IDOT Invests $23M in ICT Transportation Research
7/7/2011 9:33:00 AM
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will invest more than $23 million over the next five years to continue transportation research conducted by the Illinois Center for Transportation (ICT), headquartered within CEE at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Since its inception in 2005, ICT has grown to become one of the leading transportation centers in the nation. To date, the center has completed 75 research projects with another 67 ongoing projects. ICT's varied research includes developing better designs for sustainable and environmentally friendly pavements and highway system, improving work zone safety, implementing technologies to improve bridge construction and safety, and achieving energy savings for Illinois’ transportation facilities. ICT funds transportation research on all three University of Illinois campuses, as well as subcontracts research projects to other universities and private researchers. The center advertises requests for proposals biannually.
“We appreciate the confidence shown by IDOT and the FHWA in the research we are conducting," said Professor Imad L. Al-Qadi, ICT director, Founder Professor of Engineering, and a recently elected member of the American Society of Civil Engineers' Transportation and Development Institute Board of Governors. "The ICT research of the past six years is responsible for a safer highway system, better pavements, more efficient construction technologies, and sustainable transportation systems. It has also helped support more than 137 of our young, talented graduate students, who will go on to careers in the transportation industry. I have no doubt that in the years to come, ICT will maintain its status as a leading international transportation center and will continue to serve the State of Illinois, the nation, and the world through our cutting-edge research development and implementation.”
To fund research at ICT, IDOT will use $21.1 million of federal-aid State Planning and Research funds that are annually apportioned to Illinois, said Norman Stoner, Illinois Division Administrator for the Federal Highway Adminstration. These funds are federally mandated for use on transportation research, development and technology transfer, allowing states to research and implement new technologies and best practices to ensure the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of the state highway system.
In 2005, IDOT first contracted with ICT with a three-year agreement, which was renewed in 2008. In this new five-year agreement, IDOT will administer $4.1 - $4.3 million per year in federal funds. The ICT will continue to support IDOT through conducting research projects, leading technology transfer programs, providing support for the administration of research projects, and developing and managing technical studies. State funds are used to fund administrative costs at a rate of 10 percent of federal funds. The University of Illinois will provide a match for the federal State Programming and Research (SPR) funds at a rate of 25 percent to meet federal matching requirements for both research and planning activities. The federal, state and university matching funds total more than $30 million dedicated to improving the state’s transportation infrastructure.
“The expected return on investment from IDOT’s strategic partnership with ICT is imperative to enhance traffic safety and implement innovative technology to further improve Illinois’ roadway system," said Christine Reed, director of IDOT’s Division of Highways. "The anticipated transportation research acquired by this agreement will serve as the foundation of building longer-lasting highway infrastructure and reducing construction costs.”
The ICT is located at the Advanced Transportation Research and Engineering Laboratory, one of the top transportation research facilities in the nation, on 47 acres of the former Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Ill. The facility has 67,000 square feet of laboratories and three major buildings for transportation research. The ATREL complex houses a full-scale pavement testing facility that uses an Accelerated Transportation Loading Assembly (ATLAS) capable of evaluating multiple transportation support systems under real environmental and vehicular loading conditions.
For more information about ICT’s research activities and to download the recently published 2011 ICT Progress Report, visit the ICT website. Hard copies of the report are available by contacting Leslie Myrick. Photo: Researchers work under the Accelerated Transportation Loading Assembly at the Illinois Center for Transportation.