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FY 2012 STEP 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.


Below is information on the proposed Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) fiscal year (FY) 2012 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 lists the total number of research projects that are expected to be carried out in each emphasis area along with the FY2012 STEP budget. The following pages include summary information about each project proposed within each emphasis area. Many projects listed in the FY2012 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: FY2012 STEP Budget by Emphasis Area

Emphasis Area Number of Research Recommendations STEP FY2012 Budget
ENVIRONMENT EMPHASIS AREAS
Air Quality and Climate Change 3 $1,640,000
Water, Wetlands, Vegetation, Wildlife, Habitat 5 $1,014,090
Historic Preservation 1 $200,000
Livability and Environmental Justice 1 $400,000
Bicycles/Pedestrians 1 $150,000
Noise 1 $310,000
Environmental Streamlining/Stewardship 4 $1,604,496
Context Sensitive Solutions 2 $380,000
PLANNING EMPHASIS AREAS
Congestion 1 $100,000
Safety Planning 1 $200,000
Freight Planning 2 $200,000
Performance-Based Planning 1 $200,000
Public Involvement and Visualization in Planning 1 $200,000
Other Activities that Support State/Local/Tribal Planning Capacity Building 6 $1,375,000
U.S./Canada and U.S./Mexico Border Planning 9 $1,120,000
National Security, Defense and Interstate Planning 4 $80,000
REAL ESTATE SERVICES EMPHASIS AREAS
Real Estate Program Stewardship 5 $795,000
TOOLS TO SUPPORT ENVIRONMENT AND PLANNING EMPHASIS AREAS
Travel Modeling 4 $1,325,000
GIS/Spatial Information for Improved Decision Making 1 $100,000
PROGRAM MANAGEMENT AND OUTREACH
Program Management and Outreach 1 $1,000,000
Financial Management and Program Assistance 1 $312,000
HEP ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR $2,113,686
TOTAL 55 $13,919,272

The STEP FY 2012 Budget amounts are estimated until final approval is made.

I. Anticipated Research Efforts in Environment

1. Air Quality and Climate Change

Contact Persons:

Cecilia.Ho@dot.gov

Diane.Turchetta@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Transportation and Air Quality Research Analysis, Tools Development, and Training

FHWA will continue to support research that advances the understanding of transportation and air quality issues. FHWA will also inform and provide technical assistance to stakeholders to help them meet the transportation requirements of the Clean Air Act and other air quality-related requirements of the transportation system. In FY2012, research will focus on:

  • Implementation of the Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES) and air quality dispersion models;
  • Interface between traffic models and MOVES;
  • Project level and hot-spot analysis;
  • Implication of near roadway monitoring requirements;
  • Dispersion models applications and air quality analyses;
  • Air quality and livability interactions;
  • Air quality impacts and emission reduction effectiveness of transportation measures;
  • Health impact assessment on transportation projects; and
  • Air quality outreach and training activities, including training provided for newly designated nonattainment areas and MOVES training.

$890,000

  1. Climate Change and Transportation

As awareness of the dangers posed by climate change grows, State and local governments have continued to develop climate action plans, set targets for emissions reductions, and adopt a host of measures to assess and reduce climate footprints. This research effort will:

  • Develop and test tools and strategies to understand and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation sources. These efforts could include updating and expanding existing tools and strategies as well as developing new methods and approaches;
  • Investigate how national policies or strategies to reduce GHG emissions affect transportation services, funding, and infrastructure, and analyze the effectiveness of these policies and strategies in reducing GHG emissions. This will include reviewing or developing proposals for national policies or for legislation;
  • Engage in a cooperative effort focused on strategies to reduce GHG emissions through reductions in vehicle miles traveled and promoting multimodal transportation system efficiency;
  • Conduct a pilot project to investigate GHG emissions reduction potential through the integration of transportation, land use, and climate change strategies;
  • Provide technical assistance to States to develop climate action plans;
  • Develop methodologies for establishing GHG emissions targets; and
  • Fund the United States (U.S.) Department of Transportation (DOT) Center on Climate Change. The Center selects projects annually with advice and concurrence from the Center Steering Committee.

Additionally, FHWA will continue to research the vulnerabilities of transportation infrastructure to climate change impacts as well as adaptation strategies to avoid and minimize potential impacts. The goal of these efforts is to assist transportation professionals in adapting the transportation system to continue delivering the public a safe, reliable, effective, and sustainable transportation system in light of a changing climate.

Research may include the following:

  • Continued development and refinement of FHWA's adaptation strategy to describe key areas related to climate change adaptation in which FHWA intends to focus attention to provide a foundation and a plan for future FHWA activities;
  • Continued technical assistance to States that pilot FHWA's Conceptual Model for Assessing Vulnerability and Risk of Climate Change Effects on Transportation Infrastructure; and
  • Dissemination of technical assistance on climate change effects.

