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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

HEP Research Highlights

The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA's) Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty's research program supports projects with the goal of strengthening transportation planning and environmental decision-making. This page features recent research projects and activities that FHWA conducted to achieve this goal. Links to previous research highlights can be found at the bottom of the page.


Effective Public Involvement and Environmental Justice Strategies for Rural and Small Communities. The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) conducted an applied research project to help transportation planners, practitioners and other decision makers in rural areas and other smaller communities develop strategies for public involvement in transportation planning and programming. Staff Contact: Jody McCullough, (202) 366-5001.

MPO Planning for Shared Mobility. "New mobility" technologies and business models including on-demand ridesharing ("ride sourcing"), car sharing, trip planning applications, private transit services, and others have introduced powerful new dynamics in the transportation. This study will investigate and unlock emerging strategies and approaches for MPOs in integrating new technologies and business practices into the transportation planning process. Staff Contact: Harlan Miller, (202) 366-0847.

2015 Environmental Justice (EJ) Implementation Report. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issues this annual EJ Implementation Report to describe and summarize DOT’s EJ activities in keeping with Executive Order 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations,” and a Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice signed by the heads of Federal agencies in 2011. The 2015 report highlights the release of the FHWA Environmental Justice Reference Guide, a resource intended for FHWA staff to help them ensure compliance with EJ requirements. The document does not establish any new requirements or replace any existing guidance. Staff Contact: Brenda Kragh, (202) 366-2064.

Framework for Better Integrating Health into Transportation Corridor Planning. Supports transportation practitioners motivated to incorporate health into planning decisions, this framework poses questions to identify issues to consider, suggests partnership strategies, and identifies data and tools needed to support these decisions. Five transportation agencies across the country tested the framework in a corridor study. Their experiences were turned into case studies that highlight how each of the agencies applied the framework to incorporate health into their corridor planning processes, and the resulting outcomes. Staff Contact: Victoria Martinez, (787) 771-2524.

Transportation and Health Tool (THT) - The tool developed by the DOT and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides easy access to data that practitioners can use to examine the health impacts of transportation systems. The tool, completed in October 2015, provides data on a set of transportation and public health indicators for each U.S. state and metropolitan area that describe how the transportation environment affects safety, active transportation, air quality, and connectivity to destinations. You can use the tool to quickly see how your State or metropolitan area compares with others in addressing key transportation and health issues. It also provides information and resources to help agencies better understand the links between transportation and health and to identify strategies to improve public health through transportation planning and policy. Staff Contact: Fred Bowers, (202) 366-2374.


Environmental Justice Analysis in Transportation Planning and Programming. This research will involve the collection and synthesis of data pertaining to the identification of low-income and minority populations – and strategies to engage these populations in the development of public involvement plans, metropolitan transportation plans and improvement programs, and long-range statewide transportation plans and improvement programs. The results will be useful to State departments of transportation (DOTs), metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), local transportation planners, and other practitioners involved with planning, programming, and implementing transportation projects. Staff Contact: Fleming El-Amin, (202) 366-0233.

Measuring Multimodal Network Connectivity. This research project will synthesize and present options available for measuring multimodal network connectivity and tracking change over time. It will be a comprehensive resource that documents existing network connectivity performance metrics. The research will evaluate how various metrics, approaches, and methodologies can be used to support planning decisions and identify best practices. The project will apply a subset of methodologies in five case study communities, and the results will be incorporated into the final report. Staff Contact: Dan Goodman, (202) 366-9064.

Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) Performance Management Guidebook. This guidebook provides voluntary best practices to assist program managers at SDOTs and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in using a performance-based approach for implementing their TAPs. The guidebook will help ensure that staff and decision makers understand program goals and that program actions are making progress towards achieving those goals. Staff Contact: Christopher B. Douwes, (202) 366-5013.

Remotely Monitoring Water Quality near Highways: A Sustainable Solution. Collecting water quality data on streams located near highways can be challenging, time-consuming, expensive, dangerous and inaccurate. Collecting water quality data is crucial, however, to State DOTs in their effort to meet U.S. EPA permit requirements. Placing sensors directly in the water to collect data is one solution, but these rely on batteries that have to be replaced frequently. Designing a renewable and self-sustaining onsite system is the goal of this Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program project conducted by Montana State University and funded by FHWA. Staff Contact: Susan Jones, (202) 493-2139.

The Workbook for Building On-Road Bicycle Networks through Resurfacing Projects helps communities create on-road bike networks by capturing opportunities as part of the resurfacing process. Staff Contact: Dan Goodman, (202)366-9064.

The Guidebook for Evaluating Pedestrian and Bicycle Performance Measures presents a broad range of potential measures and that highlight their effectiveness at different scales. Staff Contact: Dan Goodman, (202)366-9064.

Real Estate

Right-of-Way Planning Cost Estimator. Many State DOTs have converted from a manual, paper-based cost estimate process to an electronic right-of-way cost estimate system or process. This research study will provide FHWA, with tangible and easily understandable documentation for transportation professionals in public agencies, at the state and local levels, to use in support of implementing electronic right-of-way cost estimate calculators for ROW and related activities. Staff Contact: Rosemary Jones, (202) 366-2042.

Notices and Offers by Electronic Methods: Process Streamlining. This research study evaluated the feasibility of using electronic methods to deliver notices and offers without jeopardizing an owner’s or a tenant’s rights under the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 (Uniform Act). The Uniform Act and the implementing regulations at 49 CFR Part 24 require that agencies personally deliver or send notices to property owners or occupants by certified or registered first-class mail, return receipt requested. These regulations also require an agency to make all reasonable efforts to contact the owner or owner’s representative to discuss the offer to acquire real property. A webinar. was held in early March to discuss the findings of the research. Staff Contact: Rosemary Jones, (202) 366-2042.

Implementation of Electronic Right-of-Way Management Systems Versus Paper Systems. Recognizing that implementing an electronic right-of-way management system can be potentially costly and complex, HEPR conducted research to develop tangible, easily understandable documentation for transportation professionals in public agencies to use in supporting the potential implementation of an electronic right-of-way information management system. The research project compared and contrasted the relative strengths and challenges associated with using both an electronic system and a paper system and then identified and documented the business case associated with the implementation of an electronic system. Staff Contact: Rosemary Jones, (202) 366-2042.

Updated: 2/14/2017
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