Research Projects

Incorporating the unique needs of airports into off-airport highway planning, design, and construction

Synthesize aspects of airport characteristics that can influence the planning, design, and construction of roads and highways and provide instructive considerations for each.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

Airports are a thriving sector of U.S. transportation infrastructure. Both primary and non-primary airports contribute to the safe and efficient movement of people and goods and enhance the economy locally, regionally, and nationally. Airport Sponsors are encouraged and in some instances required to protect certain areas around airport property from encroachment by development and are encouraged to work with local planners to protect airspace and access to their airport. However, there can be unintended impacts to airports when state DOTs plan, design, and build roads nearby.

Research is needed to determine what types of guidance highway engineers need regarding airports (both primary and non-primary) in order to maximize realistic planning alternatives, and design and build highway infrastructure in a way that complements aviation and protects air safety. Highway projects can impact airports in many ways, and guidance is needed to help highway planners understand airport planning documents, aviation forecasts, imaginary surfaces and airport approaches, compatible land uses, lighting hazard impacts, and other design and constructability concerns.

Most engineers and planners will attest to project challenges that can arise from lack of proper stakeholder/agency coordination. This extends to a vast array of project stakeholders and is usually due to lack of understanding of potential impacts to stakeholders with very unique needs, such as airport sponsors. The problem statement is derived from past experiences with project delays but also from success stories from early and proactive coordination with stakeholders associated with roadway projects in particular. Aviation planners, engineers, and sponsors will agree that there is presently not a concise primer for surface transportation professionals to address the uniqueness of the airport environment, and provide specific considerations needed during planning, design and construction for roads and highways off airport property. This primer would be directed towards roadway infrastructure professionals in particular, but the scope could be expanded to include other types of surface transportation as well, including rail and maritime.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

Synthesize aspects of airport characteristics that can influence the planning, design, and construction of roads and highways and provide instructive considerations for each.

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Idea No. 49