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OCR for page 55
Guidebook 52 Communicating the Value of Transportation Research 6 Study Oregon Mileage Fee Concept and Case Road User Fee Pilot Program Value to Sell: A more equitable and efficient way to collect road user fees that is acceptable to the public. Context Content In 2001, after an Oregon legislature hearing on the The public outreach effort was meant to ensure the future of fuel-efficient vehicles, there was concern public was educated on why Oregon was pursuing that the fuel tax would become a declining revenue an alternative to the gas tax for financing the road source for Oregon's road systems. As a result, the systems. Through open meetings with the task force, 2001 Legislative Assembly addressed the long- focus groups, presentations to stakeholders and term viability of Oregon's road finance through transportation professionals, and so on, ODOT was the formation of a 12-member Road User Fee Task able to educate the public and gain its support. The Force. The task force was charged with designing a task force approached this public education effort revenue-collection strategy that could effectively with an understanding that the motoring public will replace the fuel tax as a long-term, stable source of not respond positively to change quickly and will funding for maintaining and improving Oregon's need time to accept the nature of the problem and road system. become comfortable with viable solutions. The task force also made efforts to teach its allies about the Strategy program's fundamentals so they too could become The task force identified a mileage or user fee advocates. program as a favorable alternative to the gas tax, but the challenge was to help the public understand Channel and Style the problem of limited transportation funding so ODOT posted all process documents and reported the fee program could be approved. The Oregon all decisions on its interactive website. The task Department of Transportation (ODOT) used public force's reliance on web over paper documents outreach activities to educate the public on the allowed for immediate and efficient communication innovative and experimental issues surrounding with the public, greater transparency, and the ability the mileage/user fee program. Additionally, ODOT to hear opposing views. This information helped and the task force made an effort to be accessible to create better supporting arguments and helped to the media, whose reports were used to further ODOT understand weaknesses in its approach. educate the public and gain support and visibility Making numerous personal contacts was also on both state and national levels. The program's effective in gaining acceptance for the program. transparency provided the landscape for effective The task force director served as a key spokesperson communication among interested parties. and champion, with his tireless presentations and advocacy of the program. The open meetings and geographically diverse public hearings allowed everyone the opportunity to learn and express their opinions about the program. If attending a meeting in person was not an option, the public could become educated through reports by the media, news articles, and radio interviews.

OCR for page 55
Guidebook 53 Transportation Case Studies 7 Study National Cooperative Freight Case Research Program Value to Sell: The benefits derived from a national freight research program. Context Content The deregulation of the freight industry in 1980 led Rather than citing specific research while to reduced focus on research due to a lack of public advocating for the NCFRP, the FSC chose a more interest and the termination of data collection general approach focusing on the importance of the programs. As a result, freight research issues were field, its problems, and its connection to the national not accounted for when decisions were made about economy. Consistent messaging that highlighted public funding for transportation research. In recent broad issues of national interest was key. The NCFRP years, the globalization of the industry and the was patterned to operate similarly to the successful increased demands on the movement of goods has National Cooperative Highway Research Program heightened the public's interest in freight issues. In and Transit Cooperative Research Program, which response, the National Cooperative Freight Research are respected because of the responsiveness of their Program (NCFRP) was created as the federally research agendas toward their constituencies. These sponsored freight research program in the most programs provided a proven model for a successful recent surface transportation authorization act, the implementation strategy and the participation of an Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Oversight Committee that represented the private Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). and pubic sectors. Strategy Channel and Style The Freight Stakeholders Coalition (FSC) began to The American Association of State Highway and coordinate efforts to bring national attention to Transportation Officials (AASHTO), in a partnership freight issues and to advocate for funding on freight with the FSC, became the primary advocate for the research and public safety. Aided by the credibility NCFRP. The AASHTO's commitment of resources of its members and support from industry, state, to the program, along with its respected historical and local governments, the FSC became the major record, helped to escort the program through factor in the NCFRP's inclusion in SAFETEA-LU. the passage of the bill. Both AASHTO's ability Equally influential was the FSC's ability to build to act as a lead advocate, along with the FSC's relationships with a diverse audience. By providing efforts to build relationships with Congress as an the groundwork for long-term interactions, the FSC advocate for the NCFRP, provided the credibility was able to continually gain momentum with both and exposure needed to gain momentum for the the private and the public sectors. NCFRP's inclusion in SAFETEA-LU. Persistent and consistent collaboration among advocacy groups, government officials, and key stakeholders made personal contact the most important channel of communication for this research initiative.