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FY 2009 Research Plan

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.


FY2009 Research Priorities

Below is information on the Federal Highway Administrations (FHWA) fiscal year 2009 (FY2009) Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP) research projects.

The STEP is a cooperative research program that reflects national priorities as well as stakeholder input. The STEP also reflects research partnerships and efforts to leverage research funding with other research initiatives that are planned or underway.

Table 1, below, lists the total number of research projects that are expected to be carried out in each emphasis area, with the FY2009 STEP Budget. The following pages include summary information about each project within each emphasis area. Many projects listed in the FY09 STEP are crosscutting and are implemented in collaboration with one or more emphasis areas or with other FHWA research programs.

The summary information includes the emphasis area, email contact information, the title of the activity, a short summary of the activity, and the funding amount.

Table 1: FY2009 STEP Budget by Emphasis Area
Emphasis AreaNumber of Research RecommendationsFY 2009 STEP Budget
ENVIRONMENT EMPHASIS AREAS
Air Quality and Global Climate Change 4 $1,250,000
Water Wetlands, Vegetation, Wildlife Habitat, Brownfields 9 $1,070,000
Historic Preservation 2 $225,000
Bicycle/Pedestrian and Health 3 $270,000
Noise 1 $390,000
Outdoor Advertising Control/Realty Program Management 6 $585,000
Environmental Streamlining/Stewardship 8 $1,663,500
Context Sensitive Solutions 2 $500,000
PLANNING EMPHASIS AREAS
Congestion 1 $750,000
Safety Planning 1 $100,000
Freight Planning 1 $200,000
Public Involvement, Environmental Justice, Visualization in Planning 1 $200,000
Other Activities that Support State/Local/Tribal Planning Capacity Building 9 $2,600,000
U.S./Canada and U.S./Mexico Border Planning 2 $525,000
National Security, Defense and Interstate Planning 4 $600,000
TOOLS TO SUPPORT PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENT EMPHASIS AREAS
Travel Modeling 5 $1,170,000
GIS/Spatial Information for Improved Decision Making 5 $405,000
PROGRAM MANAGEMENT AND OUTREACH 3 $1,000,000
HEP ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR   $1,185,934
TOTAL67 $14,689,434

Anticipated Research Efforts in Environment

Air Quality and Global Climate Change

Contact person:
Cecilia.Ho@dot.gov
Diane Turchetta

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

Air Quality and Climate Change Research Outreach and Communication

The FHWA will continue to provide research-based mobile source air quality information to stakeholders and the public. In FY09, FHWA will partner with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy (DOE), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and the National Association of Clean Air Agencies on this effort.

The goals of this outreach and communications efforts are to inform and provide technical assistance in an easily accessible format using non-technical terms, appropriate charts, graphs, illustrations, and other formats. The efforts also include the synthesis and compilation of research results and other information.

Outreach and communications efforts will be disseminated as presentations at conferences, written materials (hard copy and online), websites, webcasts/webinars, web-based communities of practice, teleconferences, video conferences, public education materials, and other media. The outreach and communications efforts could cover the development and dissemination of information on:

  • Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality investments
  • Global climate change
  • Mobile Source Air Toxics (MSAT)
  • New air quality standards and regulations
  • Public education
  • Health implications of transportation services
  • Sustainable transportation
  • Activities that reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and congestion
  • Person-to-person marketing

$300,000

Testing, Evaluation and Validation of New Emissions Models and Methodologies

In 2007, the EPA released a demonstration version of the new emissions model, the Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator (MOVES). In 2008, EPA also released an advanced version for analyzing emissions of greenhouse gases at the project and regional levels. When the final version is released in 2009, MOVES will replace the existing emissions model and will be required for a variety of emissions and air quality analyses for conformity and regulatory purposes, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This research effort includes a number of tasks, including reviewing the MOVES model, identifying issues of concern for the transportation community, and evaluating, testing, and validating the model to assure accurate and relevant results. Major tasks may include:

  • Identifying transportation data collection needs (e.g., vehicle fleet data, truck VMT and speed, speeds on local roads, start and parking patterns, extended idle, etc.); evaluating the reliability of assumptions that are used to estimate traffic data.
  • Examining data conversion methodologies for converting existing data to be compatible with the new model.
  • Conducting a needs assessment for uncertainty analysis for MOVES; identifying or developing estimation methods to quantify uncertainty.
  • Identifying model calibration and validation issues related to transportation/traffic data, such as modal activities and traffic operations.
  • Conducting MOVES sensitivity analysis.
  • Examining how typical transportation projects change driving cycle and vehicle specific power distribution.
  • Evaluating the sensitivity of MOVES for project level analysis.
  • Examining the application of MOVES in the evaluation of emissions, including GHG emissions, and the benefits of different transportation strategies such as transit, congestion pricing, and nonmotorized strategies.
  • Developing and conducting training for transportation agencies.

$250,000

Research on Conducting Project Level Analysis

This research will examine several issues related to project level including particular matter – PM – hot-spot analysis. It is anticipated that a series of research activities will be conducted over the next three years, including:

  • Examining traffic characteristics (e.g., volumes, speeds) and their relationship to local emissions.
  • Collecting data on background concentration.
  • Establishing emissions gradients along transportation corridors to identify impact zone and locate sensitive receptors.
  • Evaluating and improving dispersion models.
  • Developing methodologies to calculate emissions benefits for project level mitigation measures.
  • Conducting "before and after" analysis for emissions impacts of transportation strategies (e.g., ramp metering, high-occupancy vehicle and high-occupancy toll lanes, congestion relief projects, and congestion pricing projects).
  • Examining the impact of intermodal and port facilities on emissions.
  • Documenting best practices for project level analyses to apply in specific situations such as modeling protocol.
  • Conducting research to support categorical hot-spot findings.
  • Supporting the development of project level quantitative analysis guidance.

Products of this research effort will be a series of reports documenting findings of each research task.

$200,000

Climate Change and Transportation

As awareness of the dangers posed by climate change grows, State and local governments have developed climate action plans, set targets for emissions reductions, and adopted measures to assess and reduce their climate footprints. Stakeholder feedback received this year requests support for a variety of research activities, including efforts to focus on the role of megaregions in emissions reduction and adapt to the impacts of climate change, as well as focus on transportation demand management and land use planning activities to reduce GHG emissions.

