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Transportation Planning and Sustainability Guidebook

Chapter 5: Case Studies

Navigating the Case Studies

Incorporating sustainability principles into transportation planning is a process that needs to be customized to account for the needs of different states and regions. Sustainable transportation may be defined to emphasize different criteria based on a community's priorities, opportunities, and constraints. Further, there is a wide range of sustainability activities at transportation agencies, which put them on different paths. An agency that already has a sustainability plan is starting from a very different place than one that has just started to talk about sustainability beyond environmental stewardship. Agencies that have already created interdisciplinary teams or hired new staff to deal with sustainability issues are at an advantage to those lacking personnel and experience. Finally, agencies that are operating in states with sustainability legislation (e.g., Oregon) and have different levels of funding available for sustainability initiatives, have an easier time prioritizing those initiatives over other programs. These differences mean that there is no "one-size-fits-all" sustainability program that all transportation agencies can implement.

Nevertheless, a sustainability framework can work for different transportation agencies by letting them determine what sustainability means in their context or what it would entail to make their agency, system, and community more sustainable. Customizing sustainability for different transportation agencies requires agreement on what needs to be sustained and how to best sustain it in a context-sensitive way. It also needs an understanding of what needs to be developed (e.g. what elements offer economic competitiveness, improved social quality of life, etc.) and how best transportation can be used to drive the needed development. Each agency needs to identify their critical priorities (climate change, rural economic development, congestion, etc.), which may be guided by state mandates. They then need to identify gaps in the planning process (vision and goals, performance measures, design guidelines, etc.) where they can introduce sustainability principles. Phased implementation will depend on resource levels, both financial and personnel. Sustainability practices, like those identified in this guidebook, can be classified in different ways and combined into packages that cover all parts of the planning and project development process and all sustainability objectives. Again, the package for each DOT may look different based on their critical issues, available resources, and previous experiences with sustainability.

This chapter presents a menu of options for introducing sustainability principles into transportation planning activities. The table of contents classifies the case studies by critical issue(s) addressed, phase of the planning and project development process affected, and the type of tool or practice described. Taken together, the case studies cover all of the components of transportation sustainability planning (environment, economy, society, system performance) and span the entire planning and project development process. Transportation agencies can consider their sustainability goals and gaps, and take a look at case studies that address their specific needs.

What approaches could help all agencies plan for sustainability?

Despite differences in sustainability priorities among transportation agencies, some solutions are applicable to all transportation agencies. Take urban and rural areas as an example. The best option in a rural area may be to build or expand a roadway to provide access between communities. However, construction can still be done in a more sustainable way that minimizes impacts, resource consumption, waste, maintenance costs, etc. A green rating system, like NYSDOT's GreenLITES, is a tool that works for both urban and rural areas (see Case Study 6). It comes down to planning in a context-sensitive manner. At a more strategic level, there are certain programs and policies that can help all agencies advance planning for sustainable transportation.

Sustainability Targets, Not Standards

The term "standards" implies inflexibility. Rather than being limited by standards, transportation agencies could develop targets, or actionable goals, and then determine how best to achieve them. This strategy is being used in the EU and New Zealand (Case Study 3 describes New Zealand's approach to sustainability targets). In the EU, targets for emissions reductions or mode splits are set for the entire union and then translated down to the member states. The European Union coordinates sustainability at a high level through the Common Transport Policy (CTP) and the Framework Program (FMP). The goal of a "common" transport strategy is to remove barriers to free movement of goods and people throughout the EU by promoting a balanced network and sustainable development patterns. Green papers (discussion papers on a specific subject area) and White papers (proposals for EU community actions on a particular topic) are a primary means of communication between the EC and member states (32). These papers provide policy guidance that supports the CTP, but the member states can develop their own initiatives to meet the targets and policy goals. Program development and implementation is aided by the FMP, which establishes the priorities and funding for the European Union's research, technological development and demonstration activities over a five year period (33). The FMP is carried out by government offices, universities, and private consultants in the Member States.

Sustainability laws and directives

As was observed in the literature review, countries like the United Kingdom and New Zealand, which are viewed as sustainable transportation leaders, have strong national policies that guide planning. Similarly, transportation agencies that are considered leaders (by FHWA, AASHTO, DOTs), have mandates or strong support from state lawmakers for sustainable transportation planning. The policymaking process helps generate critical support for state DOT activities that are not explicitly related to mobility. Further, they help to prioritize new DOT initiatives at a time when financial resources are very limited.

