Researchers from five states—North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado—hope to develop new ways to preserve and improve transportation infrastructure through a newly-awarded federal grant in the amount of $2.5 million over the next five years, Inforum reports. The research will be headed up by North Dakota State University’s Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute.
Tom Jirik, communications coordinator for the transportation institute, told the news agency that winning the federal grant is “always kind of a big deal for us,” adding that combined with the state funding it receives, it will give researchers a stable base to work from.
Most of the research will focus on transportation issues common to those states. “They are wide-open states with not many people, and a lot of stuff goes through those states to the population centers,” Jirik told the news agency, adding that it creates a lot of wear and tear on the roads.
Safety challenges being studied include heavy transport trucks and passenger cars sharing the same space. Researchers also hope the research will lead to longer-lasting pavements and structures. Some research may be done on new bridge-building materials and the use of sensors to monitor bridge deterioration.
“North Dakota has spent a lot of money improving roads and bridges,” Jirik told reporters, “and helping the state get the most out of its investment, that’s a big goal.”
Jirik told the news agency that amounts will vary from year to year, but he expects to receive $658,000 of the grant money by the end of January 2017.