To support essential travelers during the COVID-19 public health crisis, CTDOT has launched a temporary program for food trucks to operate at highway Rest Areas in Danbury (I-84), Middletown (I-91), Wallingford (I-91) and North Stonington (I-95). Read more here: Food Trucks Temporarily Permitted at CTDOT Highway Rest Areas.

 Research Section

Research Unit Home Page Collage 
Office of Policy and Strategic Planning
Bureau of Policy and Planning
Connecticut Department of Transportation
2800 Berlin Turnpike
Newington, CT 06111
Telephone: (860) 594-2495; E-mail:
Research Needs


2020 Research Needs Solicitation

Why submit research needs to the Research unit?

The CTDOT Research Unit is always open to ideas on research and innovation. You can always submit a research needs statement to the unit. However, each year there will be a short time window when we actively seek to elicit all the research ideas that you may have. Research ideas have a variety of flavors. They could come from facing a major challenge in our work and for which academic work is needed in order to solve it. Or they could be related to implementing technology used by other state DOTs or your industry here at the CTDOT. Or it could be implementing the findings of published research. Regardless, we need and encourage participation so that we can answer the question of how research can best help us achieve the Department's mission.

How does this work, and what should I expect?

We are the key participants - you, the research team, every DOT employee. Although we all get our work done to the best of our ability, we have different challenges and ways of looking at our challenges. Some of us tend to think big, others are really good at focusing on their specific processes. The problem that is creating a challenge, or an inefficiency, in your daily work and for which there does not seem to be a current fix, or the macro-trend that you see impacting your work or field, may lend themselves to a research effort. In either case, the key is getting it out there, letting that problem, that "need," take shape so that it can be investigated and, with energy, intelligence, and hard work, solved.

Once you - and the Research team if you want us to help - give the idea a shape, we can see how it can be addressed. Many of the problems we face aren't necessarily research. For example, you may be depending on quickly getting supplies and the purchasing process is not sufficiently responsive too often. Other times, though, there is a research question that can be formulated out of a challenge, or thinking about a new trend. We call this first step "Stage Gate 1."

After this step, the research need is mapped to potential vehicles for getting it done. There are a number of programs that can do that, based on the nature of the research. For example, a research need that has a national scope would be a good candidate for one of the national Cooperative Research Programs. If it has a New England scope, the New England Transportation Consortium can be a good vehicle. Or a Pooled Fund study. And other times, it's our CTDOT's specific priority and we can actually administer the research as a CTDOT project. We estimate costs and identify the potential benefits of the research (the "return on investment" - though in research the ROI is not strictly financial measure, and by nature research can sometimes not work out.) This is "Stage Gate 2."

Now that we have a potential research project (a needs statement with scope, program, and cost), we find out how much of a commitment your office can make - for some needs, like national needs, the commitment is rather small - we'll be joining a large effort administered by - for example - the Transportation Research Board. For a CTDOT project, we find that a technical champion is essential to getting the research investigator to be responsive to our needs, and we are all happier with the product. Identifying and committing to stewarding the project or idea from a technical (subject-matter expertise) standpoint, is "Stage Gate 3."

Finally, those ideas that make it through these three gates are forwarded to our leadership. Their role is to use their perspective on best organizational alignment and critical needs for the agency to select as many of these as we are capable of undertaking within our funding capability. This is "Stage Gate 4."

There is a fifth Stage Gate. This takes place periodically as a project is under way - it basically consists of making sure that commitments are being kept and that the research is headed to completion. However, this does not mean that the research is going to lead to what we thought would be a positive, breakthrough result that makes headlines necessarily - sometimes the research leads to the conclusion that we cannot fully address the research question now - this is expected in research a significant portion of the time.

Throughout the process, as far as the idea makes it through the stage gates, we'll let you know what happened to your idea - or more accurately, how we took care of your idea. That idea, or need, and your willingness to share it, is how we become a better organization - our focus is to value and foster research and innovation at the Department.

To download the form, click on the blue line below. Save the document in your local computer (use a place you can easily find it, like Documents, Desktop, your preference.) Work on the idea on your computer. You can always get back to this page to actually submit the form later. Or, you can do it now. Once you are completed you can submit the form using the red button (generates e-mail; attach your file to the e-mail.) 

Download form (Word document) - save on your local computer to work on it.

Somewhere on your local computer you have a solicitation form filled out. Now you can attach it to an e-mail (click on the red line below to launch/call Outlook, then attach the filled-out idea form to the e-mail.) 

Click to e-mail the form. It may ask to open Outlook (Yes). Attach the filled-out form to the e-mail.


    • The Bureau of Policy and Planning’s Research Section is excited to introduce our new “CTDOT Research Bulletin.” The Bulletin is published annually as a quick way to disseminate information of the work being done in Research and encourage transportation research on all levels. Please enjoy the bulletin and feel free to provide feedback and ideas for future editions.
    • Take advantage of the AASHTO TC3 trainings made available by the Research Section!
      TC3 on-line training courses are available in the categories of construction, materials, maintenance, traffic and safety, pavement preservation and employee development. CTDOT personnel can access the training 24/7, start and stop sessions to fit their schedules, as well as print personalized certificates. The registration process is easy to follow.
    • The U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled the Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan for FY2017-2021. The Strategic Plan strongly emphasizes U.S. DOT efforts to promote the deployment and adoption of research results by integrating technology transfer throughout the Research and Development process.  It describes how the Department’s Technology Transfer Program and each Operating Administration’s Technology Deployment strategies address the FAST Act requirement to specify how research findings will be used to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and safety of transportation systems. Cross-modal research and collaborative initiatives in the areas such as alternative fuels, climate change, new emerging technologies etc. are also highlighted.