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9 1 Introduction The nationâs $4 trillion road and highway transportation network1 touches nearly every aspect of the lives of almost 330 million Americans. Travel on roads and highways by passengers and freight dominate all other modal options by a large share. The road network carries two-thirds of total pas- senger travel, as well as 60 percent of the weight and, almost three-quarters of the value, of total U.S. freight transported.2 The network is also essential for urban and rural public transportation buses and vans. The access that the road network provides helps shape where people choose to live and where businesses choose to locate. Highways help ensure national prosper- ity by handling the movement of most freight and linking airports to popu- lation centers and water ports to international trade. The extensive network of intercity highways referred to as the National Highway System is critical to national economic competitiveness in an era of global competition; links metropolitan areas to one another for business, personal, and recreational travel; provides access to extensive rural, agricultural, and recreational areas; and serves to bind the nation into a continental whole. Moreover, the defense highway network serves as an essential element in national security. 1 U.S. Department of Transportation. 2017. Value of and Investment in Transportation In- frastructure and Other Assets. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Ch. 8. https://www.bts.gov/ browse-statistical-products-and-data/transportation-economic-trends/tet-2017-chapter-8-value-and. 2 See USDOT. 2018. Transportation Statistics Annual Report. Bureau of Transportation Sta- tistics, Table 3-1. https://www.bts.gov/sites/bts.dot.gov/files/docs/browse-statistical-products- and-data/transportation-statistics-annual-reports/TSAR-Full-2018-Web-Final.pdf. USDOT. Freight Facts and Figures 2017. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Tables 2-1 and 2-2. https://www.bts.gov/sites/bts.dot.gov/files/docs/FFF_2017.pdf.
10 VITAL FEDERAL ROLE IN HIGHWAY INNOVATION Even so, the many benefits highways provide come with substantial costs. Congestion in the nationâs largest urban areas cost the average traveler $1,350 in wasted time in 2018.3 The quality ranking of U.S. highway infrastructure is below that of our major trading partners.4 The vast majority of transportation deaths and injuries occur in highway transportation.5 Cars and trucks emit 85 percent of the greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the transportation sector,6 which has grown to become the largest emitter of U.S. GHG emissions.7 Cars and trucks also emit other emissions that are harmful to human health, es- pecially for those living in close proximity to major thoroughfares. Highway construction has divided urban areas by race and income and fragmented natural habitats. The roughly 4 million miles of roads and intercity highways, put in place over the course of more than half a century of investment and construction, costs more than $220 billion annually to sustain.8 Vast stretches of the Interstate System have surpassed their design life and will have to be re- built from the ground up and be made more resilient. Doing so would require at least double the current annual $25 billion in federal and state spending on this system.9 Obtaining the resources required to maintain and improve the extensive network of intercity highways has become politically divisive and contentious. A 60-year near consensus to rely on user taxes risks falling apart and with it a reliable funding source that has allowed the system to grow with demand and keep it in a reasonable state of repair. In the face of enormous importance and benefits as well as almost staggering costs, innovation in the highway sector has never been more important. This report focuses on the Federal Highway Administrationâs (FHWAâs) and Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Officeâs (ITS JPOâs) roles in fostering innovation in the U.S. highway sector as a central element 3 INRIX Traffic Scorecard 2018. http://inrix.com/scorecard. 4 Schwab, K. (ed.). 2018. The Global Competitiveness Report 2018. World Economic Forum, p. 589. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GCR2018/05FullReport/TheGlobal CompetitivenessReport2018.pdf. 5 Highway motor vehicle fatalities have exceeded 35,000 annually since 2015. See Bureau of Transportation Statistics: Transportation Fatalities by Mode. https://www.bts.gov/content/ transportationfatalities-mode. 6 U.S. Department of Transportation. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Transportation Mode: 2014. Pocket Guide to Transportation. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Table 7-5. https:// www.bts.gov/archive/publications/pocket_guide_to_transportation/2017/7_Environment/table 7_5. 7 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Total U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector 2016. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions. 8 Federal Highway Administration. Total Disbursements for Highways, All Units of Gov- ernment. Highway Statistics 2015. Table HF-2. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/ statistics/2015. 9 Committee for a Study of the Future Interstate Highway System. 2019. Renewing the Na- tional Commitment to the Interstate Highway System: A Foundation for the Future. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
