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Civil and environmental engineering research team honored with FHWA award

By Virginia Speirs

Published: Sep 12, 2022 5:00:00 PM

A civil and environmental engineering research team received a Federal Highway Administration 2022 Environmental Excellence Award in conjunction with NOAA and the research team from the University of New Hampshire. A civil and environmental engineering research team received a Federal Highway Administration 2022 Environmental Excellence Award in conjunction with NOAA and the research team from the University of New Hampshire.

A research team led by Benjamin Bowers, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, received a Federal Highway Administration 2022 Environmental Excellence Award in conjunction with NOAA and the research team from the University of New Hampshire. The award was presented to Bowers and his team, including associate professors of civil and environmental engineering Brian Anderson and Jose Vasconcelos, and assistant civil and environmental engineering professor Frances O’Donnell.

Title “Surface Transportation, Sea Level Rise, and Coastal Storms: A Sustainable Path to Increased Resilience,” the research project examines the benefits of natural and nature-based features on pavement resilience in Fort Morgan, Ala.

The goal of the study is to develop a better scientific understanding of how increased disruptions caused by sea level or storms such as hurricanes impact pavements, and how natural tools can benefit road structure.

“This is a really important problem, not just for the state of Alabama and the gulf coast but all the way up the eastern seaboard and along our inland waterways,” Bowers said. “The outcomes of this research project, while focused on Fort Morgan, will be able to be used to make our pavement systems more resilient to hurricanes and major precipitation events around the United States. Pavements are the veins of our social and economic vitality, carrying people and goods where they need to go. If we don’t enhance their resilience, we risk losing some of those important connections.”

In addition to the team from the University of New Hampshire, Auburn’s research partners for the project include teams from the University of South Alabama, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Rockingham Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The Environmental Excellence Awards have recognized outstanding contributions to environmental stewardship and partnerships above and beyond traditional transportation project outcomes since 1995.

According to the FHWA, “The winning projects and programs exemplify FHWA's priorities of climate change and sustainability, equity and environmental justice, complete streets, economic strength, and safety for all road users.”

Media Contact: Cassie Montgomry, cmontgomery@auburn.edu, 334.844.3668

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