The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA's) Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty's research program supports projects with the goal of strengthening transportation planning and environmental decisionmaking. This page features recent research projects and activities that FHWA conducted to achieve this goal. Links to previous research highlights can be found at the bottom of the page. Updated: 5/2/2013
- Environmental Justice Case Studies was released in March 2013.The Transportation and Environmental Justice Case Studies booklet, was developed to draw attention to effective practices on how to better promote environmental justice principles. The case studies profile how various transportation agencies have integrated environmental justice considerations in their activities to improve transportation decision making. Two pdf files are also provided as a download that can be used for presentation purposes. HEP Staff Contact: Sharlene Reed, (202)366-9629.
- The Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM) completed in March 2013, replaces the FHWA runoff-quality model (Driscoll) published in 1990. SELDM was developed by USDOT Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in coordination with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) The model uses information and data about a highway site, water quality of upstream receiving waters, precipitation events, storm-flow, and the performance of mitigation measures, to produce a stochastic population of runoff-quality variables. It is designed to help determine pollutant loading levels for planning or NEPA level studies. This robust model was tested by FHWA, many state DOTs, USEPA, academia, and several other regulatory agencies, and is acceptable to DOTs, regulators, and resource-management agencies. For more information about the pending training sessions HEP Staff Contact: Susan C. Jones, FHWA, (202) 493-2139 or Gregory E. Granato, U.S. Geological Survey, (508) 490-5055.
- Evaluation of Methodologies for Visual Impact Assessments was completed in February 2013. The research report identifies a set of best practices that "provide an administratively practical and scientifically defensible, professionally useful approach" for conducting visual impact assessments. Despite issuance of 1981 guidelines by FHWA, visual impact assessments have been inconsistent across state DOTs, prompting a call for a more standard approach. According to the study conducted under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, Project 25-33, "all [visual impact assessment] methodologies currently being used by transportation agencies could be improved by incorporating one or more of the best practices," noting that no agencies are currently using all of the recommended practices. HEP Staff Contact: Harold Peaks, (202)366-1598.
Real Estate Services
- Coordination with Railroads to Facilitate Acquisition of ROW was released in June 2012. The research developed approaches which will be useful to acquiring agencies as they advance right-of-way access and land acquisition programs. This includes identifying the best ways to use FHWA resources to help SDOTs and other local public agencies successfully and expeditiously achieve railroad access agreements and acquisitions consistent with the provisions of the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 as amended, also known as the Uniform Act (UA). HEP Staff Contact: John Turpin, (202)366-5853.
- The Visualization of Right-of-Way (ROW) Acquisition report, completed in June 2012, analyzed the reasons why visualization use during ROW acquisition is not common, despite its potential benefits, and explores how select state DOTs are applying this process to their work.
- The Business Relocation Assistance Retrospective study report, released in the summer of 2012, analyzes actual costs businesses incur as a result of having to relocate for a public transportation project.
- The Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool (INVEST) Version 1.0 was released in October 2012 to assist State, regional, and local transportation agencies in evaluating the sustainability of their transportation plans, projects, and programs.
- Going the Distance Together - Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) for Better Transportation, published in April 2012, is a guide designed to help practitioners find common ground with citizens by listening to them and understanding how transportation affects their quality of life.
- Eco-Logical Successes, a report released in September 2012, highlights signatory agencies' strategic environmental programs, projects, and efforts that share the vision set forth in Eco-Logical. The ecosystem-scale approach to prioritizing, developing, and delivering infrastructure projects which are more sensitive to terrestrial and aquatic habitats.