The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Planning, Environment and Realty's (HEP) Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP) ended on September 30, 2012. For current HEP research information, please see HEP's MAP-21 research web site.
Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty
Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP)
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Since 2006, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has administered the Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP) to encourage new, strategic, and applied research on the relationship between surface transportation planning and the environment. Federal, State, and other stakeholders are involved throughout the STEP process to shape, refine, and implement research agendas.
Section 5207 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) established the STEP program for 2006-2009. SAFETEA-LU authorized $16.875 million annually to implement the STEP. After adjusting for obligation limitations, rescissions, and the over-designation of Title V Research in SAFETEA-LU, $14.5 million was available for FY2008 STEP.
Since 2006, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has administered the Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP) to encourage new, strategic and applied research on the relationship between surface transportation planning and the environment. Federal, State, and other stakeholders are involved throughout the STEP process to shape, refine, and implement research agendas.
This publication provides an overview of the STEP program's accomplishments during Fiscal Year 2008 (FY2008). Detailed information about outreach activities and specific research projects can be found in the appendices.
The STEP funding allows researchers to carry out timely investigations and analyses, translate and synthesize research from other initiatives into practice, and fund quick turn-around efforts that advance key strategies to address national priorities.
STEP funds support projects with three different, but interrelated, functions:
Section 5207 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU)established the STEP program for 2006-2009. The U.S. Congress mandated a 50 percent non-Federal matches to encourage collaboration among partners and increase the scope of research that can be undertaken. In cases where projects are funded through a competitive bid process, the requirement may be waived.
SAFETEA-LU authorized $16.875 million annually to implement the STEP. After adjusting for obligation limitations, rescissions, and the over-designation of Title V Research in SAFETEA-LU, $14.5 million was available for FY08 STEP.
Through STEP, the FHWA invests in projects in each of 17 "emphasis areas" that fall into three broad research categories: environment, planning, and tools to support environment and planning. The 52 projects funded in FY2008 enhance the state-of-the-art and the state-of-the-practice in planning, environment, and realty.
STEP projects include short-term initiatives and ongoing multi-year programs; they may be carried out by the FHWA staff, or by a collection of professionals in many different agencies. The FHWA uses STEP funds and the STEP process to build partnerships that encourage collaboration, leverage diverse funding sources, and offer a fresh perspective on emerging research topics. Stakeholders engage in the development and implementation of projects, exchange information on their initiatives, and share lessons learned about research findings and effective practices.
Notable projects from each emphasis area are highlighted below with respect to their core function:
Context Sensitive Solutions Web site features Case studies.
Community Impact Assessment Web site offers information to practitioners and the public.
In FY2008, the FHWA collaborated with Federal and State partners, representatives of national associations, members of the academic community, private sector professionals, and individual citizens. Together they assessed research needs, identified potential funding sources, and designed appropriate research plans and activities.
Hundreds of individuals were reached through meetings, teleconferences, and other events. For the past three fiscal years, the FHWA has collected stakeholder feedback through a web-based system. Stakeholders can target their feedback towards one of the 17 emphasis areas or submit general comments. The FHWA staff representatives for each emphasis area consult the stakeholder feedback to coordinate and develop the annual STEP research plan, which lists research priorities for the coming year and corresponding funding amounts. The FHWA received nearly 300 pieces of feedback in FY08 from the web-based system.
The feedback system captures information about:
Stakeholders are also directly involved in prioritizing research needs during Transportation Research Board committee meetings, or by commenting on the progress of research studies. Thus, the FHWA ensures that feedback informs technical research, findings are applied and implemented, and the transportation community is connected, informed, and successful.
TMIP Peer Review locations
Stakeholder outreach, feedback, and participation in research efforts are critical to successful implementation of the STEP. In order to ensure that STEP stakeholders had access to current and helpful information about the program, STEP team members-including emphasis area contacts, program managers, and research coordinators-attended meetings, teleconferences, and events to share STEP information.
STEP emphasis area contacts also engaged in outbound communications by phone and e-mail to encourage stakeholders to use the web-based feedback system. The purpose of this type of outreach was to underscore the importance of submitting feedback and research suggestions through the online feedback mechanism during the FY2008 comment period (June 25 through August 24, 2007).
Overall, the STEP program was represented at many events, teleconferences, in e-mail lists, on websites, and in publications between October 2007 and September 2008, and information reached hundreds of stakeholders. This section includes a summary of outreach activities undertaken by the FHWA staff on behalf of the STEP. Outreach generally took place in the following formats:
A description of outreach efforts for each broad research category follows below.
Outreach took place between October 2007 and September 2008, and centered on telephone and e-mail contact, attendance at events, meetings, workshops, conferences, and delivery of information through various publications and websites. These activities reached Federal agencies, State DOTs, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), the academic community, non-profit environmental organizations, and members of the environmental and engineering consulting community (all tiers).
Meetings and conference participation included summer and annual TRB (Transportation Research Board) meetings and other events, such as the "Northern Transportation and Air Quality Summit" (Baltimore, MD), the "Public Real Estate Symposium" (Dallas, TX), the Kentucky Air Quality Roundtable, and the annual conference of the National Alliance of Highway Beautification Agencies (Kalispell, MT). The 2008 Excellence in Right-of-Way (ROW) Awards program also served as an opportunity for stakeholder outreach.
The purpose of these in-person meetings and conference presentations was to describe the STEP program in general, explain the expected funding levels in various emphasis areas, discuss potential research activities, and encourage stakeholders to submit feedback through the online feedback mechanism. Additionally, some emphasis area contacts used these opportunities to share the proposed timeline of STEP research and activities and coordinate various research initiatives.
Telephone outreach primarily centered on one-on-one calls. These calls connected the FHWA staff with representatives from other Federal partner agencies. E-mail and website outreach was used to connect the FHWA staff with representatives from State DOTs, MPOs, researchers, and other stakeholder groups. E-mail outreach included messages disseminated through stakeholder group list serves on a regular basis.
STEP information was published in the FHWA's online monthly publication Transportation Conformity Highlights, which is widely distributed to all transportation and air quality agencies. Emphasis area contacts provided STEP information through websites such as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Center for Environmental Excellence and the Transportation Environmental Research Ideas Database. STEP information was also published in the FHWA Office of Real Estate Services' newsletter.
Outreach took place via in-person meetings, conference participation, webinars, direct interaction with partner associations and stakeholder groups, telephone, and e-mail outreach.
