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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.


Feedback from STEP Stakeholders

Notable Quotes from Stakeholders

"The STEP process continues to fund useful research for transportation planning practitioners that is critical for continuing to improve capacity building and the state-of-the-practice in planning."

-- National Association of Development Organizations Stakeholder

"STEP is a great program!

-- University of Oregon Stakeholder

The STEP'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 FY2010, 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 collaboration and 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 Collaboration

Hundreds of individuals were reached through meetings, teleconferences, and other events. For the past five fiscal years, FHWA has collected stakeholder feedback through a Web-based system. Stakeholders targeted their feedback towards one of the 18 emphasis areas or submit general comments. 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. FHWA received over 200 pieces of feedback in FY2010 from the Web-based system.

Stakeholders are also directly involved in prioritizing research needs during stakeholder outreach meeting, committee meetings, or by commenting on the progress of research studies. Thus, FHWA ensures that feedback informs technical research, findings are applied and implemented, and the transportation community is connected, informed, and successful.

Outreach to STEP Stakeholders

Stakeholder outreach, feedback, and participation in research efforts are critical to successful implementation of the STEP. In order to disseminate current information about the STEP, emphasis area contacts, program managers, and research coordinators attended meetings, teleconferences, and events to share STEP information.

STEP emphasis area contacts also communicated by phone and email 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 FY2010 comment period (September 4 through December 3, 2009).

Overall, the STEP was represented at many events, teleconferences, in email lists, on websites, and in various publications. Information reached hundreds of stakeholders. 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 by emphasis area contacts for the FY2010 STEP follows below.

Outreach efforts centered on attendance at events, conferences, workshops, roundtables, task groups, and in-person meetings. Information was delivered through publications, email, and 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 Environment and Energy Conference, the Preserving the Historic Road Conference, the National Mitigation Banking Association meeting, the Association of State Wetlands Managers meeting, the AASHTO Standing Committee on Design annual meeting, the AASHTO GIS for Transportation (GIS-T) 2010 Symposium, the 2010 Northern Transportation and Air Quality Summit, the TRB 2010 Tools of the Trade Conference, the 2010 AASHTO Air Quality Practitioners' Conference, the AASHTO/FHWA Joint Symposium on Climate Change, and a state engineering conferences in North Carolina and Ohio.

The purpose of these in-person meetings and conference presentations was to describe the STEP 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 published in 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, the CSS Clearinghouse, the TMIP website, and the AASHTO Center for Environmental Excellence's Transportation Environmental Research Ideas Database.

General STEP Outreach

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 FY2009 Annual Report and the FY2010 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.

Feedback Overview

Over 200 comments were received between September and December 2009. In some cases, organizations or associations submitted feedback to several different emphasis areas that pertain to their work.

Some emphasis areas (e.g., Bicycles/Pedestrians) received a great deal of comments. All of the 18 emphasis areas received at least one comment.

The figures on the next page 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 (FY2010)

General Comments 2%; Environment 67%; Planning 16%; Real Estate Services 11%; Tools to Support Environment and Planning 4%.

Figure 2: Distribution of Feedback by Individual Emphasis Area (FY2010)

Click image for source data.

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 FY2010 comments; see the tables that follow for a distribution of comments.

Table 1: Distribution of Feedback by Affiliation Type

 

205

100%

Federal and Tribal Government 

44

21%

State Government

62

30%

Local Government

19

9%

National Association

8

4%

Private Sector

13

6%

Research/Academic

23

11%

Individual Citizen

27

13%

Other

9

4%

Table 2: Distribution of Feedback by Tier

Comments Received to Date by Tier 205 100%
Tier 1 (Federal or Tribal Government) 44 21%
Tier 2 (State or Local Government) 81 40%
Tier 3 (National Association, Private Sector, Research/Academic, Individual Citizen, or "Other") 80 39%

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.

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.

STAKEHOLDER FEEDBACK SUMMARIES BY EMPHASIS AREA

This section summarizes feedback submitted through December 2009 that pertains to each of the 18 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.

Environment Emphasis Areas:

Planning Emphasis Areas:

Real Estate Services Emphasis Areas

Tools to Support Planning and Environment Emphasis Areas:

Program Management and Outreach

Emphasis Areas Related to Environment

Air Quality and Climate Change

Nine comments were submitted to the Air Quality and Climate Change emphasis area. Approximately 22% of comments came from Tier I stakeholders and 22% of comments came from Tier II State government stakeholders. The remaining 56% of comments came from Tier III, with feedback from the private sector, research/academic institutions, and individual citizens. There were no comments from local governments, national associations, or stakeholders with other affiliations.

