InTrans / Jun 21, 2018

Iowa Local Technical Assistance Program celebrates 35 years

ISU’s Institute for Transportation got its start 35 years ago, and it all began with LTAP.

The Local Transportation Information Center (LTIC) first received Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funding in the early 1980s, and it has been in operation ever since. That includes 35 years of providing useful local technical assistance through Technology News.

“Most of you are painfully aware of the major transportation problems facing our small urban and rural areas. Streets and roads are in disrepair or are obsolete, with no improvement funds available,” reads the introduction of the LTIC’s first newsletter in April 1983.

Today’s Technology News readers may recognize many of those same challenges, and the Iowa LTAP continues to provide much-needed guidance on everything from road safety to infrastructure maintenance to improved technologies.

From the start, there was a focus on safety, and the center has always offered workshops and the latest updates to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and information on new technologies.

But, it’s also worth looking at just how that technology has changed.

The first newsletter boasts about its upcoming local support with a toll-free “Info-Line” to talk with staff directly, “microtechnology” articles that focus on incorporating computers into jobs using floppy disks, and, later, an “on-line bulletin board system.”

Today, “Tech Corner” offers up information about the latest apps for smartphones.

The earliest newsletter shows just five people behind the LTIC and its newsletter, where today LTAP has a staff of seven and an advisory board with another 11 people involved in bringing the latest news to readers each quarter. This year also marks eight years since Keith Knapp, who is now the program’s director, joined LTAP.

While the people and location have changed — and after several name changes too — the mission is still the same. Here’s to another 35 years of providing transportation technology transfer for Iowa’s cities and counties!