23 USC 502 - Surface transportation research

(a) Basic Principles Governing Research and Technology Investments.— 

(1) Coverage.— 
Surface transportation research and technology development shall include all activities leading to technology development and transfer, as well as the introduction of new and innovative ideas, practices, and approaches, through such mechanisms as field applications, education and training, and technical support.
(2) Federal responsibility.— 
Funding and conducting surface transportation research and technology transfer activities shall be considered a basic responsibility of the Federal Government when the work
(A) is of national significance;

Advertisement
view counter
(B) supports research in which there is a clear public benefit and private sector investment is less than optimal;
(C) supports a Federal stewardship role in assuring that State and local governments use national resources efficiently; or
(D) presents the best means to support Federal policy goals compared to other policy alternatives.
(3) Role.— 
Consistent with these Federal responsibilities, the Secretary shall
(A) conduct research;
(B) support and facilitate research and technology transfer activities by State highway agencies;
(C) share results of completed research; and
(D) support and facilitate technology and innovation deployment.
(4) Program content.— 
A surface transportation research program shall include
(A) fundamental, long-term highway research;

Advertisement
view counter
(B) research aimed at significant highway research gaps and emerging issues with national implications; and
(C) research related to policy and planning.
(5) Stakeholder input.— 
Federal surface transportation research and development activities shall address the needs of stakeholders. Stakeholders include States, metropolitan planning organizations, local governments, the private sector, researchers, research sponsors, and other affected parties, including public interest groups.
(6) Competition and peer review.— 
Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the Secretary shall award, to the maximum extent practicable, all grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements for research and development under this chapter based on open competition and peer review of proposals.
(7) Performance review and evaluation.— 
To the maximum extent practicable, all surface transportation research and development projects shall include a component of performance measurement and evaluation. Performance measures shall be established during the proposal stage of a research and development project and shall, to the maximum extent possible, be outcome-based. All evaluations shall be made readily available to the public.
(8) Technological innovation.— 
The programs and activities carried out under this section shall be consistent with the surface transportation research and technology development strategic plan developed under section 508.
(b) General Authority.— 

(1) Research, development, and technology transfer activities.— 
The Secretary may carry out research, development, and technology transfer activities with respect to
(A) motor carrier transportation;
(B) all phases of transportation planning and development (including construction, operation, transportation system management and operations, modernization, development, design, maintenance, safety, financing, and traffic conditions); and
(C) the effect of State laws on the activities described in subparagraphs (A) and (B).
(2) Tests and development.— 
The Secretary may test, develop, or assist in testing and developing any material, invention, patented article, or process.
(3) Cooperation, grants, and contracts.— 
The Secretary may carry out research, development, and technology transfer activities related to transportation
(A) independently;
(B) in cooperation with other Federal departments, agencies, and instrumentalities and Federal laboratories; or
(C) by making grants to, or entering into contracts and cooperative agreements with one or more of the following: the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, any Federal laboratory, Federal agency, State agency, authority, association, institution, for-profit or nonprofit corporation, organization, foreign country, or any other person.
(4) Technological innovation.— 
The programs and activities carried out under this section shall be consistent with the surface transportation research and technology development strategic plan developed under section 508.
(5) Funds.— 

(A) Special account.— 
In addition to other funds made available to carry out this section, the Secretary shall use such funds as may be deposited by any cooperating organization or person in a special account of the Treasury established for this purpose.
(B) Use of funds.— 
The Secretary shall use funds made available to carry out this section to develop, administer, communicate, and promote the use of products of research, development, and technology transfer programs under this section.
(6) Pooled funding.— 

(A) Cooperation.— 
To promote effective utilization of available resources, the Secretary may cooperate with a State and an appropriate agency in funding research, development, and technology transfer activities of mutual interest on a pooled funds basis.
(B) Secretary as agent.— 
The Secretary may enter into contracts, cooperative agreements, and grants as the agent for all participating parties in carrying out such research, development, or technology transfer activities.
(c) Collaborative Research and Development.— 

