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.
Notable Quotes from Stakeholders
"Thank you for the opportunity to provide input. The STEP program represents a rare opportunity for an individual citizen to suggest research priorities for the Federal government."
"The STEP program is a great idea."
"Keep up the good work."
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, initially published in July 2006, describes various stakeholder groups and outlines ways that STEP program managers might collect information.
In FY2009, 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, email, or phone. In these cases, the information was added to the STEP feedback database through the Web-based mechanism.
This Appendix provides an overview of stakeholder outreach activities conducted, feedback received, including descriptive statistics about the nature of comments and submitters, and a summary of feedback received in each emphasis area. This stakeholder feedback provides the foundation for the research highlights discussed in Appendix B.
Stakeholder outreach, feedback, and participation in research efforts are critical to successful implementation of the STEP. In FY2009, stakeholder outreach included use of the Web-based feedback system. Using this system, stakeholders targeted feedback towards one of the 17 emphasis areas or submitted general comments. FHWA staff representatives for each emphasis area consulted the stakeholder feedback to coordinate and develop the FY2009 STEP research plan, which listed research priorities for the coming year and corresponding funding amounts. FHWA received over 400 pieces of feedback in FY2009 from the Web-based system.
STEP emphasis area contacts communicated by phone and email to encourage stakeholders to use the Web-based feedback system. The purpose of this outreach was to underscore the importance of submitting feedback and research suggestions through the online feedback mechanism during the FY2009 comment period (June 23 through September 22, 2008). Emphasis area contacts also represented the STEP program on websites and in various publications. Information reached hundreds of stakeholders.
Stakeholders were directly involved in prioritizing research needs during stakeholder outreach meetings, committee meetings, or by commenting on the progress of research studies. Through all of these activities, FHWA ensured that feedback informed technical research, findings were applied and implemented, and the transportation community was connected, informed, and successful.
This section includes a summary of outreach activities undertaken by FHWA staff on behalf of the STEP. Outreach generally took place in the following formats:
A description of specific outreach efforts conducted for the FY2009 STEP follows below.
Outreach efforts centered on attendance at events, conferences, workshops, roundtables, task groups, and in-person meetings. Information was delivered through email and other electronic forums, including webinars, online newsletters, and online clearinghouses. Web-based outreach also included a series of virtual office sessions that communicated technical knowledge to a broader stakeholder community. Outreach activities reached all stakeholder tiers, including Federal agencies, State DOTs, MPOs, the academic community, and non-profit environmental organizations.
Meetings and conference participation included summer and annual TRB meetings and other events, such as the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation (ICOET), the TRB National Transportation Planning Applications Conference, the Freight Partnership III workshop sponsored by FHWA and AASHTO, the National Mitigation Banking Association meeting, the 2009 Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Roundtable, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Organizations' (SHPO) annual meeting, the United Southern and Eastern Tribes' annual meeting, the National Trust for Historic Preservation annual conference, the Transportation, Planning, Land Use and Air Quality conference, and several binational working group meetings focused on cross-border issues.
The purpose of these in-person meetings and conference presentations was to describe the STEP program in general, discuss potential research activities, provide updates on ongoing initiatives, and encourage stakeholders to submit feedback through the online feedback mechanism.
Telephone outreach included conference calls as well as one-on-one calls. These efforts connected FHWA staff with representatives from staff at non-governmental and professional organizations, advocacy groups, and Federal partner agencies. Email and website outreach also connected FHWA staff with representatives from State DOTs, MPOs, rural planning organizations, researchers, and other stakeholder groups. Email outreach included messages disseminated through stakeholder group listservs and email distribution lists.
STEP information was distributed through several publications, including FHWA's online monthly publication, Transportation Conformity Highlights, which is widely distributed to all transportation and air quality agencies, and the monthly Transportation and Climate Change newsletter. Emphasis area contacts also provided STEP information through websites, such as the FHWA-sponsored Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center and the AASHTO Center for Environmental Excellence's Transportation Environmental Research Ideas Database.
Program managers and STEP program support staff undertook outreach via online publication of several STEP documents, including the FY2010 STEP Implementation Strategy, the STEP FY2010 Bulletin, the FY2008 Annual Report, the FY2009 Research Plan, and a bulletin on STEP research efforts relating to transportation and climate change. Additional outreach activities included two webinar presentations on STEP that provided an overview of the program and research activities.