Several research suggestions in this area focused on evaluating the impacts of air quality and environmental health on human health, particularly among vulnerable groups (e.g., children) and in areas with high levels of air pollution. Other suggestions focused on the use of regional and local planning or GHG reduction campaigns to address transportation's contribution to climate change. One stakeholder suggested that these efforts should include identifying and promoting best practices in reducing GHG emissions. Others suggested focusing on the impacts of diesel engines on air quality, roving diesel retrofit crews, and anti-idling campaigns. Additional proposed lines of research were on the effects of climate change and maintaining ecosystem connectivity.

Current and planned research in this area includes a bi-national study of the impact of traffic-related air pollution on asthmatic children in Mexico and the U.S., various air quality monitoring and pollution inventory efforts, as well as identification and implementation of practices to support wildlife migration that occurs due to climate change. Several stakeholders reported that research in this area is broad and that specific, documented, and replicable means to calculate GHG emissions are needed.

Several potential funding sources were identified, including Federal sources such as the National Clean Diesel Campaign and USFWS' Landscape Conservation Cooperative. Potential State and regional funding sources include the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Western Governors' Association. Private sources cited included the Liz Claiborne/Art Ortenberg Foundation, the Kendall Foundation, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Water/Wetlands/Vegetation/Wildlife/Habitat

Fifty-two comments were submitted to the Water/Wetlands/Vegetation/Wildlife/Habitat emphasis area. Approximately 37% of comments came from Tier I stakeholders and 37% of comments came from Tier II stakeholders. The remaining 27% of comments came from Tier III, with feedback from the private sector and research/academic institutions. There were no comments from national associations, individual citizens, or stakeholders with other affiliations.

Many research suggestions in this area highlighted the need to minimize the impact of highways on surrounding wildlife. Proposed avenues for research included reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions, evaluating wildlife crossings and cost-effective means to promote wildlife connectivity, and studying the underwater sound effects of pile driving on endangered fish species. Many stakeholders also indicated a need for vegetation research, particularly as related to the prevention, management, and eradication of non-native species. Other highlighted areas of research included exploring and evaluating methods to reduce or eliminate mowing and researching stormwater management and runoff.

Several research efforts exist or are being planned by academic institutions, State DOTs, resource agencies, and local, State, and Tribal governments. These efforts will study environmentally sensitive transportation planning and the effectiveness and environmental impact of methods for controlling invasive species. Other planned and existing initiatives will track wildlife to determine the effectiveness of wildlife crossings, including a collaborative effort between the Montana DOT, the Western Transportation Institute, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

Potential funding opportunities include State DOTs, USFWS' State Wildlife Grant Program, the Tribal Wildlife Grant Program, the Landscape Conservation Cooperative Initiative, and grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. Other funding sources could include the California Deer Association, Trout Unlimited, the National Forest Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, and private corporations such as Dow Agro Sciences, Bayer, DuPont, and BASF.

Historic Preservation

Two comments were submitted to the Historic Preservation emphasis area. All comments came from Tier II State government stakeholders. There were no comments from Federal, Tribal, or local government stakeholders, national associations, the private sector, research/academic institutions, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.

Stakeholders suggested that more targeted research is needed in this emphasis area. One stakeholder suggested conducting research on historically accurate treatments for historic roadways listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

One stakeholder referred to the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 554 (Aesthetic Concrete Barrier Design) as an example of current research in this emphasis area. Stakeholders did not identify any potential funding sources in this research area.

Bicycles/Pedestrians

Fifty-eight comments were submitted to the Bicycles/Pedestrians emphasis area. Approximately 3% of comments came from Federal Tier I stakeholders and 31% of comments came from Tier II stakeholders. The remaining 66% of comments came from Tier III stakeholders, with feedback from national associations, the private sector, research/academic institutions, individual citizens, and other stakeholders. There were no comments from Tribal government stakeholders.