(1) In general.— 
To encourage innovative solutions to surface transportation problems and stimulate the deployment of new technology, the Secretary may carry out, on a cost-shared basis, collaborative research and development with
(A) non-Federal entities, including State and local governments, foreign governments, colleges and universities, corporations, institutions, partnerships, sole proprietorships, and trade associations that are incorporated or established under the laws of any State; and
(B) Federal laboratories.
(2) Cooperation, grants, contracts, and agreements.— 
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary may directly initiate contracts, cooperative research and development agreements (as defined in section 12 of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (15 U.S.C. 3710a)) to fund, and accept funds from, the Transportation Research Board of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, State departments of transportation, cities, counties, and their agents to conduct joint transportation research and technology efforts.
(3) Federal share.— 

(A) In general.— 
The Federal share of the cost of activities carried out under a cooperative research and development agreement entered into under this subsection shall not exceed 50 percent, except that if there is substantial public interest or benefit, the Secretary may approve a greater Federal share.
(B) Non-federal share.— 
All costs directly incurred by the non-Federal partners, including personnel, travel, and hardware development costs, shall be credited toward the non-Federal share of the cost of the activities described in subparagraph (A).
(4) Use of technology.— 
The research, development, or use of a technology under a cooperative research and development agreement entered into under this subsection, including the terms under which the technology may be licensed and the resulting royalties may be distributed, shall be subject to the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (15 U.S.C. 3701 et seq.).
(5) Waiver of advertising requirements.— 
Section 3709 of the Revised Statutes (41 U.S.C. 5) shall not apply to a contract or agreement entered into under this chapter.
(d) Contents of Research Program.— 
The Secretary shall include in surface transportation research, technology development, and technology transfer programs carried out under this title coordinated activities in the following areas:
(1) Development, use, and dissemination of indicators, including appropriate computer programs for collecting and analyzing data on the status of infrastructure facilities, to measure the performance of the surface transportation systems of the United States, including productivity, efficiency, energy use, air quality, congestion, safety, maintenance, and other factors that reflect system performance.
(2) Methods, materials, and testing to improve the durability of surface transportation infrastructure facilities and extend the life of bridge structures, including
(A) new and innovative technologies to reduce corrosion;
(B) tests simulating seismic activity, vibration, and weather; and
(C) the use of innovative recycled materials.
(3) Technologies and practices that reduce costs and minimize disruptions associated with the construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance of surface transportation systems, including responses to natural disasters.
(4) Development of nondestructive evaluation equipment for use with existing infrastructure facilities and with next-generation infrastructure facilities that use advanced materials.
(5) Dynamic simulation models of surface transportation systems for
(A) predicting capacity, safety, and infrastructure durability problems;
(B) evaluating planned research projects; and
(C) testing the strengths and weaknesses of proposed revisions to surface transportation system management and operations programs.
(6) Economic highway geometrics, structures, and desirable weight and size standards for vehicles using the public highways and the feasibility of uniformity in State regulations with respect to such standards.
(7) Telecommuting and the linkages between transportation, information technology, and community development and the impact of technological change and economic restructuring on travel demand.
(8) Expansion of knowledge of implementing life cycle cost analysis, including
(A) establishing the appropriate analysis period and discount rates;
(B) learning how to value and properly consider use costs;
(C) determining tradeoffs between reconstruction and rehabilitation; and
(D) establishing methodologies for balancing higher initial costs of new technologies and improved or advanced materials against lower maintenance costs.
(9) Standardized estimates, to be developed in conjunction with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and other appropriate organizations, of useful life under various conditions for advanced materials of use in surface transportation.
(10) Evaluation of traffic calming measures that promote community preservation, transportation mode choice, and safety.
(11) Development and implementation of safety-enhancing equipment, including unobtrusive eyetracking technology.
(12) Investigation and development of various operational methodologies to reduce the occurrence and impact of recurrent congestion and nonrecurrent congestion and increase transportation system reliability.
(13) Investigation of processes, procedures, and technologies to secure container and hazardous material transport, including the evaluation of regulations and the impact of good security practices on commerce and productivity.
(14) Research, development, and technology transfer related to asset management.
(e) Exploratory Advanced Research.— 

