The Maritime Transportation Research and Education Center at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville has received an additional $1.4 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation for a wide range of ongoing research. UA transportation researchers are collaborating with five other research institutions to research maritime and multimodal transportation.
The Maritime Transportation Research Education Center, or MarTREC, has received funding from the DOT since 2013. The new grant is part of a five-year program that’s received a total of $7 million in federal funding and $3.5 million in matching funds. The UA announced the new grant on Tuesday (April 3).
“Given the link between international trade and gross domestic product, efficient and resilient ports are critical to the nation’s overall economy and the abilities of intermodal carriers to move freight between ports of entry and inland locations,” said Heather Nachtmann, MarTREC director and professor of industrial engineering. “MarTREC researchers are well positioned to advance current understanding and facilitate improved operations within the nation’s multimodal supply chain networks and to inform infrastructure investment decisions to address the aging navigation system and eliminate freight bottlenecks and service delays.”
Multimodal transportation integrates trucking, rail and barge modes of transportation, and MarTREC researchers focus on preserving the existing transportation system in the United States through research, education and technology. They design supply chain networks to improve resources and limit congestion on navigable waterways. The work includes designs and plans for barge containers, shipping cycle times, reliability, safety and to preserve the environment. The funding has help to support work on improving routes to reduce congestion and to decrease demand on ports, highways and railroads. Researchers also study the impact to the U.S. transportation system of new global shipping routes, such as the expanded use of the Panama Canal.
A rising concern has been the aging infrastructure of the inland waterway navigation system, Nachtmann said. One MarTREC project, led by Gary Prinz and Clint Wood, assistant professors of civil engineering, has looked into lock gate issues and seeks to find ways to prevent cracks during the life of the gate.
MarTREC is looking to take on new projects, and the deadline to submit a request is April 6. Click here for more information.
MarTREC is one of 20 centers in the United States that’s a Tier 1 University Transportation Center, which refers to the amount of DOT grant funding received. The center is a collaboration between researchers at Jackson State University in Mississippi, Louisiana State University, the University of New Orleans, Vanderbilt University, Texas A&M University and Texas A&M Transportation Institute.