Research efforts in this area may include:

  • Developing and testing strategies to reduce GHG emissions from transportation sources. This effort could include updating and expanding existing tools as well as developing new approaches. Modeling GHG reduction strategies for local transportation plans may be developed in concert with local and/or State partners.
  • Investigating how national policies or strategies to reduce GHG emissions would affect transportation services, funding, and infrastructure, and analyzing their effectiveness in reducing GHG emissions. This effort could include reviewing or developing proposals for national policies or legislation.
  • Engaging in a cooperative effort to reduce GHG emissions by reducing VMT and increasing the efficiency of the multimodal transportation system.
  • Funding the DOT Center on Climate Change. Activities are expected to include development of a web-based clearinghouse of information on transportation and climate change and a report to Congress on ways to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector.

$500,000

Water/Wetlands/Vegetation/Wildlife/Habitat/Brownfields

Contact person:
Carol.Adkins@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

Supporting Peer and Research Exchange at Conferences, Workshops and Technical Panels

The needs and research gaps addressed in this area include the collaboration and exchange of technical expertise at conferences, workshops, awards programs, and peer exchanges, the identification of research gaps, and the provision of opportunities to partner on research relating to common interests with our stakeholders. These initiatives will encourage better methods in environmental assessment and mitigation, productive partnerships in research, and better, continuous information transfer.

These events include, among others, the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation, the National Mitigation Bankers Conference, Weeds Across Borders, the summer Transportation Research Board (TRB) meetings, the Environmental Excellence Awards, the New England Wildlife Crossing Workshop, and the National Wetlands Awards.

Products, documents, or benefits of this research effort include proceedings that can be used as reference documents for regulatory updates, technical manuals, and general scientific references.

$100,000

Research and Innovation Agreements with USFWS, USACE

This research effort will provide for continued research into interagency coordination on the major environmental requirements that affect the highway program.

Many FHWA programs and projects depend on the timely completion of environmental requirements administered by other Federal agencies. Requirements that are among the most critical and prevalent on most projects include compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act—all of which are administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)—and the Clean Water Act (CWA), specifically Section 404 and Section 10 permits administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Pursuant to Section 1309 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), FHWA established national transportation liaison programs with USFWS, USACE, and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to conduct research and advance interagency innovations in environmental stewardship and environmental streamlining. SAFETEA-LU contains a number of provisions that continue and expand the stewardship and streamlining direction of TEA-21.

Some important products of these programs are quarterly reports of field issues and activities, notices of impending legislation that will affect the program, technical assistance in interpretation of agency policy and guidance, and a summary of issues, research needs, and best practices, which can guide national program objectives.

$250,000

Linking Eco-Logical to Planning and Project Development

In early 2006, FHWA and seven other Federal agencies released the document: Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects. The ecosystem approach, as outlined in Eco-Logical, identifies and addresses the greatest conservation needs associated with mitigation for infrastructure projects. The first round of STEP funded Ecological grants were awarded last year. A second round of Eco-Logical grants to State and local governments, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and others is being planned to implement additional pilot projects, provide technical assistance, and synthesize the results of the pilots for case studies and best practices.

Additional Eco-Logical grants will advance the broader Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL) initiative. This research will support additional state efforts to demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of PEL activities and identify and deliver assistance to support State, regional, and local transportation agencies as they implement PEL concepts and address the environmental-related provisions of SAFETEA-LU Section 6001.

$100,000

Improvements to Fish and Wildlife Habitat Connectivity

There is a considerable amount of ongoing research in the areas of design and siting of wildlife crossings, amphibian crossings, and fish passage. This research will provide additional funds to ongoing initiatives to further refine the existing data, monitor use of crossings, and adapt existing wildlife crossing training to reflect current state of the practice. This research will also contribute to fish passage research being undertaken by USFS and other Federal and State agencies and support development and deployment of FHWA Hydraulic Engineering Circular 26: "Design of Fish Passage for Bridges and Culverts."

The National Fish Habitat Action Plan committee and the Federal Fish Passage Steering Committee are interagency work groups that work collaboratively to improve fish habitat by removing man-made barriers to fish and aquatic species passage. This research will analyze the presence or absence of target fish species upstream of road crossings where culvert replacement or modifications have been undertaken by State DOTs and Federal agencies where restoring fish passage was the intended goal of the projects.

A number of sources and scientific articles have noted the scarcity of post-implementation research conducted to document the geomorphic and ecological effects of stream barrier removal projects. This evaluation effort will help address this deficiency. Data gathered as a result of this effort will inform the techniques and science of barrier removal and restoration of natural stream conditions to enable fish and aquatic species passage to critical riverine habitat.

$100,000

Environmental Conflict Resolution Services

There are frequent instances in development of programmatic agreements or project development where there is a need for the facilitation by a neutral third party to assist in moving a particular issue toward resolution. This is particularly true in areas where there is a science versus process disagreement, such as those that frequently occur in Endangered Species Act consultations and Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting. The U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (USIECR) is a Federal agency that maintains a roster of conflict resolution professionals who are also experts in conflicts resulting from the environmental process and natural resource protection laws. The Institute cannot provide contracting services for these third party neutrals. This project will establish an on-call contract to provide these facilitation services.

Through this research, FHWA will highlight common areas of conflict for future focus by FHWA and the other agencies in an attempt to proactively avoid conflicts in the future.

$100,000

LID and Linear Transportation Projects

There has been a strong research emphasis on stormwater management and utilizing best management practices to maintain water quality. Many of the practices that have been designed, monitored, and studied have been developed for sites that have large footprints and/or for areas in which to place stormwater management facilities. Highway agencies have linear projects, which usually cross through many watersheds and have limited space for implementation of such large stormwater management facilities.

Low Impact Development (LID) is an ongoing developing stormwater management strategy in which the designer tries to maintain the natural hydrologic functions of an area.

In doing so, LID includes features that reduce the volume and rate of stormwater runoff. In reducing the amount of runoff, streams can be preserved and in some cases restored to their natural condition.

This research will look at which LID practices are suitable and practicable for use in highway settings. The short- and long-term costs of reducing flows will be studied as well as how LID practices impact load sources in comparison to traditional stormwater management methods. Other study topics may include the development of best practices for utilizing LID in a transportation corridor.

This research will look at current practices being utilized by State DOTs and how they are evaluated and implemented.

