The Center for Sustainable & Resilient Infrastructure (CSRI) is a partnership between VTTI and Virginia Tech's Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Transportation Infrastructure and Systems Engineering (TISE) Program. The mission of CSRI is to envision, develop and deploy innovative, safe, efficient, sustainable, and resilient solutions for re-inventing, renewing, and managing our infrastructure facilities, networks, and systems, while educating the next generation of transportation professionals to have a solid academic foundation, be creative and resourceful, and appreciate the social, economic, and environmental impacts of our profession.
Our infrastructure systems are key for supporting economic growth, sustainable development, and quality of life. However, many existing infrastructure systems (roads, power, water distribution, etc.) do not provide the level of service that society demands. Many have deteriorated because of use, misuse, and environmental factors, or they have become functionally obsolete because of changing demands and technological developments. Furthermore, the current confluence of disruptive technological changes underway (e.g., smart cities, smart infrastructure, automated vehicles, multifunctionality, high-tech construction, sustainable energy, advanced materials) coupled with increasing demands imposed by climate change and global sociopolitical and economic macrotrends, have created an urgent need to re-invent and modernize our transportation services, making them safer, more efficient, sustainable, resilient, and equitable.
CSRI is recognized globally as a leader in transportation infrastructure research and education and supports the full research cycle, including conceptualization, basic and applied research, development, and implementation. The center houses the Vehicle Pavement Interaction, Structural Evaluation, and Accelerated Pavement Testing Research Programs, operates state-of-the-art laboratories and facilities, collaborates with colleagues from different departments, colleges, agencies and institutions, and regularly supports up to 40 graduate and undergraduate students.
In the field of transportation safety, CSRI research has contributed to a fundamental understanding of the interaction between the vehicle and the road, which has led to safe and comfortable mobility and access with minimum transportation cost and environmental pollution. This $9.6M initiative had its genesis in a series of national Transportation Pooled Funds, initiated in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC), aimed at improving the functional characteristics of our road infrastructure. We coupled these efforts with funding from the National Science Foundation, Federal Highway Administration, National Cooperative Highway Research Program, VDOT and other State DOTs to produce practical, implementable policies, tools, and guidance. We developed, tested, and deployed a number of innovations, including a systemic approach for incorporating safety into transportation asset management, a novel approach to evaluate the safety of pavement and bridges using smart vehicle and tire technologies, and robust splash-and-spray and hydroplaning models and assessment tools. Our research products have been adopted by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and ASTM international as standard guidance and protocols, and have already resulted in significant safety improvements to reduce crashes and associated fatalities.
To enhance the structural health assessment of transportation infrastructure, CSRI has led a large initiative that: evaluated these technologies as part of the Second Strategic Highway Research Program, demonstrated the advantages of the technology and developed innovative approaches and policies to use the information to enhance asset management decisions, implemented the enhanced decision processes in Virginia, and supported the nationwide deployment and implementation of the innovations through a pooled-fund effort. These innovations are producing important maintenance and rehabilitation savings for transportation agencies globally.
To help incorporate sustainability and resilience considerations into asset management, CSRI has developed efficient and practical life-cycle cost and environmental assessment tools, established frameworks to link data collection with the decision process and to improve the quality of the big data collected, and created new multi-criteria and artificial intelligence approaches for managing the performance of our transportation infrastructure and allocating resources across different transportation asset types. We have also collaborated with colleagues from around the world to incorporate sustainability, vulnerability, and resiliency considerations into the infrastructure management decision-making processes. The results of these efforts are helping reduce the negative impacts of transportation on the environment.
In the pavement engineering field, we have partnered with VDOT and VTRC to establish the Virginia Accelerated Pavement Testing program that has developed and supported the implementation and deployment of better pavement and material testing, assessment, design, analysis, and management tools. This collaboration has positioned the Commonwealth of Virginia as a world leader in pavement and materials research and education, and is cited as an exemplar of fruitful collaboration between government, academia, and industry.