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Good Public Transit

UTA Receives $7.7 Million to Study Transportation Equity

The federal funds will found new research center inside university's school of architecture, planning, and public policy
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Interstate 345, not the best route to the State Fair of Texas. (photo by Scott Womack)

In the October issue, I wrote about Nan Ellin, the dean of the University of Texas at Arlington’s new College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (or CAPPA), and her plans to transform the school into a major research center for urban development. The impetus, according to UTA president Vistasp Karbhari, is to prepare DFW for that challenges that will inevitably arise with the region’s continuing growth:

“We will be at mega-city status of 10 million people very quickly,” says UTA President Vistasp Karbhari, an Indian-born structural engineer who was the main architect of the strategic plan. “One of the challenges of a mega-city is looking at built environments as well as public policy. The concept was that if we were truly going to make an impact on how Dallas prepares to become a mega-city, there was a need, in my mind, to try to do much more to shape it in the best way possible.”

One of the biggest issues the region faces (as we have been talking a lot about lately) is transportation, and, in particular, transportation equity. It is not surprising that Dallas’ poverty rate is so high when only 20 percent of its jobs are accessible via mass transit within 90 minutes and when affordable housing is not affordable when transportation costs are factored in.

Changing this won’t be easy, but today the effort to understand how to improve our region’s transportation situation got a boost. UTA’s CAPPA is the recipient of a $7.7 million federal grant — the largest in the college’s history — to found a new research center that will study transportation equity. The new Center for Transportation Equity, Decisions and Dollars, or C-TEDD, will be housed within UTA’s Institute of Urban Studies, and, according to Ellin, it will focus on “teaching, research, and outreach that makes transportation more efficient and accessible to all, facilitating access to upward mobility.”

The grant is part of a $300 million program for transportation research initiatives announced by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx:

The work of the [University Transportation Centers ] will help the United States meet the impacts outlined in Beyond Traffic, a draft report documenting trends and challenges to the nation’s transportation system over the next 30 years. Combined with the Smart City Challenge, a $40 million competition—which will create a fully integrated, first-of-its-kind city that uses data, technology and creativity to shape how people and goods move in the future—and programs such as the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Program and the Mobility-on-Demand Sandbox, the Department is leveraging multiple programs to bring innovative transportation solutions to cities across the country.

In addition to being the lead research university on C-TEDD, UTA will also server as a partner institution in two addition new research centers created by the federal program, the National Institute for Transportation & Communities, housed at Portland State University, and the Transportation Consortium of South-Central States (Tran-SET), housed at LSU.

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