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Publication Number:      Date:  Winter 1994
Issue No: Vol. 57 No. 3
Date: Winter 1994


New Guidelines for Accelerating the Use of Innovative Technologies by the Highway Industry

by Richard A. McComb and Daniel F. Larson


The need to accelerate the integration of new technologies into the U.S. highway system has increased dramatically over the past decade as the Interstate Highway System has neared completion. Because Congress recognized the importance of technology application, it established the Applied Research and Technology (ART) Program. Authorized under section 6005 of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991, the ART Program began in fiscal year 1992 with funding of $35 million and will receive $41 million per year in fiscal years 1993 through 1997. As called for in the legislation, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has developed guidelines to carry out the ART Program. The program and guidelines to carry out part of the program are summarized in this article.

The ART Program aims to identify and promote technologies that are designed to improve the durability, efficiency, environmental effects, productivity, and safety of highway, transit, and intermodal transportation systems. Specifically, it will accelerate testing and evaluation of new technologies, both foreign and domestic.


The ART Program, as developed by FHWA, is composed of three elements--priority technologies, testing and evaluation, and applied research. The ART Program elements are summarized in Table 1.

Guidelines Working Group

Federal Highway Administration

Richard A. McComb

Terry Mitchell

Samuel C. Tignor

Charles Niessner

Louis Colucci

Douglas A. Bernard

Robert J. Betsold

Thomas J. Pasko Federal Transit Administration

John S. Durham (deceased)Consultant

L. Gary Byrd

Hydronic hoses inside the bridge circulate hot fluids and heat the bridge deck.Hydronic hoses inside the bridge circulate hot fluids and heat the bridge deck.

Priority technologies

The priority technologies component involves the implementation and evaluation of technologies that are specified in the legislation and other priority new technologies that have been identified by FHWA and proposed for partnerships through general solicitations. The three technology areas specified in ISTEA include:

In addition, two individual projects were planned. A construction project planned for Missouri will use high-performance blended hydraulic cement in highway pavements or structures to evaluate the durability and construction efficiency of this material. Also pending is a project in New Jersey to evaluate the environmental and safety characteristics of elastomer-modified asphalt when used in highway pavement construction.

After nearly two years of heavy traffic, the VISIBEAD road boundry line still provides good weather delineation.

After nearly two years of heavy traffic, the VISIBEAD road boundry line still provides good weather delineation.

Test and evaluation

Test and evaluation (T&E) projects involve the full-scale field testing and evaluation of new technologies. T&E projects originating in both the public and private sector will come through the Highway Innovative Technology Evaluation Center (HITEC). HITEC will serve as a focal point for evaluating innovative technologies and will provide a valuable network of experts to hasten the transfer of technology into practice. The Guidelines for Implementing the ART Program apply to this program element. (See HITEC article)

Applied research

The applied research program promotes identification and development of foreign and domestic technologies and new methods for accelerated testing and evaluation. The program will include a variety of research and development (R&D) activities to develop products and technologies that meet the general objectives of the ART Program. The applied research program element has been used to fund some high-priority research areas, reviews of foreign technologies, and research of advanced topics. The applied research program element is also the key resource for providing technical assistance to states and local agencies participating in the T&E program.

ART Program Scope

A broad range of technologies are to be tested under the ART Program. The ART Program mandate encompasses the following technology areas:

Note that Intelligent Vehicle-Highway Systems (IVHS) technologies are not eligible for this program. IVHS technologies are specifically covered under IVHS programs administered by the Department of Transportation and other agencies; IVHS technologies will be referred to those programs.

Application Process

Proposals for T&E projects are invited from public agencies, private organizations, and individuals. The proposed T&E projects must be incorporated into projects constructed on highways eligible for federal-aid funding. All proposals will be routed through HITEC, which will assist in planning and implementing field tests and in developing evaluation plans for those proposals. Applications for testing will be accepted and evaluations will begin during fiscal year 1994.

ART application requirements will be simple and straightforward to encourage the participation of private innovators who are unfamiliar with the highway market. Proposals will include a project plan, a detailed plan for statistical data collection, a budget that includes itemized total and annual costs, and plans for disseminating the useful results of the project to the transportation community.

Proposal applications for technology testing and evaluation and possible ART funding should be submitted directly to HITEC. Public agencies should refer to HITEC all parties offering new technologies.

Signs in the day. Signs with poor retroreflectivity cannot easily be seen at night or in adverse weather.

Signs with poor retroreflectivity cannot easily be seen at night or in adverse weather.


