The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology

Research and Technology Coordinating Committee

Special Report 261

Transportation Research Board

National Research Council

National Academy Press

Washington, D.C.

2001



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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology Research and Technology Coordinating Committee Special Report 261 Transportation Research Board National Research Council National Academy Press Washington, D.C. 2001

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology Transportation Research Board Special Report 261 Subscriber Category I planning, administration, and environment Transportation Research Board publications are available by ordering individual publications directly from the TRB Business Office, through the Internet at www.TRB.org or national-academies.org/trb, or by annual subscription through organizational or individual affiliation with TRB. Affiliates and library subscribers are eligible for substantial discounts. For further information, contact the Transportation Research Board Business Office, National Research Council, 2101 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20418 (telephone 202-334-3213; fax ; or e-mail TRBsales@nas.edu). Copyright 2001 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to the procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. This study was sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data The federal role in highway research and technology. p. cm.—(Special report ; 261) ISBN 0-309-07246-8 1. Highway research—United States. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board. II. Special report (National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board) ; 261. TE192.F43 2002 388.1'072073—dc21 2001059249

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. On the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both the Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. The Transportation Research Board is a unit of the National Research Council, which serves the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. The Board’s mission is to promote innovation and progress in transportation by stimulating and conducting research, facilitating the dissemination of information, and encouraging the implementation of research results. The Board’s varied activities annually engage more than 4,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation.

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology Research and Technology Coordinating Committee C. MICHAEL WALTON (NAE), Chair, University of Texas at Austin JOEL D. ANDERSON, California Trucking Association, West Sacramento DWIGHT M. BOWER, Idaho Transportation Department, Boise JOHN E. BREEN (NAE), University of Texas at Austin FORREST M. COUNCIL, University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, Chapel Hill FRANK L. DANCHETZ, Georgia Department of Transportation, Atlanta REID EWING, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., and Surface Transportation Policy Project, Washington, D.C. IRWIN FELLER, Pennsylvania State University, University Park JACK KAY, Transportation Consultant, Orinda, California LEON S. KENISON, Transportation Consultant, Bow, New Hampshire JOE P. MAHONEY, University of Washington, Seattle KAREN MILLER, District I Commission for Boone County, Missouri, Columbia JAMES E. ROBERTS (NAE), California Department of Transportation, Sacramento SANDRA ROSENBLOOM, University of Arizona, Tucson MICHAEL M. RYAN, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Harrisburg DAVID SPIVEY, Asphalt Paving Association of Washington, Inc., Seattle DALE F. STEIN (NAE), Michigan Technological University (emeritus) DAVID K. WILLIS, Automobile Association of America’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, Washington, D.C. Liaison Representatives JOHN HORSLEY, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Washington, D.C. DENNIS JUDYCKI, Federal Highway Administration MARCI KENNEY, Federal Highway Administration Transportation Research Board Staff WALTER J. DIEWALD, Senior Program Officer

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology Preface The Research and Technology Coordinating Committee (RTCC) was convened in 1991 by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies to provide a continuing, independent assessment of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) research and technology (R&T) program. Funding for the committee is provided by FHWA. A previous RTCC report describes research, development, and technology transfer in the highway industry (TRB 1994). Since preparing that report, the RTCC has examined many specific aspects of highway R&T, some at the request of FHWA and some under its own initiative and with FHWA’s support. Much has happened to the structure and funding of highway R&T since 1994, especially as a result of passage of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in June 1998. TEA-21 led to increased awareness among the highway industry that highway R&T is a shared responsibility and that federal highway R&T cannot address all highway transportation issues or serve all potential industry customers. This awareness has brought focus to the need for improved coordination among the various highway R&T activities, an idea this committee has supported in the past. TEA-21 also called for TRB to establish a study committee to determine the “goals, purposes, research agenda and projects, administrative structure, and fiscal needs for a new strategic highway research program.” That committee proposed a Future Strategic Highway Research Program (F-SHRP) modeled after the first SHRP. This program would be focused, time constrained, management driven, and designed to complement other existing highway research programs. The passage of TEA-21 influenced the formation of the National Highway R&T Partnership Forum in late 1998 by FHWA, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and TRB. The purpose of the forum was “to engage the entire highway transportation community in the identification of highway R&T needs and to address the benefits to be realized by forming

