CHAPTER 2
The U.S. Highway System and the Innovation Challenge

CHAPTER HIGHLIGHTS

  • The highway system is the nation’s largest infrastructure system.

  • The system demands significant investment by both the public and private sectors.

  • Continuing challenges necessitate research and innovation.

  • Highway innovation continues to face a number of barriers.

This chapter presents the major issues driving the need for innovation and new technologies for the nation’s highway system. The first section briefly describes the highway system and the nature and extent of highway travel. The second delineates the industry components—public and private—that own, construct, operate, and maintain highways. The third section reviews major impediments to more widespread highway industry innovation. This is followed by a discussion of several major highway system issues that can be addressed by research aimed at providing innovation and new technologies to meet the nation’s safety, mobility, and economic goals.

HIGHWAYS AND HIGHWAY TRAVEL

The U.S. highway system is the nation’s largest public infrastructure system. It consists of more than 3.9 million miles of roadways, more than 583,000 bridges and other related structures, and a wide range of traffic control and



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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology CHAPTER 2 The U.S. Highway System and the Innovation Challenge CHAPTER HIGHLIGHTS The highway system is the nation’s largest infrastructure system. The system demands significant investment by both the public and private sectors. Continuing challenges necessitate research and innovation. Highway innovation continues to face a number of barriers. This chapter presents the major issues driving the need for innovation and new technologies for the nation’s highway system. The first section briefly describes the highway system and the nature and extent of highway travel. The second delineates the industry components—public and private—that own, construct, operate, and maintain highways. The third section reviews major impediments to more widespread highway industry innovation. This is followed by a discussion of several major highway system issues that can be addressed by research aimed at providing innovation and new technologies to meet the nation’s safety, mobility, and economic goals. HIGHWAYS AND HIGHWAY TRAVEL The U.S. highway system is the nation’s largest public infrastructure system. It consists of more than 3.9 million miles of roadways, more than 583,000 bridges and other related structures, and a wide range of traffic control and

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology safety systems and equipment (FHWA 2000a). The overall system has an asset value of more than $1,300 billion, representing better than 87 percent of the nation’s total transportation infrastructure assets. Spending for highways by all units of government in 1998 was above $100 billion, more than two-thirds of all U.S. spending on transportation infrastructure (Buechner 1999). User expenditures for passenger and freight highway transportation are considerable. Private-sector spending for highway transportation in the United States was $688 billion in 1997, 82.5 percent of all expenditures for passenger transportation. In 1996, Americans spent more than $225 billion on new automobiles and trucks.1 More than $402 billion was spent in 1997 for truck freight transportation in the United States, about 79 percent of the nation’s freight transportation expenditures. Small-package delivery revenues from for-hire trucking rose 96 percent to $15.7 billion in the decade prior to 1997. Business outlays for highway transportation–related equipment (trucks, trailers, buses, and automobiles) rose to $125.6 billion in 1997, representing 20 percent of all business expenditures for nonresidential durable equipment of all types. Truck traffic could increase even more quickly if Internet-based or e-commerce continues to expand.2 Such expenditures support an enormous amount of travel, and drivers, vehicles, and miles of travel are increasing at a faster pace than population growth (see Figure 2-1). Moreover, the growing congestion experienced by most highway users is readily understood if one compares the much greater increase in annual vehicle-miles traveled (demand) with the increase in lane-miles (capacity) during the period shown in the figure (1982–1999). People use roadways for most passenger trips. Highways account for 2.7 trillion vehicle-miles traveled per year and in 1995 were used for nearly 90 percent of daily passenger trips and 92 percent of passenger-miles traveled. Truck traffic is a major contributor, as evidenced by the doubling of the number of large trucks (Class 8) from 1982 to 1997. Revenues of all intercity commercial carriers increased considerably between 1986 and 1996; for example, revenues for United Parcel Service shipments more than doubled during the period. PUBLIC AND PRIVATE ROLES IN HIGHWAY SYSTEM MANAGEMENT The highway system is owned, operated, and maintained by a highly decentralized group of mostly public agencies. More than 35,000 public agencies in the 1 Committee estimates based on compilations from several sources. 2 The U.S. Department of Commerce recently estimated online sales in 2000 at $25.9 billion (Washington Post, February 22, 2001). Other estimates of business-to-consumer commerce for 2000 range from $7 billion to $200 billion; estimates for business-to-business commerce range from $52 billion to $406 billion for the same period (Nagarajan et al. 2001).

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology Figure 2-1 Changes in key variables related to highway transportation, 1982–1999. United States have highway transportation responsibilities (see Table 2-1). These agencies rely on the private sector—traditionally for materials and construction, and increasingly for design, construction management, and maintenance. The private sector of the highway industry, consisting of tens of thousands of private firms providing materials and services, is decentralized and geographically diverse.3 The roles and responsibilities of the public and private components of the highway industry are described in the following subsections. Highway Agencies The federal–state–local intergovernmental highway partnership was established early in the 20th century and has served the system and the nation well. The roles of the different levels of government have evolved over time. The modern era of highway development began with the creation of a new class of highways and a new highway funding mechanism in the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 3  Ongoing consolidation in some sectors of the industry is changing this characterization.

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology Table 2-1 Highway Mileage and Expenditures Classified by Administrative Responsibility Administration Number of Agencies Highway Miles (% of total) for Which Responsible 1999 Revenues (% of total) Used for Highways by Collecting Agency ($ millions) 1999 Expenditures for Highways (% of total) by Expending Agency ($ millions) Federal agency 5 118,391 (3) 26,016 (22) 1,424 (1) State agency 52 773,903 (20) 62,097 (53) 71,414 (61) County agency 2,815a 1,766,394 (45) NA NA Town and township 14,051a 1,206,917 (31)b NA NA Municipality 18,100a — 29,765 (25) 44,595 (38) Other jurisdictionsc — 66,399 (2) NA NA Total 35,023 3,932,004 117,878d 117,433d NOTE: NA • not available. aEstimates based on census data. bMunicipal mileage is combined with town and township mileage. c“Other jurisdictions” include state park, state toll, and other state agencies; other local agencies; and roadways not identified by ownership. dDifferences due to funds placed in reserve. SOURCES: U.S. Department of Commerce (1999); FHWA (2000b). 1956. That act also significantly affected the governmental roles in highway transportation, and subsequent legislation has continued to refine these roles (see Appendix A for more detail). The 1956 act created the 41,000-mi network now known as the Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways. It also created the Highway Trust Fund, which is based on receipts from federal user taxes on motor fuels, tires and tubes, new buses, and trucks and trailers, as well as a use tax on heavy trucks. A key provision of the act was that the federal government—through the trust fund—provided 90 percent of the highway construction costs for the new Interstate highway system.4 4  The federal government plays a significant role in financing the highway system. However, it owns and directly administers just 5 percent of the system, mostly roads on public lands (e.g., military bases, parks, and national forests).

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), then the Bureau of Public Roads, became and continues to be the federal agency responsible for the federal-aid highway program and for the development of regulations, policies, and guidelines for achieving national highway goals through the agency’s programs. In 1999 FHWA dispersed more than $26 billion for highways, primarily from the Highway Trust Fund. The agency’s mission is to “provide the best highway system in the world by continually improving the quality of the system and its intermodal connections” and “in cooperation with all [its] partners to enhance the country’s economic vitality, quality of life, and the environment.”5 To this end, the agency’s strategic goals address safety, mobility, productivity, the human and natural environment, and national security. Each of the 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, has an independent highway agency. These agencies are responsible for the segments of the federal Interstate highway and primary highway systems within their borders, as well as their own networks of state highways. The states own more than 20 percent of the nation’s highways. An average state owns about 24 percent of the highways within its borders, with state ownership ranging from 8.5 percent in North Dakota to 91.5 percent in West Virginia. In 1997 the states provided about $54 billion for highway-related purposes from vehicle and driver licensing fees and fuel taxes. States often provide direct assistance to local governments by performing construction and maintenance on some locally owned roads and by distributing state revenues to local governments as grants for highway purposes. At the local level, the nation’s more than 2,800 counties own and manage about 1.7 million miles, or 44 percent, of all highways, an average of about 600 miles each. More than 35,000 municipalities, towns, and townships own and manage nearly 25 percent of the nation’s highways. Local highway and public works agencies are largely responsible for traffic operations and street maintenance in their jurisdictions. In addition, to receive federal transportation funds, all urbanized areas with populations of 50,000 or more are required to have in place a metropolitan planning organization responsible for transportation planning. More than $44 billion was spent for highways by all local government units in 1997. Private Sector The organization of highway agencies in states, counties, and municipalities has from the beginning made highway building a local enterprise, spawning a large 5 See www.fhwa.dot.gov/mission.html.