$150,000

Advancing Tools Used for Decision Support and Impact Analyses for Transportation, Wildlife, & Ecological Systems

This research is intended to advance tools to streamline the Section 7 ESA process such as the FHWA biological assessment (BA) tool and the USFWS Information, Planning and Consultation (IPaC) tool, both web-based applications. The research also seeks to make these systems compatible with the NOAA Consultation Information Record System. The specific tasks/steps that will be undertaken to complete the research include:

  1. Identify and compile existing and emerging successes and advancements in methods and tools for wildlife and ecosystem impact analysis and mapping to support decisions in the transportation industry and development of transportation best management practices.
  2. Prepare for national deployment of the FHWA web-based BA tool.
  3. Develop written summaries of research results, advancements, successes, processes, lessons learned, and recommendations regarding improvements to the web-based BA and IPaC tools.
  4. Deliver results through professional conferences and other forums.
  5. Incorporate new needs and advancements that are identified as research proceeds.

$100,000

Evaluate Native Grassland Ability to Increase Infiltration and Reduce Stormwater Runoff

The primary research area will be to examine the literature and set up field measurements to document potential use of native grasses for the purpose of increasing infiltration and reducing stormwater runoff.

Other important areas of research associated with this project are native grass seed harvest potential, reduced mowing savings, and increase in habitat for pollinator/migratory bird use. To the extent possible, this research will be coordinated with other STEP efforts to optimize management of highway Right-of-Way (ROW) for environmental benefits and research planned to promote LID and other related transportation projects.

$120,000

National Stormwater Conference—Connecting the DOTs

Support a national stormwater conference to facilitate discussions between State DOT representatives and stormwater experts on stormwater management for transportation facilities.

The conference will provide participants with a forum to exchange information, ideas, and success stories on how to better meet ongoing and future challenges related to stormwater and transportation. The conference encourages partnerships, better coordination of information, useful tools and methods in environmental assessment and mitigation, and better, continuous information transfer.

$50,000

Historic Preservation

Contact person:
MaryAnn.Naber@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

Research and Innovation Agreement with Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

The objective of this research will be the identification and dissemination of best practices for developing innovative approaches and programmatic agreements, achieving early coordination with stakeholders, and gaining efficiencies in project development and review. The results will be captured in the development of best practices that facilitate environmental process improvements, including identification of program alternatives allowable under the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation's regulations implementing National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). Research results will also be used to support the development of training capabilities that promote early coordination and process improvement efforts between agencies, FHWA, and State DOTs.

$200,000

Planning and Environmental Linkages for Historic Preservation Follow-up

These funds will support efforts planned or underway within the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (25-25) to identify and market best practices for integrating historic preservation considerations and planning.

$25,000

Bicycle/Pedestrian and Health

Contact person:
Gabe.Rousseau@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

Outreach and Best Practices on Bicycle and Pedestrian Issues

The primary focus of this project is the continued operation of the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse. Other anticipated activities include investigation of international best practices on walking and bicycling and assistance for State bicycle and pedestrian coordinators.

$200,000

Evaluating the Health and Environmental Benefits of Increased Walking and Bicycling

This project will attempt to quantify the positive contributions that walking and bicycling can make to the environment and the health of communities that incorporate these forms of access into their transportation systems. Additionally, the project will attempt to examine air quality impacts on health (e.g., code red air quality days on nonmotorists' health).

$40,000

Improved Data and Modeling for Walking and Bicycling Trips

Developing improved walking and bicycling data procedures is key to improved modeling and planning efforts for walking and bicycling. This effort will address these important data improvement needs to advance planning and modeling techniques.

$30,000

Noise

Contact Person:
Mark.Ferroni@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

Testing and Validation of FHWA Traffic Noise Model Version 3.0

FHWA's Traffic Noise Model (FHWA TNM) is required by 23 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 772 to be used on Federal-aid highway projects and is also used internationally as a state of the art highway traffic noise prediction and noise barrier design tool. All FHWA TNM work is driven by state acceptance, which requires ongoing software development, verification of satisfactory performance, and guidance on its use. The FHWA TNM Version 3.0 has been under development since mid-2004 and is anticipated to be tested in beta-version in early 2010. This research will include testing and validation efforts associated the FHWA TNM version 3.0.

$390,000

Outdoor Advertising Control/Realty Program Management

Contact person:
Carolyn.James@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

Support of Stakeholder and Partner Outreach and Informational Dissemination Programs

This research will support the workshops, training, outreach programs, expert panels, and peer reviews to advance the implementation and administration of the Federal-aid Right-of-Way (ROW) Program and its implementing regulations which included 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 24 and 23 CFR Part 710. These efforts promote innovative information-sharing among practitioners who implement the Federal-aid program and carry out activities in compliance with Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act (Uniform Act) of 1970 requirements.

$50,000

Integrating Visualization Technologies into the ROW Processes

Visualization technologies can be effectively used at all stages to promote public involvement while visually demonstrating the impacts that transportation projects have on their properties. Research efforts will include a scan conducted with State DOTs in order to determine the extent to which they are currently using visualization technology, the type of hardware and software being utilized, and the most commonly used visualization products.

Results will be shared as best management practices, guides, and visualization/ ROW data elements, as well as technology and tools that can be used by other State DOTs.

$75,000

ROW, Design-Build, and Acquisition Models

State DOTs are increasingly using design-build contracting to develop and construct projects. A scan will be conducted to identify the various methods State DOTs have used for ROW acquisition and relocation in design-build contracting. The information obtained in the scan will include new acquisition models and will be used to focus and develop lessons learned and best practices and to assess the effectiveness of 23 CFR 710.313. The scan will include:

  1. An informal survey to find which State DOTs are including ROW functions in the design-build contracts.
  2. A sample of design-build contracts that include ROW functions to determine how risk is assigned.
  3. An examination of ROW related design-build procedures, processes, and State DOT oversight.
  4. Information on how DOTs provide for and assure that property owner and tenant rights are protected.
  5. Information on contract provisions, DOT oversight, the role and authority of the DOT, and the role and authority of the contractor.
  6. Information on non-traditional acquisition models.

$75,000

Development of a ROW Competency Navigator and Capacity Building and Training Curriculum Clearinghouse provided on the FHWA Website

This effort will develop a ROW Competency Navigator Tool as part of an ongoing effort to identify training resources for ROW and outdoor advertising control functions and facilitate project development. This Navigator will build core competencies and will serve as a resource or clearinghouse for our partners, internal and external customers, and consultants to define and meet core competency requirements and locate training opportunities and resources. This effort will not only promote transportation professional capacity building, but will also enhancing the transportation decision-making process by making information regarding the ROW expertise readily available during project development.

