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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / September 1998

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-SA-98-025
Date: September 1998

TEA-21 Brings Changes to Technology Applications Program and to Focus

A major new initiative in the technology deployment area is the national technology deployment initiatives and partnerships (TDIP) program, which is aimed at hastening the adoption of innovative technologies. The program will focus on up to five deployment goals (to be designated by the Secretary of Transportation), and each goal will be designed to improve the efficiency, safety, reliability, service life, environmental protection, and sustainability of the Nation's surface transportation system.

The strategies for achieving those goals will be determined jointly by representatives from the transportation community, including State departments of transportation, local governments, the private sector, academia, and FHWA. Technical assistance and information sharing will be integral parts of those strategies.

The partnerships established under the wide-ranging Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) implementation activities will remain strong under TEA-21. Although TEA-21 does not provide specific funding for SHRP implementation activities, discussions are under way between FHWA, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, State departments of transportation, and the Transportation Research Board to determine the needs, priorities, and required resources to support the SHRP implementation activities initiated under the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. The roles and responsibilities of many of the current partners will be changing to reflect the reallocation of funds under TEA-21.

Many new partnerships will also be forged under TEA-21. For example, 50 university transportation centers are designated in TEA-21, and each is charged with conducting an ongoing program of technology transfer.

In addition, the long-term pavement performance (LTPP) program, which was initiated by SHRP in 1987 and has been managed by FHWA since 1993, has received some continued funding under TEA-21. FHWA and its partners are looking for ways to keep this program strong.

To ensure that Congress will have the information it needs to determine the needs and goals for the next transportation bill, TEA-21 calls for a study, to be conducted by the Transportation Research Board, to determine the goals, purposes, research agenda and projects, administrative structure, and fiscal needs for a new strategic highway research program.

In conjunction with all these changes and opportunities being introduced by TEA-21, FHWA is making some changes of its own. FHWA programs and offices are undergoing a restructuring. The goal: a more efficient, strategically oriented organization and a more focused technology program. One of the early effects of the restructuring is the elimination of the FHWA's 9 regional offices and the creation of four resource centers (located in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, and San Francisco).

What does all this mean for Focus and its readers? SHRP implementation activities will continue to be reported in Focus, but we will also be broadening our coverage to include the technologies that compose the research and technology program outlined in TEA-21-many of which have roots in SHRP.

We'll continue to bring you case studies on technology innovations and applications, updates on test and evaluation projects, reports on the Lead States teams' activities, and other timely information to help you build better, safer roads. We will keep you up to date on the changing shape of FHWA's research and technology program.

And as always, we welcome your comments. Please send them to Zac Ellis, zac.ellis@fhwa.dot.gov.

For more information about TEA-21, visit FHWA's Web site (www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/index.htm).

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Updated: 06/27/2017
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