Many stakeholders in this area suggested that research efforts concentrate on bicycle and pedestrian safety, including the effect of bicycle/pedestrian facilities and various roadway designs on safety. A significant number of comments also focused on the general health implications of active transportation as well as implications for specific populations such as senior citizens, children, and commuters. Several stakeholders also suggested research on ways to encourage bicycle commuting, including policies for bicycles in transit systems and bicycle parking availability. Another proposed research topic was the incorporation of bicycle and pedestrian facilities and accommodations such as crosswalks, bike lanes, signals, signs, and handrails into roadway designs. Other topics included the need for increased data collection efforts and bicycle sharing programs.

Several research efforts by State DOTs, academic institutions, transportation research organizations, and bicycle and pedestrian advocacy groups are currently planned or underway. These studies generally focus on the effectiveness of bicycle and pedestrian facilities, treatments, and signals, the effects of active transportation on physical health and academic achievement, and effective means for collecting accurate bicycle and pedestrian data.

Proposed funding sources include several Federal agencies, including EPA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Access Board. Transportation research programs like NCHRP, TRB, and University Transportation Centers (UTCs) were also identified as possible sources of funding. Additional suggested sources included bicycle and pedestrian advocacy groups like Bicycles Belong, the League of American Bicyclists, and the Alliance for Biking and Walking, non-profit organizations like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, as well as private corporations such as FedEx and various bicycle manufacturers.

Noise

Three comments were submitted to the Noise emphasis area. One comment was submitted by a Tier II State government stakeholder while the remaining two comments were submitted by Tier III stakeholders from the private sector. No comments were submitted by Federal, Tribal, or local government stakeholders, national associations, research/academic institutions, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.

Stakeholders in this emphasis area recommended that research efforts focus on completing updates to and the TNM and developing NHI courses on topics such as tire and pavement noise, construction noise, and noise-compatible planning.

One stakeholder indicated that modifications to the TNM are currently underway but will require additional funding for implementation. Another stakeholder referred to existing research by TRB's Committee on Transportation-Related Noise and Vibration.

Potential funding sources in this area included TRB, AASHTO, and the transportation pooled-fund program.

Environmental Streamlining/Stewardship

Ten comments were submitted to the Environmental Streamlining/Stewardship emphasis area. About one-third of comments came from Federal Tier I stakeholders and 50% of comments came from Tier II State government stakeholders. The remaining 20% of comments came from Tier III stakeholders, with feedback from research/academic institutions and other stakeholders. There were no comments from Tribal or local government stakeholders, national associations, the private sector, or individual citizens.

Several stakeholders in this emphasis area focused on assessing the effectiveness of wildlife crossings and efforts to maintain habitat connectivity. Others highlighted the need for research into mapping systems for environmental streamlining, including integrating natural, archaeological, and historic GIS mapping layers into environmental permitting and mitigation activities. One stakeholder indicated a need for research on the environmental effects of diminishing green space on highway ROW. Another stakeholder suggested identifying existing tools used to track restrictions on contaminated property that limit land or resource use.

Stakeholders highlighted several existing or planned research efforts in this emphasis area, including the use of an Eco-Logical grant to develop a cost surface for natural resource values and a four-year effort to monitor newly built wildlife crossing structures. Other efforts are also underway to integrate resource management with transportation planning through regional GIS and to compile state environmental datasets for contaminated property restrictions.

Proposed sources of funding included EPA, FHWA, USFWS, State DOTs, and non-profit organizations such as the Liz Claiborne/Art Ortenberg Foundation, the Kendall Foundation, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Context Sensitive Solutions

Four comments were submitted to the Context Sensitive Solutions emphasis area. All comments came from Tier II State and local government stakeholders. There were no comments from Federal or Tribal government stakeholders, national associations, the private sector, research/academic institutions, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.

Several stakeholders in this emphasis area indicated that research efforts should focus on the effectiveness of various context sensitive solutions in addressing issues such as wildlife connectivity and multi-modal safety. For instance, one stakeholder suggested exploring the correlation between bicycle and pedestrian-safe streets and overall safety. Another stakeholder proposed tracking the success or failure of landscape mitigation efforts for historic resources to develop recommendations and guidance for future mitigation efforts. Guidance on uses of context sensitive solutions in highway corridor master planning was also highlighted as a potential topic for research.

Current or proposed research includes an effort by ITE to assess the crash reduction factors of medians and improved crossings. Stakeholders also highlighted research efforts by State DOTs and other transportation research organizations.

Potential cited funding sources included ITE, TRB, FHWA, AASHTO, and State DOTs.

