DURP Faculty Member’s Paper Wins Award

Jeff Brown, professor and chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, has been selected to receive the Charley V. Wootan Award for Best Paper in Transportation Policy by the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the most respected transportation research body in the word. Brown will share the award with co-authors Eric Morris (Clemson) and Brian Taylor (UCLA). The paper was published in Transportation Research Record earlier this year. The authors will be recognized at the Chairman’s Luncheon at the TRB Annual Meeting in January 2017.

The paper, “Negotiating a Financial Package for Freeways: How California’s Collier–Burns Highway Act Helped Pave the Way for the Era of the American Interstate Highway” (Transportation Research Record 2552, 16-22. doi:10.3141/2552-03), examines the debates and maneuvers that led to the ultimate passage of California’s Collier-Burns Highway Act. The law created a trust fund-based finance system for the state’s highway program that served as a model for national developments a decade later. The paper examines the attitudes and actions of key stakeholders, including the members of what are sometimes referred to as the highway lobby (oil, auto, and trucking interest groups) and the responses of politicians and policymakers to interest group pressures. The decisions taken and those avoided, as well as the various compromises involved, would be repeated to a remarkable degree when Congress passed federal highway legislation in 1956 to create a Highway Trust Fund and finance the Interstate Highway System. The legacy of the California act thus continues to affect transportation and public finance across the US to the present day.

The Executive Committee of TRB has authorized annual presentation of a limited number of awards for outstanding papers published by TRB. The Charley V. Wootan Award, established in 2004, is presented for the outstanding paper in the field of policy and organization.  It honors the director of the Texas Transportation Institute, Texas A&M University System, from 1976 to 1993.  Active in TRB for many years, he served as chair of the TRB Executive Committee in 1983 and held the positions of Group and Council Chair in the Technical Activities Division. 

The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to promote innovation and progress in transportation through research.  In an objective and interdisciplinary setting, TRB facilitates the sharing of information on transportation practice and policy by researchers and practitioners, stimulates research and offers research management services that promote technical excellence, provides expert advice on transportation policy and programs, and disseminates research results broadly and encouraged their implementation. TRB is one of seven program units of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which provides independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conducts other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine.