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UA’s Alabama Transportation Institute awarded $8 million to improve transportation in west-central Alabama

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) on Thursday announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded $8,034,003 to the University of Alabama’s (UA) Alabama Transportation Institute (ATI) to improve traffic control systems in west-central Alabama with modernized technology through the Advanced Connected Transportation Infrastructure and Operations Network (ACTION) project.

The grant is being made through the federal Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) Program.

“This nationally competitive award enhances the growing recognition of UA’s research enterprise. The award reflects the combined efforts of several researchers and transportation related centers at UA and our partners who teamed up to address critical transportation system needs in West Central Alabama,” Dr. Shashi Nambisan, executive director of the ATI, said in a statement to Yellowhammer News.

The ATCMTD program, established by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2015, provides funding for eligible entities across the nation to improve the performance of transportation systems, reduce traffic congestion and improve the safety of the traveling public by providing state-of-the-art technology, including sensor systems and cameras, and the incorporation of new communication platforms.

“It is outstanding news that DOT has awarded UA funding for Alabama’s advanced technology initiative,” Shelby said in a release. “The program will address transportation needs in west-central Alabama that are critical to improved quality of life and economic vitality. I look forward to the lasting impacts the implementation of this initiative will bring to the community.”

ACTION will be deployed on freeways and arterials in and around Tuscaloosa. The project’s core theme is to leverage technological advances to enhance efficiency, capacity and safety. Key components of ACTION include a network of sensors and cameras, communications technologies and traffic signal systems, as well as mobility tools for passenger and freight traffic.

Nambisan advised, “The project will substantially mitigate congestion, improve travel time reliability, and enhance safety for motorists pedestrians and in the region, all of which are critical for the region’s economic vitality and interstate commerce.”

In addition to the $8 million grant from the U.S. DOT, the ACTION project includes matching funding of approximately $8.3 million from various partners in the Yellowhammer State for a total funding of about $16.3 million over a three-year period.

A multi-agency partnership will work collaboratively on ACTION. This partnership includes the ATI, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), the Tuscaloosa County Road Improvement Commission, the cities of Tuscaloosa and Northport and other local and regional industry stakeholders, including manufacturing and trucking. In addition to the leadership of ATI on the project, UA is supplying the partnership team with researchers from its Center for Advanced Public Safety, Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies and the University Transportation Center for Alabama.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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