Maryland roads, transportation could improve thanks to $20M grant awarded to Morgan State University

Maryland’s Morgan State University is getting a total of $20 million in grants for transportation research and development.

MSU’s National Transportation Center and its SMARTER Center, which focuses on sustainable mobility and regional transportation, will be receiving the grants over a five-year period.

Mansoureh Jeihani, director of the university’s National Transportation Center, said $15 million in grant money from the U.S. Department of Transportation will fund research in areas including transportation mobility and equity for the mid-Atlantic region.

Beneficiaries of the grant also include eight universities involved in the work of Morgan State’s SMARTER Center, including Howard University, the University of Maryland, Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia.

Another $4 million in grants has been awarded from the Maryland Department of Transportation.

“The National Transportation Center at Morgan State has been here for over 30 years,” said Jeihani, who also explained the center was established by Congress. “We have been doing research in different transportation areas: transportation economics, mobility, accessibility and equity.”

Recently, the center has focused on safety related to connected autonomous vehicle technology. Jeihani said that includes “features like collision warning, and having cameras and smart cruise control” in vehicles.

The work at Morgan State is collaborative in nature, Jeihani said, with students helping shape the research.

“We get ideas from them. They get ideas from us. We brainstorm and we get to the next level of conducting projects, writing proposals. They are heavily involved.”

Jeihani said there’s been an emphasis in research on development for everyone who uses the road, not just people in cars.

“We are trying to not only increase the safety of the drivers, but also the safety of vulnerable road users; pedestrians, bicyclists, scooters, that are around those cars.”

If you travel around the state, Jeihani said you’ve encountered some of the work involving research at Morgan State: from variable message signs on highways to work zone safety projects and travel forecasting.

The $20 million in grants will also help MSU “invest in vital training for a diverse next generation of transportation leaders,” according to the university’s announcement.

Morgan State is the first Historically Black college or University and the first university in Maryland to lead a USDOT regional transportation center.

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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