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Research Implementation Toolbox: Funding Sources

Transportation agencies seeking funding for implementation have access to a variety of state and federal sources. This page summarizes key programs and highlights a few examples of states' approaches.

State Funding Programs

Some state DOTs provide dedicated funding for implementation or demonstration projects, often focused on advancing the use of innovations. Below are a few examples of state programs and practices.

Minnesota DOT

Texas DOT

Virginia DOT

Federal Funding Sources

State Planning and Research (SP&R) Funds

State DOTs' research programs are primarily funded through the federal SP&R program, which funds planning activities (SP&R Subpart A) and research, development and technology (RD&T) activities (SP&R Subpart B). Federal regulations outline how states can use SP&R funds, with Subpart B funds designated for research and technology transfer activities rather than agencywide implementation of new research results. However, states have interpreted federal guidance as allowing some activities that facilitate implementation or full deployment. 

A 2018 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) guidance document (p. 13) defines the technology transfer activities that are eligible for SP&R Subpart B funding:

Technology transfer means those activities that lead to the adoption of a new technique or product by users and involves dissemination, demonstration, training and other activities that lead to eventual innovation.”

State DOTs have used SP&R Subpart B funding to develop demonstration projects, develop training materials, hold workshops and webinars, and develop research briefs and other summaries. To determine eligibility, states should consult:


National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP)

NCHRP Implementation Support Program (NCHRP Project 20-44)

This program provides funding for state DOTs and others to implement NCHRP research results at their agencies. Eligible activities include:

  • Demonstrations and pilot projects at a host agency
  • Workshops and peer exchanges
  • Training materials
  • Flyers, brochures or videos for specific target audiences
  • Briefing materials for senior management

Program summary: No cap on funding requests; no match required. Implementation activities must relate to NCHRP research. Application deadline: Rolling.

More information: Program flyerwebsite and case studies

 

NCHRP Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis (IDEA) Program

The IDEA program funds innovative concepts that have the potential to significantly advance the state of the art and practice of the nation’s highway systems. The program also funds demonstrations of prototype applications in transportation practice (up to $100,000 per award). Proposals are reviewed twice per year.

Program summary: Up to $100,000 for demonstration projects ($150,000 for concept exploration projects). Application deadlines: March 1 (spring cycle) and September 1 (fall cycle).

More information: Program brochure 


State Transportation Innovation Councils (STICs)

STIC Incentive Program

This FHWA-led, state-based innovation deployment program offers federal funding of up to $100,000 per state per fiscal year (80/20 federal/state cost share required) to support or offset the costs of standardizing innovative practices. Eligible activities include:

  • Developing guidance, standards and specifications
  • Implementing process changes
  • Organizing peer exchanges
  • Offsetting implementation costs

Program summary: Awards of up to $100,000 per state per year. 80/20 match required. Application deadline: August 7.

More information: Program guidance and fact sheet


Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) Demonstration Program
Note: This program's most recent funding opportunity ended in September 2020; check the program website for details on future opportunities. This FHWA-sponsored demonstration program provides grant funding to accelerate the implementation and adoption of innovations in highway transportation. Eligible activities include:

  • Deploying proven innovations in real-world highway applications, including structures, materials, pavements and the environment.
  • Any project phase, including planning, financing, construction and operation.
  • Projects that can be initiated within 12 months of the application date.
  • Projects that address program goals. FHWA encourages use of innovations included in the Every Day Counts initiative. 

The most recent funding cycle allowed for grant funding up to a maximum of $1 million per project (80/20 federal/state cost share required). 

► Program summary: Eligibility: State DOTs, federal land management agencies and tribal governments. Metropolitan planning organizations and local governments may apply through the state DOT as subrecipients. Awards of up to $1 million per project (80/20 federal/state cost share required). Application deadline: Rolling.

More information: AID Demonstration fact sheet and application instructions


Accelerating Market Readiness Program

Note: This program's most recent funding opportunity ended in April 2019; check the program website for details on future opportunities. This FHWA-sponsored program provides funding to spur the advancement of emerging transformative innovations that have potential to enhance roadway safety, shorten the project delivery process, and improve the performance of the transportation infrastructure. Funding is available for testing and field evaluations, pilot demonstration projects, and documentation and dissemination of performance results.

The most recent solicitation closed on April 22, 2019. The proposals received are currently under review.

Program summary: Awards total $3 million per year. Most recent application deadline: April 22, 2019.

More information: Fact sheet


Pooled Funds
Transportation Pooled Fund Program
Through this federal program, agencies pool resources to address problems of shared interest, including implementation efforts. TPF studies must be sponsored by a state DOT or FHWA. Most states use SP&R funds for pooled fund contributions; 100% SP&R funds may be used if a waiver is obtained. 

  • Past pooled fund studies have included demonstration projects, training activities, peer exchanges, workshops and tech transfer products.
  • To join an open pooled fund project: Open Solicitations
  • To establish a new pooled fund project: Frequently Asked Questions

► Program summary: State DOTs can reduce the cost and time needed for implementation by pooling research dollars to fund joint projects with other states. Contribution levels and project budgets vary. Solicitation timeline: Rolling.

► More information: Program website

State Successes: STIC Funds Help Iowa DOT Enhance Public Outreach

Conference attendees viewing a virtual reality simulation of a new bridge.

Photo courtesy of Iowa DOT

In 2018, Iowa DOT used STIC Incentive program funding to implement virtual reality (VR) technology for public engagement, creating VR simulations to help people understand the need for safe driving behaviors. Iowa DOT has also used VR simulations to enhance public involvement during construction projects, allowing stakeholders to virtually drive on proposed roadways and bridges.

Since Iowa began participating in the STIC Incentive program in 2014, the state has received more than $600,000 in funding to pilot and implement new and innovative transportation ideas that might otherwise be time- or cost-prohibitive.

► Learn more: Iowa DOT Research Solutions brief

► More STIC Incentive case studies:  

State Successes: Incorporating NCHRP Research into Oregon Safety Guidance

A bicyclist riding in a bike lane

Photo courtesy of Oregon DOT (CC BY 2.0)

Through a $154,000 project funded by the NCHRP Implementation Support Program, Oregon DOT incorporated state-of-the-art NCHRP safety analysis methodology in developing a new statewide pedestrian and bicycle safety plan. ODOT used the funds to implement the results of NCHRP Research Report 893: Systemic Pedestrian Safety Analysis, which gives agencies guidance for applying a data-driven systemic safety approach to improving pedestrian safety. The project team adapted the report’s guidance to apply to bicycle safety as well. 

► Learn more: NCHRP case study

► More case studies from the NCHRP Implementation Support Program: 

State Successes: Pooling Funds to Implement New Technologies

Pooled fund studies are a natural fit to help multiple states implement game-changing methodologies and tools. Pooled funds that have taken that approach include:

► Find more: Program website