One of the grand challenges that our nation faces today is ensuring safety, quality, resilience, and sustainability of the national civil infrastructure system. The national civil infrastructure encompasses 3.9 million miles of public roads, 600,000 bridges, 120,000 miles of major railroads, 100,000 miles of levees, 84,000 dams, 50,000 miles of electrical power lines, 25,000 miles of commercially navigable waterways, and 5,000 public-use airports in the United States, all of which are critical to our national economy and society.
The infrastructure needs of the 21st century have added new demands requiring smarter cities, security against threats, high-speed internet access for all including in rural communities, and a resilient smart electrical grid.
Increased frequency and severity of storms, floods, tornadoes, and other natural and or man-made hazards, requires technologies that contribute to greater system-wide resilience of the infrastructure.
DPI provides the community for the Infrastructure Technology Resources Consortium (ITRC) to use innovation and technology in advancing the development of the next generation of the national civil infrastructure system. ITRC represents partnership between the state university systems of Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa, and the Northwestern University. University of Illinois System coordinates and leads the research activities of ITRC through DPI.
ITRC aims to enhance the system-wide resilience, ensure sustainable project designs, construction methods, and use of advanced materials and technologies. It will serve as a medium for planning communities and cities of the future, ensuring security, and identifying resilient finance systems to develop sustainable funding for designing, constructing, maintaining and operating new urban infrastructures throughout their useful lives. Considering the many educational resources across the ITRC institutions, it will also serve as the major supplier of the 21st century infrastructure workforce.
ITRC Seminar Series
Watch the recording of our most recent seminar in the ITRC Seminar Series on Resilience and Transportation Planning—Addressing the Complexities. The May 2021 seminar speakers were Lawrence D. Goldstein, Mara Campbell and Maria A. Pena of the National Cooperative Research Program (NCHRP)/Transportation Research Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
The April ITRC seminar series event featured speaker, Ahmad Abu-Hawash, P.E., of the Iowa Department of Transportation, and discussed “Building Information Modeling (BIM) for Transportation Infastructures”.
Profound changes and disruptions are taking place in the social and economic lives of the nation. While our daily lives are impacted by natural and human-made disasters, new technologies have the potential to bring about opportunities in transforming the way we live. The existing infrastructure is falling below capacity, is fragile, and is in urgent need of repair. Climate change effects, and increased frequency of extreme weather events including droughts, floods, forest fires, heat waves, and sea-level changes, as well as the specter of terrorism related disruptions to the transportation network, have made us increasingly aware of the vulnerabilities of the existing transportation infrastructure. At the same time, the prospect for autonomous operation of vehicles, and technological advances in sensors, artificial intelligence (AI), and in machine learning (ML) will have the potential to revolutionize the way we travel, provide services, and move goods.
The cost for fixing the infrastructure is enormous, and moreover, it may not satisfy the needs of incoming technologies, such as connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs), and others. with more than 28% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to transportation activities, next generation infrastructure must be designed and constructed with embedded technologies accommodating long distance travel for electric vehicles. Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and dependency on fossil fuel further requires development of new approaches in rebuilding and/or retrofitting the highways and bridges to take advantage of wind, solar power, and other environmentally responsible sources for autonomous fueling of electrical vehicles.
The transformation of infrastructure in megaregions, such as Chicago metropolitan area will be challenging, especially since the infrastructure needs to satisfy both existing and new transportation systems. Research and development activities at the Infrastructure Technology Resources Consortium (ITRC), led by the University of Illinois system, aim at responding to the challenges common in transforming the infrastructure of megaregions across the nation. Especially in terms of adaptation, strengthening, and creating sufficient redundancies to meet the needs of evolving transportation systems.
Examples of ITRC’s research initiatives include: development of decision-making tools for risk assessment, in terms of climate modeling, planning, cybersecurity, and infrastructure design; Embedded autonomous green energy conversion technologies for highways and bridges; response to disasters and development of strategies and redundancies in the infrastructure for large-scale rapid use, and for evacuations; innovative construction materials and methods for interactive vehicle-infrastructure energy harvesting; and others.