Furthermore, research in this area will support an ongoing climate change risk and vulnerability assessment for the Gulf Coast region. The purpose of this research is to build on the findings of Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure: Gulf Coast Study (2008) to develop more definitive information about multimodal impacts at the local level. Future efforts will focus on the Mobile, Alabama, metropolitan area. These efforts will develop precise tools and guides for State DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), modal planners, and municipalities that facilitate long-term planning architectures to help communities better adapt to potential climate impacts.

$500,000

  1. Sustainable Transportation

There is a need to better understand, apply, and evaluate sustainable methodologies and practices in transportation project development. Developing a strategic plan for sustainability is essential to provide direction to State DOTs and others in sustainability and assist agencies in identifying specific approaches and practices to reach sustainability goals. Research is also needed on sustainable activities, including redevelopment of brownfields and how to increase their use for transportation projects. Efforts might include:

  • Development of a strategic sustainability plan;
  • Development of training and technical guidance on sustainability;
  • Research on how sustainable solutions may be integrated into transportation;
  • Research on how to measure the benefits of applying sustainable techniques and methodologies;
  • Support for the continued development of FHWA's Sustainable Highways Self-Evaluation Tool;
  • Building an inventory of brownfields for transportation infrastructure and research to understand how brownfields may be used to support sustainability goals and objectives;
  • Conference and meeting support for sustainability programs and brownfields; and
  • Developing and sharing an understanding of the relationship between sustainability and livability.

$250,000

2. Water/Wetlands/Vegetation/Wildlife/Habitat

Contact Person:

Marlys.Osterhues@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Examining Stream Crossing Impacts on Connectivity

Habitat connectivity is critical to manage the population of imperiled aquatic organisms. However, stream-road crossings are often barriers to aquatic organism passage. Fortunately, new techniques for impact assessment of proposed and existing stream-road crossings on aquatic habitat and population connectivity have recently been developed.

Research that assesses the effects of crossings on connectivity at the regional or national scale will significantly improve modeling of impacts of crossings on stream ecosystem connectivity. This research will also improve the ability to make informed decisions regarding the type and placement of crossings for the safe passage of aquatic organisms.

This research effort will also identify quantitative metrics (like the Dendritic Connectivity Index) that help prioritize existing crossings for field evaluation of fish passability, crossing retrofit, or replacement. Using metrics that evaluate the likely effect of each crossing on habitat connectivity could significantly improve and streamline studies that aim to assess the effects of crossings on fish and wildlife passage.

$200,000

  1. Exploring Innovative Methods and Tools for Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs)

This research will identify and evaluate the implementation of State DOT stormwater management practices by funding a series of Low Impact Development (LID) workshops for regional and national linear highway systems. These workshops will further develop the LID community by introducing the economic benefits, goals, planning techniques, and design principles of LID to a larger community. The workshops will provide participants with a comprehensive overview of LID practices and processes and will focus on:

  • Uses of next generation LID tools for urban retrofits to address total maximum daily loads;
  • How LIDs can meet National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements; and
  • How LIDs fit into watershed planning systems.

This effort will also explore the final rule on the effluent limitation guidelines for stormwater discharges from construction sites and determine the current monitoring state-of-the-practice for effluent limitations.

$200,000

  1. Research and Innovation Agreements with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)

Many FHWA programs and projects depend on the timely completion of environmental requirements administered by other Federal agencies. Among the most critical and prevalent requirements on most projects include compliance with the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act. This effort will support interagency coordination on the major USFWS environmental requirements that affect the highway program.

Funding for this line of research will support funded liaisons with USFWS. This liaison position(s) will be instrumental in guiding other research projects to a more productive completion, including the NiSource and Indiana Bat Programmatic research that has been funded by the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center.

$364,090.45

  1. Additional Structured, Transparent, Accountable, Reproducible, Sustainable (STARS) Workshops

This effort will support a series of successful workshops that focus on creating sustainable transportation through integrating environmental data and expertise from planning, maintenance, and other disciplines. The STARS workshops, which began in 2009, replaced the Linking Conservation and Transportation Planning workshops that sought to improve the linkages between conservation and transportation planning.

The STARS workshops will facilitate the exchange of ideas, data, tools, concepts, and methods to support better collaboration and information exchange between transportation planners and environmental practitioners on integrating transportation planning and the project development process. The workshops will include:

  • Discussions on the metropolitan and statewide transportation planning processes;
  • An overview of the provisions of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) Section 6001; and
  • A review of local and national conservation initiatives currently underway.