Meeting, conference, and webinar participation included various TRB committee meetings, meetings with national associations such as the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO), AASHTO, the FHWA Headquarters' Biennial Planners' Meeting (Washington, D.C.), the Indiana Congestion Conference (Indianapolis, IN), two "Let's Talk Planning" sessions conducted as webinars, and several other webinar events.
Stakeholder outreach was also accomplished through written materials such as memoranda to MPO and State DOT contacts.
Ongoing telephone and e-mail outreach connected the FHWA staff with stakeholders. Website outreach, such as postings on the FHWA Plan4Operations website, also solicited stakeholder comments on research initiatives.
Finally, the FHWA received feedback via telephone and e-mail on the draft Interim Congestion Management Process and Management & Operations Guidebooks, which were vetted through AMPO's operations subcommittee for review and comment. Feedback from this process then provided input finalizing the documents.
Outreach took place via in-person meetings, peer exchanges, webcast and conference participation, and e-mails.
Participation in meetings (including peer exchanges and webinars) and conferences (such as AASHTO's GIS-T Symposium in Houston, TX, and the Transportation for the Nation workshop in Washington, D.C.) reached Federal agencies, State DOTs, MPOs, and members of the research/academic community. These meetings and conference presentations provided a forum to discuss potential research ideas and priorities. Additional outreach was accomplished through the "Improving National Transportation Geospatial Information" workshop in Washington, D.C.
E-mail outreach connected the FHWA staff with stakeholders who were part of the Yahoo!® GIS in Transportation group list serv. These e-mail messages introduced the STEP program and encouraged stakeholders to submit their feedback through the online feedback mechanism. Other web-based outreach took place, such as postings to the FHWA GIS in Transportation website.
Program managers and STEP program support staff undertook outreach via in-person meetings. Four discussion sessions were convened to coordinate STEP research with the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), the Future Strategic Highway Research Program, and other research initiatives. The purpose of these discussions was to ensure that there was no duplication of research efforts.
Section 5207, Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP), of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) established a new cooperative research program for environment and planning research in Section 507 of Title 23, United States Code, Highways (23 U.S.C. 507). The general objective of the STEP is to improve understanding of the complex relationship between surface transportation planning and the environment.
The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the FHWA's STEP program accomplishments, stakeholder outreach and feedback, and STEP research activities for FY2008. The report includes an overview of the STEP program and lessons learned in STEP implementation.
SAFETEA-LU authorized $16.875 million per year for FY2006-FY2009 to implement this new program. However, due to obligation limitations, rescissions and the over-designation of Title V Research in SAFETEA-LU, $14.5 million of the $16.875 million authorized was available in FY2008 (See:http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/step/about_step/strategy/). STEP is the sole source of funds to conduct all FHWA research on planning and environmental issues. In addition, Congress mandated several special studies and STEP will be the funding source for those projects. STEP will also address priorities identified in the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Research and Development Strategic Plan (Section 508 of Title 23 U.S.C.). STEP funding, even in combination with other SAFETEA-LU research funding sources, is less than what was available to the FHWA in prior years for planning and environmental research. This means the FHWA will have to make difficult choices among the many competing needs for planning and environmental research, and will not be able to fund all worthy research.
The U.S. Congress mandated that the Federal share be 50% for research funded under Title V of SAFETEA-LU, including STEP. While this will not apply to contract funding, it will apply to STEP research funded through cooperative agreements and grants.
Section 507 of Title 23 U.S.C. identifies certain characteristics of STEP regarding program content and administration. Regarding the program content, STEP may include research to:
In administering the program, the U.S.DOT and the FHWA must ensure, to the maximum extent practicable, that:
In FY2008, the STEP program was implemented along the following timeline:
|December||Post current fiscal year plan on STEP Website.|
|Winter||Begin to implement current fiscal year plan, through appropriate procurement methods, agreements and partnerships. (This milestone may shift depending on appropriations.)|
|Spring||Refine STEP Implementation Strategy/Goals/Emphasis Areas. Publish Federal Register Notice and update website information to solicit feedback on next fiscal year STEP activities. Conduct outreach for next fiscal year by emphasis area, review research needs, and identify gaps.|
|Spring/Summer||Develop priorities for and fund critical, short-term research. Develop next draft fiscal year STEP Plan for comment.|
|Fall/Winter||Post current fiscal year plan on STEP website. (This milestone may shift depending on appropriations.)|
In order to efficiently and effectively administer the program, seventeen emphasis areas were identified under the four broad program categories of environment, planning, tools to support environment and planning, and program management and outreach. Emphasis area contacts carried out individual outreach activities, while the STEP Program Manager and support team compiled and managed incoming stakeholder feedback, provided guidance on communication with stakeholders, and oversaw the development of the research plan.
The table below displays the seventeen emphasis areas organized within program themes as well as a list of the FHWA's STEP emphasis area contacts.
|Air Quality and Global Climate Change||Cecilia.Ho@dot.gov|
|Bicycle/Pedestrian and Health||Gabe.Rousseau@dot.gov|
|Outdoor Advertising Control/Realty Program Management||Carolyn.James@dot.gov|
|Context Sensitive Solutions||Shari.Schaftlein@dot.gov|
|Public Involvement, EJ, Visualization in Planning||Brenda.Kragh@dot.gov|
|Other Activities that Support State/Local/Tribal Planning Capacity Building||Kenneth.Petty@dot.gov|
|U.S./Canada and U.S./Mexico Border Planning||Roger.Petzold@dot.gov|
|National Security, Defense, and Interstate Planning||Stefan.Natzke@dot.gov|
|3. Tools To Support Planning and Environment|
|GIS/Spatial Information for Improved Decision Making||Roger.Petzold@dot.gov|
|4. Program Management and Outreach||Felicia.Young@dot.gov|
As described in the STEP Implementation Strategy, the number of stakeholders with an interest in environment and planning research is enormous and diverse. Stakeholders have been categorized according to the following three tiers:
Tier I - Federal Agencies and Tribes: Tier I stakeholders may include agencies like the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Agriculture, Energy, Interior (DOI) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Within each of these agencies, there are many discrete organizations and programs with an interest in STEP - e.g., National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management within the DOI. Within the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the FHWA partners with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on virtually all planning and environmental work, including research. The FHWA also coordinates with the Federal Railroad, Aviation, Research and Innovative Technology, and Maritime Administrations, and with the Office of the Secretary of Transportation on Global Climate Change as well as other issues. There are over 500 federally recognized Native American Tribes, which have a major interest in research affecting their planning and environmental needs.
