The National Academies

NCHRP 08-36/Task 147 [Completed]

Strategic Mobility Research: Enhancing Mobility, Stimulating Economic Activity, Saving Lives
[ NCHRP 08-36 (Research for the AASHTO Standing Committee on Planning) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $150,000
Research Agency: WSP USA, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Michael D. Meyer, PhD


The concept of strategic planning for highway research has been the subject of NCHRP studies several times, most significantly as described in TRB Special Report 260—Strategic Highway Research: Saving Lives, Reducing Congestion, Improving Quality of Life, released in 2001.  In this report, the authoring committee recommended the establishment of a Future Strategic Highway Research Program (F-SHRP).  As an outgrowth, SHRP 2 was created to find strategic solutions to three national transportation challenges: improving highway safety, reducing congestion, and improving methods for renewing roads and bridges.  Between 2006 and 2015, research focused in four areas: safety, renewal, reliability, and capacity.  The program carried out 145 research projects and produced 130 products as well as 132 research reports.  In addition, as part of the study, the committee recommended that F-SHRP be administered by a credible, independent organization capable of managing a large-scale contract research program in a manner that would ensure the highest-quality research.  The initial SHRP program was managed by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies for just these reasons.  As recommended, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) also had a significant role in the development of detailed research program plans.

Since the completion of SHRP 2, there has been discussion of implementing the next level of strategic transportation planning research, building on the experience of the original program and not limited by particular modal elements of transportation systems.  Initial efforts at creating a Strategic Mobility Research Program (SMRP) have been supported through NCHRP, but this approach has not yet addressed the creation of a detailed research program or roadmap.  A comprehensive, strategic, and holistic approach to a research program for transportation planning for mobility and accessibility should build on previous work and take a user perspective, a network or system focus, and a performance management approach.  This would include examining the research goals, research agenda, administrative structure, and broader components of a new strategic mobility research program.  This approach would support AASHTO’s Committee on Planning’s Action Plan (2017-2020) in identifying priority research areas of importance to transportation planning.


The objective of this study was to build on the experience of SHRP 2 and develop a comprehensive plan and proposed research agenda for a Strategic Mobility Research Program (SMRP).  This plan s identifies relevant topic areas or lines of research through a comprehensive stakeholder outreach effort.  The primary topic areas or lines of research include but not be limited to the following: 

(1) Substantive enhanced strategies for coupling transportation system improvements with economic growth and development;

(2) Equity in access to services for rural as well as urban and suburban travelers;

(3) Opportunities for enhancing sustainability and resilience of highway and transportation system investments.

(4) Blending and bifurcation of passenger and freight;

(5) Providing station-area services at regional and local airports and rail stations;

6) Recalibration of essential air services to address regional passenger travel in a mode-neutral manner; and

(7) Understanding and projecting future user preferences in mode selection.

An important component of SMRP is a plan for implementing a collaborative effort crossing mode boundaries to structure a comprehensive approach to strategic transportation system planning, building on the experience of NCHRP.

final Deliverables

Deliverables include:

·         Final report and executive summary, and

·         A PowerPoint presentation geared to decision-makers.


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