The proposals presented at the FHWA Stakeholder Workshop in Chicago, Illinois, represented FHWA's current thinking on the direction that the Infrastructure R&T Program needs to move over the next decade or longer to achieve the vital strategic goals of increased mobility, reduced congestion, and improved safety. As outlined at the workshop, the proposed focus is on the longer term, high-payoff research-and-development activities. We intend to develop and deploy breakthrough technologies that have the potential to change our expectations about pavement and bridge performance, as well as the way we manage our infrastructure systems. Achieving these breakthroughs will involve the critical elements of information, people, technology, and deployment.
As the workshop detailed, we are proposing to refocus our direction, ultimately achieving a fundamental change in the way we manage this research and technology program. The most significant aspect of this change is expanding the role of stakeholders: We aim to involve stakeholders in every aspect of the R&T process. The stakeholder workshop was a first step, as well as a checkpoint to ensure that we are going in the right direction. The feedback and input received at the workshop will help us revise and sharpen the infrastructure R&T vision and help to define stakeholder involvement as we move forward to carry out this vision. The results of the workshop and our initial thinking on formal stakeholder involvement models were presented in Session 284 during the January 2003 Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board.
During 2003, as FHWA gears up for reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), we will continue to refine the Infrastructure R&T vision statement and stakeholder involvement model. This will be done by building upon the recommendations from the Chicago workshop, input received from the session held during the Transportation Research Board's 2003 Annual Meeting, and via continuing dialogue with our stakeholders and partners in the highway industry. As the Infrastructure R&T Program moves forward, it will reflect an essential commitment to continuous improvement and, while further refinements and changes to the process are likely, our fundamental commitment to stakeholder involvement will not change. All future achievements of the program will be built upon this bedrock of stakeholder participation and partnership.