$100,000

Relocation Assistance Retrospective Study

FHWA develops and implements regulations, polices, and guidance that help ensure that ROW needed for transportation infrastructure construction and improvements is made available in a timely fashion and in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including the Uniform Act, as amended. These Uniform Act requirements apply to the real estate acquisition and relocation assistance programs and projects of 18 Federal agencies.

Among benefits included in relocation assistance under the Uniform Act is a payment, not to exceed $10,000, to assist displaced businesses in reestablishing at a new location. The Uniform Act benefit levels were last revised in 1989. Since that time, displaced business moves have become increasingly complex and costly. The general conclusion is that the Uniform Act benefit levels may be inadequate.

The purpose of this research is to:

  • Perform an in-depth retrospective survey of the actual costs that businesses incur as a result of being required to relocate.
  • Determine the percentage of businesses that remain in operation for at least two years after their relocation.
  • Identify the types of benefits and services that relocated business believe will best ensure successful business relocation.
  • Survey and document the statutory benefit enhancements states have enacted to:
    • document cost associated with the enhanced benefits and
    • determine the effect of the enhanced benefits.
  • Develop quantitative and qualitative data that can be used to assess the adequacy of benefit levels established in the Uniform Act.

$150,000

Possible Driver Distraction Effects of CEVMS

This project will broaden the existing Commercial Electronic Variable Message Signs (CEVMS) study to allow FHWA to research an additional study site. The scope of the CEVMS study on driver attention is to evaluate its potential risk to safety and its role in congestion. An experimental design has been developed under which FHWA researchers and their contractors will conduct an experiment at a single study site. This additional funding will allow for the selection of a second study site. Having two research sites will support generalization across different geographic, demographic and climatologic regions of the country.

$135,000

Environmental Streamlining / Stewardship

Contact person:
Shari.Schaftlein@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

Research and Liaison Agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency

The passage of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) in 2005 increased Federal requirements for greater coordination and collaboration amongst Federal and State agencies involved in environmental review without a corresponding increase in Federal agency staff. This substantial increase in project coordination highlights the need to improve not just the way environmental reviews are conducted but also how planning and project development processes are executed.

The role of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Headquarters staff in coordinating efforts initiated by FHWA associated with environmental review, regulation and planning has increased. This research effort will address resource constraints by conducting research and encouraging innovation on the issues related to water programs, planning, and regulations. The results of the research will be used to develop recommendations and facilitate process improvements and prototypes for additional programmatic guidance. Dissemination of research results will enhance interagency coordination and support the development of training capabilities that promote early coordination among the EPA, FHWA, and State DOTs, and ensure the promotion of innovative approaches applied by the transportation and environmental communities. This effort will also promote innovative approaches that are being applied by the transportation and environmental communities.

$100,000

Assessment of the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program: Evaluating FHWA's role in the NEPA Process

The objective of this continued research is to assess FHWA's role in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and the ability of states to assume that role. The platform for this research is the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program established in SAFETEA-LU. The pilot program allows the U.S. DOT to assign five State DOTs to assume the U.S. DOT's responsibilities under NEPA for one or more highway projects. Audits of the pilot program will be used to compare performance measurements before the pilot program (with FHWA involvement) with measurements during and after completion of the pilot program (without FHWA involvement). Components of this research effort include ongoing training, auditing, and report preparation.

$50,000

Environmental Streamlining Outreach and Technology Transfer

The efficient and effective coordination of multiple environmental reviews, analyses, and permitting actions is essential to meeting the environmental streamlining and stewardship mandates for highway and transit projects under SAFETEA-LU and improving the quality and efficiency of environmental decision making. This research effort will result in the following technology transfer and outreach deliverables:

  • Maintenance and update of the Environmental Review Toolkit available on the FHWA website.
  • Support for various conferences and workshops to improve the timeliness and quality of the environmental review process.
  • Continuation of Re: NEPA, FHWA's community of practice for environmental professionals.
  • Publication of Successes in Stewardship.

$163,500

Advancing Innovations in FHWA's Environmental Review Process

FHWA continually pursues innovation in the environmental review process. SAFETEA-LU contained a number of new, important environmental provisions aimed at improving efficiency in highway program and project delivery.

This research includes a number of ongoing as well new activities, including:

  • Continued development of performance measurement systems to gather relevant data, including the Environmental Document Tracking System.
  • Creation of sustainability/climate change support tools.
  • Analysis of environmental process implications of new funding approaches (e.g., public-private partnerships, tolling, high-occupancy toll lanes, etc.).
  • Development of an Environmental Costing Program.

Documentation regarding best practices and case studies will be developed to facilitate technology transfer on these research efforts.

$350,000

Leveraging FHWA and State DOT Environmental Research Projects

The effort seeks to leverage STEP funding with other sources of transportation/environmental research funds to support new or on-going multi-year projects and short turnaround projects, state pooled fund projects, synthesis studies and peer exchanges that address environmental streamlining and stewardship. Leveraging funds will allow FHWA to stretch constrained resources to promote research partnerships, flexibility, and meet the cooperative goals of the STEP research program

$100,000

Environmental Conflict Resolution Services

There are frequent instances in the development of programmatic agreements or in project development where there is a need for the facilitation of a neutral third party to assist in moving a particular issue toward resolution (i.e. science vs. process disagreements). With the assistance of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (USIECR), FHWA has developed a collaborative problem-solving program. USIECR maintains a roster of conflict resolution professionals who are experts with experience in the development of transportation projects as well as in resolving conflicts resulting from the environmental process and natural resource protection laws. This proposal will provide continued support for maintenance of that roster.

USIECR does not, however, provide contracting services for these third party neutrals. This project would establish an on-call contract to provide these services, as well as highlight common areas of conflict for future focus by FHWA and the other agencies in an attempt to proactively avoid conflicts in the future.

$150,000

Linking Eco-Logical to Planning and Project Development

In early 2006, FHWA and seven other Federal agencies released the document: Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects. The ecosystem approach, as outlined in Eco-Logical, identifies and addresses the greatest conservation needs associated with mitigation for infrastructure projects. The first round of STEP funded Ecological grants were awarded last year. A second round of Eco-Logical grants to State and local governments, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and others is being planned to implement additional pilot projects, provide technical assistance, and synthesize the results of the pilots for case studies and best practices.

