In a departure from the traditional nature of research conducted by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), seven recently completed and ongoing NCHRP research projects (NCHRP 20-83 series) are examining global and domestic longer-term strategic issues with the potential to affect state departments of transportation (DOTs) in important ways in 30 to 50 years. The NCHRP 20-83 research series represents a significant investment in research designed to prepare transportation practitioners to respond to future challenges—and opportunities—facing the industry. The NCHRP 20-83 series is intended to meet the following two goals: (1) anticipate future issues so that transportation agencies are better prepared to respond to new and emerging challenges; and (2) enable transportation agencies to help shape the future through their decisionmaking by exploring visions of what the future could look like.
Currently active research in the NCHRP 20-83 series includes projects: 20-83(01) Economic Changes Driving Future Freight Transportation; 20-83(02) Expediting Future Technologies for Enhancing Transportation System Performance; 20-83(03) Long-Range Strategic Issues Affecting Preservation, Maintenance, and Renewal of Highway Infrastructure; 20-83(04) Effects of Changing Transportation Energy Supplies and Alternative Fuel Sources on Transportation; 20-83(05) Climate Change and the Highway System: Impacts and Adaptation Approaches; 20-83(06) Effects of Socio-Demographics on Travel Demand; and 20-83(07) Sustainable Transportation Systems and Sustainability as an Organizing Principle for Transportation Agencies. These seven research projects are on a staggered completion schedule and published results are expected in 2013 and 2014.
The strategic issues discussed in the NCHRP 20-83 series will have to compete with other issues and matters for the attention of executive-level transportation leaders in the crowded transportation policy environment. To gain that attention, creative and innovative means are needed to convey the relevant and actionable information necessary to begin and sustain a dynamic conversation within transportation leadership circles about the results of NCHRP 20-83 research, how to connect short-term decision-making with long-term thinking, and how to prepare for and respond to opportunities and challenges that may occur several decades in the future. Because of the highly changeable nature of the transportation policy environment, it is necessary to begin this project before all of the NCHRP 20-83 research projects are completed. This will allow transportation leaders to learn and benefit from the work completed to date and provide timely access to the results of the remaining research projects as they are completed.
The objectives of this research are to (1) identify, synthesize, integrate, communicate, and build on the individual results of the NCHRP 20-83 series to create a master narrative for the transportation industry’s executive leadership about the implications of these research results for state DOTS, (2) develop a comprehensive communication plan that addresses all seven projects in the NCHRP 20-83 series, (3) develop creative and innovative messages and communication approaches that (a) encourage and enable changing leadership to engage in an ongoing and dynamic conversation to address or respond to these issues and (b) integrates the results of each NCHRP 20-83 project as it is completed, and (4) identify roles for potential partner communities to amplify and expand the reach of the message(s).
The research plan should build in appropriate checkpoints with the NCHRP project panel including, at a minimum (1) a kick-off meeting to be held in-person with the project panel within 6 weeks of the contract’s execution date and (2) up to two in-person interim deliverable review meetings as well as web-enabled teleconferences tied to panel review and NCHRP approval of any other interim deliverables deemed appropriate.
The work proposed should be divided into phases and each phase must be divided into tasks. Proposers must describe the work proposed in each phase and task in detail, and identify specific deliverables for submission to NCHRP for review and approval. Proposers should consider and include the following in their research plan:
- A comprehensive communication plan that covers the entire effort and that builds on the individual communication and dissemination efforts associated with each of the 7 projects in the NCHRP 20-83 series.
- Appropriate roles for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Organizations (AASHTO) and the AASHTO standing committees.
- Appropriate roles for other organizations, including but not limited to the Transportation Research Board.
- Production of finished communication materials in sufficient quantities.
- A final research report that (a) documents the entire project, incorporates all specified deliverables, (b) provides an executive summary that outlines the project results, and (c) includes the research team’s recommendation for additional communication activities and priorities to support continued dissemination and use of the results of the NCHRP 20-83 series.
STATUS: The project panel is scheduled to make a contractor selection decision on February 8, 2013.