TRB Special Report 249 - Building Momentum for Change: Creating a Strategic Forum for Innovation in Highway Infrastructure urges the formation of the Strategic Forum for Innovation in Highway Infrastructure, whose central mission would be to identify and effect positive change in the fundamental opportunities and incentives for innovation in products and services for the highway system. This report discusses the mission of the Forum, membership and participation, organization and support, related initiatives, steps to launch the Forum, and issues and opportunities for the Forum.
The provision of highway infrastructure in the United States is a joint public- and private-sector enterprise. The nearly 6.5 million km (4 million miles) of freeways, urban arterials, rural routes, and residential streets that cross the country are owned and operated by hundreds of state and local agencies and toll authorities that purchase highway products and services from thousands of construction contractors, equipment makers, suppliers of materials and system components, and numerous other private businesses. After many years of gradually expanding and upgrading this vast highway network, the highway community has been given a new mission: to restore the mature street and highway system to good physical condition and make it perform more reliably, safely, and efficiently at minimum cost and with maximum benefit to taxpayers, the environment, and the traveling public.
This mission is especially challenging because it must be achieved under heavy and escalating traffic conditions, on facilities that are aging and often in need of major repair and modernization, and under tightening budgetary constraints. In confronting these new challenges, many highway agencies are recognizing the need for greater flexibility in the way they develop and manage projects. Such flexibility is especially critical to ensuring the inflow of new products and processes. Many highway agencies are seeking to tap deeper into the vast potential of private industry to provide the innovative products and services necessary to meet the growing and changing demands being placed on the highway system.