Additional Eco-Logical grants will advance the broader Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL) initiative. This research will support additional State efforts to demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of PEL activities and identify and deliver assistance to support State, regional, and local transportation agencies as they implement PEL concepts and address the environmental-related provisions of SAFETEA-LU Section 6001.

$500,000

National Survey on Measuring the Performance of Environmental Streamlining

This research will support a 2009 survey to measure trends in environmental streamlining as well as gather information on the application to projects within the SAFETEA-LU environmental review process.

In 2003 and 2006, FHWA conducted a national survey on Implementing Performance Measurement in Environmental Streamlining.The survey resulted in the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data that provide a picture of the interactions of transportation and resource agency personnel charged with conducting the NEPA project development process for surface transportation projects. The survey identified a large number of people from across the nation who are engaged in the project development process.

The results of the national and state-specific surveys will be used to support FHWA's activities to enhance interagency communication and coordination. In addition this research will support capacity building in performance measurement and help build a community of practice.

$250,000

Context Sensitive Solutions

Contact person:
Shari.Schaftlein@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

Disseminate CSS Outreach Products, Message, and Performance Measures.

Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) principles apply at both the project level and at the program administration level. In addition to helping to meet community and national goals of environmental sustainability, the use of context sensitive approaches can improve the cost-effectiveness of Federal transportation programs, and streamline their delivery. CSS also improves accomplishment of the agency safety program performance objectives.

The goals of this research activity will be the dissemination of a consistent CSS message and the institutionalization of CSS principles, including the following activities:

  • Highlighting the benefits of CSS to advance high-quality transportation projects, as well as the creating talking points, message papers, websites, and other effective communication tools.
  • Development of a toolbox for FHWA Division Offices to better assist staff-level DOT personnel in context sensitive project delivery approaches.
  • Research on how context sensitive principles are applied to smaller scale projects (e.g., rehabilitation) and the tangible benefits of using context sensitive approaches for these projects.
  • Support of peer exchanges and research dissemination among local public works departments, county engineers, etc., through local technical assistance programs, the American Public Works Association, and other organizations.
  • Support of peer exchanges and dissemination of research at CSS meetings for professional organizations such as the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers.
  • Evaluation of the success of CSS approaches in delivering quality projects effectively and efficiently and dissemination of findings regarding appropriate performance measures.
  • Integration of CSS with conservation, sustainable development, and city/regional planning goals, and linking and leveraging the approach with the initiatives of other organizations/agencies that have similar objectives.

$400,000

Support Technical, Safety, and Design Research Related to Flexibility in Highway Design

The application of criteria and standards so that roads can better fit in their context requires designers to be aware of the flexibility of existing guidelines, respond to the mobility and accessibility needs of pedestrians and bicyclists, and understand how to adopt sustainability goals within the roadside environment. Research activities will include:

  • Research and communication of links between CSS and sustainable infrastructure development.
  • Research and communication of synergy between the "complete streets" movement and CSS.
  • Synthesis of research on safety and landscaping considerations within the roadside environment and dissemination of best practices and mitigation strategies.
  • Dissemination of research findings applying flexibility and risk management in geometric design.

$100,000

Anticipated Research Efforts in Planning

Congestion

Contact person:
Harlan.Miller@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

Congestion Planning

This research will continue to promote activities to support the National Strategy to Reduce Congestion on America's Transportation Network initiative as well as support other initiatives to link operations and planning. Research could focus on road congestion pricing and private sector involvement in transportation investment, management and operations.

This research will support work to advance and improve congestion management processes and the evaluation of operational improvement strategies. This research will support the development of new tools and programs for understanding, analyzing, and responding to congestion problems. It will support activities such as websites, publications, and brochures for information dissemination, training and technical assistance, toolkits, case studies and site visits, peer exchanges, conferences, and workshops.

$750,000

Safety Planning

Contact person:
Lorrie.Lau@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

Safety Planning

Transportation safety planning has become an integral part of the transportation planning process. Transportation safety affects the lives of millions of people daily. This research will focus on changing the perception of highway safety, increasing awareness of the problem, and understanding what can be done in the planning process. Current fatality and injury statistics indicate that more must be done. Providing planners, stakeholders, and the public with better information would help to better integrate safety into the transportation decision-making processes. Integrating safety into all aspects of planning will require the education of transportation planners, stakeholders, and the public about safety issues and potential solutions.

$100,000

Freight Planning

Contact person:
Spencer.Stevens@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

Freight Planning

Across most of the country, freight movements are growing as a share of transportation system volumes. The objective of this coordinated research approach will be to promote the integration of freight into the transportation planning and programming processes at the state and metropolitan levels. Freight transportation issues are complex and involve many stakeholders who have different perspectives on the freight transportation system.Educating and training a skilled and knowledgeable workforce is crucial to increasing freight transportation productivity.

Research could focus on: how to effectively engage the private sector freight community into the state and metropolitan planning processes; how parameters such as price, travel time, permitting, and user fees affect modal shift; what elasticities are inherent in these parameters; and benefit/cost analyses of freight projects.

Research could also lead to development of new tools and programs such as freight analytical techniques, freight modeling improvements, methods of innovative freight data collection and data-sharing, as well as pilot projects. This research will also support activities such as websites for information dissemination, training and technical assistance, toolkits, peer exchanges, sharing of best practices, conferences, and workshops.

$200,000

Public Involvement, Environmental Justice, and Visualization in Planning

Contact Person:
Brenda.Kragh@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

Public Involvement, Environmental Justice, and Visualization in Planning

This research will build on a foundation of public participation and community impact assessment research and professional capacity, and incorporate emerging issues of environmental justice and visualization for transportation planning in professional practice through research, demonstration, and technical transfer.

Research could focus on the development and training of visualization tools for transportation planning, an evaluation of multimedia engagement techniques, and the translation of research results for State and local agencies and other stakeholders on mobile-source air toxins and cumulative health risks.

