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The National Academies

NCHRP 08-36/Task 53 [Completed]

Peer Review Capacity Building Partnership: Best Practices in Non-Traditional Performance Measures, Multimodal Goods Movement Tradeoffs, Safety, Reliability, and State Funding
[ NCHRP 08-36 (Research for the AASHTO Standing Committee on Planning) ]

  Project Data
Funds: 100000
Research Agency: Cambridge Systematics
Effective Date: 10/8/2004
Completion Date: 5/15/2006
Comments: Completed---Final reports sent to AASHTO


In the past decade, states and metropolitan areas have taken on significantly greater responsibilities for improving the effectiveness of their transportation planning and decision-making processes. To fulfill those responsibilities, state DOTs and MPOs have had to continually improve their procedures, their tools, their processes, and their capabilities to meet the broad, complex challenges they face in providing the most effective transportation systems for their areas. An important method for achieving improvement within planning processes at the state and MPO levels has been peer exchange sessions aimed at identifying and sharing best practices. These exchanges have proven effective in encouraging practitioners to build on the experiences of their colleagues from other organizations in tailoring new approaches into their planning and decision making processes. There is a need for more such exchanges on selected topics of interest to state DOTs and MPOs.

The objective of this project is to create a mechanism for transportation peer exchanges focused on five subject areas of mutual concern to state DOT and MPO practitioners. These exchanges will be supported by a research team that will:
    1. Perform a general review of current practice in each of the subject areas.
    2. Plan and support each peer exchange session including preparation of discussion-guidance materials.
    3. Document and summarize the results of each peer exchange session.
    4. Prepare a final report that incorporates the findings of all peer exchange sessions and captures the lessons learned for the benefit of the broader transportation planning community.


Five peer exchange groups will meet at least once. Each exchange group will be comprised of approximately six representatives from state DOTs and four representatives from MPOs. The state DOTs and MPOs will be invited to nominate potential participants for one or more peer exchange groups. A study panel consisting of members from the NCHRP 8-36 panel, FHWA staff, AASHTO staff, and AMPO staff will recommend group participants to NCHRP. It is expected that participants will be selected based on their ability to assist others in obtaining innovative, timely, and effective strategies for improving planning practices and their ability to benefit by and implement the results of the exchanges. All state DOT and MPO participants will be reimbursed for travel costs from this task's funding. For budgeting purposes, proposers should assume that a total of $10,000 will be needed to reimburse participants for travel to the peer exchange for each subject area.

The specific subject areas include:

1. Nontraditional Performance Measures: Identify measures used in decision making beyond traditional measures such as pavement smoothness, bridge condition, and volume-to-capacity ratios. Nontraditional measures related to quality of life, the environment, mobility, accessibility, social impacts, and economic impacts are important in making effective transportation decisions. What are the specific measures? How are these measures being incorporated into plans and programs? What is the framework for mainstream use? MPOs are developing "State of the Region" performance reports that may be including many of these nontraditional measures. How can these be integrated into a seamless planning and decision-making process? How can these types of performance reports be used and at the statewide planning level?

2. Multimodal Program Tradeoffs: States can not meet growing demand for transportation solely with single-mode solutions. They are further challenged in making tradeoffs in investments that impact the line-haul or link components of the transportation system. For instance, in a congested freight corridor, could parallel freight-rail capacity or other transportation services be employed as a cost-effective alternative to intercity or interstate highway expansion? Modal investments supporting truck movements rather than freight-rail partnerships are often made without complete information. States and MPOs may make improvements on links or nodes without full knowledge of the impacts on the rest of the transportation system. How are states and MPOs improving planning where needed information often includes private-sector proprietary data? Can federal agencies, state DOTs, MPOs, and private goods movement providers forge agreements to make such data available to support transportation planning and decision making?

3. Safety: The safety of the users of the transportation system is a primary goal of transportation agencies. Programs need to be developed with adequate, up-to-date information on accident data, safety audits, electronic accident investigation systems, and other approaches for analyzing and prioritizing safety-related investments. What are states and MPOs doing to partner with the private sector, including insurance companies, to share information? What information systems can be developed to encourage programming safety improvements as part of capacity improvements funded by the Surface Transportation and National Highway System Programs? What planning-related initiatives can be shared to improve safety?

4. Reliability: Users are often more concerned with the levels of variability in their travel experience than they are about the typical or average speeds. What performance measures are being developed for this purpose and how can ITS data be employed to improve planning for better system reliability?

5. State Funding: Increases in transportation funding from federal and state sources has not kept pace with needs for capacity improvements. What innovative initiatives are being developed to address this situation? Is there a movement to increase revenues from local user fees such as toll roads, managed lanes, and local option taxes? What is the impact on state transportation systems from sub-state revenue generation?

Contractor's final reports were sent to AASHTO and are posted at:

NCHRP 8-36(53)(1) Reliability Measures Peer Exchange.pdf

NCHRP 8-36(53)(2) NonTraditional Perf Measures.pdf

NCHRP 8-36(53)(3) Innovative Finance Peer Exchange.pdf

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