[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 131 (Tuesday, July 8, 2008)]
[Pages 39075-39077]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-15477]



Federal Highway Administration

[FHWA Docket No. FHWA-2008-0070]

Exploratory Advanced Research Program

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice; Request for comments.


SUMMARY: Section 502 of title 23 of the United States Code directs the 
Secretary of Transportation (Secretary) to establish an Exploratory 
Advanced Research Program (EARP).
    The stated purpose of the EARP is to address longer-term and 
higher-risk research with potentially dramatic breakthroughs for 
improving the durability, efficiency, environmental impact, 
productivity and safety aspects of highway and intermodal 
transportation systems.
    The purpose of this notice is to announce exploratory advanced 
research that will take place under the EARP, to encourage interest in 
such work by organizations or individuals conducting related work or 
anticipating the results of such work, and to solicit comments about 
the long-term impact of such work on future research, technical 
innovation, or transportation industry practices.

DATES: FHWA requests comments on or before October 6, 2008 in order to 
consider and plan for coordination of research.

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ADDRESSES: David Kuehn, Office of Corporate Research, Technology and 
Innovation Management, (202) 493-3414, david.kuehn@dot.gov; or Grace 
Reidy, Office of the Chief Counsel, (202) 366-6226; Federal Highway 
Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590. 
Office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays.


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review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement in a Federal Register 
published on April 11, 2000 (70 FR 19477), or you may visit http://dms.dot.gov.


    Section 5201(g) of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient 
Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) (Pub. L. 
109-59, 119 Stat. 1144), directed the Secretary to establish an EARP. 
The program is codified in 23 U.S.C. 502(e).
    Section 502(e) specifies that the EARP should address longer-term, 
higher risk research aimed at breakthroughs to improve the durability, 
efficiency, environmental impact, productivity and safety aspects of 
highway and intermodal transportation systems. Section 502(e) also 
provides that the Secretary should seek to develop partnerships with 
public and private sector entities. Further, the FHWA Corporate Master 
Plan for Research and Deployment of Technology & Innovation identifies 
engaging stakeholders throughout the research and technology process as 
one of seven guiding principles. An electronic copy of the Corporate 
Master Plan is available at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/legsregs/directives/policy/cmp/03077.htm.
    In 2005, FHWA conducted advanced research think-tank forums in 
Cambridge, Massachusetts; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Berkeley, 
California, bringing together a range of stakeholders to explore future 
advanced research possibilities relevant to the mission of FHWA. These 
forums provided a foundation for FHWA to announce and select an initial 
group of exploratory advanced research projects in 2007.
    Also during 2007, research offices within FHWA began meeting with 
research partners to further define areas of investigation for 
exploratory advanced research. Once specific research problems were 
defined, FHWA worked with outside experts from academic institutions, 
State and local departments of transportation and the private sector to 
provide technical assessments of exploratory advanced research 
proposals. FHWA plans to move forward with proposals that have strong 
scientific and technical merit.
    Depending on the research area, some proposals leverage existing 
facilities, equipment and talent at the Turner Fairbank Highway 
Research Center (TFHRC). The research focuses on providing solutions to 
complex technical problems through the development of more economical, 
environmentally sensitive designs; more efficient, quality-controlled 
construction practices; and more durable materials. The TFHRC is 
federally owned and operated and provides FHWA and the world highway 
community with unique capabilities for the development of highway 
research, development and technology.
    The FHWA is issuing this notice to announce five research proposals 
that will take place at TFHRC and to encourage organizations that are 
conducting related work or are interested in the results of such work 
to comment on this notice. The FHWA seeks methods to share information 
and to coordinate with other organizations who are conducting related 
work in the interests of mutual benefit and scientific advancement. 
Methods may include informal coordination as well as more formal 
agreements for providing access to facilities and equipment or sharing 
laboratory data and technical expertise. Further information about the 
EARP is located at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/advancedresearch/research.cfm.
    Following is a summary of the five proposals FHWA plans to 
undertake as part of a second round of exploratory advanced research. 
For more detailed descriptions of the proposals, see http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/advancedresearch/research.cfm#upcoming.
    Title: Greatly Increased Use of Fly Ash in Hydraulic Cement 
Concrete for Pavement Layers and Transportation Structures--This study 
will explore the attributes of fly ash to understand how it can be 
utilized in greater quantities. The outcome of the study could 
accelerate the identification of technology and innovations to allow 
the massive use of fly ash from coal-burning that either does not meet 
current concrete materials specifications or is not used because of 
practical technical concerns. The fly-ash drawback is the slower set 
and strength gain. Advanced research is needed to understand potential 
acceleration techniques to conceive of empirical testing and 
performance prediction models for these uses. We anticipate that 
research in this area will answer several questions, including whether 
there are chemical activation methods that can be used and whether we 
could eliminate use of any metal that corrodes in concrete in favor of 
more efficient chloride accelerators.
    Title: Volumetric Particle Image Velocimetry (VPIV) System for 
experimental Bridge Scour Research--A proposed high resolution VPIV 
system would allow measurement of instantaneous flow volumes around 
bridge pier models, leading to more precise scour predictive models. It 
presently is practically impossible, by means of laboratory 
experiments, to visualize and to measure the entire instantaneous flow 
field around a bridge pier. Recent experimental investigations using 
Laser Doppler Velocimetry and Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) have 
increased our understanding of the intricate flow structures around 
bridge piers; a detailed quantitative description of the of necklace 
vortices at the base of piers and of the turbulent near wake region is 
still lacking. Laser Doppler Anemometry (LDA) is only capable of 
measuring point velocities, and PIV is limited to single recording 
plains. LDA and PIV are both based on optical flow diagnostics using 
the interaction of light refraction and scattering with inhomogeneous 
media. Research at the TFHRC Hydraulics Laboratory has focused on using 
a PIV system developed in-house for measuring instantaneous flow fields 
around bridge pier models. The existing PIV system also has the 
capability to map the out-of-plane velocity components using two 
synchronized cameras to measure the velocity in complex flow 
situations. The current PIV system has two major limitations: (1) 
Resolution (sampling rate 15 Hz); and (2) only one recording plane. 
Therefore, there is a need to

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develop a high resolution VPI system that can capture and quantify 
complex, highly three-dimensional and unsteady flow fields for small-
scale bridge scour experiments.
    Title: Flexible Skin Areal Shear Stress and Pressure Sensing System 
for Experimental Bridge Scour Research--This study will explore ways to 
directly measure instantaneous boundary shear stresses and pressure 
fields for small scale bridge scour experiments, in order to advance 
the understanding of bridge scour problems. A direct method to measure 
boundary shear stress and boundary pressure fluctuations in 
experimental scour research has historically been a challenge. In 
addition, available turbulence models cannot account very well for the 
effect of bed roughness, which is fundamentally important for any 
Computational Fluid Dynamics simulation. A mechanical shear sensor 
device that was developed by the TFHRC Hydraulics Research team to 
measure directly wall shear stress has several limitations. One major 
challenge is that the sensor only measures point shear stresses. The 
sensor plate has to be aligned horizontally with the channel bed and 
cannot be used to measure shear stress in preformed scour holes. 
Therefore, there is a need to develop a sensing system that can measure 
instantaneous areal boundary shear stresses and pressure fields for 
small scale bridge scour experiments. The FHWA desires a sensing system 
with the flexibility to measure the change in shear-stress and pressure 
when the scour hole forms.
    Title: The Composite Behavior and the Design Requirements of 
Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil (GRS) Structures--This research will seek 
to understand how geosynthetic reinforcement interacts with compacted 
soil to allow for more effective and rational design guidance of GRS 
walls for highway applications. Many engineers have learned there are 
several fundamental discrepancies between current Material Science 
Engineering design methodology and the observed behavior of full-scale 
GRS earth-geosynthetic composite walls (alternating close layers of 
geosynthetic reinforcement and compacted fill). The research will 
improve the understanding of reinforced soil technology and support a 
paradigm shift into GRS technology. The Material Science Engineering 
wall industry and related theory is mature to a point where there is 
reluctance to acknowledge any modified wall design using geosynthetics. 
However, the evolution of GRS technology using geosynthetic soil 
composites has created a new engineering material with a niche in 
earthwork. Fundamental understanding of GRS properties will allow for 
development of improved design and construction guidance with the 
potential to lead to considerable change in the industry and an 
affordable, quick alternative to the current practice.
    Title: Advanced Digital Imaging for Accident Prevention and 
Reducing Traffic Congestion--This research would explore extended range 
imaging techniques from scientific, art and astronomical photography 
for application to traffic safety and control. Current video imaging 
has limitations for use in safety, including erroneous early detection, 
late detection, failed detection and false positive detections. 
Attempts to resolve these problems by upgrading existing video 
technologies have not been successful. A radically different approach 
using advanced digital imaging technologies might provide a foundation 
on which to build solid reliable detection technologies with radically 
lower signal-to-noise ratios. This research might provide the 
foundation for a different approach to wide-area sensing using 
scientific-imaging technologies rather than video-broadcasting 

    Authority: 23 U.S.C. 502.

    Issued on: July 1, 2008.
James D. Ray,
Acting Federal Highway Administrator.
 [FR Doc. E8-15477 Filed 7-7-08; 8:45 am]