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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

HEP Research Quarterly Newsletter

Spring 2013

Message from the Director of FHWA's Office of Human Environment

Welcome to FHWA's Office of Planning, Environment and Realty's (HEP) second Quarterly Research Newsletter under Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).

The articles and information in this publication are intended to provide the most up-to-date information about HEP's research products both completed and underway, along with resources for professionals and the public to further explore many of these subjects.

Recently, we received word that 11 HEP-supported projects are being considered to receive funding from the 2013 National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). The AASHTO Standing Committee on Research for NCHRP is slated to vote on the projects in the coming weeks and those selected will be posted on our website by mid-May. The NCHRP's investment in these research activities is invaluable as our office strives to provide practitioners and the public with resources that will help them strengthen transportation planning and environmental decision making in their communities. HEP contacts are identified for each project as liaisons either on the research committee or as a contact for our office to stay in touch with the progress and outcomes of the research. These projects are featured in the in the Research Highlights section of the newsletter. This issue also includes:

I encourage you to visit HEP's MAP-21 research website to learn how you can get involved in HEP's research activities. To subscribe to the newsletter, please visit GovDelivery.


Shari Schaftlein
Office Director
FHWA Office of Human Environment (HEPH)

Schaftlein Presents Research Priorities at TRB

photo: Shari Schaftlein

HEP's research was a popular topic at the Transportation Research Board's (TRB) Annual Meeting, which was held from January 13-17, 2013. HEPH Office Director Shari Schaftlein spoke at three conference sessions about the focus and priorities of FHWA's research under MAP-21 as well as the transition for the Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research (STEP) Program. According to Schaftlein, a primary difference between STEP and MAP-21 is that HEP research program funds previously allocated for 21 topics under STEP are now distributed through the five HEP offices. The funds support individual topics as well as cross-cutting research to address environmental, planning, and real estate initiatives. In addition, MAP-21 has an 80 percent to 20 percent federal match. Previously, matching was split 50-50.

In her presentations, Schaftlein also emphasized that all of the research priorities will continue to accelerate project delivery and reduce environmental review times, as they did under STEP. A few priorities that focus on these goals include:

Ms. Schaftlein said that the Second Strategic Highway Safety Research Program (SHRP2), (AASHTO and TRB), particularly the capacity portion of the program, is moving forward. Specifically, HEP is implementing the Eco-Logical research under project C06, and strategies for accelerated project delivery, under project C19. FHWA is currently working with AASHTO and TRB to complete the development of the Transportation for Communities - Advancing Projects through Partnerships (TCAPP) web resource under project C01. FHWA has been working with AASHTO as they conduct four regional assessment workshops for TCAPP and with TRB as they conduct four additional pilot studies of TCAPP. Implementation planning for TCAPP is expected to begin later this summer.

Funding support for the Center for Environmental Excellence by AASHTO is ongoing under MAP-21. Work of the Center will include partnering with FHWA as we implement the SHRP2, C06 and C19 efforts.


HEPH Hosts Webinars on Federal Requirements for the Enhanced NHS

HEPH recently sponsored two webinars that addressed MAP-21's impact on Federal requirements for the Enhanced National Highway System (NHS).

The webinars, held on February 20, 2013 and March 20, 2013, began with an overview of the changes to the system as well as the process for making modifications to it. Then, representatives from four FHWA offices shared a comprehensive overview of the new Federal requirements under MAP-21.

Ralph Gillman, from the Office of Highway Policy Information discussed changes to Highway Performance Monitoring System under the legislation. HEPH's Stefan Natzke shared information about new NHS data reporting and collection requirements. Mike Neathery, also with HEPH, presented changes to the NHS under MAP-21. Dawn Horan, representing the Office of Real Estate Services, addressed regulations related to outdoor advertising and junkyard control. Brooke Struve with FHWA's Office of Program Administration focused on design standards for the NHS.

Research Highlights

This section features the tentative list of HEP supported projects that are being considered by the AASHTO Standing Committee on Research to receive NCHRP funding. Also included in this section are highlights from HEP research projects that are completed or underway.

HEP Supported Projects Selected for 2014 NCHRP


Establishing Application and Policy Sensitivity in Travel Demand Models - This research will develop resources for state transportation agencies and metropolitan planning organizations to help them evaluate the capabilities and limitations of their existing models with respect to specific policy and planning questions. It will also assist them in scoping model development or improvement projects so as to attain the desired policy sensitivity. HEP Staff Contact: Jeremy Raw, (202)366-0986.

cartoon drawing of a cell phone

Using Cell-Phone Tracking to Improve Travel Demand Models - Over 15 billion anonymous locations from mobile devices are generated every day from private data sources. Taken separately, anonymous signaling data do not mean much, but in aggregate, they form a detailed picture showing how groups of people move throughout the day. This type of data can help planners understand the regional and inter-regional travel patterns as they update and calibrate their next travel demand models. HEP Staff Contact: Jeremy Raw, (202)366-0986.

Truck Freight Benefit Methodology Development Phase 2 - There is a national need for a tool to quantitatively evaluate the benefits associated with truck freight projects. With declining revenue to build and maintain transportation infrastructure, it is important that limited resources are invested in projects that are most needed and provide the greatest benefit to the highway system user. Development of quantitative measures to evaluate truck freight benefits is an important step in the project prioritization process. This phase of the research is to estimate the value of travel time reliability to truck freight system users. HEP Staff Contact: Jeremy Raw, (202)366-0986.


Developing Clean Truck Freight Corridors - This research will identify the most appropriate and cost effective technologies for reducing air emissions and fuel use for heavy duty diesel trucks operating along heavily used truck routes that serve as freight corridors. HEP Staff Contact: John Davies, (202)366-6039.

Integration of Freight Considerations into Smart Growth - This study will examine community development practices in urban settings that efficiently design for the coexistence of freight movement and the Smart Growth tenant of "walkable communities" and then create best practices and recommendations for proactive design and phasing. It may eventually be used by planners and decision-makers as a national best practices guide/reference manual for integrated urban design. For HEP Staff Contact: Brenda Kragh, (202)366-2064.

Methods for Analyzing Environmental Justice Issues Related to Tolling Mechanisms - The research will: identify types of tolling proposals and other congestion pricing situations that trigger need for detailed analysis of effects on low income users; identify project characteristics that lend themselves to particular methods of analysis; provide a baseline for what has been done across the country and ferret out the key challenges regarding EJ/Tolling issues from the state DOT perspective. HEP Staff Contact: Brenda Kragh, (202)366-2064.

Streamlining Project Level Air Quality Analysis through Development of Combined Interface Software This research is to develop a new user-friendly graphic user interface (GUI) that runs both the MOVES and dispersion models for criteria pollutants and MOVES-only for greenhouse gases(GHG) and mobile source air toxics(MSATs). The GUI must be able to be updated when changes are made to either the emissions (MOVES) or dispersion (CAL3QHC, CAL3QHCR, AERMOD) models. HEP Staff Contact: Emily Biondi, (202)366-9482.

photo of a dictioary entry for "re-search"

Improving Noise Regulation Implementation - A new research effort was launched in September 2012 to improve the implementation of the FHWA noise regulation found in 23 CFR 772. Three subject areas are the focus of the study: land use evaluation methodologies, analysis of noise barrier acceptance criteria, and opportunities for streamlining the noise study process. This research was just selected to receive funding to continue the next phase of the project. A technical work group comprised of state DOTs and FHWA will oversee the effort. HEP Staff Contact: Mark Ferroni, (202)366-3233.

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

Additional HEP Research Highlights


Environmental Justice Case Studies - The Transportation and Environmental Justice Case Studies booklet, released in March 2013, was developed to draw attention to effective practices on how to better promote environmental justice principles. The case studies profile how various transportation agencies have integrated environmental justice considerations in their activities to improve transportation decision making. Two pdf files are also provided as a download that can be used for presentation purposes. To view the case studies, please visit HEP Staff Contact: Brenda Kragh, (202)366-2064.

The Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM) was completed in March 2013. It replaces the FHWA runoff-quality model (Driscoll) published in 1990. SELDM was developed by USDOT Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in coordination with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) The model uses information and data about a highway site, water quality of upstream receiving waters, precipitation events, storm-flow, and the performance of mitigation measures, to produce a stochastic population of runoff-quality variables. It is designed to help determine pollutant loading levels for planning or NEPA level studies. This robust model was tested by FHWA, many state DOTs, USEPA, academia, and several other regulatory agencies, and is acceptable to DOTs, regulators, and resource-management agencies. To learn more please visit For more information about the pending training sessions HEP Staff Contact: Susan C. Jones, FHWA, (202) 493-2139 or Gregory E. Granato, U.S. Geological Survey, (508) 490-5055.

Real Estate Services

Coordination with Railroads to Facilitate Acquisition of ROW was released in June 2012. The research developed approaches that will be useful to acquiring agencies as they advance right-of-way access and land acquisition programs. This includes identifying the best ways to use FHWA resources to help SDOTs and other local public agencies successfully and expeditiously achieve railroad access agreements and acquisitions consistent with the provisions of the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 as amended, also known as the Uniform Act (UA). To read the report, please visit HEP Staff Contact: John Turpin, (202)366-5853.

Featured Research Project

Section 4(f) Tutorial Guides Professionals to Preserve Public Lands

A new interactive online tutorial that FHWA released in March 2013 aims to help transportation professionals and other interested individuals understand the fundamental requirements of Section 4(f).

Section 4(f) is a special provision from a 1966 Transportation regulation that provides for consideration of park and recreation lands, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and historic sites during transportation project development.

Graphic shows street alignment intersecting thru property.

Figure 1 Least Overall Harm

Graphic shows selected street alignment with ramps by-passing property.

Figure 2 Mitigation Graphic

Significant changes were made to Section 4(f), and an older tutorial originally developed for the Maryland State Highway Administration was updated and expanded to apply the requirements. The new tutorial was developed as an on demand overview and application of the basics of Section 4(f) for project development specialists, engineers, resource agencies, and other stakeholders who are faced with understanding what can be an extraordinarily complicated process. A task force of experienced 4(f) practitioners from FHWA headquarters, the Resource Center, Chief Council's office and several divisions, along with support from the Volpe Center, rewrote substantial sectionsof the tutorial content, tested the application and last fall deployed a beta version to their organizations for further testing. First-time users provided constructive comments as well as praise for the ease of use.

A curriculum for a two day National Highway Institute (NHI) class is also being developed for those professionals who desire to enhance their understanding beyond what is offered in the tutorial. The class will be offered this fall, so watch the NHI calendar for announcements. To learn more, please visit or HEP Staff Contact: MaryAnn Naber, (202)366-2060.

Upcoming Events

Here is a listing of upcoming HEP-sponsored events, conferences and meetings as well as other related events that may be of interest. Each event also includes an HEP staff contact that can provide more information.

May 2013

June 2013

Updated: 11/12/2015
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