KEY RESEARCH ACHIEVEMENTS IN TRANSPORTATION
Celebrating Our Legacy – Anticipating Our Future
"What have we actually gotten in return for our research dollars?"
How many times have those in the transportation research community been asked this question? It is a fair question – and one that deserves more than anecdotal answers. Elected officials, decision-makers, transportation professionals, and the general public need to have a sense that they are receiving a fair return on their investment in transportation research and innovation. While most of us can cite a few examples from our own area of expertise, few are equipped to respond in a more comprehensive manner.
With this in mind, the TRB Technical Activities Council challenged the TRB standing committees to submit short summaries of the most significant research breakthroughs in their areas of expertise over the last 20 years. Committees were also asked to forecast the major research achievements which can be anticipated over the next 10 years. This is consistent with the spotlight theme for the 2014 TRB Annual Meeting "Celebrating Our Legacy – Anticipating Our Future."
In response, more than 80 TRB committees provided hundreds of examples. Pavements and structures that last much longer, increased safety for women and vulnerable populations, faster responses to incidents and natural disasters, and real-time information for travelers are just a few examples cited.
While far from complete, these examples, taken together, paint a compelling picture. The improvements made possible by research and innovation over the last 20 years have truly transformed the transportation landscape. Indeed, it is hard to imagine where we would be without them. They are a testament to those who have recognized the potential return-on-investment of funding the research, the hard work and dedication of those who conducted the research, and to the courage and foresight of those innovators who took the lead in implementing the results.
Please note these summaries are unedited.
Additional information on the benefits that have been realized from investments in transportation research includes the following: