With the state’s transportation concerns a main focus of their annual gatherings, members of the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) Advisory Council had much to consider when they met in College Station Sept. 16. Discussions centered on a number of tough issues, including the lack of federal and state funding for road projects and the impact of congestion on the Texas economy.
The members of the Advisory Council are familiar with such dilemmas — they are professionals from across the state and from every sector of the transportation industry. Their input helps guide TTI in its efforts to address the state’s needs.
“I think we are at a critical crossroads…and if we don’t make the right transportation decisions in the next five to 10 years, the opportunities that this state now has will not be there,” Rep. Larry Phillips, chair of the House Select Committee on Transportation Funding, told council members during their luncheon. “What you do is important and worthy of your efforts…Texas and our families need you to stay at it.”
As part of their meeting, council members celebrated TTI‘s 60th anniversary and heard about major developments at TTI during the last year. Topics discussed included the TTI-developed freight shuttle, which has the potential for revolutionizing freight transport; a new aviation initiative; a recent contract from the U.S. Department of State to design and test perimeter security devices (see related story on page 10); and a TTI-developed, interactive planning tool called the TRENDS model, which is designed to forecast transportation revenues and expenses through 2035.
“We continue to grow the research program in a very tough environment,” TTI Agency Director Dennis Christiansen said. “Although we continue to do very interesting things with the Texas Department of Transportation, essentially, all the growth is coming from new non-TxDOT research. In the past year, we’ve opened an office in both Qatar and Mexico City.” Christiansen further noted that 5 percent of the Institute’s work comes from international sponsors.
Following the TTI project presentations, a round table discussion took place among Advisory Council members. Topics highlighted included all aspects of transportation including congestion and managed lanes, rail and transit, teen drivers, headlight illumination and the potential impact on Texas of the changes at the Panama Canal.
TTI Advisory Council Chair David Cain thanked the members and the Institute. “It is great to celebrate the TTI 60th anniversary,” he said. “You do us proud, and you do our state a great service.”