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Moving Americans into the 21st Century
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A SUMMARY - Advancing Research and Technology

TEA-21 establishes a strategic planning process to determine national research and technology (R&T) development priorities related to surface transportation, coordinate national R&T development activities, measure results and impacts, and coordinate reporting. In addition to a 5-year strategic plan, this program will produce reports on competitive merit review procedures for R&T, performance measurement procedures, and model procurement procedures.

Research and Technology


Surface transportation research. Contract authority totaling $592 million is provided for FYs 1998-2003 to fund research, development, and technology transfer activities with respect to all phases of transportation planning and development and motor carrier transportation, in addition to testing and development activities.

New efforts include an Advanced Research program to address longer-term, higher-risk research that shows potential for substantial national benefits and a new Surface Transportation-Environment Cooperative Research program which will address a variety of transportation-related environmental issues. Also authorized is the Advanced Vehicle Technologies program, to be jointly administered by DOT and the Department of Energy, whose goal is to develop advanced vehicles, components, and infrastructure, and bring them to the commercial market.

Remaining programs are continued, including the Long-Term Pavement Performance program and the International Highway Transportation Outreach program.

Technology deployment. Contract authority totaling $250 million is provided over the 6 years of the Act for the Technology Deployment Initiatives and Partnerships (TDIP) program. TDIP is designed to significantly accelerate adoption of innovative technologies. The program will focus on not more than five deployment goals that will produce tangible benefits. Strategies will be established in cooperation with public, private, and academic partners; and leveraging of Federal funds with other resources is encouraged. The program will utilize domestic and international technologies and will include technical assistance, information sharing mechanisms, and integration with dissemination of DOT research. Within the TDIP program, a total of $108 million is targeted to the Innovative Bridge Research and Construction program to demonstrate the application of innovative materials technology in the construction of bridges and other structures.

Training and education. The National Highway Institute (NHI) is authorized to provide its services to a broader group of transportation professionals. States are authorized to use a setaside of their apportionments to cover some expenses of their employees’ training. A total of $39 million is provided for NHI over the 6 years. The Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) is continued at a total of $51 million over 6 years. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowships are continued at $2 million per year.


Joint Partnership program. A new program is established to assist in the deployment of transit innovation. This program will allow the Secretary to enter into agreements with public or private research organizations, transit providers, and businesses to promote the early deployment of innovation in mass transportation services, management, operational practices, or technology that has broad applicability. Consortiums entering into partnerships with DOT will provide at least 50 percent of project costs.

International Mass Transportation program. This new program is established to support such activities as advocacy of American transit products and services overseas and cooperation with foreign public sector entities on research.

Advanced technologies. New programs are established for study, design, and demonstration of fixed guideway technology, bus technology, fuel cell-powered transit buses, advanced propulsion control for rail transit, and low-speed magnetic levitation technology for urban public transportation.

National Transit Institute (NTI). The NTI is authorized at $23 million over the 6 years to develop and offer training courses to improve transit planning and operations.

Rural Transit Assistance Program. This program is authorized at $30.75 million over the 6 years to promote delivery of safe and effective transit service in rural areas.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS)

The role of the BTS is expanded to include review of the sources and reliability of data used by the Department in complying with the Government Performance and Results Act. BTS will establish and maintain a Transportation Data Base, a National Transportation Library, and a National Transportation Atlas Data Base, and will ensure the information it collects, analyzes, and disseminates is relevant beyond the Federal Government. Added to the topics BTS will cover is the domestic impact of increasing global trade. A total of $186 million in funding is provided over the 6 years of the Act.

University Transportation Centers

The Act authorizes $158.8 million in transportation research funds, plus an additional $36 million in transit funds, for FYs 1998-2003 for grants to establish and operate 10 regional University Transportation Centers and up to 23 other centers. After a limited competition in FY 2001, the program will comprise 26 centers. TEA-21 establishes education as one of the primary objectives of a transportation research center, institutionalizes the use of strategic planning in university grant management, and reinforces the program’s focus on multi-modal transportation. The Act creates four classes of grants with different funding levels, competitive status, and life spans.


Intelligent Transportation Systems

A total of $1.282 billion in contract authority is provided for FYs 1998-2003 to fund the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) program. Of this total, $603 million is targeted to research, training, and standards development. Programs to accelerate integration and interoperability in the metropolitan and rural areas and to deploy commercial vehicle ITS infrastructure are established and funded at $482 million and $184 million respectively. Funding for metropolitan areas is limited primarily to integration of infrastructure.

In addition to the funds authorized specifically for ITS, ITS activities are eligible under other programs. Both NHS and STP funds may be used for infrastructure-based ITS capital improvements and CMAQ funding may be used for the implementation of ITS strategies to improve traffic flow that contribute to air quality improvement. Transit-related ITS projects are defined to be capital projects and are therefore eligible for related funding.

The legislated purposes of the program are, among others, to expedite integration and deployment, improve regional cooperation and operations planning, develop a capable ITS workforce, and promote innovative use of private resources. In carrying out these purposes, the Secretary is required to update the program plan with the inclusion of clearly stated actions and milestones leading to the program goals.

The Act requires the development of guidelines on procurement and independent evaluation, and specifically calls for the use of the Software Capability Maturity Model, or something similar, in software acquisition. It also requires life-cycle cost analysis for projects funded from this program.

All ITS projects funded from the Highway Trust Fund must be consistent with the national architecture and available standards. With emphasis on the timely development of those standards, the Secretary is required to list critical ITS standards by June 1, 1999. For those standards not completed by January 1, 2001, the Secretary is directed to establish provisional standards. The Federal Communications Commission is directed to complete a rulemaking considering allocation of spectrum for ITS by January 1, 2000.

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