$200,000

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

Contact Person:
Kenneth.Petty@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

Finance Issues

Financial planning, fiscal constraint, cost estimating, revenue forecasting, and innovative finance issues are all important areas of concern for State DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), local and regional project sponsors, and the public. In order to ensure transparency, integrity, and accuracy in the transportation planning process, metropolitan transportation plans, transportation improvement programs, and statewide transportation improvement programs must contain realistic estimates about project costs and be based on realistic assumptions about future revenue. Plans and programs should not simply be "wish lists" for a community's projects. This research could focus on a wide variety of financial issues. This research could provide case studies, peer exchanges, workshops, and other examples of effective statewide and metropolitan transportation planning practices on finance and financial planning issues.

$250,000

Improved Planning Process/Process Management

Transportation planning recognizes the critical links between transportation and other societal goals. This research could improve the transportation planning process by focusing on specific concepts that can effect change, such as asset management, performance measures, certification review tools, and data/modeling. This could support improved tools for the required transportation management area Federal certification reviews.

$350,000

Information Dissemination

This research will support the overall efforts of the FHWA/Federal Transit Administration Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program by disseminating the results of research programs to the transportation planning community, decision makers, stakeholders, and the public. This research could support the continuation of existing FHWA and stakeholder websites, training, national and regional conferences, and case studies on transportation planning. The information included in these efforts will be based on STEP-funded research as well as relevant transportation planning research by other FHWA offices, other DOT and Federal agencies, the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, and transportation planning stakeholder groups. It is essential to continue efforts to disseminate the research to ensure that this research gets into the hands of the appropriate practitioners and therefore gets implemented. This research will also support the Planning Excellence Awards Program and updating existing FHWA information products that are used throughout the planning community, such as the Capacity Building Briefing Book, the Citizen's Guide, etc.

$250,000

Land Use Planning

Land use and transportation research is needed to promote the concepts of the integration of land use and transportation into the planning process at a regional level. This research will support activities such as: websites for information dissemination, training and technical assistance, toolkits, peer exchanges, conferences, use of scenario planning and workshops. Research could also develop new tools and programs such as land use and transportation models, as well as pilot projects using themes. Furthermore, research could provide examples to promote understanding of the benefits of connected local streets, sensible land use patterns that are conducive to safe and walkable community street systems.

$150,000

Metropolitan Transportation Planning Issues

Metropolitan transportation planning is the process of examining travel and transportation issues and needs in metropolitan areas. In metropolitan areas that contain over 50,000 people, the responsibility for transportation planning lies with designated MPOs.

Research activities will be based on stakeholder needs including those expressed by the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO); the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC); and research needs identified at the 2009 TRB Conference. Research will focus on the collaborative nature of MPOs and MPO functionality and will identify opportunities for MPOs to coordinate and/or link with other planning and transportation activities and/or organizations.

$350,000

Planning and Environment Linkages

The Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL) initiative has focused on promoting PEL concepts through the delivery of customized Linking Planning and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) workshops and targeted initiatives in focus states. This research will support additional focus state efforts to demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of PEL activities and to further identify and deliver assistance to support State, regional, and local transportation agencies as they move forward with implementing PEL concepts and addressing the environmental-related provisions of SAFETEA-LU Section 6001. In addition, these funds will be used to fund additional Eco-Logical grants.

$500,000

Rural Transportation Planning Issues

Rural transportation planning is the process of examining travel and transportation issues and needs in non-metropolitan areas. In small communities and rural areas, there is no federally-designated body to do transportation planning. In some states, the State DOT undertakes planning for non-metropolitan areas. In other states, Rural Planning Organizations or local governments perform these functions.

This research will focus on issues and problems in rural areas and the rural community's interaction with the statewide transportation planning process. Research activities will be based on stakeholder input and on coordination with major rural transportation planning stakeholder associations. This research will support activities such as: websites for information dissemination, training and technical assistance, toolkits, peer exchanges, sharing of best practices, conferences, and workshops.

$125,000

Statewide Transportation Planning Issues

The statewide transportation planning process is a forum through which transportation decisions are made to address planning issues. States are required to conduct continuing, comprehensive, and collaborative intermodal statewide transportation planning that facilitates the efficient, economic movement of people and goods in all areas of the state, including metropolitan areas.

This research will focus on statewide transportation planning issues, including statewide travel and economic models, managed lanes, public-private partnerships and design-build initiatives, as well as the State DOT's interaction with other Federal, State, and local agencies and other transportation planning organizations. This research will support activities such as: websites for information dissemination, training and technical assistance, toolkits, peer exchanges, sharing of best practices, conferences, and workshops.

$425,000

Tribal Planning

Transportation planning enables communities to identify broad goals to meet transportation needs through informed decision-making. The objective of this coordinated research approach will be to promote the integration of tribal issues into the transportation planning and programming processes at the state and metropolitan levels through the statutory and regulatory requirements of consultation and public involvement.

Research will focus on continuing the development of resource/reference materials on effective tribal consultation practices in the statewide and metropolitan transportation planning process, implementing "Information Tools" modules for use by tribes, as well as developing a "Frequently Asked Questions" document on tribal planning. This research will support activities such as websites for information dissemination, training and technical assistance, peer exchanges, conferences, workshops, and sharing tribal planning notable practices through case studies.

$200,000

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

Contact Person:
Roger.Petzold@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

U.S./Mexico Transportation Joint Working Committee

The objectives of these projects are to improve safety and mobility at the U.S. Mexico border through the implementation of various research and other initiatives in conjunction with the U.S./Mexico Joint Working Committee (JWC). Initiatives include: the Lower Rio Grande Border Congestion Study, U.S./Mexico Border Wait Time Study, the Nogales Intermodal Congestion Relief Study, JWC outreach and support of JWC Work Plan Activities.

The Work Plan includes:

  1. Border Travel Time studies (as baseline information)
    Commercial vehicles are often delayed at border crossings. Trip delays increase transportation costs and impact national security and the environment. There are efforts underway by several agencies to improve processes (inspection, queuing, and just-in-time delivery) at border crossings as well as programs to fund and improve infrastructure at ports of entry to reduce delays and increase security. Border wait time studies are planned at the El Paso, San Diego, Nogales and Pharr borders. The objective of these studies is to provide a baseline of border crossing delays, which can help measure the success of improvement projects and strategies.
  2. Safety Initiatives
    Road Safety Audit (RSA) Training will be conducted with the following primary objectives:
    • Provide conclusions and recommendations on how road safety can be improved in the Port of Entry (POE)/international border crossing environment.
    • Include participation of Mexican state and Federal representatives.
    • Use training as a template for similar studies at other POEs/international border crossings.
  3. Improved Travel Demand Modeling in the Border Region
    Select traffic studies are being conducted that will provide more accurate short, medium and long term traffic projections for cross border travel information to populate travel demand models. In addition, existing cross-border and POE travel demand forecast modeling techniques will be discussed and evaluated to enhance knowledge of existing systems and future border travel demand as well as produce solutions for improved cross-border modeling.
  4. Regional Border Master Plans
    This information will develop a compendium of border-wide regional master plans with a comprehensive and prioritized assessment of transportation needs along the border including at POEs.

