FHWA's Model for Estimating Highway Needs Has Been Modified for State-Level Planning
GAO-01-299: Published: Feb 14, 2001. Publicly Released: Feb 14, 2001.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) developed the state-level version of the Highway Economic Requirements System (HERS-ST) model as an investment-analysis tool for highway planning at the state level. FHWA officials believe that some state departments of transportation will find the analysis that the HERS-ST model produces useful because it demonstrates the potential results of highway investment decisions from an economic point of view. FHWA is conducting a pilot project for its prototype HERS-ST model with states that volunteered to test the model. FHWA distributed to these states HERS-ST software, technical manuals, and sets of state highway data with which to run the model. FHWA then provided an overall orientation and technical training and addressed states' questions during a workshop. Officials from a sample of the states planning to participate reported that they are primarily interested in taking advantage of the model's use of benefit-cost analysis to assess alternative highway improvements. If the pilot project shows that states view the HERS-ST model as a useful tool, FHWA expects to upgrade the model for future users. In doing so, it would consider both enhancements that have already been planned for the national-level HESR model and changes targeted specifically to HERS-ST. Changes to improve the HESR-ST model's usefulness to states include converting the model to a menu-driven system to improve its ease of use or revising the model's data input format so that it matches FHWA's current state highway data reporting requirements.