UA receives $8M grant to improve transportation project


Amanda Le, Contributing Writer

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) grants valued at $53.2 million to several projects on April 1.

The 10 selected applicants, including The University of Alabama, will use the funding toward modernized technologies in efforts to improve mobility and safety for drivers, and enhance the performance of the nation’s highway system. The FHWA evaluated 51 applications requesting more than $265 million, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

According to a press release from U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded $8,034,003 to the University through the ATCMTD Program.

State and local agencies have partnered to match the funds by adding $8.3 million toward the three-year project. The Alabama Transportation Institute (ATI) will guide the work for the University.

“The goal of the project is to help improve traffic safety and travel time reliability in West-Central Alabama by developing and deploying technology-based solutions,” said Shashi Nambisan, executive director of UA ATI and principal investigator on the grant.

To Blair Bollinger, a senior majoring in political science, traffic in Tuscaloosa has always been a nuisance for her.

“It’s about time,” Bollinger said. “It’s great that the University has been recognized and chosen among many other applicants because there is a major need for improvement with the traffic in Tuscaloosa. I am glad that UA can now have the funding to expand their resources.”

With Nambisan and a few other contributors being a part of the engineering department on campus, the civil engineering professor says that there will be opportunities for UA students to participate in the project.

“There will be opportunities for the educational aspect,” Nambisan said. “There will certainly be graduate students involved and there will be opportunities for undergraduates to participate, but how we incorporate some of our experiences into curricular activities is an important part.”

UA researchers will work to develop and deploy technologies such as sensors, cameras, cable medium crash barriers and other advanced technologies that could better the traffic control systems in West-Central Alabama.

In addition to Nambisan, other UA contributors who played instrumental roles within the project include Dr. Alex Hainen, UA assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering and a researcher on the project; Dr. Joshua A. Bittle, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and a researcher within CAVT; Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian, executive director of CAVT; Dr. Laura Myers, director of CAPS; Dr. Jun Liu, assistant professor of civil engineering and a researcher within UTCA; and Dr. Randy Smith, associate professor of computer science and a researcher within CAPS.