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology partnerships to fulfill those needs.” Participation in the partnership effort was completely voluntary but ultimately involved hundreds of individuals and more than 160 organizations. The RTCC assigned a committee member to monitor each of the forum’s working groups. A summary of R&T needs prepared by the forum is included in Appendix B. As these activities were getting under way, the committee decided to examine whether the focus and activities of the federal highway R&T program are appropriate in light of the needs of the nation’s highway system and the roles and activities of other highway R&T programs. The RTCC worked closely with the F-SHRP committee while carrying out this analysis; indeed, the F-SHRP committee had four members in common with the RTCC. By agreement of the National Academies, the two committees shared draft materials. This report presents the findings resulting from the RTCC’s examination of federal highway R&T and a proposal for a change in direction aimed at strengthening the overall R&T enterprise. The report was prepared as a companion to the F-SHRP committee’s report [Strategic Highway Research: Saving Lives, Reducing Congestion, Improving Quality of Life (TRB 2001)] and is directed toward key federal highway R&T decision makers (Congress and FHWA), as well as the stakeholders in federal highway R&T. The term “federal highway R&T program” is used in this report to refer to the combined responsibilities and actions of Congress, the administration, and FHWA in funding federal highway research, determining research needs, setting research program priorities, and executing the research program. Although the recommendations in this report are aimed primarily at FHWA’s R&T program, they are discussed in the context of other programs within the highway R&T enterprise—the state R&T programs, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, and private-sector research. These other programs focus on highway infrastructure issues and are supported by highway industry stakeholders. The committee recognizes that there are other research programs directly related to the highway system, especially those of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition, research undertaken by the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense involves topics of interest to highway agencies and researchers. The recommendations in this report are aimed at the current focus of FHWA’s R&T program. This focus is similar to that of the other highway R&T programs. Nevertheless, the committee believes there are significant opportunities for fundamental, long-term research that would be beneficial to the national R&T enterprise and that FHWA, as the mission agency responsible

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology for the nation’s highway program, is well positioned to both promote and undertake. Although this report presents recommendations that involve some changes in FHWA’s program, it also recognizes FHWA’s past R&T accomplishments and suggests the continuation of many of the agency’s activities in support of the nation’s highway R&T programs. The committee would like to recognize the FHWA staff members who provided valuable information and background material for this study. Dennis Judycki, Marci Kenney, Tom Krylowski, and Jason McConachy of FHWA’s Office of Research, Technology and Development were particularly helpful in preparing material for the committee and participating in several discussions about specific research management issues. The committee also benefited from presentations by representatives of the working groups of the National Highway R&T Partnership Forum, including Thomas E. Bryer, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation; Dennis J. Christiansen, Texas Transportation Institute; Elizabeth Deakin, University of California, Berkeley; Leanna Depue, Central Missouri State University; Francis B. Francois; Ian MacGillvary, University of Iowa; Alan E. Pisarski; Phillip J. Tarnoff, University of Maryland; and Mary Lynn Tischer, Arizona Department of Transportation. The study was conducted under the overall supervision of Stephen R. Godwin, TRB’s Director of Studies and Information Services. Walter J. Diewald served as project director and prepared this report under the direction of the committee. The committee wishes to thank Suzanne Schneider, Assistant Executive Director of TRB, who managed the report review process. The report was edited by Rona Briere with the assistance of Alisa Decatur and prepared for publication under the supervision of Nancy A. Ackerman, Director of Reports and Editorial Services. This report has been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Michael S. Bronzini, George Mason University; Randall Erickson, North Oaks, Minnesota; Damian Kulash, Eno Transportation Foundation; Morris Tanenbaum [National Academy of Engineering (NAE)], Short Hills, New Jersey; and Gary D. Taylor, Michigan Department of Transportation. Although the individuals listed above

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology have provided constructive comments and suggestions, it must be emphasized that responsibility for the final content of this report rests solely with the authoring committee and the institution. The review of this report was overseen by H. Norman Abramson (NAE), San Antonio, Texas, and Lester A. Hoel (NAE), University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. REFERENCES Abbreviation TRB Transportation Research Board TRB. 1994. Special Report 244: Highway Research: Current Programs and Future Directions. National Research Council, Washington, D.C. TRB. 2001. Special Report 260: Strategic Highway Research: Saving Lives, Reducing Congestion, Improving Quality of Life. National Research Council, Washington, D.C.

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology Contents     Executive Summary   1 1   Introduction   13      Context,   14      Study Purpose and Approach,   19      Organization of the Report,   23 2   The U.S. Highway System and the Innovation Challenge   31      Highways and Highway Travel,   31      Public and Private Roles in Highway System Management,   32      Barriers to Highway System Innovation,   36      What Drives the Need for Highway System Innovation,   38      Summary,   44 3   Highway and Highway-Related Research and Technology Programs   47      Principal Highway R&T Programs and Related Activities,   48      Other Highway-Related R&T Activities,   63      Overview of Highway R&T Program Funding,   67      Summary,   71 4   Assessment of the Federal Highway Research and Technology Program   74      Context,   75      Key Characteristics of an Effective Federal Highway R&T Program,   76      Summary,   92 5   Recommendations   95

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The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology     Appendixes   103 A   Background on the U.S. Highway System,   103 B   Agenda for Highway Research Prepared by the Working Groups of the National Highway Research and Technology Partnership Forum,   117 C   University Transportation Research Centers,   128 D   International Highway Research and Development Activities,   135 E   Worksheet for Estimating Percentage of Congressional Designations for the Federal Highway Administration’s Research and Technology Program,   138     Research and Technology Coordinating Committee Biographical Information   141