Southern Plains Regional Transportation Center (SPRTC)

The University of Oklahoma will lead the Southern Plains Transportation Center (SPTC), a Regional University Transportation Center (UTC) that has been funded by a $2.6 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In addition to OU, the Southern Plains Transportation Center consortium includes Oklahoma State University, Langston University, University of Arkansas, The University of New Mexico, Louisiana Tech University, The University of Texas at El Paso, and Texas Tech University. Regional transportation centers differ from other U.S. Department of Transportation funded centers in that consortium members must be located in the region they serve and address regional needs.

The funding helps advance U.S. technology and expertise in transportation through education, research, technology transfer, and workforce development at university-based centers of excellence. The two-year grant awards each regional UTC $2.6 million annually for the next two years, with eligibility to renew for multiple subsequent years. 

Extreme summer temperatures, flash floods and large numbers of freeze-thaw cycles, coupled with poor soils, create enormous challenges to the region’s transportation infrastructure and public safety. According to OU Civil Engineering Professor and Southern Plains Transportation Center Director Musharraf Zaman, counting only recent severe droughts, economic losses are estimated at almost $9 billion annually to managed systems in Oklahoma and Texas alone, including transportation infrastructure. “Fortunately, we can access some of the world’s best weather research and information in our back yard,” said Zaman, referring to weather entities that include the National Weather Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Severe Storms Laboratory, and Radar Innovations Laboratory located in Norman, Okla. Zaman said the Southern Plains Transportation Center plans to overlay weather expertise upon infrastructure research to focus on climate adaptive transportation and freight movement. “This will give us a more accurate picture of the challenges and stress on the southern plains region transportation infrastructure and insight to the best solutions,” said Zaman. 

“The center will address the most challenging issues of both the Federal Highway Administration and State Transportation Agencies. The commercial, agricultural and energy transportation corridors in the southern plains keep our nation’s economy moving forward. OSU is proud to be a partner in this consortium,” says Oklahoma State University Engineering Dean Paul Tikalsky. 

“Sustainable transportation infrastructure is crucial to public safety and economic prosperity. Through the Southern Plains Transportation Center we have assembled an outstanding team that fully represents the states in our region, and we look forward to working together,” said OU Engineering Dean Tom Landers.