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Washington Research Programs

The State Planning and Research Research Program

The Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century (TEA- 21) requires that at least 25% of the State Planning and Research (SPR) apportionment (or its equivalent from other authorized sources) be restricted to research activities. A 20% state match is required. The WSDOT Research Office manages WSDOT’s SPR research program.

The SPR research funding can be used for research, development, and technology transfer activities. Projects are recommended for funding by four Research Advisory Committees: Project Delivery; Operations; Multimodal Transportation; and, Information and Finance. Projects are selected in the fall of even years on a biennial basis.

Client Sponsored Research

Some WSDOT Programs, Divisions, and Project Offices conduct research and experimental activities in addition to research funded by the SPR program. For example, the Bridge Office has conducted research on specific bridge design elements to help identify the best method for retrofitting bridges. Traffic management activities are funded within the program to help meet the need for answers in a time of significant evolution. In addition, Project Offices may test new designs or conduct research as part of a mitigation plan. Many of the contracts for these projects are managed by the WSDOT Research Office through a program called Client Sponsored Research. Research activities may also be funded through federal earmarks or designations. These funds are also managed through the Client Sponsored Research Program.

Funds eligible to be used for research include: National Highway System (NHS), Surface Transportation Program (STP), Metropolitan Planning (PL), and Minimum Guarantee (MG).

Transportation Pooled Fund Program

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sponsors the Transportation Pooled Fund Program as a means for interested States, FHWA, and other organizations to partner when significant or widespread interest is shown in solving transportation-related problems. Partners may pool funds, including SPR funding, with no state match requirement. Activities may include research, planning, or technology transfer activities.

To qualify as a pooled fund study, more than one state transportation agency, federal agency, other agency such as a municipality or metropolitan planning organization, college/university or a private company must find the subject important enough to commit funds or other resources. Federal and state transportation agencies may initiate pooled fund studies.

WSDOT participates actively in Transportation Pooled Fund studies.

Other Organizations Conducting Transportation Research in Washington

While our organizations work closely together, some active research projects may be conducted independently by our organizations and not reflected in one database. We are working to streamline this but, in the interim, you may want to search each database for a topic or particular project.


  • Transportation Northwest Projects
    Transportation Northwest at the University of Washington (TransNow) is a University Transportation Center administered by the United States Department of Transportation through its Research and Innovative Technology Administration. TransNow is a showcase for transportation research and education in the Pacific Northwest (Federal Region 10) which includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska. TransNow funds research projects in transportation related to operations, planning, freight, and infrastructure.