Regional Division of Texas Transportation Institute to Open at A&M International

Laredo's phenomenal transportation industry will benefit from the presence of a regional division of the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) to be established at Texas A&M International University.

The formal establishment of the TTI division was celebrated with state and local dignitaries and senior representatives of The Texas A&M University System (TAMUS) and A&M International leaders Tuesday in the Great Room of the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library.

Representatives of The Texas A&M University System Chancellor Barry Thompson, the A&M Board of Regents and TTI Director Dr. Herbert Richardson were on hand for the occasion as will State Senator Judith Zaffirini and State Representative Henry Cuellar.

"Transportation is the lifeblood of our economy and there is no better backdrop for research and study than Laredo, Texas and A&M International," said A&M International president Dr. Charles Jennett.

"This University has long enjoyed a substantial research reputation in transportation and logistics and the presence of this research-centered initiative will provide some remarkable opportunities for our faculty, students, and the community in general. We are looking forward to developing some unique initiatives that will help to advance discussion and identify practical responses for this growing industry," he continued.

Under authority granted to TTI and A&M International by the TAMUS Board of Regents in January 1995, the ceremony formally establishes a regional division of the state agency at A&M International that will interface with all transportation activities at the University.

Part of the division's charge will be the active pursuit of expanded funded research opportunities with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and other state, local, federal, international and private research sponsors. A&M International will cooperate with TTI in preparing research proposals where the combined talents of both institutions can enhance the competitiveness for external funds.

In addition, the TTI office will collaborate with the University and other members of TAMUS to deliver education and training in transportation to the border region and elsewhere as appropriate.

Dr. Herbert H. Richardson, TTI Director, noted that TTI has already conducted research relevant to the Laredo area.

"A&M International faculty members and TTI researchers have conducted studies to determine how ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) technologies could help with complex issues such as the problem of border crossings by commercial vehicles," Dr. Richardson explained.

"Last year, experts from both institutions cooperated to deliver a series of lectures to enhance the transportation and logistics curriculum in the College of Business," Richardson said.

He noted another recent effort produced a geographic information system (GIS) database along the highway corridor between San Antonio, Texas and Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

"This is the first attempt to place these information resources from both countries into a single database. The new GIS database will help to overcome significant obstacles faced by government officials in Texas and Mexico as they work to plan operations and improvements along this busy international trade corridor," he said.

Dr. Khosrow Fatemi, Dean of A&M International's College of Business Administration, said TTI economists and University faculty members have already enjoyed a strong working relationship.

"Two years ago, TTI economists and A&M International faculty members and students worked together to collect information that was used to evaluate the proposed Camino Colombia Toll Road linking the Solidarity Bridge to IH 35," Fatemi recalled.

Richardson said that TTI is presently working with Texas A&M's Center for Urban Housing and Webb County officials to support the provision of transportation services for Webb County residents in four colonia neighborhoods. From funding provided by the State Energy Conservation Office, vehicles will be acquired for the Community Resource Centers in El Cenizo, Rio Bravo, the Quad-Cities, and the Highway 359 communities. TTI will then conduct research on how these vehicles can best be deployed to serve local needs.

He noted TTI also provides supports to the Laredo District of the Texas Department of Transportation in the areas of design, planning and operation of new and existing highways to ensure that the area's transportation system keeps pace with the growing demands resulting from expanded international trade.

Organizers said that in future years, TTI and A&M International plan to develop new partnership agreements with TxDOT's Laredo district and other agencies in the city and region.

Potential topics include improved movements of hazardous materials and waste, international transportation projects and policies, transportation facility design and engineering, ITS applications and transportation planning techniques.

For additional information on the regional division of the Texas Transportation Institute, please contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at 326.2180.

University office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

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