Federal officials have selected LSU and Baton Rouge Community College as two of 11 universities to participate in a regional consortium that will dive into major transportation issues and establish a regional transportation research center.
The group of universities, to be called the Transportation Consortium of South-Central States, or Tran-SET, will focus on using innovative materials and technology to improve transportation infrastructure, LSU says in a news release.
Tran-SET will receive a roughly $2.47 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Centers program. The group is one of 35 recipients of the five-year grant.
Marwa Hassan, a professor in LSU’s Bert S. Turner Department of Construction Management, will lead the project, the university says in a news release.
“LSU is proud to lend our expertise in transportation and innovation to help solve our state’s transportation issues,” LSU President F. King Alexander says in a statement. “With our regional partner institutions and federal support, we can meet the transportation needs of the South.”
The program could prove to be a boon for Louisiana, which has a backlog of needed infrastructure projects worth more than $12 billion. The center is supposed to address the economic limitations of revamping the region’s infrastructure by only researching topics that have a viable plan to move new technology from research to implementation.
In 2015, U.S. Rep. Garret Graves helped lay the groundwork for Tran-SET during congressional negotiations for the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act. Graves championed language in the federal highway bill that provides funding for research to improve the efficiency of transportation systems, LSU’s news release says.
“Technology has made things that were impossible 20 years ago commonplace—just think about your smartphone,” Graves says in a statement. “We need to leverage those capabilities to make our transportation systems smarter, our commutes faster and the flow of traffic smoother.”