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology number of highway contractors and construction companies that serve local markets and some that extend outside state boundaries. Limiting the market reach of much of the highway industry are the large quantities of low-cost, locally available materials used in highway building that can be costly if transported long distances. Moreover, some states still have statutes that make it difficult to spend state funds outside the state. Such statutes benefit local highway builders and material suppliers and bolster the traditional decentralized nature of the highway industry. Much of the construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation of the highway system is performed or supported by a highly diversified industry consisting of thousands of engineering firms, commodity suppliers, construction companies, contractors, and equipment manufacturers and suppliers. These companies vary in size. In the past, most were small and worked in a single state, but consolidation is changing this situation in many specialty areas.6 BARRIERS TO HIGHWAY SYSTEM INNOVATION Innovation in the highway sector usually involves improving performance, cost-effectiveness, quality, or safety or reducing environmental consequences. However, certain characteristics of the public sector, and the highway industry in particular, act as barriers to change and innovation (TRB 1999): Diverse, decentralized, and multifaceted highway industry—There are more than 35,000 highway agencies with an assortment of political, regulatory, and administrative characteristics, as well as differences in size, budget, and staff capabilities. The private-sector portion of the industry includes thousands of engineering firms, suppliers, contractors, and equipment manufacturers. With so many agencies and companies involved, innovation can proceed slowly at times. Constraints of public-sector procurement practices—Procurement in the public sector is driven largely by a low-bid process based on specifications and procedures established to satisfy the need for open competition, accountability, and the safety, health, and well-being of the population.7 Nevertheless, such a process can discourage contractors who have developed new products or methods because specifications determine how facilities are built, the types of materials used, the designs followed, and the construction processes used. Reforms and new practices, 6 Highway administrators on the committee noted that this change is reflected in fewer bidders on most highway construction contracts than in years past. 7  State legislatures and local governing bodies establish many procurement requirements.

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology including design–build, construction warranties, and partnering arrangements, are being used more widely, but changing existing procedures is a slow process. Low tolerance for risk in the public sector—Innovation involves risk, but public-sector decision makers work in an environment that does not reward risk taking. Moreover, many public facilities are large, with high fixed costs and long economic lives. As a result, construction innovation must be assessed not only within the context of the original installation (i.e., a facility’s initial cost and design) but also over a very long time period (i.e., whether the facility will continue to perform as expected and what it will cost to operate and maintain it). Even when seeking innovative solutions to system problems, public officials are often deterred by the risks associated with unintended and unexpected consequences. Difficulty of characterizing and predicting system and component performance—Difficulties in characterizing the complex interactions among the fundamental properties of many highway system components hinders the understanding and implementation of potential innovations. The committee has identified examples in past reports. For example, pavement innovation is constrained by the uncertainties inherent in predicting future traffic demand and truck axle loadings (TRB 1997a), and travel forecasting is limited because of the inability to model traveler decision making accurately (TRB 1997b). Conflicting public- and private-sector incentives—Market forces that stimulate much commercial innovation operate differently in the public sector. Although innovation can help achieve performance improvements or cost savings, it usually involves certain higher initial costs and uncertain future benefits, a difficult combination in light of the atmosphere of intense public scrutiny and account-ability faced by public decision makers. Highway projects being organized in a manner that does not promote innovation—Several factors associated with the way highway construction and maintenance activities are organized and undertaken constrain innovation. Highways and bridges are usually built by a temporary alliance of contractors and subcontractors under a system of contracts and subcontracts. Contractors focus on task completion. Although they may contemplate new ways to accomplish specific tasks, they are less likely to consider innovations that redefine the project itself. The contracting team disbands after project completion, leaving the owner agency responsible for the operation and maintenance of the completed facility; thus the owner agency wants a facility it knows and understands. In addition, construction of public facilities involves considerable variation in local materials and conditions and a generally harsh operating environment, further discouraging divergence from standard design guidelines and prescribed methods. These factors limit the use of new ideas and methods (TRB 1996). Finally, highways usually pass