Tier II - State and Local Government: State DOTs and MPOs have a major interest in environment and planning research, as the research affects national policy and can also provide important tools, information, and training to meet day-to-day needs of these agencies. In addition, local government units (including transit operators as well as county public works departments and city transportation departments) depend on national environmental and planning research. State/local environmental and natural resource agencies and State Historic Preservation Officers have a strong interest in planning and environmental research. There is also a growing interest by State/local health agencies in transportation planning and environmental research as it relates to health impacts of the surface transportation system.
Tier III - Nongovernmental Transportation and Environmental Stakeholders: Within the transportation and environment sectors, there are hundreds and perhaps thousands of non-governmental stakeholders, such as the American Automobile Association (AAA), American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), American Highway Users Alliance, Surface Transportation Policy Project (STPP), Defenders of Wildlife, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Sierra Club, Conservation Law Foundation, American Council of Engineering Companies, American Planning Association, League of American Bicyclists, National Trust for Historic Preservation, International Right of Way Association, National Alliance of Highway Beautification Agencies, and others too numerous to specify here.
Appendix B provides a narrative summary of outreach activities conducted for each of the four broad program areas: Environment, Planning, Tools to Support Planning and Environment, and Program Management and Outreach. Each outreach summary includes information about which tier(s) of stakeholders were contacted or reached by various outreach activities.
STEP funds contributed to substantial advancements in research and tools to support transportation planning and the environment. In addition, STEP research projects have leveraged funds from other sources to complete this work. Several emphasis areas were involved in successful cost-sharing partnerships; in particular, the U.S./Canada and U.S./Mexico Border Planning emphasis area supported much of its research with pooled-fund studies.
|Emphasis Area||Number of Research Recommendations||FY 2008 STEP Budget|
|ENVIRONMENT EMPHASIS AREAS|
|Air Quality and Global Climate Change||4||$1,148,500|
|Water Wetlands, Vegetation, Wildlife, Habitat, Brownfields||8||$1,070,000|
|Bicycle/Pedestrian and Health||1||$70,000|
|Outdoor Advertising Control/Realty Program Management||4||$300,000|
|Context Sensitive Solutions||2||$500,000|
|PLANNING EMPHASIS AREAS|
|U.S./Canada and U.S./Mexico Border Planning||2||$400,000|
|National Security, Defense and Interstate Planning||3||$300,000|
|Public Involvement, EJ, Visualization in Planning||1||$375,000|
|Other Activities that Support State/Local/Tribal Planning Capacity Building||9||$2,425,000|
|TOOLS TO SUPPORT PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENT EMPHASIS AREAS|
|GIS/Spatial Information for Improved Decision Making||6||$400,000|
|PROGRAM MANAGEMENT AND OUTREACH||3||$1,000,000|
|HEP ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR||$2,743,906|
STEP emphasis area contacts and program staff members identified research activities for FY2008 based on input from stakeholders and FHWA priorities. Complete descriptions of each research activity recommended in FY2008 can be found on the STEP Web site at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/step/resources/research_plans/fy08rp.cfm.
Descriptions of FY2008 research activities by emphasis area, including activities funded with FY2006, FY2007, or FY2008 funds, are listed below. These descriptions include accomplishments from both short-term and ongoing projects. The total budget for an emphasis area may not be equal to the sum of individual projects described in this report, as some accomplishments occurred in FY09, or priorities may have shifted following development of the research plan.
Emphasis Area Contact: Cecilia Ho
Level of FY2008 Funding: $1,148,500
The Air Quality and Global Climate Change emphasis area supported substantial research and steps to improve outreach in response to stakeholder comments. Projects underway or completed include:
Emphasis Area Contact: Carol Adkins
Level of FY2008 Funding: $1,070,000
This emphasis area funded extensive research, training development, database development, and several conferences in FY2008 to support wildlife, ecosystems, wetlands, water quality, and interagency collaboration.
The following research activities had accomplishments in FY2008 but were funded through prior years of STEP funding.
An example of Best Practices in historic bridge management
Emphasis Area Contact: MaryAnn Naber
Level of FY2008 Funding: $225,000
Emphasis Area Contact: Gabe Rousseau
Level of FY2008 Funding: $70,000
Emphasis Area Contact: Mark Ferroni
Level of FY2008 Funding: $200,000
The following research had accomplishments in FY2008 but was funded through a prior year of STEP funding.
Emphasis Area Contact: Carolyn James
Level of FY2008 Funding: $320,000
The following research had accomplishments in FY2008 but was funded through a prior year of STEP funding.
Emphasis Area Contact: Shari Schaftlein
Level of FY2008 Funding: $1,663,500
The following research activities had accomplishments in FY2008 but were funded through prior years of STEP funding.
Emphasis Area Contact: Shari Schaftlein
Level of FY2008 Funding: $500,000
Context Sensitive Solutions Web site features Case Studies.
Emphasis Area Contact: Harlan Miller
Level of FY2008 Funding: $750,000
Emphasis Area Contact: Lorrie Lau
Level of FY2008 Funding:$100,000
Research is currently underway to promote and facilitate expanded transportation safety planning implementation in the traditional transportation planning processes at all levels.
The following research activity had accomplishments in FY2008 but was funded through a prior year of STEP funding:
Emphasis Area Contact: Spencer Stevens
Level of FY2008 Funding: $100,000
Research in the freight planning area during FY2008 had two objectives: 1) link a newly developed method for estimating intra-metropolitan freight flows with widely used transportation planning software, and 2) use the model for analysis of regional development and traffic management strategies to illustrate the model's utility in planning practice.
Freight Planning. (FY2008: $100,000) Research efforts continued on how to effectively engage the private sector freight community into the State and metropolitan planning processes, how parameters such as price, travel time, permitting, and user fees affect modal shift, and the benefits/costs of freight projects. Research is currently underway to promote activities on the integration of freight into the transportation planning and programming processes at the State and metropolitan levels.
Examples of such research include:
Emphasis Area Contact: Brenda Kragh
Level of FY2008 Funding: $375,000
Research in FY2008 supported public outreach efforts that promote linking transportation and environmental sustainability through regional planning. These efforts included engaging the public, reviewing content online, considering approaches to media engagement, preparing visuals and scripts, and recruiting sponsors as well as assembling data. Research is ongoing to assist MPOs in improving nondiscrimination approaches to planning and providing assistance to achieve better certification review results.
