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

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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-12-059    Date:  December 2012
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-12-059
Date: December 2012


Office of Infrastructure R&D

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As of December 2012, this online document was modified in the following ways:

Editorial corrections were made to this factsheet after it was originally published. The following table shows the modifications that were made to this report.



Page 1, first paragraph in “Research and Development Focus Areas” section


Page 2, first paragraph in “Accelerated Highway Construction” section


Page 2, first paragraph in “Environmentally Sensitive Highway Infrastructure” section



The Office of Infrastructure Research and Development (R&D) conducts and administers infrastructure R&D programs and projects for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that address problems of national priority within the U.S. highway system. This work directly supports the goals and mission of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the FHWA Strategic Plan, and the 2011 FHWA Infrastructure Research and Technology (R&T) Strategic Plan.(1,2)

The Office of Infrastructure R&D approaches its mission with emphasis on strong stakeholder involvement and an interdisciplinary approach founded on recognition of the following:


The goals of FHWA's Office of Infrastructure R&D are as follows:

Research and Development Focus Areas

The Office of Infrastructure R&D focuses on important research and development where there is an appropriate Federal role by virtue of national need, scope, duration, or risk. This work, which is guided by the 2011 FHWA Infrastructure Research and Technology Strategic Plan, attempts to perform addresses the following:(2)

AMENDED December 18, 2012

These objectives are pursued through the following overarching strategies.

Long-Term Infrastructure Performance

The focus of this strategy is to conduct, build upon, and integrate the current Long-Term Pavement Performance program and Long-Term Bridge Performance program to answer critical questions concerning the long-term performance of the Nation's highway infrastructure. Activities in this strategy include development of the following:

Durable Infrastructure Systems

Within this strategy, durable and resilient infrastructure systems and elements are developed to improve in-service performance, reduce maintenance needs and costs, reduce life-cycle costs, and significantly improve safety during normal service and extreme hazard events. This will require that infrastructure durability and deterioration prevention be addressed in a more systematic manner by developing the following:

Accelerated Highway Construction

This strategy aims to develop accelerated construction, rehabilitation, and reconstruction methodologies for highway systems and structures. This strategy directly addresses the Nation's congestion and safety needs, as well as the impending crisis due to an aging infrastructure1. The research and development to be pursued as a part of this strategy includes the following:

AMENDED December 18, 2012

Environmentally Sensitive Highway Infrastructure

This strategy addresses the need for technologies to enable an environmentally sensitive highway infrastructure. This strategy will reduce detrimental environmental impacts arising from construction and maintenance of highway infrastructure, as well as the physical, chemical, and aesthetic attributes of highway transportation. Elements of this strategy include the following:

AMENDED December 18, 2012

Performance-Based Specifications

With this strategy, researchers will work toward comprehensive performance-based specifications. Such specifications are needed to balance risk between agencies and industry (contractors), encourage innovation, provide greater consistency between design expectations and actual performance, and support innovative contracting procedures and construction practices. This strategy is dependent on the ability to accurately predict future performance. It will build on outcomes from the long-term infrastructure performance and durable infrastructure systems research. Specific examples of performance-based specifications include the following:

Comprehensive and Integrated Infrastructure Asset Management

This strategy builds on and integrates the outcomes from previous strategies, including long-term infrastructure performance, accelerated highway construction, durable infrastructure systems, environmentally sensitive infrastructure, and performance-based specification, to deliver the tools and technologies needed to achieve fully integrated processes and systems for asset management, including infrastructure planning, design, contracting, construction, preservation, and maintenance. Activities in this capstone strategy include development of the following:


In pursuing the research and development program described herein, the FHWA Office of Infrastructure R& D works closely and collaboratively with other FHWA offices and with the broader community of highway stakeholders to ensure that the program performs the following:


The outcomes delivered through pursuit of these strategies will benefit the American public by enabling improvements in the safety, performance, and cost effectiveness of the Nation's highway infrastructure while minimizing the environmental impacts of highway construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation. The results will reduce highway congestion, improve highway safety, and enhance the overall driving experience.

FHWA is charged with ensuring minimum standards of safety for the public as it travels on the Nation's roads and highways. While there are many other organizations and agencies that conduct highway infrastructure research, the FHWA Office of Infrastructure R& D is uniquely positioned to address the continuum of highway infrastructure research from high-risk, exploratory, and advanced research through the highly applied, problem-specific research that is necessary to address current issues and immediate problems. This broad range of research capability provides a high likelihood of success that is so critical for sustaining the Nation's economy.


  1. Federal Highway Administration. (2012). FHWA Strategic Plan, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DC. Obtained from: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/fhplan.htm.

  2. Federal Highway Administration. (2012). 2011 FHWA Infrastructure Research and Technology Strategic Plan, Report No. FHWA-HRT-12-043, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DC.

1 According to the FHWA National Bridge Inventory, the Nation's bridges have an average age of 43 years, and the majority of pavements on the National Highway System have surpassed their original design life.



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