Professional News

Crabtree to Take Reins at Transportation Center

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 25, 2010) –Joe Crabtree has been named the new director for the Kentucky Transportation Center (KTC), replacing deputy director Don Hartman, who became acting director after the retirement of Paul Toussaint last summer. Crabtree begins his new role March 1.

Thomas Lester, dean of the University of Kentucky College of Engineering, announced the appointment. “Dr. Crabtree has acquired an outstanding national reputation in the area of intelligent highway systems as a member of the KTC staff,” says Lester.

Crabtree attended UK on a Highway Department Scholarship just over 30 years ago. He received his civil engineering bachelor’s degree in May 1978, his master’s in August 1979 through a National Science Foundation Fellowship, and his Ph.D. in December 2004, all from UK.  

Crabtree’s love for UK and his ability to “see blue” never faded. “I left Kentucky in 1983 to serve as a nuclear propulsion officer in the U.S. Navy,” he says. After completing his tour of duty Crabtree worked in plastics manufacturing with Mobil Chemical Co. in Illinois, but he was eager to return to Kentucky.

“My return to Kentucky was driven primarily by my desire to bring my family back here. When the opportunity to return to UK presented itself, I jumped at it, because I have a life-long love of the university,” he says.

That opportunity came in 1992 when he was brought in to work at KTC. He has served as a transportation research engineer and managed KTC’s research program in the area of intelligent transportation systems.  

Crabtree recently led a North American Transportation Security Center project sponsored by the National Institute for Hometown Security. This project addresses the significant potential threats posed by more than 800,000 hazardous material shipments on the nation’s roads each day.  The dangers they pose to public safety and the nation’s critical infrastructure led federal agencies to recommend GPS tracking, wireless modems, panic buttons and on-board computers to heighten hazardous materials shipment security.

KTC and its partners are working to build a functional prototype of a hazmat truck tracking center and hope in the future to launch a multi-state implementation program that will bring the hazmat truck tracking center to fully operational status.

“We feel that this project has incredible potential for improving the security of hazardous materials shipments in the United States,” Crabtree says.