    The Border Master Plan will build on the Bi-national Transportation Infrastructure Needs Assessment Study II to gather land use, environmental, demographic, and socioeconomic data to adequately evaluate growth and future capacity needs at the border and more realistically forecast future conditions in the border region. The Master Plan would help foster consistency among individual agency planning processes and create documentation that feeds back into periodic updates of agencies' plans. The Master Plan should be incorporated as a component of Federal, State and local strategic plans.
  5. Impact of Border Crossings on Regional Transportation Plans and Local Transportation Networks
    Border crossings are case examples of conflicting interests and needs of communities, General Services Administration (GSA) or Homeland Security, multimodal transportation users, and operators/planners. This research will improve the border planning mechanism. This effort will be pooled with resources from other Federal, State and local agencies to accomplish this work.
  6. Ecological Considerations and Wildlife Corridors in the Border Region
    There is a need for ecological considerations in planning border security and transportation. It is important to collect baseline information on borderland wildlife and identify critical corridors that maintain wildlife movement. This information can then be included in planning decisions. This will allow for planning around corridors that is important for numerous endemic species of wildlife. This research will be pooled with other institutions to address this issue.

$250,000

U.S./Canada Transportation Border Working Group

The objectives of these research projects are to develop and implement strategies to improve mobility at the U.S./Canada border in conjunction with the transportation Border Working Group (TBWG) and support TBWG outreach.

U.S./Canada Border Efforts include:

  1. Develop and host a Northern Border Workshop and Conferences
    The Northern Border Regional Workshop will target a region to include states and provinces to improve coordination for infrastructure planning. The workshop will highlight current issues and identify potential short- and long-term solutions.
  2. The Northern Border Data Enhancement Study
    The study will build on the U.S. pooled fund study done in support of the Canadian Border Truck Roadside survey and three years of data collected on border travel time by both FHWA and Ontario. The result will be specific actions to improve data for both planning and performance measurement systems.
  3. Support the TBWG work plan activity—Economic Impact of the Border on Transportation
    This study would build on previous studies to address the economic cost of current border wait time and the economic savings from reduced wait time due to innovative pre-clearance programs. The result will be a better understanding of border economics on a regional basis, the impact of changes on the transportation system in the border region, and the impact of future investments.
  4. Development of Joint Border Wait Time Performance Measure
    U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. DOT, FHWA, the Canada Border Security Agency, and Transport Canada have a study to determine how wait times can be jointly addressed for auto traffic.

    U.S and Canadian agencies are also partnering to test automated border wait time measurement technologies. This research effort will support the testing of technology to measure border wait time for passenger vehicles and develop systems to share that information in real-time with transportation and border agencies.

    The result of this multi-year research effort will be a common binational wait time performance measure that will be used by all agencies at the border, will be distributed in real-time, and will result in better uses of limited resources.
  5. Support the TBWG work plan activity—Canadian Truck Roadside Survey (border portion)
    The National Roadside Survey (NRS) conducted by the Canadian government collected data from commercial vehicles and is completed every five to seven years, with the last NRS being conducted in 1999. The current NRS has a border survey component in order to collect data at the major border crossings. The objectives of this study will be to analyze and develop analysis tools based on the various end products and deliverables from the NRS data collection.
  6. Support the TBWG work plan activities – Enhance the TBWG Compendium of Border Infrastructure
    This effort is a binational effort to take the current compendium of all border and major transportation infrastructure planned in the next five years (within 100 miles of the border) and make it more useable to the Federal, State, and local agencies that are using the compendium to coordinate planning processes. The result will be a common store of data that will be used to coordinate infrastructure investments between Canada and the U.S. within the border region.

$275,000

National Security, Defense and Interstate Planning

Contact person:
Stefan.Natzke@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

Highway System and Corridor Support

This work supports FHWA's efforts to provide information to decision-makers about relationships between transportation and economic development. The work includes analyzing and tracking research results, developing material to support comments to grantees during the course of the grant, formatting images for use in research and research-related products, and managing databases used to support research.

This work supports research related to several specific activities in Title 5 of SAFETEA-LU, such as Sections 5504 for the Center for Transportation Advancement and Regional Development and 5513(f) for Rural Transportation Research by the New England Transportation Institute. It also supports FHWA's response to Section 502(e) of Title 23 of the United States Code, research and work involving the National Corridor Planning and Development Program, the Coordinated Border Infrastructure Program (Sections 1118 and 1119 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century), the Delta Region Transportation Development Program (Section 1308 of SAFETEA-LU), the Delta Assets and Needs Study (Section 1923 of SAFETEA-LU), and research-related work based on National Highway System (NHS) and Interstate designation activities.

$190,000

National Highway System Designation and Product Development

The NHS includes approximately 160,000 miles of roadway important to the nation's economy, defense, and mobility. Roads on the NHS are eligible for NHS apportioned program funds. The objective of this research is to support mapping activities necessary for recording the extent of the NHS and to correlate and/or coordinate the official map record against NHS coding in the Highway Performance Monitoring System's database. The map sets are coded onto the National Highway Planning Network – a geospatial digital highway network that FHWA uses to produce maps posted on the official NHS web page. This research will result in an annual release of an NHS network coding CD.

$160,000

Facilitating Electronic Dialogue on Transportation and Economic Development

This project would foster discussion among transportation officials and economic development professionals by establishing an electronic forum. This forum will advance the state of the art in understanding economic development impacts of transportation investments through practical advice on data sources, analytic methods, and information on actual economic development projects across the country. Practitioners will be able to seek consultation from others who have undertaken similar analyses in the past, identify appropriate costs and benefits to consider in these analyses, and learn how similar projects are negotiated, including approval processes, etc.