Funding for T&E project costs will be shared; the program will provide funds to state highway agencies to finance up to 80 percent of the federal-aid cost to construct those new technologies. The federal share can fund the acquisition, installation, or construction of an approved T&E project. Additionally, project costs for testing, data collection, evaluation, and report preparation are eligible for 100-percent ART Program funding. If the technology fails on an operating highway, repair or replacement costs may be financed with normal federal-aid matching funds. The non-federal share of funding can include the value of materials, equipment, specially trained workers, or other tangible contributions of goods and labor related to the project, as well as a monetary match.

ART Program funding does not pay for the total cost of the construction. The program pays only the contract features and costs additional to or different from the features and costs associated exclusively with conventional projects or technologies. The ART guidelines refer to these as "delta costs" and identify three basic categories of features that may generate such costs:

Note that delta costs do not include those costs normally associated with project construction, unless they are unique to the new technology in cost and character. For instance, restriping surfaces after overlays or redecking in conjunction with the installation of a bridge deck heating system would not be included in delta costs; however, traffic control during construction might qualify if the duration of construction was increased because of the incorporation of a new technology.

Evaluation Plans

If a technology requires a full-scale field T&E project, HITEC -- working with the states -- will assist applicants in developing and submitting evaluation plans for T&E projects to FHWA for possible ART Program funding.

Reporting Requirements

Annual progress reports will be required for each project during the third quarter of the calendar year. These reports will provide details about each project with statistical results and summaries of project activities, along with any proposed changes or modifications of the project plan. Both interim and final reports will be required. Final reports will document the project, the data collected, and the testing and evaluation results.

Selection Process and Criteria

HITEC will receive all proposal applications and will perform an initial screening to determine which are technically feasible as T&E projects. Incomplete or unacceptable applications will be returned with a debriefing; others may be routed to more appropriate federal programs. Standard processing for feasible proposals will include the establishment of a review panel, evaluation planning, and an applicant cost-sharing plan. HITEC will then recommend to FHWA those technologies to be tested and evaluated under the ART Program.

Selection by FHWA will be based on the following eight criteria, which are listed in descending order of priority:

  1. Applicability of the project to one or more of the priority or general technologies.
  2. Timeliness of the proposed project as part of an approved and funded construction project involving new construction, rehabilitation, upgrading, or replacement.
  3. The clarity of focus and applicability of the new technology being evaluated relative to the areas of need.
  4. The level of funding to be provided by the applicant.
  5. The appropriateness of project costs and budget to the potential return on investment in terms of safety, serviceability, productivity, durability, economy, and environmental quality.
  6. Completeness and technical quality of the project plan and design.
  7. Suitability of the proposed location(s) for the technology being studied.
  8. Quality, clarity, comprehensiveness, and applicability of the proposed technology transfer program.


FHWA will announce which T&E projects have been selected for funding under the ART Program early in the first quarter of each fiscal year. FHWA will notify the states of the approved project(s) and the funding amount(s). The states will be requested to develop plans, specifications, and estimates for project construction, which will be the basis for the allocation of federal funds. Funding of the approved projects will be through the normal federal-aid procedures, and funding will be processed through FHWA field offices.


As detailed in the ART guidelines, T&E projects routed through HITEC will provide the funding and technical assistance needed to channel innovative technologies quickly into the highway system. The ART Program has the potential to improve the quality of U.S. highways significantly by matching, testing, and evaluating technologies and projects to accelerate the use of innovative technologies on a national scale.

For more information about this program, please contact Richard A. McComb at the Office of Technology Applications (HTA-2), (202) 366-2792.

Richard A. McComb is a special assistant to the director of the Office of Technology Applications (OTA). McComb manages the Applied Research and Technology Program. A career highway engineer with FHWA, McComb headed the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) Implementation Staff upon the creation of OTA in 1990. In that capacity, he coordinated and planned a national and international marketing program to identify, develop, and promote adoption of innovative technologies and products from SHRP. He was chief of the Engineering and Operations Implementation Division at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va., from 1987 to 1990. From 1985 to 1987, he was assigned as loaned staff to the SHRP. McComb received his bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering from the University of Connecticut.

Daniel F. Larson is transportation programs director at Tonya, Inc., a consulting firm that provides full program support to FHWA for the Applied Research and Technology Program. Mr. Larson has more than 20 years of experience managing technical programs for such clients as the Federal Judiciary, the Federal Aviation Administration, AT&T, Baxter International, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. He was a study director and operations analyst at the Pentagon and he directed a government command and control center. He received his bachelor's degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy and his master's degree from the University of Rochester.




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