Transportation Research Board Taps WSP USA to Lead Industry-Wide Survey

WSP USA is managing a critical research initiative designed to help transportation agencies prepare for future planning.

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) selected WSP USA to lead a survey focused on helping transportation agencies retain and attract planners and identify skillsets that will be needed to achieve future success in the industry.

The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) 08-125 is focused on helping agencies understand how to better attract and retain transportation planners and assess the future skills and knowledge transportation planners may need.

“This information will be critical for agencies in the coming years, as traditional transportation planning roles are being influenced by a number of trends and new focus areas, including new data collection methods, resiliency and climate change, transportation and public health, and active transport,” said Michael Meyer, principal investigator for WSP. “This research aims to capture how these trends will impact the knowledge and skills needed by the industry and individuals in the future, and to inform how agencies will train and develop staff to ensure they have these future capacities.”

Transportation agencies traditionally develop planning programs that include professional planners who demonstrate the knowledge, skills, abilities, education and experience (KSAEEs) required for plan making. The survey is designed to look beyond those traits to address key elements that will be valuable in reshaping the transportation landscape, including:

  • use of changing transportation technologies and services,
  • analysis of demographic trends that affect travel behavior and how agencies communicate with their customers and stakeholders,
  • evaluation of trends in the nature of data and data-driven decision-making,
  • exploration of new approaches to transportation planning,
  • responses to calls for greater precision in projecting the returns on transportation investments, and
  • adaptation to a dynamic funding, regulatory and political environment.

As part of this research, WSP is conducting surveys with numerous transportation industry groups, including the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS) and several of WSP’s transportation planners.

Click here for the WTS survey.

Beyond WSP’s prior experience with similar research topic areas, TRB selected WSP USA to lead the initiative due in part to the firm’s experience gained through its Developing Professionals Network (DPN)’s initiatives, many of which are focused on retention and attraction.

Phillip Cherry, lead transportation engineer at WSP and a former DPN national committee chair, is playing a key role in the research by creating surveys for industry groups to help them understand the current and potential future state of the practice and skillsets may evolve.

“WSP is excited to be a part of this research that will provide valuable information to develop a better understanding of the future of transportation planning,” Cherry said.

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