Emphasis Area Contact: Kenneth Petty
Level of FY2008 Funding: $2,425,000
Research in FY2008 supported numerous outreach activities, including peer exchanges on asset inventory and condition assessment practices, innovative financing techniques, as well as plans and strategies for aligning and sustaining information, data, and technology to support transportation decision-making. These events responded to priority capacity building needs identified by an AASHTO task force. Other accomplishments, which are organized by topic area, included:
Tribal Planning Road Game
Emphasis Area Contact: Roger Petzold
Level of FY2008 Funding: $400,000
This research built on existing research in the border area and addressed the changing situation along the border. The research contained partnerships at the local, State, Federal and international levels.
Emphasis Area Contact: Stefan Natzke
Level of FY2008 Funding: $300,000
Emphasis Area Contact: Sarah Sun
Level of FY2008 Funding: $730,000
Research is currently underway to develop and put dynamic network and activity-based modeling technologies into practice. Recognizing and responding to the need for better information on highway congestion and pricing policies, this research has developed advanced technologies and supported practical implementation of advanced modeling tools.
Emphasis Area Contact: Roger Petzold
Level of FY2008 Funding: $400,000
The FHWA is supporting workshops and research to share effective practices and encourage the use of geospatial technologies to enhance decisionmaking in planning and project development processes. Initiatives included:
The following research activities had accomplishments in FY2008 but were funded through prior years of STEP funding.
Emphasis Area Contact: Felicia Young
Level of FY2008 Funding: $1,000,000
Notable Quotes from Stakeholders
"The STEP program is playing, and can continue to play, a significant role in helping build capacity for transportation professionals"
"The FHWA and the U.S. DOT should be congratulated on looking forward and continually trying to better their business practices."
"Thanks for the opportunity to comment. Seems like an excellent way to contribute to current environmental problems."
The STEP program's legislative background mandates that the program's budget and research recommendations be based on feedback, suggestions, and priorities outlined by STEP stakeholders. The legislation does not prescribe a particular method for collecting feedback. The STEP Implementation Strategy, published in July 2006, describes various stakeholder groups and outlines ways that STEP program managers might collect information.
In FY08, the Web-based STEP stakeholder feedback mechanism continued to be a primary method to collect stakeholder feedback and report feedback to emphasis area contacts. This mechanism captures basic personal information about the stakeholder (including his or her name, title, agency, and affiliation type). Additionally, the mechanism asks stakeholders to answer a series of questions about the STEP in order to gather information such as:
The Web-based feedback mechanism was the preferred vehicle for submitting comments. However, in some cases, individuals or entities submitted suggestions by fax, e-mail, or phone. In these cases, the information was added to the STEP feedback database through the Web-based mechanism.
This chapter provides an overview of feedback received, including descriptive statistics about the nature of comments and submitters. (Appendix C provides a summary of feedback received in each emphasis area.) This stakeholder feedback provides the foundation for the research recommendations discussed in Chapter 4.
Nearly three hundred comments were received between June and August 2007. In some cases, organizations or associations submitted feedback to several different emphasis areas that pertain to their own work.
While some emphasis areas (e.g. Water, Wetlands, Vegetation, Wildlife, Habitat, and Brownfields) received a great deal of comments (35%), at least one comment was received in each of the seventeen emphasis areas and in the Overall STEP Comments.
The figures below display the breakdown of comments received that pertain to the broad program areas, and to the individual emphasis areas.
Figure 1: Distribution of Feedback by Program Area (FY08)
Figure 2: Distribution of Feedback by Individual Emphasis Area (FY08)
As described in Chapter 2, STEP stakeholders are organized into three tiers: Federal partners (Tier I),
State and local governments (Tier II), and non-governmental transportation and environmental stakeholders (Tier III).
The Web-based feedback mechanism required stakeholders to describe their affiliation by selecting a response from a pre-defined list. This list included the entities described above (e.g. Federal, State, local, research/academic, national association, private sector, and individual citizen or "other" affiliation). In some cases, stakeholders inadvertently listed their affiliation as Federal, when their organization name indicated a different affiliation type. In these cases, data were corrected prior to analysis. All tiers and affiliations were represented in FY08 comments; see the tables that follow for a distribution of comments.
Table 1: Distribution of Feedback by Affiliation Type
|Research / Academic||36||13%|
Table 2: Distribution of Feedback by Tier
Since communication and collaboration with stakeholders are critical to the implementation of the STEP, the Web-based stakeholder feedback mechanism captured e-mail addresses for those individuals who wish to remain informed about the STEP. STEP program managers and emphasis area contacts may wish to contact stakeholders to gather more information, share updates about STEP, or to simply stay in touch with stakeholder groups.
Stakeholders supplied helpful suggestions on the lines of research that should be pursued under various STEP emphasis areas. Many stakeholders completed the entire feedback form, and offered information about other current or planned research projects in particular emphasis areas, suggestions for funding sources or other resources, and general comments about the STEP program.
Note that with regard to potential funding sources or other resources, these suggestions were provided by stakeholders who may have a wide range of experience with or information about these potential sources. STEP program managers and emphasis area contacts have not made funding agreements or arrangements with any of these potential partners. STEP program managers and research coordinators assess the possibility of funding or resource partnerships as various research projects take shape.
This section summarizes feedback submitted through August 2007 that pertains to each of the 17 emphasis areas as well as general feedback on the STEP.
Click on the links below to be directed to a particular emphasis area feedback summary.
Environment Emphasis Areas:
Planning Emphasis Areas:
Tools to Support Planning and Environment Emphasis Areas:
Program Management and Outreach
A total of 17 comments were submitted to the Air Quality and Global Climate Change emphasis area. Approximately 24 percent of comments came from Tier I stakeholders and 29 percent of comments came from Tier II, although there were no comments from local governments. Nearly half (48 percent) of comments came from Tier III, with feedback from national associations, the private sector, research/academic institutions, and other sources. There were no comments from individual citizens to this emphasis area.