Over 400 comments were received by the Web-based feedback system between June and September 2008. In some cases, organizations or associations submitted feedback to several different emphasis areas that pertain to their work.
Some emphasis areas (e.g., Bicycle/Pedestrian and Health) received a great deal of comments and most of the 17 emphasis areas received at least one comment. No comments were received under the National Security, Defense, and Interstate Planning emphasis area.
The figures below display the breakdown of comments received that pertain to the broad program areas and to the individual emphasis areas.
Figure 3: Distribution of Feedback by Program Area (FY2009)
Figure 4: Distribution of Feedback by Individual Emphasis Area (FY2009)
As described in Appendix A, STEP stakeholders are organized into three tiers: Federal and Tribal 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, Tribal, State, local, research/academic, national association, private sector, 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 FY2009 comments; see the tables that follow for a distribution of comments.
|Federal and Tribal Government||64||15%|
Since communication and collaboration with stakeholders are critical to the implementation of the STEP, the Web-based stakeholder feedback mechanism captured email 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 September 2008 that pertains to each of the 17 emphasis areas as well as overall feedback on the STEP.
Click on the links below to be directed to a particular emphasis area feedback summary.
Twelve comments were submitted to the Air Quality and Global Climate Change emphasis area. Approximately 8% of comments came from Tier I stakeholders and 58% of comments came from Tier II. The remaining 33% of comments came from Tier III, with feedback from the private sector, research/academic institutions, individual citizens, and other sources. There were no comments from national associations in this emphasis area.
Many of the research suggestions in this area focused on efforts that linked the transportation system with local or regional development patterns, climate change issues, and air pollution, especially pollution related to greenhouse gases. Suggestions specifically focused on using a megaregion approach to develop climate change adaptation strategies or implementing project-level air quality monitors to supplement the regional air quality monitoring network. One stakeholder suggested researching the capability of social marketing strategies to reduce air emissions. Similarly, another stakeholder suggested research on how 'person-to-person' marketing can help employers develop transit incentive programs for employees.
There is some current and planned research in this area, including several research initiatives on megaregions. For example, a symposium series on megaregion planning coordinated by the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Other current research efforts include a state project to gather fuel data relevant for use in emissions models, as well as state-level research on social marketing.
Several potential funding sources were identified, including possible partnerships with the public health community, such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Federal sources could include the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), USFWS, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), USEPA, and BLM. Other suggested funding sources included AASHTO, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the Shell Foundation.
A total of 94 comments were submitted to the Water/Wetlands/Vegetation/Wildlife/ Habitat/ Brownfields area. Approximately 35% (33) of comments came from Tier I stakeholders, 31% (29) of comments came from Tier II stakeholders, and 34% (32) of comments came from Tier III stakeholders.
Research suggestions in this area focused on continuing support for the AASHTO National Stormwater Conference, studying the environmental effects of bridge and road chemicals, and evaluating the impact of roads and road construction on water quality, plant life, and both wildlife habitat and connectivity. Many stakeholders recommended studies on best practices for managing stormwater runoff and mitigating wildlife-vehicle interactions. Managing threats to plant and wildlife from invasive species was another common research theme, as was the use of native plants for wildlife and ecological restoration projects or roadside revegetation. Soil was an additional area of comment; several stakeholders mentioned research to develop construction techniques or other best practices to minimize soil erosion. Finally, several research suggestions focused on sustainable and cost-effective landscape design. For example, a Tier I stakeholder proposed a study on roadway vegetation that can illustrate cost-savings from mowing minimization as well as benefits from reducing emissions.
Stakeholders mentioned many current and planned research projects in this area, including work in the Federal arena, such as USEPA, BLM, and USFWS, as well as at State DOTs. In addition, there are ongoing initiatives in the research/academic sectors and at national associations. For example, TNC is working on watershed-based mitigation planning in South Carolina. There are a few statewide efforts sponsored by State DOTs, such as research on native plant species at the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.
Many potential funding sources were cited, including the USEPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service, USFS, NRCS, the U.S. Geological Survey, USDA, State departments of agriculture or natural resources, State DOTs (especially Transportation Enhancement funds), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, TNC, and other public and private sources.
