FHWA and USDOT Planning, Environment, Realty, and Human Environment Research and Resources (Spring 2019)

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.

Jody McCullough
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

Research Highlights


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 hereStaff 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.

Real Estate

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.

Upcoming Events

  • 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.

May 30, 2019

Human Environment Digest

Welcome to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Human Environment biweekly email digest. This digest shares the latest information from a range of Federal and non-Federal sources, addressing transportation and its relationship to the human environment. Through this information exchange, FHWA hopes to foster dialogue at all levels and continue to further the state of the practice on these important topics in support of safety; infrastructure, including accelerated project delivery, access to jobs, and community revitalization; technology and design innovation; and accountability, including, data-driven decisions and performance-based planning.

For more information on any of these topics, see the FHWA Related Links on the sidebar.

Click here to manage your subscriptions.

*The information provided in this mailing does not necessarily reflect the view of the Federal Highway Administration or the U.S. Department of Transportation.


June 2-5, 2019: TRB’s National Transportation Planning Applications Conference. Portland, OR. (There is a fee)

June 6-7, 2019: Sixth Annual Summer Conference on Livable Communities. Kalamazoo, MI. (There is a fee)

June 9-12, 2019: ASCE’s International Conference on Transportation & Development: Engineering Smart Mobility for the Smart City. Alexandria, VA. (There is a fee)

June 11-12, 2019: FTA and NTI’s Advanced-Level Environmental Justice Workshop. Fort Worth, TX. (Invitation Only)

June 16-19, 2019: National ADA Symposium. Grapevine, TX. (There is a fee)

June 23-25, 2019: LOCUS’ Leadership Summit: Opportunity Rising. Arlington, VA. (There is a fee)

June 24-26, 2019: Institute for Transportation and Development Policy’s MOBILIZE: Reclaiming Streets for Access and Mobility. Fortaleza, Brazil. (There is a fee)

June 25-27, 2019: 25th International Conference on Urban Transport and the Environment. Aveiro, Portugal.

August 25-28, 2019: Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals Conference. Portland, OR. (There is a fee)

September 10-13, 2019: TRB’s 6th International Conference on Women’s Issues in Transportation. Irvine, CA. (There is a fee)

September 15-18, 2019: TRB’s Conference on Performance and Data in Transportation Decision Making. Atlanta, Georgia. (There is a fee)

October 21-25, 2019: Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations’ Annual Conference. Baltimore, MD. (There is a fee)

December 11-12, 2019: TRB’s Conference on Health and Active Transportation. Washington, D.C. (There is a fee)


May 30, 1:00-2:30 PM ET: FHWA’s Innovation Exchange: Virtual Public Involvement

June 4, 12:30-1:30 PM ET: Vision Zero Network’s Partnering with a Trauma Center to Advance Vision Zero Data Systems

June 5, 12:00-1:00 PM ET: Towards Zero Deaths: Working with Nontraditional Stakeholders

June 6, 2:30-4:00 PM ET: U.S. Access Board’s Accessible Public Rights-of-Way: Open Question & Answer Session

June 11, 2:00-3:30 PM ET: TRB’s Communications Strategies for Talking Tolls & Public-Private Partnerships

June 12, 2:00-3:00 PM ET: America Walks’ Safe Speeds, Safe Communities: Partners in Speed Management

June 13, 3:00-5:00 PM ET: Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Speed Management Noteworthy Practices (There is a fee)

June 17, 2:00-3:00 PM ET: America Walks’ Equitable Development: Finding Funding and Support

June 19, 12:00-1:00 PM ET: Towards Zero Deaths: Engaging with Elected Officials

June 20, 1:00-2:30 PM ET: FHWA’s Understand Value Capture Tools and Federal Resources


Environment Homepage
Environmental Justice
Transportation Alternatives
Recreational Trails Program

To submit comments or information for inclusion in the next HE Digest, click here. Submissions must be made before 12 PM ET Wednesday.

TRB Report Studies Cyclist Compliance

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) published a journal article assessing cyclist behavior in relation to existing laws. The report found a disconnect between the goals of safety laws and cyclists’ perceptions of their own safety, contributing to cyclist noncompliance. Recommendations include targeted interventions for cyclist education and improved dedicated infrastructure for cyclists.


Report Focuses on Speed Management to Promote Pedestrian Safety

The University of California, Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) and the California Office of Traffic Safety released an overview of motor vehicle speed as a risk factor in pedestrian safety. The report summarizes recent research on this topic, which emphasizes that managing speed and avoiding impact are the primary factors in promoting pedestrian safety.

TRB Report Assesses Coordination between Transportation and Land Use Planning

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) published a state-of-the-practice report on connecting transportation and land use planning in the United States. The survey includes 30 metropolitan planning organizations and 10 case studies of communities that have increased multimodal connectivity and accessibility through coordinating transportation planning and promoting development, particularly around transit stations.


WRI Paper Explores Urban Transportation Access in the Global South

The World Resources Institute (WRI) published a paper titled “From Mobility to Access for All: Expanding Urban Transportation Choices in the Global South.” The paper analyzes limitations on access to jobs and opportunities, particularly for low-income communities in Mexico City, Mexico, and Johannesburg, South Africa. To provide more equitable access, the report recommends promoting multimodal options and shared mobility; reprioritizing road space and building more complete street networks; and investing in transit infrastructure and transit-oriented development.

FHWA Publishes EDC-5 Summit Summary and Baseline Report

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published a report to document the status of innovative projects implemented as part of the fifth round of Every Day Counts (EDC-5). The report outlines the status of these projects and documents launch summits held in fall 2018. This round’s projects include human environment topics such as reducing rural roadway departures and pedestrian safety.


Workshop Explores Potential of Mobility on Demand (MOD)

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) released a research circular titled “Mobility on Demand: A Smart, Sustainable, and Equitable Future.” The circular is a synopsis of the current state of mobility on demand (MOD), a system that would allow travelers to access all of their multimodal travel options as a consumer service, with a heavy focus on public transportation and shared mobility options. The report explores how MOD can increase mobility and access for all users.

TCRP Report Identifies Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation

The Transportation Research Board’s (TRB’s) Transit Cooperative Research Program released a pre-publication of its report on “Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation.” This report serves as a tool to help transit agencies report progress and measure success towards agency financial stability; regional economic growth; improved mobility and access; and safety of riders, employees, and the public.


Research Brief Highlights Strategies for Reducing Transportation Disparities

The Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Transportation published a research brief on “Advancing Transportation Equity: Strategies for Reducing Transportation Disparities.” The brief focuses on inter-agency collaboration and multimodal solutions to address transportation barriers, particularly for low-income, rural, and elderly communities.


TRB Report Examines Methods to Measure Access Impacts of Park-and-Ride Systems

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) published a new methodology in its research journal for calculating the access impacts of park-and-ride systems in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. The study analyzes how using mixed-mode transit travel influences the number of jobs accessible within a certain travel time threshold. The research results revealed that current methods underestimate transit connections in these suburban areas and that park-and-ride facilities significantly improve these communities’ access to employment centers.