The UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies has been awarded grant funds from the state Office of Transportation Safety that will be geared at research projects concerned with improving road, pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
Two programs in the campus’s ITS were awarded a total of $2.5 million from the transportation safety office in the form of seven grants that will begin providing funding in the next fiscal year. The Safe Transportation Research and Education Center, which manages research projects addressing road and transportation safety issues, received six grants, totaling almost $2 million. The Technology Transfer Program, which provides road and pedestrian safety assessments to cities to advocate for new safety programs, was awarded one grant of approximately $515,000.
While both programs have received funding from the OTS before, this money is particularly exciting because of the impact it will have on the efficiency and effectiveness of the programs, according to Laura Melendy, assistant director of the campus Institute of Transportation Studies.
“The impact on the state that these programs has is very large and will only increase with these grants,” Melendy said. “By this time next year, we will have conducted 14 more pedestrian safety assessments and eight more traffic assessments as well as piloted and developed a new bicycle safety assessment program. We absolutely could not do these activities without this funding.”
SafeTREC Communications Director Phyllis Orrick said SafeTREC has been receiving money from OTS since it was founded in 2000. Each of the six grants awarded to SafeTREC went to a specific program, including a pedestrian safety training project and a program that runs DUI checkpoints, among others.
Because the grants are awarded by the state agency, SafeTREC works closely with the state rather than with the city of Berkeley to implement research projects and administer its programs, according to Orrick.
Tech Transfer also works closely with the state by conducting transportation safety evaluations throughout California. In addition to conducting assessments evaluating cities’ pedestrian and traffic safety, the new grant means the program will also be able to develop and pilot a new bicycle safety component, Melendy said.
Both SafeTREC and Tech Transfer went through a competitive application process that included project and program proposals to receive the grants through the OTS.
“It is a competitive process because there is not enough money to go around,” said OTS spokesperson Chris Cochran. “Usually, about 50 percent that apply get the funding.”
CSU Fresno, UC Irvine and UC San Diego also received OTS grants for various road safety and surveying programs, totaling nearly $1 million between the three.