NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rutgers University now has a say in what transportation—and traffic—will look like in the U.S. of tomorrow.

That’s because the federal Department of Transportation designated the university as a Beyond Traffic Innovation Center, which places Rutgers at the forefront of transportation research and thought leadership, according to an announcement yesterday from the DOT.

“In the next 30 years, our country will have 70 million more people competing for the use of our roads, transit and rail networks, and airports, and we are going to have to make some big choices about how we fund and prioritize transportation,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “The Beyond Traffic Innovation Centers will bring together researchers, students and thought leaders to develop the ideas we need to keep Americans moving and build a transportation system that works for everyone.”

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The move puts Rutgers in the company of top-tier schools. In addition to Northeastern University, which also received the nod yesterday, Beyond Traffic Innovation Centers include Clemson University, the University of Michigan and the University of California, Berkeley, among others.

These nonprofit research hubs aim to tackle challenges raised in the government’s Beyond Traffic 2045 report, which was also released yesterday.

Major issues highlighted in the report include developing ways for the government to reward technological innovation on the roads, boosting job growth, choosing transportation projects that provide the most bang for the taxpayer’s buck and zeroing in on partnerships with private companies.

Rutgers and its peers will connect with power brokers both from “megaregions,” like the Northeast, and rural areas to “discuss these challenges and coordinate related research, curriculum, outreach and other activities,” according to the DOT.

Rutgers’ role in this initiative is especially important, given its proximity to New York City and Philadelphia. Those cities and their outlying suburbs are among the most-populated areas in the Northeast megaregion, which is home to 52 million residents, according to the DOT.