Emphasis Areas Related to Real Estate Services

Outdoor Advertising Control

Seven comments were submitted to the Outdoor Advertising Control emphasis area. No comments were submitted by Tier I stakeholders. Approximately 71% of comments were submitted by Tier II State government stakeholders while about 21% of comments were submitted by Tier III national association stakeholders. No comments were submitted by Federal, Tribal, or local government stakeholders, the private sector, research/academic institutions, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.

Primary suggested research topics in this emphasis area included establishing standard definitions for routine and customary maintenance on conforming and non-conforming signs. Stakeholders also identified a need to research and develop brightness standards for commercial electronic variable message signs and conventional billboards. Other proposals included developing policies and guidance for defining unzoned commercial areas and predominantly residential areas and improving communication and information dissemination for the Federal outdoor advertising control program.

Stakeholders identified conferences hosted by the National Alliance of Highway Beautification Agencies and AASHTO, international scans, and the development of national standards and definitions as examples of existing or planned research.

Stakeholders identified FHWA, STEP, and industry, including the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, Inc., as potential sources of funding for research.

Real Estate Program Stewardship

Sixteen comments were submitted to the Real Estate Program Stewardship emphasis area. About three-quarters of comments were submitted by Tier I Federal stakeholders. Approximately 19% of comments were submitted by Tier II State government stakeholders while the remaining approximately 6% of comments were submitted by Tier III stakeholders from national associations. No comments were submitted by Tribal or local government stakeholders, the private sector, research/academic institutions, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.

Recommended research efforts included revising guidance on real estate legislation and regulations and developing a nationwide standard for acceptable levels of driver distraction caused by non-highway uses of ROW. Several stakeholders requested the development of best practice case studies on topics such as using incentive payments for faster ROW acquisition and identifying and mitigating negative human impacts caused by transportation projects. Professional capacity building and education were other areas suggested for additional research. For example, stakeholders proposed developing real estate training and guidance for Tribal governments, rural municipalities, and local public agencies.

Stakeholders described several existing or planned research efforts, including a report on acquiring easements on Native American lands, an FHWA peer exchange on the use of acquisition incentive payments, and a study of rural communities' transportation needs. One stakeholder discussed an initiative that uses GIS to assess ROW suitability to generate wind and solar electricity and cultivate bio-fuel feedstock.

Potential funding sources in this emphasis area include FHWA, the Federal Lands Highway Indian Reservation Road Program, and sustainable communities initiatives by HUD, the U.S. Department of Energy, and EPA.

Emphasis Areas Related to Planning

Congestion

Four comments were submitted to the Congestion emphasis area. Approximately one-quarter of comments came from Tier II local government stakeholders and 75% of comments came from Tier III with feedback from the private sector and individual citizens. There were no comments from Federal, Tribal, or State government stakeholders, national associations, research/academic institutions, or other stakeholders.

Comments suggested research into the causes of and remedies for congestion. One stakeholder recommended studying the effect of speed on capacity in urban areas and another highlighted a need for more dynamic analysis tools to diagnose and address congestion. Others suggested that research efforts focus on signal programming, specifically the use of "green waves," to allow extended travel in one direction. Additional efforts focused on timing signals to take into account the number of transit vehicles, transit passengers, and bicyclists present at an intersection.

Stakeholders provided little information about current or planned research in this emphasis area; however, one stakeholder highlighted the use of "green waves" in Copenhagen and Amsterdam to facilitate bicycle traffic.

One stakeholder proposed that livability grants from States and MPOs could be used to fund research in this emphasis area.

Safety Planning

Eight comments were submitted to the Safety Planning emphasis area. Twenty-five percent of comments were submitted by Tier I Federal stakeholders and 63% of comments were submitted by Tier II State and local government stakeholders. Approximately 13% of comments were submitted by Tier III stakeholders (individual citizens). No comments were submitted by Tribal government stakeholders, national associations, the private sector, research/academic institutions, or other stakeholders.

Stakeholders identified several topics for research, including the effectiveness of wildlife crossing structures, the relationship between roadway design and bicycle and pedestrian safety, and the development of technologies to prevent vehicle-train collisions. Another stakeholder proposed research to evaluate transit safety issues.

Stakeholders identified two existing safety planning research efforts. The Michigan DOT is currently researching the possibility of eliminating urban freeway slip ramps on two Interstates to improve non-motorized transportation safety. Another study is evaluating wildlife crossing structures on the Trans-Canada Highway and highways in the Rocky Mountains.

