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65 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs 4 State and University RD&T Programs This chapter assesses whether the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Joint Program Office (JPO) research, development, and technology (RD&T) meets the congressional criterion of addressing gaps not covered in other programs. It does so by comparing FHWA and ITS JPO RD&T with that of two other major transportation RD&T programs funded by Congress. The State Planning and Research (SP&R) and the University Transportation Centers (UTC) programs together represent about $275 million annually in federal RD&T funding, almost equal to the $316.5 million authorized for FHWA and ITS JPO RD&T. To complement the high-level review of these latter programs provided in Chapter 3, this chapter describes the SP&R and UTC programs, and compares and contrasts their RD&T activities with those of FHWA and ITS JPO. The next section describes SP&R RD&T and compares it with FHWA RD&T. This is followed by a similar review of the UTC program. The third section describes the distinctive features of FHWA and ITS JPO programs and the RD&T topics in these programs not covered in the SP&R and UTC programs. The final section provides a summary assessment. STATE PLANNING AND RESEARCH PROGRAM Unlike other federal funding for highway RD&T, which Congress authorizes as individual programs, SP&R funding is authorized as a 2 percent set aside of the federal aid apportioned to each state through five main categories of funding.187 Of the funds set aside for state planning and research, a minimum of 25 percent must be spent on research. Federal funding available for the research portion of SP&R averages about $200 million annually for the 5-year authorization period of the Fixing Americaâs Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act). Individual states use these funds, plus the required 20 percent non-federal match, for their individual state research programs and activities. Eligible activities for state research, as set forth in 23 USC 505, include ï· âStudies of the economy, safety, and convenience of surface transportation systems and the desirable regulation and equitable taxation of such systems; ï· Research, development, and technology transfer activities necessary in the planning, design, construction, management, and maintenance of highway, public transportation, and intermodal transportation systems; and ï· Study, research, and training on the engineering standards and construction materials for transportation systems including the evaluation and accreditation of inspection and testing, and the regulation and taxation of their use.â188 187 National Highway Performance Program [23 USC 119], Surface Transportation Block Grant Program [23 USC 133], Highway Safety Improvement Program [23 USC 148], Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program [23 USC 149], and National Highway Freight Program [23 USC 167]. 188 State Department of Transportation Programs. http://www.trb.org/ResearchFunding/StateDepartmentofTransportation.aspx#spr.
66 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs States voluntarily agree each year to pool a portion of their SP&R funds for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), which addresses research topics of common interest selected and funded by the states, as discussed in more detail below. Many states also use their SP&R funds to provide non-federal matching funds for UTC (described in the next section) located in their states. State RD&T Programs The research programs supported by state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) vary in size, with some of the largest states having annual research budgets on the order of $25 million and some smaller states having budgets of a few hundred thousand dollars. The largest state programs cover a variety of topics that resemble those of FHWA, although on a smaller scale and typically tailored to the specific interests of the state. For example, the California Department of Transportationâs (Caltransâs) $25 million annual research program supports university- based research programs on connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) and pavement engineering, provides matching funds for California-based UTC, and funds Caltrans-directed research projects on a wide variety of technical topics: structures and seismicity; safety and mobility; pavements, maintenance, planning, and other topics.189 Although covering similar topics as FHWAâs, the Caltrans program is more oriented toward California issues and concerns. It has a much heavier orientation toward vulnerability to seismic events and seismic retrofit; more emphasis on reducing carbon emissions from transportation through electrification of the vehicle fleet, use of alternative fuels, and promotion of non-motorized modes; and encouragement of land use designs that could reduce automobile emissions. Another substantial state RD&T program is administered by the Texas DOT. The general subject matter of this $25 million per year program190 has much in common with that of FHWA: construction and maintenance (36 percent of spending), structures and hydraulics (16 percent), safety and operations (15 percent), planning and environment (15 percent), and strategy and innovation (13 percent). A number of the research projects, however, address issues specific to Texas, such as field trials of the effectiveness of rut-resistant binders in Texasâs climate; evaluation of roadside wildflower propagation based on Texas native species; and assessment of pavement subbase performance in typical Texas soils. California and Texas prepare annual reports describing their RD&T programs, whereas most state DOTs simply provide lists of ongoing research projects and published reports. In order to understand the types of SP&R RD&T projects undertaken by individual states and funded by the FAST Act, we drew a 10 percent sample of 915 ongoing research and development (R&D) projects that state DOTs submitted to TRBâs Research in Progress (RIP) database in 2017 and 2018.191 The sample provides insights into the nature of SP&R RD&T projects undertaken by a cross-section of states (Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Carolina). Virtually all of the sampled projects focus 189 California Department of Transportation. 2018. Caltrans Research Program: Fiscal Years 2016â2017 Annual Research Program Highlights. http://www.dot.ca.gov/research/docs/DRISI_AnnualReport_FY16_17_Web.pdf. 190 Texas Department of Transportation. 2016. FY 2016 Research Program. http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot- info/rti/annual-reports/2016.pdf. 191 Research in Progress. https://rip.trb.org. The time period selected parallels the RD&T of FHWA described in the previous chapter and a sample of UTC projects described in the next section. The sample was drawn by selecting every 10th record entered in the database based on the date of entry.
