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Eleni Bardaka


Dr. Eleni Bardaka is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering (CCEE) at NCSU. She is primarily associated with the Transportation Systems group within the CCEE Department and is interested in transportation planning and economics research. Dr. Bardaka currently teaches CE 297 – Introduction to Sustainable Infrastructure and CE 401/501 – Transportation Systems Analysis.


Ph.D. Civil Engineering Purdue University 2016

M.S. Economics Purdue University 2014

M.S. Civil Engineering Purdue University 2012

B.S. Civil Engineering National Technical University of Athens, Greece 2010

Area(s) of Expertise

Dr. Bardaka is interested in the relationship between the spatial patterns of urban development and transportation interventions. She mainly focuses on urban phenomena such as gentrification, segregation, and displacement and on how they relate to transportation investments and policies. She is currently studying the socioeconomic impacts of urban rail, including the gentrification and economic displacement of lower-income households, as well as affordable housing schemes close to transit systems. In her research, she uses spatial econometric analysis and quasi-experimental methods to test if there is a causal link between a transportation intervention and a socioeconomic outcome. She also supports state agencies with research related to highway-induced local and regional economic development, cost-benefit analysis of different projects (such public-private partnerships and toll roads), and evaluation of alternative revenue sources.


Date: 07/01/23 - 7/01/25
Amount: $349,799.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Transportation

This research aims to help NCDOT and other public agencies in NC gain an improved understanding of public microtransit (benefits, costs, equity assessment, implementation challenges) and, through dissemination of results and lessons learned, help other regions in NC to explore this public transportation solution for suburban and rural areas. An earlier phase of this project focused on the lessons learned, ridership, and operational and capital costs related to existing systems in NC. The second phase will update the results of the first phase as well as answer additional research questions related to trip-level service characteristics, user perception, user benefits, and equity considerations.

Date: 02/01/22 - 9/30/23
Amount: $79,750.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Transportation (DOT)

Transportation disadvantaged populations, such as elderly people, people with disabilities, low-income households, and households without personal vehicles, continue to face mobility challenges due to lack of access to transportation services. Although the low-income population who resides in US suburban areas has increased by more than 50% in the last twenty years, affordable and effective transportation options remain very limited in the suburbs. At the same time, the country is experiencing a rise in elderly population, who has special transportation needs, while inequities in access to healthcare still pertain in most regions. Transportation agencies are challenged by these problems and simultaneously are facing the emergence of disruptive technologies in the transportation sector. This project tackles many of the questions that decisionmakers have raised related to transportation disadvantaged populations and emerging mobility services: (i) how do disadvantaged groups use and experience microtransit systems? (ii) what has been the impact of the recent Medicaid Transformation on disadvantaged populations? (iii) how can autonomous vehicles address the mobility and accessibility needs of the transportation disadvantaged? and (iv) how can transit and shared autonomous vehicle programs can support transportation disadvantaged populations in different geographies in the future? An interdisciplinary team of faculty from four universities in the STRIDE partnership will assess the travel demand and equity of emerging mobility services and will disseminate findings with transportation agencies to improve access for vulnerable populations.

Date: 10/01/21 - 9/30/23
Amount: $150,000.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

The overarching goal of the proposed research is to identify, test, and evaluate technologically enabled and community-supported solutions for temporally distributing travel demand for on-demand public transportation services in an equitable manner, without the use of traditional pricing incentives. We are specifically interested in understanding whether enabling and incentivizing prosocial behavior, such as volunteering to shift one??????????????????s trip time to accommodate others, share a ride, and cooperate with other users to improve outcomes for the user community or to prioritize a transportation disadvantaged user, is a potential solution that is feasible and desirable for communities. If our preliminary analysis during the proposed planning grant (PG) supports the case of cooperative adaptive ride planning, we will investigate how prosocial behavior can be enabled in a trip scheduling environment and be facilitated through the use of artificial intelligence (AI), and we will test and evaluate the efficacy of this approach in improving service during an integrative research grant (IRG). No previous research has explored empathy and prosocial behavior in the context of traveler choices and decision-making.

