U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Skip to content

Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-RD-02-101
Date: January 2003

FY 2002 Performance Report

Appendix C: FHWA Research and Technology Partnerships

FHWA’s research approach emphasizes cooperation, information sharing, and formal research agenda development, both within DOT and across the entire government. We promote partnerships with State and local governments, academia, and the private sector to quickly and cost-effectively transform new technologies and concepts into better transportation systems, processes, and services.

The following is just a partial listing of different R&T partnerships. Many partnerships may transcend categories, and may often have three or more participants that can represent several categories. There also are several different partnership types offering many opportunities for participation and involvement in FHWA R&T projects. Partnerships generally can be separated into nine categories:

  1. Partnerships with other DOT agencies: ITS Joint Program Office, NHTSA, FTA, RSPA, FMCSA, FAA, FRA, MARAD, USCG, and BTS.

  2. Partnerships with other Federal agencies (outside DOT): NASA, DOD, DOC, DOE, DOS, EPA, HHS, HUD, Interior, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army Cold Region Research and Engineering Laboratory, and U.S Navy.

  3. Partnerships with States or organizations representing States: AASHTO, LTPP, National Governor’s Association.

  4. Partnerships with quasi-governmental organizations: TRB, NCHRP, and NSF.

  5. Partnerships with local governments, MPOs and other organizations representing local and county governments: National Association of County Engineers, Cities of Los Angeles and Houston (to evaluate CLAIRE).

  6. Partnerships with universities: UTCs, MIHEs, Summer Transportation Internship Program for Diverse Groups (STIPDG), Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program, National Summer Transportation Institutes for Secondary Students (NSTI), Recycled Materials Resource Center, National Crash Analysis Center at George Washington University.

  7. Partnerships with industry: Castle Rock Services, Lockheed Martin, Iteris, Mitretek, GEOPAK Corporation, Innovative Pavement Research Foundation, SBIR.

  8. Partnerships with nongovernmental organizations: American Society of Civil Engineer’s Civil Engineering Research Foundation, Institute of Transportation Engineers, ITS America.

  9. International partnerships: International Technology Scanning Program, World Road Association (PIARC), Organization of Economic Cooperation and Developments Road and Transport Research Program (OECD/RTR), European Federation of Highway Research Labs (FEHRL), National Highway Research Council of Canada, U.S.- Japan ITS Joint Research Program, The Pan American Institute of Highways, The International Road Federation, The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum.

ITS Joint Program Office
The ITS Joint Program Office coordinates ITS activities across the Department of Transportation, including research, technology, and development conducted at TFHRC.

Research is being conducted at TFHRC on the IVI—a government-industry program coordinated by the JPO. IVI’s goal is to use enabling technologies to accelerate safety and mobility-enhancing, driver-assistance development and commercialization. Partners include FHWA, Federal Transit Authority, NHTSA, RSPA Volpe Center, Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation, plus motor vehicle and trucking industries, fleet operators, State and local transportation and law enforcement agencies, emergency response organizations, universities, other research organizations, and professional societies.

The Transportation Pooled Fund Program
When significant or widespread interest is shown in solving transportation-related problems, research, planning, and technology innovation activities may be jointly funded by several Federal, State, regional, and local transportation agencies, academic institutions, foundations, or private industry as a study under the Transportation Pooled Fund Program. FHWA plays a key role in this process. While FHWA participates and contributes directly to some pooled fund studies, it also encourages States to pool their funds for regional or national problems to avoid research duplication, and to effectively use monies for managing research.

To qualify as a pooled fund study, more than one State transportation agency, Federal agency, other agency such as a municipality or metropolitan planning organization, college/university, or a private company must find the subject important enough to commit funds or other resources to conduct the research, planning, and technology innovation activities. A pooled fund study is intended to address a new area, or complement or advance previous subject matter investigations. All studies receive funding from the States involved. Another pooled fund category involves the NCHRP, and every year FHWA establishes a pooled fund study for the NCHRP contributions from the States.

Federal and State transportation agencies may initiate pooled fund studies and act as the “lead agency” for the study. Local and regional transportation agencies, private industry, foundations, and colleges and universities may partner with any or all of the sponsoring agencies to conduct pooled fund projects. The Transportation Pooled Fund Program is the successor of the former national and regional pooled fund programs.

