Renowned civil engineering professor Tapan Datta to be honored with ceremonial street naming

In appreciation of a more than 40-year career devoted to improving traffic safety, Wayne State University will recognize Tapan Datta, Ph.D., professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering, with a ceremonial street naming on April 18.

Two secondary street signs on the northern corners of Anthony Wayne Drive and Warren Avenue will bear the name “Tapan Datta Boulevard.” The stretch between Warren Avenue and Palmer Street will honor Datta’s numerous contributions to the advancement of transportation safety worldwide and for his invaluable service to Wayne State.

Tapan Datta

“Tapan‘s value to the university not only spans the 40-plus years he has superbly served our department as a distinguished educator, mentor and researcher, but will continue into the future as we observe his impact on our many graduates’ careers and in our community,” said Mumtaz Usmen, professor and chair of civil and environmental engineering at Wayne State.

Datta founded Wayne State’s Transportation Research Group, composed of undergraduate and graduate students who complete research grant projects in such areas as pedestrian safety, highway risk management, seat belts, booster seats and child restraints, and bicycle safety. He also initiated the award-winning "Drive Safely to Wayne State" campaign to enhance driving safety awareness among  students, staff and faculty.

His work specifically on Anthony Wayne Drive is notable, as he envisioned transforming it from three lanes moving in each direction to two lanes and two rows of parallel parking in each direction. The new design improved pedestrian safety — mitigating vehicle/pedestrian incidents that were previously a major issue — and provided improved aesthetics and traffic flow. It also added new sources of parking revenue for the city and more short-term parking options for students and visitors.

Datta moved from his native India to Detroit in 1965. He received his master’s in civil engineering in 1968 from Wayne State and his Ph.D. in civil engineering transportation in 1973 from Michigan State University. He was subsequently hired as a full-time faculty member at Wayne State, and six years later was promoted to professor and department chair.

In 2009, Datta was appointed to the Michigan Construction Safety Standards Commission by Governor Jennifer Granholm; the same year, he was inducted into the College of Engineering Hall of Fame. He retired from Wayne State in 2018.

RSVP for the April 18 dedication at


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