Land use policies are a common way states attempt to make transportation planning more sustainable. Unfortunately, as a result of the authority of local governments to determine land use policies, only a few of these policies actually provide the state transportation agencies with power to influence land use decisions. The most recognizable states with smart growth or land use legislation with ties to transportation are Washington and Oregon, but Maryland, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts also have legislation or executive orders related to transportation-land use coordination.

Recently, there has been a wave of state policies related to climate change, some of which are in response to regional efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The three regional efforts are the Western Climate Initiative, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states), and the Midwestern Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord. As of January 2009, 27 states had adopted greenhouse gas reduction targets either by law or by executive order (Reuters 2009). Many of the state policies, like greenhouse gas budgets, do not directly mandate activities for the state DOT but they do require cooperation of multiple agencies to achieve the goals. California was the first state to pass comprehensive legislation for greenhouse gas reduction in 2006, following a 2005 Executive Order that set reduction targets. In order to do its part to reduce emissions, Caltrans works closely with the California Air Resources Board and serves on the Governor's Climate Action Team (see Case Study 12). Colorado's state legislature has taken a more direct approach - legislation passed in March 2009 requires that the statewide transportation plan (prepared by Colorado DOT) address greenhouse gas emissions reduction by finding ways to serve mobility needs without expanding roadways. New York State government has also been proactive in addressing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and the potential implications of climate change. A new statewide energy plan was released in 2009 and contains energy demand and price forecasts, assessment of energy resources, and strategies for transportation and other sectors. In August 2009, Governor Paterson signed Executive Order No. 24, which set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 80 percent below the 1990 levels by the year 2050. To achieve the goal, the Executive Order created a Climate Action Council with a directive to prepare a Climate Action Plan. In response to the state's energy and climate change directives, NYSDOT established a Climate Change & Energy Efficiency team (see Case Study 11).

Those states with Smart Growth legislation, comprehensive planning requirements, climate change mandates, etc. are better able to focus on and plan for the impacts of transportation infrastructure development on other systems.

Intra-agency and Interagency Collaboration

Collaboration was a key message of the first Green Streets and Highways Conference hosted by American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and Transportation & Development Institute (T&DI) in November 2010. Successful sustainability initiatives require collaboration because most transportation sustainability problems cross jurisdictional boundaries and impact multiple systems (environment, economy, community life, etc.). Working toward sustainability of the transportation system requires first collaboration within a transportation agency among the various departments and work groups. This may require temporary or permanent institutional changes like a sustainability task force, sustainability director or program manager, or an entire sustainability department. At another level, sustainability initiatives require interagency collaboration, which takes two forms: relationships between multiple transportation agencies (different levels of government, different modes, and different states) and relationships between multiple disciplinary agencies (environmental resources, economic development, historic preservation, etc). Such relationships are vital during all phases of the planning process, providing better, more comprehensive data, a consistent message to the public and policymakers, and implementation assistance. The case studies provide great examples of collaborative efforts, including PennDOT and NJDOT for Smart Transportation; transportation, public health, local planning agencies for Health Impact Assessment; NYSDOT with MPOs, NYS Energy Planning Board and other agencies for the Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Team.

Comprehensive education campaign

As with any new idea, sustainability needs "champions" to push it forward and a critical mass to support it. A comprehensive education campaign aimed at different stakeholder groups (transportation professionals, the public, policymakers, etc.) is a necessary step. For example, New NYSDOT tackled the transportation-land use connection by holding annual conferences to explain new policies or programs to other state agencies and local governments. In October 2007, the DOT held a land use conference for MPOs and local governments. The DOT also launched a "smart planning" website that presents all of its land use/smart growth policies and programs in one place and advertises training and hands-on assistance. When PennDOT embarked on the Smart Transportation movement, the agency made a major push to educate stakeholders. A unique feature of the movement is considerable outreach both internally (PennDOT employees) and externally (local governments, transportation professionals, civic groups, Pennsylvania residents) to explain Smart Transportation and how stakeholders can work together to accomplish goals. More information about PennDOT's approach can be found in Case Study 2.

