Policy Analysis and Development Team
The Policy Analysis and Development Team was created in late 2007 to provide analytical support in the evaluation of FHWA policies and programs.
Policy Analysis and Development Team members conduct research and manage studies to aid in the formulation of transportation policy and legislative initiatives. Studies assess highway user fees, finance issues, transportation revenue collection mechanisms, and forecast the effects of highway policies.
Primarily, the Team is responsible for research into the following subject areas: multi-modal freight and passenger transportation policy analysis, highway cost allocation, highway taxation and revenue analysis, truck size and weight policies, international competition, external costs and benefits of highway transportation, and correlations between highway investment, employment, and economic productivity.
The Policy Analysis and Development Team's research on the above subject areas help guide public policies and programs such as energy policies, value pricing and market-based demand strategies, and identification and assessment of any other emerging issues that may affect transportation policy.
This work includes leading, managing and performing a variety of duties, involving the monitoring and forecasting of economic, demographic, finance, environmental, energy and travel trends. This team also provides advice and recommendations to the Office of Policy and Governmental Affairs on available tools and data systems for policy analysis and evaluation.
Current Research Activities
Evaluating Congestion Reduction Strategies - This was a meta-analysis of congestion mitigation programs. The objective was to assess the single and collective impact of congestion mitigation strategies deployed in urban areas. Additionally, the study examined the effect of Active Traffic Management (ATM) strategies optimizing the use of existing infrastructure during peak travel periods.
The information generated in this research can be used to identify and rank effective stand-alone strategies, complementary combinations of strategies, and inconsistent strategies which create a reduction in benefit when employed in combinations.
Updating Models - The Policy Analysis and Development Team is currently in the process of updating several models which, primarily have been used in the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Cost Allocation Studies.
- WINBASIC - The model WINBASIC is one of the
most useful and powerful analytical models used by the Office of Policy and
Governmental Affairs. It was first
developed in the 1990s and has been updated several times. In simplest terms, the model analyzes bridge
strength. It is not a detailed bridge
rating model, rather, it is a policy level model that can analyze the impacts
of axle load on tens of thousands of the Nation's bridges. It can isolate bridges by state, county,
functional class, and route number.
- HRFM - The Highway Revenue Forecasting Model is used to estimate
highway user revenue for a variety of transportation policy scenarios. This model is used, in part, to analyze user
fee options intended to improve the equity of the highway user fee
- NAPCOM - The National Pavement Cost Model provides a best estimate of how pavement
costs vary as a function of vehicle use. This model is currently being updated and the new version of NAPCOM will
include distress equations and load equivalency factors (LEFs), based on
AASHTO's Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide (MEPDG) model
- ITIC - The Intermodal Transportation and Inventory Costing (ITIC) Model is for policy analysis on issues concerning long haul freight movement. Such issues include modal diversion and the assessment of economic benefits associated with changes in transportation policy or infrastructure. The model estimates traffic and shipment diversions from the existing truck configurations to an alternative vehicle weight or configuration. The model also estimates the diversion of shipments to and/or from railroads to the same proposed vehicle configuration and weight.
The policy issues associated with Vehicle to Vehicle and Vehicle to Infrastructure Communication Study - The Policy Analysis and Development Team is an active participant in a research study funded by the Research Innovative Technology Administration. The purpose of this study is to identify the potential of Connected Vehicle technology to improve highway safety, mobility, and environmental impacts. Connected Vehicle technology refers to vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications, and associated applications. A full Connected Vehicle system would require wireless equipment to be installed in motor vehicles and on highway infrastructure (such as traffic signals, railway-highway crossings, and bridges).
Support for Comprehensive Study of Truck Size & Weight Limits - The Policy Analysis and Development Team is a participant in the panels responsible for conducting a comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study. Section 32801 of The "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century" (MAP-21) requires the Secretary of Transportation to conduct a study on specific areas of federal truck size and weight limits, their operations, and their impacts. The Federal Highway Administration's Freight Office is tasked with leading the USDOT efforts to complete this study.