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UVA and VDOT celebrate 75th anniversary of state transportation research council

Rebecca Barnabi
(© monticellllo – stock.adobe.com)

A partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation and UVA is celebrating its 75th anniversary with a new website.

The Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC) was established on November 1, 1948, and is one of the nation’s leading transportation research centers.

VTRC is headquartered at UVA and specializes in applied transportation research for VDOT. The council also contributes to graduate research for engineering students from universities in Virginia and the United States.

“We’re proud of the fact that the work done at the Research Council doesn’t result in a report that just sits on a shelf,” VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich said. “It leads to implementation that improves the lives of Virginians with a safer and more reliable transportation system.”

In 75 years, the council’s research has grown from studying materials such as concrete and asphalt, to include critical transportation topics like safety, traffic engineering, connected and autonomous vehicles, environmental impacts and economics.

Scientists at the council use state-of-the-art technology and laboratories on more than 200 transportation projects. A priority is research on sustainability, such as using corrosion resistant materials on Virginia’s bridges to improve the longevity of structures, or the incorporation of recycled materials into pavements.

The council’s recent focus has been on implementing its findings to benefit Virginia’s roads.

“Technology is changing so quickly,” VTRC Director Michael Fitch said. “We can vet some of those technologies to see which are most appropriate for VDOT and which are valuable for helping the Department meet its overall goals.”

The council also partners with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to field test its research on the Virginia Smart Roads, a network of VDOT maintained roads and testing grounds contained within a closed facility and managed by Virginia Tech in cooperation with VDOT.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.