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ITS Berkeley Joins Transportation Congestion Relief UTC

ITS Berkeley is excited to announce their participation in the creation of USDOT’s only national center focused on congestion relief, called the “National Institute for Congestion Reduction” (NICR). The consortium also includes the lead institution of the University of South Florida and two additional partners: Texas A&M University and its affiliated Texas A&M Transportation Institute College Station and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for us to foster new partnerships, build on our current research, and connect with new opportunities as we work to reduce congestion in a variety of settings,” says ITS Director Alexandre Bayen.

A $7.5 million grant was awarded by the USDOT to establish a national university transportation center (UTC) aimed at advancing research and education programs that address the nation’s critical transportation challenges. The consortium was selected from more than 50 applicants nationwide for this highly competitive award.

“This new center will establish Berkeley and its partners as national leaders, along with our State DOTs and other partners, in addressing the critical issue of passenger and freight congestion in the U.S.—the center will focus on ensuring equitable access to underserved populations in a wide range of land-use contexts,” says Civil and Environmental Engineering professor Susan Shaheen.

NICR is dedicated to congestion reduction through multimodal solutions for the surface transportation system. This diverse team of experts is uniquely positioned to help reduce congestion through its deep understanding of modeling, transportation planning and regulation, public transit and shared mobility. It aims to produce tools (methods, guidelines and policies) for improving congested, multimodal systems in the immediate future.

“By operationalizing theories developed by our consortium, using recent advancements in big data science and adaptations to existing technologies, our tools will be available in the short run, without having to wait for future technological advances to understand congestion impacts,” says Civil and Environmental Engineering professor Michael Cassidy. “By generalizing our theories, our tools will be ready for immediate use in complex, real-world environments more efficiently.”

NICR’s research will focus on optimizing the efficiency and reliability of travel for all transportation system users, data modeling and analytical tools to evaluate the effects of the shifting transit incentive structure, and ridesharing and alternative forms of transportation, grouped under four pillars: Urban and Rural Traffic Management in the Age of Big Data, Battling Congestion Using Innovative Mobility Platforms, Incentivizing Transit in the Face of Innovative Alternatives, and Battling Congestion on Freeway Corridors.

The USDOT invests in the future of transportation through the UTC Program, which awards and administers grants to consortia of colleges and universities across the United States. The FAST Act authorized more than $300 million in spending from fiscal years 2016 through 2020 for the maintenance of existing efforts and launching new initiatives in research, education and workforce development, and the facilitation of technology transfer.

“These investments in transportation research will help address our country’s congestion and durability challenges,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

Read the full announcement here.