Twelve comments were submitted to the Outdoor Advertising Control/Realty Program Management emphasis area. Approximately 25% (3) of comments came from Tier I stakeholders. Approximately 33% (4) of comments came from Tier II stakeholders and 42% (5) of comments came from Tier III stakeholders. There were no comments from local government, the research/academic sector, individual citizens, or other sources. Four comments in this emphasis area came from one stakeholder and two comments came from another stakeholder.
Research suggestions focused on developing tools and resources to consider the social and economic impacts of land acquisition and displacement, studying best practices for procuring rights-of-way, especially in the context of a design/build project, and supporting the NAHBA annual conference. Several stakeholders mentioned supporting peer exchanges on design/build and right-of-way visualization techniques. Finally, a Tier II stakeholder suggested research on developing a 'how-to' guide for resolving outdoor advertising control issues.
There was some current and planned research in this area, including an effort from AASHTO to survey State DOTs on outdoor advertising control issues. Several projects are being conducted at State DOTs including one at the Rhode Island DOT that focuses on visualization of property acquisition. The NAHBA annual conference to discuss Federal regulation of outdoor advertising is another current activity. Stakeholders identified Federal or State DOT funds as potential funding sources.
A total of 33 comments were submitted to the Environmental Streamlining and Stewardship emphasis area. Approximately 21% of comments came from Tier I and 52% of comments came from Tier II stakeholders. Approximately 27% of comments came from Tier III, with feedback from the private and research/academic sectors as well as national associations and other sources. There were no comments from individual citizens.
Many research suggestions in this area focused on support of the AASHTO National Stormwater Conference. Several Tier III stakeholders also mentioned research to improve understanding of approaches to integrate watershed and habitat fragmentation considerations into transportation planning and development. Other areas of comment were on implementing NEPA and streamlining highway project development. Studies on wildlife/landscape and wildlife/highway interactions, specifically wildlife crossing sites, were also recommended. Finally, several stakeholders mentioned research on green infrastructure building/planning and environmental mitigation strategies. One stakeholder suggested a comparative cost study of green transportation infrastructure with a 'business as usual' scenario.
There was some current and planned research in this area, including planned AASHTO National Stormwater Conferences and several university studies on wildlife/vehicle interactions, mapping invasive species on U.S. highways, and other areas. A few local governments and several State DOTs have also planned or conducted research in this area. State DOT research has focused on collaboration efforts for gathering environmental data or construction to minimize wildlife/vehicle impacts. The U.S Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution has engaged in a number of research activities related to environmental streamlining and stewardship, such as conducting training courses and workshop planning. The TRB Committee on Environmental Analysis in Transportation has also identified emerging areas of interest in this area.
Potential funding sources included FHWA, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, State DOTs, national foundations, or universities. From the private sector, car insurance agencies were mentioned as another potential funding source. Other sources included Robert Wood Johnson Active Living by Design grants and McIntyre-Stennis funds.
A total of 21 comments were submitted to the CSS emphasis area. Approximately 24% of comments came from Tier I and 43% of comments came from Tier II stakeholders. Tier III represented the remaining 33% of comments, with feedback from the private and research/academic sectors as well as national associations and other sources. There were no comments from local governments or individual citizens.
The research suggestions in this area focused on compiling, evaluating, and disseminating CSS principles, best practices, and lessons learned to stakeholders. Several comments focused specifically on researching state or local approaches to implementing CSS as well as states' performance measures for CSS efforts. Other areas of comment were on using CSS as a mitigation strategy for climate change, integrating CSS with FHWA's PEL approach, and using CSS to facilitate the public involvement process for transportation planning. Finally, several stakeholders mentioned using CSS for Federal land management. For example, one Tier I stakeholder recommended developing and delivering a CSS pilot course applicable to Federal Lands Highway and the Federal land management agencies that serve as partners in delivery of the Federal Lands Highway Program.
There was some current and planned research in this area. Stakeholders reported several CSS-related efforts in the academic sector and at two State DOTs. The National Highway Institute offers several courses related to CSS.
Several potential funding sources were mentioned, including the National Institutes of Health, the World Bank, Federal and State agencies, environmental or educational grants, state historic preservation offices, and the private sector. Other suggestions related to funding sources were developing multi-state pooled studies or citizen subscription models.
A total of 150 comments were submitted to the Bicycle/Pedestrian and Health emphasis area. Approximately 5% of comments came from Tier I stakeholders and 23% of comments came from Tier II. The remaining 72% of comments came from Tier III, with feedback from the private sector, research/academic institutions, individual citizens, national associations, and other sources.