67 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs on the highway mode, and two-thirds of them address either asset preservation or durability. Safety- and mobility-oriented projects accounted for the bulk of the remaining projects. When considering the innovation cycle discussed in Chapter 2, the vast majority of the sampled projects qualify as applied research. Notably, 30 percent also included development and 23 percent involve testing. The sample also contains many projects to aid deployment, as about 20 percent are intended to deliver specifications, guidebooks, or manuals to guide state DOT practice. The sample also shows how SP&R projects tend to address state-specific issues, more so than FHWA RD&T. Indeed, many of the projects are designed to adapt best practices and guidance provided by FHWA and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to account for state conditions. For example, the sampled projects include assessments of, and state-specific adjustments to, the balanced pavement mix design approach encouraged by FHWA; calibration of pavement design models supported by FHWA and AASHTO; and pavement condition forecasting models. The sampled SP&R projects are especially heavy on applied research aimed at practical improvements in ongoing state construction and management of highway assets. Examples of projects of this type include a determination of appropriate roadbed compaction; evaluation of alternative subbase designs; identification of bridges with fracture- and fatigue-prone details; and improvements in the quality of, and access to, state data for pavement management. To illustrate further from the portfolio of a single state, one project is evaluating the performance of various high-strength steel reinforcement in shear friction applications in order to assess the equations used in current design procedures; another is conducting laboratory tests on the seismic performance of a bridge pier design element commonly used in the state; and another is helping the state determine how to best protect bridge decks with asphalt overlays by understanding overlay failure mechanisms, conducting laboratory tests of bonding performance to prevent delamination and means to enhance it, and developing recommended mix designs for overlays. Safety research is also prominent in the applied research portfolios of the state DOTs. The sampled projects include such diverse topics as improving the quality of state crash data; examining an increase in truck at-fault crashes; developing guidelines for speed management in small communities; assessing measures of pavement friction levels; and assessing the safety benefits of implementing adaptive signaling systems to improve traffic flow. The research also assesses roadside barriers and crash cushions consistent with the AASHTO Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware,192 which has been developed and updated through NCHRP research. Although the bulk of SP&R projects support applied research on practical problems that states face, the occasional project supports the development and testing of a unique individual innovative product. One such SP&R project, for example, supports field trials of âa novel intelligent wireless sensor for vehicle counting and classificationâ that was conceived and developed, in part, by researchers at a university within the state.193 Some individual SP&R projects are coordinated with FHWA RD&T initiatives. For example, one state combined research funds with FHWA for a study on truck platooning. Another state that constructed 192 AASHTO. Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware, 2nd Edition. https://store.transportation.org/item/publicationdetail/2707. 193 Balid, W., et al. 2017. Intelligent Vehicle Counting and Classification Sensor for Real-Time Traffic Surveillance. IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319575143_Intelligent_Vehicle_Counting_and_Classification_Sensor_for _Real-Time_Traffic_Surveillance.
68 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs FHWA Long-Term Pavement Performance experiment test sections is using advanced measuring techniques to assess surface characteristics (cracking, rutting, roughness, texture, friction, and hydroplaning) over a 5-year period. More typical of SP&R funds being coordinated with FHWA initiatives, however, are pooled-fund projects. Pooled-Fund Projects FHWA supports a program that allows states to pool funds with each other, and often with FHWA as well, to conduct research and collect data on topics of common interest.194 Pooled-fund projects have existed for decades, totaling hundreds of projects. Currently, dozens of pooled-fund projects are under way. Examples include: ï· Assessment of, and improvements to, high-speed data collection on pavement condition needed for state asset management; ï· Non-traditional, passive data collection methods on vehicle volume and class; ï· Innovative products and materials testing, evaluation, and specifications/standards development; ï· Deployment of specific ITS applications of interest to rural states; ï· Evaluation, enhancement, and deployment of seismic, hydraulic, planning and other models; ï· Testing and evaluation of winter maintenance materials, methods, and equipment; ï· Updates to regional precipitation frequency forecasts; and ï· TRB core programs.195 The largest, and most enduring, example of states pooling their research funding is the NCHRP. National Cooperative Highway Research Program Sponsored by the member departments of AASHTO, in cooperation with FHWA, NCHRP was created in 1962 as a means to accelerate research on problems that state DOTs share in highway planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance. All of the state highway and transportation departments voluntarily contribute to fund the programâs activities (about $44 million annually during the FAST Act). FHWA, AASHTO committees, and state DOTs submit problem statements each year, and the AASHTO Special Committee on Research and Innovation recommends to the AASHTO Board of Directors the problems that will be addressed through projects and their funding levels. The Transportation Research Board (TRB) is responsible for contracting for the research, project oversight, and publication and 194 Transportation Pooled-Fund Program. https://www.pooledfund.org/Home. 195 TRB core programs include the more than 200 standing technical committees made up of transportation experts and practitioners. These committees provides technical sounding boards for FHWA and state DOTs and organize the TRB Annual Meeting, which disseminates the latest research results in the worldâs largest annual meeting of transportation researchers and practitioners. Also included are TRBâs online bibliographic databases (including TRID, the worldâs largest database of transportation research citations and abstracts, and the Research in Progress database of ongoing transportation research).