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology through multiple jurisdictions, some of which may have less-skilled or less-experienced highway officials, adding to the reliance on traditional design and construction standards. Organizational limits to change—The way public agencies are organized affects the speed of adoption of innovations. State and local highway agencies focus on managing highway construction and maintenance contracts with the private sector. They have limited staff expertise and few resources to assemble “full information about what has been learned about a problem” (TRB 1998, p. 6). Relevant public-works research programs aimed at providing new technologies have been described as generally underfunded, scattered, and directed at diverse but narrowly specific program objectives (COTA 1991). Several initiatives have been launched to assist in overcoming such obstacles.8 WHAT DRIVES THE NEED FOR HIGHWAY SYSYEM INNOVATION Today’s aging highway system faces daunting challenges, including a growing need for rehabilitation and rebuilding of many highway segments that must continue to meet high travel demand in a context of increasing congestion, emerging safety problems, and widespread environmental concerns. Table 2-2 characterizes the highway transportation environment highway agencies face as they address these problems. Although many of these challenges represent highway user preferences,9 others stem from changes brought about by legislation in 1991 and 1998 that reauthorized federal highway program expenditures (see Box 2-1 for more detail). Still other challenges derive from the need to sustain a well-functioning highway system as an integral part of the nation’s transportation system. The following subsections describe many of these challenges.10 Increasing Traffic Congestion As shown earlier in Figure 2-1, a study of 68 urban areas conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) revealed that from 1982 to 1999, vehicle-miles 8 The Highway Innovative Technology Evaluation Center, housed in the Civil Engineering Research Foundation, develops nationally recognized and impartial evaluation plans for unique products for which no standard evaluation methods exist. The National Transportation Product Evaluation Program, located within the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, evaluates standard products for which test methods or protocols have already been developed. 9 Highway users want smooth pavements, and they are least satisfied with the delays they encounter because of construction (FHWA 2001). 10 Many of these challenges are reflected in the highway research agenda prepared by the working groups of the National Highway R&T Partnership Forum (see Appendix B).

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology Table 2-2 Changing Context of Highway Transportation Programs Historical Highway Program   Evolving Highway Program Building roads Emphasis Protecting and enhancing highway investment, adding capacity as needed Making connections and adding capacity Purpose Improving connections while supporting and balancing economic, social, and environmental goals Capacity expansion through new construction Activity focus Infrastructure renewal, targeted construction, and transportation system management Standards-based construction, low-bid procurement Business model Performance-based construction, reconstruction, and rehabilitation; increased privatization Highway construction agency Corporate identity Transportation system service agency Greenfields construction Predominant operating environment Renewing existing facilities while addressing increasing traffic demand traveled increased more rapidly than either lane-miles of freeways and major arterials or population growth (TTI 2001). Vehicle-miles traveled increased by 98 percent, freeway and arterial lane-miles by 37 percent, and population by 24 percent. During the same period, the amount of travel under “extreme congested” conditions increased from 6 to 18 percent of all travel.11 The study also showed that drivers in more than half the cities studied needed from 20 to 50 percent more time to complete their journey in rush-hour than in off-peak, uncongested conditions. The effects of traffic congestion and delay include increased travel time and fuel consumption, lost productivity of people and trucks, and additional environmental impacts. Congestion also impedes just-in-time delivery—a key to successful competition in global markets. An isolated vehicle breakdown or crash that increases travel time for other highway users can mean that components do not arrive in time to be installed on schedule or that businesses need more inventory to accommodate unreliable delivery schedules. The total annual cost 11 Extreme congested conditions on freeways are defined by an average speed of 32 mph, while free-flow conditions are defined by an average speed of 60 mph (TTI 2001).

