Committee OKs Ehlers R and D Bill

February 6, 2004
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WASHINGTON — A House Science Subcommittee has approved a plan that Congressman Vernon J. Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids, has proposed for comprehensive federal transportation research.

Ehlers said the bill he proposed — which he expects to pass as part of this year’s legislation reauthorizing federal transportation programs — would expand and refocus research and development regarding transportation. He said a number of the measure’s provisions are based on recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board.

“Fundamental improvement to the entire transportation system depends on high-quality surface transportation research,” Ehlers said.

“More importantly,” he added, “research saves lives and saves money. It extends the life of pavements, provides increased safety measures on roads and in cars, and develops the technologies to increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of transit systems.”

He said the bill provides:

  • A more relevant R&D program by tying it to strategic planning concerning concrete goals such as relieving traffic congestion.

  • Federal funding for R&D that other entities cannot or will not finance.

  • Increased focus on research to limit transportation environmental impacts.

  • Increased focus on social science research about changing residential patterns and driver behavior.

  • Increased focus on how to rehabilitate and get more use out of existing transportation systems.

  • Improved collection, analysis and dissemination of statistics to aid transportation planning.

  • Increased peer review and competition to improve university transportation R&D.

  • Emphasis on development of intelligent transportation systems.

He reported that the committee added language to the bill that will add R&D regarding bicycle and pedestrian research while creating National Transportation Security Centers at four universities.

Ehlers chairs the Environment, Technology and Standards Subcommittee of the House Science Committee.    

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