TTI celebrates construction of new state headquarters
On April 30, friends and supporters from around the Lone Star State joined the employees of the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) to celebrate the construction of the agency’s new state headquarters.
Many of the 36 members of the TTI Council attended the celebration, with Texas A&M University System (TAMUS) dignitaries and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials joining council members on the stage for the ceremony. The council is comprised of distinguished, high-level transportation professionals from across the state of Texas.
“Today we are pleased to be celebrating another milestone in our 58-year history,” said Christiansen. “Our first state headquarters building will accommodate the growth that TTI has experienced.”
“Transportation decisions have never been as important as they are today,” said Mike McKinney, chancellor of the A&M System. McKinney pointed out that Texas does not have the infrastructure to handle the expected future population growth. Improving that infrastructure is a primary concern for the state since its population is increasing by some 1,500 people per day. “It’s that simple. We’ve got to find ways of funding it,” he said.
Rex Cottle, Trinity Industries senior vice president, detailed the two-decade relationship between TTI and Trinity Industries, a relationship that has produced numerous roadside safety products implemented around the world. “You, your researchers and staff are really jewels in the crown of the state of Texas,” said Cottle. “We are most appreciative of being a part of this celebration.”
The three-story, 66,000-square-foot building will house a traffic control materials research facility, TTI’s administrative offices, and research and support space. The $18.8 million building will be located next to TTI’s Gibb Gilchrist Building in the Texas A&M University Research Park.
“It is not this building that we celebrate here today, but the work that will be done in this building, the lives that will be saved, the families that will be spared grieving for the loss of a loved one, the product that will be moved, and the jobs that will be created and preserved,” Bill Jones, chairman of the A&M System Board of Regents, told the crowd.
TTI’s State Headquarters and Research Building is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2009.
TTI Council briefed on the state of TTI
Some members of the TTI Council witnessed their first crash test at TTI’s Proving Grounds Research Facility on May 1 as part of the council’s 2008 annual meeting held this year in College Station. The meeting corresponded with the construction celebration for TTI’s State Headquarters and Research Building, held the day before.
The anti-ram crash test for the U.S. Department of State involved a 15,000-pound truck traveling at 50 mph. Although the crash test was a highlight of the gathering, the subject of transportation challenges facing Texas and the nation dominated much of the discussion during the TTI Council’s all-day meeting.
In his first presentation to the advisory council as executive director of TxDOT, Amadeo Saenz discussed the funding challenges facing the agency. TTI researchers updated the members on various initiatives at the Institute. Assistant Agency Director Steve Roop provided an update on the Universal Freight Shuttle, Research Engineer Tim Lomax presented highlights of the Urban Mobility Report, and Senior Research Engineer Russell Henk discussed the Teens in the Driver Seat program.
Later, during a roundtable discussion, the members talked about big-picture transportation issues and the role that TTI should play in addressing those challenges. “TTI has been approached with increasing frequency by legislators and other leaders to provide input and analysis for statewide transportation issues,” Associate Agency Director Bill Stockton told the council. “But oftentimes, a funding source is not available to support the type of research that is needed.”
Securing a broader funding base is one of TTI’s current strategic goals.