Seventy years! That’s how long TTI and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) have partnered to solve transportation problems for Texans. In 1950, the then-Texas Highway Department approached Texas A&M College to leverage the best and brightest academic minds to meet the most pressing challenges of the day: potholes, traffic snarls and threats to driver safety, to name a few.
What a journey it’s been!
If the past is prologue, then there are amazing times ahead. You’ll find TxDOT-funded TTI innovations on roads across the globe. Breakaway signs designed to limit injury on impact; roadside safety devices aimed at “forgiving the physics” when a vehicle runs off the road; new materials and pavement recipes that make longer-lasting roadways needing fewer repairs.
In this issue, you read about the alliance creating the internationally accepted ASTM Standard D8297/D8297M–20, a test method developed in TTI’s Sediment and Erosion Control Laboratory for evaluating erosion control materials for TxDOT. Now, that’s the way it’s supposed to work — sponsored research yielding local solutions the entire world can use.
And we’re just getting started. There’s a long road ahead as our network evolves to meet future needs. Advanced transportation infrastructure, necessary for deploying autonomous vehicles; the Texas Strategic Highway Safety Plan, which recommends ways to save lives and prevent injuries; traffic pattern and impact analyses in West Texas that improve safety and reduce congestion while encouraging energy development — these are a few of our joint initiatives.
And we’ve accomplished those under rather difficult circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to adapt many aspects of everyday life, including how we view our transportation system. While the loss of life has been terrible, the crisis has shown the Institute and TxDOT how strong our bonds of partnership really are. Our collaboration has continued — indeed, been enhanced in some areas — as we reimagine how, for example, research can help mitigate the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19 through our global transportation system.
Honest, effective communication has always been key to the success of the TTI-TxDOT relationship, and now — when face-to-face discussions are safest at a distance — it’s absolutely essential. As we seek to recover from the pandemic, the investment we’ve made in understanding one another will yield high returns. What brought TTI and TxDOT together in the first place — the need to solve transportation problems for Texans — hasn’t changed. And neither has our shared commitment to fulfilling that mission.
We know one another, we trust one another, and we know we can rely on one another. The formula works: TxDOT’s strategic vision + TTI’s solutions = a more resilient, robust and responsive transportation system for Texas and the world. Here’s to the next 70 years of working together to build the network we need for the 21st century.