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Transportation Research Program

About the Program

The Oregon Department of Transportation Research Program focuses on producing original research that supports the department's mission of providing a safe, efficient transportation system that supports economic opportunity and livable communities for Oregonians. To accomplish this, the program identifies new transportation research problems, coordinates research projects, and responds to requests for research information from throughout ODOT. The administration of the research program is conducted in partnership with universities, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, or AASHTO, Transportation Research Board, or TRB, Federal Highway Administration, or FHWA and other agencies.

Research Project Lifecycle

Research projects have the potential to benefit the agency and the transportation community as a whole; therefore, after publication the Research Program supports implementation efforts. The lifecycle of a major ODOT research project typically progresses through eight major phases:

Research projects start with the identification of a specific problem affecting Oregon's transportation system. The two-stage competitive process is designed to select the projects that are most likely to positively impact safety, access and mobility, durability and service life, the environment and/or lead to cost savings and cost avoidance. Please see the guidance document before completing the form.

Stage One Problem Statements are due on November 15th, or the following business day if the 15th falls on a weekend.

Problem Statement Guidance
Problem Statement Form

  Writing a Successful Problem Statement

Developing a problem statement that is well written and contains all the requested information will help improve the chance of it being selected as the research budget is limited. See the Problem Statement Guidance for more information.

Tips and Recommendations:

  • Work with a research section staff member.
  • Start early.
  • Review Research's Strategic Priorities.
  • Collaborate.
  • Search the internet for relevant resources.
  • Read excerpts from the Transportation Research Board's Conduct of Research Committee publication How to Write an Effective Research Statement.
  • Watch the Transportation Research Board webinar How to Write an Effective Research Statement video.
  • Discuss the project with the person who has the authority to implement the results.
  • Consider risk.
  Intellectual Property & Research Problem Statements

Problem statements are not grant applications or contract proposals. The selection of  the problem statement by ODOT will not necessarily result in hiring the problem statement author to perform the research. In practice, when problem statements originate outside ODOT, and the sponsor expresses an interest in performing the work, we sometimes contract with that person for the work. However, selection of a principal investigator is never automatic.

See section VII of the Problem Statement Guidance for more information.

Summary of Review and Refinement Process

Research Program staff divides research subject matter into eight topic areas with an Expert Task Group, or ETG, assigned to each. Members of these groups are selected on the basis of their training, knowledge and experience.

Upon receipt, the problem statements are assigned to a research coordinator to review, based on the topic area of the submissions. Projects related to more than one topic area are reviewed by the Research Coordinator chairing each of the appropriate ETGs.

  Research Coordinator Review

Research coordinators may discuss a problem statement with a submitter to obtain more information about the problem. The Research Coordinator discusses the effect of research on the problem with other key staff and managers to determine the extent of agreement about the nature and severity of the underlying issue, and to assess support for implementing a potential solution. This is particularly important if the problem statement originated outside ODOT.

The research coordinator will then conduct a brief literature search to avoid duplication and find information about methods, pitfalls and closely related topics that is of value in preparing a stage 2 problem statement.

  Expert Task Group Review

Stage 1 problem statements are then reviewed by the ETGs. Each ETG member ranks the proposals, and the results are compiled for consideration during the spring ETG meeting. Up to four projects are selected by the ETG for Stage 2 Development and consideration by the Research Advisory Committee, or RAC. Alternate research funding sources may be recommended for the remaining projects as appropriate.

List of Stage One Problem Statements

  Stage 2 Development

Research Program staff work with proposal submitters to develop a Stage 2 problem statement that incorporates comments from the ETG. Key components include the research objectives, work tasks, cost estimate and duration, implementation plan and potential benefits.

Stage Two Problem Statement Form, Fiscal Year 2018

Research Project Selection Process

  1. Completed Stage Two Problem Statements are sent to the ODOT Research Advisory Committee, or RAC, at least one week prior to the committee meeting. RAC members receive rating instructions and review and rate the problem statements. They return their preliminary ratings to the Research Section Manager.
  2. During the committee meeting, each Stage Two Problem Statement is presented and the committee members are given the opportunity to question the presenter about the project.
  3. The committee goes into Executive Session after presentations are complete. A list of projects listed in order of their preliminary ratings is provided to the committee. Members are given an opportunity to revise their preliminary ballots based on new information obtained from the presentations, questions and discussion.
  4. There is discussion of funding and where the cut is likely to fall for the year. Subsequent discussion focuses on 3-4 projects likely to be at the margin. If necessary a third ballot is taken to resolve ties in that range.

Current Fiscal Year's Prioritized Research Project List
List of Stage Two Problem Statements

  Research Advisory Committee & Meeting Minutes

The RAC reviews pooled fund investments and the research priorities of the Expert Task Groups, or ETGs. The committee also reviews and prioritizes Stage Two Problem Statements recommended by the ETGs each year for the upcoming work program.

