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Request for Supplemental Information

From: UTCgrants (VOLPE)
Sent: Wednesday, October 05, 2016 12:20 PM
To: UTCgrants (VOLPE) <utcgrants@dot.gov>
Subject: Request for additional information regarding your UTC grant proposal

Dear Colleague,

Attached to this email is a Request for Additional Information regarding the FAST Act UTC grant proposal(s) you or a representative from your university submitted. Please respond to this request for each of the applications for which you were listed as the Center Director (Principal Investigator). In addition, we suggest that you coordinate with your university’s contracts and grants office on this request.

The deadline for your response is 5:00 PM EDT on Friday, October 21, 2016.

Mark Dowd
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology
Office of The Secretary
U.S. Department of Transportation

David Kim
Deputy Administrator
Federal Highway Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation

 

To:                   UTC Applicant

Subject:           Request for Information Concerning Your UTC Application

This Is A Request for Additional Information Concerning Your UTC Grant Application

This request for information does not indicate that your University Transportation Centers (UTC) grant application has either been selected or rejected for an award. Consistent with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (US DOT) FY2016 University Transportation Centers Grant Solicitation (page 27), the purpose of this request is to seek additional information from you to clarify your application and complete the US DOT’s review of applications. You are receiving this request because you were listed as the point of contact and/or principal investigator/Center Director on the UTC application.

Please read this entire request for supplemental information. Below, it describes the specific information that US DOT would like you to submit.

Background and Purpose of Request

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act; P. L. 114-94, December 4, 2015) authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to make grants to eligible non-profit institutions of higher education to establish and operate University Transportation Centers (UTCs or Centers). On February 2, 2016, the US DOT published a Notice in the Federal Register (81 Fed. Reg. 5516) announcing the opportunity to submit applications for UTC grants. The FY 2016 grant solicitation opened on www.grants.gov on March 1, 2016, and closed on May 13, 2016. The US DOT received 212 applications for five National UTCs, ten Regional UTCs and up to 20 Tier 1 UTCs.

The US DOT has reviewed the UTC applications and determined that the applications it received did not sufficiently describe research activities addressing certain Departmental research priorities and did not adequately address issues raised in Beyond Traffic 2045.

Specifically, Beyond Traffic 2045 noted (p. 284):

Most Americans expect transportation choices—and the access to opportunity those choices bring—that are probably unmatched in history or anywhere else in the world today. Nonetheless, we face obstacles about how to maintain and improve those options as our circumstances change. How can we continue to make possible the mobility that we want and need? The policies we ultimately choose can also be used to achieve broader social goals. Our transportation system does not have to be a force that exacerbates social divisions and income inequality—it can be connective tissue that provides opportunities for us all.

Collectively, the applications received did not address the challenge of a transportation system that does not exacerbate social divisions and income inequality. Therefore, the US DOT requests additional information before making its award selections.

Description of Specific Information Needed

The US DOT is requesting additional information from UTC applicants, including you.

General Requests

There are two general requests.  All applicants should respond to these two requests.

1.      Please provide supplemental information that describes how your proposed research activities will prepare our transportation system for the future challenges set forth in DOT’s draft report Beyond Traffic 2045: Trends and Choices.

2.      Please provide supplemental information that describes how your proposed research activities will help address the challenges for underserved and underinvested communities set forth in DOT’s draft report Beyond Traffic 2045: Trends and Choices.

Requests by Research Priority

In addition to the two general requests above, USDOT is also requesting information related to each of the specific statutory research priorities.  Please provide the additional information only for your research priority.

1.      Improving mobility of people and goods:

Please describe how your application addresses the challenges related to increasing U.S. population, and changing demographics that will affect the transportation system.  This includes trends such as the reduction in vehicles miles travelled, millennial driving patterns, access to transportation as the population of aging Americans grows, providing transportation for Americans with disabilities as technologies change, and the impact of increasing transportation costs on low-income communities. These shifts will change how people and goods are moved over the next 30 years; how will your proposal help the Department and the country address these emerging challenges and opportunities over the next 5 years?

 

2.      Reducing congestion:

Please describe how the work proposed in your application will reduce congestion in a way that optimizes the efficiency and reliability of travel for all transportation system users.  Travel congestion is not confined to one mode of transportation or one region in the U.S.  Highways, passenger and freight rail, transit systems and skies are projected to worsen over the next 30 years, as growth in population and movement of goods continue to stress our system. Americans already spend an average of 41 hours per year stuck on U.S. highways and the annual financial cost of congestion is $121 billion.  Strategies to reduce congestion—including mode shift and adopting alternative forms of transportation—may reduce congestion on highways. How might data modeling and analytical tools to evaluate the effects of shifting transit be leveraged? How can universities build upon the work currently being done in this area or break new ground altogether in a way that gets system users Beyond Traffic?
 

3.      Promoting safety:

Please describe how your proposed research activities, products and findings will address what is currently not known or well understood in the area of surface transportation safety. What actions will you take to identify and respond to emerging safety issues that are likely to become prominent over the next several decades, such as automated vehicles and increased distractions for drivers and other system users?  How will you research these issues and what will your proposed activities ultimately achieve in terms of producing life-saving solutions or broadening the transportation community’s overall understanding of such issues?
 

4.      Improving the durability and extending the life of transportation infrastructure:

Please describe how your proposed research activities, products and findings will address what is not currently known or well understood in the area of improving the durability and extending the life of infrastructure. What actions will you take to identify, and respond to, emerging durability issues that are sorely needed over the next several decades, especially with limited infrastructure resources?  How will you research these issues and what will your proposed activities ultimately achieve in terms of producing longer-lasting infrastructure solutions or broadening the transportation community’s overall understanding of such issues?
 

5.      Preserving the environment:

Please describe how your research will result in new or better solutions on how to reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted by our transportation system.  With the advent of new materials, operational techniques, vehicles, and construction methods, what research will be conducted to assess and potentially mitigate the environmental implications of such innovations? 

6.   Preserving the existing transportation system:

Beyond Traffic 2045 highlights the issues that the transportation system is not only facing today but will face by the middle of this century.  In doing so, Beyond Traffic 2045 uses data and analysis to examine what is needed to preserve the existing system and what will be needed to meet future challenges.  All components of a modern transportation system must ensure the network is socially just, provides opportunities to the underserved, is efficient, and safe. 

Explain how your proposed research will develop new (or improve existing) technologies, processes or policies that will create by mid-century a 22ndcentury transportation system.

For instance, how could new, emerging and “not-yet-conceived” technologies be applied to revenue collection, data collection and analysis, aid in the response to natural disasters, increase maintenance efficiency, position infrastructure improvements and modal options to reduce barriers to opportunities for underserved populations, and be applied to education?  

 

Response Form and Timeline

Responses to this request must contain the cover sheet from your original application and the supplemental information requested.  The supplemental information should not exceed 4 pages, using standard one-inch margins and single line spacing, 12 point Times-New Roman font.  No pictures, figures, or charts are allowed.  Responses should be submitted via e-mail to utcgrants@dot.gov.  All supplemental information must be received by 5:00 pm EDT, October 21, 2016.  Until 5:00 pm EDT on October 19, 2016, you may send questions about this request for additional information to utcgrants@dot.gov.  The Department will post application questions and the Department’s responses on the UTC website here.

Last updated: Sunday, December 4, 2016