After winning a slot as one of only 18 USDOT Beyond Traffic Innovation Centers, CAIT continues to tackle transportation challenges today and into the future
USDOT’s Beyond Traffic 2045 report presents its views on current and anticipated needs of the country’s transportation network. It is the most comprehensive assessment USDOT has published in decades.
In its announcement of the report, USDOT stated, “After years of chronic underinvestment and policy choices that, in some cases, have actually worked at cross purposes with the broader economic and social goals held by most Americans, now is the time for a report like this one to be read, understood, considered, and used.”
Shortly after the release of Beyond Traffic 2045, former Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a national competition for Beyond Traffic Innovation Centers, inviting nonprofit universities and colleges (and other nonprofit centers or foundations) to apply.
The RFP solicited influential, forward-thinking applicants who have proven they can produce practical solutions, bring together stakeholders and decision makers, and coordinate research and outreach. USDOT wants the winners to focus those abilities on the challenges identified in Beyond Traffic.
With nearly 20 years as a University Transportation Center, CAIT was well positioned for the competition. The center’s track record shows a pattern of innovative, practical solutions that have quickly evolved from an ephemeral concept to tangible tool—especially when it comes to infrastructure condition assessment, rehabilitation, durability, and asset management.
Multiple Rutgers projects were referenced in the USDOT’s Research, Development, and Technology Strategic Plan (2017–2021), notably CAIT’s work as PI since 2008 on the Long-Term Bridge Performance (LTBP) Program and the comprehensive online bridge data and performance analysis tool it developed with FHWA, the LTBP Bridge Portal. Also mentioned were the RABIT™ bridge condition assessment robot (also created in conjunction with the LTBP program) and CAIT’s work on the team that developed a workforce training program for the transit industry.
There are only 18 Beyond Traffic Innovation Centers serving 12 designated megaregions, plus an additional three centers serving rural regions. They all are tasked with identifying promising approaches that could solve transportation issues specific to their defined geographic region.
For instance, centers may evaluate new technologies relevant to their region’s challenges, develop workforce-training programs, or convene practitioners with public and private industry leaders to hash out long- and short-term improvement strategies.
USDOT expects the centers will continue the “conversation” started by Beyond Traffic, encourage new thinking, and stimulate discussion about the transportation challenges our country faces during the next 30 years. CAIT will continue to look “beyond traffic” and develop tools for agencies and industry.