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Durbin, Kirk, Foster, Lipinski: Argonne to Receive $2.9 Million Federal Grant to Help Mass Transit Systems Prepare For & Respond to Emergency Events

Feb 10, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and U.S. Representatives Bill Foster (D-IL) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) announced today that that the Department of Transportation has awarded Argonne National Laboratory a $2,890,600 grant to conduct research examining the capacity of mass transit systems to plan for and respond to emergency events. Argonne’s proposal was developed in partnership with the Metra, Pace Suburban Bus Service, Illinois Department of Transportation, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Illinois Institute of Technology. Durbin and Kirk wrote U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx in support of Argonne’s proposal in December 2013.

“In an emergency situation, planning is everything,” Durbin said. “A lack of evacuation procedures or a failure of coordination among transit systems can have catastrophic consequences during emergency. Using the Chicago area’s multimodal transportation network as a research site, scientists at Argonne National Laboratory will use this federal funding to develop tools that can be used by transit agencies across the country for planning and reacting to emergencies.”

“Argonne's cutting-edge research will better equip our nationwide transit agencies with the tools they need to protect public safety while ensuring that Illinois remains the nation's busiest transportation and innovation hub,” said Kirk.  

“This is just one of the many examples of the important work being done at Argonne to protect our state and our nation.  It’s also an example of the wide range of applications that come from the groundbreaking research being done at Argonne and at our national labs throughout the country. Study after study has shown that there are few investments our government can make that provide as high a return as scientific research and development.  Whether it’s an economic return, or strengthening our safety and security, investing in research and development provides dividends for taxpayers,” said Foster.

“As we witnessed recently with the deadly accident in Washington, D.C., mass transit safety and emergency preparedness must be top priorities,” said Lipinski.  “I’m pleased that these new resources will be made available to the bright science and engineering minds at Argonne Lab, and that they’ll be pursuing new research into how to keep riders safe and prepare for transit emergencies in the Chicago area and elsewhere.  As the Representative of tens of thousands of constituents who take public transportation, co-chair of the Congressional Public Transit Caucus, and a public transit rider, I am very hopeful that this grant will increase safety.”

“This is exciting research that will allow Argonne to continue to build on its experience using modeling and simulation to create tools to help build a more resilient transportation system in Chicago and in cities across the country,” said Dr. Peter Littlewood, Argonne National Laboratory Director. “We would like to thank the Illinois Congressional delegation for their support for this critical effort.”

This funding was made available through the Department of Transportation Federal Transit Agency’s Innovative Safety, Resiliency, and All-Hazards Emergency Response and Recovery Demonstration program.

Argonne’s project will develop new computational tools that can be used by transit agencies for planning and reacting to severe weather events, service disruptions, and catastrophic failures. The Chicago region, with its integrated multi-modal transportation and mass-transit systems, will serve as a test bed for new, nationally applicable emergency planning and response tools. The participating regional transit agencies will be improved in the development of the planning and operational tools and demonstration efforts. This team will operate as an open source so that the new computational tools will be available to other transit operators and researchers.