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Surface Transportation Environmental Research: A Long-Term Strategy - Special Report 268 APPENDIX A RESEARCH PRIORITIES WORKSHOP: SUMMARY REPORT On September 26–27, 2000, in Washington, D.C., the Surface Transportation Environmental Cooperative Research Program Advisory Board (Advisory Board) convened a broad spectrum of transportation and environmental professionals for a focused 2-day workshop designed to identify future research priorities for the surface transportation community. Prior to the “Research Priorities Workshop,” the Advisory Board members identified six critical research areas and outlined three pertinent questions for each area. Panelists and audience members were invited to respond to these questions. The critical research areas were selected on the basis of the Advisory Board’s mission to produce a national research agenda of energy, environment, and planning research for the surface transportation community. CRITICAL RESEARCH AREAS The six critical research areas selected for discussion during the Research Priorities Workshop were as follows: Human health, as defined by transportation’s impact on the environment and the potential adverse effects on human health related to, for example, air quality, water quality, and safety; Ecosystem health, specifically, transportation’s impact on the environment and the resulting health of the ecosystem;
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Surface Transportation Environmental Research: A Long-Term Strategy - Special Report 268 Climate change, namely the effects of patterns of demand on fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and the role for alternative fuels, new vehicles, and other strategies; Land use and the built environment, focusing on the relationship between patterns of growth and land consumption and surface transportation; Design and management of research programs, soliciting recommendations for how to effectively structure a research program that will address the intersection between the environment and transportation; and Institutions, governance, and capacity-building. The Advisory Board queried participants during this segment of the workshop to consider how research can be structured to best aid agencies and institutions that develop and deliver surface transportation. Each panelist and invited workshop participant was requested to respond to the following three questions, tailored to the individual critical research areas: What should be the priority for future research in the area of human health? What organizational arrangements may be needed to meet these new priorities? What areas in human health research are currently underresearched or inadequately addressed via traditional research programs? Mission of the Surface Transportation Environmental Cooperative Research Program Advisory Board (c) ADVISORY BOARD.— ESTABLISHMENT.—In consultation with the Secretary of Energy, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the heads of other appropriate Federal departments and agencies, the Secretary shall establish an advisory board to recommend environmental and energy conservation research, technology, and technology transfer activities related to surface transportation. [Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), Sec. 5107] On the basis of the legislative mandate contained in TEA-21, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) contracted with the Transportation Research Board (TRB) to create the Advisory Board. The National Research Council
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Surface Transportation Environmental Research: A Long-Term Strategy - Special Report 268 appointed a group of preeminent experts to the Advisory Board and placed them under the leadership of Elizabeth Deakin in 1999. Members of the Advisory Board represent a broad spectrum of the transportation and environmental communities, including academia, state departments of transportation, state environmental protection agencies, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), transit organizations, environmental groups, and industry. The Advisory Board is formally charged with recommending a national agenda of energy, environment, and planning research for the surface transportation community. It should be noted that the Advisory Board members determined that in order to recommend a viable agenda for environment and energy conservation research related to surface transportation, the concept of “planning” would have to be integrated into the agenda. It remains the contention of the Advisory Board members that unless environmental and energy conservation concerns are factored into the transportation planning process, the secondary and cumulative effects of system-level transportation decisions on larger-scale environmental systems will continue to remain insufficiently addressed in the early stages of the transportation planning process. The Advisory Board’s emphasis in the planning area specifically focuses on the overlap between planning processes and environmental issues and focuses on theme areas such as land use and transportation, distributional impacts, and the creation of an integrated, user-oriented, systems approach to transportation and the environment. The Advisory Board members also believe that the identification of research priorities will only be a productive exercise if existing research programs are structured to implement the new priorities. Therefore, the Advisory Board members identified institutions and institutional structures along with the design and management of research programs as two of the six critical research areas. In its final report the Advisory Board intends to outline a national research agenda, which will be accompanied by recommendations for structuring and managing research programs and institutions. Research and Technology Partnership Forum The Research and Technology Partnership Forum was created by FHWA, TRB, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials to promote an awareness of research and technology activities in the surface transportation arena and to create more efficient and effective partnerships. TRB is serving as the “secretariat” for the Forum. The Forum is composed of