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology BOX 2-1 Recent Key Highway Program Changes About every 6 years, Congress debates and passes legislation that establishes the program categories and funding for surface transportation. This legislation was known as the “highway bills” until the 1991 bill was titled the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), reflecting many changes already under way and others still needed in the nation’s transportation system. ISTEA changed the way highway agencies and highway users plan and manage the surface transportation system and broadened the scope of the highway R&T program. Among the changes ISTEA brought about in the highway program were the following: Half of all federal funding for highways, transit, or other surface transportation uses was made flexible (available for a variety of uses) for the first time. Requirements were added for a more open transportation planning process at the state and metropolitan levels. Significant funding was reserved for maintenance and rehabilitation of existing highway, bridge, and transit systems. Funding was set aside to support alternatives to the highway system and reduce its negative impacts on communities. In 1998 the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) reauthorized much of ISTEA and authorized new programs aimed at reducing automobile dependence and highway impacts. The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program, which had provided funding for transportation projects designed to reduce congestion and improve air quality, was continued, and its funding was increased. The Transportation Enhancements Program, aimed at encouraging diverse modes of travel, fostering local economic development, and bringing direct benefits to communities through transportation projects, was also continued. In addition, TEA-21 created a completely new Transit Enhancements Program for enhancement-like activities related directly to transit. The act also provided funding for initiatives related to job access, parking buyouts, new rail

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology starts, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, coordination of transportation and land use, and innovative finance methods. As a result of ISTEA and TEA-21, total spending on transit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and highway maintenance has risen more rapidly than spending on new highway construction. Federal program spending on bicycle–pedestrian projects increased from about $5 million in 1990 to more than $210 million in 1999 (STPP 2000). Nevertheless, overall federal highway expenditures as a share of total federal surface transportation expenditures have increased since 1985. of congestion in the 68 urban areas included in the above study was estimated at $78 billion in 1999; this equates to about $620 per person per year in these areas (TTI 2001). In fact, metropolitan areas are realizing that infrastructure expansion is not possible along many highway corridors because of space limitations, as well as high costs and community and environmental concerns. This means that in many cases, the need to add transportation capacity without inducing more highway travel must be addressed through operational improvements and promotion of other modes. Complex Repair and Rehabilitation Needs Data indicate that the condition of highways and bridges is improving and could continue to do so if current spending is sustained (FHWA 2000a).12 Increasingly, however, repair and rehabilitation are needed on urban Interstate highways and other urban freeways and expressways that pass through heavily traveled corridors in built-up areas, as well as on key sections of rural Interstates with high traffic volumes and inadequate alternative routes. Such projects are likely to be complex and costly for highway agencies, local communities, highway users, and others because of traffic and business disruptions and the limitations placed by existing rights-of-way and nearby community and economic development on potential 12 Data are available for all roads except rural minor collectors, rural local roads, and urban streets. Roads and streets are classified according to FHWA’s highway functional classification system.

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology design options, construction alternatives, and environmental improvements. Unless innovative and creative solutions can be found for such projects, their costs will continue to rise, and fewer resources will be available for the growing number of other, less noticeable but increasingly important repair and rehabilitation projects. Moreover, innovative methods developed for major corridor rehabilitation and reconstruction projects can offer less intrusive and disruptive ways of conducting projects aimed at implementing safer highway designs and mitigating environmental and community impacts. Concerns About Highway Safety In 2000 there were an estimated 11 million vehicle crashes, more than 3 million injuries, and more than 42,000 deaths associated with highway transportation. If past trends continue, 33 million people will be injured or killed in traffic crashes by 2010. Motor vehicle–related injuries are the leading cause of death among children and young adults (1 to 24 years of age) in the United States. Up to half of serious head injuries and 60 percent of spinal cord injuries are the result of motor vehicle crashes. Thus, despite a 12 percent reduction in highway crash–related injuries and an 8 percent reduction in highway fatalities between 1988 and 1998, crash-related injuries and deaths remain a major public health concern. Indeed, in 1999 traffic crashes and the associated injuries and deaths exacted a social and economic toll estimated at more than $180 billion (NSC 2000). Although the highway safety record has improved over the years, persistent problems, such as driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs and run-off-the-road crashes, remain. New problems, such as the disproportionate number of rollovers among sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks that leave the road and the increasing number of crashes involving drivers who exhibit aggressive driving behavior, continue to emerge. Providing emergency medical assistance to persons involved in motor vehicle crashes, especially in remote areas with limited medical facilities, is also arising as a major challenge. Environmental and Energy Issues Highway agencies face a wide range of environmental and energy issues stemming from the nation’s dependence on the highway system. Environmental impacts—including ecological, aesthetic, historical, cultural, economic, social, and health issues—must be examined for highway construction projects.13 13 As required by the National Environmental Policy Act (see www.ceq.eh.doe.gov/nepa/regs/ceq/toc_ceq.htm).

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology Although such analyses generally apply to transportation project plans, there is a growing need to examine these impacts for the highway system at the corridor, metropolitan area, and regional levels. The need for data, analysis techniques, and decision models that can be used for these analyses also continues to grow. At the same time, highway agencies are increasingly faced with the need to mitigate these impacts for the existing system. Energy consumption and pollutant emissions due to U.S. transportation, most of which are accounted for by motor vehicles, are also key concerns.14 Urban air pollution, a highly visible side effect of motor vehicle use, remains one of the nation’s most vexing environmental problems. Highway vehicles are the largest single source of transportation-related emissions for nearly every type of air pollutant, contributing slightly more than half of nationwide emissions of three of the Environmental Protection Agency’s six criteria pollutants for measuring air quality—carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone (BTS 1999, p. 119, Table 5-9).15 Continuing long-term growth in motor vehicle transportation may increase the risk of global climate change and of losses in biological diversity and ecosystem functioning (TRB 1997c). Even as transportation decision makers seek short-term measures to reduce and mitigate such impacts, they are increasingly recognizing the need for new ways of addressing the fundamental issue of providing transportation in a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly manner. Need for Improved Planning and Decision-Making Tools As job opportunities of all types are increasingly generated in suburban locations far from city centers and remote rural concentrations of poverty, transportation facility and service decisions are becoming more complex. There is a growing realization that in addition to the need for better survey tools, modeling techniques, and analytical decision tools for planning and decision making, more information is needed about some fundamental issues that underlie these tools and methods. These issues include individual travel behavior and how travel decisions are made, how transportation and land use interact to affect travel demand, and how transportation system changes affect individual travel behavior. 14 Petroleum supplies about 97 percent of transportation energy, and motor vehicles consume the largest single portion of this fuel. Petroleum availability is not considered a critical problem today but could become one if worldwide demand continues to grow at an increasing rate, along with the nation’s dependence on foreign sources (Greene 1996; BTS 1997). 15 The other three criteria pollutants are lead, sulfur dioxide, and particulates.

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology Need to Assess Role of Highways in the Transportation System As noted earlier, there is a continuing need to examine more fully a broad range of topics related to assessing the role and consequences of highways in the nation’s transportation system. These topics include how alternative land use and transportation scenarios can accommodate future growth in population and people and goods movement, how pricing and other behavior modification schemes can be used to encourage the use of nonhighway modes, how and the extent to which highway system changes induce travel, and how intermodalism can be utilized more effectively (TRB 1994). In light of the wide range of opinions on such issues, the kind of highway transportation system the nation wants in 20 or 30 years should be examined through research that addresses potential alternatives and consequences and considers the many diverse views involved. SUMMARY The nation’s highways represent its largest public infrastructure system. More than $117 billion is spent annually by more than 35,000 public agencies for constructing, operating, and maintaining the system. Annual user expenditures for passenger and freight travel are greater than $900 billion. However, even as passenger and freight movement continues to increase, challenges to the system’s effectiveness abound. These challenges include badly needed road repairs; injuries, fatalities, and damage due to highway crashes; delays due to crashes, congestion, and road repairs; risks related to unsafe drivers and road conditions; and the many impacts of the highway system on individuals, communities, businesses, and the environment. Highway agencies must address these challenges under heavy and escalating traffic conditions in communities that want a minimum of disruption to current activities, and must do so while under close scrutiny by environmental and neighborhood groups. In addition, highway agencies must continue to operate the balance of the system safely, reliably, and efficiently at minimum cost and with maximum benefit to taxpayers, the environment, and the traveling public. The complexity of these challenges underscores the need for new ways of looking at problems and for innovative solutions, offering significant research opportunities in all facets of the highway sector. Research supplies needed innovations and new technologies and provides essential training for future researchers and transportation professionals. Past research has yielded significant improvements in all areas (see the boxes in Chapter 1, for example), and research continues to be crucial for addressing both chronic and emerging prob-