Date: 01/31/23 - 8/31/23
Amount: $10,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Transportation (DOT)

We study how investments in transit infrastructure can differently impact surrounding neighborhoods based on their socioeconomic characteristics. We use a social status index (SSI) to group neighborhoods based on their socioeconomic characteristics prior to the arrival of transit infrastructure, and use a quasi-experimental approach to study the impact of a new light rail transit (LRT) system in Charlotte, NC. We use a difference-in-differences model to study changes in educational attainment, the rate of individuals working in professional occupations, neighborhood racial mix, and household income for Census block groups within 1 kilometer of LRT stations. We compare changes in the neighborhoods near LRT stations to 2 other areas, one of which we identify using propensity score matching (PSM). We find that neighborhoods with a low and high SSI experience changes associated with gentrification, and see little effect in neighborhoods with a medium SSI. Our findings may encourage other researchers to challenge the assumption that the the effects of new transit systems are homogeneous across neighborhood typologies, and encourage researchers to further study the relationship between neighborhood change and underlying neighborhood characteristics.

Date: 01/07/22 - 7/06/23
Amount: $1,500,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Energy (DOE) - Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E)

We will develop a full roll-out model, based on validated planning and simulation tools, that is able to model the deployment of a wide range of propulsion and energy storage technologies in the Class 1 Rail Freight sector and that determines associated lifecycle GHG emissions and levelized cost of Mt-km (LCOTKM) values over various time scales (e.g., 10, 20, 30 years). Our work will include: (1) microscale train simulation; (2) network train simulation; (3) identification and characterization of infrastructure requirements; (4) identification and characterization of decarbonized energy pathways; (5) probabilistic cost modeling; (6) freight demand scenarios; (7) technology transfer and outreach; and (8) integrated assessment. The latter will include case studies based on application of the developed, detailed case studies of specific lines, settings, and situations, with extrapolations to the whole network, inclusive of coupling with infrastructure, decarbonized energy pathways, demand scenarios, and cost. We will appoint an advisory board to facilitate technology transfer and outreach.

Date: 02/01/20 - 2/28/23
Amount: $1,000,000.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Transportation

The NCDOT is launching a bold and forward-looking effort to establish multi-university transportation centers of excellence to provide broad-based, multidisciplinary research into the applications and impacts of cutting edge technologies and emergent, disruptive trends. The projects included in our center proposal were custom-built to address the research areas spelled out in the request for proposals for the desired Mobility and Congestion center. The three themes are as follows: ??????????????? Theme #1: Big Data and Data-Driven Transportation Management and Decision Support ??????????????? Theme #2: Active Transportation Management/Integrated Corridor Management ??????????????? Theme #3: Transit and Mobility as a Service

Date: 08/01/19 - 12/31/22
Amount: $295,901.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Transportation

There are multiple short-term and long-term plans for larger and smaller-scale transit investments for the urban areas in North Carolina. However, there has not been a study on how the proposed transit projects are going to impact the urban areas of North Carolina economically. The objectives of this research are to (i) assist NCDOT with understanding the transformations expected to occur in urban areas because of upcoming transit investments; (ii) quantify the expected magnitude and spatial distribution of the economic impacts of transit investments in North Carolina as well as the anticipation effects of the proposed projects; (iii) estimate the magnitude and space-time dynamics of the expected socioeconomic changes in the regions close to the proposed projects and methods to prevent and mitigate negative externalities; (iv) identify the data that NCDOT should be collecting as part of the Atlas database before and after project implementation and associated automated tools of data analysis, for being able to evaluate the impacts of public transportation projects; and (v) provide a list of recommendations that are feasible for the state of North Carolina based on previous research and the experiences of other states for station-area policies, land-use development, last-mile solutions, public-private partnerships, and multimodal facilities that will lead to higher transit ridership in North Carolina. The proposed research will provide a clear quantitative understanding of the extent of economic benefits and social externalities incurred by various transit projects throughout North Carolina. This understanding will allow NCDOT to assess the value of the funded projects to businesses, individuals, and communities in North Carolina. Professors Bardaka and Thill are currently conducting research and have published journal articles on the social and economic impacts of transit projects.

Date: 01/01/22 - 11/30/22
Amount: $82,808.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Transportation

The objective of this research aims to help NCDOT and other public agencies in NC gain an improved understanding of public microtransit (benefits, costs, equity assessment, implementation challenges) and, through dissemination of results and lessons learned, help other regions in NC to explore this public transportation solution for suburban and rural areas. The project will address the following research questions: (1) How much does it cost to meet the unmet transit need using microtransit and how does this cost differ by population density, rural/urban geography, and other factors? (2) What are the overall benefits and costs of this new service that are important for policy decisions? (3) How are special populations impacted by microtransit and the potential, concurrent changes in fixed route transit due to the addition of microtransit? (4) Are microtransit users satisfied with the quality of the service offered and how does microtransit service compare to the experience of solo driving? (5) Is microtransit practical and efficient for low-density areas? What is the minimum density requirement?

Date: 02/18/22 - 8/31/22
Amount: $31,500.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Transportation (DOT)

The Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program (DDETFP) provides funding for students to pursue advanced degrees in transportation-related disciplines. The program objectives are to: 1) attract the nation's brightest minds to the field of transportation, 2) enhance the careers of transportation professionals by encouraging them to seek advanced degrees, and 3) retain top talent in the transportation industry of the United States. The DDETFP is intended to enhance the breadth and scope of knowledge of the entire transportation community in the United States. The DDETFP encompasses all modes of transportation. The purpose of this Grant Agreement (????????????????Agreement???????????????) is to prepare the DDETFP Fellow (????????????????Student Designee???????????????) for a career in transportation.

Date: 11/01/19 - 12/31/21
Amount: $70,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Transportation (DOT)

The overall objective of the proposed project is to provide recommendations and tools that address the mobility needs of transportation disadvantaged populations to transportation agencies and other stakeholders by taking advantage of the recent technological advancements in mobility services. The project is a collaboration among five universities in the STRIDE partnership which will address this overall objective from different social angles and accessibility considerations. Thrust 1 will propose emerging mobility solutions for transportation disadvantaged populations in suburban areas. Thrust 2 will investigate the potential of integrating emerging mobility services to serve the needs of an aging population. Thrust 3 will assess the current state of medical transport in NC and the southeastern US and works with stakeholders in the transport and health sectors to identify required tools and build connections. Thrust 4 will investigate transportation accessibility for low-income and transportation disadvantaged populations for a variety of trips and will actively engage stakeholders in understanding the implications of the interaction between transit and transportation network companies. Last, Thrust 5 will explore the role of MaaS in supporting rural communities?????????????????? need to access urban areas. Together, the research conducted in these five thrusts will improve our understanding on the travel behavior of different transportation disadvantaged groups and will influence transportation planning decisions in the southeastern US region.

Date: 08/01/18 - 7/31/21
Amount: $259,404.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Transportation

North Carolina's highways are financed primarily by taxes and fees paid by highway users. Ideally, each highway user should be responsible for contributing to the state revenue an amount equal to the cost of consuming the state??????????????????s infrastructure facilities and services. Even though it is difficult to achieve this in practice, assessing the relationship between the cost responsibility of each vehicle class and their contribution to the revenue is necessary for designing a more equitable and efficient tax and user fee structure. To date, there has not been a highway cost allocation study completed for the state of North Carolina. The proposed study will focus on the comparison of cost responsibility and revenue contribution of individual vehicle classes for North Carolina??????????????????s highways. This comparison will be based on recent infrastructure expenditures and revenue sources. The study will also assess alternative infrastructure funding mechanisms and evaluate them based on revenue potential, financial sustainability, ease of implementation, and public perception. The research will result in the following research products: (i) estimated cost responsibility of each vehicle class, (ii) estimated revenue contribution of each vehicle class, (iii) estimated equity ratio for each vehicle class, and (iv) a list of alternative revenue sources ranked based on multiple criteria. The proposed research will yield a detailed methodology for allocating highway costs and attributing revenues to all vehicle classes. The results will provide a clear quantitative understanding of the extent of costs incurred by various vehicle classes and the revenues contributed by them. This understanding will allow NCDOT to assess the appropriateness of types and rates of current taxes and fees and to devise future revenue mechanisms to meet the financing needs of NCDOT??????????????????s roadway system in coming years.