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Surface Transportation Environmental Research: A Long-Term Strategy - Special Report 268 five working groups: safety, infrastructure renewal, policy analysis and system monitoring, operations and mobility, and environment and planning. As the Advisory Board’s scope of work overlaps with the mission of the environment and planning workgroup, namely to create a national agenda for environment and planning research, it was agreed by all pertinent parties that the Advisory Board would assume the responsibilities for that workgroup. Therefore, the Research Priorities Workshop was created for two purposes. First, the workshop served as an efficient means for the Advisory Board to gather broad input from transportation and environmental professionals regarding the appropriate research priorities for surface transportation. The input received will serve as a foundation to the Advisory Board’s report scheduled for completion in October 2001, outlining a national agenda for anticipated use by Congress, federal agencies, and other pertinent stakeholders in establishing environmental, energy, and planning research priorities. Second, the workshop served as a forum for promoting the goals of the Research and Technology Partnership Forum. During the workshop the Advisory Board solicited and received input from individuals representing the following organizations and constituencies: FHWA, EPA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Environmental Respiratory Center, the Health Effects Institute, the American Lands Alliance, the Institute for Ecosystem Studies, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sky Trust International, People in Defense of Earth Resources, Natural Resources Defense Council, Arcadia Land Company, Honda Motor Company, Defenders of Wildlife, and various academics and university research centers. A list of participants is provided in Appendix B. Structure of Workshop Summary The Advisory Board determined that a summary highlighting the key points associated with each critical research area would be a more productive and beneficial tool for both the Advisory Board and for other interested parties. Therefore, transcripts or summaries of each presenter’s dialogue will not be given in the summary. HUMAN HEALTH PANEL Presenters: Dr. Joe Mauderly, National Environmental Respiratory Center; Dr. Patricia Waller, formerly Director of the University of Michigan Trans-
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Surface Transportation Environmental Research: A Long-Term Strategy - Special Report 268 portation Research Institute; Dr. Jane Warren, Director of Science, Health Effects Institute. Summary: “The continued evolution of the national transportation infrastructure and the strategic planning, technological developments, and regulatory decisions shaping this evolution will be driven in significant part by health concerns” according to Dr. Joe Mauderly. Therefore, the ability to properly assess transportation’s impact on human health and to accurately evaluate alternative transportation proposals in their proper context becomes critical. The issue of whether current research methodologies and programs are currently being designed and managed to accomplish this goal was a focal point for discussion. A key theme emerging from this dialogue centered on the need to integrate research into a systems management approach. Both Dr. Mauderly and Dr. Warren provided examples in their presentations illustrating the need to shift the current research paradigm of examining and evaluating the effects of individual air pollutants on human health to a paradigm in which all sources contributing to a particular health burden are considered. Presenters and participants acknowledged that, to date, research on pollutant mixtures has been largely underfunded and avoided because of the inherent complexity of the task. The issue of risk and the need to reconcile the total risk with the total health burden was also identified as requiring further consideration under a national research agenda. The second key theme that emerged from the workshop discussion was the overall concept of community and connectivity. Dr. Waller eloquently made the case for broadening the Advisory Board’s working definition of human health (i.e., air quality, water quality, and safety) to encompass both community health and social well-being along with individual quality-of-life indicators. The issue of tracking human incapacity rates resulting from transportation-related causes was an area cited as an example of a quality-of-life issue requiring additional research along with access issues for the elderly, the poor, and the traditionally disenfranchised communities. Considering transportation as an integral component of a larger system appeared to resonate with the majority of participants and presenters. When asked how to shift the current research culture to one of an integrated, collaborative system, presenters and participants suggested that a concerted effort should be made to expand the network of traditional transportation partners. The transportation community needs to consider the impacts of transportation on the global community and to develop institutions and structures that are capable of factoring and filtering the needs of different cultures, regulatory structures, and decision-making processes.
