Welcome to the Spring 2019 edition of the FHWA’s Office of Planning, Environment and Realty’s (HEP) quarterly research newsletter.
This issue of the newsletter focuses on HEP’s efforts to ensure transportation planning decisions are made using a comprehensive process. The Office of Planning (HEPP) together with The Office of Project Development and Environmental Review (HEPE) promotes greater efficiency by fostering a coordinated approach between State and regional decision-makers, federal agencies, and the public toward integrated planning, environmental review, and project development through Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL). PEL facilitates the selection and implementation of transportation investments that are sensitive to the environment and reflect community needs through active agency engagement and the public involvement process.
In this edition, you can read about HEPP’s, HEPH’s, and HEPE’s EDC-5 Virtual Public Involvement initiative highlighting tools that increase participation and transparency in transportation planning and project development. The initiative saves time and money while reducing potential project delays by identifying issues early. It includes Virtual Public Involvement’s new webinar series.
Also, check out the 2020 HEP research projects funded by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), and the findings from an NCHRP scan of design, operation, and policy decisions State DOTs face when adding modes and services within existing right-of-way.
I encourage you to explore these resources, consider contributing to them, and help identify future research needs.
Office of Planning – Planning, Oversight & Stewardship Team
Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty
2020 NCHRP Projects
|Each year, HEP supports several research projects funded through the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) NCHRP program. The following projects were approved by the Special Committee on Research and Innovation in April, and cover exciting project topics across HEP’s areas of research. With nearly $5 million in proposed funding, these projects are invaluable investments towards research that will improve transportation planning, environmental decision making, and real estate management. More information can be found on the website.|
|Valuation of Permitting Utility and Communications Installations in Public Right-of-Way (ROW)
This project will produce a guidance document for State DOTs (SDOTs) to assess their accommodation policies of utilities and communication facilities in the ROW with other SDOTs. This will provide SDOTs with a clear course for executing changes that may result in better legislation, expanded SDOT communication networks, fiscally net neutral accommodation, or net positive accommodation.
|Development of Business Case and Communication Strategies for a State DOT Resilience Program
This research will examine SDOT communication strategies and processes to inform the public and stakeholders of how resiliency is part of the SDOT’s overall mission, and build a business case for investing in resilience strategies. The research will examine best practices of transportation agencies regarding resilience in agency activities and communications efforts when faced with disruptions (e.g., Georgia DOT bridge deck fire, Caltrans wildfires, South Carolina DOT hurricane efforts, and Washington State DOT I-5 Skagit River bridge collapse). The project will analyze best case applications of communications strategies and lessons learned from recent disruptions.
|Access to Jobs, Economic Opportunities, and Education in Rural Areas
This research will identify ‘hot spots’ of unmet need in rural communities, including employment, education, and transportation, and explore the new relationships and partnerships needed to ensure success. Commuting patterns are becoming increasingly regional, requiring transit agencies to develop new services to connect employees across jurisdictional boundaries. New local routes, regional commuter services, and rural employment routes will support regional and statewide economies.
|Methodology to Define New AASHTO Green Book 7.0: Context Classification Settings Implementation as Related to Active Transportation Infrastructure
Additional guidance is needed to help practitioners select which existing guidance is most pertinent to the new categories, such as suburban and rural contexts. The increased resolution of context categories and documentation in operational databases will provide enhanced research and guidance addressing the specific and unique needs of the new proposed categories.
|National Synthesis of Project-Level Programmatic Agreements (PA) for Expediting Section 106 Consultation in Project Delivery
This research will compile and synthesize information on the use, content, and efficiencies provided by Section 106 project-level PAs from across the U.S. It will focus on identifying and summarizing project-level PAs executed in the last decade by SDOTs and FHWA, but may also include relevant examples that have been executed by other agencies like the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The synthesis will include recommendations on successful practices that result in expedited completion of Section 106 requirements for complex transportation projects.
|Best Practices (BP) in Coordination of Public Transit and Ride Sharing
This research will document available online apps to improve commuter access to public transit and allow for greater mobility in their communities. A key component of this research is identifying existing resources and how private industry is interacting and partnering with the public sector in coordinating mobility services.
|Effective On-Bridge Treatment of Stormwater
Today’s current treatment technologies utilize media filtration to remove many pollutants of concern. Many DOTs utilize media filtration for rapid passive filtering of stormwater along the roadway. The same concept could be applied to on-bridge stormwater treatment. This research will identify filter media and mixes that would be successful in an on-bridge application. It will provide stormwater designers with a realistic idea of available options for on-bridge stormwater treatment.
|Incorporating Resilience Concepts and Strategies in Transportation Planning Efforts
This project will develop specific guidance on incorporating resilience in every level of transportation planning. The research will look at different types of SDOT planning efforts, such as statewide planning, modal planning, and corridor planning, and how resilience can be integrated into such efforts.
