For more than 75 years, and under various names, the Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC) - the Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT) research arm - has played a leading role in instituting innovation in transportation in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the nation. As the transportation profession and VDOT’s responsibilities have become more complex, the VTRC research program is constantly evolving to identify, evaluate, study, support implementation, and, ultimately, help VDOT adopt the most advanced transportation technology available and employ state of the art best practices for the benefit of the traveling public.
VTRC is organized into 5 technical teams and an administrative team. Click on each team name in the box to the right to learn more about their major areas of inquiry (or function).
VTRC’s funding comes primarily from VDOT and the Federal Highway Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the form of State Planning & Research (SP&R) funds. These funds may be used for research, development, and technology transfer activities necessary for the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of highway, public transportation, and inter-modal transportation systems. The requirements for the administration and use of SP&R funds for research are specified in 23 CFR 420 and (2 CFR 200). These rules provide the framework for the administration of the SP&R-funded component of VTRC’s research program.
VTRC was established by a written agreement ("Joint Agreement") between VDOT and the University of Virgina (UVA) initially executed on November 1, 1948, and revised on January 1, 1966; January 1, 1975; October 7, 1997; and August 5, 2004. The Joint Agreement establishes the name and location of VTRC, assigns the general responsibilities of each party, discusses staffing and resources, and sets out provisions for modifying the Joint Agreement. By virtue of the Joint Agreement, VTRC staff have access to virtually all of UVA’s library, laboratory, computing, and other facilities. VDOT agrees to contribute funding, staff, and equipment to support a substantial program of research activities at VTRC. These facilities may be made available to UVA to support its educational mission.
Research Advisory Committees (RACs) are an essential and long-standing component of VTRC’s research program. Current RACs include those overseeing VTRC’s work in structures and bridges, concrete and asphalt materials, environmental, cultural, and historical preservation issues, pavements, system operations, traffic and safety, and transportation planning.
RACs serve many purposes. They provide a sounding board for new ideas for research; they offer input to help prioritize research needs; and because many of the sponsors’ administrators and decision makers serve on them, they provide a direct line to the individuals who are in the best position to implement research results.
The basic function of a RAC is to advise the Director of Research and VTRC staff on the content and direction of the research program in the specific technical discipline(s) within its purview. This includes generating research need statements, helping to prioritize research need statements, providing technical advice and guidance during the course of studies, and furnishing assistance and support with implementation of study results.
VTRC RACs are composed of management and operational personnel of VDOT and other state agencies, FHWA technical specialists, and selected local government and MPO representatives. Representatives of recognized transportation-related trade associations (Friends of the RAC) may attend RAC meetings and, upon request, serve as non-voting corresponding members. Corresponding members receive meeting notices and copies of the minutes. Although VTRC personnel participate in RAC meetings, they are not eligible for membership.
VTRC RACs typically meet twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, although meeting frequency may vary. The fall meetings usually focus on identifying potential projects for inclusion in the Work Program for the upcoming fiscal year. The spring meetings generally focus on research in progress or the results of recently completed studies. Occasionally, joint meetings are held by two or more RACs, especially when the scopes of the RACs are complementary.
In general, RAC meetings are intended to be informal and the free and open exchange of ideas among the RAC members and research staff members is strongly encouraged. Each year, all RACs are to include a number of standard practices, including an agenda, a method for prioritizing research projects, updates on the status of the implementation of recommendations, and the formulation of research needs statements. RACs will also help to identify the members of the Technical Review Panel overseeing each project.
Last updated: October 31, 2023