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Surface Transportation Environmental Research: A Long-Term Strategy - Special Report 268 ECOSYSTEM HEALTH PANEL Presenters: Dr. John Bissonette, Utah State University; Dr. Gene Likens, Institute of Ecosystem Studies; Dr. Faith Campbell, American Lands Alliance; Daniel Smith, University of Florida. Summary: According to Dr. Gene Likens, “The health of an ecosystem is based on its structure and function, and how these change with time and in response to natural and anthropogenic impacts.” The presenters during this session began their presentations by briefly outlining the most pervasive ecological impacts, both direct and indirect, of transportation systems.1 First, the construction of roadways may disrupt natural hydrologic flowpaths and increase erosion, air pollution, and surface water runoff. Second, roadways may also facilitate the rapid spread of invasive species and contribute to increased wildlife mortality rates through wildlife–automobile collisions. Third, roadways can serve as effective barriers to wildlife movement, altering natural migratory patterns; this in turn may result in habitat fragmentation, whereby certain species become at risk for genetic isolation. The list of ecological impacts is wide-ranging. While the presenters were not charged with enumerating or elaborating on specific ecological impacts associated with transportation, they effectively conveyed an overarching theme of the need to incorporate ecological considerations into the transportation planning and maintenance processes. Many of the presenters and participants concurred, and echoed the need to focus future research efforts on the various intersection points between transportation systems and habitat networks. Presenters and participants also acknowledged that a considerable number of studies have already been conducted and documented regarding the ecological effects of transportation. To date, however, substantial progress has not been made in monitoring long-term ecosystem responses to anthropogenic stressors, nor has there been a concerted effort to comprehensively assess certain ecological impacts on a countrywide, continentwide, or even statewide basis. For example, while large animal mortality rates frequently receive considerable attention, no comprehensive databases have been established to track these rates on a countrywide basis. Even more important, many of the presenters and participants articulated the need to develop databases that would provide for experimental manipulations on a systems level, such as measuring the 1 The discussion primarily centered on the impacts associated with roads and roadside ecological issues.
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Surface Transportation Environmental Research: A Long-Term Strategy - Special Report 268 impacts of various deicing agents on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, or quantifying the effects of highway infrastructure on ecosystem integrity. The concept of collecting data and conducting systemwide analysis emerged as the second primary theme of the session. CLIMATE CHANGE/SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION PANEL Presenters: Dr. John DeCicco, The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy; Dr. David Greene, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Rafe Pomerance, Sky Trust International. Summary: Water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), ozone, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons constitute the primary “greenhouse gases,” all of which are naturally occurring and are essential to regulating the atmospheric temperature. Since 1990, total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have risen by 11.1 percent.2 The primary greenhouse gas emitted as a result of human activities is CO2; fossil fuel combustion constitutes the largest source of CO2 and is the leading source of overall greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. While scientists and other professionals agree that concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased, significant disagreement persists concerning the resulting impact on the atmosphere. Several panelists and workshop participants, therefore, concluded that a fundamental step toward rectifying the global climate change problem is to clearly delineate the issue, the potential impacts, and the necessary solutions before, for example, seeking customer acceptance of new vehicular technologies. Discussion also centered on the need to research various aspects of social marketing and market penetration in order to close the gap between the supply and the demand for “greener” products. In addition, transportation professionals must be informed of the potential impacts of global climate change on the nation’s transportation infrastructure so they can anticipate needed changes. The majority of presenters and panelists agreed on the need for conducting further research to comprehensively evaluate the existing array of strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, emphasizing economic and social costs, secondary benefits, and societal acceptance. It was noted that strategies should be researched and evaluated in light of their ability to hold society “harmless.” The issue of using alternative fuels as a strategy for reducing greenhouse gas 2 Year of measurement 1997; baseline of 1990.