Integrity in the planning process

To truly address sustainability problems, there needs to be integrity in the transportation planning process, meaning sustainability must be integrated throughout the entire process. Increasing numbers of transportation agencies are strategically committing to sustainability as a guiding framework for planning and project development. In order to act on this commitment, agencies need appropriate policies, tools, and methods for assessing sustainability at different stages in the planning process. A general planning framework includes visioning, the development of goals and objectives, the generation of project alternatives, the development of alternative transportation plans, and performance measurement (See Figure 5-1) (71). There are many examples of individual practices that can be added to incrementally transform the planning process. Examples include establishing "sustainability indicators" rather than traditional mobility indicators, which transforms the "performance measurement" stage to align with sustainability goals and objectives. Agencies can also add "establish targets" as an explicit stage of the process to move toward more active and dynamic assessment of sustainability. In addition to these practices, there are examples of state DOTs that have developed comprehensive frameworks, like PennDOT and Caltrans. Developing new practices can refine even comprehensive frameworks. For example, social sustainability analysis is still lacking in several sustainability frameworks. Including Health Impact Assessment as a long-range planning tool is one way to address that gap. The case studies' table of contents on the next page lists different phases of the planning process that each case study fits within.

Sustainable funding sources

As pointed out in earlier discussions, limited resources hinder the implementation of new sustainability initiatives. Providing transportation funding sufficient for maintaining the existing transportation infrastructure and putting in place capacity expansions to meet future demands is one of the most challenging public policy issues facing federal, state, and local officials. Given the diversity of funding contexts at all levels of government, the most likely descriptor of future transportation funding programs is that they will be "menus" of different funding and financing strategies. In addition to finding new, sustainable funding sources, transportation agencies can also develop new processes for allocating funds to projects in a way that ensures progress will be made toward more sustainable transportation systems. There are already examples of prioritization and allocation processes that can be based on sustainability goals. Oregon DOT develops investment scenarios as part of its long-range planning process, which explore the impacts that different funding and policy packages would have on the transportation system. The packages are developed around different themes or emphases that could reflect sustainability goals (Case Study 8). Minnesota DOT and Washington State DOT use performance-based planning aided by comprehensive performance measurement and reporting frameworks. Several research efforts are underway to designate sustainability indicators that could be incorporated into those frameworks.

The flowchart for transportation planning framework: Click on the image to bring up a detailed description of this figure.
Figure 5-1. Transportation Planning Framework (Meyer&Miller 2001)

Table 5: Case Studies
Case StudyCritical Issue(s)Phase(s) of Planning ProcessType of Practice or ToolPages
1 - Caltrans Smart Mobility FrameworkStrategic Planning; Performance MeasurementGoals and Objectives, Performance Measures, EvaluationSustainability Planning, Performance Measurement, Land Use and Transportation Planning61-66
2 - PennDOT Smart TransportationStrategic PlanningGoals and Objectives, Alternative Improvement StrategiesContext-Sensitive Solutions, Transportation&Land Use Coordination, Multi-modal Planning; Inter-Agency Cooperation67-70
3 - New Zealand Ministry of Transport 2008 Transport StrategyStrategic Planning; Performance MeasurementGoals and Objectives, Performance Measures, EvaluationSustainability Plan; Performance Measurement Framework71-74
4 - Caltrans Regional Blueprint PlanningStrategic Planning; Climate Change; Performance MeasurementGoals and Objectives, Alternative Improvement Strategies, Performance Measures, EvaluationRegional Planning; Transportation&Land Use Coordination; Climate Change75-80
5 - NJDOT New Jersey Future In Transportation (NJFIT)Strategic PlanningGoals and Objectives, Alternative Improvement Strategies, Performance Measures, EvaluationContext-Sensitive Solutions, Transportation&Land Use Coordination, Multi-modal Planning81-91
6 - NYSDOT GreenLITESClimate Change (Green Design)EvaluationGreen Transportation Standards92-96
7 - WSDOT Gray NotebookPerformance MeasurementEvaluation, Performance MeasuresPerformance Measurement97-102
8 - ODOT Investment ScenariosFiscally-constrained PlanningAlternative Improvement Strategies, EvaluationFinancial Sustainability; Multi-criteria Decision-making; Scenario Planning103-106
9 - Sustainability DiamondStrategic PlanningEvaluationMulti-criteria decision-making (MCDM); Visual decision-making tool103-110
10 - Health Impact AssessmentSocial Sustainability AssessmentData, Analysis Methods, EvaluationSocial Sustainability111-119
11 - NYSDOT Climate Change and Energy Efficiency TeamClimate ChangeGoals and Objectives, Data, Analysis Methods, EvaluationClimate Change; Energy Use/Efficiency120-124
12 - Caltrans Climate Action ProgramClimate ChangeGoals and Objectives, Alternative Improvement Strategies, Evaluation, PerformanceClimate Change125-129
13 - WSDOT Climate Change InitiativesClimate ChangeGoals and Objectives, Alternative Improvement Strategies, Evaluation, Performance MeasurementClimate Change, GHG Emissions Monitoring130-136
14 - London Sustainable Freight Distribution PlanFreight PlanningGoals and Objectives, Alternative Improvement StrategiesFreight Planning137-142
15 - WSDOT Freight PlanningFreight PlanningGoals and Objectives, Alternative Improvement StrategiesFreight Planning143-148
16 - Comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment for SustainabilityStrategic Planning; Performance-based PlanningAlternative Improvement Strategies, EvaluationFinancial Sustainability; Multi-criteria Decision Making149-154