Current RAC Members

  • Bob Bryant, ODOT Region 4 Manager
  • Tom Lauer, ODOT Technical Services Manager/Chief Engineer
  • Jerri Bohard, ODOT Transportation Development Division Administrator
  • Scott Ashford, OSU Kearney Professor of Engineering and School Head
  • Luci Moore, ODOT State Maintenance & Operations Engineer
  • Tom McClellan, DMV Administrator
  • Troy Costales, ODOT Safety Division Administrator
  • Hal Gard, ODOT Rail and Public Transit Division Administrator
  • Chris Monsere, PSU Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The committee usually meets at least once a year (typically in February) to select projects. A policy oriented meeting is sometimes scheduled for the fall.

Minutes are drafted and reviewed by all in attendance, then published.

Current Fiscal Year's RAC Minutes

ODOT research enters into contracts with research providers to conduct applied research, so they can actively manage projects to maintain controls on scope, schedule and budget. ODOT does not issue grants. Because of the need for this applied research to serve practicing professionals, the researcher can expect to work with ODOT to select research methods that reflect the conditions and needs of transportation professionals. The use of a research contract proscribes this interaction in a way that open-ended research grants cannot.

  Selection of a Principal Investigator

Project development normally starts with ODOT research coordinator organizing a Technical Advisory Committee and identifies a prospective principal investigator. Individuals with specialized expertise and research experience in the subject area of the research, as well as a good track record in performing sponsored or contract research are desired as principal investigators. If specialized expertise is required from a private institution or company, ODOT will conduct a formal procurement process. 

  Work Plan Development

Whenever the Research section plans to contract with a public entity the section is able to award a contract non-competitively, through an intergovernmental agreement. In these instances it is both expedient and appropriate to involve the investigator in developing the work plan. Please use the university work plan template when developing a project.

ODOT University Work Plan Template

When the expertise from the private sector is sought, the contract must be awarded competitively. In that case, ODOT staff will develop the work plan as a part of the procurement process.

  Contract Execution

The project coordinator works closely with the prospective principal investigator and the Technical Advisory Committee to ensure that all components of the work plan satisfactorily address the research problem before the work plan is accepted and a contract is executed. Execution of a contract is not completed until after all signatures from ODOT management are recorded. Executed project contracts are followed by a formal notice to proceed to the principal investigator. ODOT cannot pay for work conducted prior to the notice to proceed.

The conduct of research for the Oregon Department of Transportation is a collaboration between the agency and one or more university researchers. This web page provides access to ODOT research templates, guidance, and resources with links to the materials defining each active project.

Report Template

ODOT research publishes a number of research templates and guidance. Researchers are asked to use the current research project template for all report sections delivered to ODOT.

Research Report T​emplate​

  Expectations of Quality

ODOT research expects all research deliverables to be of high quality and completed to industry standards and will evaluate completed work by comparison of the deliverable to the following documents:

All research staff participating in the writing of ODOT reports are expected to review these documents prior to starting work for ODOT.

  Pre-Publication Review and Publication Process

The pre-publication review of a research report is an important part of research quality control. Researchers need to be aware of the expected deadlines and responsibilities. The ODOT Publication Timeline details the typical publication process.

ODOT Publication Timeline

  Distribution of Draft Materials

To protect the integrity of the final research, ODOT research typically does not distribute draft work products. If you need more information about a current research project, please contact the ODOT Research coordinator identified for the project, for assistance identifying if additional information is available on the topic.

  Active Research Projects

The Active Research Project listing consists of current projects, responsible parties, start and end dates, a brief description and links to each Federal Highway quarterly report turned in by the Principal Investigator. See the current quarterly summary of the Active Research Projects and State Planning and Research, or SPR, status.

Summary of SPR Project Status
List of Active Research Projects

Project reports are prepared to document the research work and recommend further research. The Federal Aid Project Agreement requires the preparation of suitable reports to document the results of activities performed with FHWA State Planning and Research funds.

ODOT Research Publications

Implementation projects are typically follow-up tasks identified after the research project discovers needed change. This may happen during the research project or when a draft final report is submitted to the Technical Advisory Committee, or TAC, with recommendations. The work identified for implementation should be documented and categorized for work outside the scope of the current research project.

  Funding

Implementation work is typically funded by the part of the agency that will directly apply the work in the field. The TAC members and corresponding ODOT managers discuss the need to implement change, urgency, process, complexity, affected areas, and available resources to establish an implementation plan from the research findings.

  Final Report

The final report combines the follow-up materials regarding implementation efforts. The goal is to get the right information to the right customers, who will in turn apply the learning to everyday processes. Publication of results to communicate the research involves the research section staff working with the TAC and other stakeholders to identify the appropriate follow-up documents.

Research priorities are selected by Expert Task Groups for each individual research area. The Oregon Transportation Research Advisory Committee also gathers to update and revise the priorities annually to help identify research during the project selection process. View the additional research area Expert Task Groups and priorities below:

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