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MAP-21 Research Quarterly Winter Newsletter

January 2013

A Message from the Associate Administrator

Welcome to FHWA's Office of Planning, Environment and Realty's (HEP) first quarterly research newsletter under Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). This publication is designed to offer information about HEP's research activities as part of FHWA's Research and Technology agenda under MAP-21.

Gloria Shepherd, Associate Administrator, HEP

Inside this issue we bring you:

The information within these pages is designed not only to share information about HEP's research products and activities, but also to provide practitioners and the public with opportunities to understand and apply the findings of the research in their communities. The newsletter will also highlight good conduct of research practices, including partnering and collaboration. I encourage you to visit HEP's MAP-21 research website to learn more about FHWA's activities to strengthen planning and environmental decision making and how to get involved in them.

Sincerely,
Gloria Shepherd
Associate Administrator for the Office of Planning, Environment and Realty

FHWA Launches New Research Program for Environment, Planning and Realty

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is committed to conducting and promoting research that strengthens transportation planning and environmental decision making. Between 2006 and 2012, FHWA's Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP), funded projects focused on national research priorities for environment, planning and realty. MAP-21 authorized funding for a new FHWA research program that also focused on these topics. The program's objectives are to:

In addition, each office within HEP has a research coordinator that you can contact to discuss research planned or underway. A list of these coordinators can be found online. To learn more, please visit HEP's MAP-21 research website.

Webinar Offers Insights on the Relationship between Transportation Planning and Health

Stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds participated in a webinar focused on the growing role of health in transportation planning, on October 23, 2012. The conversation centered on a new white paper entitled Metropolitan Area Transportation Planning for Healthy Communities.

Screenshot from webinar

The paper, developed through collaboration between FHWA and the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, offers a framework that stakeholders can use to approach health successfully, within metropolitan area transportation planning.

More than 200 people registered for the event including representatives from Federal, State and Local agencies, academia, public health and the private sector.

During the webinar, representatives from four metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) featured in the white paper shared experiences, discussed progress and addressed challenges in their work to build healthier communities.

Leslie Meehan from the Nashville Area MPO shared how the MPO's 2035 Regional Transportation Plan linked health and mobility. Matthew Carpenter with the Sacramento Council of Governments (SACOG) discussed how SACOG addressed health in their work through scenario planning and a rural-urban connections strategy. Dr. Anthony Chen with the Tacoma-Pierce County Department of Public Health and Robin Mayhew from the Puget Sound Regional Council spoke about the partnership between their respective organizations and both short and long-term transportation planning in the region. Finally, Stephan Carpenter with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) shared the strategies SANDAG is implementing to achieve health-related outcomes, like promoting physical activity and improving air quality.

healthy living logo

This white paper is one in a series of studies developed to help MPOs, DOTs, transportation agencies, and partners take a holistic approach to addressing health in transportation planning, with the end result being healthier communities. The next report will focus on how health can be integrated into State DOTs long-range transportation plans.

A recording of the webinar is available online. For more information on this webinar and health and transportation, please contact Fred Bowers at 202-366-2374 or Frederick.Bowers@dot.gov

Research Highlights

Take a look at these recent highlights from HEP research projects that are completed or have made significant progress in the areas of planning, environment and real estate services.

Planning:

Asset Sustainability Index: Proposed Measure for Long-Term Performance, completed in July 2012. This report examines the concept of a suite of proposed performance measures centered around an Asset Sustainability Index (ASI). The metrics are proposed to be inherently forward looking and to address a fundamental question surrounding infrastructure management. That is, will current actions result in a financially sustainable highway system? Or, will current actions come at the expense of future stakeholders who will inherit a deteriorated and depreciated highway network?

Beyond the Short Term: Transportation Asset Management (TAM) for Long-Term Sustainability, Accountability and PerformanceReport completed in June 2012. This report addresses three major areas of Asset Management. 1.) Asset Management as a framework for demonstrating accountability. 2.) Successful organizational structures and leadership strategies for instilling Asset Management into transportation agencies. 3.) Case studies of successful Asset Management programs across the United States and internationally.

Travel Model Improvement Program (TMIP) sponsored a 12-session webinar series in 2012 on activity-based modeling to advance transportation modeling approaches and techniques. The recorded sessions can be found at the TMIP Web site.

Modeling and Analysis Needs and Resources for Small Metropolitan Area Transportation Planning: Report on a Peer Exchange completed in September 2012. The report evaluates the current travel modeling and analysis needs and capabilities of small MPOs. The peer exchange explored planning concerns in small urban areas, and discussed data and analysis methods available to address those concerns efficiently and cost-effectively.

