Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration
Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

STEP Fact Sheet

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Planning, Environment and Realty's (HEP) Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP) ended on September 30, 2012. For current HEP research information, please see HEP's MAP-21 research web site.

Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP)

SAFETEA-LU Section(s): 5207;Statutory Citation: 23 USC 507

Program Purpose: To improve understanding of the complex relationship between surface transportation and the environment.

Funding: SAFETEA-LU authorized $16.875 million/year for FY2006-FY2009. Due to obligation limitations, rescissions and the over-designation of Title V Research in SAFETEA-LU, it is anticipated that approximately $12.8 million of the $16.875 million authorized will be available in future years.

Funding Impacts: STEP is the sole source of funds to conduct all FHWA research on planning and environmental issues and is also the only source to fund several Congressionally mandated studies. STEP funding in FY 2006-FY2008 represents an approximately 34% reduction compared to FHWA research funding available for planning and environmental research in FY2003-2005.

Figure 1: FHWA Research Funding for Planning and Environment, FY2003-FY2008.

Dollars in millions. FY 2003 $29.4; FY 2004 $27.6; FY 2005 $24.4; FY 2006 $16.5, $11.9 for STEP; FY 2007 $16.6, $12.4 for STEP; FY 2008 $16.7, $12.5 for STEP

STEP Outreach: The STEP Implementation Strategy is posted on the STEP Website. FHWA will provide ongoing outreach and opportunities for stakeholders to participate in STEP, through shaping research priorities, providing funding for collaborative research, shaping specific research activities, and evaluating the results of STEP-funded research.

Stakeholders: There are hundreds of stakeholders with an interest in environment and planning research including: Federal Agencies and Tribes; State and Local Government; Transportation and Environmental Stakeholders; and the Research Community, including universities, consultants, and nonprofit research organizations. STEP stakeholders are very diverse, with widely diverging and sometimes conflicting views.

STEP Emphasis Areas: I. Environment: Natural Environment: Air Quality and Global Climate Change; Water/Wetlands/Vegetation/Wildlife Habitat/Brownfields. Human Environment: Historic Preservation; Bicycle/Pedestrian and Health; Noise; Outdoor Advertising Control/Realty Program Management. Environmental Process Improvement: Environmental Streamlining/Stewardship; Context Sensitive Solutions. II. Planning: National/International Planning: US/Canada and US/Mexico Border Planning; National Security, Defense, and Interstate Planning. Planning Focus Areas: Congestion; Safety Planning; Freight Planning. State/Local/Tribal Planning Capacity Building: Public Involvement, Environmental Justice, Visualization in Planning; Other Activities that Support State/Local/Tribal Planning Capacity Building. III. Tools to Support Planning and Environment: Geographic Information System/Spatial Information for Improved Decision Making; Travel Modeling; IV. Program Management and Outreach.

Step Timeline

For further information, contact Felicia Young at

Updated: 9/30/2012
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000