Two new transportation research centers were approved by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents during a meeting in January. Both centers, housed at the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), were established to improve the transportation system in Texas and across the country.
The Center for Strategic Transportation Solutions (CSTS), created by the 81st Texas Legislature, will focus on long-term transportation solutions for the state of Texas. The center will provide credible and objective expertise to aid state and local officials in addressing transportation problems and opportunities that are statewide or global in nature. CSTS will analyze “big picture” transportation challenges and evaluate strategic solutions to address various statewide transportation issues, including transportation financing, mobility, freight movement, public transportation alternatives, border transportation planning, air quality issues and energy-related implications.
“The transportation system we build, how we develop and pay for it, and how we operate and maintain it are all changing,” says TTI Director Dennis Christiansen. “CSTS establishes a framework to develop future-oriented analyses to assist state leaders in making decisions that affect the long-term viability and sustainability of the Texas transportation system.”
“Through this new center, we will assist transportation leaders in our state through research-based solutions as they confront significant transportation challenges,” says Cinde Weatherby, CSTS director.
With headquarters at the TTI Austin Office, CSTS will utilize the extensive expertise and talent of TTI staff and other transportation, finance and policy experts to respond to the information and data needs of the state’s transportation leadership.
The Board of Regents also established the Transportation Economics Center (TEC), which will provide economic-based analyses in formulating transportation policies and programs at the national level. TTI was selected to operate this center through a competitive procurement process by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).
“We are very enthusiastic about the establishment of TEC at TTI and for advancing research, development and application of sound economic analysis in reaching passenger and freight transportation solutions,” says Polly Trottenberg, assistant secretary for transportation policy at USDOT. “Our expectation is that the work of TEC will help transportation professionals and public officials make better transportation improvement decisions that will lead to more livable communities, safer and more effective transportation system performance, and improved environmental quality.”
In addition to the involvement by TTI researchers, various other experts will assist in TEC research initiatives. Faculty from the Department of Agricultural Economics and the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University will play key roles in various center projects.