Freight Planning

Seven comments were submitted to the Freight Planning emphasis area. No comments came from Tier I stakeholders. Approximately 71% of comments came from Tier II local government stakeholders while the remaining 29% of comments came from Tier III stakeholders, with feedback from research/academic institutions and other stakeholders. There were no comments from Federal, Tribal, or State government stakeholders, national associations, the private sector, or individual citizens.

Several comments submitted in this emphasis area highlighted the need for better freight planning data that account for the value of commodities moved. Some stakeholders also identified a need for studies to evaluate the impact of freight transfer facilities on transportation systems, including one suggestion to involve large manufacturing and industrial entities in this type of evaluation. Another stakeholder proposed creating a guidebook to aid local governments and MPOs in truck traffic planning.

Some research is currently underway or planned in this emphasis area, including a truck planning initiative by the Atlanta Regional Council and the use of intelligent transportation systems data in freight planning models.

Several potential funding sources were identified, including Surface Transportation Program/Metropolitan Mobility funds, NCHRP, State DOTs, and private corporations.

Public Involvement, Visualization in Planning/Environmental Justice

Three comments were submitted to the Public Involvement, Visualization in Planning/Environmental Justice emphasis area. No comments were submitted by Tier I stakeholders. Approximately 66% of comments were submitted by Tier II State government stakeholders while approximately 33% of comments were submitted by Tier III stakeholders (individual citizens). No comments were submitted by Federal, Tribal, or local government stakeholders, national associations, the private sector, research/academic institutions, or other stakeholders.

Stakeholders identified a need for several lines of research, including a pilot project to deploy innovative public involvement tools and techniques and development of objective measures to assess the pilots as well as more traditional public involvement efforts. Others identified environmental justice research needs, including an evaluation of the impacts of tolling strategies on minority groups and a study of the motivations and priorities of private organizations as they relate to socially and environmentally focused public-private partnerships.

Stakeholders mentioned general NCHRP, Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), and other research in this emphasis area but did not identify specific efforts.

Potential sources of funding for research in this area could include foundations, local governments, the Federal Transit Administration, and TRB research groups.

Other Activities that Support State/Local/Tribal Planning Capacity Building

Six comments were submitted to the Other Activities that Support State/Local/Tribal Planning Capacity Building emphasis area. One comment was submitted by a Tier I Federal government stakeholder and approximately two-thirds of comments were submitted by Tier II State government stakeholders. Another comment was submitted by a Tier III stakeholder from a national association. No comments were submitted by Tribal or local government stakeholders, the private sector, research/academic institutions, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.

Feedback in this emphasis area highlighted a need for additional information about implementing effective corridor master planning and the relationships between regional and State agencies in planning areas such as freight and safety. Stakeholders also identified a need for studies to assess the effectiveness of newly constructed fish and wildlife crossing structures for effectiveness and the impact of one-way streets on historic districts. One stakeholder also proposed creating a web-based application for Section 106 coordination that would allow Tribal partners and regional commissions to more easily access password-protected documents like State Historic Preservation Officer concurrence letters.

Existing or planned research efforts in this emphasis area include rural transportation planning and state, regional, and local safety planning studies.

Stakeholders identified USFWS Tribal Wildlife Grants, STEP, NCHRP, State DOTs, UTCs, and transportation enhancement funds as several potential sources of funding for research in this emphasis area.

U.S./Canada and U.S./Mexico Border Planning

Three comments were submitted to the U.S./Canada and U.S./Mexico Border Planning emphasis area. One comment was submitted by a Tier I Federal government stakeholder, while the remaining 66% of comments were submitted by Tier II State government stakeholders. No comments were submitted by Tribal or local government stakeholders, national associations, the private sector, research/academic institutions, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.

Stakeholders suggested research on offsite pre-inspection of commercial vehicles, truck harmonization between border states and provinces, and streamlining of legislation, regulation, and policy that currently hinder cross-border truck and rail freight mobility. One stakeholder also suggested a research focus on green initiatives for corridor and border transportation.

Stakeholders described an existing research effort to implement rail passenger preclearance procedures to reduce border crossing delays as well as creating a cross border planning team to coordinate infrastructure, safety, and security planning at the Port of Pembina in North Dakota and the Emerson Port of Entry in Manitoba.