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Surface Transportation Environmental Research: A Long-Term Strategy - Special Report 268 emissions received considerable attention. Some participants asserted that research on alternative fuels should be curtailed until a corresponding infrastructure is established; in particular, mass-market sales of such fuels may not occur as long as alternative-fuel vehicles are restricted to niche markets. In conclusion, the overarching theme expressed during this session was the need to incorporate social marketing research into existing and future programs designed to explore reduction strategies for greenhouse gas emissions. The technical strategies necessary for accomplishing emissions reductions are fairly well understood and incorporated into traditional research programs; the next step will be to connect these technologies to broader societal goals. Several participants recommended the formation of new institutions that would link global and local initiatives; incorporate the activities of government, industry, and nongovernmental organizations; and have the forethought and capability to create “value” for sustainable technologies and systems. LAND USE/BUILT ENVIRONMENT PANEL Presenters: Susan Wachter, Department of Housing and Urban Development; Susana Almanza, People in Defense of Earth Resources; Dr. David Goldstein, Natural Resources Defense Council; Dr. Susan Handy, University of Texas at Austin; Christopher Leinberger, Arcadia Land Company. Summary: Dr. Handy began the discussion by grouping transportation and land use research into two primary categories: (a) the influence of transportation investments on land use and (b) the influence of land use patterns on travel behavior. While both categories have been extensively researched, additional questions remain concerning causal relationships and the role public policies can and will play vis-à-vis other factors. The linkage between transportation and land use, according to Dr. Handy, needs to be assessed at both the macro and micro levels and in both the short and the long term. Christopher Leinberger concurred with Dr. Handy, observing that to date research conducted on land use has not been very effective since it has not addressed long-term land use problems or focused on changing public attitudes. Land use research needs to take a 20-year perspective. Dr. Wachter noted that between 2000 and 2025, jobs and capacity in the United States will grow by 25 percent, and 50 percent of the current built environment will be replaced. Where this development occurs will affect many environmental and societal issues. Susana Almanza also commented that long-term research is needed to realistically
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Surface Transportation Environmental Research: A Long-Term Strategy - Special Report 268 determine future land uses that will be compatible with the unique cultural and behavioral characteristics of all affected communities. For example, research should be conducted to assess which communities will benefit from land use decisions and which communities will be left behind or negatively affected. According to Dr. Goldstein, future long-term transportation research should also explore the impacts of location efficiency and the development of least cost planning templates for transportation investments. For example, long-term research in these areas could explore the potential directions of causality, such as the extent to which the ability to access transit leads to higher density, and what is the actual price elasticity for gasoline, holding other variables constant. The key theme that emerged from the panelists’ presentations was the need to connect research to both current and future policy decisions. Workshop participants and panelists expressed a need to close the gap between research and current practice. To close this gap and to work within funding constraints, Dr. Handy suggested that the following questions be considered when prioritizing research needs: What research has been done and to what end? Some of the questions have been largely answered; for others, much research has been conducted, but few answers have been generated; and for the remainder, very little is known. What is the relative importance of the remaining questions, and what makes a question important? One criterion is the frequency with which the question is asked. Another is the implications of the answer—what difference it will make in decisions about transportation and land use policy. DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT OF RESEARCH PROGRAMS Presenters: Dr. Ray Chamberlain, former Vice President of the American Trucking Associations, former Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation; Dr. Randy Erickson, formerly Technical Director, 3M Traffic Control Materials Division; Dr. William C. Harris, President and Executive Director, Columbia University’s Biosphere 2 Center. Summary: All three presenters were asked to provide their recommendations for successfully designing and managing research programs. Several key factors for success emerged from the discussion. First, the institutions that house the research programs must provide the requisite administrative support, that is, the space, equipment, and staff time needed to implement the research program
