State departments of transportation (DOTs) and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) have increased responsibilities regarding their stewardship for planning, programming, and integrating transportation systems. The demands for technical and policy tools to support their planning and decision making have increased as well. This has resulted in a need for accelerating the development of new technical tools, methods, and procedures designed to accurately assess the implications and impacts of a variety of transportation options. Often these improvements are required in a relatively short time frame in response to the expanding scope and coverage of state and metropolitan transportation plans and programs, changes in regulatory requirements, or changes required as a result of legal challenges. It is expected that these requirements will continue after reauthorization of any new surface transportation legislation, and new requirements related to performance-based planning, climate change, sustainability, and livability are anticipated. AASHTO's member departments and its Standing Committee on Planning (SCOP) will continue to need a quick-response research and development capability to address near-term improvements in statewide and metropolitan transportation planning and project development processes. The AASHTO Standing Committee on Research established NCHRP Project 8-36 in 1999 and has allocated funds on an annual basis to support quick-response research for the SCOP. NCHRP Project 8-36 was funded at $500,000 annually for the first 3 years and at $600,000 annually for subsequent years. Task-order contracts were established with multiple research agencies to carry out most of this research. For each task, the amount allocated and an estimated time frame were determined by the NCHRP 8-36 panel based on funding available for NCHRP Project 8-36. Individual tasks typically are in the range of $100,000 to $125,000 and between 6 and 12 months in duration.
A request for qualifications was used to select three contractors to compete for individual studies selected annually over the next 3 years (renewable for 3 additional years) in four primary research subject areas: (1) transportation planning, programming, and project development (including methods, models, data, and analytic tools to support metropolitan and statewide practitioners); (2) economics, finance, performance-based planning, and institutional issues related to transportation; (3) operations and safety; and (4) livability, sustainability, climate change, and environmental factors that affect planning. For the individual tasks selected by the NCHRP Project 8-36 panel and approved by SCOP, the selected task-order contractors will be asked to propose a short research plan, a staffing plan, and a budget to carry out each study. These proposals will be evaluated to determine which team will be awarded the study under its task-order contract.