The Infrastructure Consortium was organized under a pooled fund program to represent the interests of State and local highway transportation infrastructure providers in developing and deploying advanced highway safety technologies. The members of the Infrastructure Consortium are State departments of transportation. The Consortium is expected to sponsor and support innovative research in cooperative IVI services, serve as a stakeholder for all State and local governments, and promote cost-effective cooperative IVI service deployment. Just as IVI partnered with the vehicle manufacturing industry to jointly conduct precompetitive research, IVI will partner with the Infrastructure Consortium to ensure that the research for infrastructure cooperative systems to avoid intersection collisions will provide results that governments can accept. The Infrastructure Consortium provides a unique opportunity that enables partnerships between the vehicle manufacturing industry and the infrastructure providers so that cooperative vehicle-highway systems can be researched, evaluated, manufactured, deployed, operated, and maintained.

Transportation and Sustainable Communities
The goals of this partnership are to integrate and coordinate existing research agendas to minimize duplication and research gaps while optimizing support for a sustainable transportation system. It also seeks to improve technical tools and models to analyze the impacts of activities on both the natural and the social environment. This partnership will help Federal agencies work with each other and with other levels of government and the private sector to foster sustainability.

Partners include: DOE; DOT (BTS, FAA, FHWA, FRA, FTA); EPA; HHS (CDC); HUD; Interior (National Park Service); OMB; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, State and local transportation/environmental agencies and organizations; health agencies; Metropolitan Planning Organizations; mayoral offices; advocates; environmental technology manufacturers and vendors; system designers, engineering and construction firms; materials manufacturers; vehicle and fuel manufacturers; and universities.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program
The SBIR program is a research and development program mandated by Congress in 1982 and reauthorized in 1992. Its purpose is to develop technological innovations by using high level of expertise in the small business community throughout the United States. The program aims to stimulate technological innovations; meet the Federal government’s needs for research and development by providing opportunities to small businesses; increase private sector commercialization of innovations derived from Federal research and development; and provide opportunities for minority and disadvantaged participation in technological innovations.

One example of an SBIR research partnership is the Visual Freight Database, which is a public/private partnership that provides improved modeling tools for national, State, and MPO freight planning and information that shows county-to-county freight movements by modes and commodity types. The database is available for use throughout the FHWA.

International Involvement
The FHWA promotes the U.S. highway transportation community’s objectives through participation in international organizations and their operating committees, including: The Pan American Institute of Highways; the PIARC; the OECD/RTR program; the International Road Federation; and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum.

FHWA also fosters cooperation on international R&T activities with our U.S. partners, such as the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. The International Technology Scanning Program accesses and evaluates foreign technologies and innovations, which could significantly benefit U.S. highway transportation systems. This program enables advanced technology to be adapted and implemented much more efficiently without spending scarce research funds to recreate advances that already have been developed by other countries. Twelve scans are conducted over a 2-year period. Additionally, FHWA has a number of bilateral agreements with other countries.

There are also efforts underway to create an R&T partnership with the FEHRL. Frequently, U.S. and the European Union (EU) research priorities are similar; therefore, a partnership with FEHRL helps save money by avoiding duplication of effort and allows optimal use of resources. FHWA will be working with FEHRL to conduct EU-supported research. This cooperation may allow for future common standards.

A new agreement was recently reached with Japan to proceed with a U.S.-Japan ITS joint research program for developing infrastructure cooperative systems to avoid intersection collisions. This involves a continuing, cooperative dialogue on specific research of common interest by routine communication through our Japanese research fellow and annual workshops. A continuing agreement with France involves our research and testing of a product called CLAIRE, advanced software for adaptive traffic control at intersections. This led to agreements for working together to field test a combination of FHWA- and French-control software in Los Angeles’ and Houston’s urban environments.

FHWA and the French Road Directorate/Direction des Routes signed a project agreement on highway research and technology transfer September 23, 1993, which falls under the French Ministry of Transport/U.S. DOT Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) framework signed February 14, 1972. Our agreements are indefinite unless one party chooses to terminate the partnership.

Our road agreement enables participation among “researchers and organizations from all sectors including, universities, national laboratories, and the private sector” based on mutual consent. To select and launch a project under the road agreement, approval of FHWA’s Office of International Programs and the French Road Directorate is required, and both sides must agree to an “implementation agreement.”

Implementation agreements specify the particulars of the project, including subject, procedures, terms of cooperation, enmities involved, funding, project managers, and principle investigators.

Possible research areas include: asphalt mixes and asphalt pavement performance modeling; CRCP modeling, polymer modified asphalt specifications; use of LCPC’s accelerated pavement tests results for validation of pavement design of flexible pavements and specifications for binders; Superpave qualification of LCPC’s gyratory shear compactor; surface pavement distress imaging; automatic surface pavement distress images processing; noncontact longitudinal profile measurement high-speed deflectometer; pavement degradations evolution laws; close proximity noise measurement; and use of LCPC’s videogranulometer for aggregate shape characterization.

