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.
STEP projects include short-term initiatives and ongoing multi-year programs; they may be carried out by FHWA staff or by a collection of professionals in many different agencies. The FHWA uses STEP funds and the STEP process to build partnerships that encourage collaboration, leverage diverse funding sources, and offer a fresh perspective on emerging research topics. FY2012 STEP projects reflect stakeholder feedback and collaboration.
Notable projects from each emphasis area are highlighted below with respect to their core function:
Conducting Research Studies
- Developed case studies illustrating best practices in performing environmental justice analyses during the environmental review process.
- Published a study on and initiated a pilot project to support stakeholders in the planning, development, and execution of projects that use highway right-of-way to accommodate renewable energy technologies.
- Identified and updated best practices for integrating planning and environmental review in order to more efficiently deliver transportation projects that affect historic resources.
- Showcased successful practices in tribal consultation with Federally recognized tribes and provided guidance on building and maintaining successful tribal consultation programs.
Developing and Deploying Tools, Technologies, and Practices
- Designed, tested, and implemented open source tools and a web-based software framework for bicycle and pedestrian travel analysis.
- Collected and disseminated new Global Positioning System (GPS) travel survey studies for research on hybrid electric vehicle design, fuel utilization, and air quality studies, in addition to more traditional transportation planning applications.
- Developed and tested version 3.0 of the Traffic Noise Model.
- Developed and piloted a tool that allows FHWA and its State partners to efficiently submit and collect comments on National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents, schedule tasks and timelines, and interface for NEPA-related compliance.
Connecting the Community and Transferring Knowledge
- Launched Fostering Livable Communities newsletter to provide transportation professionals with real-world examples to help them improve the relationship between transportation and communities through safe access to jobs, affordable housing, and quality schools.
- Developed a community of practice for Transportation Liaisons to enrich the streamlining and coordination services that they provide to natural resource agencies and State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) through the sharing of best practices, knowledge, and resources.
- Held two workshops for State DOT, FHWA Headquarters and Division, and Federal resource and regulatory agency personnel to discuss and outline the next steps in advancing programmatic solutions for environmental regulation.