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Transportation Policy Studies

FHWA Home / Policy & Governmental Affairs / Transportation Policy Studies / Policy Analysis and Development Team

Policy Analysis and Development Team

The Policy Analysis and Development Team was created in late 2007 to provide analytical support in the evaluation of FHWA policies and programs.

Policy Analysis and Development Team members conduct research and manage studies to aid in the formulation of transportation policy and legislative initiatives. Studies assess highway user fees, finance issues, transportation revenue collection mechanisms, and forecast the effects of highway policies.

Primarily, the Team is responsible for research into the following subject areas: multi-modal freight and passenger transportation policy analysis, highway cost allocation, highway taxation and revenue analysis, transportation related innovation and technologies issues, international competition, external costs and benefits of highway transportation, megaregions, societal impacts related to highway construction, and correlations between highway investment, employment, and economic productivity.

The Policy Analysis and Development Team's research on the above subject areas help guide public policies and programs such as energy policies,  market-based demand strategies, and identification and assessment of any other emerging issues that may affect transportation policy.

This work includes leading, managing and performing a variety of duties, involving the monitoring and forecasting of economic, demographic, finance, environmental, energy and travel trends. This team also provides advice and recommendations to the Office of Policy and Governmental Affairs on available tools and data systems for policy analysis and evaluation.

Current Research Activities

The policy issues associated with vehicles automation and wireless communication- The Policy Analysis and Development Team is an active participant in conducting research in transportation related technologies. This team is responsible for conducting two studies in this area:

Review of Alternative Approaches to Highway Cost Allocation Study - The Policy Analysis and Development Team completed a whitepaper to comprehensively examine alternative approaches for conducting the highway cost allocation study (HCAS) at the national level. This research analyzed relevant approaches for cost allocation studies used by transportation and other industries in the United Sates or other countries. The scope of the study included discussions of the conceptual frameworks, underlying principles, advantages, limitations, policy implications, data input requirements, potential challenges, and resource requirements for implementation. It also included topics such as equity versus efficiency, user versus non-user costs, consideration of costs of all levels of Government (Federal, State and Local), user fees assessed by all levels of Government, consideration of life-cycle cost analysis, equity of user fee structure and cost recovery, user and non-user benefits, socio-economic implications, considerations of highway functional classes, and other relevant issues in the HCAS.

Successful Jurisdictional Approaches to Megaregion Planning - Megaregions are a growing geography in the United States with shared transportation, economic, and natural resource requirements. Megaregion transportation planning requires the involvement and cooperation of multiple jurisdictions to manage and plan for improvements to the transportation system.

The emphasis of this study is to identify and review successful jurisdictional and organizational approaches that can be applied to megaregion transportation planning and the associated roles and responsibilities for all partners.

Some questions the study will answer include:

The purpose of the study is as follows: (1) explore the roles that national, State, regional and local stakeholders would play in a megaregion transportation planning regime; (2) identify two to three examples of successful models of multi-State or interregional organizations (non-transportation related) from which best practices can be borrowed; and (3) make recommendations for a successful megaregion transportation planning regime, including outreach materials for transportation stakeholders. Results of this study are expected to be completed in fall 2017.

Framework and Assessment of Resiliency of the National Highway System - The purpose of this research is to: (1) summarize the literature with respect to defining, assessing and using resiliency analysis techniques to manage road networks; (2) identify and analyze associated measures that will help to assess the resiliency of the national road network infrastructure; (3) create a PPD-21-based definition of resilience for highway systems; and (4) develop recommendations that could help alleviate vulnerabilities to improve system integrity of three resilience case studies.

As transportation infrastructure requirements continue to grow, strategies which seek to prioritize investment alternatives and allocate funding to those investments that will deliver the greatest overall benefit become increasingly important. While this research will focus on the resiliency of the National Highway System (NHS), it is also imperative to include a discussion of how disruptions to other parts of the transportation network (i.e. air, maritime, and transit) would impact the operation of the NHS. For example, if there is an event that takes a corridor offline for a period of time, what is the effect on nearby sections of the NHS? What factors should be included in the development of a remediation plan for the NHS? How specific should such plans be? This work should also consider any performance management activities of the Strategic Highway Research Program 2, such as those related to reliability and risk management. Results of this study are expected to be completed in winter 2017.