(1) In general.— 
The Secretary shall establish an exploratory advanced research program, consistent with the surface transportation research and technology development strategic plan developed under section 508 that addresses longer-term, higher-risk research with potentially dramatic breakthroughs for improving the durability, efficiency, environmental impact, productivity, and safety (including bicycle and pedestrian safety) aspects of highway and intermodal transportation systems. In carrying out the program, the Secretary shall strive to develop partnerships with public and private sector entities.
(2) Research areas.— 
In carrying out the program, the Secretary may make grants and enter into cooperative agreements and contracts in such areas of surface transportation research and technology as the Secretary determines appropriate, including the following:
(A) Characterization of materials used in highway infrastructure, including analytical techniques, microstructure modeling, and the deterioration processes.
(B) Assessment of the effects of transportation decisions on human health.
(C) Development of surrogate measures of safety.
(D) Environmental research.
(E) Data acquisition techniques for system condition and performance monitoring.
(F) System performance data and information processing needed to assess the day-to-day operational performance of the system in support of hour-to-hour operational decisionmaking.
(f) Long-Term Pavement Performance Program.— 

(1) Authority.— 
The Secretary shall continue to carry out, through September 30, 2009, tests, monitoring, and data analysis under the long-term pavement performance program.
(2) Grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts.— 
Under the program, the Secretary shall make grants and enter into cooperative agreements and contracts to
(A) monitor, material-test, and evaluate highway test sections in existence as of the date of the grant, agreement, or contract;
(B) analyze the data obtained under subparagraph (A); and
(C) prepare products to fulfill program objectives and meet future pavement technology needs.
(g) Seismic Research.— 
The Secretary shall
(1) in consultation and cooperation with Federal agencies participating in the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program established by section 5 of the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977 (42 U.S.C. 7704), coordinate the conduct of seismic research;
(2) take such actions as are necessary to ensure that the coordination of the research is consistent with
(A) planning and coordination activities of the National Institute of Standards and Technology under section 5(b)(1) of that Act (42 U.S.C. 7704 (b)(1)); and
(B) the plan developed by the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology under section 8(b) of that Act (42 U.S.C. 7705b (b)); and
(3) in cooperation with the Center for Civil Engineering Research at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research at the University of Buffalo, carry out a seismic research program
(A) to study the vulnerability of the Federal-aid system and other surface transportation systems to seismic activity;
(B) to develop and implement cost-effective methods to reduce the vulnerability; and
(C) to conduct seismic research and upgrade earthquake simulation facilities as necessary to carry out the program.
(h) [1] Infrastructure Investment Needs Report.
(1) In general.— 
Not later than January 31, 1999, and January 31 of every second year thereafter, the Secretary shall report to the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives on
(A) estimates of the future highway and bridge needs of the United States; and
(B) the backlog of current highway and bridge needs.
(2) Comparison with prior reports.— 
Each report under paragraph (1) shall provide the means, including all necessary information, to relate and compare the conditions and service measures used in the 3 biannual reports published prior to the date of enactment of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.
(h) [1] Infrastructure Investment Needs Report.
(1) In general.— 
Not later than July 31, 2006, and July 31 of every second year thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives a report that describes
(A) estimates of the future highway, transit, and bridge needs of the United States; and
(B) the backlog of current highway, transit, and bridge needs.
(2) Comparison with prior reports.— 
Each report under paragraph (1) shall provide the means, including all necessary information, to relate and compare the conditions and service measures used in the previous biennial reports.
(i) Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center.— 

(1) In general.— 
The Secretary shall operate in the Federal Highway Administration a Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center.
(2) Uses of the center.— 
The Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center shall support
(A) the conduct of highway research and development related to new highway technology;
(B) the development of understandings, tools, and techniques that provide solutions to complex technical problems through the development of economical and environmentally sensitive designs, efficient and quality-controlled construction practices, and durable materials; and
(C) the development of innovative highway products and practices.
(j) Long-Term Bridge Performance Program.— 

(1) Authority.— 
The Secretary shall establish a 20-year long-term bridge performance program.
(2) Grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts.— 
Under the program, the Secretary shall make grants and enter into cooperative agreements and contracts to
(A) monitor, material-test, and evaluate test bridges;
(B) analyze the data obtained under subparagraph (A); and
(C) prepare products to fulfill program objectives and meet future bridge technology needs.
[1] So in original. Two subsecs. (h) have been enacted.