U.S. DOT opens competition for transportation research grants

Posted on March 7, 2016


A maximum of $377.5 million in U.S. DOT funding will be available over five years for the University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program, including awards of up to $72.5 million for FY 2016. This year, for the first time, two-year institutions of higher education are eligible to partner in the UTC consortia.

“At DOT we continue to transform government for the 21st Century by harnessing innovation and embracing technology that will improve people’s lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. ”Our Universities are at the forefront of solution-oriented research addressing America’s changing demographics and increased freight volumes, and ensuring improved access to economic opportunity nationwide. We have some of the best universities in the world and I am calling on them to innovate and think big.”

The work of UTCs will align with the Department’s vision to move the U.S. “Beyond Traffic” and towards a 21st Century transportation system that moves people and goods more efficiently. The FAST Act specifies six research priorities which UTCs selected through this competition must address: improving mobility of people and goods; reducing congestion; promoting safety; improving the durability and extending the life of transportation infrastructure; preserving the environment; and preserving the existing transportation system.

“These funds will support UTC programs that provide students with real opportunities to take part in cutting-edge research and to work on transportation issues with leading experts in the field,” said Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology Greg Winfree. “In addition, these Centers allow undergraduate and graduate students in multimodal transportation-related disciplines to apply innovative thinking and evolve technologies that will ultimately improve people’s lives.”

UTCs will be selected by the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration and other modal administrators as appropriate. The two-step application process requires applicants submit a letter of intent by April 1, 2016.  Completed applications are due no later than May 13, 2016. Awards will be made no later than Dec. 4, 2016, with Federal fiscal year (FY) 16 funds (up to $72.5 million) awarded at that time. Subsequent awards using Federal FY17 - FY20 funding will be made annually after that date, subject to availability of funds and grantee compliance with grant terms and conditions.

The UTC program supports applied and academic research on national transportation priorities (including safety) at 35 competitively-selected colleges and university grantees across the U.S., currently encompassing over 100 institutions of higher education. UTCs work with regional, state, and local transportation agencies and private sector partners to help find solutions to challenges that directly impact their communities and affect the efficiency of the nation’s transportation system, as well as to educate the next generation of transportation leaders.

This UTC grant competition solicitation builds on the Department’s recent announcement that seventy-eight cities submitted applications for the Smart City Challenge where applicants were invited to submit bold ideas towards a 21st century transportation system — designed to address or enhance community needs — across a range of innovation and data-driven platforms. 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.

The UTC grant competition solicitation can be accessed through the federal website, by searching for opportunity number UTCOPENCOMP2016. A list of past grant recipients is available here. Find out more about the UTC program.

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