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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 66· No. 3 > Editor's Notes

Nov/Dec 2002
Vol. 66· No. 3

Editor's Notes

Securing Our Nation's Highway System

Robust Partnerships Create a Stronger Transportation System

The faster pace of today's technological world, the vast amounts of available information, and limited funding mean that government organizations can't afford to operate in a vacuum. Like business enterprises, public service entities must work with industry and research partners to promote innovations and transfer new technologies and concepts into better systems, processes, and services.

Dennis C. Judycki
 
Robert E. Skinner, Jr.
Dennis C. Judycki   Robert E. Skinner, Jr.

Given the complex and multidimensional nature of the transportation industry and its decentralized community, partnerships are not only desirable but also necessary for improving highway planning, construction, maintenance, and operations. There is little doubt that transportation-related research investments and innovations play a crucial role in the Nation's economic growth, mobility, and personal quality of life. With more than 41,000 fatalities annually on our Nation's highways, we recognize the significant safety challenge we are facing. However, the vehicle, infrastructure, and behavioral innovations that have reduced fatalities by 19 percent over the last 2 decades also should inspire us.

During the Transportation Research Board's (TRB) 2003 annual meeting, it seems appropriate that we reflect on the importance of research and innovation to this country and the collaborative work that has been, and continues to be, accomplished through partnerships. In fact, more than 80 years ago, the creation of TRB was the result of a partnership among State departments of transportation (DOTs), represented by what is now the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Bureau of Public Roads—now the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)—and the National Research Council.

Several long-standing, robust partnerships continue to exist among the States, FHWA, and TRB. Forty years ago, the three organizations established the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP); at the time it was a revolutionary idea for States to pool Federal-aid research funds voluntarily. After all these years, the NCHRP no longer seems revolutionary, but the program continues to produce innovative research policies and products in highway safety, planning, design, construction, and operations. Likewise, the three organizations collaborated on the Strategic Highway Research Program, which produced targeted research programs that continue to benefit the entire transportation industry with significant technological innovations.

This issue of Public Roads contains several articles that highlight or feature the results of our successful partnerships. Examples include the Transportation, Economic & Land Use System (TELUS), originally started as a New Jersey effort and later adopted as a national program. An article on the global technology scan of transportation and wildlife issues describes partnerships involving several national and international entities.

TRB's 82nd annual meeting certainly will capture the innovative spirit of these partnerships. Let us take this opportunity to celebrate our past partnerships, recognize their importance, and look forward to even stronger research partnerships in the future.

Dennis C. Judycki,
Associate Administrator RD&T, FHWA

Robert E. Skinner, Jr.
Executive Director
Transportation Research Board

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