$200,000

  1. International Stormwater BMP Database

This effort will support the continued management and maintenance of a centralized, easy-to-use repository for stormwater BMPs and assess their appropriateness under various conditions. The Water Environment Research Foundation manages the contract for the International BMP Database that provides approaches and tools for using data to evaluate the effectiveness of stormwater runoff BMPs, regardless of location, climate, and current land uses. The database's long-term goal is to collect sufficient data to permit improvements in BMP designs and better match the selection of BMPs to an area's local stormwater challenges.

$50,000

3. Historic Preservation

Contact Person:

MaryAnn.Naber@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Research and Innovation Agreement with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP)

This research will continue to support an ongoing agreement with ACHP to identify and disseminate best practices for developing innovative approaches and programmatic agreements, achieving early coordination with stakeholders, and improving efficiency in project development and review. The results will be documented in best practices that facilitate environmental process improvements, including identification of program alternatives allowable under the ACHP regulations that implement the National Historic Preservation Act. Research results will also be used to support the development of training to promote early coordination and process improvement efforts between FHWA, State DOTs, and other agencies.

$200,000

4. Livability and Environmental Justice

Contact Person:

Sharlene.Reed@dot.gov

Shana.Baker@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Promoting Best Practices on Transportation and Livability Linkages

This research effort will identify, share, and test best practices to promote transportation and livability linkages. USDOT leadership has placed increased emphasis on linking transportation with community livability. Core livability concepts, including providing transportation choices, supporting public involvement, ensuring environmental justice, and understanding relationships between transportation and land use, are not necessarily new. However, transportation agencies are looking to FHWA for tools and information about how to foster livability while ensuring that equity and access are provided for all community members. Activities will include developing outreach resources such as newsletters and webinars, analyzing existing USDOT efforts (e.g., Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants), and developing an environmental justice public forum to increase public engagement in the decision-making process and share best practices.

$400,000

5. Bicycles/Pedestrians

Contact Person:

Gabe.Rousseau@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Outreach and Best Practices on Bicycle and Pedestrian Issues

FHWA will provide technical knowledge and products needed by State and local officials to develop and implement bicycle and pedestrian projects. This information will be provided using a multi-faceted approach that includes a continued commitment to operate the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse, a key resource for a variety of stakeholders. This research effort will also collect data and disseminate best practices related to walking and bicycling infrastructure and health through websites, publications, and conferences.

$150,000

6. Noise

Contact Person:

Mark.Ferroni@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Highway Traffic Noise: Research, Training and Communica-tion

FHWA will continue to support research on highway traffic noise on behalf of stakeholders and the public. This research, training, and communication effort will include testing, completion, deployment and outreach for the FHWA Traffic Noise Model (TNM) Version 3.0 and development of a test suite to prove the consistency of TNM Version 3.0.

$310,000

7. Environmental Streamlining/Stewardship

Contact Person:

Shari.Schaftlein@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Electronic National Environmental Policy Act

A central focus of FHWA's efforts to accelerate project delivery has been establishing coordinated environmental review processes with concurrent interagency reviews and established time periods. Interagency collaboration can be further enhanced and expedited through use or development of an electronic tool. By improving the ability for concurrent agency reviews, particularly by Federal agencies, the tool can help stakeholders more quickly and easily raise and address issues in real time. By enabling multiple agencies to interact and collaborate on an ongoing basis, especially on scheduling-related items, products and outcomes can be improved and finalized more quickly.

FHWA will research available electronic tools, technologies, and methods that are or can be used to improve collaboration among multiple parties to develop projects or programs. FHWA will then evaluate the use of these current tools with a select number of State DOTs. This research effort will fund the development of a FHWA-focused tool as a second phase of the project.

$410,631.74

  1. Ecological Framework 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 the document, identifies and addresses the greatest conservation needs associated with mitigation for infrastructure projects. This research effort will focus on the process to develop an ecosystem approach and examine how this effort is linked to identified Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP2) products.

$500,000

  1. Advancing Innovations in FHWA's Environmental Review Process

This effort will continue a number of ongoing research efforts and initiate several new activities to pursue innovation in the environmental review process, including:

  • Continue development of Environmental Corridor Optimization and Planning Alignments (ECO PAL) toolkit technology, which integrates geographic information systems (GIS) and economic modeling to create a multiple-criteria decision-making tool;
  • Develop improved analytical methods to address stormwater impacts to water quality, aquatic resources, and ecosystem integrity;
  • Update visual impact/visualization guidance; and
  • Develop and deliver the Green Highways Partnership Digest, a weekly e-digest that tracks sustainable products and practices for green highways and green infrastructure, as well as other topics such as innovative stormwater management, recycling and reuse, and conservation and ecosystem protection.

