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|Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 66 · No. 6 > Internet Watch|
by Keri Funderburg
Pooled Fund Research Makes a Splash
These days, it seems like everyone is using Internet search engines to find information that will enhance job performance and efficiency. Now there's a Web site that will help transportation professionals locate funding for research projects or determine the status of ongoing projects or reports. For years, transportation researchers and project managers at State departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, universities, and private companies lacked the benefit of a central location to find this information.
To serve this need, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) launched the Web site, www.pooledfund.org, to enhance the Transportation Pooled Fund Program, which enables various public and private entities to pool their resources and jointly fund research, planning, and technology innovations for solving a variety of transportation-related problems. The site provides an interactive arena for researchers and project managers to view online solicitations; commit project funding; and post progress reports, work plans, implementation activities, and other relevant information.
"The success of FHWA's Transportation Pooled Fund Program depends on good communication among study partners," says William Zaccagnino, program manager for the Transportation Pooled Fund Program at FHWA. "One means of communication is the newly launched Web site, where project managers can go to find out about the status of projects involving their States. When project managers know how the research is progressing, they are more likely to be happy with the outcome of the research and use the new information generated by the research to reduce congestion and make roads safer and bridges more secure."
When developing the site, FHWA made it easy to navigate, realizing that most users only visit the site periodically. With the goal of pursuing research interests and extending their capabilities, visitors can:
"In addition to what is available to the public, the site also has a private area open to authorized users only, such as researchers and managers involved with projects posted on the site," adds Zaccagnino. In the password-protected area, authorized users can locate partners interested in supporting their research efforts, commit funds to proposed studies, post new project information, and review financial commitments.
Projects currently posted on the site include Developing a National Strategic Plan for Advanced Construction and Maintenance, sponsored by the California Department of Transportation, and Evaluation of Recycled Materials for Roadside Appurtenances, sponsored by FHWA.
The decision to develop the Web site came in 1999 when FHWA reengineered the Transportation Pooled Fund Program. The agency wanted to create a more effective way for pooled fund participants to communicate and build strong partnerships with one another. Prior to the new Web site, a noninteractive site then in existence did not enable participants to post their own information or view information about other projects.
Around the same time, FHWA and the Transportation Research Board were developing another research-oriented Web site with similar capabilities for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program's Project 20-39(2), Improved Transportation Research-in-Progress [RiP] Data System. FHWA decided that the Rip project would serve as a model for the new pooled fund Web site. After developing and beta testing the pooled fund site in autumn 2002, FHWA launched the final site in December.
The new Transportation Pooled Fund Web site provides the transportation community and States with a powerful tool for collaborating on, sharing, and finding research that might improve mobility, increase highway safety, or provide other opportunities for advancing successful transportation solutions.
Keri Funderburg is a contributing editor for Public Roads.
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