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 Stakeholder Quote
"The STEP program provides a great opportunity to further very relevant research."
-- Florida DOT stakeholder
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 FY2011, 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.
Hundreds of individuals were reached through meetings, teleconferences, and other events. Since STEP's inception, FHWA has collected stakeholder feedback through a Web-based system. Stakeholders targeted their feedback towards one of the 19 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 110 pieces of feedback in FY2011 from the Web-based system.
The feedback system captures information about:
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.
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 FY2011 comment period (July 2, 2010 through September 30, 2010).
Overall, the STEP program 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 FY2011 STEP follows below.
FHWA conducted live outreach through a variety of events in FY2011. Staff representing several STEP emphasis areas participated in and presented at sessions during the TRB summer and annual meetings for the Committee on Archeology and Historic Preservation in Transportation; Committee on Transportation-Related Noise and Vibration; and the Committee on Geographic Information Science and Applications. FHWA staff also participated in annual meetings for the AASHTO Standing Committees on the Environment, Planning, and Design. FHWA staff also conducted outreach at the International Transportation Economic Development Conference, the Southern Transportation and Air Quality Summit, ICOET, the Eco-Logical Signatory Agency Meeting, the National Mitigation Banking Association meeting, the Association of State Wetlands Managers' meeting, the annual meeting of State Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinators, and the National Association of Environmental Professionals' annual meeting. FHWA also sponsored numerous events, including the National Association of Highway Beautification Agencies' Educational Conference on Outdoor Advertising Control and the Mid-West Regional Freight Workshop. Live outreach efforts reached all stakeholder tiers, including Federal agencies, State DOTs, resource agencies, MPOs, the academic community, and non-profit groups. These events offered an opportunity 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.
FHWA conducted STEP outreach through a variety of other venues, including its GIS in Transportation and TMIP webinar series. FHWA staff also conducted outreach through phone, email distribution lists, and other formats, including the AASHTO GIS for Transportation Symposium State Survey and email list.
Finally, FHWA published several newsletters, including Air Quality and Transportation Conformity Highlights, the GISin Transportation Quarterly Newsletter, Successes in Stewardship, and the Realty Newsletter. These newsletters complemented other FHWA outreach efforts.
Program managers and STEP program support staff undertook outreach via online publication of several STEP documents, including the FY2011 STEP Implementation Strategy, the FY2010 Annual Report and the FY2011 Research Plan, and STEP program highlights fact sheets. Additional outreach activities included presentations on STEP at numerous national meetings and several webinars that included discussions on STEP and how to engage and solicit input from external stakeholders.
110 comments were received between July and September 2010. In some cases, organizations or associations submitted feedback to several different emphasis areas that pertain to their work.
Water/Wetlands/Vegetation/Wildlife/Habitat received the most (41) comments. Four emphasis areas (Travel Modeling; National Security, Defense, and Interstate Planning; Safety Planning; and Congestion) did not receive any comments.
The figures below display the breakdown of comments received that pertain to STEP's broad program areas and to its individual emphasis areas.
Figure 1: Distribution of Feedback by Program Area (FY2011)
Figure 2: Distribution of Feedback by Individual Emphasis Area (FY2011)
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 FY2011 comments; see the tables that follow for a distribution of comments.
Table 1: Distribution of Feedback by Affiliation Type
|Federal and Tribal Government||42||38%|
Table 2: Distribution of Feedback by Tier
|Comments Received to Date by Tier||110||100%|
|Tier 1 (Federal or Tribal Government)||42||38%|
|Tier 2 (State or Local Government)||28||25%|
|Tier 3 (National Association, Private Sector, Research/Academic, Individual Citizen, or "Other")||40||36%|
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.
STAKEHOLDER FEEDBACK SUMMARIES BY EMPHASIS AREA
This section summarizes feedback submitted through September 2010 that pertains to each of the 19 emphasis areas as well as overall feedback on 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
Five comments were submitted to the Air Quality and Climate Change emphasis area. One comment was submitted by a Federal government stakeholder and one comment was submitted by a State government stakeholder. The remaining three comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with a national association and research/academic institutions. No comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with Tribal government, local government, or the private sector, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.
Several research suggestions proposed methods for evaluating the impacts of stream-road crossings on stream habitat connectivity to better prepare for climate change-induced shifts in species distribution. Other suggestions focused on evaluating transportation-related emission control strategies as well as measuring whether cyclists are more affected by air pollution when riding on the road versus on cycle tracks that are separated from the road.
Stakeholders highlighted several existing research efforts in this area, including a study of the effects of reduced oxygen pressure on medically compromised subjects that will produce data on human responses to irritants produced by vehicle exhaust. Stakeholders also discussed existing studies that have evaluated the effects of stream crossings on connectivity over limited geographic scales.
Several potential funding sources were identified, including USFWS, the National Institute of Health (NIH), the American Automobile Association, and automobile manufacturers.
Forty-one comments were submitted to the Water/Wetlands/Vegetation/Wildlife/Habitat emphasis area. Federal and Tribal government stakeholders submitted 25 comments and State government stakeholders submitted six comments. The remaining 10 comments came from the private sector, research/academic institutions, and stakeholders with "other" affiliations. There were no comments from local governments, national associations, or individual citizens.
Many suggestions in this emphasis area proposed initiatives to design, pilot, evaluate, and develop guidance on wildlife passages that facilitate habitat connectivity in the presence of transportation projects. Other suggestions focused on developing and improving datasets for highway runoff and methods for monitoring water quality as well as research on the use of various plant species and products that improve soil productivity along transportation rights-of-way. Stakeholders also recommended development of guidance on programmatic consultations, compensatory mitigation, and the Eco-Logical approach for infrastructure projects.
Stakeholders highlighted a variety of existing or planned research in this area. These efforts, led by academic institutions, State governments, transportation agencies, and Federal resource agencies, will collect and store highway runoff, water quality, and geochemical data, evaluate the effectiveness of specific wildlife crossings, implement pilot projects to test watershed-based approaches to wetland mitigation, and host webcasts focused on stormwater management. Several stakeholders cited a competition in which five teams will design new and innovative wildlife crossings for Interstate 70 in Colorado.
Potential funding sources identified by stakeholders include Federal agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service, EPA, USFWS, the Department of Defense, State DOTs, and TRB.
Three comments were submitted to the Historic Preservation emphasis area. Two comments came from State government stakeholders and one comment came from a private sector stakeholder. No comments were submitted by Federal, Tribal, or local government stakeholders, national associations, research/academic institutions, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.
One stakeholder suggested that research focus on the differences between general bridge maintenance and the maintenance of historic bridges. Another stakeholder suggested that a national workshop on traditional cultural properties would be beneficial to enable historic preservation stakeholders to identify, define, evaluate, and establish boundaries for these properties under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The development of a web-based GIS for use in architectural surveys was also suggested.
One stakeholder referred to a report by the AASHTO Highway Subcommittee on Bridges and Structures that identified major themes for a national bridge engineering agenda. Another stakeholder identified several useful sources for information to include in architectural surveys, but noted that significant gaps in information still exist.
Stakeholders identified the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, NPS, and FHWA as potential funding sources in this research area.
Six comments were submitted to the Livability emphasis area. Three comments were submitted by research/academic stakeholders. The remaining three comments were submitted by a local government representative, a national association representative, and an individual citizen. There were no comments from Federal, Tribal, or State government stakeholders, the private sector, or other stakeholders.
Stakeholders in this emphasis area identified a variety of research needs, including research on the effects of neighborhood- or property-level land use changes on modes of transportation, the relationship between slip ramps and walkability, and impacts of Federal transportation grant programs, public policy, social determinants, the built transportation environment, freeway or bridge demolition, and congestion pricing on livability and community health. Two stakeholders also identified a need to develop performance indicators for livability in rural settings.