The research suggestions in this area focused on several key themes, including increasing support for general non-motorized transportation research and exploring links between non-motorized transportation and safety, the environment, health, congestion, and climate change. Another key theme focused on integrating non-motorized infrastructure with other transportation modes, such as designing bicycle storage areas at transit locations or adding bicycle lanes to roads. Many stakeholders commented on supporting data collection on bicycling to better quantify bicycling needs at the local, city, and statewide levels. An additional area of suggestion was on promoting bicycle education, especially on the Safe Routes to School program and 'sharing the road' principles for both vehicle drivers and bicyclists. Finally, many comments focused on improving the safety of non-motorized users and routes, such as by maintaining or updating bike paths and pedestrian trails.
There is some current and planned research in this area, including several research initiatives underway in Federal and city government, State DOTs, the private and academic sectors, and at national associations and independent foundations working on a regional level. Research is also ongoing at the local grassroots level. Some school districts are engaged in research specifically focused on Safe Routes to School programs and bicycle safety. Several stakeholders mentioned research occurring in Europe that is focused on bicycle and pedestrian activities.
Stakeholders identified many potential funding sources, including FHWA, USEPA, State DOTs, city and local government agencies, MPOs, UTCs, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and health organizations such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Other potential sources included the private sector (such as bicycle retailers and advertising agencies).
Nine comments were submitted to the Historic Preservation emphasis area. No comments were received from Tier I stakeholders. Approximately 44% of comments came from Tier II and 56% of comments came from Tier III stakeholders, including the private sector, individual citizens, and other sources. There were no comments from local government, national associations, or the research/academic sector.
Research suggestions in this area focused on support for SHPOs to attend meetings such as the TRB conference, and linking historic sites to recreational trails, especially horseback-riding trails. Another stakeholder mentioned research that could identify points in the transportation planning process that would benefit from considering historic preservation issues. Several comments focused on historic bridges. For example, one Tier II stakeholder suggested a study of the marketing and donation of historic bridges. Another Tier III stakeholder suggested an analysis and summary of historic bridge management plans and programmatic agreements.
There was some current and planned research in this area, including projects at State DOTs to develop historic resource evaluation criteria and efforts coordinated by AASHTO.
Potential funding sources included the AASHTO, TRB, NCHRP, the National Conference of SHPOs, or other sources from the private sector, such as SRI.
A total of 21 comments were submitted to the Noise emphasis area. Approximately 10% (2) of comments came from Tier I stakeholders. Approximately 62% (13) of comments came from Tier II stakeholders and 29% (6) of comments came from Tier III stakeholders. There were no comments from local government, the research/academic sector, individual citizens, or other sources.
Many research suggestions in this area focused on updating the Traffic Noise Model (TNM) version 2.5 as well as completing TNM version 3.0. Stakeholders also recommended exploring links between road surface materials, road noise, and impacts to neighboring communities and wildlife. For example, a Tier III stakeholder suggested research to test low-cost, sound absorptive products made from recycled materials that can abate rail and highway noise. Other suggestions focused on more accurate assessments of noise levels associated with multimodal transportation projects.
There was some current and planned research in this area, including private sector projects to measure tire/pavement noise and evaluate noise absorptive products. Research on TNM version 3.0 is ongoing at the Federal level. Some potential funding sources may include Federal agencies, State DOTs, NCHRP, city, county, or state health agencies, or others in the private sector. Several stakeholders also mentioned pooled-funded studies as a useful funding mechanism.
Four comments were submitted to the Congestion emphasis area. Exactly 25% of comments came from Tier II and 75% of comments came from Tier III stakeholders. The Tier II comment came from local government while all of Tier III comments came from individual citizens. There were no comments from Federal agencies, State government, national associations, the private or research/academic sectors, or other sources.
The research suggestions in this area focused on encouraging support for 'clean' commutes, such as by developing inter-city or -town bicycle lanes to facilitate bicycle commuting, and studies exploring complete costs per mile for multimodal transportation infrastructure. Another stakeholder mentioned research on how to encourage carpooling and use of public transportation.
No current and planned research in this area was reported. One stakeholder suggested FHWA as a potential funding source.
