Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration

Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
Planning · Environment · Real Estate

Events Guidance Publications Awards Contacts

MAP-21 Research Quarterly Newsletter - Winter

March 2014

Message from FHWA's Director of Project Development and Environmental Review

Welcome to the winter 2014 issue of FHWA's Office of Planning, Environment and Realty's Quarterly Research Newsletter.

This newsletter offers readers the latest information about the Office's research activities. This issue sports a new look, but retains all the same features we brought to you in 2013.

Protecting the human and natural environment from potential impacts incurred by transportation projects is a key focus of the Office of Project Development and Environmental Review's research. We also look at the intersection of technology and the environment to develop tools and procedures to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the environmental review and permitting processes. Before projects can move to construction, FHWA must address and comply with laws related to the environment. These federal laws cover social, economic and environmental concerns ranging from community cohesion to threatened and endangered species. FHWA uses the National Environmental Policy Act process to evaluate impacts associated with each individual project. This will accelerate project delivery and achieve improved environmental outcomes.

This year, our team is focusing on several activities including accelerating project delivery and achieving improved environmental outcomes. These activities include: implementation of the MAP-21 environmental provisions, advancing Every Day Counts environmental initiatives such as expanding use of eNEPA - the FHWA tool to facilitate the environmental review process through enhanced interagency collaboration and document management, and support the Executive Order and Presidential Memoranda associated with cutting timelines and improving outcomes for environmental review and permitting of infrastructure projects. eNEPA was developed with the stalwart guidance of our colleague Mary Frye, who retired from FHWA in February. We extend our thanks and best wishes as she moves on to new pursuits.

This edition of the newsletter includes highlights from the Transportation Research Board's (TRB) Annual Meeting, information about a new online tool to help consumers calculate transportation costs as part of their housing decisions, and new case studies on the Climate Change & Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework. In this issue, you'll also find:

Please visit the MAP-21 research website and discover how you can get involved in our work to improve transportation decision making and promote efficiency while protecting communities and the environment.

Sincerely,

Gerald Solomon, Director
Office of Project Development and Environmental Review
FHWA Office of Planning, Environment and Realty

TRB Annual Meeting Recap

Increasing investments in transportation research and addressing transportation's impact on energy, climate, and the environment were two of the five critical issues in transportation presented at the Transportation Research Board's 93rd Annual Meeting, held from January 12-16, 2014 in Washington, DC.

During the meeting, more than 12,000 transportation professionals from around the world gathered to explore these critical issues at nearly 800 sessions and workshops.

Photo of a display booth with phamplets and posters.

FHWA's Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty hosted a booth at the conference to provide attendees with more information about the Office's current and upcoming research activities, including the Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM) for stormwater management, Climate Change Adaptation Case Studies, and the Office's new Performance Based Planning and Programming (PBPP) Guidebook. Copies of the Office's research brochure and fact sheets about research activities in each of the office's five areas were also available.

In addition, several of the Office staff members presented at TRB committee meetings, sessions ,and workshops. The chart below highlights these presentations.

You can review these presentations by visiting the TRB interactive program searching by the presenters' name(s).

STAFF MEMBER PRESENTATION SESSION/WORKSHOP/COMMITTEE SPONSOR
Shari Schaftlein and Susan Jones SHRP2 Research/Environmental updates Environmental Analysis
Pat Cazenas FHWA Research Update/Water Quality Updates Hydrology, Hydraulics, and Water Quality
Becky Lupes FHWA Climate Change Resilience Program Mainstreaming Community-Based Climate Adaptation into Transportation Planning/Climate Change and Energy
James Garland and Gary Jenson

SHRP2 Capacity and Reliability: Moving Research into Practice through Development Activities and Pilot Projects

Poster Session

SHRP 2 Technical Coordinating Committee for Reliability Research (FC000)

SHRP 2 Technical Coordinating Committee for Capacity Research

John Bowman, Mark Bradley, Joseph Castiglione, and Supin Yoder Making Advanced Travel Forecasting Models Affordable Through Model Transferability Session 240 - Model Applications
Elaine Murakami /Liang Long NHTS and CTPP: Value of Combining both for Transportation Applications Session 244 and Poster Session 384
Elaine Murakami co-authored with Ho-Ling Hwang et al. Prototype Regional Non-motorized Travel Sketch Planning Tool: Promoting Walk Activities in Communities Session 570
Joseph Castiglione, John Bowman, Mark Bradley, David Roden, Brian Gardner, and Supin Yoder Schedule Consistency in an Activity-Based Dynamic Network Model System Session 756 - Model Integration by Parts of the Research Community
April Marchese Air Quality Several Committee Meetings
Ting Ma, Frederick Ducca, Timothy F. Welch, Supin Li Yoder & Rolf Moeckel The Economic Ties: Case Study of the Chesapeake Mega-Region Poster Session 431 - Latest Research in Planning for Mega-Regions

Another key theme of the meeting was importance of increased investments in research, particularly as MAP-21 is set to expire on September 30, 2014. According to TRB's 2014 Board Chair Kirk Steudle, "Research is the foundation of our future and as we look at the next reauthorization we have to have a solid components dedicated to research because if we think we know all the answers to all the problems today, we are absolutely wrong."

Case Studies Offer Valuable Information on Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments

Recently the Sustainable Transport and Climate Change Team released five case studies that summarize climate change vulnerability pilot projects conducted in five metropolitan areas:

"The pilots allowed us to learn from a wide variety of agencies about the experiences and the impacts on their transportation systems to changing climate conditions," said Becky Lupes, Sustainable Transport and Climate Change Team.

