Overview of the Center

Overview of the Center

The Center for Transportation Research (CTR) is a multidisciplinary and multimodal research institute at The University of Texas at Austin. Recognized as one of the leading university-based transportation research centers in the world, our researchers, faculty members, and students work together to promote cutting-edge developments in transportation science and technology.

Established in 1963, current and ongoing projects address virtually all aspects of transportation research, including:

Research Program

In a given year, CTR administers between 150 and 200 research projects and interagency contracts with combined budgets exceeding $12 million. Research includes projects for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), National Science Foundation (NSF), United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), Transportation Research Board (TRB), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Rail Administration (FRA), Department of Homeland Security, City of Austin, Capital Metro, Capital Area Metropolitan Planning and Operations (CAMPO), North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), and many others.

In addition to its own staff researchers, the center taps into an extraordinary range of expertise in multiple disciplines by collaborating with affiliated research centers across the University of Texas at Austin.

Students play an integral on role in research, working side-by-side with researchers and faculty members to gain the real-world experience they’ll need to succeed after graduation.


CTR’s capacity for linking research with education exceeds that of any other Texas institution. With more than 200 graduate and undergraduate students engaged in its research programs annually, the center plays a critical role in developing and maintaining a qualified pool of engineers and researchers to serve both public and private agencies across the world.


Our researchers conduct cutting-edge research across a wide variety of fields. As technology continues to expand our capabilities, we continue to push the boundaries of how new technologies can benefit the broader goals in transportation engineering and research. Interdisciplinary research and education is a cornerstone of meaningful innovation designed to benefit our infrastructure, economies, and society as a whole. We explore new wireless technologies, autonomous vehicles, big data, environmental advancements, and many other fields to expose our students to the very latest advancements, which will in turn enable them to be the transportation thought leaders of tomorrow.

Library Facilities

The CTR Library contains all reports published by the center and serves as the official repository for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Research Program. More info…

In addition, CTR has access to the University of Texas at Austin facilities including one of the largest library holdings among academic institutions in the world. The University of Texas Libraries also provides access to major online bibliographic, publication, and research and retrieval database services.


In 1963, Dr. Clyde Lee founded the Center for Highway Research in an effort to establish a transportation research program at the University of Texas. The program’s initial focus was to participate in transportation research for the Texas Highway Department, now the Texas Department of Transportation. From the beginning, Dr. Lee’s focus was to provide a better educational environment for students and learning.

“I always insisted that the purpose of the research was to support the academic program of The University… A university without an academic program is not a good research outfit.” —Dr. Clyde Lee

Dr. Lee’s early research success focused on weigh-in-motion, a process allowing large highway loads to be weighed without stopping. Among the leading innovators in the area, one of Dr. Lee’s most important contributions was the introduction of what is now an international standard for weigh-in-motion.

He held the position of Director for 17 years. Under Dr. Lee’s guidance the center quickly established its position as one of the top university-based transportation research centers in the world.

In 1979, the Center for Highway Research merged with the Council for Advanced Transportation Studies to form the Center for Transportation Research.

The late Dr. B. Frank McCullough succeeded Dr. Lee as Director in 1980 and continued the center’s mission for 19 years until 1999. Dr. McCullough was known internationally as the father of continuously reinforced cement concrete pavement and for his pioneering and sustained development work on continuously reinforced, post-tensioned, and precast concrete pavements.

Dr. Randy B. Machemehl served as Director of the Center for Transportation Research from 1999–2012. His expertise covers a broad range of research, including: transportation system operations, public transportation systems planning and design, traffic data acquisition, traffic simulation, optimization, and bicycle safety. He continues to serve as a distinguished faculty member and advises many projects associated with CTR.

Dr. Chandra Bhat served as Director at CTR from 2012-2017. As one of the world’s most widely regarded transportation researchers in his field, his areas of expertise include: activity and travel behavior analysis, travel demand modeling, application of econometric, discrete choice and market research techniques in transportation planning, traffic flow theory and operations, logistics and freight modeling, energy and transportation air quality analysis, and safety analysis.

Dr. Amit Bhasin was named director in 2018.

CTR annual reports are available in the library’s archive.