Examples of existing or planned research in this area included a project to retrofit non-motorized facilities using slip ramps at the interchange of two State facilities, a research effort to determine how the built environment affects individual health and ways to improve health by creating more walkable and bike-friendly communities, and an effort to develop a housing and transportation affordability index. Stakeholders also identified several potential sources of funding in this area, including EPA, HUD, CDC, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, universities, and State, regional, and local government transportation, natural resource, and housing agencies.
Six comments were submitted to the Bicycles/Pedestrians emphasis area. One comment was submitted by a State government stakeholder and the remaining five comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with research/academic institutions and a national association. There were no comments from Federal, Tribal, or local government stakeholders, the private sector, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.
Several stakeholders in this area suggested research to identify strategies that promote walking and bicycling as a means of transportation as well as the health benefits of active, non-motorized transportation. One stakeholder suggested research that evaluates the merits of cycle tracks versus cycle lanes, particularly with regard to safety. Other suggested research topics included increased data collection as related to Federal funding of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, assessing the effects of highway features (e.g., rumble strips) that discourage non-motorized transportation, and the development of a model to determine the economic benefits of walking and bicycling at the national level.
Stakeholders described planned studies to evaluate the risk posed by riding in cycle lanes versus cycle tracks as well as the number and diversity of users and number of interactions between users in both types of features.
Potential funding sources included the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, EPA, CDC, NIH, State DOTs, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and universities.
Four comments were submitted to the Noise emphasis area. One comment was submitted by a Federal government stakeholder, two comments were submitted by State government stakeholders, and one comment was submitted by a stakeholder affiliated with a national association. No comments were submitted by Tribal or local governments, the private sector, research/academic institutions, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.
Several stakeholders suggested research initiatives that investigate innovative practices in noise mitigation, including the use of sustainable or "living" noise wall technology, reuse and recycling of existing noise walls, and a scan of noteworthy noise mitigation practices in Europe and Asia. Stakeholders also suggested research related to developing, updating, and testing the FHWA TNM.
Stakeholders highlighted ongoing activities to complete version 3.0 of the TNM and a study by the Ohio DOT on the use of sustainable or "living" noise wall technologies as examples of existing research in this area. Stakeholder suggested FHWA, the Transportation Pooled Fund Program, and STEP as possible funding sources.
Six comments were submitted to the Environmental Streamlining/Stewardship emphasis area. Three of these comments were submitted by Federal government stakeholders, two comments were submitted by State government stakeholders, and one comment was submitted by a stakeholder affiliated with a research/academic institution. No comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with Tribal or local government, national associations, the private sector, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.
Stakeholders identified a need for additional training in environmental ethics as well as research on the effects of wildlife crossings over large geographic areas. One stakeholder also suggested funding liaison positions between USACE and FHWA to expedite the permit review process for transportation projects.
Stakeholders identified existing studies that have evaluated the effects of stream crossings on connectivity over limited geographic scales as well as the link between wildlife crossings with exclusionary fencing and the prevalence of wildlife-vehicle collisions. Stakeholders also identified existing funding agreements with USACE. Finally, stakeholders identified USFWS as a potential funding source for research in this emphasis area.
Context Sensitive Solutions
One comment was submitted to the Context Sensitive Solutions emphasis area by a State government stakeholder. No comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with Federal, Tribal, or local government, national associations, the private sector, research/academic institutions, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.
The stakeholder identified a need for research to monitor the effectiveness of newly constructed fish and wildlife crossing structures installed as part of large-scale highway projects, particularly in relation to pre-construction baseline data. The stakeholder suggested that research focus on whether wildlife crossings improve population viability, appropriate heights for "jump-outs" that allow wildlife trapped inside a fenced road corridor to escape, methods for mitigating fence gaps at access roads, and the cost-effectiveness of wildlife crossings.
The stakeholder noted that existing research studies have examined the use of wildlife crossing facilities but rarely consider baseline data. A study began in January 2010 that plans to address the research gaps identified by this stakeholder; this study is being funded by grants from USFWS and private entities.
Emphasis Areas Related to Real Estate Services
Outdoor Advertising Control
Nine comments were submitted to the Outdoor Advertising Control emphasis area. One comment was submitted by a Federal government stakeholder, six comments were submitted by State government stakeholders, and two comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with national associations. No comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with Tribal or local government, the private sector or research/academic institutions, individual citizens, or stakeholders with an "other" affiliation.
Several stakeholders suggested research on the Federal control of outdoor advertising along with its associated administrative and economic burden. Stakeholders also recommended a study focusing on methods to set permit fees that would cover States' costs to implement and control the Federal outdoor advertising control program. Other stakeholders suggested research involving signs, for instance at stadiums and malls, as well as the development of policy for un-zoned commercial areas. Other research suggestions included increasing public involvement in signage decisions as well as the development of context-sensitive design guidelines for State DOTs and local public agencies based on local culture, landscape, architecture, and scenic values.
Stakeholders identified several existing research efforts in this area, including initial implementation of findings from an FHWA outdoor advertising control international scan in Europe and Australia and APA reports on complete streets and transportation infrastructure. In addition to STEP, stakeholders suggested the NCHRP and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America as potential funding sources.
Real Estate Program Stewardship
Ten comments were submitted to the Real Estate Program Stewardship emphasis area. Five comments were submitted by Federal government stakeholders and three comments were submitted by State government stakeholders. The remaining two comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with national associations. No comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with Tribal or local government, research/academic institutions, or the private sector, or by individual citizens or other stakeholders.
Stakeholder suggested several lines of research in this emphasis area. Multiple comments recommended research to develop tools to oversee and evaluate the knowledge of Local Public Agencies (LPAs) that are involved in ROW acquisition using Federal funding. Multiple stakeholders also highlighted a need for research on the issuing of conditional ROW certifications, particularly in defining "very unusual circumstances" and defining and demonstrating appropriate applications. Additional research suggestions included developing training courses on the acquisition of property, particularly a course that is generic enough to apply to transportation and housing programs, as well as a pilot program to provide expedited access for contractors to railroad property for State-sponsored projects.
Existing or proposed research in this area includes a training course on the acquisition of property for public use, SHRP2 research on railroad industry and highway participation, and the development of requirements for an oversight module for a State DOT LPA information tool. SHRP2, Florida DOT, FHWA, the International Right of Way Association, and NCHRP were identified as potential funding sources for research in this area. HUD also suggested that its staff could collaborate on the development of a property acquisition training course with the NHI.
Emphasis Areas Related to Planning
No comments were submitted to the Congestion emphasis area.
No comments were submitted to the Safety Planning emphasis area.
One comment was submitted to the Freight Planning emphasis area. The comment was submitted by a stakeholder with an "other" affiliation. No comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with Federal, Tribal, State, or local government, national associations, the private sector, research/academic institutions, or by individual citizens.
The stakeholder identified a need for research that seeks to understand economic and political reasons for the shift away from rail freight services to develop data, models, and techniques to restore freight and passenger rail service, particularly in New England.
The stakeholder identified existing research on the resurgence of rail freight in Maine and Northern New England and indicated that the private sector could provide funding for this research.
One comment was submitted to the Public Involvement, Visualization in Planning/Environmental Justice emphasis area. The comment was submitted by a stakeholder affiliated with a national association. No comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with Federal, Tribal, State, or local government, the private sector or research/academic institutions, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.
The stakeholder recommended that research focus on better integrating siting, design, and corridor management with adjacent local plans and planning processes. The stakeholder also suggested a scan of handbooks and other resource materials relating to context sensitive design guidelines.
The stakeholder identified a recently published APA report on the integration of urban streets into the surrounding area. The stakeholder did not identify any potential funding sources for this research.
Six comments were submitted to the Other Activities that Support State/Local/Tribal Planning Capacity Building emphasis area. Three comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with Federal government and three comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with research/academic institutions. No comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with Tribal, State, or local government, national associations or the private sector, individual citizens, or stakeholders with "other" affiliations.
