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Karen White, FHWA Office of Transportation Policy Studies

In the early 1990s, the Office of Policy and Governmental Affairs embarked on a research journey entitled “Searching for Solutions, A Policy Discussion Series.” These 17 reports included areas that, at the time, were exploratory and advanced. The wide-ranging and forward-thinking topics included congestion pricing, public-private partnerships, public and private sector roles in intelligent vehicle highway systems, productivity and the infrastructure, air quality, productivity measures, bond financing, land use and transportation, life-cycle cost analysis, North American trade, cost allocation, and the personal transportation survey. New topics have not been added to the series for almost 10 years, and the time has come to bring focus and attention into the policy challenges of the future.

The transportation system is facing new challenges to deliver and implement passenger and freight systems that meet the needs of mobility and economic growth. To synthesize the multifaceted issues facing highway transportation, the Office of Transportation Policy Studies is initiating this new series of Transportation Policy Discussions. As its predecessor did, this series will examine challenges and solutions across a broad range of topics including: (1) implementation issues for vehicle miles traveled (VMT) based user fees; (2) issues and options with respect to infrastructure banks; (3) achieving intermodal interoperability; (4) optimal fees for commercial motor vehicles; (5) financial structures for mega-region projects; (6) implications of alternative fuels; (7) meeting the needs of the aging population; (8) role of the Federal Government in solving urban transportation congestion; and (9) other topics. However, rather than being strictly defined by these initial topics, the series is expected to encompass policy discussions covering a wide range of topics over the course of the next five years.

This first issue of Innovations for Tomorrow's Transportation is the result of the effort of many transportation leaders' input, insight, and discussion. It provides an encompassing framework outlining transportation research needs in six policy areas. Future discussions and workshops will bring experts and government officials together for other topics of interest. Many of these topics will provide useful input into future surface transportation legislation by providing a forum for researchers and stakeholders to discuss future directions of highway delivery. These future topics include implementation issues and options for a VMT-based user-fee system and issues and options related to infrastructure banks.

We look forward to the continuation of this series!

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