UNL wins grant for highway, rail safety

Nebraska's Sen. Ben Nelson today applauded the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for winning a competitive grant promoting highway and railway safety. The $3.5 million grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, will enable UNL to continue hosting a four-state regional center that has researched such matters as safer highway guardrails, de-icing chemicals and the life span of Nebraska bridges.

“This announcement is good news for America’s truckers, rail operators and highway users because UNL is a leader in researching how to make our roads and railways safer,” Nelson said. "UNL has done notable research in areas of transportation safety over the years, including design and development of roadside and racetrack safety technologies credited with preventing thousands of deaths and earning UNL Professor Dean Sicking ‘The National Medal of Technology and Innovation’ in 2005, which is the highest honor for technological achievement. This grant announcement continues UNL’s successes."

Since 2006, the University of Nebraska has hosted the Mid-America Transportation Center for transportation research in collaboration with universities and state transportation agencies in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas with annual funding of $2 million. The Transportation Department’s new award of a $3.5 million grant means UNL will continue hosting the regional center for at least the next year.

The UNL center has overseen research on such issues as the use of high-performance concrete, truck safety improvements at railroad crossings, the effects of driver education on truck driver’s stress, snow de-icing chemicals, speed limits, a variety of construction materials for roads and railways and a life cycle assessment of Nebraska bridges.

Prem S. Paul, UNL vice chancellor for research and economic development, said: "Transportation is a major industry in Nebraska, which makes the University Transportation Center's work especially important to our state and nation. We are leveraging the center's research to support our economy. This is research that touches people's lives and our economy."

"I want to thank Sen. Nelson for his strong support in helping us secure funding to build the infrastructure at UNL that now supports our robust transportation research effort,” Paul said.

Larry Rilett, director of the Mid-America Transportation Center at UNL and the Keith W. Klaasmeyer Chair in Engineering and Technology said that the grant’s greatest benefit is that it will allow the university to increase the number of students and faculty involved in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs of the Mid-America Transportation Center consortium members.

“The end result will be a safer and more efficient transportation system in Nebraska and throughout the states of Region 7,” Rilett said. “This award acknowledges the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a national leader in transportation research, education and technology transfer. It would not have been possible without the significant support of the Region 7 state departments of transportation, including the Nebraska Department of Roads, and our private sector partners from the trucking, railway and logistics industries."

Click here for more information on the Mid-America Transportation Center at UNL.