Research home

Research impacts all aspects of work at WSDOT, from road materials to the natural environment. Research and Library Services (RLS) provides decision makers with the specialized research and information needed to meet the evolving needs of people and businesses. The Research Office coordinates the process for identifying, selecting, and managing research projects as well as documenting research results and developing and documenting implementation plans and experiences. The WSDOT Library answers reference questions, lends and borrows books and other items, delivers current news alerts and more. It is a repository of agency publications and related transportation research.

WSDOT Research Procedures Manual (pdf 336 kb)

2017-2019 Research Portfolio (pdf 646 kb)

News from the Washington State Transportation Center (pdf 47kb)

Approved State Planning & Research Projects for 2019-21 

Please Contact the Research Office if you have any questions.

Evaluation of Pavement Friction Requirements and High Friction Surfaces.
This project continues research that WSDOT participated in with Virginia Tech and Federal highway Adminstration (FHWA) as part of the FHWA Friction Management Support Program. The results of this research will be immediately implementable in developing procedures for when and where to place some type of treatment to improve friction and understand the impact it will make in reducing  Run-off-the Road type crashes.

Performance of Steel Jacket Retrofitted Reinforced Concrete Bridge Columns in Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquakes.
This research will characterize the expected performance, ductility capacity, and collapse probability of steel jacket retrofitted bridge columns in Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquakes and to provide WSDOT with a simple tool to assess whether a standard steel jacket retrofit is adequate to resist a design level earthquake for each bridge column in their inventory.

Determine the Presence of Asbestos on WSDOT Bridges. 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified bridges as “facilities” under the asbestos National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, which means that WSDOT needs to perform a “good faith survey” on every bridge prior to any demolition, renovation or maintenance operation. The objective of this research is to determine if a representative sample of the 3,000+ WSDOT-owned bridges can be achieved based on construction year, types of materials, location or other factors. 

Fish Passage at Tidal Crossings.
WSDOT & the Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife are lacking adequate technical guidance to effectively complete the tidal fish passage barrier inventory & design fish passage structures in tidal environments. Tidal water crossing structures are included in the culvert injunction, which requires state owned crossings to be passable for salmon & steelhead. Technical guidance for fish passage barrier assessment specific to tidal application would provide a consistent and defensible process to identify tidal barriers and provide more certainty to WSDOT for planning efforts to address fish passage barriers.

Linear Scheduling Evaluation and Best Practices Development for Design.
This is phase 2 of a research at utilizing liner scheduling at WSDOT. The project will: (1) define best practices for scheduling WSDOT projects, particularly development and use of linear scheduling during design, and (2) document benefit cost ratio for the use of linear scheduling during design, and (3) provide initial training and vendor selection guidelines.

Underwater Ferry Vessel Noise and Action Area Calculations.
The research will provide information on vessel source sound levels of all ferry vessel classes within the current fleet at a distance of one meter using existing data. This information can be used to assess each vessel class and determine what new design features or retrofits can be implemented to reduce the harassment zone and reduce or avoid any potential additional operational costs. WSDOT is directed to develop strategies for quieting state ferries by the Governor's Executive Order 18-02 (pdf 75 kb) to assist the well-being of Southern Resident Killer Whales.

Assessing Data Needs for Multimodal System Analysis and Evaluation.
The objective of this project is to assess the current data and data decision-making tools (e.g., performance framework, asset management system) owned by WSDOT to determine what multimodal data are available and what data need to be collected to make high quality decisions from planning through operations. This research will assess available systems to determine data needs, how this data could be collected cost-effectively, managed, and used to support the multimodal system.

Long-term bond characteristics of the interface between substrate & overlays in shotcrete application.
The goal of this project is to address shotcrete (sprayed concrete) debonding issues identified in substrate and overlays. The resulting specification recommendations for best practices and test methods will assure the effective bonding and monolithic behavior of shotcrete structures in wall fascia & slope stabilization and be adopted by the WSDOT when designing and implementing shotcrete in field.

Transportation Systems Management & Operations (TSMO): WSDOT Strategic Plan.
This project will develop a strategic plan for TSMO at WSDOT that:  1) builds upon best practices used across North America; 2) goes beyond the current vehicle-based state of the practice to be instead about person mobility;  and 3) tailors results to WSDOT’s organizational structure and capability.

Effects of Cascadia Subduction Zone Magnitude 9 Earthquakes on Bridges in Washington State.
Research is needed to quantify the effects of the new understanding of the seismic hazard of M9 earthquakes on (i) the design of new bridges, (ii) and the evaluation of existing bridges. The performance of these bridges will have important consequences on the post-earthquake performance of the transportation network.

Evaluation of Biofiltration Swale Media Mixes for Maximizing Phosphorus Removal.
The objective of this study is to identify an ideal media mix for removal of stormwater phosphorus and document the field performance of an amended mix biofiltration swale.  Biofiltration swales have performed well for removing most pollutants but recently there have been a number of reports showing that phosphorus can bleed out of compost-based media mixes, especially during the early years of operation.