Stakeholders in this emphasis area suggested a variety of research topics, including the relationship between toll facilities, toll authorities, and the metropolitan and statewide planning and programming processes, the consolidation of data sources for determining impacts and considering alternative scenario designs, and an assessment of the effects of wildlife crossings on habitat connectivity over large geographic areas. Stakeholders also suggested that STEP research fund positions for EPA staff in FHWA Division Offices, explore examples of partnerships between transportation planning agencies and transit services providers in small communicates and rural areas, and provide technical assistance to MPOs undergoing organizational changes.
Stakeholders identified several current research efforts in this area, including studies on the effectiveness of wildlife crossings over small geographic scales and a partnership between Federal and State agencies in Texas that will promote collaboration and data sharing.
Potential funding sources for research in this emphasis area include USFWS, the International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association, the AASHTO, AMPO, MPOs, private transportation providers that operate within Federally owned lands, and private foundations.
One comment was submitted to the U.S./Canada and U.S./Mexico Border Planning emphasis area from a stakeholder affiliated with a research/academic institution. No comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with Federal, Tribal, State, or local government, national associations or the private sector, individual citizens, or by stakeholders with an "other" affiliation.
The stakeholder suggested that research focus on the transportation-related implications of cross-border planning as identified in a 2004 National Research Council report on air quality management in the United States. The stakeholder suggested the EPA as a potential source of funding for this research.
No comments were submitted to the National Security, Defense, and Interstate Planning emphasis area.
Emphasis Areas Related to Tools to Support Planning and Environment
No comments were submitted to the Travel Modeling emphasis area.
Five comments were submitted to the GIS/Spatial Information for Improved Decision Making emphasis area. Two comments were submitted by Federal government stakeholders and one comment was submitted by a State government stakeholder. The remaining two comments were submitted by stakeholders affiliated with research/academic institutions. No comments were submitted by Tribal or local government stakeholders, stakeholders affiliated with national associations or the private sector, individual citizens, or other stakeholders.
Stakeholders in this emphasis area suggested research projects to develop spatial information to support an assessment of the socio-economic impacts of rail transportation and tools to quantitatively assess impacts from stream-road crossings on habitat connectivity. Another suggested project was to develop a GIS that would be part of a watershed resources registry to enable watershed-driven permitting processes, early mitigation planning, and more streamlined watershed resource preservation, restoration, and enhancement processes. One stakeholder suggested that research evaluate the potential future evolution of mobile mapping technology to aid State DOTs in deciding when to commit resources to and implement mobile mapping systems.
Several existing projects are underway in this area, including efforts to evaluate the effects of stream-road crossings on habitat connectivity over limited geographic scales, the development of a pilot water resources registry for two counties in Maryland, and a pilot project to collect spatially-referenced data from a mobile laser scanning van on urban freeways. Several States are involved in exploring mobile mapping technology.
USDOT, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Labor, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USFWS, and the Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute at the University of Minnesota were all identified as potential funding sources for research in this area.
Overall STEP Comments
Five comments were submitted to the Overall STEP Comments emphasis area. One comment was submitted by a Federal government stakeholder, two comments were submitted by State government stakeholders, one comment was submitted by a stakeholder affiliated with a national association, and one comment was submitted by a stakeholder with an "other" affiliation. No comments were submitted by Tribal or local government stakeholders, stakeholders affiliated with the private sector or research/academic institutions, or individual citizens.
Stakeholders suggested a need for methods to quantitatively assess the impacts of stream-road crossings on habitat connectivity and requested continued support for wildlife habitat connectivity as an eligible activity under the TE program. Several stakeholders requested hard copies of the Real Estate Acquisition Guide for Local Public Agencies.
One stakeholder noted that approaches already exist to evaluate the effects of stream-road crossings on habitat connectivity over limited geographic areas. Another stakeholder suggested USFWS as a potential funding source for research in this area.