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Surface Transportation Environmental Research: A Long-Term Strategy - Special Report 268 effectively for an extended time. Second, a support system must be created within the institution to provide for the encouragement and motivation of staff, appropriate peer reviews, and a positive work environment for scientists. Third, vision statements and clear expectations for the research programs must be developed and communicated to both internal and external customers. Finally, all three presenters strongly advocated that discretionary funding be provided to research scientists, arguing that the scientists must have the flexibility to conduct research that is not necessarily linked to customer-driven needs. The primary barrier to effectively designing and managing research programs identified by the presenters centered on funding. The presenters noted that to accomplish timely research, secure funding sources must be identified. It was also noted that frequently many research projects require multiple sources of funding and that oftentimes these sources may not be working on the same time schedules, leaving the coordination of funding to the research institution—which may not be equipped to serve as the “banker.” Several presenters also noted that research institutions must secure sufficient funding to attract top researchers and to complete complex research projects. When asked to provide recommendations for establishing or redesigning existing research programs to more fully address the intersection between transportation and the environment, several of the presenters commented that it would be a mistake to refocus existing programs. Rather, they suggested that the Advisory Board recommend the formation of a new program utilizing new funding sources. The concept of research centers, modeled after the National Science Foundation centers, was recommended. Many presenters and workshop participants noted that researchers and transportation policymakers must do a better job communicating to citizens the need for transportation research. People must be motivated to solve problems and work with a team approach. New research programs must be cognizant of this need when soliciting funding. Finally, any new research program that is developed must have champions associated with its establishment. INSTITUTIONS,GOVERNANCE, AND CAPACITY-BUILDING PANEL Presenters: Alex Taft, Executive Director, Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations; Carole Whiteside, President, Great Valley Center. Summary: Alex Taft began his presentation by outlining the need to establish a National Cooperative Metropolitan Planning Organization Research
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Surface Transportation Environmental Research: A Long-Term Strategy - Special Report 268 Program (NCMPORP). The primary need for such an organization, according to Mr. Taft, stems from the fact that after Congress increased the role of MPOs in TEA-21, MPOs were viewed by many constituencies as the venue for multimodal planning and transportation/land use planning. Mr. Taft also noted that MPOs are increasingly becoming the avenue for local citizen groups and environmental interests to address their transportation-related equity issues and environmental concerns. While no clear consensus was reached concerning the formation of NCMPORP, both panelists and several workshop participants concurred with the need to develop an approach or system whereby solutions to transportation planning issues are truly multimodal in scope. In other words, the current practice of “stovepiping” research or decision-making processes by modes or planning functions needs to be rectified. Carole Whiteside provided a synopsis of the problems facing the Great Valley Region of California and in so doing identified several critical questions facing the structure and functioning of institutions. What methods can be used to increase the collaboration of a multitude of jurisdictions and independent local governments, particularly as commute corridors and transit routes are extended beyond traditional boundaries and in many directions at once? What are the potentially useful models of government? What will the process be for governing interjurisdictional and interregional projects? While none of the workshop participants had an obvious answer to these questions, most concurred with the concept that the “bigger picture” in transportation needs to be articulated by policymakers and understood by the general public. For example, all too often, policymakers and planners are focused on and concerned with only one piece of a much larger regional project. Therefore, the range of impacts and alternatives associated with a particular project are oftentimes not identified or assessed from a systems-level perspective prior to the decision-making process. Many participants also commented that existing models are not scaled or scoped to identify the full range of alternatives hindering the “bigger picture” approach. The concluding sentiment and overarching theme of this session appeared to center on the concept of connectivity. While new institutions and new analytical tools may be warranted, it was the view of many that the current problems associated with the environment–transportation interface will not be solved until the public feels a connection to the issue and demands a solution. In other words, regional cooperation may not emerge until the public forces the political will.
Representative terms from entire chapter: