Local technical assistance program
The Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) is a Federal Highway Administration technology transfer program that provides technical assistance and training to local highway departments in the USA. It transfers knowledge of innovative transportation technology to both urban and rural local communities in the United States and to American Indian tribal governments.
The program is a partnership effort with funding provided from Federal, State, and local agency resources as well as universities and the private sector. Each center is funded by a 50:50 match of state and federal funds, although some states choose to provide more than the minimum required amount.
There are 58 Technology Transfer (T2) Centers established—one in each State, one serving Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and seven serving American Indian tribal governments—to provide training and technical assistance to local governments. Most centers are run by universities, and a few are hosted by their state's department of transportation. Several, like the Cornell Local Roads Program and Texas LTAP, are part of university-based cooperative extension services. It was founded in 1982, although several centers predate the national program.
LTAP Centers assist nearly 38,000 local government agencies and over 540 federally recognized tribes in maintaining and improving transportation infrastructure and services with the latest technology and information available. Local transportation agencies expend over $30 billion annually to maintain 2.9 million miles of roads [1.3 paved/1.6 unpaved] with over 290,000 bridges.
Many local road departments are managed by individuals who generally have practical experience but little formal technical education or training. LTAP has a variety of tools - training events, technology transfer resources, and personalized assistance - to assist local agencies in improving their transportation operations. Many state transportation departments also benefit from LTAP services. In 2011, LTAP centers trained over 151,000 people in over 5300 sessions.
Common topics for training and assistance include pavement management and maintenance, road works safety, traffic signs and pavement markings, public works department management, snow and ice control, and drainage.
Two important factors in LTAP's success are flexibility and networking. Although certain tasks are mandated, like providing a newsletter and a lending library for local highway officials, each LTAP center has considerable leeway in adapting its programs to address the unique challenges faced by the customers it serves.
Centers also work together on many projects. If one center has a pavement specialist on their staff, they may provide training for another state's center, in exchange for work zone training. Also, should a local highway official ask a question that their center can't answer, it can be forwarded to the 57 other centers, as well as related FHWA and State DOT offices. Usually, an answer is supplied within short order.
Map of LTAP centers: http://www.ltap.org/centers/