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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.


Geospatial Tools for Data-Sharing: Case Studies of Select Transportation Agencies and Peer Exchanges - This report provides case studies from 23 State Departments of Transportation and others that are developing, using, and maintaining a variety of geospatial applications and tools to support Geospatial Data Collaboration goals. The report also summarizes the state of the practice and the benefits, challenges, and opportunities shared by these agencies. Two related reports summarize highlights and recurring themes from peer exchanges in Denver, Colorado and Raleigh, North Carolina. Both exchanges were part of a project to help FHWA understand more about the geospatial tools being used for data-sharing. Staff Contact: Mark Sarmiento, 202-366-4828.

The Statewide Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning Handbook is designed to help State departments of transportation (DOTs) develop or update State pedestrian and bicycle plans. For each stage of the planning process, this handbook uses recent experiences and noteworthy practices from DOTs around the country, helping inform a new generation of statewide non-motorized planning and implementation. Staff Contact: Jody McCullough, 202-366-5001.

The Briefing Book provides government officials, transportation decision-makers, planning board members, and transportation service providers with an overview of transportation planning. It offers a basic understanding of key concepts in statewide and metropolitan transportation planning, along with references for additional information. This report is available electronically on the Transportation Planning Capacity Building website at, and is updated periodically to include additional topics or information. Staff Contact: Michelle Noch, 202-366-9206.


FHWA Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide - A separated bike lane is an exclusive facility for bicyclists that is located within or directly adjacent to the roadway and that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic with a vertical element. These facilities, also called "cycle tracks" or "protected bike lanes," can provide premier linkages within an increasingly connected network of bicycle facilities in communities. They are designed to be comfortable and appealing and to encourage more people to view bicycling as a viable transportation choice. FHWA's Guide will provide an overview of planning and design considerations based on a comprehensive review of the state of the practice in the United States. FHWA led and funded the development of the Guide and the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center was the prime consultant. Look for the Guide's release this spring. Staff Contact: Dan Goodman, 202-366-9064.

Expanding User Interface of the Traffic Noise Model - HEP's Office of Natural Environment (HEPN) is expanding the interface availability of the FHWA Traffic Noise Model (TNM) version 3.0 acoustics library within ArcGIS, AutoCAD, or Microstation application. The objective of this research is to facilitate the use of a variety of user interfaces for TNM v3.0, which will facilitate interoperability among common design tools used by State DOTs and consultants. This advancement would allow users of TNM to digitize project plans for use in developing noise models. This development is in addition to updating the graphical-user interface for the current standalone version of TNM. Staff Contact: Mark Ferroni, 202-366-3233.

Real Estate

Uniform Act Discussion-Public Group - A "Uniform Act Public Discussion Group" was created earlier this year, through a partnership between FHWA Office of Real Estate Services and the International Right of Way Association (IRWA). The group is accessible on the IRWA website and provides a central place to easily share information about the Uniform Act among interested participants. The website supports group notifications, provides a shared group calendar, and hosts participation in group discussions of interest. Participants may post announcements, download various reference resources, and survey site members. The site is also used as a platform for collaborative work among professionals, on a range of topics. IRWA membership is not required; the group is open to everyone. Please visit the IRWA website, Staff Contact: Arnold Feldman, 202-366-2028.

Early Acquisition: Statewide Land Use, Environment and Transportation Planning Requirements - Examining Reimbursable State-Funded Early Acquisition under MAP-21 Section 1302 offers an analysis of how States have interpreted or implemented mandatory comprehensive and coordinated land use, environment, and transportation planning processes required in section 1302 as codified in 23 United States Code (U.S.C.) 108; challenges they have met in doing so; and opportunities that exist to further clarify the section's requirements. The final report should be ready for publication in November 2015. Staff Contact: Rosemary Jones, 202-366-2042.

For details on previously published research efforts, please visit

Updated: 9/16/2015
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