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 (FY) 2011. Detailed information about outreach activities and specific research projects can be found in the appendices.
Linking Research to Practice
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:
STEP's Legislative History
Section 5207 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) established STEP. Congress mandated a 50 percent non-Federal match to encourage collaboration with 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.
Efficient Management of a Successful Program
SAFETEA-LU and continuing resolutions 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, $14.6 million was available for the FY2011 STEP.
Through STEP, FHWA invests in projects in 19 "emphasis areas" that fall into four broad research categories: environment, planning, real estate services, and tools to support environment and planning. The projects funded in FY2011 enhance the state-of-the-art and -practice in planning, environment, and realty.