[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 125 (Thursday, June 28, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 38709-38710]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-15895]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration


Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative 
Research Program (STEP)

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: Section 5207 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient 
Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) established 
the Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative 
Research Program (STEP). The FHWA anticipates that the STEP or a 
similar program to provide resources for national research on issues 
related to planning, environment, and realty will be included in future 
surface transportation legislation. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, the FHWA 
expects to seek partnerships with other Federal agencies and tribes, 
State and local governments, and nongovernmental transportation and 
environmental stakeholders that can leverage limited research funding 
in the STEP with other stakeholders and partners in order to increase 
the total amount of resources available to meet the Nation's surface 
transportation research needs. The purpose of this notice is to 
announce the STEP implementation strategy for FY 2013 and to request 
suggested lines of research for the FY 2013 STEP via the STEP Web site 
at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/step/index.htm in anticipation of future 
surface transportation legislation.

DATES: Suggestions for lines of research should be submitted to the 
STEP Web site on or before September 26, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gabe Rousseau, Acting Director, Office 
of Human Environment, (202) 366-8044, Gabe.Rousseau@dot.gov or Seetha 
Srinivasan, Office of the Chief Counsel, (202) 366-4099; Federal 
Highway Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 
20590. Office hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., e.t., Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access

    This document may be viewed online through the Federal eRulemaking 
portal at: http://www.regulations.gov. Electronic submission and 
retrieval help and guidelines are available on the Web site. It is 
available 24 hours each day, 366 days this year. Please follow the 
instructions. An electronic copy of this document may also be 
downloaded from the Office of the Federal Register's home page at: 
http://www.archives.gov/federal-register and the Government Printing 
Office's Web page at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys.

Background

    Section 5207 of SAFETEA-LU (Pub. L. 109-59, Aug. 10, 2005), 
established the STEP in Section 507 of Title 23, United States Code. 
The FHWA anticipates that the STEP or a similar program to provide 
resources for national research on issues related to planning, 
environment, and realty will be included in future surface 
transportation legislation. The general objective of the STEP is to 
improve understanding of the complex relationship between surface 
transportation, planning, and the environment.
    The SAFETEA-LU provided $16.875 million per year for FY 2006-2009 
to implement this cooperative research program. Due to obligation 
limitations, rescissions, and congressional designations of Title V 
Research in SAFETEA-LU, an average of $14.5 million of the authorized 
$16.875 million was only available each fiscal year to help implement 
the cooperative research program.
    The STEP is the primary source of funds for FHWA to conduct 
research and develop tools and technologies to advance the state of the 
practice regarding national surface transportation and environmental 
decisionmaking. In FY 2013, the FHWA expects to seek partnerships with 
other Federal agencies and tribes; State and local governments; and 
nongovernmental transportation and environmental stakeholders. These 
partnerships can help leverage limited research funding in the STEP and 
increase the total amount of resources available to meet the Nation's 
surface transportation research needs.
    The FY 2013 STEP will support the implementation of a national 
research agenda that includes:
    (1) Enhancing knowledge of strategies and tools available to 
accelerate project delivery while improving environmental outcomes;
    (2) Conducting research to develop climate change mitigation, 
adaptation, and livability strategies;
    (3) Developing and supporting accurate models and tools for 
evaluating transportation measures and developing indicators of 
economic, social, and environmental performance of transportation 
systems to facilitate alternative analysis;
    (4) Developing and deploying research to address congestion 
reduction efforts;
    (5) Developing transportation safety planning strategies for 
surface transportation systems and improvements;
    (6) Improving planning, operation, and management of surface 
transportation systems and rights-of-way;
    (7) Enhancing knowledge of strategies to improve transportation in 
rural areas and small communities;
    (8) Strengthening and advancing State/local and tribal capabilities 
regarding surface transportation and the environment;
    (9) Improving transportation decisionmaking and coordination across 
international borders;
    (10) Improving state of the practice regarding the impact of 
transportation on the environment;
    (11) Conducting research to promote environmental streamlining/
stewardship and sustainability;
    (12) Exchanging knowledge and strategies to improve performance-
based planning and programming for transportation;

[[Page 38710]]

    (13) Conducting research to identify, share, and test best 
practices to promote transportation and livability linkages;
    (14) Disseminating research results and advances in state of the 
practice through peer exchanges, workshops, conferences, etc.;
    (15) Meeting additional priorities as determined by the Secretary; 
and
    (16) Refining the scope and research emphases through active 
outreach and consultation with stakeholders.
    The FHWA is issuing this notice to: (1) Announce the STEP 
Implementation Strategy for the FY 2013 STEP in anticipation of future 
surface transportation legislation, and (2) Solicit comments on 
proposed research activities to be undertaken in the FY 2013 STEP via 
the STEP Web site. The STEP Implementation Strategy can be found at 
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/step/about_step/strategy/. That Strategy 
updates information on the graphs and charts regarding historical 
planning and environment research funding, and adds information about 
the proposed FY 2013 STEP including proposed funding levels, goals, and 
potential research activities. We invite the public to visit this Web 
site to obtain additional information on the STEP, as well as 
information on the process for forwarding comments to the FHWA 
regarding the STEP implementation plan. The URL for the STEP Web site 
is: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/step/.
    The FHWA will use this Web site as a major mechanism for informing 
the public regarding the status of the STEP.

    Authority:  23 U.S.C. 507.

OMB Approval for Specific Forms, Surveys, Questionnaires: Burden 
Statement

    This collection of information is voluntary and will be used to 
identify potential research for the creation of a research plan for the 
FHWA STEP Program. Public reporting burden is estimated to average 30 
minutes per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, 
searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data 
needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. No 
confidential information will be collected; therefore, no assurances of 
confidentiality will be provided. Please note that an agency may not 
conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a 
collection of information unless it displays a currently valid Office 
of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The OMB control number 
for this collection is 2125-0627 (Expiration 6/30/14). Send comments 
regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection 
of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden to: 
Information Collection Clearance Officer, Federal Highway 
Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

    Authority:  5 CFR 1320.8.

    Issued on: June 20, 2012.
Victor M. Mendez,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2012-15895 Filed 6-27-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-22-P