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Washington State to lead national center addressing transportation infrastructure

By David Schwartz
Published: June 11th, 2019

Washington State University will lead a national university transportation center focused on improving the durability nation’s transportation infrastructure. The new center, funded by a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, is one of just seven in the country and the only one focused on infrastructure repair.

“This award is more national recognition of our success in providing practical answers for everyday problems,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz. “It’s also an indicator of the caliber of our research in this field. We look forward to providing solutions that address the nation’s transportation challenges.”

Much of the U.S.’s critical infrastructure, such as the highway system, is now reaching the end of the lifetime for which it was designed. Every four years since the late 1990s, the American Society of Civil Engineers has provided a report card of U.S. infrastructure that shows grades of D or D+. Nearly 10% of approximately 600,000 bridges in the U.S. are considered structurally deficient, and 20% of all highway pavement is in poor condition.

“Maintaining a competitive and strong national economy requires well-maintained infrastructure — instead of putting Band-Aids on every once in awhile,” said Xianming Shi, associate professor in the WSU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who is leading the center. “The new center is long overdue and very timely, considering the pressing need of dealing with aging infrastructure. Our shared vision is to develop cost-effective innovations and holistic solutions to enhance multi-modal infrastructure durability.”

The center will provide support for innovations in infrastructure remediation through research, education, workforce development, technology transfer, and industry and public partnerships. Key research areas include new materials, like ultrahigh performance concrete and fiber-reinforced polymeric composites, as well as non-destructive ways of evaluating the condition of infrastructure. Researchers will also be studying asset and performance management and resilience, so that engineers and managers can make better and more cost-effective decisions around maintenance.

As the leader of the consortium, WSU will provide coordination, integration, program management, outreach, and fiscal management for the center. The consortium includes researchers from Missouri University of Science and Technology, Texas A & M University, Case Western Reserve University, University of Utah, University of Colorado, Denver, South Dakota State University, Florida Atlantic University, University of Mississippi, Alabama A & M University, and Tennessee State University.

Source: WSU Insider

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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