For the first time since 2019, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) Advisory Council held its annual meeting in person Nov. 1–2 at the Barn at Circle T Ranch in Westlake, Texas.
TTI Agency Director Greg Winfree and council chair and former Texas State Sen. David Cain welcomed the approximately 50 individuals attending, including council members, friends of the council, and TTI staff. Following introduction of the newest members, guest speaker Marc Williams, executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), praised the value of the TTI-TxDOT partnership, which has lasted for more than 70 years.
“It’s very exciting to see the integration of the research TTI does with TxDOT throughout the entire state of Texas,” Williams said. “From work on our ports and waterways system to collaborating on energy projects in the Permian Basin, the reach of TxDOT’s partnership with TTI is tremendously vital and far-reaching.”
Winfree opened day two with an update on the agency and its recent research initiatives, including the highly anticipated 2021 Urban Mobility Report. “TTI’s biannual Urban Mobility Report is considered by many to be the most definitive study of traffic congestion in the country, documenting congestion costs, trends and mitigation measures in almost 500 urban areas,” Winfree noted.
Winfree also reported that research expenditures were up slightly for the Institute, topping $67.7 million for fiscal year 2021. He closed with an update on TTI’s strategic partnerships, including the agency’s newest initiative with the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station to assess and test vehicle electrification and its impact on the grid; the development of a two-year online master’s degree program in engineering with the Texas A&M College of Engineering; and TTI’s being named the official research partner in the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone.
TTI Assistant Director Joe Zietsman led a panel discussion comprised of external industry experts, and several interactive panel discussions followed on current transportation-related topics. Timely topics included the recent supply chain disruptions and the role of the transportation system, and electrified transportation and the Texas power grid. TTI Deputy Director Bill Stockton and Senior Research Engineer Ginger Goodin also led a collaborative exercise prompting discussions on potential future research opportunities, transportation issues facing the state, and how TTI can contribute to improving our transportation system. The meeting concluded with TTI Executive Associate Director Katie Turnbull leading a thought panel discussion on the future of transportation in Texas and across the nation.