$3.5M fuels highway, railway safety research

May 8th, 2012 | By | Category: 2012, Issue, Jan. 26, Research

UNL has won a $3.5 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant promoting highway and railway safety. The award enables UNL to continue hosting the Mid-America Transportation Center, a four-state regional center researching various elements of transportation safety.

Since 2006, UNL has hosted the Mid-America Transportation Center for transportation research in collaboration with universities and state transportation agencies in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas. The Transportation Department’s $3.5 million grant means UNL will continue hosting the center for at least the next year.

“This announcement is good news for America’s truckers, rail operators and highway users because UNL is a leader in researching how to make our roads and railways safer,” said U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, who announced the grant award Jan. 12. “UNL has done notable research in areas of transportation safety over the years, including design and development of roadside and racetrack safety technologies credited with preventing thousands of deaths and earning UNL Professor Dean Sicking ‘The National Medal of Technology and Innovation’ in 2005, which is the highest honor for technological achievement. This grant announcement continues UNL’s successes.”

The UNL center has overseen research on such issues as the use of high-performance concrete, truck safety improvements at railroad crossings, the effects of driver education on truck drivers’ stress, snow de-icing chemicals, speed limits, a variety of construction materials for roads and railways and a life cycle assessment of Nebraska bridges.

“Transportation is a major industry in Nebraska, which makes the university transportation center’s work especially important to our state and nation,” said Prem Paul, vice chancellor for research and economic development. “We are leveraging the center’s research to support our economy. This is research that touches people’s lives and our economy.”

Paul said Sen. Nelson’s support has been key in helping secure funding that has allowed UNL to host and support the transportation center’s research efforts.

Larry Rilett, director of the Mid-America Transportation Center and the Keith W. Klaasmeyer Chair in Engineering and Technology, said the grant’s greatest benefit is that it will allow the university to increase the number of students and faculty involved in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs of the center’s consortium members.

For more information, go to http://go.unl.edu/mxi.

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