The maintenance and development of technology in road, bridge and traffic are integral parts of Finnra's broad responsibility as the largest agency maintaining public infrastructure in Finland and as the developer of the road transport system. The complex nature of road management and traffic requires that experience be developed throughout the whole sector. Therefore, it is important to maintain constant and versatile research and development based on the strategic focal points specified.
The focal points of the Finnish Road Administration's (Finnra) research and development strategy are:
- Requirements of road users and other client groups
- Impacts of road management and traffic
- Asset management
- Working markets for procurement of road works and services
- Traffic management
- Management of traffic and road network information
In addition to the focal areas, so-called strategic projects are decided on separately. In 2003 these projects include road structures, main road solutions, impact management and low-volume roads. R&D also focuses on product and service tasks serving the whole road transport sector. In August 2003, 186 projects were ongoing.
The annual research and development program is based on the approved strategy. The present Research and Development Strategy approved by Finnra's Board on 26 February 2002 provides the cornerstone of the R&D programs pursued in the near future.
The aim of the Finnish Road Administration's (Finnra) research and development activities is to create new information and knowledge, so that the Finnish transport system can operate more efficiently, safely and competitively, based on the principle of sustainable development. Finnra's R&D activities involve the development of guidelines, quality requirements, and methods serving applied research and road management.
When Finnra's operations were internally divided into the Road Administration and the Finnish Road Enterprise, research and development were also separated. The Road Administration concentrates on impact management and the development of products and services. The starting points for Enterprise R&D activities are the production-related needs associated with road management and the related trends. These include cost and quality-efficiency of production activities as well as the development of production methods.
Regional road administrations implement projects related to research and development activity either as part of Finnra's R&D programme, as part of the region's and its stakeholders' local development programme, or as an obligatory part of road management or road projects, for example, as follow-up activity. Only projects directly connected to the programme are included in central programming, funding and reporting.
The funding for R&D programme of Finnish National Road Administration amounts to about 1% of road management funding. The estimate for R&D funding in 2003 is about EUR 5.9 million.