69 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs dissemination of the results on the statesâ behalf. NCHRP accounts for about 22 percent of SP&R funding. NCHRP projects cover a wide range of issues of concern to state DOTs: pavements, materials, structures, safety, operations, snow and ice control, planning, design, finance, law, and others. Considered in terms of the innovation cycle, NCHRP projects are heavily oriented toward implementation by providing guidance, guidelines, manuals, and tools that state DOTs can use in addressing the wide range of common issues they must manage. For example, half of the most recent 20 NCHRP publications have âguidance,â âguideline,â or âmanualâ in the report title or description. NCHRP research projects are used by AASHTO to inform the guidance documents used by state DOTs. NCHRP projects have been instrumental in developing and updating AASHTOâs highway geometric and bridge design guides and TRBâs Highway Capacity Manual, among other standard references for highway engineers. Comparison with FHWA RD&T FHWA and SP&R RD&T are similar in several respects, including the applied nature of the work and subject matter covered. Although most SP&R projects appear to be discrete, âone-offâ efforts, they have a focus on safety and asset durability and preservation much like the projects funded by FHWA. Projects funded through both programs are heavily oriented toward improving practice by developing guidance, manuals, and specifications. The similarities in areas of concern and objectives among state DOTs and FHWA have led to substantial collaboration across topics and methods, such as ï· Pooled-fund studies on a wide variety of topics and support for NCHRP; ï· State construction of test sections for the Long-Term Pavement Performance program described in Chapter 3; ï· Collaborative research on development of crash modification factors and parallel research on workforce development and retention, also described in Chapter 3; and ï· Funding for TRBâs core programs. Many of the pooled-fund projects, are undertaken as part of deliberate strategies involving multiple projects building toward a particular objective. In addition, although not necessarily funded through SP&R, many state DOTs collaborate with FHWA by agreeing to pilot test potential innovations, such as the alternative contracting methods pilot projects and ITS pilots described in Chapter 3. Also worth noting is the substantial role that state DOTs play in university research and education. States often provide the local match for UTC (which matches federal funding dollar for dollar, or 100 percent for national and regional centers) and most states carry out their SP&R programs through state universities. The total amount of state DOT funding for university R&D is not known, but could easily exceed $100 million annually. In addition to helping prepare the future workforce, state DOTsâ funding for university research builds and sustains the intellectual capital in faculty at their state universities. These faculty, in turn, become technical resources to assist the states in addressing complex problem and issues. Yet, despite these important similarities between state and federal research, SP&R projects have a decidedly more localized orientation. Many SP&R projects are undertaken to adapt national guidance provided by FHWA or AASHTO to account for the conditions and materials found in the sponsoring state. As might be expected, individual states place more emphasis on problems and concerns they
70 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs encounter, such as the emphasis placed by California and Oregon on research to address seismic issues, that are not common to all states or addressed to the same extent by FHWA. UTC PROGRAM Congressional Authority and Priorities In 49 USC 5505, as amended by the FAST Act in 2015, Congress established goals for the universities funded through the UTC program: ï· âadvance transportation expertise and technology in the varied disciplines that comprise the field of transportation through education, research, and technology transfer activities; ï· provide for a critical transportation knowledge base outside of the Department of Transportation; and ï· address critical workforce needs and educate the next generation of transportation leaders.â The UTC program spans all surface transportation modes and is administered by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology (OST-R). The FAST Act authorizes $72.5 million for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, which grows to $77.5 million for FY 2019 and 2020. Grants to UTC consortia are competitively awarded based on criteria established in 49 USC 5505 (b)(4). Grants are made in three categories: National, Regional, and Tier 1. Centers are required to match federal funds with non-federal sources (100 percent for National and Regional Centers and 50 percent for Tier 1 Centers). Federal funds from the SP&R program, Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP), and the Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP), however, can count as matching funds. National Transportation Centers Funding is available for five consortia in amounts of $2 to $4 million each for national centers that address the research priorities in Section 6503 (c)(1): â(A) improving mobility of people and goods; (B) reducing congestion; (C) promoting safety; (D) improving the durability and extending the life of transportation infrastructure; (E) preserving the environment; and (F) preserving the existing transportation system.â The grants awarded to five National UTC consortia recipients, as of early 2019, were $2.8 million per grantee per year for FY 2016â2018.196 Regional Transportation Centers Funding is available for one UTC consortia in each of the 10 national regions in amounts of $1.5 to $3 million each for regional centers that address the topics listed in Section 6503 (c)(3): âcomprehensive transportation safety, congestion, connected vehicles, connected infrastructure, and autonomous vehicles.â The grants awarded to 10 UTC regional consortia recipients for FY 2016 and FY 2017, as of early 2019, were $2.57 million per grantee per year. 196 FAST Act UTC Grantees. https://www.transportation.gov/utc/2016-utc-grantees.
71 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs Tier 1 UTC Funding is available for not more than 20 Tier 1 centers in amounts of $1 to 2 million each. Per 49 USC 6503 (c)(4), consideration in selection of Tier 1 centers is to be given to minority institutions or consortia including minority institutions with a demonstrated ability in transportation-related research. The grants awarded to 20 UTC consortia recipients, as of early 2019, were $1.4 million per grantee per year. At the time of this writing (May 2019), OST-R had awarded $196 million to UTC recipients for FY 2016-2018. Based on OST-Râs categorization of the UTC and grants awarded, the funding was allocated to centers across Section 6503 research priorities as follows: 37 percent for addressing improving mobility of people and goods; 4 percent for reducing congestion; 20 percent for promoting safety; 8 percent for preserving the environment; 21 percent for improving the durability and extending the life of transportation infrastructure; and 10 percent for preserving the existing transportation system. The next three sections separately discuss the research, education, and technology transfer foci of UTC specified by Congress. UTC Research In order to provide perspective on ongoing UTC research compared with that of FHWAâs, and with a focus on research funded by the FAST Act, we evaluated the abstracts of ongoing research included in TRBâs RIP database for records entered between the beginning of 2017 and early 2019. (Following enactment of the FAST Act in December 2015, USDOT announced awards to FAST Act UTC in December 2016.)197 All UTC grantees are required to enter RIP records describing their grants for research, so these data provide a representative sample that would allow for a high-level assessment of the nature and character of ongoing UTC research. Based on 852 UTC RIP abstracts, we classified the research by its stage in the innovation cycle described in Chapter 2, by mode of transportation, and in terms of the Section 6503 research priorities established by Congress. These classifications were necessarily judgmental; research projects had to be classified based on what appeared to be their primary focus as described in their abstracts and because some of the Section 6503 categories overlap (congestion with mobility and durability with preservation). In most cases, such classification was straightforward, but in other cases, people could reasonably classify projects differently. Each abstract was further assigned to topic areas that correspond to FHWAâs program areas (bridges, pavements, materials, design, safety, planning, environment, etc.) and other timely topics (e.g., resilience, connected and automated vehicles, shared mobility, advanced technologies, equity, and public health). Again, this exercise requires making judgments about which people could reasonably disagree. In this exercise, abstracts could fit into more than one category and some fit into multiple categories. Based on analyzing the sample, the following conclusions stand out. Stages of the Innovation Life Cycle Review of the UTC RIP records suggests that virtually all (about 95 percent) of the UTC research projects fit in the applied research category. Some of these applied research projects (about 1 in 10) also include elements of product development. Very few projects, less than 5 percent, could be classified as basic or 197 UTC Program History. https://www.transportation.gov/utc/program-history.