Many of the research suggestions in this area focused on improving air quality by reducing vehicle emissions or adopting specific mitigation techniques, such as carbon sequestration along roadside areas or roadside re-vegetation used for bio-fuel feedstock production. Many comments focused on the relationship between air quality, congestion, and global climate change. Some suggestions were more technical in nature and included development of new models to assess how climate change affects the transportation sector. Several stakeholders suggested that more research is needed to evaluate the relationship between climate change, transportation standards, and infrastructure (e.g., how an upward trend of severe weather events may stress roads and bridges). Assessing the results of existing congestion- and emission-reduction measures was another area mentioned by a few stakeholders. Finally, one stakeholder suggested that peer exchanges could be an important way to increase awareness about the relationships between climate change and air quality.
There is some current and planned research in this area, including research conducted by Federal agencies on global climate change. One stakeholder mentioned that there have been several small-scale studies regarding the health effects of emissions gradients along highway corridors. Stakeholders identified several possible funding sources, including U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE), EPA, National Science Foundation (NSF), USDOI, and the FHWA.
A total of 94 comments were submitted to this emphasis area. An additional comment was reclassified from the "general" comments area to the Water/Wetlands area for a total of 95 comments. Comments were submitted by stakeholders from all tiers.
Comments focused on several themes, including improving roadway infrastructure (e.g., culvert design) to facilitate wildlife movement and reduce wildlife habitat disturbance, as well as improving water quality of highway runoff. Various techniques were proposed to address highway runoff, including desalinization, installation of bio-swales that use native plants, and implementation of new methods to manage turbidity impacts from road construction.
Beyond these themes, there were three major areas of suggestion. The first area focused on how to appropriately manage both roadside plantings and non-native, invasive vegetation species on highway right-of-ways. Stakeholders from all tiers contributed a wide variety of comments to this area. Comments focused on programs to improve the stability of roadside plant communities (mowing was particularly emphasized as key to roadside plant management), as well contain or eradicate non-native vegetation. For example, individuals mentioned development of a national invasive species inventory system to improve early detection and rapid response to invasive vegetation, updating training materials on how to safely apply herbicide on highway ROW, and using invasive species as biomass for fuel. Other individuals mentioned research on washing invasive species off vehicles or boats and comparisons of cost-effectiveness of various biological, chemical, and land management techniques for noxious weed control.
A second major area of comment was that of improving highway safety by addressing wildlife and vehicle collisions. One specific topic proposed for research by a Tier II stakeholder was eliminating alfalfa, a food source for deer, from road ROWs to determine whether this elimination would decrease collision incidents. Other suggested lines of research included a driver simulation study to focus on optimal spacing of animal crossing warning signs along the highway, development of training materials and best practices for wildlife habitat management near roadways, and studies on wildlife hotspots along transportation corridors.
A third major area of comment was on better prediction models, processes, policies, or regulations to guide interactions between transportation planning, habitat, and wildlife. For example, one stakeholder from Tier I suggested research on models that can help better assess the wetland impacts of highways. Another stakeholder recommended a survey of all 50 States to evaluate policies and standards that influence the successful implementation of wildlife mitigation measures. Several individuals mentioned the need for better vegetation or habitat inventories to facilitate environmentally sensitive transportation planning. A Tier III partner suggested development of workshops or training manuals to improve coordination between State DOTs and conservation agencies on long-term wetland mitigation. Updating and improving databases to better manage environmental information was another related theme in this area; for instance, stakeholders commented on the need to update the Stormwater Best Practices Database and Wildlife Crossings Toolkit, among others.
Current or planned research in this area generally related to the topics mentioned above as well as others. Some additional topics for current and planned research included development of biomarkers of environmental stress for fish and invertebrates, bio-controls for invasive species, a literature review of pollutants in highway runoff, a pilot program for using GPS to manage invasives, and pre-and post-construction monitoring of wildlife crossings. Many stakeholders mentioned that research had taken place on a local level or on a limited basis, but that there was a continued need to make research more multi-disciplinary and broaden efforts to a statewide or regional level.
Funding sources included Federal and/or State agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), the EPA, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National ANASA, NSF, State DOTs and State Fish and Wildlife agencies. Non-governmental organizations cited as potential funding sources included The Nature Conservancy, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Conservation Fund. Other potential sources included State environmental councils, MPOs, railroad companies, and insurance companies.
Thirteen comments were submitted to this emphasis area. One comment was from Tier I, seven comments were from State or local government stakeholders (Tier II), and five comments were from Tier III.
Comments focused on a few major areas, including studies of various types of structures to facilitate historic preservation or context sensitive design. Several stakeholders commented on historic bridges, suggesting development of preservation-oriented specifications and comprehensive studies on bridge maintenance plans.
Another individual from Tier II suggested research on the impact of seawalls on coastal archaeological sites. A related comment from Tier II recommended a study on historic streetlights in one region of the U.S. to ensure that ongoing enhancement projects were context sensitive.
Another major area of comment was on developing best practices, case studies, models, or other tools to help improve historic preservation consulting, decision making, and management. A number of stakeholders from all tiers contributed to this area. Finally, several stakeholders mentioned use of GIS to improve early planning and consultation with affected agencies, communities, and tribes. A few stakeholders specifically mentioned development of a GIS-based research database to accomplish these goals.
Current and planned research related to this emphasis area included studies on the effectiveness of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to determine presence of subsurface historic sites, several independent statewide efforts to assess bridge preservation, and a pilot study of marine coastal archaeological sites. A Tier II stakeholder also mentioned planned research to build a geographic database of archaeological site information. Potential funding sources included SHPO office, the National Trust, and the National Park Service (NPS). In addition, stakeholders mentioned potential funds from U.S. DOT, AASHTO, the Transportation Research Board (TRB), State Planning and Research (SPR) and NCHRP 25-25.
Stakeholders submitted a total of 12 comments to this emphasis area. Federal partners (Tier I stakeholders) submitted one comment, and Tier II stakeholders submitted four comments. Tier III stakeholders (including individual citizens, national association representatives, research/academic institutions, and other sources) submitted the majority of comments (approximately 58 percent). There were no comments from the private sector.
Most comments to this emphasis area focused on improving data collection and increasing research on bicycle and pedestrian behavior, demographics, bike path and sidewalk use, and safety. The ability to effectively measure pedestrian and bicycle safety was also mentioned. Several stakeholders specifically commented that research should focus on assessing relationships between bicycle travel and congestion relief and the impacts of the built environment on transportation mode choice. One stakeholder suggested increasing research to determine the effectiveness of pedestrian safety measures along grade crossings. Another stakeholder mentioned that more research should be conducted regarding traffic and engineering improvements that could be made to meet the needs of children who walk or bike to school. Finally, several stakeholders suggested that increased funding is needed to more comprehensively address bicycle and pedestrian transportation research.