Date: 08/01/18 - 7/31/21
Amount: $338,515.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Transportation

Autonomous vehicle (AV) technology is expected to fundamentally change transportation systems. The Transportation Planning Branch at NCDOT, which is responsible for the state??????????????????s long-range transportation plan, needs state-of-the-art information and predictions on AV technology and its potential impacts on transport to be better prepared for the upcoming changes and maximize the social benefits that this technology will enable. The Transportation Systems group faculty (Drs. Bardaka, List, Rouphail, and Williams) and Dr. Frey (Environmental Engineering) in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at NCSU as well as Dr. Cummings, the Director of the Humans and Autonomy Laboratory at Duke University will work together to leverage existing research in the area of AV technology to evaluate impacts and provide policy and future research recommendations to NCDOT. The study will include a comprehensive literature review on AV technology and its impact on transportation demand, capacity, mobility, traffic safety, emissions, energy use, and land use. The results of previous research will be analyzed and case studies for North Carolina will be developed. The study will also provide recommendations to NCDOT regarding changes in policies and regulations, future test plans and test infrastructure, and research priorities in the area of AV technology. As part of this study, the researchers will work closely with the Transportation Planning Branch to provide guidance on how existing models (such as the statewide demand model) could be adapted to account for the presence of AVs.

Date: 08/01/18 - 3/31/20
Amount: $70,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Transportation (DOT)

With nationwide declines in public transportation ridership, transit may be falling behind in its ability to help cities deal with congestion. Increasing real-estate values are causing the economic displacement of low-income populations, those most closely associated with transit ridership. A plethora of new mobility options are providing alternatives for transit riders who can afford them. But how will access to transit, ridership, and congestion be impacted by these shifts in demographics and the introduction of new mobility services? This project includes researchers from four universities in the STRIDE partnership that together will address access to public transportation issues with specific contributions in suburbanization of poverty, Transportation Network Companies, healthcare access, and vulnerable populations. In thrust 1, a methodology will be developed to assess the externalities of the phenomenon of suburbanization of poverty with respect to access to public transportation. In addition, this thrust will provide a detailed analysis of sociodemographic and accessibility changes over time. In thrust 2, the study team will provide a model for transit ridership on a highly specific spatial and temporal scale to provide useful insights on the impact of service allocation policies and conflicting competition and complementarity happening with TNCs. In thrust 3, the study team will develop a better understanding of the interactions between public transit and TNC providers. In thrust 4, the study team will document the rapid evolution of paratransit services available to access healthcare. Although the research in all four thrusts focuses on specific areas of the southeast US, the results will be applicable nationally to aid transit and regional planning agencies.

Date: 01/01/19 - 5/31/19
Amount: $22,689.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Transportation

The objective of this research is to investigate the spatial and temporal distribution of economic impacts of beltway investments on residential and commercial property values in North Carolina. The study will focus on three major highway investments constructed at various times between 1990 and 2015 in North Carolina: (1) I-540 Northern Wake Expressway, (2) Greensboro Southwest Loop, and (3) I-485 Charlotte Outer Loop. A hedonic price model with difference-in-differences estimators will be used to investigate the spatial distribution of treatment effects around highway access points. This research will give answers to the following questions: 1) What is the extent and overall spatial distribution of a highway investment's effects on surrounding property values? 2) What is the time frame and magnitude of the timing of anticipation and treatment effects in relation to construction dates? In addition, as part of this research project, we will develop presentations for internal use to NCDOT for knowledge transfer purposes. The presentations will focus on the results of the previous and current research and how they can be used by NCDOT staff.

Date: 08/01/16 - 7/31/18
Amount: $194,385.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Transportation

NCDOT incorporates economic competiveness as one of the criteria for prioritizing transportation projects and uses TREDIS to quantify the economic impact of capacity expansion highway projects as part of project prioritization. This proposal presents a project involving structured research that will document and quantify the long-term economic impact of major highway expansion projects specifically derived from projects completed as part of the 1989 Highway Trust Fund Act. The proposed study will provide NCDOT with these deliverables: ??????????????? Evidence-based case studies associated with past Highway Trust Fund projects that helps demonstrate their economic benefits and impacts and communicate them to primary stakeholders of NCDOT. ??????????????? An ability for NCDOT to submit case studies to AASHTO??????????????????s new EconWorks initiative. EconWorks will become a national repository for case studies (replacing or exceeding SHRP??????????????????s Transportation Project Impact Case Studies (TPICS) site) & potentially a more data rich analysis for states to draw from, thereby increasing the national stature and recognition of the transportation investment work being done in NC.

View all grants 
  • Best Paper by a Junior Researcher Award at the Annual Conference of the International Transportation Economics Association for the paper "Causal identification of gentrification and local spatial spillover effects of urban rail infrastructure"