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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

HEP Research Quarterly Newsletter

Spring 2014

A Message from FHWA's Director Office of Real Estate Services

Virgil Pridemore - Description: Photograph of Office of Real Estate Services Director

Welcome to FHWA's Office of Planning, Environment and Realty's Quarterly Research Newsletter under Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). The MAP-21 research newsletters provide readers with current news about the office's research activities.

Serving in my previous position as the Right of Way Branch Manager, North Carolina Department of Transportation, I understood the role that research plays to identify and test potential cost-effective solutions in actual settings. In fact, my 29 years of experience in other government and private sector positions exposed me to the value of research across many disciplines. Now, as I begin my tenure in the Office of Real Estate Services, I find new research being developed to assist local, State and Division officials; evaluate option contracts, pilot and test a cloud-based AASHTOware's right-of-way relocation software and develop maps of Federal Aid Primary routes through urban areas, in the United States.

We received word in May that ten, Office of Planning, Environment and Realty supported research projects are being considered to receive funding from the 2015 National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). Those projects selected by the AASHTO Standing Committee on Research for NCHRP will be posted on our website. The NCHRP's investment in these research activities, at a little over $4 million, is invaluable as our office strives to provide practitioners and the public with resources that will help them strengthen transportation planning, environmental decision-making, and real estate management, in their communities. These projects are featured in the Research Highlights section of the newsletter.

This newsletter also reports on:

I encourage you to visit the MAP-21 research website to discover how you can get involved in the Office's research activities.

Virgil Pridemore, Director
Office of Real Estate Services
FHWA Office of Planning, Environment and Realty

Secretary Foxx Talks Bicycle Lanes

Sign denotes bicycle and pedestrian lane - Description: Photograph of a sign showing a bicycle and a pedestrian.

This April in Indianapolis, DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx touted the benefits of bicycle lanes. "The nation's highways and byways continue to be under high-stress and bike pathways are one way to address the issue", Foxx said during the kick-off of "Green Lanes", an innovative program to bring dedicated bicycle lanes to six American cities. FHWA Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty's pedestrian and bicycle research agenda supports both Federal and State-level bicycle projects with new research slated to begin in early June. The efforts demonstrate FHWA's commitment to safety and the focus on pedestrian and bicycle networks in DOT's strategic plan. The research projects include:

Federal Highways and U.S. Coast Guard Complete Agreements on Bridge Permitting

Ship hitting a bridge - Description: Photograph of a large cargo ship alongside a bridge.

FHWA recently completed two important efforts to improve coordination and collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard: a multimodal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and FHWA, FTA, and FRA and an agency specific Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between FHWA and the USCG. The purpose of both the MOU and MOA is to improve the efficiencies and reduce redundancies between agencies for projects requiring USCG Bridge Permits. The documents integrate efforts to expedite and inform NEPA and USCG permit decisions.

The agreements focus on two main areas: identifying design concepts that unreasonably obstruct navigation prior to or concurrent with the NEPA process to evaluate alternatives and preparing a coordinated environmental document that results in a shared or joint environmental decision. The MOA replaces the 1981 document. A webinar was held in March to provide details about the agreements and answer questions. Listen to the webinar here:

Research Highlights

Included in this section are recent highlights from the Office's research projects that are completed or underway and the tentative list of supported projects that are being considered to receive NCHRP funding by the AASHTO Standing Committee on Research.


A Performance-Based Approach to Addressing Greenhouse Gas (ghg) Emissions through Transportation Planning - This practitioner handbook is intended to serve as a resource for State DOTs and MPOs interested in addressing GHG emissions through performance-based planning and programming (PBPP). Building on related resources addressing PBPP and mobile source emissions analysis, the handbook describes the use of GHG performance measures and other performance management techniques to support investment choices and decision-making. Learn more at Staff Contact: John Davies, (202)366-6039.

A Snapshot of Travel Modeling Activities - The State of Texas - This Travel Model Improvement Program (TMIP) snapshot report offers a means of delineating and documenting the travel modeling activities of various planning agencies. Staff Contact: Brian Gardner, (202)366-4061.

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Express Toll Lane Modeling Workshop Peer Review Report - This report summarizes the FDOT Express Toll Lane Modeling Blue Ribbon Panel Workshop that was held at the Florida Turnpike Enterprise headquarters in Orlando, Florida. The workshop was supported in part by the Travel Model Improvement Program (TMIP) and sponsored by the FHWA. Staff Contact: Brian Gardner, (202)366-4061.

National Corridor and Gateway Concepts - Freight corridors and gateways are key elements of the transportation network, and thus investment in them is critical to maintain economic competitiveness. This research documents multimodal corridor and gateway needs, trends and opportunities to assist in the development of future national infrastructure plans that will ensure U.S. and North American competitiveness. Staff Contact: Roger Petzold, (202)366-4074.