There is some current and planned research in this area, including a benchmarking study that compiles data on bicycling and walking mode share and demographics, a study on the Safe Routes to School program, studies on trail use and development, and research on bicycling demand. Stakeholders suggested funding models that could include public/private partnerships. Few funding sources were identified, but one included State transportation research funding or grants from private foundations. One stakeholder from Tier II suggested that closer coordination between the FHWA and the CDC, HUD, and the EPA is needed to address the goals of the STEP program.
Sixteen comments were submitted on this emphasis area. Two of the comments came from stakeholders affiliated with the Federal Government (Tier I), eight comments came from State government (Tier II), and four came from the private sector (Tier III). One comment was from a national association (Tier III) and one comment was from some "other" affiliation. There were no comments from local government, the research/academic community, or individual citizens.
Comments focused on improving noise modeling and prediction, especially regarding enhancements to the TNM and Roadway Construction Noise Model (RCNM). A few individuals identified several current inadequacies related to the TNM and specifically suggested research that would update and improve this model. Another stakeholder suggested that research identify intelligent noise abatement strategies that factor in permanent and temporary traffic conditions. Finally, one individual suggested improving the accuracy of day and night truck percentages used in traffic noise models.
A second recurring theme in stakeholders' comments was investigating the effects of noise levels on people, animals, and communities. For example, several stakeholders recommended enhancing research on noise levels for construction equipment and multimodal transportation. Along these lines, a Tier I partner recommended a study of the growing trend towards quiet cars, pavement, and tires, and this trend's effect on people who rely primarily on auditory (rather than on visual) cues to navigate roads. In addition, a Tier II stakeholder recommended looking at how underwater noises associated with highway construction (e.g., pile driving) affects marine life. Finally, comments focused on streamlining safety planning and noise reduction, perhaps by using construction materials that could improve both at the same time, and investigating how noise barriers affect real estate values.
There is some current and planned research in this area. For example, stakeholders mentioned development of comprehensive noise models including environmental noise and a small-scale study to develop measurements for rumble strip grinding noises. Others mentioned ongoing research on lowering pavement noise levels and using low-noise pavements for specific climates, as well as a recent effort on a broader level to focus on lack of sound cues from hybrid vehicles. Finally, a Tier I stakeholder mentioned current development of the FHWA TNM version 3.0.
Funding sources included Federal entities such as FHWA, city or State environmental departments, other sources from the public and private sectors, or pooled fund studies supported in part by State DOTs. State SPR funds were mentioned as another potential source.
A total of thirty-four comments were submitted to this emphasis area. Five of the comments came from stakeholders affiliated with the Federal Government (Tier I) and six comments came from State government (Tier II). Tier III stakeholders submitted twenty-three comments. There were no comments from local government, the research/academic community, or individual citizens.
A large number of stakeholders from across all Tiers suggested holding peer exchanges to discuss various aspects of outdoor advertising and realty programs, including the use of incentive payments in Right of Way (ROW) acquisitions or other compensation for relocation assistance. Along these lines, stakeholders mentioned several kinds of outreach events, such as national conferences and symposia, to help disseminate best practices and lessons learned related to outdoor advertising regulation and asset management.
Several comments suggested reviewing Federal legislation, such as the Bonus Act and Uniform Act, to ensure the efficacy, competency, and streamlined administration of these regulations. In addition, stakeholders suggested studies related to the effects of these policies. For example, a Tier III partner recommended an investigation into the continued viability of businesses displaced by property acquisitions. Other Tier II and Tier III stakeholders suggested research on ROW acquisition and relocation trends and issues, especially those relating to equity. For example, one comment from Tier III focused on evaluating replacement housing benefits, especially in States with a high percentage of retirees or elderly on fixed incomes. Finally, another theme across all Tiers was that of streamlining: stakeholders suggested that research could be conducted on acquiring ROW from property owners and utility companies at the same time, or conducted on a cost-benefit analysis of obtaining partial acquisitions prior to mortgage closings.
Stakeholders mentioned some current activities related to this emphasis area, including ongoing educational events such as annual symposia that focus on ROW practitioners. The 2008 Public Real Estate Education Symposium (PRES) was mentioned several times as a key outreach and educational event. There were few current research projects mentioned, which included eye motion studies to determine the effect of outdoor advertising on driver distraction and a survey sent to State ROW directors to assess changes in eminent domain law.
Funding sources cited included Federal agencies (e.g., FHWA and FTA), AASHTO, the American Bar Association, the NCHRP, the Outdoor Advertising Agency of America (OAAA), and Scenic America. Stakeholders also mentioned other possible funding sources, such as public-private partnerships with agencies like the National Association of Highway Billboard Advertisers.
A total of fifteen comments were submitted to this emphasis area. Eight comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with Federal (Tier I) and State agencies (Tier II). Seven comments were submitted by Tier III, including national associations, the private sector, the research/academic community, and other affiliations. There were no comments from local government or individual citizens.
Most suggested research was related to environmental or conservation streamlining as well as improving process and regulatory efficiencies in transportation planning. One Tier I partner suggested developing a toolkit to share collaborative invasive species prevention practices between road crews and natural resources managers. A Tier I stakeholder suggested aligning Federal and State environmental databases to streamline environmental reviews for transportation projects. Another Tier I stakeholder suggested establishing joint cooperative agreements between State DOTs and resource agencies to share regulatory and permitting best practices.
Ongoing and current research related to this emphasis area included an academic pilot study on using forest wastes as a potential ethanol feedstock, environmental programs that encourage road-user participation, and the Nature Conservancy's development of eco-regional plans that may be useful for environmentally-conscious transportation planning. Stakeholders also mentioned programs or publications such as the Green Highways Partnership, Green Infrastructure, Eco-Logical, and Environmental Competency Building as models for integrating planning with conservation.
Suggested funding sources included the EPA, the NCHRP, agencies such as the USFWS or the National Park Service (NPS), trade groups, and private environmental organizations (e.g., the Plant Conservation Alliance). One Tier I stakeholder mentioned that DOT project-related funding could be used for training resource agencies in integrating conservation with transportation planning.