72 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs fundamental research in nature. The most recent report to Congress on the UTC program, however, includes estimates that suggest roughly one-third of the programâs research projects for the period 2014- 2017 could be classified as âadvancedâ research.198 Advanced research is defined by the UTC program as âan intermediate research project between basic research (study to understand fundamental aspects of phenomenon without specific applications in mind) and applied research.â199 This definition seems consistent with the definition of fundamental research used in this report. Many UTC research projects do appear to be early-stage applied research that would fit in TRL level 2 (as defined in Chapter 2). Some UTC research projects are clearly examining advanced technologies, for example, robotic devices and unmanned aerial vehicles for non-destructive evaluation (NDE) condition inspections, and automated and connected vehicles, but, in general, UTC research projects appear to be more oriented to a specific application than characteristic of fundamental research. Whereas some of the research projects include elements of deployment or technology transfer, presumably the bulk of the UTC effort in this category would be funded through UTC education and training programs and technology transfer efforts described in the following sections. Retrospective evaluation of products applied in the field are rare (1 percent). Regarding the rather high proportion of applied research being conducted in a university setting, transportation research in general is an applied field that draws on many disciplines, thus a heavy emphasis on applications to solve specific problems does not seem unusual. That said, it is a bit surprising that the RIP records imply that only a small percentage of the transportation research conducted in a university setting are probing the edges of knowledge and understanding about transportation at a more fundamental level. There may be good explanations for a small share of projects conducting fundamental research. University basic research with application to transportation is often drawn from other fields such as materials science and computer science rather than from university transportation research. Moreover, the UTC program requirements, and USDOT sponsorship, deliberately bias the research toward fairly applied topics and this may be reinforced by federal funding matching requirements, which are often provided by state DOTs that have a much greater interest in applied than fundamental research. For example, USDOT's 2016 UTC grant solicitation required applicants to describe âThe impacts that the proposed research is expected to have on the transportation system and its users,â200 suggesting that the sponsor sought research with probable immediate application. The UTC program emphasis on technology transfer (described below) may also drive UTC to focus on highly applied research. Another explanation for the apparent applied research bias is that some of the research projects are supporting theses and dissertations that could be categorized as primarily supporting education and professional development rather than cutting-edge research. Many UTC research projects, however, are clearly led by prominent researchers engaged in multi-year or multiple- stage inquiries drawing on graduate student assistance, and thus the âeducationalâ explanation would not apply in all cases. Finally, as noted above, the RIP records we relied on may not have provided a complete explanation of the nature of the research being conducted. Given the importance of universities 198 This report was released at the end of May 2019 as the committee was concluding its analysis. USDOT. 2018. UTC Program Annual Report to Congress 2018, pp. 53â54. https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/utc/338976/2018-utc-annual-report-congress.pdf. 199 USDOT. Grant Deliverables and Reporting Requirements for 2016 and 2018 University Transportation Centers, p. 25. https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/utc/261051/fast-act-grantdeliverablesandreporting- june-2018-version-14.pdf. 200 USDOT, University Transportation Centers Program FY 2016 Grant Solicitation, March 1, 2016, p. 13. https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/UTC%20Competition%20Solicitation%20RFP%202-29- 16_1.pdf.
