Developing a Comprehensive Transportation Air Quality Research Plan

Focus Area

Air Quality


Air Quality






1-2 years

Research Idea Scope

DOTs and other agencies working on transportation-related air quality issues are under increasing financial and environmental constraints. Several of these agencies put forward research ideas and fund research projects in the area of transportation and air quality, but there is a need for a more systematic and coordinated approach to understand what research had already been conducted and how these research findings can be leveraged to better inform new research. The aim of this research project is to develop a comprehensive research plan which could serve as a guide for understanding current research in the area of transportation and air quality, identifying gaps in the knowledge, and facilitating more strategic selection of research topics for further study. This plan will identify the key topic areas with existing knowledge gaps and define a process for executing the research. The topic areas covered will focus on the entire spectrum of transportation air quality research including monitoring, characterization, sources, analysis and forecasting through models, mitigation or control strategies, and the polices that impact these areas. This research work plan will build on previous and ongoing efforts (including those by FHWA/DOT and AASHTO) to identify key research needs, and provide further detail with regards to specific details of projects and topics. The research work plan developed in this study will be structured to define the projects and topics needed to be conducted, the priority of each project, time needed to complete individual projects, the sequence for conducting the different projects, the costs associated with each project and the potential source of those funds, and the agency leading the effort. Another aspect that will be addressed is the validation of research results, through recommendations (where applicable) for pilot-testing or case studies by DOTs and MPOs.

Urgency and Payoff

Given the financial and environmental constraints on DOTs and other agencies, a research planning documentation would be needed to guide researchers and agencies understanding what topics have been studied and what topics need further study. Key benefits of a research plan include: 1) The research plan will keep successful research efforts built on previous research and understanding of what is known and what is not known with regard to the area of interest. 2) The research plan will provide a systematic approach to transportation-related air quality research, prevent the duplication of projects and find possible areas of collaborations with other organizations. State departments of transportation (DOTs) and agencies working to address transportation and air quality issues can further efforts to improve air quality by developing a research agenda that covers the key topic areas and linkages between research projects and research topic areas.

Suggested By

Joe Zietsman on behalf of TRB ADC 20 Research subcommittee TRB Air Quality ADC 20 Committee

[email protected]