Highway Impacts on Communities: An Assessment - This research will empirically assess the economic and social effects of Federal-aid highway projects on neighborhoods of differing social and economic demographics. Specifically, using comparative statistics, the study will explore: (1) the socioeconomic composition of communities in close proximity to approved Federal-aid highway projects; (2) how the socioeconomic composition of these communities changed in the short-, mid-, and long-term once the project commenced; and (3) whether these patterns have changed significantly as Federal policy addressing community input and equity has evolved.

To accomplish this, this study will identify a statistically valid sample of highway adjacent communities reflecting a range of socio-economic characteristics as well as a control sample of non-highway adjacent communities. The sample will address communities located near rural, suburban, and urban Federal-aid highway projects undertaken at different points over the history of the Federal-Aid Highway Program and in different geographic regions across the United States.

This study will provide the FHWA with an improved empirical understanding of the extent
to which federal-aid highway projects, overall, may disproportionately affect nearby communities and whether these differential effects have declined since this suite of Federal policy choices has taken place.

Other secondary questions this research may address empirically include:

Results of this study are expected to be complete by the end of 2017.

Highway Revenue Forecasting Model (HRFM) - The Policy Analysis and Development Team is currently updating the model. The HRFM is used for analyzing and forecasting highway revenues from existing highway user fees for different vehicle classes and weight groups. The model is capable of analyzing user fee options to understand the equity of the highway user fee structure and revenue forecasts under different policy scenarios. Outputs from this model are primarily used for conducting highway cost allocation (HCA) studies (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/hcas/final/). The model has also the capability to estimate revenues from other potential revenue raising policy options, such as a weight distance tax, a mileage based tax, and an emission based tax.

National Highway Construction Cost Index (NHCCI) - The NHCCI is a price index that can be used for tracking price changes associated with highway construction materials costs, and for converting current dollar spending on highway construction to real dollars. The NHCCI is produced quarterly, and can be accessed at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/nhcci.cfm. The Policy Analysis and Development Team and the Office of Highway Policy Information have completed updating the NHCCI software, improving the estimation, and revising the index.

External Costs of Highway Users - External costs are unintended adverse impacts that users cause on other users and non-users. The major external costs of highway user are environmental impacts, traffic crashes (fatalities, injuries and property damage), congestion, and noise pollution. Highway users do not often pay for a large part of these costs, and thus they do not take such costs into account in their transportation decisions. The team is conducting research to develop methodology and analytical tools to estimate external costs of traffic congestion, crashes (fatalities, injuries and property damage), air pollution and greenhouse gases, and noise pollution by detailed vehicle class.

Marginal Cost of Highway Infrastructure - The Policy Analysis and Development Team conducts cost studies to analyze changes in infrastructure costs caused by users of the highway system, and other cost drivers. The team is currently developing methodology to estimate marginal cost estimates for highway infrastructure for the United States. The roads and streets differ widely in construction, maintenance, operation and rehabilitation costs and in the volume and type of traffic they carry. Therefore, the marginal cost estimates shall be prepared for different highway functional class, and rural urban highways.

Policy Analysis and Development Team Primary Contacts

Max Azizi,
Team Lead
(202) 366-9237 Policy Analysis and Development Team Research Plans

Connected Vehicle Technology

Road User Fee and Transportation Revenue Options

Highway Cost Allocation
Getachew Mekonnen,
Research Analyst
(202) 366-9254 Policy Development Tools and Models

Highway Cost Allocation

Highway Construction Cost Index
Ben Hawkinson,
Research Analyst
(202) 366-5044

Framework and Assessment of Resiliency of the National Highway System

Successful Jurisdictional Approaches to Megaregion Planning

Highway Finance and Funding

 

Page last modified on August 2, 2017
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000