73 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs as settings for the conduct of basic and fundamental research, a deeper analysis than was possible for this report is warranted regarding the apparent discrepancy between the committeeâs review of the UTC RIP records and the UTC report to Congress estimates of the share of UTC research that is advanced or fundamental in nature. Also worth noting is that even though individual research projects are typically fairly applied, the collective body of research at some UTC is advancing knowledge and understanding about specific critical issues discussed in the next chapter, such as asset management (including robotic NDE of transportation asset condition); megaregions (including flows of freight and passenger traffic within and between them); mode-shift strategies to reduce emissions; and resilience of assets and regions to natural and manmade disasters. Thus, in a manner similar to state DOT use of state universities to carry out the SP&R research, the UTC program is building intellectual capital in highway transportation in universitiesâ faculty that can be drawn on by the federal government and states in addressing complex transportation issues and problems. Mode The UTC program is multimodal by nature: about one-quarter of all research projects fit in this category. Even so, just over half (53 percent) of the research focuses primarily on highway transportation. The large share of highway-oriented projects should not be surprising because about 80 percent of daily passenger trips are made by private vehicles on roads and highways.201 Pedestrian and bicycle transportation account for 6 percent of UTC projects. Research on freight (which is mostly freight moved by truck) accounts for 8 percent of UTC projects. If these categories, which are all included in FHWAâs RD&T portfolio, are combined, then roughly two-thirds of UTC research projects are addressing topics in highway research categories similar to those conducted by FHWA. About 7 percent of UTC research projects are explicitly about transit. A few address freight railroad and airport issues. Research Priorities Regarding the Section 6503 research priorities, abstracts are classified into these priority areas as follows: mobilityâ31 percent, congestionâ5 percent, safetyâ25 percent, environmentâ12 percent, preservationâ16 percent, and durabilityâ7 percent. These shares are fairly consistent with the allocation of UTC consortia funding by priority area summarized above. (It should not be surprising that the number of projects and total funding would differ to some degree.) Research projects in mobility and safety represent more than half of either research funding or projects. This stands in sharp contrast with SP&R projects, of which about two-thirds focus on highway asset durability and preservation. Topical Areas As noted above, UTC research addresses many different topics. In terms of those of primary interest to FHWA and state DOTs, roughly one-quarter address highway engineering topics in pavements, materials, bridges, soils, design, and construction; 10 percent address operations (including models and simulations of traffic flows); and 11 percent address a broad array of planning subjects. Although a substantial share 201 McGuckin, N., and A. Fucci. 2018. Summary of Travel Trends: 2017 National Household Travel Survey Trends. FHWA-PL-18-019. https://nhts.ornl.gov/assets/2017_nhts_summary_travel_trends.pdf.
74 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs of projects addresses CAVs (13 percent), only 2 percent address other elements of ITS, including specific focus on the role of infrastructure in connected vehicle systems. The shares of projects addressing safety (25 percent) and environment (12 percent) are captured in the Research Priorities category above. In addition to being coded for mode and subject categories typical of FHWAâs program, many individual UTC projects were also coded as addressing other topics of current interest and concern: shared mobility (5 percent); public health (4 percent); equity (8 percent); and climate change/resilience (9 percent). Relatively few projects are addressing other nationally significant issues discussed in the next chapter: funding/finance (1 percent); energy (2 percent), and institutional/governance topics (less than 1 percent). UTC Training and Education Scanning FAST Act UTC websites provides myriad examples of the kinds of education and training activities and initiatives under way: ï· Granting degrees at the associate, undergraduate, and graduate levels; ï· Symposia and workshops for both students and practitioners; ï· Regional and national conferences for researchers and practitioners; ï· Curriculum/course development and modules for university courses for important and emerging transportation topics; ï· Offering courses on emerging or important transportation topics at the graduate and undergraduate level across university departments and at partner universities; ï· Lectures and lecture series on transportation-related topics; ï· Webinars for researchers addressing complex methodological and data management issues; ï· Training courses, workshops, and webinars for state DOT and local transportation agency professionals; ï· Extensive efforts to disseminate research results to practitioners; ï· Demonstrations of emerging technologies; ï· Recruitment of students into transportation careers, including through scholarships, fellowships, assistantships, and internships; and ï· Kâ12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics outreach initiatives. Emphasis on increasing diversity in transportation as an objective of the program. The 2016 UTC grant solicitation required applicants to âdemonstrate â¦ commitment to broadening participation and attracting new entrants to the transportation field in order to enhance diversityâ and to âdescribe planned outreach or workforce development activities â¦ to increase interest in STEM disciplines â¦ among underrepresented groups including women and minorities.â202 The most recent UTC program report to Congress provides indicators of educational impact.203 From 2014 to 2017 (the last 4 years of funding under MAP-21 and the first year of funding under the FAST Act), about 800 undergraduate students and almost 1,500 graduate students participated annually in 202 USDOT, University Transportation Centers Program FY 2016 Grant Solicitation, March 1, 2016, p. 21. https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/UTC%20Competition%20Solicitation%20RFP%202-29- 16_1.pdf. 203 USDOT. 2018. UTC Program Annual Report to Congress 2018. https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/utc/338976/2018-utc-annual-report-congress.pdf.