Five comments were submitted to the Safety Planning emphasis area. Exactly 40% (2) of comments came from Tier II stakeholders and 60% (3) of comments came from Tier III stakeholders. There were no comments from the Federal government, state government, the private or research/academic sectors, individual citizens, or other sources.
Research suggestions in this area focused on bicycle and pedestrian safety, particularly on pedestrian trails and at intersections between road arterials and bicycle paths. For example, a Tier III stakeholder suggested developing a central database to track accidents that occur on recreational trails. A Tier II stakeholder also suggested focusing on rural safety planning, including the ways in which technology and intelligent transportation systems can aid rural safety.
There were a few current and planned research projects in this area, including an effort from a local government agency to complete guidelines on intersection design. The American Trails Foundation is one potential funding source.
Twelve comments were submitted to the Freight Planning emphasis area. No comments were received from Tier I stakeholders. Approximately 83% of comments came from Tier II and 17% of comments came from Tier III stakeholders, with feedback from the research/academic sector as well as national associations. There were no comments from the private sector, individual citizens, or other sources.
Research suggestions in this area included studies on addressing greenhouse gas emissions from freight vehicles, for example, conducting studies on retrofitting freight vehicles to be cleaner and identifying best practices to reduce freight vehicle idling. Another stakeholder mentioned research on improving cross-border freight emissions planning and monitoring, especially at highly congested freight gateway areas. Other suggestions focused on data collection for freight, such as research on freight movement patterns, uses of geospatial information systems (GIS) for truck routing, developing road alignment standards, and generating truck trip generation data.
There was some current and planned research in this area, including efforts in the academic sector. Stakeholders reported several local government initiatives, such as development of a local toolbox for evaluating freight movement and localized freight forecasting, idle reduction programs for heavy duty trucks and school buses, and a study of the effect of manufacturing and industrial centers on freight mobility.
Potential funding sources include FHWA, State DOTs, MPOs, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program funds, and organizations such as the American Trucking Association, the National Cooperative Freight Research Program, NCHRP, and AASHTO.
Seven comments were submitted to the Public Involvement, Environmental Justice, Visualization in Planning emphasis area. There were no comments from Tier I stakeholders. Approximately 86% (6) of the comments came from Tier II stakeholders and 14% (1) of comments came from a Tier III stakeholder. There were no comments from the Federal government, the research/academic or private sectors, individual citizens, or other sources. Four (4) comments were submitted by the same stakeholder.
Many research suggestions in this area focused on techniques to generate and sustain public involvement in transportation planning. For example, a Tier II stakeholder suggested research on the participation of the public in designing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and developing disaster preparedness plans. Others mentioned research on best practices for developing and maintaining Safe Routes to School programs as well as a survey of university-level education in public involvement. Finally, one stakeholder suggested evaluating the effects of tolling on drivers with limited English proficiency.
There was some current and planned research in this area, including an effort at the state level to focus on tolling and low-income populations' decision making, work by local nonprofits on public involvement and land use issues, and some studies to address disaster preparedness.
Potential funding sources included the NCHRP and the Transit Cooperative Research Program.
Three comments were submitted to the U.S./Canada and U.S./Mexico Border Planning area. Approximately 33% (1) of comments came from Tier I stakeholders, 33% (1) of comments came from Tier II stakeholders, and 33% (1) of comments came from Tier III stakeholders. There were no comments from State government, the private or research/academic sectors, individual citizens, or other sources.
Research suggestions in this area focused on improving the border planning mechanism, particularly where there is a reconfigured point of entry planning process, and linking ecological considerations with border security planning and border transportation planning. For example, a Tier I stakeholder mentioned the need to develop a process for better invasive species containment at border stations.
Stakeholders mentioned several current and planned research projects in this area. For example, one national association is working with a State natural resources agency to identify the movement of animals along the U.S./Mexico border and improve cross-border wildlife management. Additionally, several city and local government agencies in southern California are collaborating to develop studies on cross-border, multimodal transportation planning processes that reduce congestion and preserve border security while addressing access and mobility.
Potential funding sources included USFWS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Department of Defense, USDA, or State departments of agriculture and natural resources.
Three comments were submitted to the Other Activities that Support State/Local/Tribal Planning Capacity Building emphasis area. Two comments (67%) were submitted by Tier II stakeholders in local government. The remaining comment (33%) came from a Tier III stakeholder in the research/academic sector. There were no comments from the Federal government, state government, national associations, the private sector, individual citizens, or other sources.