$533,864

  1. Section 4(f) National Highway Institute (NHI) Training Course

FHWA will develop a course to train FHWA, State DOT, local public agencies (LPA), and resource agency personnel in the Section 4(f) approval process in order to ensure its consistent administration across the country. Section 4(f) governs the use of land within publicly owned parks, recreation areas, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and public or private historic sites for Federally funded highway projects. It is essential that there is an officially sanctioned, nationally focused, and comprehensive course to consistently present the process across the country. As one of the most substantive and often litigated environmental regulations, it is imperative that FHWA capitalize on current institutional knowledge to build understanding and capacity in the Section 4(f) area.

$160,000

8. Context Sensitive Solutions

Contact Person:

Shari.Schaftlein@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Continued Support for Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) Clearinghouse

CSS is a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that involves all stakeholders to develop a transportation facility that fits its physical setting and preserves scenic, aesthetic, historic, and environmental resources while maintaining safety and mobility.

Research efforts in this area will facilitate an ongoing national information exchange on CSS-related issues and topics through the CSS Clearinghouse. Since 2005, the CSS Clearinghouse (available at www.contextsensitivesolutions.org) has served as the central community of practice for the industry. The CSS Clearinghouse saves time for agencies and practitioners while providing them with access to important information.

CSS activities, resources, and information disseminated through the clearinghouse include:

  • Technical resources;
  • State and local CSS exemplary projects;
  • Inventories of current agency CSS practices, policies, and programs;
  • Newsletters; and
  • CSS training courses and webinars.

$130,000

  1. CSS Research per National Dialog

This research effort will continue the CSS National Dialogs funded in previous years. The first CSS National Dialog commenced in 2009 to begin a discussion between the transportation community and the public on CSS best practices. The 2009 dialog included five regional workshops; the second dialog will include ten regional workshops.

Specific activities funded as part of this effort will involve the following:

  • Collect a broad range of exemplary case studies in the application of CSS principles to planning, project development, programs, and organizational advancements;
  • Conduct a series of regional workshops across the country followed by two national webcasts as capstone events. Each workshop will highlight CSS best practices from the host region to initiate discussion and interaction; and
  • Support FHWA's Every Day Counts initiative by designing the workshops to identify and deploy CSS innovations that can result in better outcomes, increased stakeholder support, and shortened project delivery time to enhance the safety of roadways and protect the environment.

$250,000

II. Anticipated Research Efforts in Planning

1. Congestion

Contact Person:

Harlan.Miller@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Congestion Management Process Outreach

This effort will support the delivery of webinars and workshops that focus on the congestion management process. The workshop series will target MPOs and highlight the potential benefits derived from utilizing the congestion management process. Workshops will also focus on how operators and planners can collaborate to better determine potential benefits of strategies that address regional mobility needs.

$100,000

2. Safety Planning

Contact Person:

Lorrie.Lau@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Transportation Safety Planning

This research effort will develop a broader approach to integrating safety into the planning and project development processes. The approach will address how safety influences overall planning and project development processes and how safety is systematically institutionalized and considered within planning and project development stages.

$200,000

3. Freight Planning

Contact Person:

Spencer.Stevens@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Freight and Mega-Regional Planning

This project will address the following research needs:

  • Determine if mega-regional planning improves freight flow from one jurisdiction to another;
  • Identify the economic benefits of improved freight movements for jurisdictions that participate in mega-regional planning activities;
  • Determine whether support of freight activity between mega-regions is an important component of a mega-region's prosperity; and
  • Understand the extent to which mega-regions function as efficient centers of economic activity and transportation investment.

$100,000

  1. Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA)

This task will assess the utility of MCA for U.S. transportation planning, including freight, as an alternative or supplement to benefit-cost analysis. As the European Union (EU) moves away from benefit/cost analysis and proceeds with MCA for freight corridor planning, it is important to engage EU participants and experts in dialogue about MCA.

MCA is a valuable and increasingly widely used tool to aid decision-making, especially in situations where there are choices between competing options. It is particularly useful in situations where stakeholders must take into consideration a complex and inter-connected range of environmental, social, and economic issues and where objectives are often competing, making trade-offs unavoidable. It provides a robust and transparent decision-making structure, making key considerations and the values attributed to them more explicit. It also provides opportunities for stakeholder and community participation.

$100,000

4. Public Involvement and Visualization in Planning

Contact Persons:

Frederick.Bowers@dot.gov

Susan.Grosser@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Public Involvement and Visualization in Planning

This research will support the development of tools and techniques for cost-effective public involvement. It will also identify and test potential measures of effectiveness. In support of visualization, this project will identify visualization software packages that can be used in the planning process and estimate costs associated with each phase of creating visualizations.

$200,000

5. Performance-Based Planning

Contact Person:

Harlan.Miller@dot.gov

Egan.Smith@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Performance Management

A performance management process at the national level can help better define a national transportation vision and mission, focus Federal resources to emphasize transportation needs of national significance, and address new public policy priorities. This effort will support activities such as information dissemination, training and technical assistance, peer exchanges, conferences, workshops, and sharing notable practices through case studies on performance-based planning and programming.