Seven comments were submitted to this emphasis area. Two comments came from stakeholders affiliated with Federal agencies (Tier I) one comment was from State government (Tier II), and four comments came from Tier III. The remaining two comments came from 'other' sources. There were no comments from local governments, individual citizens, the private sector, or research/academic institutions.
Comments focused on several areas, including the benefits and limitations of CSS for conservation, and use of CSS to address green infrastructure development and hazardous waste dumping on public assets. One Tier III stakeholder suggested that research be conducted on effective implementation of "complete streets" policies and how these policies interact with CSS programs. A stakeholder commenting on how CSS could address conservation recommended a cost-benefit analysis of environmental avoidance versus mitigation approaches for transportation projects. Another area mentioned by a Tier II partner was to define performance measures for CSS processes and outcomes in order to fully institutionalize CSS.
Stakeholders noted that current research includes studies on complete streets policies by advocacy groups as well as at the local and regional levels, and an ongoing TRB study related to quantifying CSS benefits. A Tier III stakeholder cited a planned study on making green infrastructure a component of green highways. Stakeholders cited a few potential funding sources, such as private foundations, the NCHRP, and Federal agencies (e.g., EPA).
A total of seven comments were submitted to this emphasis area. Approximately 29 percent of comments came from Tier I stakeholders and 57 percent of comments came from Tier II stakeholders. Only one comment came from a Tier III stakeholder, who is a national association representative. There were no comments from local government, individual citizens, the private sector, research/academic institutions, or other sources.
Several research suggestions focused on multimodalism, including conducting regional and corridor modeling to support multimodal corridor system management planning and analysis. Other suggested lines of research involved investigating both recurring and non-recurring congestion, and convening peer exchanges to develop stronger access management policies that could reduce congestion. A Tier II partner recommended that research be conducted to explore intersections between environmental justice issues and congestion pricing and tolling. Another Tier II partner suggested research into establishing priorities for multi-modal capacity building.
Little current or planned research was cited in this emphasis area, but Tier II stakeholders mentioned current programs to address congestion and early corridor planning, as well as efforts to develop bi-state/statewide truck travel time estimates and truck traffic volumes. Stakeholders mentioned departments of transportation (DOTs) as potential funding sources, but did not identify any other funding source.
Seven comments were submitted to this emphasis area. Three of the comments (43 percent) came from stakeholders affiliated with Tier II; four comments came from Tier III partners. Out of comments submitted by Tier III, one was from a national association, another from the research/academic community, and two comments were associated with stakeholders from another affiliation. There were no comments from Federal or local government, the private sector, or individual citizens.
Comments generally focused on mitigating wildlife-vehicle collisions, streamlining safety planning within completed highway projects, and safety planning for freight truck operations. Three Tier III stakeholders mentioned mitigation of wildlife-vehicle collisions as a major way to improve highway safety. One suggested line of research was to investigate and map intersections between natural wildlife habitat and transportation corridors in order to improve crossing structures. Similarly, another Tier III stakeholder suggested that funding be provided to standardize animal-vehicle collision data across State agencies. The standardized data would help ensure that project managers access consistent information and facilitate mapping of animal-vehicle collision 'hot spots.' Two comments focused on streamlining safety planning for highway projects; one suggestion was to use specific raw materials in highway construction that could both improve vehicle safety and address wildlife crossings. Comments related to freight truck operations included suggestions for evaluating the safety of high speed intersections, investigating truck driver shortages and turnover, and assessing the need for random trailer inspections in tandem with random truck inspections.
There were a few current or planned research studies in this emphasis area. One study involves an investigation of truck and trailer safety for trucks that cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Another project involves statewide assessments of highway wildlife-vehicle collision 'hot spots' in 11 States. Potential funding sources included Federal agencies, State DOTs, insurance companies, or organizations such as AASHTO. Other suggested sources were matching funds between State and Federal agencies or multi-agency funding.
Ten comments were submitted to this emphasis area. The comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with Federal, State, and local agencies, national associations, the private sector, and "other" affiliation. Of the comments received, 30 percent came from Tier I, 60 percent came from Tier II, and 10 percent were from Tier III. Overall, there were no comments from the research/academic community or the private sector.
Comments focused on three major areas. The first area included research to make freight movement more efficient and safer, especially by improving freight infrastructure, security, and streamlining freight operations. To improve freight efficiency and safety, one stakeholder suggested that research focus on identifying and addressing regional freight bottlenecks; another Tier II partner recommended studies that focus specifically on improving operator, cargo, and conveyance safety.
The second area was on collecting data and conducting data analyses to improve freight planning. For instance, a Tier I stakeholder suggested research on installing data loggers in tractor-trailers that could record a range of information related to freight movement. This information could be used to develop a statistical scoring system to relate freight truck driver behavior to fuel economy and safer driving practices.
Finally, a third area of stakeholder comments was on geographic analyses of freight movement that could help reduce highway VMT or evaluate the potential of trade growth due to new freight corridors. Comments related to this area specifically mentioned research that could assess freight movement along individual interstate routes and investigate potential shifts from one international freight corridor to another in specific regions of the United States.
Current and planned research includes economic assessments of freight transportation, work by the EPA offices on developing heavy-duty fuel economy test methods, some preliminary literature reviews related to shipping corridors, and cost-benefit analyses of various corridors. Funding sources included the FHWA, State DOT funds, and matching funds with national research institutes such as the National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education (C-FIRE) or the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute (GLMRI).
Four comments were submitted to this emphasis area. Two comments came from stakeholders affiliated with State government (Tier II) and two comments came from the research/academic community (Tier III). There were no comments from Federal or local government, national associations, the private sector, individual citizens, or "others."
Stakeholders suggested a range of research, including an analysis of toll projects on environmental justice (EJ) populations, as well as an investigation of topics that could link Federal, State, metropolitan, and local planning efforts and increase inter-governmental collaboration. Tier II stakeholders suggested research on approaches to develop, analyze, and display impact contours and categorize zones of highway system performance, as well as research on modal choice distortions resulting from policy inequities.
Tier III stakeholders mentioned two current research projects, both of which related to EJ. One project involved multi-agency efforts to assess the effect of toll systems on EJ populations. Another project focused on implementation of EJ and public involvement processes at the metropolitan level and how funding considerations may be a factor in implementation. Tier III stakeholders also mentioned several funding sources, including joint funding through Federal agencies, such as the EPA or the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), or MPOs or Councils of Government (COGs). Tier II stakeholders did not mention any current research or funding sources related to this emphasis area.