Research suggestions in this area included developing best practice models for coordinating rural regional transportation planners, using GIS-based scenario building tools to collaborate with local and regional planning agencies, and assessing the impact of growth control policies on travel behavior.
Current and planned research includes an effort by a local government agency to develop GIS-based scenario building models and an effort by a State DOT to find models for building a coalition of rural planners. In addition, there have been many empirical studies from the research/academic sector on growth management, transportation and land use, and smart growth policies.
Stakeholders identified several potential funding sources, including USEPA, MPOs, State DOTs, city and regional government agencies, Compass Blueprint Regional Planning Grants, the National Science Foundation, the Brookings Institution, and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
Thirteen comments were submitted to the Travel Modeling emphasis area. Approximately 69% (9) of comments came from Tier II stakeholders and 31% (4) of comments came from Tier III stakeholders. There were no comments from the Federal government, the research/academic sector, national associations, individual citizens, or other sources.
Many research suggestions in this area focused on refining and improving the travel modeling process, such as accounting for all private car costs when developing travel models, considering freight needs, gas pricing, and land density in models, and supporting better data collection efforts. Other suggestions focused on how to best manage, promote, and share effective modeling practices. For example, one stakeholder mentioned creating a guidebook to make the modeling process more understandable to planning practitioners, while another stakeholder mentioned promoting peer reviews of model applications. Another area of comment was better analysis of transportation modes and needs, such as researching household vehicle fleet management to support greenhouse gas emission modeling.
Stakeholders mentioned several current and planned research projects in this area, including a project at a State DOT, an effort from the private sector to model commuter decision making, and a project at a local government agency to improve GIS-based applications used to develop and manage transportation networks in the regional travel model. Other ongoing research work was mentioned that focuses on static and dynamic travel modeling. Several stakeholders mentioned that travel modeling research is occurring in Europe . Gas pricing surveys have been conducted by the National Household Travel Survey and the American Community Survey.
Potential funding sources included the FHWA and FTA, MPOs, State DOTs, and private sector consultants.
Seven comments were submitted to the GIS/Spatial Information for Improved Decision Making emphasis area. One comment (14%) came from Tier I stakeholders. The remainder of comments (86%) came from Tier II stakeholders at State DOTs. There were no comments from Tier III stakeholders.
Research suggestions in this area included promoting GIS to comply with Section 106 and NEPA and improving data resolution for GIS screening tools. Several comments in this area focused on the need to standardize geospatial data across multiple jurisdictions, promote standards of accuracy for these data, and create workable agreements to encourage data-sharing among organizations. Another stakeholder suggested collecting data on sources of available geospatial data and levels of accuracy required for various applications. Finally, a Tier II stakeholder mentioned a need to improve a GIS-based method for estimating "near-road" impacts of vehicle-related pollutants.
Stakeholders reported some current and planned research in this area, including an effort by USEPA Region 6 to increase data resolution for a GIS screening tool and a project at a SHPO to build a GIS-based system for sites on the National Register of Historic Places. Several State DOTs are engaged in GIS-related projects, such as building a comprehensive state land inventory for transportation-related analyses. The National States Geographic Information Council and the Missouri DOT are involved with efforts to assess use of GIS to assess functional classification of Highway Performance Monitoring System data.
Potential funding sources include FHWA's Eco-Logical initiative, TRB, State DOTs, and USEPA.
Eighteen comments were submitted to Overall STEP Comments. Four comments (22%) were submitted by Tier I stakeholders. Six comments (33%) were submitted by Tier II stakeholders. The remaining eight comments (44%) came from national associations, individual citizens, the private sector, and other sources in Tier III. There were no comments from local government or the research/academic sector.
Research suggestions in this area included cross-cutting issues such as supporting research on non-motorized transportation issues and carpooling as a strategy to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions while improving safety. Other suggestions involved research focused on transportation liaison staff positions and support for the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse (NTEC).
Current and planned research includes the bi-annual Transportation Enhancement conference and the NTEC, which provides information on use of TE funds from a national perspective. Several stakeholders mentioned work done by trails organizations, such as the Illinois Trails Conservancy. A Tier III stakeholder mentioned a private sector study on carpooling.
Stakeholders identified a few potential funding sources, including public agencies and State DOT funds, as well as rails-to-trails conservancy foundations.