$200,000

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

Contact Person:

Kenneth.Petty@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Improved Planning Process/Process Management

This research will improve the transportation planning process by focusing on specific concepts such as asset management, certification review tools, health impact assessments, non-motorized travel, and data. This effort will support improved tools for required transportation management area Federal certification reviews.

$500,000

  1. Finance Issues

This research will develop a compilation of best practices regarding effective communication of transportation funding issues and provide tools to follow-up on recommendations in the study: Fiscal Constraint in Long-Range Transportation Planning, Best Practice Case Studies. These tools will help to translate the principles of financial planning into clear and comprehensible tasks that can be applied by Federal planning staff, State DOTs, MPOs, and transit agencies.

$75,000

  1. Information Dissemination

This research effort will support the overall efforts of STEP, the FHWA/Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program, and the FHWA/FTA Scenario Planning Program by disseminating the results of various research programs to the transportation planning community, decision-makers, stakeholders, and the public. This research will also support existing FHWA and stakeholder websites, training, national and regional conferences, and case studies on transportation planning. Finally, this research will support the Transportation Planning Excellence Awards and updating existing FHWA information products used throughout the planning community.

$300,000

  1. Statewide, Metropolitan, Rural, and Tribal Transportation Planning Issues

This research will focus on statewide transportation planning issues, including statewide travel and economic models, managed lanes, public private partnerships, and design-build initiatives. Research will also focus on enhancing partnerships between Federal, State, regional and local partnerships to advance statewide transportation planning initiatives. Finally, this research will support development of websites for information dissemination, training and technical assistance, toolkits, peer exchanges, sharing of best practices, conferences, and workshops.

$200,000

  1. Metropolitan Transportation Planning Issues

Metropolitan transportation planning is the process of examining travel and transportation issues and needs in metropolitan areas. The responsibility for transportation planning lies with designated MPOs. Activities will be based on stakeholder needs, including those expressed by the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations and the National Association of Regional Councils, as well as research needs identified at the 2012 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Conference. Research will also focus on the collaborative nature of MPOs, MPO functionality, and opportunities for MPOs to coordinate with other planning and transportation activities or organizations.

$200,000

  1. Rural and Tribal Transportation Planning Issues

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 such as the National Association of Development Organizations, the National Association of Counties, and Rural Planning Organizations of America. Activities will include development of websites for information dissemination, training and technical assistance, toolkits, peer exchanges, sharing of best practices, conferences, and workshops. This research will also promote the integration of Tribal issues into the transportation planning and programming processes through statutory and regulatory requirements of consultation and public involvement. FHWA will develop reference materials on effective Tribal consultation practices, including case studies of notable Tribal planning practices.

$100,000

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

Contact Person:

Roger.Petzold@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Host U.S./Canada Transportation Border Working Group (TBWG) Bi-Annual Meeting

This research effort will provide support to the U.S./Canada TBWG bi-annual meeting, including coordinating meeting logistics and associated events.

$25,000

  1. Host U.S. Mexico Joint Working Committee (JWC) Bi-Annual Meeting

This research effort will provide support to the U.S./Mexico JWC bi-annual meeting, including coordinating meeting logistics, associated events, and translation services.

$25,000

  1. U.S./Canada TBWG Support

This research effort will provide technical support to the U.S./Canada TBWG for implementation of its action plan, including support for peer exchanges, workshops, webinars, and specific tasks identified in the action plan through the TBWG's bi-annual meetings. Current issues of focus include planning, operation, performance measures (wait time), greening transportation, intermodal analysis, intelligent transportation systems, sustainability, and livability.

$200,000

  1. U.S./Mexico JWC Support

This research effort will provide technical support to the U.S./Mexico JWC to develop a two-year work plan and conduct workshops and peer exchanges that address specific transportation issues in the border region.

$150,000

  1. Greening Transportation at the Border - Livability and Sustainability

This project will continue to implement the recommendations from the report Greening Transportation at the Border. Planning performed at the border should take a holistic view of the border region and include livability and sustainability goals for border communities when considering transportation solutions.

