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

 
TECHBRIEF
This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-18-034    Date:  February 2018
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-18-034
Date: February 2018

 

FHWA Research and Technology Evaluation Program

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The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA’s) Research and Technology (R&T) Evaluation Program seeks to assess and communicate the benefits of the FHWA Research and Technology program to ensure that we are expending public resources efficiently and effectively.

Completed

  • Adaptive Signal Control
  • Technologies (2016)
  • Gusset Plates (2016)
  • National Household Travel Survey (2016)
  • Roadside Revegetation (2016)
  • Roundabouts (2016)
  • Agent Based Modeling and Simulation (2017)
  • Eco-Logical (2017)*
  • Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil
  • Integrated Bridge System (2017)
  • Public-Private Partnership
  • Capacity Building (2017)
  • Traffic Incident Management Training (2017)*

In Progress

  • eNEPA
  • High Friction Surface Treatments
  • High Recycle Warm Mix Asphalt
  • Managing Risk on Rapid Renewal Projects*
  • Precast Concrete Pavements*
  • Vehicle Operating Costs

*Part of the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2)

Goals and Priorities

FHWA conducts research and technology development to meet the transportation challenges of today and tomorrow. FHWA partners with State transportation departments, local agencies, industries, and academia both to conduct research on issues of national significance and to accelerate adoption and deployment of promising research products.

The FHWA R&T Agenda presents the mission and priorities of research and technology activities.1 The R&T Agenda identifies 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, and (6) preparing for the future. The R&T Agenda is intended to catalyze collaboration and accelerate innovation.

FHWA initiated its R&T Evaluation Program to increase transparency, better communicate research benefits, and continually improve R&T efforts in the service of the public good.

Evaluation Activities

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, the FHWA R&T Evaluation Program worked with 9 FHWA offices to identify and scope 16 projects for evaluation across all program areas. Formal evaluation began in FY15. Five projects were complete by the end of FY16 and five additional projects were finished in FY17. Of the remaining six projects, three are scheduled to be complete in FY18 and three have an extended timeline due to the length of the research projects being evaluated. After completion, the evaluation reports are prepared for publication. The current status of the original 16 projects are shown in the sidebar. The R&T Evaluation Program is in the process of identifying candidates for a new set of evaluations.

FHWA developed the R&T Evaluation Program with encouragement from the Transportation Research Board’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.2

Summary of Findings

The 10 completed evaluations documented program successes and challenges. The three most recently completed evaluations are listed first.

Agent Based Modeling and Simulation (ABMS) research involves computationally simulating the actions of individual drivers or agencies to characterize behavior and observe transportation network impacts. The ABMS evaluation assessed the role the FHWA Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program played in the process of developing and advancing this research. Findings include the following:

Recommendations include the following:

The Public-Private Partnership Capacity Building Program (P3 Program) evaluation examined the reach and impact of the Public-Private Partnership (P3) Toolkit, an online education resource containing analytical tools and guidance documents, and a set of trainings and webinars designed to support the P3 Toolkit. Findings include the following:

A bridge and a traffic light.

Source: Photo by Jeremy Brooks / CC BY-NC 2.0
Left: GRS-IBS. Source: FHWA. Right: Adaptive signal.

Recommendations include the following:

Traffic Incident Management (TIM) trainings teach a coordinated multidisciplinary process to detect, respond to, and clear traffic incidents as safely and quickly as possible to restore traffic flow. The trainings are part of SHRP2. The TIM evaluation examines the scope and impact of these trainings. Findings include the following:

Recommendations are pending program office approval.

Adaptive Signal Control Technologies (ASCTs) adjust signal timing to alleviate congestion and delay. Findings include the following:

Recommendations include the following:

Eco-Logical, developed as part of the second SHRP2, articulates a vision for an infrastructure development process that endorses ecosystem-based mitigation through integrating plans and data across agency and disciplinary boundaries. Findings include the following:

Recommendations include the following:

A gusset plate and a roundabout

Source: FHWA.
Left: Gusset plate.
Source: Photo by Michael Quinn / CC BY 2.0
Right: Roundabout.

Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Integrated Bridge System (GRS-IBS) enables the construction of bridges made of closely spaced layers of geosynthetic textile and compacted granular fill material that blend the roadway into the superstructure. Findings include the following:

Recommendations include the following:

Gusset Plates join structural components in steel bridges and buildings. After part of the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed in 2007, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators sought expertise from FHWA, which launched projects on inspection, quality assurance, and training. Findings include the following:

Recommendations include the following:

The National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) provides the only data in the country linking individual personal travel behavior, household demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, vehicle ownership, and vehicle attributes.

Findings include the following:

Recommendations include the following:

Roadside Revegetation involves establishing or reestablishing appropriate plant material in areas that road construction projects disturb. Revegetation’s benefits include soil and slope stabilization, water quality improvement, aesthetic development, carbon sequestration, weed suppression, and wildlife habitat enhancement. Findings include the following:

A highway scene with cars and emergency vehicles and a sign that reads 'Wreck Ahead'

Source: Photo by Oregon DOT / CC BY 2.0
Above: Traffic Incident Management.

Recommendations include the following:

Roundabouts attracted international interest as a safety countermeasure in the 1970s. FHWA initiated domestic research of roundabout safety and design in the mid-1990s, later adding training and technical assistance. Findings include the following:

Recommendations include the following:

Ongoing Evaluations

eNEPA is an online workspace and collaboration forum for projects requiring an environmental impact statement or an environmental assessment.

High Friction Surface Treatments involve the overlay of calcined bauxite on a base of epoxy along portions of roadways susceptible to vehicle slippage.

High Recycle Warm Mix Asphalt involves the use of recycled materials and asphalt that producers can place on the road at lower temperatures, which may reduce material going to landfills, energy consumption, and emissions.

Managing Risk on Rapid Renewal Projects produced a guide through SHRP2 that provides practical tools and techniques for States to minimize risk and exploit opportunities.

Precast Concrete Pavement is an innovative practice developed through SHRP2 that uses prefabricated concrete panels for roadway maintenance to save construction time.

Vehicle Operating Costs calculations are currently based on a 1982 study. More recent developments permit the model to be efficiently and effectively updated.

Cross-Cutting Recommendations

Several cross-cutting recommendations discuss marketing and communications actions that support research and technology development projects:

Other recommendations suggest further incorporation of program evaluation into the research process:


  1. Federal Highway Administration (2017), Research and Technology Agenda, Available online at https://highways.dot.gov/rt-agenda/federal-highway-administration-fhwa-research-and-technology-agenda. Last accessed on 4/17/2017.
  2. Transportation Research Board (2016), Research and Technology Coordinating Committee Report, The National Academies Press. Available online at https://www.nap.edu/read/23588/chapter/1. Last accessed on 10/27/2016.
  3. Federal Highway Administration (2007), Roadside Revegetation: An Integrated Approach to Establishing Native Plants. Vancouver, WA: Western Federal Lands Highway Division.

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-18-034

HRTM-10/02-18(WEB)E

For more information about this initiative, please contact John Moulden, Manager, R&T National Partnership Program, john.moulden@dot.gov.

Completed evaluation reports are available on FHWA’s R&T website: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/research/fhwaresearch/ agenda/resources.cfm

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