100 Years of Cooperation: A Solid Foundation for Progress
The discussion at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) Advisory Council meeting in Bryan, Texas, in October looked to the future direction of TTI research. Those research initiatives are possible because of the solid relationships formed over the past 100 years among The Texas A&M University System, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and TTI.
Tommy Williams, vice chancellor of federal and state relations for the A&M System, opened the meeting by addressing the fundamental question of how Texas will fund its transportation system in the future. Since gas tax revenue — the traditional funding mechanism for system improvements in the state — is currently seen as inadequate, determining new and sustainable funding mechanisms is key to meeting the needs of Texans in coming decades.
Continuing the look forward, TTI Agency Director Dennis Christiansen reported on the state of TTI and its research path going forward. A&M System Executive Vice Chancellor Billy Hamilton reported on the new Area 41 Institute, an initiative spearheaded for TTI by TTI Executive Associate Director Bill Stockton. Other briefings included TTI Assistant Agency Director Steve Roop’s report on how TTI’s Freight Shuttle is progressing toward a demonstration project and TTI Associate Director Ed Seymour’s update on Accelerate Texas, the forward-looking initiative emphasizing connected vehicles and roadside infrastructure. A&M System Chancellor John Sharp was the luncheon speaker.
The research focus turned festive as Christiansen, TxDOT Deputy Executive Director John Barton, A&M System Chancellor John Sharp, Director of the Texas A&M University Press Charles Backus and co-author Roger Polson commented on the unprecedented and extremely successful collaborative relationship among TTI, the A&M System and TxDOT. The occasion for this celebration is the upcoming publication of Miles and Miles of Texas: 100 Years of the Texas Highway Department, scheduled for publication in 2016 by the Texas A&M University Press. Polson and Carol Dawson are co-authors of the book.
Regarding the 100-year celebration, Sharp said, “This state could not have transformed from an agrarian society to the 12th largest economy in the world without the partnership we are celebrating today.”
“It’s a relationship that’s not only made the Texas highway system the envy of the nation, but that has led to innovations in highway, bridge and traffic design,” said Barton. “Because of TTI’s work, Texas pavements last longer, roadways are safer, and emergency response times are faster.”