Existing research on "greening" transportation at the border includes a study to measure the air quality impact of border crossing delays and congestion. The following steps will be taken to identify and obtain available data needed in the analysis:

  • Obtain most recent five years of available monitoring data for fine particle matter (PM) as well as ozone and carbon monoxide from metropolitan areas along the U.S./Mexico border;
  • Obtain current attainment status data for all U.S. metropolitan areas along the U.S./Mexico border;
  • Using the most recent air quality data, determine which Mexican metropolitan areas along the U.S./Mexico border meet Mexican air quality standards for ozone and PM10 and which meet U.S. standards;
  • Identify all available monitor data (up to five years of data, where available) of non-criteria pollutants from metropolitan areas along the U.S./Mexico border;
  • Identify and obtain recent air quality modeling studies (such as State Implementation Plans) for metropolitan areas along the U.S./Mexico border, including relevant technical support documents;
  • Review recent air quality studies and identify relevant information wherever possible that could be used to form the basis of a benefits transfer approach for estimating the impact of changes in border traffic emissions and wait times on local air quality and identify missing data; and
  • Prepare a report summarizing the results of these activities and identifying missing data and data-related opportunities at U.S./Mexico border crossings for study under future research efforts.

$200,000

  1. Peer Exchange - Northern Border

FHWA will host a peer exchange in order to help the Minnesota DOT and FHWA Minnesota Division Office understand the process for planning and implementing an international bridge project in order to inform its investment in the Baudette/Rainy River border crossing bridge facility. Maine DOT offered to provide expertise at this event based on its experience developing the Calais/St. Stephen Point of Entry. Staff from Minnesota DOT, the FHWA Minnesota Division Office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Canada Border Services Agency, and other Canadian Federal and provincial agencies will be invited to attend.

$10,000

  1. Cross-Border Data and Technology Assessment

Throughout the southern border region, bi-national partners rely on a multitude of data sources and types, a variety of modeling and forecasting tools, and use different methodologies for scenario planning. This effort will develop cross-border and technology assessment tools and data that support investment decisions by State DOTs, the Federal government, regional MPOs, and counterparts in Mexico.

$200,000

  1. Exploring Next-Generation Mobile Communications and Border Traffic Management (Whatcom Council of Governments)

This research effort will explore application programming interfaces that enable any third party to build automated, custom queries on regional border traffic data (in near real time) and develop new applications that could be disseminated through private-sector channels (i.e., traveler information that can be transmitted to devices such as mobile phones and in-vehicle systems).

$100,000

  1. Greening Transportation at the Border - Green Finance Techniques to Reduce Congestion and Create Greener Borders

Green finance techniques will be tested and employed at the border to yield positive environmental and livable results associated with reduced congestion and greener borders.

$200,000

8. National Security, Defense and Interstate Planning

Contact Person:

Shana.Baker@dot.gov

Stefan.Natzke@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Baseline Assessment of National Highway System (NHS) Intermodal Passenger Connector Usage

This research effort will focus on a multi-state area and document the level of NHS intermodal connector use for each intermodal facility, as reported by States. The research program will organize presently available data on passenger volumes, which range in quality from aviation (high-quality data) to inter-city bus (low-quality data.) Within the selected study area, the research effort will document the estimated use of every intermodal connector segment generated by the facility it is designed to serve. A large number of facilities are located in rural areas and represent the backbone of long-distance travel in rural areas.

A pilot project might be conducted to identify the location of intermodal (passenger) terminals documented in the NHS as well as the amount of usage attributable to those terminals. Later stages of the research might address the concept of establishing measures of performance for the multimodal system.

$0

  1. Economic Development in Highway Corridors

This research is intended to provide information on methods, data, and case studies of the economic impacts of projects in highway corridors. It will build upon and supplement recent work undertaken by the SHRP2 program, particularly in the dissemination of economic analysis tools and data. This project will produce training materials and a primer on economic development for an audience of transportation planners.

$40,000

  1. Web-Based NHS Actions Tracking Tool

FHWA maintains the official NHS record, which must be kept up to date for transportation planners and policy makers, as well as members of the general public. Modifications to the NHS require the coordination of numerous departments both within and outside of FHWA. Some amount of correspondence is produced from this coordination, such as documentation on the background of the proposed action and an official letter/memorandum stating FHWA's decision. Documentation is required to know when the action occurred to answer questions about past actions on the same facilities. This project will provide a framework for tracking the status of proposed actions on the NHS. It will also provide a repository for past actions that will be accessible by Division Office staff and approved State DOT counterparts.

Phase 1 of this project will include tasks to create a documentation tracking and retrieval system for NHS actions, including a web-based interface to allow uploading and retrieval of supporting documentation for modifications to the NHS. Documents will initially be accessible by FHWA Headquarters and Division Office staff with a progressive deployment to approved State DOT representatives. The system will include keyword and map-based search functionalities.

Phase 2 will connect the document database to the GIS-based NHS map. This framework will allow for enhanced knowledge management and succession planning for all those involved with NHS actions. Through the standardization of document storage and retrieval, users unfamiliar with the circumstances surrounding the NHS action will be able to more easily track older actions. By connecting the database to the NHS map, this effort will develop a more seamless and transparent NHS tracking process.