Two comments were submitted to this emphasis area. The comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with a Federal agency and a national association.
The comment submitted by the Tier I stakeholder focused on development of a pilot project to explore bi-national financial feasibility or preliminary investment-grade financing for land port of entry improvements at either the U.S./Canada or U.S./Mexico border. This stakeholder mentioned that the objective of such a pilot program would be to better coordinate and align inter-governmental transportation planning. The Tier III stakeholder suggested that data be collected regarding vehicle wait times at land ports of entry to reduce congestion in these areas.
Stakeholders identified several current projects in this area, including inter-governmental financial feasibility studies and partnering efforts with the private sector to gather vehicle wait time data. A few funding sources were mentioned, such as leveraging funding through State DOTs or the private sector, and using Federal credit assistance programs.
A total of two comments were submitted to this emphasis area. Both comments were submitted by Tier II stakeholders affiliated with State agencies.
Stakeholders suggested research on the multimodal efficiency impacts of transportation security systems and on meeting national security data needs while improving data for freight analysis. One stakeholder also mentioned investigating risk zones, where security breaches could affect transportation infrastructure.
Stakeholders did not mention any current or planned research in this area. State DOTs were mentioned as a possible funding source.
Six comments were submitted to this emphasis area. Five comments were submitted by stakeholders representing national associations (Tier III); one comment was submitted by a Tier I stakeholder.
Comments focused on improving methodologies and models for aligning transportation data, technology, and investments with business priorities and strategic emphasis areas. Stakeholders specifically suggested capacity building workshops as ways to facilitate communication between transportation agencies on these topics. Some of the anticipated results of such workshops included improving forecasting models, sharing lessons learned on cost management, and learning how to maximize system performance through transportation asset management. In addition to these comments, a Tier III stakeholder recommended that more research is needed to evaluate the most efficient and effective ways to share knowledge among State DOTs.
Stakeholders mentioned several current and planned research topics. For example, several State transportation agencies have initiated independent research projects to strengthen cost estimating and cost management efforts. In addition, a peer exchange sponsored by the TRB Asset Management Committee is planned to discuss open architecture for data integration. The FHWA, TRB, and AASHTO are also engaged in a number of transportation asset management-related research activities, included development of performance measures for States regarding specific asset classes.
Suggested funding sources included the AASHTO Standing Committee on Planning (SCOP), TRB, and the NCHRP. One individual mentioned potential opportunities to partner with TRB and/or the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) on capacity building research.
Seven comments were submitted to this emphasis area. Comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with Federal and State agencies, as well as the research/academic community. There were no comments from local government, the private sector, national associations, individual citizens, or "others." Two of the comments came from stakeholders affiliated with the Federal Government; four comments came from State government, and one comment came from the research/academic community.
Comments focused on improving statewide and national travel models. Stakeholders specifically suggested developing new modeling approaches that are better suited for multimodal investment analyses, complex planning issues, environmental assessments, and evaluations of a broad range of policy alternatives. Several individuals mentioned research on aggregation issues, commercial trip generation in urban areas, and heavy-duty truck activity to improve and expand travel modeling. Additional comments from Tier I and Tier II partners mentioned studies related to the impact of freight on infrastructure fatigue and better methods for allocating statewide VMT.
Current and planned research included State DOT-initiated studies on integrated land use, economic, and transportation models. Also cited was a study to assess the state-of-the-practice on the ability of local-level models to effectively analyze land use plans with an emphasis on smart growth strategies. Stakeholders identified some potential funding sources that included FHWA and State DOTs. The FHWA's State Planning and Research funds also partially supported several current and planned studies.
A total of 13 comments were submitted to this emphasis area. Two comments were submitted by Tier I Federal partners. Three comments were submitted by Tier II State and local partners. Seven comments were submitted by Tier III and included feedback from two national associations, the research/academic sector, and the private sector. There were no comments from the research/academic community or the private sector. Finally, one comment was submitted as 'other.'
Most comments focused on the ability of GIS to enhance the transportation planning process, especially in regard to improved decisionmaking. For example, one Tier III partner suggested that GIS could be used to analyze road expansion projects to identify key wildlife crossings and mitigate wildlife mortality. Another Tier III stakeholder mentioned development of peer exchanges or outreach events to share best practices and research ideas in this emphasis area. Other comments from Tiers II and III primarily dealt with the contribution of GIS to forecasting studies, mapping wildlife habitat assessments, or highway maintenance. Another stakeholder suggested that all data layers required for planning, such as ecosystems and habitat information, be available to all State DOTs and the public as GIS shape files. This stakeholder also mentioned that GIS shape files could be used to improve geospatial analysis of land-use scenarios and transportation expansion.
There is some current and planned research in this area, especially on the efficacy of wildlife crossings, integrating wildlife crossing information into transportation planning, and establishing data baselines to reduce redundancies. Other research includes integration of spatial data into transportation project management and a study on the utility of different types of GIS equipment in various daily work environments. Few funding sources were identified, but stakeholders mentioned the FHWA, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the Wildlife Conservation Society as a few possibilities. One stakeholder also mentioned State and Federal matching funds.
Eight comments were submitted to the "general" stakeholder feedback category. One comment was submitted by a Tier I stakeholder, four comments were submitted from Tier II stakeholders, and three comments were submitted by Tier III stakeholders who were affiliated with national associations, the research/academic sector, or had no affiliation (i.e., were individual citizens).
Comments focused on a wide spectrum of topics, including utilization of technology to provide road and regional information to travelers and research on mitigating snowmobile damage to road pavements. Another Tier II stakeholder suggested research related to arsenic exposure on railroad ROWs being converted to recreational trails. Finally, one individual from Tier II recommended developing comprehensive, geospatially-based, site-specific models or databases that consider early road and trail building in addition to more contemporary efforts.
Current and planned research in this area includes efforts to assemble digitized, geospatially-referenced information on landscapes and transportation histories for a county-wide area, early development of audio and visual information regarding regional histories that could be provided to travelers, and development of a guidebook for watershed-based stormwater management. In addition, one stakeholder mentioned a multi-year study on the effect of snowmobiles on various types of pavement mixes.
Stakeholders mentioned a few potential funding sources, such as the National Park Service (NPS), State DOTs, and other non-governmental entities that might include humanities, historic preservation, and natural resource interest organizations.