Remote Sensing Technology
The U.S. DOT has implemented a research program in partnership with leading academic institutions, service providers, and industry for remote sensing in transportation. The program is designed for long-term research to support education and workforce development and near-term transportation practice technology applications. DOT and NASA have entered into an MOU to implement a fully integrated and coordinated research program that will apply remote sensing to transportation. The Department of Transportation’s Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) administers the program in coordination with the nine additional DOT administrations. The RSPA Office of Innovation, Research, and Education manage the program.

U.S. Army Cold Region Research and Engineering Laboratory
A recent agreement with the U.S. Army Cold Region Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) for three studies is an example of an interagency and pooled fund agreement. The studies are entitled “Extending the Season for Concrete Construction and Repair,” “Pavement Subgrade Study,” and “Asphalt Pavement Damage Related to Tire Pressure.” The projects are partnerships between CRREL, two State funding pools, the National Highway Research Council of Canada, and NCHRP. FHWA will have technical involvement with the projects and will gain technically from the partnership.

Another multiyear project is underway with the CRREL to develop a winter weather Maintenance Decision Support System in coordination with six national research laboratories. System operational testing will follow prototype development. The intent is to bring their expertise to this area of highway operations and to produce accessible products that can improve private vendor products.

High Performance Steel
With a vision of steel bridges that are easier to construct and can reduce fracture and corrosion susceptibility, FHWA developed a new steel grade in partnership with the U.S. Navy. High-performance steel (HPS) combines increased durability with increased strength and other improved properties. HPS for bridge girders is resulting in lower initial costs for many bridges. Tennessee DOT claims they saved up to 10 percent on one job and now considers using this steel for all medium- and long-span bridges. Fifty-one HPS bridges are being built or planned in 18 States.

Nationwide Differential Global Positioning System
TFHRC is part of a DOT-wide program to augment the existing GPS network with systems that will provide differential correction to enhance location accuracy of 1 to 3 meters, compared to the existing 10 to 20 meters. Further research efforts are underway on a site-testing level to investigate the feasibility and benefits of further enhancement to 1 to 2 centimeters accuracy. These outcomes offer significant potential benefits to all modes within the DOT as well as public and private sector users.

IHSDM: Improving the Safety of Highway Design
The Interactive Highway Safety Design Model (IHSDM) is a tool that provides transportation engineers with safety information on the relationships between geometric design elements and traffic accidents. IHSDM is a combination of computer-aided design (CAD) and roadway design software that helps the designer evaluate the safety implications of alternative highway designs. This cooperative agreement with FHWA and GEOPAK Corporation will provide roadway planners with easy-to-use formats in CAD/civil design software and expedite IHSDM’s transition from research and development to application. This is a part of FHWA’s Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA).

A technical working group (TWG) helps guide IHSDM development. The TWG includes representatives from seven State departments of transportation (Arkansas, California, Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina, Washington, and West Virginia) and FHWA Field Offices. The TWG provides periodic input on development, testing, and marketing issues to ensure that IHSDM is responsive to users’ needs. FHWA also receives input on IHSDM development through presentations and demonstrations to other State DOTs and engineering consulting firms.

Highway Innovation Technology Evaluation Center (HITEC)
HITEC is an independent not-for-profit organization created to provide a process to impartially evaluate new products, materials, and equipment; and to provide services for which industry standards do not exist. HITEC was conceived and established through a cooperative effort by the American Society of Civil Engineer’s (ASCE) Civil Engineering Research Foundation (CERF), in conjunction with AASHTO and FHWA. FHWA has a cooperative agreement with the CERF, which is ASCE’s research arm, to operate the HITEC. Under the agreement, CERF operates the HITEC, promotes the HITEC concept, organizes and coordinates expert panels, arranges for and coordinates the technology evaluations, and prepares and disseminates technical evaluation reports.

A nonprofit research organization, CERF was selected because it emphasizes revitalizing the Nation’s deteriorating infrastructure by transferring research results into practice. CERF programs are dedicated to enhancing private industry’s incentives to invest in highway-oriented R&D; improving the opportunities for bringing new technologies to the marketplace in a timely and efficient manner; and providing prompt, efficient nationally recognized, impartial evaluation of new private sector technologies for use on our Nation’s highways.

