Research Program Administration

DRISI manages a balanced, comprehensive portfolio of projects to address research and operational needs across Caltrans. The division seeks to take advantage of strategic collaboration opportunities by identifying public, academic, and private partnering solutions for conducting research. These partnerships leverage the dollars invested in present and future public infrastructure.
The objective of DRISI’s research program is to efficiently administer research tasks from idea to product for customers in Caltrans’ programs and districts. To accomplish this, DRISI funds research in six categories:

  • Caltrans functional research
  • University transportation centers
  • National research program
  • State research support partnerships (research centers)
  • Technology transfer and implementation
  • Roadside safety research (crash testing)

In FY 2017-18, DRISI managed a $25.3 million research program to deliver research results and products that address transportation challenges across California. The program supports researching new knowledge areas, developing technologies that turn findings into practical applications, and transferring these technologies and innovations into practice through dissemination, demonstration, training, and adoption. Funding for the research program comes from two sources: the State Planning and Research (SP&R) federal program and the State Highway Account (SHA).
The SP&R provided $20.0 million ($17.1 million in federal funds and $2.9 million in matching state funds). This federally mandated program sets aside 2% of California’s apportionments from these federal programs to fund planning and research activities:

  • National Highway Performance Program
  • Surface Transportation Block Grant Program
  • Highway Safety Improvement Program
  • Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program
  • National Highway Freight Program

The state component of the SP&R is met through the SHA, which is funded through state gasoline and diesel fuel taxes, motor vehicle fees, and truck weight fees. The purpose of the SHA is to fund highway-related projects and purchases, including construction and maintenance, acquisitions, equipment, surveys, services, investigations, and planning and research.