The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 48-15 [Active (Synthesis)]

How Transportation Agencies Assess the Value of Added Capacity Highway Projects versus Other Modal Projects and Strategies
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 5/9/2016 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Tanya M. Zwhalen
Research Agency: T.Y. Lin International
Principal Investigator: Richard Perrin
Effective Date: 10/6/2016
Fiscal Year: 2016

Final Scope

Transportation agencies are responsible for providing the traveling public with a reliable and safe transportation system.  In the past, this has meant building new roadways or adding lanes to existing roads, but as our population continues to grow and available land becomes more limited, this approach may not yield the best value for the traveling public.  With the increased interest in passenger rail, high-speed rail, high capacity transit, active transportation modes, and intermodal freight, there is a need to summarize the different methods used by transportation agencies to quantify the full spectrum of benefits, costs and economic impacts of transportation improvement strategies. 

The objective of this study is to summarize the methods and policies utilized by transportation agencies to evaluate and compare different types of transportation improvement strategies. The study will identify how the value of different types of transportation projects are calculated to determine the best use of public funds to increase mode choices, reduce congestion, improve travel times, improve safety and efficiently move freight. Consideration of non-highway, multimodal or intermodal projects may identify better value than an added capacity highway project.
Information to be gathered will include, but not be limited to:
  • Metrics used to compare alternatives, such as environmental impacts, economic development, equity and environmental justice, affordability, safety, livability, reliability, viability and accessibility.
  • Methods to measure the costs and benefits between projects.
  • Examples of how non-traditional costs, such as lifecycle costs and household travel costs, are calculated and considered.
  • Policies that have been used to evaluate and encourage modal options.

Information will be gathered through a literature review, a survey of state DOTs and transportation management areas (TMAs), interviews, and the development of no less than four case studies representing different mode types and geographic regions. In addition to TMAs, the survey will be sent to voting members of the AASHTO Standing Committee on Planning. The study will also identify gaps in knowledge and needed research.


TRB Staff
Tanya Zwahlen
Phone: 585-315-1834
Email: tzwahlen@nas.edu

Meeting Dates
First Panel: October 6, 2016, Washington, DC
Teleconference with Consultant: November 10, 2016, 1:00 p.m.
Second Panel: June 29, 2017 Woods Hole, MA

Topic Panel        
Rose Agacer-Solis, California DOT
Erik Havig, Oregon DOT
Nathan Huynh, University of South Carolina
Garrett Pedersen, Iowa Department of Transportation
Tara Penders, Maryland State Highway Administration
Kanti Srikanth, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
Mark Werner, Texas DOT
Getachew Mekonnen, Federal Highway Administration
Sidney Stecker, Federal Highway Administration
Scott Babcock, Transportation Research Board



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