Fresno State is asking for $3 million in Measure C funds to create a transportation institute for education and research that could change the way people in Fresno County get from one place to another.
The institute would look at modes of transportation — from Uber, bus rapid transit, self-driving cars, elevated and automated pod cars to high speed rail — and beyond, said Aly M. Tawfik, assistant professor of transportation engineering.
Institute researchers could answer whether new modes of transportation are feasible in Fresno County, he said. The result could be more efficient and safer transportation for county residents, he said.
The future of transportation is so life-changing.
Aly M. Tawfik, Fresno State assistant professor of transportation engineering
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And research could lead to improvements in air quality, less traffic congestion and lower energy demands.
“The future of transportation is so life-changing,” Tawfik said.
Measure C, a half-cent sales tax passed in 1986 and extended in 2006, provides funds for improvements in the county’s transportation system. The measure has money set aside for transportation technology.
The proposal needs approval by the Fresno County Council of Governments. The agency meets Sept. 29.
The research at California State University, Fresno, could take many directions. One would be to partner with cities to help them secure federal and state transportation grants, said Ram Nunna, dean of Lyles College of Engineering. Small cities lack the resources to write proposals for competitive state and federal transportation grants, he said.
Selma Mayor Scott Robertson told The Bee Editorial Board on Wednesday that his city of 25,000 could benefit from the expertise of transportation researchers based at Fresno State. (An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the mayor’s last name as Robinson.) For example, the city planner is retiring and the city does not have the money to pay someone to do a traffic study of a long-proposed overpass at Dinuba Road, he said.
“An institute like this will really help a city like Selma to grow, but to grow responsibly.”
The institute would also have a focus on education. The undergraduate and graduate courses would provide a skilled workforce. Most transportation projects in Fresno County are designed by experts from outside of the region “because the university has not been keeping up with advanced transportation education,” Tawfik said.
The institute would create a new interdisciplinary curriculum that would have tenured faculty members who are specialists in advanced transportation, said Fresno State Provost Lynnette Zelezny.