$0

  1. Highway System and Corridor Support

This work supports FHWA's efforts to provide information to decision-makers about relationships between transportation and economic development. It will include 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 effort will support research related to several specific activities in Title 5 of the SAFETEA-LU, including sections relating to the Center for Transportation Advancement and Regional Development. It will also support FHWA's responsibilities for research and work involving the National Corridor Planning and Development Program, the Coordinated Border Infrastructure Program, the Delta Region Transportation Development Program, the Delta Assets and Needs Study, and research-related work based on NHS and Interstate designation activities.

$40,000

III. Anticipated Research Efforts in Real Estate Services

1. Real Estate Program Stewardship

Contact Person:

Carolyn.James@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Support of Stakeholder and Partner Outreach and Informational Dissemination Programs

The loss of institutional knowledge and a resultant loss of professional capacity has been a continuing trend in the right-of-way (ROW) professional community. This trend has required the FHWA Office of Real Estate Services (HEPR) to continuously develop innovative methods of providing stewardship and oversight of Federal-aid ROW programs. HEPR sponsors and participates in workshops, develops and delivers training, outreach programs, expert panels, and peer reviews that promote transportation research. These activities improve and provide tools to advance implementation and administration of the Federal-aid ROW program and its implementing regulations. HEPR's involvement provides an opportunity to 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 of 1970 (Uniform Act) requirements.

Partnering with stakeholders and supporting these outreach activities provide opportunities to reach larger groups and audiences who have a vested and direct interest in research as it relates to the Federal-aid ROW program, the Uniform Act, and other real estate programs. For example, HEPR supports professional meetings of several stakeholder professional groups as well as a real estate community of practice. This effort will include support needed for the Planning, Environment, Air Quality, Real Estate, and Civil Rights Discipline Learning and Development Seminar.

$195,000

  1. Support of Stakeholder and Informational Dissemination of Programs through Publications

HEPR's stakeholders depend on outreach and information dissemination tools and services developed as part of the STEP research program. In many cases, funding limitations preclude State DOT ROW professionals from attending national and regional meetings. This project will develop tools to support information dissemination and collaboration as alternatives or supplements to live meeting attendance and participation. These tools and publications will also provide Federal-aid ROW program information to the public.

This effort will support the following activities:

  • Spanish language brochures. FHWA will translate into Spanish two primary publications describing the Federal-aid ROW acquisition and relocation assistance programs and benefits;
  • Uniform Act video. FHWA will transfer material that provides insights into the Federal-aid ROW program from tape to a Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) format;
  • Relocation assistance program graphical depiction. A relocation assistance retrospective study completed in December 2011 found that business owners wanted a visual summary of available benefits that would help them quickly understand how the relocation assistance program applies to them. This effort will include developing a graphical depiction of benefits and program requirements;
  • Functional Replacement. This effort will update an existing brochure designed for use by State agencies to describe and explain functional replacement program benefits and requirements;
  • From the Ground Up. This effort will produce a brochure designed for use by State agencies to provide an overview to the public of the Federal-aid ROW program's operation and function;

$130,000

  1. Development of Case Studies in Practices that State DOTs Use to Provide Stewardship and Oversight of the LPA Program

LPAs encounter a wide range and variety of challenges while implementing and administering programs related to the Uniform Act. Federal eligibility for road construction projects require all Federal funding to be funneled to local agencies through State DOTs. Consequently, State DOTs are tasked with stewardship and oversight responsibilities for those Federal-aid projects that are undertaken by LPAs in their respective States.

This project will develop case studies based upon the evaluation of successful LPA programs and State DOTs' stewardship and oversight of these programs. Data and information gathered from the case studies will be utilized to determine program needs and identify what tools are needed to enhance LPA stewardship.

$200,000

  1. Alternative Uses of Energy in the Highway ROW

In October 2011, the FHWA Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty (HEP) and the USDOT Volpe Center completed a year-long research project that investigated the implications of accommodating renewable energy technologies and alternative fuel facilities within highway ROW. The project team examined the history of the brief but burgeoning State DOT experience in these areas as well as the current state-of-the-practice and lessons learned. The final report, which offered a snapshot of issues in a rapidly evolving field, provides transportation agencies with information that is expected to help them consider the implications and evaluate the feasibility of implementing renewable energy and fuel options on highway ROW.

HEP and its researchers will establish a ROW think-tank committee to confront and address the challenges to accommodating renewable energy technologies on highway ROW, including those described in the study's final report. The committee will be composed of representatives from within FHWA's various offices, as well as stakeholders from State DOTs and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, utility company leaders, and representatives from other Federal agencies (e.g., the Department of Energy, United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Agency, and the Environmental Protection Agency), as identified during the assessment.