75 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs UTC research projects. For those students supported, in part, by UTC program research grants, an annual average of about 130 undergraduates, 350 masterâs candidates, and 110 doctoral candidates received degrees. The 2018 UTC annual report does not provide metrics on outreach to practitioners, but a previous summary of UTC education and training reported more than 9,000 seminars, symposia, and distance-based learning courses offered by UTC for transportation practitioners over the 2005â2010 period.204 The share of UTC funding that is devoted to educational programs, as distinct from research or technology transfer, is not known. UTC Technology Transfer In authorizing the UTC program, Congress has been specific about the importance of technology transfer in the criteria for awarding grants [49 USC 5505 (4)(B)]. Technology transfer can occur through general education and training programs, but, pursuant to the FAST Act, USDOT now requires UTC grantees to develop specific technology transfer plans to make âresearch results available to potential users in a form that can be implemented, utilized, commercialized, or otherwise applied.â205 USDOT is requiring UTC to develop performance metrics indicating stakeholder involvement (including funding partners) in the research program, assistance to stakeholders in implementation, commercialization potential, licensing revenues, dissemination efforts, and increases in corporate support.206 This technology deployment and transfer emphasis of the UTC program may be affecting the nature of the research UTC undertake. Comparison with FHWA RD&T FHWA RD&T and the UTC program have different institutional settings, interests, agendas, and constituencies. Moreover, aside from the modestly funded LTAP and TTAP, FHWA RD&T funds cannot be used to match UTC funds for projects, which gives FHWA little leverage in influencing the research that UTC undertake. Thus, FHWA is not able to partner on individual research projects and initiatives with UTC in the ways it can with state DOTs, though its staff do actively participate in UTC workshops and summits.207 That said and, as noted, one-quarter of UTC research is addressing highway engineering topics also addressed by FHWA and a substantial share of UTC research is addressing CAVs, as is ITS JPOâs research. Although FHWA and UTC researchers can be aware of each otherâs research through the RIP database, USDOTâs Research Hub, and informal contacts among researchers, formal mechanisms do not exist for coordination of UTC and FHWA/ITS JPO research when it is addressing similar topics. FHWA research staff reported to the committee that they have engaged in informal coordination with UTC when research is similar but not duplicative and that they tend to withdraw from specific topics being pursued by UTC if FHWAâs work would be duplicative. 204 USDOT. n.d. University Transportation Centers: Celebrating 25 years of Innovation in Transportation Research and Education. https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/celebrating_25_years.pdf. 205 USDOT. 2016. General Provisions of Grants for 2016 and 2018 University Transportation Centers, Version 1.3. https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/utc/261086/fast-act-generalprovisions-nov-2016-rev-june- 2018-ver-13.pdf. 206 USDOT. 2018. UTC Program Annual Report to Congress 2018, p. 9. https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/utc/338976/2018-utc-annual-report-congress.pdf. 207 See, for example, the recap from a recent UTC National Mobility Summit: https://mobility21.cmu.edu/wp- content/uploads/2019/05/2019-Summit-Recap-with-Photos.pdf.
76 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs Despite the coverage of similar subject matter, FHWA and UTC work differs in some important respects. Most of FHWAâs applied research is highly applied; for instance, it is aimed at developing specific guidance, models, or other technical tools. Whereas most of the UTC projects on similar topics can also be characterized as applied, the university research is more likely to explore and assess the potential for new applications, including investigating the opportunities to use advanced technologies in novel ways, such as using artificial intelligence, video, and sensors for monitoring asset condition and traffic or using smartphone apps to enhance the travel options of people without access to cars. When considering the technology readiness levels (TRLs) discussed in Chapter 2, it appears that the bulk of FHWA RD&T spans TRLs 3 to 6, while most of the research on similar topics conducted by the UTC spans TRLs 2 and 3. In the area of resilience, which accounts for a small share of the UTC and FHWA RD&T portfolios, the relevant UTC work (accounting for about 9 percent of all UTC projects) tends to focus on emergency evacuation at the regional or state scale, whereas FHWA RD&T examines the vulnerability of physical assets, means to make the assets more resilient, and incorporation of resilience into the planning process. Research on resilience is growing in importance because of concerns over climate change and extreme weather; the UTC research appears to be supplementing FHWAâs. In the area of CAVs, there is also the potential for UTC work to overlap with that of USDOTâs ITS research program. However, the USDOT work is more focused on systems applications of CAVs at the city, metropolitan, or regional scale, while UTC projects typically examine a specific application of CAVs, such as the potential use of automated vehicles to serve the elderly or disabled. Whereas UTC research tends to be more exploratory than FHWA research, many UTC projects analyze and develop specific applications for a technology or practice rather than a range of applications and problem areas. A surprisingly small share of UTC-funded research is probing the edges of understanding about transportation that might lead to future breakthroughs and innovation. As noted above, this applied focus is apparently driven by the UTC program requirements for (a) matching funds, usually provided by state DOTs, and (b) technology transfer. In terms of other phases of the innovation cycle, very few UTC RD&T projects are devoted to pilot tests or field evaluation of potential innovations. Instead, a substantial share of UTC effort is devoted to educating and graduating future transportation professionals by the hundreds each year and offering training and professional development to state and local transportation practitioners. The training offered to state and local practitioners through these programs differs from that offered through FHWAâs National Highway Institute (NHI). The UTC offerings tend be focused on results from UTC research whereas NHI courses are more focused on specific innovations being promoted by FHWA, training based on FHWA guidebooks, and compliance with regulatory requirements (e.g., asset management, safety, environmental protection, and planning). The educational programs offered by UTC, particularly the degree-granting programs, differ in scale and kind from the training and education programs offered by FHWA, with the exception that LTAP and TTAP, which are funded by FHWA, are often operated by UTC. FHWA programs also provide funding to students and professionals that participate in UTC and other university-based training and education programs (the Eisenhower Fellowship program and funding for professional development described in the previous chapter) and employee continuing education drawn from federal highway aid to the states.208 208 Section 504(E) Surface Transportation Workforce Development, Training, and Education. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovativeprograms/centers/workforce_dev/ojt_ss_nsti_funding.aspx.
77 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs COMPARISON OF FHWA, SP&R, AND UTC PROGRAMS The previous sections have described and compared SP&R and UTC RD&T programs with the federally managed programs described in Chapter 3. This section summarizes those comparisons and draws on the description of federally managed RD&T programs to denote the features of FHWAâs and ITS JPOâs RD&T that distinguish them from other programs. The section is organized around Table 4-1, which compares FHWA, SP&R, and UTC RD&T programs across the innovation cycle. Without repeating the comparisons in Table 4-1, we focus in the next section on the gaps that FHWAâs R&D program covers at each stage of the innovation cycle. TABLE 4-1 Comparison of SP&R, FHWA and ITS, and UTC RD&T Programs Across the Innovation Cycle Innovation Stage SP&R FHWA and ITS JPO UTC Applied Research Primarily concerned with highway asset durability and preservation and safety. Topics reflect particular state interests and concerns. Research includes literature review and synthesis, lab evaluation, and surveys, as well as original data collection and analysis. Considerable examples of collaborative work with FHWA and parallel research on FHWA initiatives from state perspective. Rare early-stage, exploratory analysis. Many specific initiatives to advance practice across the full spectrum of highway issues, but oriented toward asset preservation, durability, and performance (safety, operations). Unique role in ITS. Applied R&D of all kinds. Much more emphasis on data collection than in SP&R or UTC research. Rather limited resources devoted to early-stage, exploratory research. Topics more likely to be multimodal, but half are highway focused. More focused on mobility, environment, and equity than FHWA or SP&R, but nearly one-quarter of projects on asset preservation or durability. Typically more exploratory than FHWA, but still focused on specific applications. Projects tend to be small-scale and scattered across many researchers. Relatively few examples of fundamental research given the university settings. Development Heavy emphasis on guidebooks, manuals, specifications, standards, and guidance for state practice. Occasional support for discrete, innovative products. Considerable emphasis on developing and refining models, tools, designs, and guidance for practitioners on common concerns across all highway issues. Focus in ITS on Some product development.
78 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs standards, system integration. Unique work on infrastructure role in CAVs. Testing and Demonstration Considerable assessment of guidance, products, and processes recommended by FHWA or AASHTO to adjust for local conditions. Some pilot testing of innovations, including in collaboration with FHWA. Testing of innovations often done through state DOTs, ITS and STSFA pilot projects, and large demonstration programs. Occasional product/process testing of prototypes. Technology Transfer/Deployment Delivery of guidance documents for practitioners. (Unknown level of investments in technology transfer and training for state workforces.) Considerable share of RD&T resources spent on education and training, technical assistance, and dissemination of RD&T products. Unique contributions from TFHRC laboratories and technical assistance offered by FHWA. Dissemination of UTC research to practitioners via seminars, webinars, short courses, websites, etc. Training and education for future workforce. (Share of UTC funding for this purpose unknown.) Evaluation of Innovations and Innovation Process Rare. Some high-level assessment of projects deployed through FHWAâs Every Day Counts program. FHWA RD&T case studies an important initiative. Some retrospective assessment of safety and ITS implementations and independent evaluations of CAV pilot projects. Reporting on performance metrics to UTC program. Applied Research In contrast to the âone-offâ R&D projects that characterize most of SP&R and the UTC program, FHWA and ITS JPO RD&T initiatives are usually strategically organized around achieving specific objectives to improve practice or carry out congressional policy direction. Strategically organized R&D is not unique
79 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs to these programs, however. NCHRP, for example, is used by state DOTs in a similar strategic way to improve practice, but these efforts typically address state goals rather than federal goals. FHWAâs RD&T addresses gaps in two other important ways. Unlike SP&R and UTC, FHWA, as described in Chapter 3, collects nationally representative highway data, and maintains databases on highway travel, extent, condition, and performance used by policy makers, state DOTs, and other local government officials, researchers, and the public.209 (State DOTs, however, often bear the administrative cost of gathering and reporting highway data to FHWA.) In addition, the ITS RD&T programâs focus on the interoperability of advancing automotive and highway technologies to improve mobility and safety is not replicated in the SP&R or UTC programs. UTC, and to a lesser degree, SP&R projects address ITS topics, primarily regarding CAVs, but they do not match the ITS R&D and pilot-testing on city-, metropolitan- or state-scale, multimodal applications. Development FHWA and SP&R programs share in developing guidance, manuals, and technical tools for use by practitioners. The UTC program, and to a lesser degree, state SP&R programs also fund ITS R&D projects, primarily around CAVs, but they do not address the ITS focus on developing standards or roadside units that communicate with vehicles or the ITS focus on systems integration for city-, metropolitan-, or state-scale applications. Testing and Demonstration FHWA RD&T initiatives have long relied on state DOTs to serve as pilot testers of potentially innovative products and processes. Neither the states nor the UTC program, however, replicate FHWAâs or ITS JPOâs large-scale ITS pilot programs, substantial funding for the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives (STSFA) pilot program, or other large-scale demonstration programs. Technology Transfer All highway RD&T programs discussed herein have activities in technology transfer. FHWAâs efforts stand out regarding its annual $27.5 million for its strategic deployment programs, such as Every Day Counts, its annual $24 million for training and education, including the NHI and LTAP/TTAP programs, and FHWA and ITS JPOâs extensive dissemination of research results. In addition, FHWAâs cadre of subject-matter experts in its laboratories, program offices, and resource centers provide in-person technical assistance across multiple fields to state DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations, and other local governments, and the ITS JPO provides technical assistance as well as a professional capacity building program. Evaluation Formal RD&T process and outcome evaluation is not a distinguishing feature of any of the federally funded highway RD&T programs, but FHWA is the only one that has begun systematic and formal 209 USDOTâs Bureau of Transportation Statistics also funds highway data collection in areas not addressed by FHWA, and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and FHWA fund some highway data collection collaboratively.
