In the News
FAU to receive $10.5 million in grants to research better freight transport
Arlene Satchell, Sun Sentinel
Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton is slated to receive $10.5 million in federal, state and private sector funding to find ways to improve freight transportation in Florida and elsewhere around the nation.
On Wednesday, local leaders joined FAU officials in announcing the university's award of a $1.4 million annual grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which will be matched by state and private sector funds over the next five years.
The grant will help FAU to establish a Freight Mobility Research Institute that will spearhead initiatives to fix "bottlenecks" in South Florida and around the country, said Evangelos I. Kaisar, an FAU associate professor and the institute's director.
The institute will work with industry stakeholders to improve networks on land, by rail, air or at sea. Those stakeholders include the Florida Department of Transportation, freight operators and logistics companies.
"Efficient and safe freight movement is inextricably linked to the economic vitality of a local area, state, region and even beyond," Kaisar said. "We are motivated to embrace innovative research projects, to train current and future transportation leaders and workforce, and to engage with industry to enhance collaboration between agencies."
FAU will lead a group of experts from top U.S. research universities to examine ways to improve multimodal connections, system integration and security, data modeling, and analytical tools to optimize freight movements that improve efficiency. The institute also will offer educational outreach to local schools, as well as freight and logistics courses and seminars to enable the business community to apply its research and solutions in real-life applications, Kaisar said.
Other Freight Mobility Research Institute members include University of Florida; University of Minnesota (Minneapolis); Portland State University; Hampton University; University of Memphis, and Texas A&M University.
DOT officials are expected to visit FAU in late January to view the institute's facilities, Kaisar said.
Local members of Congress welcomed the initiative and its potential positive impact on South Florida.
"We have two major ports in South Florida in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and we have a smaller one here in Palm Beach County, but we have these big Post-Panamex ships that are now going to be coming in with a lot of cargo, said Rep. Lois Frankel, D-FL. "So what these grants are really about is how are we going to move all these good more efficiently so that they can get to where they have to go and that the rest of us are not sitting in traffic for the rest of our lives."
FAU is also set to receive $1.5 million in grants over five years from the DOT to aid in its work with the newly-created Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The center's work will aim to reduce injuries and fatalities on the nation's roads by providing a new model for understanding and addressing traffic safety issues, FAU said.
"With these grants, FAU is going to lead the way toward expanding capacity while at the same time reducing congestion and traffic-related injuries and fatalities" said Rep. Ted Deutch, D-FL. "They are going to support FAU's critical work to make our highways safer [and] boost our economy through the transport of goods throughout the country."
In 2015, the nation's streets proved to be less safe with an estimated 38,000 Americans killed and 4.4 million injured on U.S. roads, Deutch said.
He also noted that having "a modern and an innovative" freight transportation system will be vital to the local, regional and national economy.