Concrete Pavement Technology Program (CPTP)
Launched in 1999, the CPTP is a 5-year, $25 million effort that was charged by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) with carrying out “research on improved methods of using concrete pavement in the construction, reconstruction, and repair of Federal-aid highways.” FHWA and the Innovative Pavement Research Foundation (IPRF), a concrete paving industry consortium, jointly administer the program. The program’s partners also include State highway agencies and the TRB. Specifically, the partnership will ensure that the highest-priority concrete pavement technology needs are addressed; the expertise and resources of States, industry, and FHWA are used effectively and efficiently; and new concrete pavement technology will proceed rapidly from research to implementation.

In addition to the oversight provided by FHWA and the IPRF, the program receives guidance from the TRB Committee for Research on Improved Concrete Pavements. The committee reviews and provides advice on the program’s long-range work plan and project tasks, including objectives, appropriateness, and the likelihood of success. The committee has representatives from industry, academia, and State highway agencies, FHWA, IPRF, and AASHTO.

FHWA/ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) National Crash Analysis Center
In support of FHWA’s strategic objective to reduce fatalities and injuries by 20 percent in 10 years, FHWA/NHTSA NCAC research goal is to maximize safety in crashes. The facilities at NCAC enable researchers to understand and quantify the vehicle’s performance and its components, occupants (“crash dummies”), and roadside hardware in crashes, individually and collectively.

In 1998, NHTSA joined FHWA as a full partner in administrating and guiding NCAC. This laboratory, located at George Washington University, Loudon, VA, is an internationally recognized cooperative center for automotive and highway safety research.

The facility's comprehensive ability to analyze roadside hardware designs, simulate crashes, and evaluate occupant injuries through analytical and computer modeling is unique. NCAC produces and serves as a repository for computer vehicles models, ongoing biomechanics models, and progressive roadside hardware models.

NCAC also includes a Vehicle Digitizing and Reverse Engineering Laboratory and a High-Performance Parallel Computing Laboratory. In addition, NCAC maintains a national library of crash-test film and documentation that FHWA and NHTSA have collected over the past two decades.

Curved Structure Test
There are many partnership-supported research projects taking place at TFHRC. One example, conducted in the TFHRC Structures Laboratory, is a full-scale test on a curved structure to simulate actual bridge conditions. This is the first time this test has ever been attempted. Like many other projects, FHWA formed a major R&T partnership to accomplish this study, with 17 States providing input and resources.

Recycled Materials Resource Center
The Recycled Materials Resource Center (RMRC) was established under TEA-21 at the University of New Hampshire and is administered through a cooperative agreement between FHWA and the University of New Hampshire. To oversee the center’s activities an advisory board was established and members of the board represent FHWA, EPA, New Hampshire DOT, AASHTO, Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials, industry, and highway trade associations. The RMRC tests, evaluates, and develops guidelines for recycled materials use, and analyzes long-term performance of highways containing recycled materials, among other projects. The center has initiated research projects that include testing and evaluating guidelines and specifications, performing material-specific investigations, reviewing the economics of recycled and new materials, coming up with innovative technologies, and conducting field trials.

Universities and Grants Programs
FHWA supports a number of key initiatives under the Universities and Grants Program (U&GP), which is funded separately from the RD&T program. The mission of the U&GP is to promote transportation education benefits and encourage transportation research pursuits among university students and faculty. The U&GP program works cooperatively with more than 750 universities throughout the U.S. Its primary objectives are to enhance FHWA university-based programs and other academic programs that provide fellowships, internships, and partnerships; conduct workforce analyses related to retention, recruitment, and diversification; and conduct research on DOT’s and FHWA’s transportation-related academic programs.is to promote transportation education benefits and encourage transportation research pursuits among university students and faculty. The U&GP program works cooperatively with more than 750 universities throughout the U.S. U&GP’s primary objectives are to enhance FHWA university-based programs and other academic programs that provide fellowships, internships, and partnerships; conduct workforce analyses related to retention, recruitment, and diversification; and conduct research on DOT’s and FHWA’s transportation-related academic programs.

Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program (DDETFP)
DDETFP, initiated in 1991 and re-authorized by the TEA-21, awards fellowships to undergraduate, graduate students, and faculty annually. The program will award $24 million by 2003 to prospective transportation professionals. Fellowship categories include: Grants for Research Fellowships; Graduate Fellowships; Faculty Fellowships; Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Fellowships; Hispanic Serving Institutions Fellowships; and Tribal Colleges Fellowships.

Previous | Table of Contents | Next

Performance Report Feedback

Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101