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

This summary report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-17-038     Date:  February 2018
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-17-038
Date: February 2018



Highway research—when adopted and implemented appropriately—has the potential to save lives, conserve funds, reduce congestion and travel time, increase business productivity, extend infrastructure life, and alleviate strain on the environment. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) partners with State transportation departments, local agencies, industry, and academia both to conduct research on issues of national significance and to accelerate adoption and deployment of promising research products. FHWA recently initiated the Research and Technology (R&T) Evaluation Program to assess and communicate the benefits of its R&T efforts and to ensure that the organization is expending public resources efficiently and effectively.

Foundations of the R&T Evaluation Program

Strategic planning documents guide both R&T development and R&T evaluation at FHWA. In the Research and Technology Agenda, FHWA presents the mission and priorities of its research and technology activities.(2) The R&T Agenda identifies the following six high-priority highway challenges:

  1. Advancing safety toward zero deaths.
  2. Improving the mobility of people and goods.
  3. Maintaining infrastructure integrity.
  4. Enhancing system performance.
  5. Promoting environmental sustainability.
  6. Preparing for the future.

The R&T Agenda is intended to catalyze collaboration and accelerate innovation. Meeting the Nation’s high-priority highway challenges requires the cooperation and collaboration of numerous stakeholders in the public and private sectors, academia, industry, and the international community.(2) It also requires continually reexamining and improving the process of selecting and executing research projects, disseminating findings, supporting user adoption, and assessing benefits to users and society.

In 2003, FHWA leadership adopted a strategic management framework called the Corporate Master Plan for Research and Deployment of Technology & Innovation (CMP), which was developed with input from stakeholders.(3,4) The purpose of the plan is to continue to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of R&T. The CMP is a response to Highway Research: Systematic Selection and Evaluation Processes Needed for Research Program, a report by the General Accounting Office to Congress, which recommended that FHWA “develop a systematic process for evaluating significant ongoing and completed research that incorporates peer review or other best practices in use at Federal agencies that conduct research.”(5)

Leadership at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) adopted the 2014 Strategic Plan for the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center to guide the Center’s continued development.(4) The plan sets forth broad principles and long-term goals to be planned and executed during several years. One of these long-term goals is to calibrate the Center’s efforts to promote the adoption of research findings:

Goal 5 of the Strategic Plan: Research activities and outcomes are appropriately advanced through effective alignment of resources, dissemination of knowledge, and technology transition.(4)

From a highway research perspective, technology transition is the incorporation of technology into operating transportation systems to achieve increased performance (greater safety, capacity, speed, energy efficiency) and/or to reduce costs and emissions. The plan recognizes that the dissemination of knowledge and technology transition require engaging external partners and targeting outreach.(4) Evaluation can improve technology transition by revealing the relationships between research, dissemination of research findings, the decision to adopt findings, and benefits from adoption. These relationships are the focus of the FHWA R&T Evaluation Program.

FHWA developed the R&T Evaluation Program with encouragement from the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB’s) Research and Technology Coordinating Committee (RTCC). In a September 2016 report, the RTCC communicated its belief that the evaluation program is making “commendable progress” and that the evaluation teams are drawing useful and appropriately cautious interpretations from imperfect data collected in complex situations.(6)

Evaluation Activities

In its initial year, the FHWA R&T Evaluation Program worked with 9 FHWA offices to identify 16 projects for evaluation across all program areas. Each evaluation progresses through an ordered series of deliverables, from a preliminary task management plan to a final report. This report summarizes the progress of these evaluations as of September 30, 2016. Table 1 presents ongoing and completed evaluations, several of which have publications pending. Appendix A provides additional details on each project’s status. Full reports are available on FHWA’s website.(7)

Table 1. Overview of completed and ongoing FHWA R&T evaluations.

Program Office

Completed Evaluations

Ongoing Evaluations

Exploratory Advanced Research

(No completed evaluations)

Agent-Based Simulation Models

Federal Lands

Roadside Revegetation

(No ongoing projects)


Gusset Plates

Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil–Integrated Bridge System

High-Recycle Warm-Mix Asphalt

Precast Concrete Pavements

Innovative Program Delivery

(No completed evaluations)

Managing Risk on Rapid Renewal Projects

Public-Private Partnership Capacity Building


Adaptive Signal Control Technologies

Traffic Incident Management Training

Planning and Environment

(No completed evaluations)




National Household Travel Survey

Vehicle Operating Costs



High-Friction Surface Treatments

The five completed evaluations relied on both review of documents and semi-structured interviews. The Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil–Integrated Bridge System (GRS-IBS), Roadside Revegetation, and National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) teams also analyzed FHWA website usage statistics. In addition, the Roadside Revegetation report draws from the results of a survey conducted by the evaluation team.

The evaluation teams presented R&T Evaluation Program deliverables to FHWA stakeholders on numerous occasions (see table 2).

Table 2. FHWA R&T Evaluation Program presentations.



Stakeholder Audience (Location)

Adaptive Signal Control


Headquarters and Program Office (TFHRC)




RTCC Meeting (Jonsson Center)

Headquarters and Program Office (TFHRC)

Gusset Plate


Headquarters and Program Office (TFHRC)

National Household Travel Survey



RTCC Meeting (Jonsson Center)

Headquarters and Program Office (TFHRC)

This report provides FHWA’s Office of Research, Development, and Technology with an overview of the entire evaluation effort to date, cross-cutting recommendations, and summaries of each evaluation. The report provides more detail about completed evaluations and those close to completion. Summaries are provided in alphabetical order, separated by status (completed evaluations and ongoing evaluations).



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Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101