The case studies summarize the results of the testing and include each project's key findings, including the assets with the highest risks, adaptation options, and resilience. In addition, each case study identifies lessons learned and recommended next steps. These include conducting a detailed assessment for long-range planning, communicating with stakeholders, and assessing vulnerabilities at broader and narrower geographic scopes. The findings were used to revise the 2012 edition of the Climate Change & Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework.

New Research Videos Coming to FHWA's YouTube Channel

The Office of Planning, Environment and Realty's recently launched a series of videos about our research activities. The first video, Seek, Simplify, and Solve through Research, highlights five of the Office's recently completed research projects. Future videos will feature more details about individual projects. The Office hopes that these videos are not only informational, but also encourage viewers to get involved in these projects, share best practices on research implementation, and identify future research needs.

New HUD and DOT Tool Helps Consumers Make Informed Housing Decisions

There is more to housing affordability than how much rent or mortgage you pay. Transportation costs are the second-biggest budget item for most families, but there hasn't been an easy way for people to fully factor transportation costs into decisions about where to live and work.

Sustainable Communities logo.

That is why The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) partnered to create the Location Affordability Portal. Recently unveiled by Secretaries Donovan and Foxx, the site provides reliable, user-friendly data and resources on combined housing and transportation costs to help consumers, policymakers, and developers make more informed decisions about where to live, work, and invest.

In December, HUD and DOT held two webinars that provided an overview of the new Location Affordability Portal. During these sessions, more than 200 attendees learned how the Location Affordability Index and My Transportation Cost Calculator can be used to support location-based decision making. Visit www.hud.gov/locationaffordability to access these resources, including tools, user guides, a video tutorial, and documentation.

Research Highlights

Included in this section are recent highlights from the Office's research projects that are completed or underway.

Planning

Mobility Assessment of National Highway System (NHS) - Connectors to Airports in the New England States Study: For this project, Logan International Airport serves as a mini-case study in the application of intermodal tools and methods to better understand how the NHS serves as the backbone of the nation's transportation system. Using travel data, origin-destination data, and GIS networks, the study examines airports' access with respect to user travel times, mode split, and routing along the NHS segments. Staff Contact: Mike Neathery, 202-366-1257.

Model Long-Range Transportation Plans: A Guide for Incorporating Performance-Based Planning: This guidebook, a companion to the FHWA and FTA Performance Based Planning and Programming Guidebook, provides more detailed information about developing a performance-based long-range plan. It offers transportation agencies useful information to help them establish a performance-based planning and programming processes that lead to investment decisions made based on performance information. Staff Contact: Harlan Miller, 202-366-0847.

FHWA Announces $1.5 Million in Funding For Transportation Planning Research: FHWA released a new Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), "Advance Transportation Planning through Innovation and Research" to advance the practice and application of transportation planning among State, metropolitan, regional, local, and Tribal transportation planning governments. The BAA is in response to significant changes in the planning process and to identify new tools, techniques, and approaches that respond to national transportation planning priorities. The FHWA's research program will review proposals to fund innovation in such areas as planning capacity building, congestion management, safety planning, public involvement, environmental justice, visualization in planning, freight planning, planning and environmental linkages, and pedestrian and bicycle planning and design. Please note this BAA consists of a two-step process of pre-proposal and full proposal submissions. To apply, applicants should go to FedBizOpps.gov and search solicitation number DTFH6114R00019 for more information. The solicitation closes on April 23, 2014. Staff Contact Shana Baker, 202-366-4649.

Environment

MOVES2010a Regional Level Sensitivity: This research study analyzes the sensitivity of various input parameters' on emission rates using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's MOVES2010a1 model at the regional level. Pollutants included in the study are carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter of less than 2.5 micrometers. The study's results are presented using the predicted emission rates (grams/mile) for running exhaust, starts, and evaporative emissions across multiple MOVES source types. The following input parameters were varied in the analysis:

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. Staff Contact: Mark Glaze, 202-366-4053.

Featured Research Project

Bridging Basic and Applied Research - FHWA's Exploratory Advanced Research Program

Understanding travelers' behavior, reducing the costs of congestion, and evaluating remote wildlife detection are a few of the issues being studied through FHWA's Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program. EAR is a bridge between basic and applied research that addresses longer-term, higher- risk, and breakthrough research with the potential for dramatic long-term improvements to transportation systems—planning, building, renewing, and operating safe, congestion-free, and environmentally sound transportation facilities.

Between 2007 and 2013, the EAR Program awarded 64 research projects on 41 different topics. The research awards include work by multidisciplinary teams at 48 academic institutions, 30 private companies, 11 State and local agencies, and nine Federal laboratories.

The Office of Planning, Environment and Realty's research efforts typically are shorter-term projects that address more immediate issues such as addressing alternative uses for right-of-way, streamlining projects, improving freight movement, and incorporating livability principles in planning.

Both approaches encourage collaboration with stakeholders and other partners to improve transportation decision making and provide solutions Our Office's staff members are involved in the EAR Program from identification of new topics through transition of results and serve as the technical point of contact for the following projects:

FHWA anticipates issuing a BAA that will open on or about February 12, 2014, and closing on or about April 9, 2014. There is a link to more information on the EAR Program web site under announcements.

Upcoming Events

March

Photo of a date book.

April

May

The Office of Human Environment's Research and Financial Services Team administers research programs and financial support to HEP for research initiatives under MAP-21. They provide leadership, coordination, support and implementation of research activities. They also work toward improving outreach, communication and partnerships between Federal, State, and local stakeholders in managing the research programs. For more information, please contact HEP's Primary Research Coordinator: Patricia Cazenas, 202-366-4085.

Updated: 04/01/2014
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000