Candidates for NCHRP Funding

AASHTO Standing Committees: Planning, Environment and Public Transportation - Two office staff members will guide the funding allocations of shorter term or "quick response" research projects, through three AASHTO Standing Committees. The Office's staff contacts for each committee are as follows: Planning and Public Transportation, Harlan Miller, (202)366-0847; Environment, Gary Jensen, (202)366-2048.

Improving modeling tools and methods to more accurately forecast regional heavy-duty diesel vehicle (HDDV) activity and goods movement. - This research will produce recommended methods of collecting improved activity data and illustrate their use through a case study. The data collection methods will be used to improve identification of fleet characteristics for the three urban freight segments (long haul, drayage, and local distribution). In addition to improving the ability to model activity, emissions, and air quality, the enhanced data collection methods will assist in strategic planning. Understanding how activity, vehicle starts and idling differ for freight shippers provides for the opportunity to develop national, state and local policies designed to reduce freight-related mobile source emissions. Staff Contact: Victoria Martinez, (787)771-2524

Enhancement of Roadway Construction Noise Model (RCNM Version 2) - This research will develop an improved tool for predicting construction noise levels and the effects of noise reduction efforts to reduce the potential for public complaints and ensure compliance with state, local and project-specific noise restrictions. The tool could be either an update to the existing RCNM or the development of a new model. This research will help state transportation departments reduce public complaints, reduce noise control costs, avoid litigation, and improve project delivery. Staff Contact: Marcel Tchaou, (202)366-4198.

Limitations of the Infiltration Approach to Stormwater Management in the Highway Environment - The focus of this research is to better understand the full range of effects caused by the use of infiltration best management practices (BMPs). Specifically, this research effort will include: conducting detailed evaluations of the effects of climate, soils, topography, receiving water and other local conditions on the effectiveness of infiltration best management practices to remove pollutants of concern in highway runoff. Analyzing and documenting the potential risks associated with the use of infiltration such as the potential for groundwater contamination. Recommendations will be provided for the appropriate use of infiltration when treating stormwater as well as potential methods for improving the effectiveness of and reducing any risks from infiltration BMPs. Staff Contact: Susan Jones, (202) 493-2139.

Framework for Analyzing the Costs and Benefits of Adaptation Measures in Preparation for Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change - This research will develop an analytical framework that will assist State DOTs in analyzing the overall costs and benefits of incorporating adaptation measures in their existing and future facilities in response to extreme weather events and changing climate conditions, such as sea level rise. Staff Contact: Rob Kafalenos, (202)366-2079.

Guidelines for the Consideration of Atmospheric Effects for Improved Noise Modeling This project will develop a set of best management practices for considering atmospheric effects in noise modeling, which provides guidance and makes recommendations on: The most critical atmospheric parameters that affect sound propagation from a highway traffic noise source; Resources and avenues for obtaining said parameters; When atmospheric effects should be considered and when they may be disregarded in noise prediction modeling and abatement assessment; How atmospheric effects could be incorporated into the FHWA Traffic Noise Model (TNM) and future policy, which will identify the necessary modeling input parameters; and How atmospheric effects could be considered when using the current, and any future versions, of TNM that only account for neutral conditions and atmospheric absorption. Staff Contact: Mark Ferroni, (202) 366-3233

Understanding Urban Bicyclist Facility Type Preferences and Facility Type Impacts on Transportation System Performance - This research will comprehensively examine bicycle facility types from the viewpoints of bicyclists and create results that can be applied to facility design choices in practice. Staff Contact: Daniel Goodman, (202)366-9064.

Update of the AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities - The AASHTO Guide covers all aspects of bicycle planning and design for on-road and off-road bikeways, including fundamental operating characteristics of bicyclists and geometric design. It is referred to in the August 2013 FHWA guidance memorandum as the "primary national resource for planning, designing, and operating bicycle facilities". Even while the AASHTO guide was being developed, new types of bicycle facilities and treatments were being considered and installed in the United States. The bicycle transportation field is evolving rapidly so it is important to ensure the guidance is current. Staff Contact: Daniel Goodman, (202)366-9064.

Upcoming Events





The Office of Human Environment's Research and Financial Services Team administers research programs and financial support to HEP for research initiatives under MAP-21. They provide leadership, coordination, support and implementation of research activities. They also work toward improving outreach, communication and partnerships between Federal, State, and local stakeholders in managing the research programs. For more information, please contact HEP's Primary Research Coordinator: Patricia Cazenas, (202)366-4085.

Updated: 1/31/2017
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