|Accessing America’s Great Outdoors: Understanding Recreational Travel Patterns, Demand, and Future Investment Needs for Transportation Systems
The study will examine tourism demand, analyze travel volumes and patterns, and develop a model to project travel demand on state and county roads. This research will allow jurisdictions to make informed decisions about investments in economic development, transportation, and other issues that may affect residents and visitors alike.
|Development and Implementation of the National Intercity Bus Atlas (NIBA)
This research project will develop a national atlas of intercity bus services that utilizes General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data, is publicly available, can be maintained to a high level of currency, and is complementary to the National Transit Map.
|Trade-offs for Cross-sectional Reallocation on Urban and Suburban Roads
This research will examine both performance and feasibility related to cross-sectional reallocation. The issues associated with evaluating these proposals are complex and require modern perspectives and insights on safety performance and economic trade-offs associated with such roadway changes. The final report will include enhanced guidance targeted to design practitioners.
|Design Options to Reduce Turning Motor Vehicle–Bicycle Conflicts at Intersections
The objective of this project is to develop guidelines for intersection design that minimizes the risks that motor-vehicle turning movements create for through-moving bicyclists. To accomplish this, the research will rely on a variety of conflict data to supplement often-sparse crash data at signalized intersections.
|Safety Evaluation of On-Street Bikeway Designs
Separated bikeways are bikeways within or adjacent to the roadway and separated from moving traffic by curbs, parking lanes, striped buffers, or other barriers. This research will study various separated bikeway designs and update guidance documents. Other outcomes include a greater understanding of the safety, efficiency, connectivity, and maintainability issues associated with separated bikeway designs, and the identification of additional research needs.
Just Released – New Environmental Justice (EJ) Publications
FHWA’s HEPH released two new EJ resources: Addressing Changing Demographics in Environmental Justice Analysis, State of the Practice, and Environmental Justice Analysis in Transportation Planning and Programming, State of the Practice. The first publication provides information on national demographic trends and notable EJ analysis practices to help transportation practitioners better understand and respond to rapid community change, while improving methods to meaningfully involve EJ populations in transportation decision making. The research highlights strategies to accelerate project delivery using innovative data-driven approaches, and equity analysis methods to support economic growth and improve quality of life. Listen to the webinar held in January on this resource.
The second publication details the state of the practice among SDOTs and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) regarding how these agencies consider and address environmental justice concerns in their transportation planning and programming process. The report chronicles commonly applied techniques and emerging new approaches for conducting EJ assessments. It is organized around these focus areas: identifying and engaging EJ populations; understanding EJ populations’ needs; assessing benefits and burdens of proposed transportation plans; determining whether transportation plans may result in disproportionately high and adverse effects on EJ populations, and deploying strategies to address such effects. The report concludes with overarching best practices: integrating EJ analyses with plans and programs and using EJ analyses to support decision making. A complementary case study, Using Social Media to Reach Environmental Justice Communities was also released by the Center for Environmental Excellence, AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials).
Successful Approaches to Accommodate Additional Modes and Services in Existing Right-of-Way
FHWA’s HEPH participated in NCHRP’s Domestic Scan of design, operation, and policy decisions SDOTs face when considering accommodating additional modes and services within existing rights-of-way. The scan team visited seven geographically-dispersed projects and utilized a variety of multimodal transportation strategies benefitting bicycle, pedestrian, transit, and automobile users. Scanned projects included existing general-purpose traffic lanes converted to transit-only service (e.g., bus or rail), or to express toll lanes with bus rapid transit (BRT), or express bus service. The report, Successful Approaches to Accommodate Additional Modes and Services in Existing Right-of-Way, includes findings and recommendations that will advance the institutional capacity of SDOTs to successfully participate and partner in projects that add modes to existing rights-of-way.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) Partners with FHWA in Conducting the Smart & Connected Communities Research Program
FHWA representatives David Kuehn, Exploratory Advanced Research program manager and Shari Schaftlein, Director, Office of Human Environment, participated in the annual National Science Foundation Smart & Connected Communities Principle Investigators Meeting. David facilitated a panel on Transportation, Equity, and Emerging Technology. Shari presented an overview of FHWA mobility innovation research and related human environment program efforts, and facilitated a workshop session. Several universities partnered with community groups through the NSF program to address improved mobility. Tools are available to explore new mobility solutions that provide greater access to employment, education, and healthcare. For updates on the research projects see https://nsfsccpimeeting.ece.uw.edu/2019-presentations/.
Webinars of Interest
Virtual Public Involvement
On April 25, FHWA launched the first in a four-part webinar series to help transportation professionals engage the public more effectively by supplementing face-to-face information with technology. Virtual public involvement techniques include meeting-in-a-box, pop-up outreach, interactive maps, and other innovative tools. All four webinars include case-study videos and presenters from the field. The second webinar is scheduled for June 25 and features; Building a Social Media Presence, Targeted Online Ads and Telephone Town Halls. Learn more here.
Value Capture Webinar Series Begins in June
Value Capture refers to a toolbox of strategies used by public agencies to capture a portion of the value generated by public infrastructure investment. These are powerful funding tools that can help address funding gaps, can be part of the mix of funding sources for transportation improvement solutions, and can accelerate project delivery, save time and money, and enhance safety when done properly. Are you interested in applying individual value capture techniques, to capture the benefits created by transportation infrastructure projects, faster and more effectively, while also achieving system performance goals and accelerate the project delivery process? Are you interested in learning funding and financing strategies for a program of projects? Register through the links below to learn more about Value Capture techniques, including case studies by lead agencies around the country.
Thursday, June 20 – Understand Value Capture Tools and Federal Resources
Thursday, June 27 – Value Capture: Developer Contributions Techniques and Case Studies
CMAQ Program Emission Reductions Calculator
The calculator is a spreadsheet-based tool to assist DOTs and MPOs, and project sponsors to generate emissions benefit information. Released in modules the calculator represents the most common types of projects. Staff Contact: Mark Glaze, 202-366-4053.
VisionEval/Rapid Policy Analysis Tool (RPAT)
VisionEval/Rapid Policy Analysis Tool offers strategic models operating at a range of geographic scales to evaluate metrics related to land use, transportation policies, and economic and demographic trends. It is an open source project that is under active development through an FHWA pooled fund study representing seven states and three MPOs. The project provides models, data preparation tools, and a visualizer for results from many alternative scenarios. The VisionEval software and documentation are available here. Staff Contact: Jeremy Raw, 202-366-0986.
HEPGIS – Unique Mapping Database
Planning, Environment, and Realty (HEP) Executive Geographic Information System (HEPGIS) is FHWA’s only publicly available web-based interactive mapping system designed for FHWA and its stakeholders to perform MPO and Statewide transportation planning activities by using maps and obtaining geo-spatial data. Maps include: National Highway System, Federal Aid Highways, Freight Networks, Federal Lands Highways, Alternative Fuel Corridors, annual average daily traffic, fatal crashes, MPO/TMA boundaries, non-attainment areas, unemployment rates, and decennial census population distributions. The Freight Analysis Framework and border origin-destination visualization maps include flows by commodity group, mode, and forecast year. In addition, HEPGIS now includes monthly travel time reliability index maps using FHWA National Performance Management Research Data Set GPS data to help implement Performance-Based Planning and Programming. Staff Contact: Supin Yoder, 312-257-6356.
Temporary Waiver of Methodology for Calculating a Replacement Housing Payment (RHP) for Negative Equity
This investigative study will gather nationwide data of residential real estate market values to identify and document where and to what extent market values have not recovered, or have met or exceeded those values that existed prior to the historically unique 2008 U.S. real estate market crash. The results created circumstances of negative equity in the homes of owner occupants, whereby the methodology to calculate an RHP, under 49 CFR 24.401(b)(1) did not ensure that a comparable replacement dwelling was available within the economic means of the displaced person(s) as required by the Uniform Act. FHWA recently extended the temporary waiver through December 31, 2019. Staff Contact: Melissa Corder, 202-366-5823.
- August 25 – 28 Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals Conference, Portland, OR
The biennial conference provides outstanding training and networking that attract professionals working on active transportation projects in the U.S. and Canada. Opportunities to connect with leaders and innovators, established and emerging decision-makers. Staff Contact: Darren Buck.
- September 10 – 13
International Conference on Women’s Issues in Transportation, Irvine, CA
The 2019 WIiT conference will focus on women’s issues related to all aspects of travel and transportation, framed through the lens of insights, inclusion, and impact. FHWA is a sponsor of this year’s conference and will advance themes from the 2014 conference including gender differences in transportation and mobility, responsiveness of transport systems to needs and preferences of women, transportation safety, personal security, and participation of women in decision-making and wealth creation in the transportation sector. Staff Contact: Shari Schaftlein.
- September 22 – 26
International Conference on Ecology and Transportation, Sacramento, CA
The foremost interdisciplinary, inter-agency supported conference addressing the broad range of ecological issues related to transportation systems in all modes. Experts in transportation development, related scientific study, policy issues, and administrative processes gather at ICOET to share current research, quality applications, and best practices that can enhance both the project development process and the ecological sustainability of all transportation modes. FHWA is a sponsor. Staff Contact: Mike Ruth.
- November 13 – 15
Transportation Resilience 2019, Washington, DC
TRB, AASHTO, and FHWA are sponsoring the 2nd International Conference on Transportation System Resilience to Natural Hazards and Extreme Weather Events. The conference will provide transportation professionals with information on emerging best practices and state of the art research results on how to adapt surface transportation networks to the potential impacts of natural disasters and extreme weather events. Conference topics and abstracts are being solicited at TR2019. Staff Contact: Mike Culp.