INTRODUCTION 11 of the federal governmentâs broader investment in highway research, de- velopment, and technology (RD&T) programs. In assessing FHWAâs and ITS JPOâs role in fostering innovation, this report focuses on criteria that Congress expects such RD&T to meet (see Box 1-1). The committee focuses on those criteria it judges to be most relevant to current times and future challenges; that is, whether FHWAâs and ITS JPOâs programs â¢ cover the full innovation cycle (as described in the next chapter), including fundamental, long-term research, and process and out- come evaluation;10 â¢ address gaps not being addressed by other programs; and â¢ conduct nationally significant research on topics not otherwise being addressed. 10 Note that in 23 USC 502(a) Congress emphasizes performance measures and evaluation at the project level. For RD&T, the committee believes that it is more important to consider performance measures and evaluation at the program level. Of course, research managers need to monitor project performance, but it is more productive to consider and analyze RD&T programs as one would a diversified investment portfolio rather than focus on whether each individual project succeeds. Many, if not most, investments in a portfolio will make incremen- tal net gains at best, or fail at worst, but a small number may have significant impacts, and the successes from these few projects can justify the entire program. BOX 1-1 Congressional Principles for RD&T* 1. The federal portfolio should cover the full innovation cycle through technol- ogy transfer; 2. Justification for federal investment requires that - activities are of national significance, - there is public benefit and suboptimal private investment, - efficient use of federal funds by states and local governments is encouraged, - federal RD&T meets or addresses current or emerging needs and ad- dresses gaps in research; 3. The content of the federal RD&T program includes fundamental, long-term research; 4. Stakeholder input is addressed; 5. Awards are almost always made on the basis of competition and merit re- view; and 6. FHWA RD&T includes performance review and evaluation. * This list selects from and summarizes principles included in 23 USC 502(a).
12 VITAL FEDERAL ROLE IN HIGHWAY INNOVATION Two other congressional criteria are central to success of the highway innovation process: (a) that RD&T programs address stakeholder input and (b) the award of almost all funding is made based on competition and merit review. Based on the committeeâs awareness that these criteria are being suc- cessfully met in federally funded highway-related RD&T, and its interest in digging deeper into other criteria, these latter two criteria are not further ad- dressed in this report. FEDERAL HIGHWAYâRELATED RD&T PROGRAMS AND FUNDING As authorized by Congress, highway RD&T spans the spectrum of innovation from fundamental, long-term research to the technology transfer programs used to encourage the deployment of innovation. The goal of public funding for highway RD&T is to deliver safer, more reliable, and more cost-effective highway transportation to the public while mitigating its adverse side effects. As described in the next chapter, fostering innovation in public highway transportation faces many challenges. The difficulty of addressing these chal- lenges in the risk-averse public sector helps explain the nature and character of federal highway RD&T programs and FHWAâs central role in these programs. The annual authorized federal investment in highway and highway- related RD&T totals about $592 million annually (see Figure 1-1). The Highway Research and Development, Technology and Innovation Deploy- ment Program, and Training and Education programs are managed directly by FHWA. The multimodal ITS Program is managed by a cross-departmental JPO with FHWAâs participation, and is heavily highway oriented. These four programs, reviewed in Chapter 3, together account for about 54 percent of total federal funding for highway RD&T. The University Transportation Centers (UTC) program (accounting for about 13 percent of federal fund- ing), which is managed by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, and the State Planning and Research (SP&R) program (which accounts for about one-third of federal funding) account for the larg- est remaining shares of federal highway RD&T funding. SP&R funding is derived by a set-aside of a small portion of federal aid to the states for high- way construction, reconstruction, and maintenance. States pool a portion of their SP&R funds for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). (Review of UTC, SP&R, and NCHRP programs is provided in Chapter 4.) Whereas this report focuses on FHWA-managed programs, it includes all of these programs in this report because of their highway focus and interrelationships with federally managed highway RD&T. The scale of annual authorized highway-related RD&T is but 0.3 percent of the more than $220 billion in annual federal, state, and local expenditures