Research image

Environment:

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. Eco-Logical is the ecosystem-scale approach to prioritizing, developing, and delivering infrastructure projects which are more sensitive to terrestrial and aquatic habitats.

Environmental Justice (EJ) Emerging Trends and Best Practices Guidebook was released in December 2011. It summarizes the importance of EJ in transportation and features four chapters that focus on foundational issues that promote EJ in environmental decision making.

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.

CSS National Dialog 2 was launched via webcast in April 2012. The first webcast provided an update on federal transportation initiatives that are aligned with the principles of CSS.Two additional webcasts were held in September and November 2012. During these webcasts, best practices of applying CSS in transportation projects, plans, and programs were presented and used to initiate discussion and interaction among workshop participants. The next webcast is scheduled for February 2013 and will be held in North Carolina.

National Transportation Liaison Community of Practice website was launched in March 2012, to enable liaisons to share and exchange resources that could streamline and coordinate the services they provide to resource agencies and departments of transportation. The website's features include a resource library, a subject matter expert list, and a news bulletin. A discussion board was added in October 2012 where liaisons can ask questions and share information on project-specific questions and best practices.

Smart State Transportation Initiative (SSTI) assists State DOTs in moving towards a more sustainable approach to planning and funding the transportation system. DOTs are encouraged to adopt Smart Transportation principles, including planning collaboration with the community, planning for alternative transportation options, and developing approaches and solutions that are tailored to the context, and size of the problem.

MOVES2010a Regional Level Sensitivity Analysis discusses the sensitivity of various input parameters' effects on emission rates using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's MOVES2010a1 model (20100830 databases) at the regional level. The following input parameters were varied in the analysis: temperature, humidity, ramp fraction, age distribution, analysis year, and average speed distribution. The results of the analysis show how the running exhaust, start, and evaporative emissions rates are affected by the variation of analyzed input parameters and the magnitude of the changes.

Real Estate Services:

Property Management Tools and Techniques - Models for the Effective Management of Real Property Assets at State Departments of Transportation completed in the fall of 2012.The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) convened select SDOTs at a series of three Property Management Regional Roundtables to discuss property inventory "ideals," or aspects of a property inventory that would comprise the model system. The participants agreed that property management inventories should be simple and adaptable in terms of what the system does; how the system does those things; and, how the staff members interact with it. Specific best practices are compiled in this report.

Visualization for Right of Way Acquisition completed in June 2012.The study synthesizes and presents the findings from a literature review, as well as a series of phone discussions with stakeholders who expressed interest in using visualization technologies to enhance the ROW acquisition process. It is expected that transportation officials will use this information to improve and facilitate their own transportation ROW acquisition processes and outcomes.

Business Relocation Assistance Retrospective Study completed in the summer of 2012. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) conducted a study of the actual costs businesses incur as a result of having to relocate for a public transportation project. The primary focus of this research effort was to determine the costs that a business incurs which would be reimbursable if reestablishment expense payments were not limited to the current Federal statutory maximum amount of $10,000.

Alternative Uses of Right of Way released in January 2012. This report is intended to provide transportation agencies with information that will better enable them to consider the implications and evaluate the feasibility of implementing renewable energy and fuel options in the ROW. The findings presented in this report are based on the review of the relevant literature and a series of interviews with stakeholders representing State highway ROW renewable energy and alternative fuel facility projects that are in varying stages of completion and that utilize, or are pursuing, a range of technologies.

Featured Research Product: INVEST Version 1.0 Tool

Invest logo

FHWA launched the Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability (INVEST) Version 1.0 tool in October 2012, to assist State, regional and local transportation agencies in evaluating the sustainability of their transportation plans, projects and programs.

This voluntary, online tool allows users to evaluate transportation plans, projects and programs, against a collection of best practices, called criteria, and to identify ways to integrate sustainability into their programs.

INVEST considers the full lifecycle of projects and has three modules to self-evaluate the entire lifecycle of transportation services. These modules include:

Each of these modules is based on a separate collection of criteria and can be evaluated separately.

INVEST Version 1.0 was developed using extensive input from industry stakeholders and an analysis of sustainability best practices in the transportation field. The tool was also pilot tested across abroad spectrum of agencies, projects, programs and geographies. FHWA hopes that stakeholders will use the INVEST Version 1.0 tool to make informed decisions with limited resources and balance the economic, social and environmental factors associated with transportation projects.

To learn more, please visit the INVEST website.

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Updated: 04/04/2013
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