Stakeholders identified state planning and research funds, as well as FHWA and Canadian government agencies as potential sources of funding. One stakeholder also suggested that Section 1105 of the Freight Improvement Program should be expanded to include all freight modes and provide funding for research and pilot projects.

National Security, Defense, and Interstate Planning

Two comments were submitted to the National Security, Defense, and Interstate Planning emphasis area. The comments were submitted by Tier III stakeholders who represented a national association and a research/academic institution. There were no comments from Federal, Tribal, State, or local government stakeholders, the private sector, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.

Stakeholders in this emphasis area identified interstate connectivity as a topic for additional research. For example, one stakeholder suggested research into the interconnectivity between mega-regions and surrounding rural communities, the role of existing facilities in transporting goods and people to or within mega-regions, and the correlation between economic activity and transportation infrastructure in mega-regions. Another stakeholder proposed documenting the level of use of NHS intermodal facilities in a defined multi-state study area, which could evolve into a pilot project to identify the location of and measure the use of NHS intermodal terminals.

Existing research efforts in this area have identified mega-regions, evaluated the use of public long distance travel within the Northeast mega-region, and studied the extent to which aviation planning has been integrated into surface transportation planning.

Potential funding sources included the Economic Development Administration, Federal/State regional commissions, private foundations, NCHRP, the Airport Cooperative Research Program, and TCRP.

Emphasis Areas Related to Tools to Support Planning and Environment

Travel Modeling

Three comments were submitted to the Travel Modeling emphasis area. No comments were submitted by Tier I or Tier II stakeholders. All comments were submitted by Tier III private sector stakeholders and individual citizens. No comments were submitted by Federal, State, Tribal, or local government stakeholders, national associations, research/academic institutions, or other stakeholders.

One stakeholder suggested linking vehicle miles traveled (VMT) growth modeling to energy production in order to present realistic VMT growth trends in long-range transportation plans. Another stakeholder suggested that FHWA encourage MPOs and State DOTs to use 2008 National Household Transportation Survey data in collaborative projects to advance the state of applied travel demand models. Another proposed effort focused on improving the ability of travel demand models to predict travel patterns.

Stakeholders identified FHWA and the TMIP as potential funding sources.

GIS/Spatial Information for Improved Decision Making

Five comments were submitted to the GIS/Spatial Information for Improved Decision Making emphasis area. Forty percent of comments came from both Tier I stakeholders and 40% of comments came from Tier II local government stakeholders. The remaining 20% of comments came from Tier III stakeholders (representing research/academic institutions). There were no comments from Tribal or State government stakeholders, national associations, the private sector, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.

Several stakeholders suggested efforts to expand the use existing geospatial tools, such as EPA's GIS Screening Tool and the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) STREAMSTATS tool. Other stakeholders identified the need for more accurate and comprehensive geospatial land use modeling and transportation planning. Stakeholders also identified several geospatial tools that are relevant to transportation and should be expanded. For instance, USGS currently works with transportation agencies to develop flood-flow regression equations for use with its STREAMSTATS system.

Stakeholders suggested several funding sources, including EPA, USGS, and State, Tribal, and local water resource agencies.

Overall STEP Comments

Three comments were submitted to the Overall STEP Comments emphasis area. No comments were submitted by Tier I stakeholders. Approximately 33% of comments were submitted by Tier II State government stakeholders while approximately 66% of comments were submitted by Tier III stakeholders representing national associations and research/academic institutions. No comments were submitted by Federal, Tribal, or local government stakeholders, the private sector, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.

Stakeholders identified several potential areas of research, including efforts to evaluate the connection between urban design and transportation behavior, studies on multi-modal rail systems, and analyses of the costs, benefits, and risks of various planning practices, including green infrastructure planning. Other suggestions focused on integrating GHG reduction and adaptation measures into transportation planning, applying FHWA's Eco-Logical principles during project development, and integrating transportation planning and NEPA processes. An additional proposal was to conduct best practice case studies on using natural resource mapping for transportation planning.

Stakeholders in this emphasis area highlighted several existing research efforts, including work by the University of Oregon's Sustainable Cities Initiative and the USDOT's Corridors of the Future initiative.

Stakeholders identified several Federal and State funding sources for these potential research areas, including FHWA, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Departments of Energy, Defense, and Homeland Security, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, and various State DOTs.

Updated: 09/19/2014
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