Maritime Transportation Center Receives Additional $1.4 Million Grant
The University of Arkansas announced April 3 that its Maritime Transportation Research and Education Center, or MarTREC, has received an additional $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The grant will be used on a wide range of ongoing research.
The center has received funding from the transportation department since 2013, and the new grant is part of a five-year program that has received a total of $7 million in federal funding and $3.5 million in matching funds.
“Given the link between international trade and gross domestic product, efficient and resilient ports are critical to the nation’s overall economy and the abilities of intermodal carriers to move freight between ports of entry and inland locations,” said Heather Nachtmann, MarTREC director and professor of industrial engineering.
“MarTREC researchers are well positioned to advance current understanding and facilitate improved operations within the nation’s multimodal supply chain networks and to inform infrastructure investment decisions to address the aging navigation system and eliminate freight bottlenecks and service delays.”
MarTREC researchers are nationally recognized experts in maritime and multimodal transportation, which integrates trucking, rail and barge carriers. They focus on preserving the existing U.S. transportation system by conducting a multidisciplinary program of maritime and multimodal transportation research, education and technology transfer.
MarTREC researchers design supply-chain networks to optimize resources and minimize congestion on navigable waterways. The work focuses on efficient design and planning for barge containers, shipping cycle times, reliability, safety and environmental preservation.
Funding has supported researchers’ work on optimizing routes to relieve congestion and reduce demand on ports, highways and rail systems.
Researchers also assess the impact of new global shipping routes, including expanded use of the Panama Canal, on the U.S. transportation system.
Aging infrastructure along the inland waterway navigation system is an increasing concern, said Nachtmann. One MarTREC project, led by Gary Prinz and Clint Wood, assistant professors of civil engineering, is investigating factors that limit lock gate service and inhibit the overall reliability of waterways. Their project addresses fatigue issues within lock gates, identifying critical components and exploring methods for preventing fatigue cracks for the entire service life of the gate.
Nationwide, MarTREC is one of 20 centers designated as Tier 1 University Transportation Centers, which refers to the level of grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation.