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The National Academies

NCHRP 23-34 [Pending]

Performance Measures for Community-Centered Transportation Outcomes: A Guide

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Contract Time: 24 months
Staff Responsibility: Trey Joseph Wadsworth

BACKGROUND

Transportation and its infrastructure are not ends in themselves but means for providing mobility and accessibility to important destinations. State departments of transportation (DOTs) and other infrastructure owner-operators (IOOs) work to grow, manage, or maintain networks to facilitate mobility, travel choice, and access and to build public value. This work considers broader societal goals and improves the quality of life for individuals and communities alike. There is a growing demand that DOTs consider transportation outcome performance in a wider range of dimensions. Many DOTs continue evolving toward community-centered transportation by adopting more comprehensive and outcome-oriented goals for accessibility, equity, public health, and resilience. This requires identifying measures that more effectively capture the outcomes of the systems and services delivered by state DOTs and other IOOs.

There is a foundation of strong infrastructure- and auto-oriented performance measures, such as travel time reliability, pavement quality, or bridge health. These measures have been promulgated into federal regulation, and reporting cycles have been established for DOTs. However, measuring less conventional outcomes closely tied to diverse societal goals is an emerging practice. Research is needed to develop emerging measures into mature practices for consideration by DOTs and other IOOs around the nation and to improve measurement, integration, and incorporation of important policy goals into investment decision-making. 

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this research is to develop a guide to help state DOTs identify and implement nontraditional measures related to transportation performance with tactical strategies or methods for data collection and analysis. Nontraditional measures may include accessibility, equity, health, or resilience. 

Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.

TASKS

The sequencing of tasks and deliverables (such as technical memorandums or summary reports) shall be structured for delivery in quarterly progress report submissions. There will be three project phases, with an interim report and updated research plan due after Phases I and II. A virtual interim meeting should follow the submission of the first interim report, with an in-person meeting following the second. The research agency shall not proceed to future phases without NCHRP approval of the interim reports and updated research plans. An estimation of time for each element of Phases I and II is presented below. However, the proposer may resequence the timeline according to their best thinking.

A clear and concise engagement strategy to achieve the research objective shall be developed and presented in the proposal under the header “Engagement Strategy.” Engagement should occur for four purposes: (1) identifying nontraditional measures, (2) developing case examples, (3) conducting pilots, and (4) conducting a virtual workshop to review the draft measures and methods with a broad spectrum of participants and DOT practitioners before developing final deliverables. The Phase II virtual workshop must be held no more than 3 days before the in-person second interim meeting.  

Provided the intersectional nature of the nontraditional measures’ relationship to factors and influences outside DOT control, the proposer should be creative and inclusive in devising how to bring together participants from diverse geographies, demographics (including ages, communities of color, abilities, or socioeconomic achievement), and areas of expertise outside transportation, e.g., partner agencies, academia, or community-based organizations. Proposers may consider using focus groups, peer exchanges, or other methods as appropriate in the first two phases. The NCHRP discourages using survey questionnaires for this project. This engagement strategy will be considered under the second evaluation criterion described in Special Note F.

PHASE I

The first project phase comprises developing or approving cornerstone elements of the research plan. This phase is estimated to be accomplished in two project quarters. The first project quarter shall include the delivery of (1) the Amplified Research Plan, (2) a kickoff meeting with summary notes, (3) a review of literature and practice identifying academic and gray literature, and (4) a detailed memorandum identifying how to operationalize the engagement strategy as proposed. The review of literature and practice should serve as a point of departure. Where knowledge or practice gaps exist, the research team shall consider them in the next project quarter.

The second project quarter shall focus on identifying nontraditional measures for investigation in Phase II. The research team shall identify the intersections between traditional and emerging desired outcomes for DOTs. At a minimum, the research team shall focus on accessibility, equity, health, and resilience. However, it is envisioned that the research team will also consider the aspirational goals in the vision framework identified for NCHRP Research Results Digest 404: Collective and Individual Actions to Envision and Realize the Next Era of America’s Transportation Infrastructure: Phase I (found here: https://doi.org/10.17226/27263).  

To complete the second project quarter, the research team shall deliver the first interim report and updated Phase II research plan with a virtual interim meeting. The updated research plan shall include DOTs proposed for pilots described in Phase II. One month shall be reserved for review and NCHRP approval.

PHASE II

In the first part of this phase, the research team shall fully develop the nontraditional measures approved in the Phase II research plan by identifying the methods required to implement them. To develop measures and methods for piloting, the research team needs to explore all the dimensions that would make a measure useful to DOTs to achieve their desired outcomes. At a high level, it is initially envisioned that (1) data, (2) a range of influences, and (3) analytical considerations be explored. 

  1. For data, existing quantitative and qualitative sources and their availability are frequent issues for DOTs. Collection methods for existing or new data need to be detailed; however, proxy data may provide resource-sensitive alternatives if appropriate. Finally, biases need to be flagged for DOTs to understand, either in the data source itself or in practitioners’ use of the data.
  2. A range of influences impact the development of measures, methods, and their implementation. One source of factors may be external and outside DOT control, such as latent demand, land use, or non-work-trip purposes. Another source of factors could be how the findings are presented to inform decision-makers (user stories, data stories, or visualizations). Additionally, change agents or leaders (internal to DOTs or external with the help of partners) may be required to make good use of the information gained from the measures and methods. It is essential to identify who they might be and what role they could play in this process. Finally, feedback loops can help assess if the selected measures are having the desired impact or if adjustments are needed.
  3. Analytical considerations for using the measures and methods could impact resources such as staff assignments or software or tool acquisition. Additionally, the specific steps to undertake must be identified.

The measures and methods shall be detailed in a quarterly progress report for an initial round of refinement. Following the panel review, the research team shall execute the pilots with volunteer DOTs. From the pilots, the research team shall observe and report on the stakeholders, opportunities, challenges, barriers, and other findings to further refine the measures and methods. Additionally, the pilot findings will inform the development of educational and training materials in Phase III. 

In the final project quarter of Phase II, the research team shall refine the measures and deliver the second interim report and updated Phase III research plan. The second interim report shall include a predraft guide. It is initially envisioned that the guide will include resources, case examples, a data catalog, and analytical methods for state DOTs to use when implementing the methods to measure and analyze nontraditional performance outcomes. The updated Phase III research plan should include additional details on the format and contents of other final deliverables. An in-person interim meeting will be held shortly after the virtual workshop described in the desired engagement strategy. One month shall be reserved for review and NCHRP approval.

PHASE III

The project's third phase shall be reserved for developing the final deliverables and shall not exceed two project quarters. The final deliverables shall include: 

  1. A guide presented in Microsoft Word,
  2. Educational materials or training resources for use by DOTs and partners,
  3. A conduct of research report (including technical appendices),
  4. A PowerPoint presentation with speaker notes summarizing the project and illustrating for the audience how the research can be applied in their organization,
  5. A draft article suitable for publication in the TR News (no guarantee of publication is implied), and 
  6. An Implementation Plan. 


STATUS:
Proposals have been received in response to the RFP.  The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

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