TTI Celebrates 50 Years with NCHRP
In 2012, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). As I’m sure you know, NCHRP sponsors research in a wide range of topics critical to state departments of transportation. Doing so saves time, effort and resources in solving common problems throughout the country.
A need to address critical transportation issues gave birth to NCHRP in 1962. You might even say the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), founded in 1950, grew up together with NCHRP. Historically, Texas — with its fickle weather, variable terrain and urban/rural environments — has offered a one-of-a-kind test bed for conducting transportation research. So partnering TTI’s established expertise and unique research environment with NCHRP’s vision for applying local solutions to national problems seemed inevitable.
In honor of NCHRP’s golden anniversary, Crawford Jencks, deputy director of the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB’s) Cooperative Research Program (CRP) and manager of NCHRP, provides his perspective on the TTI–NCHRP relationship in this issue of the Texas Transportation Researcher. In that same section we highlight a few of the TTI–NCHRP milestones in the areas of recycled pavements, roadside safety, high-occupancy vehicle lanes and sustainability.
Most of this issue profiles current TTI projects with TRB’s CRP and Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) divisions. Current NCHRP projects include improving techniques and testing procedures for warm mix asphalt, refining design guidelines for roadside barriers to better promote safety and counting motorcycles more accurately and reliably.
The Institute has also worked with NCHRP’s sister program, the National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP), to investigate how to better utilize our nation’s waterways in moving cargo. Another of TTI’s projects for this program looks at a national transportation data architecture, useful in planning transportation projects and shaping effective policy.
TTI has extended its tradition of research excellence to SHRP 2, and you’ll find a quick-reference list of our current SHRP 2 projects in these pages. We devote full articles to two of our current SHRP 2 projects: one looks at extending pavement life by better regulating temperature during the installation process; the second looks at ways to troubleshoot utility conflicts that can occur before construction begins, saving time and effort during those early project stages.
Our work at the national level has helped make the Institute the recognized transportation research agency in the Lone Star State, as evidenced by the amount of information and testimony requested by the Texas Legislature in recent years. Policy makers at all levels of government have come to rely on TTI for an honest, reliable, objective outlook on the Texas transportation system. This issue’s center spread highlights a handful of the areas where TTI has provided empirical evidence to support informed decision making.
Based on our tradition of cooperative research excellence, TTI and our national sponsors are moving forward together to face challenges both familiar and new: the costs of increasing congestion, the symbiotic nature of economies and transportation, and the perennial problem of stretching finite funding to meet ever-expanding transportation needs. Let’s pencil in an appointment for 50 years from now — my successor will be glad to update you on how we met those challenges together.