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STEP Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Report

Conducting Research that Links to Practice

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.


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) 2012. 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.

Pie chart: FY2012 Research Budgets by Category. HEP Associate Administrator $1,213,685. Environment $5,698,586. Planning $3,475,000. Real Estate Services $795,000. Tools to support Environmen6t and Planning $1,425,000. Program Management and Outreach, $1,312,000.

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, $13.9 million was available for the FY2012 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 FY2012 enhance the state-of-the-art and -practice in planning, environment, and realty.

STEP Emphasis Areas

Environment: Air Quality and Climate Change, water/wetlands/vegetation/wildlife/habitat, historic preservation, livability and environmental justice, bicycles/pedestrians, noise, environmental streamlining/stewardship, context sensitive solutions. Real Estate Services; real estate program stewardship. Planning: congestion, safety planning, freight planning, public involvement and visualization in planning, performance based planning, other activities that support state/local/tribal planning capacity building, US/Canada and US/Mexico border planning, national security, defense, and Interstate planning. Tools to support Planning and Environment: GIS/Spacial information for improved decision making. Travel Modeling.

Updated: 08/21/2014
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