TRB was established in 1920 as the National Advisory Board on Highway Research to provide a mechanism for the exchange of information and research results about highway technology. Renamed the Highway Research Board (HRB) in 1925, the organisation accomplished its mission through standing committees, publications, and an annual meeting. In the decades that followed, HRB steadily increased in size. Information exchange remained its sole mission until the 1950s, when it began to undertake management of ad hoc research projects. The first continuing research management activity — the National Cooperative Highway Research Programme — started in 1962.
During the 1960s, the Board’s activities became increasingly multimodal in outlook. In 1974 the Highway Research Board became the Transportation Research Board. Since then, TRB’s portfolio of services has expanded significantly. First in the early 1980s, when it began conducting studies of national transportation policy issues, and again in the 1990s, when Congress, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the state departments of transportation asked TRB to undertake additional tasks, including management responsibilities for the Transit Cooperative Research Programme, guidance of ongoing research programmes such as the Long-Term Pavement Performance studies, and management of the Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis programs.
More recent additions have included new cooperative research programmes in airports, freight, and hazardous materials transportation, and the second Strategic Highway Research Programme.
The Transportation Research Board's Research in Progress (RiP) website contains the Research In Progress (RiP) Database and a data-entry system to allow users in State Departments of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Transportation, University Transportation Centers and other US DOT funded universities to add, modify and delete information on their current research projects. The RiP database now contains over 8 400 current or recently completed transportation research projects. Most of the RiP records are projects funded by Federal and State Departments of Transportation. University transportation research is also included. The RiP Database now serves as a clearinghouse of University Transportation Centers ongoing research. International research projects from the TRIP file of the International Transport Research Documentation Database are now included in the RiP database. The Transportation Asso
The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to provide leadership in transportation innovation and progress through research and information exchange, conducted within a setting that is objective, interdisciplinary, and multimodal.
Another goal is to raise awareness in the transportation community of current and ongoing research.
TRB is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council — a private, nonprofit institution that is the principal operating agency of the National Academies in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The National Research Council is jointly administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.
TRB’s varied activities annually engage more than 7,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest by participating on TRB committees, panels, and task forces. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organisations and individuals interested in the development of transportation.
Funded as part of the Transportation Research Board’s core support with funds from State Departments of Transportation, the various modal administrations at the U.S. Department of Transportation and other sponsoring organisations of TRB.