UT Tyler Office of Marketing and Communications

UT Tyler Professor to Study Rural Transportation

May 7, 2020

Media Contact: Beverley Golden
Senior Director of Media Relations
Marketing and Communications
The University of Texas at Tyler

The University of Texas at Tyler announced that Dr. Mena Souliman, associate professor of civil engineering, received a $400,000 UT System Science and Technology Acquisition (STARs) Award to address the future challenges of the US transportation system.

“Dr. Souliman has developed strong partnerships with local, state and national transportation agencies, focusing on safety and efficiency,” said Dr. Amir Mirmiran, UT Tyler provost. “We appreciate that the STARs Award will afford him the resources to continue his impactful research.”

The Texas Rural Transportation Research Center (TRTRC) will be a dedicated center at UT Tyler focused on researching the US rural transportation system in order to optimize the efficient use of resources available for the rural infrastructure.

The creation of the center follows the US Department of Transportation’s Beyond Traffic 2045 report, which emphasizes issues the United States will face in the transportation sector through 2045, including those related to climate change.

“The U.S. population is expected to increase by 70 million in the next three decades,” said Souliman. “This increase poses several challenges for the U.S. transportation system, which needs to accommodate demographic growth by maintaining and enhancing both its standard of transportation choices and economic opportunities.”

The increase in transportation capacity should not be the only response to population growth. It is critical to envision a transportation system that preserves and enhances the social cohesion and improves the infrastructure’s resilience to extreme weather and natural hazards as forecasted in future climate change scenarios, he added.

The TRTRC will provide expert opinion and research-driven elements to assist rural road infrastructure design and planning. The broader impacts of the center will enhance access in underserved and underinvested communities, as well as improve durability and cost efficiency of highways and bridges.

“The center will engage well-qualified scientists with various backgrounds for research on rural transportation. The mission is to address issues related to efficient and sustainable design, construction, maintenance, planning and safe operations for the rural transportation network,” Souliman said.

For instance, the TRTRC proposes to examine the feasibility of using dashcam video data collection to assess pavement conditions. This approach involves aerial data collection of rural road condition behaviors and characteristics. It also should help build a traffic disturbance-free framework for monitoring.

Souliman joined the UT Tyler College of Engineering in 2014. He holds a Master of Science and Ph.D. in civil, environmental and sustainable engineering from Arizona State University.

He has participated in several state and national projects including work with the Texas Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation. He is known locally for his work with the city of Tyler on the Tyler Bike Stripe project, which addresses Tyler’s traffic flow demand by designing a bicycle lane network.

A member of the prestigious UT System, The University of Texas at Tyler focuses on student success and innovative research in the more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered to nearly 10,000 students. Classified by Carnegie as a doctoral research institution and by U.S. News and World Report as a national university, UT Tyler has campuses in Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston.