UF's Transportation Research Center received a $3.5 million grant for an initiative to improve transportation in the Southeast United States.
The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the grant to UF in January after the university led a team of schools in submitting a proposal for the project.
This led to the new Southeastern Transportation Research, Innovation, Development and Education Center at UF, or STRIDE. Seven other schools are collaborating with UF: Auburn University, Florida International University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Mississippi State University, North Carolina State University, University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of North Carolina.
Ines Aviles-Spadoni works at the TRC within UF's College of Engineering and will serve as the STRIDE coordinator.
She said the initiative will focus on making transportation more economically competitive, easier for local communities and safer for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.
The grant will provide more funding for graduate and undergraduate student research in transportation, said director of the TRC and civil engineering professor Lily Elefteriadou.
This is the second grant UF has received from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Elefteriadou said. In 2007, the department gave $1 million, which was matched by another $1 million, primarily from the Florida Department of Transportation.
This year's grant requires that it be matched by a maximum of $3.5 million from nonfederal agencies. It also must be used for research, education and workforce development, and STRIDE must make the findings easily available through outlets such as workshops and classes.
Southeastern transportation needs must be evaluated and reformed on a broad scale, Aviles-Spadoni said, from emergency evacuation procedures to air-quality concerns in local communities.
"We hope that by coordination with these universities that we will address all those critical needs," she said.