INTRODUCTION 13 on road and highway construction, maintenance, and operations.11 Gov- ernmental expenditures on roads and highways, while substantial in and of themselves, do not capture the untold benefits of highway transportation to the lives of individuals and the economy; the $60 billion in annual medical costs and productivity losses associated with highway crashes;12 and the unes- timated environmental and public health costs of highway vehicle emissions.13 The challenges demanding innovation in the highway sector have grown and changed over time. When the federal highway program began in earnest in the decades of the postâWorld War II era, the state agencies responsible for roads faced broad challenges in how to best acquire land, design, contract for, fund, and construct highways. With a vast network now crisscrossing the entire nation, issues have evolved to include â¢ maintaining the physical condition of the $4 trillion U.S. high- way network cost-effectively, including the significant challenge of maintaining and upgrading facilities while they are in service; 11 Federal Highway Administration. Total Disbursements for Highways, All Units of Gov- ernment. Highway Statistics 2015. Table HF-2. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/ statistics/2015. 12 CDC. 2018. WISQARS (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System). Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/ injury/wisqars. 13 RD&T on vehicle emissions is the responsibility of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rather than FHWA, but FHWA does conduct RD&T on strategies and policies to avoid and mitigate emissions. FIGURE 1-1 Federal highway and highway-related RD&T programs and funding. SOURCE: FHWA.
14 VITAL FEDERAL ROLE IN HIGHWAY INNOVATION â¢ operating highways safely and efficiently, especially through rapidly advancing technology; â¢ planning for and overcoming the difficulties of adding new capacity (land constraints, cost, opposition of neighboring residents, fund- ing, environmental concerns) where needed; â¢ minimizing the environmental impact of highway construction, maintenance, and operations; â¢ mitigating harmful health effects of highway emissions on natural systems and fragmentation of natural habitats; â¢ making infrastructure more resilient; â¢ coordinating highway investment and operations with other modes of transportation; and â¢ addressing the chronic problem of generating the large streams of revenues needed to maintain and expand highways and address all of the issues associated with them. The wide diversity of federally managed highway RD&T programs derives from its efforts to assist highway owners with all of these issues, and more, as described in the following chapters. REPORT ORGANIZATION This report is organized as follows: â¢ Chapter 2 describes the different stages of the innovation life cycle and explains the importance of publicly funded RD&T in highway transportation; â¢ Chapter 3 describes FHWA and ITS JPO RD&T programs and assesses their consistency with the congressional criteria that their RD&T cover the full innovation cycle and include (a) fundamental, long-term research and (b) evaluation; â¢ Chapter 4 describes the other major highway-related RD&T pro- grams authorized by Congress and their interrelationship with federally managed programs in order to assess whether federally managed RD&T is addressing gaps not covered by other programs; and â¢ Chapter 5 assesses whether FHWAâs and ITS JPOâs R&D ad- dress the congressional criterion that the research be nationally significant.
INTRODUCTION 15 CONCLUSIONS 1.1 Highway transportation affects almost all aspects of the lives of individuals and society, for good and for ill, and requires ongoing innovation in the public sector to maximize benefits and minimize costs. 1.2 Needed highway innovations cover a wide array of topics including construction, materials, design, safety and public health, opera- tions, resiliency, environmental protection, planning, policy, and funding/finance, among others. 1.3 The success of the highway innovation process relies on federally funded programs that meet congressional criteria for coverage of the full innovation cycle; addressing research gaps not covered in other programs; conduct of research that is of national significance; responsiveness of federal programs to stakeholder input; and the award of almost all RD&T funding based on competition and merit review. 1.4 Current annual federal funding for highway RD&T to foster trans- portation innovation is but 0.3 percent of annual expenditures by all governments on highway construction, operation, and upkeep, and is even more modest compared with the importance of high- ways to individuals, society, and the economy.