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology lems. Moreover, the range of possible improvements is so broad, the research needs so diverse, and the nature of the system so complex that identifying specific research priorities is itself a complex task. At the same time, innovation often faces barriers that can hamper and even prevent the needed application of new materials, methods, and procedures. Overcoming such barriers requires considerable effort from both the private and public sectors. Some barriers, such as low-bid procurement and detailed design specifications, were put in place to ensure financial and technical accountability or to prevent the use of inferior materials or products. The original goals of such policies and procedures must be borne in mind when changes are made to allow the use of new technologies. In some cases a new product or technology necessitates a trade-off between conflicting goals or requires the public sector to assume a higher level of risk. REFERENCES Abbreviations BTS Bureau of Transportation Statistics COTA Congressional Office of Technology Assessment FHWA Federal Highway Administration NSC National Safety Council STPP Surface Transportation Policy Project TRB Transportation Research Board TTI Texas Transportation Institute Buechner, W. R. 1999. An Economic Analysis of the U.S. Transportation Construction Industry. Transportation Builder. July–August. BTS. 1997. Transportation Statistics Annual Report 1997: Mobility and Access. Washington, D.C. BTS. 1999. Transportation Statistics Annual Report 1999. Washington, D.C. COTA. 1991. Rebuilding the Foundations: Public Works Technologies, Management, and Financing. U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C. FHWA. 2000a. 1999 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions and Performance. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C. FHWA. 2000b. Highway Statistics 1999. Report FHWA-PL-00-020. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C. FHWA. 2001. Moving Ahead: The American Public Speaks on Roadways and Transportation in Communities. Report FHWA-OP-01-017. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C. Greene, D. L. 1996. Transportation and Energy. Eno Transportation Foundation, Inc., Washington, D.C.

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology Nagarajan, A., E. Canessa, W. Mitchell, and C. C. White, III. 2001. The Economic Impact of Internet Usage in the Trucking Industry. University of Michigan, School of Business, Ann Arbor. NSC. 2000. Accident Facts, Itasca, Ill. STPP. 2000. Federal Transportation Spending in the 1990s. Washington, D.C. TRB. 1994. Special Report 244: Highway Research: Current Programs and Future Directions. National Research Council, Washington, D.C. TRB. 1996. Special Report 249: Building Momentum for Change: Creating a Strategic Forum for Innovation in Highway Infrastructure. National Research Council, Washington, D.C. TRB. 1997a. Developing Long-Lasting, Lower-Maintenance Highway Pavement: Research Needs. National Research Council, Washington, D.C. TRB. 1997b. The Future Highway Transportation System and Society: Suggested Research on Impacts and Interactions. National Research Council, Washington, D.C. TRB. 1997c. Special Report 251: Toward a Sustainable Future: Addressing the Long-Term Effects of Motor Vehicle Transportation on Climate and Ecology. National Research Council, Washington, D.C. TRB. 1998. Transportation Research Circular 488: Transportation Technology Transfer: A Primer on the State of the Practice. National Research Council, Washington, D.C. TRB. 1999. Special Report 256: Managing Technology Transfer: A Strategy for the Federal Highway Administration. National Research Council, Washington, D.C. TTI. 2001. 2001 Annual Mobility Report. Texas A&M University. www.mobility.tamu.edu. U.S. Department of Commerce. 1999. Government Organization: 1997 Census of Governments. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C.