In 2005, congestion cost travelers more than 4.2 billion hours and nearly $80 billion and resulted in the waste of approximately 3 billion gallons of fuel. One of the most significant impacts of congestion on the individual driver is the increasing difficulty of predicting how long a given trip will take. This lack of travel time reliability has both personal and economic costs.
By 2030, the U.S. population is expected to grow by 24 percent, VMT by 60 percent, and truck VMT by 75 percent; truckloads are predicted to increase by 80 percent, to nearly 23 billion tons, by 2035. In addition to better system operation and more rapid renewal of in-place infrastructure, this growth will necessitate additional highway capacity in selected locations. Any capacity enhancements will have to be performance driven and outcome based while integrating environmental, economic, and community requirements.
Research and innovation have an important role to play in addressing the issues and concerns associated with the planning, design, building, maintenance, operation, and use of the highway system. In addition to ongoing research programs at the federal and state levels, in private industry, and at universities, strategic research programs have focused on particular critical needs. These include the American Association of State Highway Officials Road Test, conducted in the late 1950s, and the first Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 1), conducted in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The success of SHRP 1 prompted Congress to authorize a second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users of 2005. Approximately $170 million is expected to be appropriated over a 4-year period (2005 –2009) to support a program lasting 7 years (mid-2006 to mid-2013). The content of the program was specified to include four research focus areas:
Safety: Make a significant improvement in highway safety. The overall goal of this research is to prevent or reduce the severity of highway crashes through more accurate knowledge of driver behavior and other crash factors.
Renewal: Accelerate the renewal of America’s highways. The overall goal of this research is to develop a consistent, systematic approach to per-