The University of Maine (UMaine) reports that the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) plans to give it as much as $14.2 million over a period of five years to lead a coalition in the creation of the Transportation Infrastructure Durability Center (TIDC). The goal is to save taxpayer dollars by extending the life of transportation infrastructure, including bridges, roads, and rail.
The coalition also includes the University of Rhode Island, the University of Connecticut, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, the University of Vermont, and Western New England University. Additional partners include representatives from the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT), the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Connecticut Department of Transportation, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, and the American Society of Civil Engineers Transportation and Development Institute.
“Building on an impressive legacy of accomplishment, UMaine is well-positioned to lead this research to address the major challenges facing the future of our nation’s transportation systems,” said Sen. Susan Collins, according to the university.
“As a regional and national leader in transportation-related research, UMaine is prepared and ready to take on this work,” said Sen. Angus King, according to the university. “The creation of this new center will allow the university to expand its efforts to tackle the infrastructure problems facing communities not just in Maine, but across the country. This project has the potential to save taxpayer money and improve quality of life for residents of our state, and I look forward to seeing its impact on Maine people for years to come.”
“This is the first time that Maine was selected as the regional hub for U.S. DOT university transportation infrastructure-related research,” said Habib Dagher, founding executive director of the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center and director of the newly formed TIDC Center, the university reports. “Along with our partners from all New England states, we look forward to leading research to extend the life of existing bridges, construct longer-lasting assets, and reduce costs for the DOT and the public.”
“We are eager to partner with this program to support research that will offer new technologies and techniques that ensure taxpayer investments continue to be maximized, while also extending the lifespan of our investments,” said MaineDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt, according to the university.
TIDC will use 28 faculty researchers and train 280 student researchers from all New England states to focus on and prioritize real infrastructure needs identified by DOT partners. It will identify new materials and technologies that maximize the impact of investments in transportation infrastructure, including the following:
- Develop improved road and bridge monitoring and assessment tools;
- Develop better ways to strengthen and extend the life of existing bridges;
- Use new materials and systems to build longer-lasting bridges and accelerate construction; and
- Use new connectivity tools to enhance asset and performance management, while promoting workforce development.