The goals of the effort will be to:

  • Further refine FHWA's and partners' collective understanding of pertinent issues related to highway ROW renewable energy generation; and
  • Implement steps necessary at the Federal level to accelerate State and local transportation agencies' accommodation of renewable energy in their ROWs, should they choose to pursue these activities.

$200,000

  1. A Study of Reverse Mortgages in Relocation Assistance

This research will determine the most efficient, fair, and effective method to calculate an increased mortgage interest cost payment to persons with reverse mortgages that are displaced as a result of a Federally funded project. The study will recommend the best approach and viable approaches to establishing an increased mortgage interest payment cost, including whether:

  • A life estate would be an appropriate solution;
  • FHWA should require the cost of the life estate as a basis in the calculation; and
  • Whether income stream (if any) from a reverse mortgage should be considered, especially when income is not a factor in any other increased mortgage interest cost payment.

The results of the research will inform the development of a fair and equitable process for consistently calculating any increased mortgage interest cost payments for residential displaced persons with reverse mortgages.

$200,000

IV. Anticipated Research Efforts in Tools to Support Planning and Environment

1. Travel Modeling

Contact Person:

Sarah.Sun@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. General Travel Model Improvement Program Promotion, Outreach and Capacity Building

TRB Special Report 288 (Metropolitan Travel Forecasting: Current Practice and Future Direction) identified inappropriate technical practices, inadequate data, or lack of validation processes and procedures as metropolitan forecasting shortcomings. This research effort will deploy research findings and new capabilities through peer reviews, collaborative web-based outreach, capacity building webinars, topical peer-to-peer email listservs, and syntheses of current practices.

$500,000

  1. Non-Motorized Analysis Tools

This project builds on prior work by the National Cooperative Research Program (NCHRP) 08-78 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to identify factors that influence bicycling and walking using national American Community Survey, National Household Travel Survey, and other data resources. This project will also incorporate earlier work on non-motorized analysis model frameworks. Lessons from the national study level study and NCHRP 08-78 will be redefined using detailed local household and employment data, sidewalk inventories, transit networks, and other data in collaboration with local planning agencies.

$275,000

  1. Travel Analysis Toolbox

TRB Special Report 288 (Metropolitan Travel Forecasting: Current Practice and Future Direction) found metropolitan travel forecasting shortcomings such as inappropriate technical practices, inadequate data, or lack of validation processes and procedures. This research effort will collaboratively develop reference materials to assist planners and engineers with selection and application of methods for a range of planning analyses and contexts. This project will classify the range of planning analyses and contexts and subsequently develop a synthesis of practice series organized by application context. This work will evolve through collaboration with key stakeholders represented by the TRB Special Committee on Travel Forecasting Resources and the TRB Statewide Modeling Subcommittee.

$400,000

  1. Travel Data

This research will continue support for delivery of Census Transportation Planning Products through the provision of special studies, training, technical assistance, and outreach materials.

$150,000

2. GIS and Spatial Information for Improved Decision-Making

Contact Person:

Mark.Sarmiento@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. GIS Applications in Transportation Case Studies, Best Practices, Peer Exchanges and National Highway Planning Network (NHPN) Enhancements

This research will develop and improve GIS web portals for sharing core spatial data resources. Additionally, in support of HEPGIS, FHWA's GIS web portal, the research will support software licenses and web-programming support license fees, server certifications, and will develop and demonstrate web tools on HEPGIS. To further training and development, funding will also be used to update a current NHI GIS course to take into account advancements in the geospatial technology area, priorities within transportation agencies, and distance learning techniques.

This project will also enhance and update the NHPN by incorporating existing, available State DOT geospatial road networks and corresponding linear referencing systems from all 50 State DOTs, the District of Columbia DOT, and the Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works. The NHPN contains information on the NHS, the Eisenhower Interstate System, and the Strategic Highway Network. This work will allow the Highway Performance Monitoring System to be used in national and regional traffic modeling efforts.

$100,000

V. Program Management and Outreach

Contact Person:

DeborahR.Johnson@dot.gov

Patricia.Cazenas@dot.gov

Research Activity or Project

Project Summary

STEP Budget

  1. Program Management and Outreach

This effort will: 1) assess and facilitate the implementation of the STEP; 2) provide resources to support the dissemination of information related to the STEP; 3) support stakeholder outreach associated with the STEP; and 4) develop tools to disseminate research results. Potential activities include: program support, website development, workshops, research plans, peer reviews, scans, training, technical assistance, presentations, publications, conferences, and symposia.

$1,000,000

  1. Financial Management and Program Assistance

This effort will provide financial management and program assistance for planning and environment discretionary program initiatives, which include the National Scenic Byways Program, the Transportation, Community, and System Preservation Program, and the Delta Region Transportation Development Program. Potential activities include conducting surveys and analyzing the findings.

$312,000

Updated: 01/10/2014
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