Daily News

UMass Amherst Awarded $15 Million to Lead Regional University Transportation Center

AMHERST — UMass Amherst will lead the New England Region 1 consortium — one of 10 regional university transportation centers (UTCs) — for the U.S. Department of Transportation under a five-year, $15 million grant. The goal of the centers is to advance state-of-the-art transportation research, technology, and safety.

The colleges and universities comprising New England’s Region 1 consortium led by UMass Amherst include the University of Connecticut, MIT, the University of Maine, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Rhode Island, and Norwich University, as well as Bunker Hill and Holyoke community colleges.

The UTC program has been congressionally mandated since 1987, and each consortium includes two- and four-year colleges and universities that form a unique center of transportation excellence on a specific research topic. There are five national centers, 20 Tier 1 centers, and 10 regional centers in the U.S.

“I am thrilled that the University of Massachusetts Amherst will now lead the New England Region’s University Transportation Center,” U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern said. “Billions of dollars are being invested through the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and now UMass will be at the forefront of ensuring that this money is spent wisely, justly, and efficiently.”

President Biden’s infrastructure package included $90 million in funding per year for the competitively selected UTC program grants. The DOT received 230 grant applications, which represents the largest number of applications ever submitted in the 35-year history of the UTC program.

“The University of Massachusetts Amherst has been quite active within the UTC program since its inception, and we are excited about the society impact of the research and education developed within this new UTC,” said Michael Knodler Jr., director of the UMass Transportation Center and associate dean for Research & Graduate Affairs and professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the UMass College of Engineering. “Despite traffic-safety advances, roadway fatalities in 2021 were the highest in over a decade, and up more than 10% from 2020. The traffic fatality rate per mile is significantly higher for Black and Hispanic Americans when compared to White Americans, and those of low socioeconomic status are more likely to be involved in fatal crashes.”

Shannon Roberts will serve as the associate director of the New England UTC. She is an assistant professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and co-director of the Arbella Insurance Human Performance Laboratory.

“The time to make a generational impact in equitable transportation safety is now,” Roberts said.