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Transportation summit draws cities, mobility experts to Arlington

Driverless cars, personal delivery robots and smart intersections designed to reduce traffic congestion and collisions are transportation initiatives that are advancing in North Texas.

Teams of transportation agencies, researchers and policymakers are meeting this week in Arlington to discuss these strategies and present their visions for innovative mobility solutions as part of the third annual Texas Mobility Summit.

Texas Mobility Summit

Texas Mobility Summit attendees had a chance this week to see alternative modes of transportation the city of Arlington is now using.

Cities, counties, universities and transportation entities discuss how they are keeping pace with the rapid growth and urbanization encompassing the region. Transportation technology is exploring new ways to efficiently and safely move people and freight, including autonomous and connected vehicles, data sharing and even high-speed rail to create better access to jobs, critical services and other communities.

The three-day Texas Mobility Summit, held Oct. 28-30, is hosted by the Texas Innovation Alliance in partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation, City of Arlington, North Central Texas Council of Governments and The University of Texas at Arlington.

The summit was developed to address common mobility challenges, showcase active and shovel-ready projects, and open the door to public-private partnership opportunities. Participants include public agencies such as the Regional Transportation Council, Houston METRO, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, and Smart Cities Lab, and private-sector companies such as INRIX, ESRL, Siemens and Cisco.

Shima Hamidi, assistant professor in the University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs, said that the region has an exciting momentum in regard to transportation-forced research and UTA is helping lead the way.

“DFW is the fourth largest and fastest-growing region in the U.S., home to about 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies in Texas, and it is the fastest growing GDP in the top 30 MSAs in the nation,” said Hamidi, who also is director of CAPPA’s Center for Transportation Equity, Decisions and Dollars or C-TEDD. “For the first time in the history of any university in North Texas, UTA was awarded a university-based transportation center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, worth up to $7.7 million. We are the lead institution in the center.”

Shima Hamidi

Shima Hamidi, UTA assistant professor of planning and director of the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs' Center for Transportation Equity, Decisions and Dollars, participated in the Texas Mobility Summit this week in Arlington.

Other members of the center are: Georgia Tech, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of South Florida.

“C-TEDD brings the best transportation scholars in the nation together at UTA,” Hamidi said. “Just in one year, we’ve hired four postdoctoral scholars, and have increased our number of graduate research assistants from seven to 22 doctoral and masters students. Our number of sponsored projects has increased more than 1,000 percent and we’ve been a key player in addressing complex, multidimensional and challenging urban issues in the region.”

She told the audience members that C-TEDD has partnered with several public and private entities such as the City of Dallas, the North Central Texas Council of Governments, Tarrant County and the City of Fort Worth to provide data-driven research in the area of transportation, public policy, sustainable growth, infrastructure asset management, urban analytics and simulation, big data projects and economic development.

“An embrace of technology is an important element of our strategy to keep the region moving. Whether through high-speed rail, hyperloop, next-generation people mover systems or automated vehicles, Dallas-Fort Worth wants to be at the forefront of solutions,” said Michael Morris, director of transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments. “The Texas Mobility Summit provides us an opportunity to learn from the success stories of others and customize solutions to help our residents and employers.”

The summit also included a demo event with trips on Via, the City of Arlington’s on-demand rideshare public transportation option that has booked nearly 75,000 trips since it launched last December.

Participants also learned about Drive.ai. Arlington is the first Texas city to offer the on-demand, self-driving shuttle service to the general public.

Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said the answer is simple as to why Arlington has emerged as a leader in transportation innovation in Texas.

“Arlington says ‘Yes.’ Arlington stays open to new technology, invites innovators to our town, and asks them to join with us in exploring our future in transportation technology. We are working on a wide range of innovative transportation initiatives to promote access and mobility for residents and visitors,” Williams said. “We will continue leading the way and take advantage of unique and efficient transportation options that become available. We don’t wait for big ideas and big projects to happen in Arlington. We go out and get them done.”

Visit https://ctr.utexas.edu/texas-mobility-summit/ for more information on the Texas Mobility Summit.

The City of Arlington contributed to this news release.