Virginia Tech has been chosen as one of five institutions to lead the new Build America Center.

Funded by a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the center will offer educational programs, information, and resources for transportation agencies in all areas of alternative and innovative project financing and delivery.

The University of Maryland will serve as national lead of the center while Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Purdue, and Stanford contribute as regional partners. Virginia Tech will oversee the eastern regional center, with Michael Garvin, professor of civil and environmental engineering, acting as its director.

“Quite simply, the status quo is not getting it done,” Garvin said. “We must employ more effective delivery, procurement, and financing strategies to rebuild and expand our nation’s transportation infrastructure. The Build America Center’s overall mission is to do just this through education, training, and research. Its regional structure enhances our accessibility to public agencies, and it allows us to tailor programming based on regional needs and characteristics. Yet we still maintain synergy among all of the regions to share insights and disseminate new knowledge and practices.”

The center will act as a knowledge hub and go-to resource for state departments of transportation and other public agencies seeking alternative financing and solutions for transportation infrastructure projects. It also will be a valuable resource for transportation officials to access training for financing and project delivery. The center plans to provide cutting-edge research tools and serve as a collaborative environment to further guide advances in these areas.

Garvin explained that the eastern regional center will coordinate forums such as webinars and peer exchanges as well as offer technical assistance for transportation officials during project planning and procurement. The center’s research also will focus on supporting public agency decision-making through projects that identify best practices or develop specific guidance or tools.

“For instance, if any agency seeks support about risk assessment and allocation in a public-private partnership project, then the center ultimately should be able to meet this need either through training, advisory services, or a decision-support tool,” said Garvin.

The center held a kickoff meeting in April that highlighted its vision and current initiatives. This meeting provided the opportunity for stakeholders to build strong partnerships and for transportation officials to discuss implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) to deliver crucial transportation projects. The $1.2 trillion law includes unprecedented funding for infrastructure projects and grant programs to support project sponsors seeking to explore alternative project delivery and financing.

“Virginia Tech is well-known for its research and education in the center’s core areas, but this new opportunity provides us a platform to further leverage this expertise and expand our impact,” said Garvin. “We are looking forward to working with the Federal Highway Administration, the Build America Bureau, and our partners to implement the BIL through new approaches to transform and modernize our nation’s transportation infrastructure.”

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