Highway Research, Technology Deployment, Training & Education Questions & Answers
Question 1: Who determines how the highway research funding is distributed in the various areas of national significance?
Answer 1: Every Research and Technology (R&T) office within FHWA utilizes multi-year roadmaps that are based on Department goals and priorities, as well as stakeholder input from partners such as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Transportation Research Board (TRB), and State Departments of Transportation (State DOTs). FHWA evaluates research needs and prioritizes funding based on these roadmaps, agency priorities, and funding availability.
Question 2: What is the anticipated timeline for determining how to distribute the research funding within FHWA?
Answer 2: FHWA anticipates that the determination regarding the distribution of R&T funds will be made before the beginning of each fiscal year, or shortly thereafter.
Question 3: Has the statewide planning and research (SP&R) funding changed?
Answer 3: Yes. SP&R funds are now a 2% set-aside of four Federal-aid programs: the Surface Transportation Program (STP), the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), the National Highway Performance Program (NHPP), and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ). The total program funding ends up being roughly equivalent to funding levels under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). However, because of the new distribution formula, some States' SP&R funding will decline, while other States will have more SP&R funding than under SAFETEA-LU. In addition, States can fund SP&R activities through the use of STP funds.
Question 4: How is the implementation of the Future Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP2) going to be funded?
Answer 4: The implementation of SHRP2 will be funded through a combination of existing funds made available by SAFETEA-LU and new funding provided in MAP-21. The newly authorized Technology and Innovation Deployment Program (TIDP) under section 52003 of MAP-21 (23 U.S.C. 503(c)) will be used to implement SHRP2 products. FHWA will make the final decision regarding the level of TIDP funding that will be applied for SHRP2 implementation.
This TIDP amount may be supplemented with SP&R contributions, at a percentage agreed upon by three-fourths of States. (23 U.S.C. 505(c)(1)). The State contribution would be from the total SP&R funds; the States would not have the option of selecting funding from either the planning or research division of SP&R funds. States would be able to fund additional planning and research activities from the STP if they choose to do so.
Question 5: What if 75% of the States fail to agree on what the percentage should be for SHRP2 from SP&R?
Answer 5: If three-fourths of the States do not agree on a percentage of SP&R funds for SHRP2 implementation, FHWA will still move forward with SHRP2 implementation in collaboration with AASHTO and TRB, using unobligated, but available, SAFETEA-LU funds and MAP-21 funds. (23 U.S.C. 505(c)(1))
Question 6: What is the funding level for the Centers for Excellence?
Answer 6: The Secretary of Transportation is authorized to establish and maintain Centers for Excellence through grants authorized as part of the Training and Education program under section 52004(7) of MAP-21 (23 U.S.C. 504(h)). FHWA is currently determining the appropriate level of funding for the Centers.
Question 7: The Surface Transportation Environment Program (STEP) and the National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) were repealed in MAP-21. What are the implications?
Answer 7: The requirement to establish the STEP and NCFRP was repealed by MAP-21, as well as specific funding sources for these programs. Any unobligated balances that remain available for obligation for the programs will be administered under the applicable SAFETEA-LU requirements. MAP-21 authorizes the establishment of cooperative research programs under the Highway Research and Development program (HRD), (section 52003 of MAP-21 (23 U.S.C. 503)). FHWA will determine how the research topics previously addressed under STEP and NCFRP can best be considered.
Question 8: What is the matching requirement for Research, Technology and Education (RT&E) programs?
Answer 8: The Federal share of a project or activity carried out under this program shall be 80% unless otherwise determined by the Secretary (section 51001(b)(1) of MAP-21). Exceptions include the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP), which has a 50% Federal share and the Tribal Technical Assistance Program, which has a 100% Federal share (section 52004 of MAP-21; 23 U.S.C. 504). Amounts provided for Surface Transportation Workforce Development, Training, and Education or for State Planning and Research may be applied toward the non-Federal share for LTAP projects, up to 100%. The University Transportation Centers (UTC) program requires a 100% match for national or regional UTCs, and a 50% match for Tier I UTCs (section 52009 of MAP-21; 49 U.S.C. 5505). In addition, States can use SP&R funds as the non-Federal share for UTCs and LTAP centers.
Question 9: Are programs such as the Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) program and the Long Term Bridge Performance (LTBP) program going to continue under MAP-21?
Answer 9: Section 52003 of MAP-21 (23 U.S.C. 503) continues to authorize program activities previously authorized in the LTPP and the LTBP under the Highway Research and Development program (HRD). FHWA will determine, based on USDOT research goals and priorities, the appropriate funding levels for these programs.
Question 10: How is the term "technology" used for the purposes of the RT&E program; does it encompass technology transfer?
Answer 10: The term "technology" refers to actual tangible technologies, as well as innovations that may improve processes, and the delivery or transfer of those innovations or technologies to our customers for deployment and use (stakeholders, industry, and practitioners). The definition includes the deployment of technology and innovation to complete the innovation cycle.
Question 11: Were there significant material changes in the funding or administration of the Transportation Pooled Fund under MAP21?
Answer 11: No. Under section 52002 of MAP-21 (23 U.S.C. 502), the Secretary retains the authority to transfer apportioned or allocated funds to another State or FHWA to fund research, development and technology transfer activities of mutual interest on a pooled fund basis.
Question 12: What changes does FHWA anticipate in the freight research and environment and planning research areas?
Answer 12: Under MAP-21, most programs that were either designated or earmarked under SAFETEA-LU are still eligible program activities under the RT&E program, even though they do not have specific funding associated with them. As we move forward with implementation of MAP-21, FHWA will determine, based on USDOT research goals and priorities, the appropriate funding level for these activities.
Question 13: Given the increased flexibility under RT&E programs authorized in MAP-21, what stakeholder input will FHWA seek from State DOTs, Industry, etc.?
Answer 13: Given the highly flexible nature of the MAP-21 RT&E Program, stakeholder and customer input will be critical as FHWA moves forward with implementation. FHWA will continue to rely on State, local and industry groups and associations for input. We will also seek advice from the Research and Technology Coordinating Committee, administered by TRB. FHWA is also planning to launch a new interactive website to allow for stakeholder and general public input and comments, and to help identify areas of research and technology deployment collaboration with entities.