Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary Ann L. Schneider recently announced a $2.6 million dollar three-year partnership with the Illinois Center for Transportation (ICT) to fund the Illinois Sustainability Transportation Program. The announcement was part of the Kent Distinguished Lecture Schneider presented in which she laid out IDOT’s long-range transportation plan. Funds will be allocated at a rate of $880,000 yearly beginning in fiscal year 2014.
“IDOT has demonstrated a long-term commitment to sustainable practices, carrying out research and implementing green technologies in our daily operations,” said Schneider. “This partnership will allow IDOT to broaden its focus on sustainable technologies and provide dedicated staffing to oversee sustainability research and implementation in the years to come.”
Imad Al-Qadi, ICT Director, explained, “The focus if this program will be on transportation infrastructure and efficient movement of people and goods, while maintaining an environmentally balanced and socially responsible approach.” Al-Qadi elaborated that the Illinois Sustainability Transportation Program will focus on innovative applied research and technology transfer to promote energy conservation and green practices for planning, design, construction, operation, preservation, and control of highway systems and other transportation modalities. Additional details on the program are highlighted in an article from the Champaign News-Gazette.
Sustainability through environmental conservation and improved quality of life is a key component of IDOT’s long-range plan, which is available online. In her lecture, Schneider outlined several strategic priorities that are driving the plan:
- Increasing safety
- Supporting economic vitality.
- Increasing security.
- Increasing accessibility and mobility.
- Enhancing connectivity and integration.
- Promoting efficient system management and operation.
- Preserving existing transportation systems.
Schneider emphasized that the long-range plan must be feasible, and each of the strategic priorities has action items associated with it. The progress made on achieving the action items will be evaluated continually, and as times change, the plan will be adjusted to reflect the current situation. With the help of ICT, IDOT has developed a sustainability scorecard that will be used to evaluate the sustainability component of all new IDOT projects going forward.
Schneider’s presentation was this year’s Paul Fraser Kent Distinguished Lecture, which began in 2007 and honors outstanding leadership in the field of transportation engineering. Kent was a 1920 graduate of the University of Illinois in Civil Engineering. As a highway contractor and materials supplier, he owned and operated two Champaign-based companies, General Paving and Builders Supply. Throughout his professional career, he expressed the highest regard and great esteem for the education in civil engineering he received at the University of Illinois. Kent dedicated himself to civic service in Illinois and surrounding states. He was the founder and president of the University of Illinois Civil Engineering Alumni Association, and was the recipient of the U of I Loyalty Award and the Civil Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award.