The Transcend research facility dates back to 2003 when former Fergus County Commissioner Vern Peterson first proposed the idea of using the decommissioned runways and taxiways in new ways. "Vern had the vision to turn the airport, which was physically underutilized, into a regional asset," said Western Transportation Institute (WTI) Director Steve Albert. "He and Port Authority member Don Bost have shown unwavering commitment to turn the concept of a research center into reality." In 2006, U.S. Senator Max Baucus was instrumental in securing federal funding for Transcend, which provides $1 million a year for four years toward the growth and development of the research facility.
Transcend is now a highly flexible, nationally recognized transportation research laboratory to conduct research projects that require a large-scale and controlled testing environment. This facility can be used to provide straightforward definitive answers through customizable real-world transportation conditions, a passionate and multidisciplinary research team, as well as comprehensive data collection tools. Ultimately, Transcend is an open road to discover innovative solutions through advanced research, development and testing.
WTI was designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration as one of the 10 National University Transportation Centers. As a department in the College of Engineering at Montana State University–Bozeman, WTI excels at partnering with faculty, other universities, transportation agencies and private sector partners to continually advance rural transportation research and education. The talented, multidisciplinary staff at WTI conducts research in eight research areas using 7 laboratories, which includes Transcend for large-scale field testing.
The research at Transcend is coordinated by Eli Cuelho, the Infrastructure Maintenance and Materials Program Manager at WTI. Mr. Cuelho is a registered professional engineer with a master’s degree in civil engineering and more than 12 years of experience focusing on a variety of geotechnical, structural and instrumentation projects.
Eli Cuelho (406) 994-7886
In response to the widespread defeats of World War II and after the invasions of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Congress appropriated increased funding for defense operation throughout the country, a large percentage going towards the development of airports. As part of the appropriation, the Great Falls Air Base in Great Falls, Montana was born in 1942. In conjunction with this air base, the Lewistown Satellite Airfield was also constructed for bombsite storage and training purposes. The Army Air Corps operated the airfield for one year between 1942 and 1943 until it was deactivated. In 1947, the City of Lewistown and Fergus County obtained control of the Airfield and it has served as the community municipal airport ever since. Over time, the municipal airport operations sought to better utilize the decommissioned runways and taxiways. As a result, the Montana Office of Public Instruction began leasing portions of the unused runways for driver training in the 1970's. Additionally, the Lewistown Drag Racing Club holds 4 races per year on another section of the unused runaway system. And now, the Transcend research facility is utilizing the remainder.