On Sept. 4, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new state headquarters located on The Texas A&M University System RELLIS Campus. The multilevel, 178,380-square-foot facility supports research programs and administrative offices for TTI’s Bryan-College Station staff, previously housed in four different facilities. The TTI Headquarters building at RELLIS marks the first time since TTI’s early days that local staff are officed in a central location.
“TTI is indeed fortunate to have the support of everyone here today at this particular time in history when transportation has never been more important to our state and to our country,” TTI Agency Director Greg Winfree said. Winfree was joined in the stage party by John Sharp, chancellor of the A&M System; Al Alonzi, Texas Division administrator with the Federal Highway Administration; James Bass, executive director with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT); Dan Chen, vice president and general manager with the 3M Transportation Safety Division; David Cain, chair of the TTI Advisory Council and president of David Cain Consulting; and Kelly Templin, director of RELLIS.
TTI’s Headquarters joins other Institute facilities — the Roadside Safety and Physical Security Division’s Proving Ground, the Environmental and Emissions Research Facility, and the Sediment and Erosion Control Laboratory, among others — already located at RELLIS. Built for $71.8 million, TTI’s Headquarters follows Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver guidelines, ratings developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to promote sustainable construction.
“It’s wonderful to be here, in your new digs. We had the first concept for what RELLIS is about, and here comes TTI with an idea for a brand new building,” Sharp recalled for attendees. “There’s a lot of magic to Texas A&M — but the big magic with Texas A&M is two things: the students and the agencies. Sixty percent of all the research being done at Texas A&M is through the agencies. That’s why we’re number one in the Southwestern United States in terms of research.”
After hearing from the speakers, TTI hosted a reception, and participants were invited on guided tours of TTI’s Driving Simulation Laboratory and Visibility Research Laboratory, both located on the first floor, among other building areas. Sponsored by TTI and Texas A&M Transportation Services, an autonomous shuttle demonstration began on the Texas A&M University campus Sept. 9 and will run through Nov. 15. TTI Senior Research Scientist Bob Brydia leads a research team exploring the opportunities and challenges associated with implementing autonomous vehicles. Treated to a taste of what’s to come, ribbon-cutting guests rode in the driverless shuttle around the headquarters parking lot.
“As you can see, our relationship with TTI is best described as a two-way street. We collaborate to make things better for motorists and our state, and TxDOT is very proud of our relationship,” Bass said, lauding the nearly seven-decade relationship between TTI and TxDOT. “Consider that — from one idea, decades ago — the two powerhouses of TxDOT and TTI have created a transportation network that is the envy of the world. Together TTI and TxDOT have made things better for motorists, our state and our nation. We’ve built a great partnership with TTI, and we look forward to a fabulous future.”