TTI Advisory Council; Pres., David Cain Consulting; and
- Kelly Templin, Director, RELLIS, A&M System.
“We are very proud of our research program, with TTI as one of our contractors,” said Bass to the crowd. “There are two powerhouses of transportation — TxDOT and TTI. We’ll be the envy of the world!”
After hearing from the speakers, TTI hosted attendees at a reception to celebrate. Participants were invited to guided tours of the laboratories, both located on the first floor, and other portions of the facility.
The ribbon cutting also featured a special announcement. Sponsored by TTI and Texas A&M Transportation Services, an autonomous shuttle demonstration begins on the Texas A&M University campus Sept. 9 and will run through Nov. 15. TTI Senior Research Scientist Bob Brydia leads a research team exploring the opportunities and challenges associated with implementing autonomous vehicles. Treated to a taste of what’s to come, ribbon-cutting guests rode in the driverless shuttle around the new building’s parking lot.