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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Strategic Goals and Plans

The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA's) Research and Technology (R&T) Program supports the Secretary of Transportation’s priorities for achieving the United States Department of Transportation's (USDOT’s) mission:

  • Safety: Reduce transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries across the transportation system.
  • Infrastructure: Invest in infrastructure to ensure mobility and accessibility and to stimulate economic growth, productivity and competitiveness for American workers and businesses.
  • Innovation: Lead in the development and deployment of innovative practices and technologies that improve the safety and performance of the Nation's transportation system.
  • Accountability: Serve the Nation with reduced regulatory burden and greater efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability.

FHWA addresses current issues and emerging challenges, creates efficiencies in the highway and transportation sector, and provides information to support policy decisions through its R&T programs. FHWA conducts advanced and applied research, coordinates and collaborates with other research organizations, both nationally and internationally, to leverage knowledge, and develops and delivers solutions to address highway transportation needs. FHWA is uniquely positioned to identify and address highway issues of national significance, and build effective partnerships that leverage and maximize the value of the Federal investment in highway research and technology investment. 

The primary goal of FHWA R&T programs is to deliver research and development addressing critical knowledge gaps that are not effectively addressed by other highway research sponsors and to accelerate implementation of technologies to meet current and future highway transportation needs. These programs seek to generate new solutions; provide better decision-support data, information, and tools; and build more effective partnerships that will allow our Nation to make optimal investments in the transportation system. FHWA's R&T programs cover the entire innovation life cycle, including agenda setting, conduct of research and development, technology testing and evaluation, and the deployment and evaluation of market-ready technologies and innovations.

FHWA’s core Research and Development (R&D) programs improve safety, reduce congestion, enhance infrastructure design and construction, and provide data and analyses to decision makers throughout the transportation community.

  • The Safety research area addresses the contributing factors to deaths and injuries related to roadway design, construction and maintenance, and develops robust data analysis tools that enable transportation professionals to match those contributing factors with cost-effective countermeasures. 
  • The Infrastructure area engages in forward-looking research that supports safety, durability, resilience, environmental sustainability, and asset management. FHWA infrastructure research outcomes stimulate economic growth, productivity, and competitiveness through contributions to improved mobility and accessibility. 
  • The Operations area develops innovative technologies and processes that lead to systemwide improvements in how FHWA and its State and local partners manage and improve the efficiency and reliability of the National Highway System.
  • The Policy area offers comprehensive quality data, evaluates the impacts of a broad range of policy options, and analyzes current and emerging issues that will affect the way transportation projects are regulated and permitted, and how transportation systems are constructed, operated, and maintained.
  • The Planning and Environment area assesses new tools and processes that consider the complex relationships among individuals, communities, the economy, and the environment, to enable better decisions and lead to improved outcomes.
  • The Exploratory Advanced Research Program conducts longer-term, higher-risk research in all the research areas above. These research products have the potential for dramatic breakthroughs in transportation.