80 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs evaluations of its RD&T program processes and major initiatives and the ITS JPO does set aside funds for assessments of ITS initiatives and for independent evaluation of large-scale pilot projects. Worth noting is that a considerable share of effort across all four programs and across all innovation stages focuses on highway asset preservation, durability, and performance and CAVs. There is some risk of duplication of effort given common subject matter that is funded through separate programs and the more than 2,000 discrete R&D projects under way. States and FHWA are working on many similar topics, often in collaboration and sometimes in parallel, although SP&R parallel research is more likely to take a state perspective. FHWA/ITS JPO and UTC can also pursue R&D on similar topics, but lack the formal mechanisms for coordination that exist between FHWA and SP&R. CONCLUSIONS Drawing on the material presented in this and the previous chapter, the committee concludes that FHWA and ITS JPO RD&T programs, as directed by Congress, are addressing the following gaps that are not well covered by the SP&R and UTC RD&T programs: 4.1 Advancing congressional and federal policy direction in areas such as system performance, asset management, acceleration of project delivery, safety planning, and environmental compliance. 4.2 Providing a pooled-fund contracting mechanism for the dozens of ongoing collaborations in RD&T by states and by states with FHWA. 4.3 Conducting ITS RD&T in support of standards for interoperability, enhanced cybersecurity, the development of road-side units and operational applications, and city-, regional-, and state-scale pilot tests. 4.4 Developing and maintaining widely used national datasets (travel, safety, asset condition, and performance). 4.5 Making the strategic, long-term investments (often spanning more than a decade) that are necessary to develop and test potentially promising innovations and support their deployment. 4.6 Disseminating the results of their RD&T by supporting bibliographic databases that contain detailed records of ongoing and completed transportation R&D, both from the United States and abroad, and through their extensive websites and publications. 4.7 Supporting state and local deployment through technology transfer programs (funding, technical guidance and assistance, training and education). A few observations emerge from comparing the UTC program, state SP&R projects, and the FHWA RD&T program across the innovation cycle: 4.8 There is a heavy emphasis across federal highwayârelated RD&T programs on applied R&D and technology transfer and comparatively little emphasis on fundamental research. An emphasis on applied research and the subsequent stages of the innovation process is certainly appropriate. States and local governments have many practical needs to meet and problems to solve in building, maintaining, and operating their highway systems. The SP&R program is especially well suited for this kind of RD&T, particularly by contributing to incremental improvements to address state-specific needs and problems. The FHWA RD&T program is also well suited to
81 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs addressing needs and problems that many states share in addition to advancing innovations in response to congressional policy direction. The ITS JPO program is providing essential assistance to states and local governments by conducting applied R&D and pilot testing to further the development of connected and automated vehicles. While UTC research is more likely to be exploring the applicability of novel technologies to ongoing concernsâsuch as monitoring asset condition, measuring traffic flows and system performance, and expanding and improving mobility optionsâit is nonetheless fairly applied in nature when compared with the more exploratory work typical of university research. Even given the importance of applied R&D, pilot testing, demonstration, and technology transfer, the emphasis placed on fundamental research across programs seems disproportionately small. Inadequate investment in fundamental research risks missed opportunities for insights that might yield future transformative improvements in highway transportation. While the actual share of UTC research that is fundamental in nature deserves deeper analysis than was possible for this report, the UTC program has a large portfolio of applied work that may be crowding out the kind of fundamental research best suited to universities. Even if the share of UTC work that is fundamental approaches one-third (or about $25 million annually of UTC funding) as estimated in a recent report, the total amount invested would account for only a small share of all of the highway-related RD&T spending reviewed in this report. Investments in fundamental research across all four federally funded highway related RD&T programs can be estimated roughly by adding the $6 million from FHWAâs EAR program, the $18 million of the ITS JPO Emerging Technologies program, and the $25 million from the UTC program, which sums to $49 million. Based on the committeeâs review of these RD&T programs, this is a generous estimate of funding for fundamental research, but one that nevertheless amounts to only 8 percent of the annual authorized funding for highway-related research ($49 million of $592 million). Given the uncertainties inherent in research, this investment may not be sufficient to ensure the identification of an adequate stream of future innovations in highway transportation. 4.9 States and FHWA are heavily oriented toward developing and refining existing guidance, models, tools, designs, etc. to improve state and local practice. Development and testing of new, discrete, innovative products is less typical across programs (although FHWA deployment of innovative products and practices through EDC is standard practice). 4.10 In addition to the large-scale pilot tests and demonstration programs of FHWA and ITS JPO, connected vehicle pilot programs, and the STSFA program, states often pilot test particularly promising innovations that are being encouraged by FHWA. 4.11 With a couple of notable exceptions in FHWA and ITS RD&T, there is little emphasis on process or output evaluation across RD&T programs. These observations, particularly about the heavy emphasis placed on applied research and limited emphasis on coordination and evaluation, raise the following questions: ï· Should the structure of the UTC program be modified to assure that ample investments are made in fundamental, exploratory research? The answer to this question depends, in part, on whether as much as one-third of current UTC research projects are indeed advanced or fundamental in nature as indicated in a recently released UTC report to Congress. If so, then
82 PREPUBLICATION COPYâUncorrected Proofs perhaps this share is adequate. If not, then Congress might want to consider whether changes to the matching requirements and emphasis on technology transfer are driving UTC to place too much emphasis on applied research. ï· Should FHWA invest more in its EAR program and reorient the portfolio more to TRL 2? ï· Are more formal coordination mechanisms between FHWA/ITS JPO and UTC desirable when the programs are conducting research on similar topics, and, if so, what mechanisms would be affordable and effective? ï· Are the combined training resources of FHWA, ITS JPO, states, and the UTC program adequate to prepare the existing state and local transportation workforce, as well as the private contractors who support them, for the deployment of innovations being promoted by FHWA, ITS JPO, and the states? While the committee was not in a position to provide answers to these questions, they are indicative of the probing that is needed to continually enhance the return on the federal investment in highway RD&T.