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University of Washington. (Flickr Photo / Sea-turtle)

Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) named the University of Washington one of 18 “Beyond Traffic Innovation Centers” across the country that will help tackle transportation challenges over the next 30 years.

UW will represent the Cascadia/Pacific Northwest “megaregion,” studying transportation issues and bringing together industry leaders to create innovative solutions.

USDOT names 18 institutions to represent ‘megaregions’ across the U.S. (USDOT Image)

USDOT has spent the past two years studying the current state of transportation and challenges the nation will face on the road ahead. Today, the federal agency is releasing a report, titled Beyond Traffic 2045, that summarizes those findings.

“In the next 30 years, our country will have 70 million more people competing for the use of our roads, transit and rail networks, and airports, and we are going to have to make some big choices about how we fund and prioritize transportation,” U.S. Transporation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a press release. “The Beyond Traffic Innovation Centers will bring together researchers, students, and thought leaders to develop the ideas we need to keep Americans moving and build a transportation system that works for everyone.”

USDOT estimates that the Pacific Northwest region will grow 41 percent by 2050, with the majority of population increases in the Portland-Seattle-Vancouver corridor.

UW President Ana Mari Cauce. (UW Photo)

UW already has a program dedicated to transportation innovation. The university is home to the Mobility Innovation Center, which brings together local government, members of the private sector, and transportation experts to find ways to improve the regional infrastructure. UW also houses the Urban Freight Lab, a collaboration of shipping experts across the industry, to improve the way goods are delivered to homes.

“Transportation affects our environment; it affects our economy; it affects our quality of life,” UW President Ana Mari Cauce said when the Mobile Innovation Center opened last spring. “Dealing with these issues requires a collaborative approach, uniting the public sector, private sector, and academia. The University of Washington is proud to contribute to the regional prosperity and well-being as a driver to the Puget Sound innovation ecosystem.”

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