The National Academies

NCHRP 20-58(4) [Completed]

Detailed Planning for Research on Providing Highway Capacity in Support of the Nation's Economic, Environmental, and Social Goals ("Capacity")

  Project Data
Funds: $290,000
Research Agency: ICF Incorporated
Principal Investigator: Sergio Ostria
Effective Date: 12/8/2005
Completion Date: 4/15/2006


In the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), Congress requested the TRB to conduct a study to determine the goals, research agenda and projects, administrative structure, and fiscal needs for a new strategic highway research program. In response to this request, TRB formed a committee of highway industry leaders to develop recommendations. The committee engaged in an extensive outreach process to gather input from throughout the highway community regarding strategic priorities and promising research approaches. The committee's report was published in October 2001 and recommends a Future Strategic Highway Research Program (F-SHRP) focused in the following areas: (1) Accelerating the Renewal of America's Highways; (2) Making a Significant Improvement in Highway Safety; (3) Providing a Highway System with Reliable Travel Times; and (4) Providing Highway Capacity in Support of the Nation's Economic, Environmental, and Social Goals. It is hoped that the program will be authorized in the next surface transportation authorizing legislation due in October 2003.

In preparation for the program, should it be funded in the next reauthorization, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has allocated NCHRP funds, to be matched by FHWA funds, for development of a detailed research plan in each of the four research program areas identified by Special Report 260 and for additional planning work required to carry out F-SHRP. Four studies will be conducted to develop the research plans:

NCHRP 20-58(1) Detailed Planning for Research on Accelerating the Renewal of America's Highways ("Renewal"),

NCHRP 20-58(2) Detailed Planning for Research on Making a Significant Improvement in Highway Safety ("Safety"),

NCHRP 20-58(3) Detailed Planning for Research on Providing a Highway System with Reliable Travel Times ("Reliability"), and

NCHRP 20-58(4) Detailed Planning for Research on Providing Highway. Capacity in Support of the Nation's Economic, Environmental, and Social Goals ("Capacity").


The objective of this project is to develop a specific research plan for the fourth F-SHRP program area dealing with "Capacity."

In Project 20-58(4), a detailed research plan will be developed for the F-SHRP Capacity Topic: Providing Highway Capacity in Support of the Nation's Economic, Environmental, and Social Goals. The overall research program goal for this topic is to develop approaches and tools for systematically integrating environmental, economic, and community requirements into the analysis, planning, and design of new highway capacity. Given anticipated growth in population and travel and a projected doubling of truck tonnage by 2020, selected additions to highway capacity are warranted. However, provision of new highway capacity must explicitly consider the relationships between highways and the economy, communities, and the environment. F-SHRP will formulate an integrated, systems-oriented approach to highway development that encompasses engineering, economic, environmental, social, and aesthetic considerations, and uses appropriate tools and technologies to integrate these considerations in a systematic way throughout the highway development process.

The research plan shall delineate the specific research projects and other activities required to achieve the overall goal of the research program area. Individual projects are defined as those parts of each research program area that can be performed efficiently under separate contracts. The research plan shall contain a detailed description of each research project, including the tasks, levels of effort, required resources and special expertise, schedules, budgets, and anticipated deliverables. The plan shall also include activities necessary to address nontechnical issues or potential barriers to implementation and shall show the interrelationships of the projects, the timing and sequencing of each, and the assumptions and dependent conditions for each project. A work-flow diagram shall be used to further describe the sequencing and relationships of the projects. TRB staff will work with the contract agency to identify relationships among the four F-SHRP program areas regarding research projects, schedules, and resources.

The research plan should include and reflect an in-depth review of relevant efforts in the United States and abroad and should incorporate promising technologies, including technological solutions that may be productively transferred from other industries. It may be necessary to modify some of the suggested approaches and technologies indicated in Special Report 260.

The contract agency will be responsible for obtaining input from a wide spectrum of the highway community--including public, private, domestic, and foreign organizations--as well as from nonhighway sources as appropriate. However, the intent of this research is not to duplicate work already done and presented in Special Report 260. The purpose of input from outside the research team should be to focus the research plan in addressing critical research needs as opposed to broadening the plan to provide a blanket approach covering many areas.

The final report will contain the following items:
  • A description of specific desired outcomes and impacts of the planned F-SHRP research.
  • A discussion of the problem area and the required research, building on and not restating the content of TRB Special Report 260.
  • An overview of relevant work being done in the United States and abroad, including relevant expertise outside of traditional highway disciplines and promising technologies from other industries.
  • A research plan for accomplishing the program objective that clearly shows specific research projects and their role in accomplishing the overall program objective.
  • A comprehensive statement of scope and objectives for each project identified.
  • For each project, a description of the proposed research.
  • A project-by-project, and, where appropriate, a task-by-task, estimate of resources required in terms of the following:
    • Researcher-hours by discipline
    • Support-staff hours
    • Special equipment and instrumentation
    • Special facilities or data-management requirements
    • Other special requirements
  • A project-by-project budget and annual cash-flow estimate.
  • A discussion of the needs and opportunities for integration and coordination among the various tasks, projects, and research program areas.
  • A schedule and work-flow diagram for the research plan.
  • Identification of any particular issues, problems, or opportunities related to the research and recommendations for actions to be taken.
  • Identification of decision points in the research plan where evaluations should be made and alternatives and reallocations considered.
  • An initial implementation plan that describes activities to promote application of the products of F-SHRP research, including the following: (a) expected products to be delivered through F-SHRP as a result of the research plan, (b) the audience or market for each product, (c) a realistic assessment of impediments to successful implementation, (d) the institutions and individuals who might take leadership in applying the research product, (e) the activities necessary for successful implementation, and (f) the criteria for judging the progress and consequences of implementation.
  • Estimates of expected measurable benefits of F-SHRP research when implemented.

Status: Completed.

Product Availability: The research plan is available on request from the NCHRP as F-SHRP Web Document 4.

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