page last updated: 26 February 2015

cover of strategic plan


The AUTC Strategic plan as submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation, October 2006.

The Alaska University Transportation Center (AUTC) seeks to improve transportation in cold regions through research, education and outreach. Our research is focused on results. Each of our activities has a specific outcome in mind. As a result, the work here at AUTC provides staff, faculty and students an opportunity to make a difference in the world around them.

AUTC is one of 10 National Transportation Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, through the Research and Innovation Technology Program (RITA). AUTC hosts approximately $7 million in funded research annually. AUTC is home to 50 faculty, staff, and students, all working to improve transportation systems in cold regions.

Aerial view looking nearly straight down on a traffic roundabout

Todd Paris

Thompson Drive Roundabout, constructed as the hub of the new main entrance to the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2006. The roundabout configuration, with its “yield on entry” traffic flow, offers advantages over more conventional intersection designs particularly where the roads meet at odd angles. Traffic flow is smoother and more efficient – with less stopping and starting – and also safer because left turns in front of oncoming traffic are eliminated.

AUTC works in partnership with state agencies and industry, such as the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, the Alaska Railroad, and the Denali Commission to identify our mutual needs.

AUTC Seeks a Long-term Approach to Sustainable Infrastructure

Transportation in cold regions has unique challenges and opportunities. While more temperate climates are only discussing climate change, we in arctic and antarctic regions are experiencing climate change. We have an opportunity and obligation to take the lead in adapting our transportation systems to those changes. Climate change impacts include warming permafrost, changes in precipitation patterns, changes in animal habitat and changes in plant species. In order to understand the impacts of climate change, AUTC includes vulnerability reviews for our roadways, airports, railways, bridges, ports, and pipelines into each of our projects. We work with both private and public agencies to evaluate planning, design and maintenance in transportation; our common goal is to ensure the sustainability of our transportation systems.

AUTC Addresses Complex Transportation Problems

AUTC takes pride in taking on transportation issues many think are too difficult to solve. Among these are using the silts and sands found in Western Alaska (often considered unusable) to build roadways and airports while reducing costs, adding the influences of frozen ground to our seismic design codes, and managing dust on gravel roads and airports throughout America at a reasonable cost.

AUTC Produces a Skilled and Engaged Workforce

Both graduate and undergraduate students are an important part of our program. Students involved in AUTC research change transportation in cold regions, whether it be improving the cold weather performance of asphalt or concrete, evaluating the environmental impacts of herbicides along transportation corridors, or using Radio Frequency Identification Tags to track materials on a construction project. We challenge students to do more than simply “do research”. We encourage students to use their research to develop new design criteria or procedures, suggest changes in public policy, and develop implementation plans for their outcomes.

We invite you to join AUTC on our journey to a sustainable transportation network that serves our economic and social future.