Management of Research at the NRA
The Authority is committed to setting up and maintaining a research and development budget, which will be used to fund an on-going Research Programme in line with the strategy outlined in this document. The Research Programme will be formulated on an annual basis and will provide for short-term business oriented projects in response to specific needs as well as longer-term fundamental research. The programme will cover all aspects of the Authority’s interests. The research budget will be managed by the NRA Research Manager with technical advice and management provided by experts from within the Authority.
Transport 21 and the National Development Plan have been used to develop a number of broad “policy themes” for the development of a research strategy to assist the NRA in achieving its strategic goals. These themes focus on the requirements to strive for better efficiency, sustainability and safety across all spheres of activity of the Authority and relate to materials, standards and procedures within the context of road construction, maintenance and operation. The policy themes are;
1. Materials: Development of new construction materials; more efficient use of existing materials; conservation of scarce or natural materials; use of recycled materials, durability, repair and maintenance.
2. Standards and specifications: Maintain up-to-date standards; develop new standards and specifications based on new developments; encourage innovation.
3. Environment/Sustainable construction: Consideration of environmental issues; effects of climate change; ways of reducing energy consumption; conservation of natural resources; alternative energy sources; “green” solutions; consideration of energy consumption in the wider sense such as junction layout, etc; understanding the effects of vehicle technologies and alternative fuels; improved durability of roads and bridges; development of better monitoring and inspections methods and procedures as part of a sustainable asset management system.
4. Safety: Contribution of infrastructure to casualties and fatalities; improved safety of road users; improved skid resistance; interaction between road; vehicle and driver; understanding driver behaviour; improved structural safety; development of passive safety; risks associated with traffic induced noise and air pollution; incident management.
5. Value for money: Improved global competitiveness; procurement methods; risk identification and allocation; more effective asset management procedures; making better use of existing infrastructure; targeted maintenance regimes; improved traffic modelling and planning.
6. Transportation and land use: Traffic growth predictions; Land take-up at grade separated junctions; influencing driver behaviour; development of traffic models; intelligent transport systems; integrated transport systems; inter-modal studies.
7. Heritage: Consider impact of roads on society; methods for archaeological investigations; other social issues.
These policy themes provide a framework within which the Authority’s research activities are carried out. They provide the basis for the development of the Annual Research Programme, the primary aim of which is to provide assistance to NRA staff in providing and operating the national road system in a more efficient and effective way.