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Community Visioning Approach to Support the SHRP 2 Collaborative Decision-Making Framework for Additions to Highway Capacity

The objective of this research is to integrate a comprehensive visioning process into the collaborative decision-making framework. Capacity improvement projects often elicit public opposition that is related primarily to the underlying community vision(s) of itself. These communities have not been through a stakeholder-driven, consensus-building process to envision into what the community will grow and develop over time. In addition, a visioning process can raise community concerns that may later trigger significant public outcry during the transportation planning and project development process. Some states and local areas have been incorporating a process called Comprehensive Community Visioning to support their long-range land use and/or transportation planning processes. This process can provide critical support for later transportation decision-making by providing the overall context for the future transportation system. Research has shown, however, that even the most successful visioning projects report difficulties connecting the outcomes of the visioning effort to decision-making.

FHWA, USD800,000.00, Completed

Using Existing Pavement In Place and Achieving Long Life

On roadways that have acceptable geometric features, renewal could be greatly accelerated and costs reduced if the existing pavement can be incorporated into rapid renewal projects without having to be removed from the project site. Comprehensive guidance is needed to help public agencies select the appropriate solution for specific circumstances. Project owners need reliable procedures that allow them to identify when an existing pavement can successfully be used in place and how to incorporate it into the new pavement structure to achieve long life under conditions of service likely not considered in the original design. Approaches using the existing pavement in-place to achieve long life on rapid renewal projects include the use of asphalt, concrete, and other innovative materials.?This effort will concentrate on understanding the state of the art of rapid renewal approaches currently used both nationally and internationally to construct long-lived (50-years or longer) pavements for high-volume roadways. This effort will also identify promising alternatives to renewal approaches currently in use, or imminently on the horizon. This project does not address "routine" overlays designed for maintenance or preservation purposes, which are considered in SHRP 2 Project R26: Preservation Approaches for High Volume Roadways. The objective of this project is to provide guidance to public agencies for achieving long-lived pavements, reducing construction time, and minimizing the impact to the public by utilizing existing pavement in-place in a rapid renewal environment.

FHWA, USD1,627,560.00, Completed

Incorporating Greenhouse Gas Emissions Into the Collaborative Decision-Making Process

In the last few years, scientific consensus has strengthened around the fact that the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere is contributing to changes in the earth`s climate. While uncertainty remains over the pace and dimensions of the change, a consensus around the need for action has grown among the public and elected officials. In part, this shift has been accelerated by concern over energy security and rising fuel prices. The new political landscape has led many cities, states, and regions to institute policies aimed at reducing GHG emissions. These policies and emerging initiatives have significant implications for the transportation planning process. About 28% of the United States` GHG emissions are from transportation sources. Carbon dioxide emissions from personal vehicles and trucks account for 82% of these emissions and have grown by 28% since 1990. Unlike conventional air pollutants, carbon dioxide emissions are directly tied to the amount of fuel consumed and its carbon intensity. Therefore, emissions reductions can be achieved by increasing the use of low-carbon fuels, improving fuel economy, or reducing total vehicle miles-often called the three legged stool. (A fourth leg is congestion reduction, at certain optimal speeds). These same factors are related to our use of imported oil, so actions taken to reduce GHG emissions may actually produce benefits in both policy areas. The global scale and indirect nature of climate change make it impossible to quantify the damages associated with any individual sources of new emissions, no matter how large. While highway projects might contribute to increased greenhouse gases, the climate impacts of expanding capacity in a particular corridor cannot be effectively determined. Therefore, the traditional approaches such as impact mitigation become more complicated. On the other hand, states implementing greenhouse gas policies have chosen to focus primarily on quantifying emissions impacts and setting emissions-reduction goals. Emerging policies and performance measures have been expressed as reductions in vehicle miles traveled, regional emissions targets, or incentive-based goals. The climatic risks of additional emissions associated with capacity projects must be balanced against the mobility, safety, and economic needs of a community or region. The difficult questions lie in where and how in the transportation planning process the assessments should occur. Project C09 specifically focuses on the state and local collaborative decision-making framework as the context for this work. It will examine strategies to integrate GHG emissions and energy consumption considerations when transportation policy strategies can address both. This project will NOT focus on transportation and air quality modeling in areas where such modeling is a mature practice. Where such modeling is done, the outputs of travel demand models are inputs to EPA`s MOBILE 6 or MOVES models, which estimate emissions, including carbon dioxide. The MOVES model represents a substantial potential improvement over MOBILE 6, but its data needs strain the ability of travel demand models to produce inputs at sufficiently fine detail. The SHRP 2 Capacity Technical Coordinating Committee recognizes that improvements to travel demand models are needed to better address GHGs and has assigned that charge to SHRP 2 Project C10. It should not be emphasized in this project. Rural areas or regions where rigorous air quality analysis is not required are a different question. How should the GHG issue be addressed there? It doesn`t matter where GHGs are emitted, the global effect is the same. Some states are requiring that the GHG effects of long-range transportation plans be estimated, even if the region is not required to conduct air quality analysis to satisfy the Clean Air Act. This is a very real problem at the moment and is within the scope of this project. This research will be conducted in an environment of uncertainty. Critical policies are currently in flux: The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a proposed rulemaking process to address the issue; states are adopting policies; local governments are adopting targets and goals; and recent fuel price increases are changing driving behavior, at least in the short term. This project should examine ways to incorporate the GHG emission issue into the collaborative decision-making framework based on the current regulatory environment. If the environment changes during the project, we will have to adapt. If it doesn`t, this work will contribute to the policy debate. The objectives of this project are to: (1) Develop a strategy or strategies for addressing greenhouse gas emissions at relevant key decision points in the Collaborative Decision-Making Framework; (2) identify relevant material already produced by the normal planning process and the gaps that exist for GHG analysis, (3) prepare materials and methods to address the gaps and integrate them into the CDMF; (4) prepare a freestanding Practitioner`s Handbook. Accomplishing these objectives will require identifying proactive strategies that can be taken by cities, states, and regions to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector: Identifying what practitioners need to know about greenhouse gases at each stage of the CDMF; identifying the audiences at those key decision points; and identifying the most critical gaps and needs.

FHWA, USD800,000.00, Completed

Traveler Information and Travel Time Reliability

A number of states and metropolitan areas communicate travel time information and related highway system condition data to travelers. Of roughly 100 metropolitan areas responding to a U.S. Department of Transportation survey conducted in 2006, 27 indicated they displayed travel time information on variable message signs. Besides variable message signs, other communications channels and technology platforms are used to communicate travel time information. These include broadcast media, satellite radio, the Internet, cell phone networks (e.g. 511 and other services for wireless devices), highway advisory radio, and telematics services such as General Motors' OnStar. Other information besides travel time that may be communicated includes travel speed, congestion, incident locations, alternative routes, work zone locations, and weather. In addition, a number of private sector companies also communicate travel time and related information to travelers through a variety of channels and on different technology platforms. There is strong evidence based on empirical studies that road users are nearly as (if not more) concerned about travel time reliability as about average travel time. Individuals are concerned about being late for work and about missing other important appointments. Motor carriers may be faced with penalties for not meeting service agreements and delivering shipments late. Information about travel time reliability (as opposed to simple information on travel times) is much less frequently communicated to travelers at present. Only a few states and metropolitan areas provide such information for either pre-trip planning or for en route decision making by travelers. An example is Washington State DOT's 95 percent reliable travel time calculator for highways in the Puget Sound region, which travelers can access over the Internet for pre-trip planning. Travelers do get considerable information about reliability from their own daily experiences. However, there is an overall lack of knowledge about what reliability information is useful to travelers, how best to communicate it to them, how reliability information impacts traveler choices and demand at given times on particular facilities, and how communicating information about reliability affects system performance, particularly in terms of nonrecurring highway congestion. It is recognized that travelers use multiple communications channels at different stages of their journey and also use them to gain additional intelligence about the transportation network and how conditions might affect their journey. Part of the problem with communicating travel reliability information within the transportation network and to travelers is the lack of a shared language about reliability--a lexicon. There are many definitions of travel reliability and some are simply beyond the comprehension of travelers and most professionals. "Reliability" itself is a term of art that may have little meaning to the traveling public. On the other hand, some commonly used concepts such as "buffer time" seem to be intuitively understood by many. Travelers quickly learn to reserve additional time for some journeys on some routes in order to work around nonrecurring delays associated with things like incidents, bad weather, work zones, special events, and malfunctioning traffic control devices. A key issue in this research is to find the right combinations of words, numbers, symbols, layout, lighting, color, and spacing to communicate information about travel time and reliability to travelers using a particular communications channel and technology platform. Another key issue is to find the best combination and arrangement of information so that travelers may make optimal travel choices from their point of view. Important choices include whether to take a trip or not, departure time, mode choice, and route choice. Information about travel time reliability is important for free roads but also for priced roads, which are likely to become more prevalent. This project will be inherently more valuable in urban areas where nonrecurring congestion is most severe and widespread. Approximately half of all traffic congestion in urban areas is nonrecurring. This project will focus on urban areas, however, many of the research results could be transferable to rural areas that experience travel unreliability due to weather, incidents, and other sources of nonrecurring congestion. Almost all congestion in rural areas is nonrecurring in nature.?This project has multiple objectives, which are to: (1) Better understand the current and near-term future dimensions of the travel time/travel reliability information marketplace, including technologies, the roles of the public and private sectors, and choices (both free and priced) available to travelers. (2) Better understand what network travel time and travel reliability information travelers require, particularly in complex metropolitan environments where many travel choices are possible. Better understand how travelers would use improved information. (3) Determine how best to communicate travel time reliability information to travelers so that they can understand it and use it to make optimal travel choices. The focus is on content and format of travel time reliability information appropriate to specific technology platforms and communication channels. Develop a guide to help providers of traveler information ensure that information regarding travel time reliability is offered in a manner that is most useful to travelers. (4) To the extent possible, quantify the potential for improvements in the communication of travel reliability information to affect traveler choices such that positive impacts on system performance occur, e.g. improved transportation system reliability. (5) Develop a simple and standardizable lexicon for communicating travel time reliability concepts among transportation professionals and travelers. (6) Develop prioritized, near-term strategies for improved dissemination of travel time reliability information and provide guidance for state departments of transportation and other public sector transportation agencies that are contemplating providing travel reliability information to travelers.

FHWA, USD1,088,754.00, Completed

Railroad-DOT Institutional Mitigation Strategies

The presence of a railroad presents a unique challenge to rapidly renewing a highway facility. Because of the potential for train delays caused by highway construction near railroads and the need to preserve rail corridors for future capacity improvements, most railroads are very protective of any project that could impact the use of their facilities. In addition, highway projects usually require the railroad's review of design plans and agreements for any work on railroad property. This project will provide the forum for railroad-DOT collaboration and the framework for model business agreements. Railroads are private entities that own and maintain their own rights-of-way and provide their own financing for improvements. Each railroad company is unique in their approach to operating requirements, design criteria, and coordinating highway projects near railroad facilities. Most highway renewal projects do not provide any inherent benefits to the railroad and may adversely impact operations and future capacity. Negotiating highway-related changes that could impact rail operations is often much more challenging than anticipated. In many ways railroads have considerably less flexibility than do public agencies in making changes. Rail operations can tolerate little delay, which often restricts construction options for the highway contractor and requires railroad personnel to coordinate rail service with construction activity. Railroad force account work is performed by railroad employees whose work schedule may conflict with the requirements of the highway project. This research project is focused on enhancing cooperation between railroads and public agencies on highway renewal projects. This will be accomplished by seeking creative and cooperative approaches. The goal is to develop a systematic approach for performing highway renewal that is rapid, causes minimum disruption, and produces long-lived facilities.

FHWA, USD400,000.00, Completed

Intersection Control for Autonomous Vehicles

This research project will consider the impact of autonomous vehicles on urban traffic infrastructure, specifically at intersections. The aim is to dramatically decrease time wasted at intersections and increase vehicle throughput on roads.

FHWA, Completed

Next Generation Vehicle Positioning in GPS -Degraded Environments for Vehicle Safety and Automation Systems

By combining three technology areas, the research seeks to develop an integrated system that exploits the strengths of each technique. First, terrain-based localization (based on precise measurements of vehicle pitch and roll, combined with wheel odometry) can be readily used to find the vehicle?s absolute longitudinal position within a pre-mapped highway segment ? compensating for drift which occurs in dead-reckoning systems in long longitudinal stretches of road. Secondly, visual odometry keys upon visual landmarks at a detailed level to correlate position to a (visually) premapped road segment to find vehicle position along the roadway. The third technology approach relies on radio frequency (RF) ranging based on DSRC radio technology.

FHWA, Unavailable

Freight Research Projects

The NCFRP conducts applied research on problems facing the freight industry that are not being adequately addressed by existing research programs. The NCFRP Strategic Plan has five objectives: 1. Analyze the business of freight transportation, 2. Develop reliable data and tools for analysis of freight transportation, 3. Explore operational improvements in freight transportation, 4. Evaluate investment decisions for adding physical capacity to the freight transportation system, and 5. Identify ways to strengthen the institutional framework for the freight transportation system.

OST, USD12,400,000.00, Completed

Autonomous Driving System Development

This project will develop methodologies for determining when autonomous driving is not safe due to environment, traffic, or in-vehicle conditions and inform drivers accordingly. This project is part of the FHWA Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program.

FHWA, Completed

Speed Limit Sign Spacing Study

The goal of the research is to gather information that can be used to develop guidelines that assist engineers in placing speed limit signs at intervals that are consistent with motorists' perceptual and cognitive capabilities and limitations.

FHWA, USD75,000.00, Active