$50,000

Economic Development in Megaregional Corridors

Recent research has illuminated a continuing global trend for populations and economic activity to agglomerate into megaregions. However, current planning structures and methods focus on metropolitan areas and states, rather than on multistate megaregions. As megaregions develop, grow and are influenced by changing demographics, there is a need to consider the infrastructure and economic aspects of megaregions.

This project will support research into the corridors connecting megaregions and the economic development effects of this connectivity (e.g. through case studies of how economic development was considered in planning efforts akin to megaregional planning or documentation of the actual economic effects of such multi-state/multi-metropolitan corridors. To the extent possible, this research will also examine those factors (e.g., changing demographics and/or industry characteristics) that influence economic development.

$200,000

Anticipated Research Efforts in Tools to Support Planning and Environment

Travel Modeling

Contact person:
Sarah.Sun@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

Support Ongoing TMIP Efforts

This research will support the outreach component of the Travel Modeling Improvement Program (TMIP). TMIP outreach helps planning agencies build their institutional capacity to perform transportation planning technical analyses. This technical capability of planning agencies is critical to provide solutions to or provide support for policies, projects, and initiatives contained in regional transportation plans and Transportation Improvement Programs. Such technical capability also plays an important role in analyzing traffic safety improvements and impacts of land use and economic development on transportation, air quality, and other emerging transportation issues.

$500,000

Peer Review Program and Peer Exchange

Independent peer reviews of travel models are critical to ensure the quality of travel forecasts. TMIP has an ongoing peer review program to support travel modeling practice in transportation planning agencies. Peer exchanges will focus on summarizing current travel modeling related practices and identifying gaps and research needs.

$250,000

Census and NHTS Microdata Research and Technical Assistance

This project will continue efforts to provide technical assistance to State DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), transit operators, local governments, and universities on the use of the Census Transportation Planning Package (CTPP), Decennial Census, American Community Survey (ACS), and the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS). This project will also provide support to FHWA staff on data access tools, data reports, and drafting training materials. This project will conduct research activities with ACS microdata records at the U.S. Census Bureau to improve the CTPP using ACS.

$90,000

Travel Forecasting Handbook

This project will support the development of a Travel Forecasting Handbook of Practice. This is a key recommendation of the National Academies of Science Report 288. This effort will also support the activities of the National Travel Forecasting Steering Committee to improve travel modeling practices by addressing all aspects of the travel forecasting practice including data collection, calibration, validation, freight, and transit.

$200,000

Confidential GPS Travel Survey Data Center

Establish a secure center for detailed global positioning system (GPS) travel behavior datasets, especially those from FHWA value pricing studies and MPO household travel surveys, to use in pricing models, climate change models, and travel demand models. Because data collection is expensive and the value of the data extends beyond its original purpose, a survey data center can extend data utility while preserving the confidentiality of individual respondents.

$130,000

GIS and Spatial Information for Improved Decision-Making

Contact person:
Roger.Petzold@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

Best Practices and Case Studies

This project will identify and document best practices and benefits of geographic information systems (GIS) at all levels of government in a variety of transportation-related professions (e.g., transportation planners and information technology, safety, law enforcement, operations, and maintenance professionals). The project will also evaluate and measure the benefits of GIS technology. A series of case studies will focus on applications of advanced capabilities in using geospatial technologies for improved decision-making in transportation areas such as:

  • Travel demand modeling
  • Integration with computer-aided design (CAD) operation in Right-of-Way (ROW)
  • Section 106 (historic preservation) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
  • Workable data-sharing agreements

$90,000

Peer Exchanges

Generate, facilitate, and participate in peer exchanges focused on specific transportation topics in environment, planning, and realty. Each peer exchange will produce reports to capture and summarize the knowledge shared at these gatherings and potential future topics for research. Specific peer exchange topics include:

  • GIS and travel demand modeling
  • Integration of GIS with CAD
  • GIS application in Section 106 (historic preservation) and NEPA
  • Developing workable data-sharing agreements, especially with resource agencies

$140,000

Webcasts on Application of GIS and Spatial Information

The objective of this research will be to communicate new technology and innovative and effective uses of geospatial technologies. Webcasts will highlight specific examples of the use of GIS and spatial information in the following areas:

  • Travel demand modeling
  • Integration with CAD
  • Section 106 (historic preservation) and NEPA
  • Workable data-sharing agreements
  • Highway functional class determination

$50,000

Enhancement of the GIS Screening Tool

The Texas DOT and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 successfully conducted a technology transfer of the GIS Screening Tool (GISST) in 2005. As a result of several workshops and conferences, the transportation community thought that increasing the resolution from the current 1 km2 grid to a 0.25 km2 grid (depending on data resolution) would be more helpful in urban settings. In addition, the original GISST used National Land Cover Data (NLCD) 1992 and now NLCD 2000 is available.

The calculated GRID for Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, and the recalculations for Texas would be incorporated as a web service into NEPAssist, a separate web-based application. Currently, GISST is not incorporated into NEPAssist as the GRID portion of GISST is limited to Texas. As part of this project, training on NEPAssist will be provided for FHWA and State DOTs.

GIS-based tools like GISST provide a way for planners and environmental staff to quickly screen for environmental issues as they plan or prepare NEPA documents. These tools save time and resources and can help direct the use of limited resources (i.e., time, staff, and funds).

$100,000

Transportation for the Nation Strategic Plan

The effort will develop the concept of a comprehensive inventory of all transportation assets in a state to support enhanced safety, security, enhanced 911, and transportation decision-making by using existing transportation networks and data sources. A strategic plan will be developed to help guide the development of the Transportation for the Nation concept. This effort will be undertaken in partnership with the National States Geographic Information Council.

The result will be a Transportation for the Nation network that addresses global and national transportation needs and serves as a common base for all transportation-related spatial applications.

$25,000

Program Management and Outreach

Contact person:
Felicia.Young@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

STEP Program Outreach

Several efforts are underway to communicate the status and results of the STEP. The following activities are planned including: FY2009 STEP Plan, STEP newsletter, brochures, outreach sessions, communications/ marketing plan, reports, and other initiatives.

$350,000

Website support for HEP Research and Programs

This effort supports the dissemination of the status of the STEP as well as STEP research accomplishments via the STEP website and other HEP websites. It also supports the on-going development and implementation of the STEP Feedback System.

$300,000

Financial management support for STEP and planning and environment research and program initiatives

This effort supports financial management activities for STEP and other planning and environment research and program initiatives.

$350,000

Updated: 01/10/2014
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