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April 27, 2004

Expansion to pave the way for increased transportation research

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - State, federal, industry and university officials today (Tuesday, 4/27) dedicated a new 22,000-square-foot addition in the Purdue Research Park that will expand transportation-related research capabilities in Indiana.

Ghassan Chehab and Bryan Nicol
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The expansion of the Indiana Department of Transportation's (INDOT) Division of Research building, at 1205 Montgomery St., includes new office and laboratory space and state-of-the-art equipment to be used by Division of Research as well as North Central Superpave Center engineers. The $2.2 million project was funded by both the state and federal government.

The Superpave Center, which implements a performance-based system for designing asphalt pavements, is administered by the Joint Transportation Research Program (JTRP), a longstanding research partnership among Purdue University's School of Civil Engineering, the Indiana Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and transportation-related industries.

"The collaborative research here at Purdue Research Park is considered one of the premiere transportation research programs in the country," said J. Bryan Nicol, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation. "The program's reputation, combined with the new facilities and equipment, already has attracted $1.5 million in new research funding over the past year."

In addition to hosting the oldest state highway conference in the nation – the Purdue Road School – the JTRP currently administers 130 research projects. These projects aim to improve the performance of road materials, make roads safer, implement intelligent transportation systems and find environmentally friendly solutions to Indiana's waste problems, such as turning old tires into lightweight fill for road foundations. In recent years, the JTRP has added earthquake preparedness and transportation security components to this list.

"We're working with the state and federal emergency management agencies to plan which bridges need to be retrofitted and what routes need to be kept open and secure in the event of a disaster," said Kumares Sinha, JTRP director and Purdue's Olson Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering.

INDOT's Skid Accident Reduction Program has played a part in preventing smaller, but no less important disasters by setting the safety standards that determine how much friction a roadway must have to prevent vehicle accidents during wet weather. The program then tests more than 12,000 miles of Indiana roadway for compliance with these safety standards.

"Since its inception, the Joint Transportation Research Program has worked to perfect techniques responsible for preventing vehicle-related accidents and deaths – not just in Indiana, but across the nation," said Kate Quinn, the FHWA Indiana Division assistant administrator.

Nicol said, "This research saves both lives and taxpayer dollars. A recent benefit-cost analysis found that for every dollar funded on this research program, the state gets approximately $59 back in cost savings."

Joseph Hornett, senior vice president and treasurer of the Purdue Research Foundation, the entity that administers the Purdue Research Park, said, "We're proud to have this caliber of research facility at the Purdue Research Park. From its thriving 67-year-old research partnership to the 9-year-old North Central Superpave Center, JTRP has created a lasting legacy, one that has made a wide impact on the way we travel."

Purdue Research Park, Indiana's first Certified Technology Park, is home to the largest university-affiliated, state-of-the-art business incubator in the nation. Life sciences, information technology and advanced manufacturing ventures make up the majority of the more than 100 businesses located on the park's 591 acres in West Lafayette.

Purdue's civil engineering graduate programs rank among the best in the nation, according to the most recent surveys by U.S. News & World Report magazine.

Writer: Jeanine Phipps, media relations, Purdue Research Park, (765) 494-0748,

Sources: Kumares Sinha, (765) 494-2211,

Kate Quinn, (317) 226-7483,

Joseph B. Hornett, (765) 496-1658,

Karen Hatke, JTRP, (765) 494-9310,

Tony Felts, INDOT Office of Communications, (317) 232-5533,

Barry Partridge, chief, INDOT Division of Research, (765) 463-1521, ext. 251,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists: For more information about how the Joint Transportation Research Program has made an impact on your specific area of the state, please contact Jeanine Phipps at (765) 494-0748 or

Ghassan Chehab, a pavement research engineer, explains highway surfacing test equipment to Bryan Nicol, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation, today (Tuesday, 4/27) during a tour of INDOT's Division of Research facility. A 22,000-square-foot addition to the building, which includes office and laboratory space and new equipment was dedicated today. The building is used by the Division of Research and North Central Superpave Center to conduct transportation-related research. (Purdue News Service photo/Dave Umberger)

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