Urbana, IL – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) plans to invest more than $23 million over the next five years to continue the innovative transportation research conducted by the Illinois Center for Transportation (ICT) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The agreement,effective July 1, 2011, comes as the ICT continues its groundbreaking work to develop effective technologies to continuously improve the safety, reliability, and sustainability of Illinois’ transportation infrastructure.
Norman Stoner, Illinois Division Administrator for the FHWA, explains that “to assist with funding the ICT’s research over the next five years, IDOT will use $21.1 million of federal-aid State Planning and Research funds that are annually apportioned to Illinois.” 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.
IDOT first contracted with the ICT in 2005 with a three-year agreement and renewed that agreement in 2008. In this new five-year agreement, IDOT will administer $4.1 – $4.3 million per year in federal funds. ICT will continue to support IDOT through conducting research projects, leading technology transfer programs, and provide 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 over $30 million dedicated to improving the state’s transportation infrastructure.
ICT Director Imad L. Al-Qadi, UIUC Founder Professor of Engineering, remarked, “We appreciate the confidence shown by IDOT and the FHWA in the research we are conducting. 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.”
Since its inception, 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 UI campuses, as well as subcontracts research projects to other universities and private researchers. In addition, ICT advertises requests for proposals biannually.
Christine Reed, Director of the IDOT’s Division of Highways says, “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. The anticipated transportation research acquired by this agreement will serve as the foundation of buildinglonger-lasting highway infrastructure and reducing construction costs.”