Caltrans Smart Mobility Framework

Partners: US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Brief Description: Caltrans' vision for the 2025 California Transportation Plan is of the three Es of sustainability -- environment, economy, and equity. Following from this vision, Caltrans worked with the EPA on a pilot project called the Smart Mobility Framework. The project investigated how to build a framework for transportation investments to answer the question "is this sustainable?" SMF provides a tool to assess how well plans, programs and projects meet smart mobility principles and objectives.

Topic Area(s): Sustainability Planning, Performance Measurement, Land Use and Transportation Planning

Contact Person:

Chris Ratekin
Senior Transportation Planner

How did Smart Mobility get started?

California statutes, plans, and policies envision a transportation system that accommodates future growth in a way that is equitable, respects the environment, and fosters a sustainable economy. Caltrans felt that practical tools were needed to evaluate whether this vision could be realized. In 2007, the agency was one of six recipients of Smart Growth Implementation Assistance (SGIA) from USEPA. With SGIA, Caltrans received initial technical assistance to develop the framework. The Smart Mobility Framework (SMF) will help Caltrans address State mandates to find solutions to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the need to reduce per capita vehicle miles traveled, the demand for a safe transportation system that gets people and goods to their destinations, and the commitment to create a transportation system that advances social equity and environmental justice, as set forth in Caltrans' California Transportation Plan [1, 2].

What is the Smart Mobility Framework?

"Smart Mobility moves people and freight while enhancing California's economic, environmental, and human resources by emphasizing: convenient and safe multi-modal travel, speed suitability, accessibility, management of the circulation network, and efficient use of land."

The SMF for transportation planning and project development is centered on six principles, which are reflective of sustainability:

  1. Location Efficiency - Integrate transportation and land use in order to achieve high levels of non-motorized travel and transit use, reduced vehicle trip making, and shorter average trip length while providing a high level of accessibility.
  2. Reliable Mobility - Manage, reduce, and avoid congestion by emphasizing multi-modal options and network management through operational improvements and other strategies.
  3. Health and Safety - Design, operate, and manage the transportation system to reduce serious injuries and fatalities, promote active living, and lessen exposure to pollution.
  4. Environmental Stewardship - Protect and enhance the State's transportation system and its built and natural environment. Act to reduce the transportation system's emission of GHGs that contribute to global climate change.
  5. Social Equity - Provide mobility for people who are economically, socially, or physically disadvantaged in order to support their full participation in society. Design and manage the transportation system in order to equitably distribute its benefits and burdens.
  6. Robust Economy - Invest in transportation improvements that support the economic health of the State and local governments, the competitiveness of California's businesses, and the welfare of California residents. [2]

The Smart Mobility principles will be integrated into Caltrans' day-to-day operations. The principles will be introduced into a wide range of DOT and partner activities including:

How was the Smart Mobility Framework developed?

Caltrans' SMF was developed in partnership with the California Governor's Office of Planning & Research (OPR) and the California Department of Housing & Community Development (HCD). It was completed in two phases. The first phase used technical assistance from USEPA to gather and synthesize data from California, other states, regional agencies, and State DOTs across the country. These findings were discussed at a stakeholder workshop (including participants from Caltrans, partner agencies, and other organizations) and used to establish the definition and themes for Smart Mobility in California. The second phase of the project used State Planning & Research funds to develop the specific framework that will guide Caltrans employees in evaluating proposed transportation plans and projects by principles of Smart Mobility. The phase involved another stakeholder workshop to gather feedback on a draft guidebook. Phase II funding also supported publication and distribution of the final guidebook, Smart Mobility 2010: A Call to Action for the New Decade. Future phases of the project will refine the framework so that Caltrans and other agencies can develop effective screening tools to evaluate their plans and projects [2]. Framework development was guided by an interdisciplinary technical advisory team (TAC) that reviewed interim products and feedback from stakeholder workshops. The SMF will ultimately be used to guide development of products and assess plans, programs, and projects at various levels (state, regional, local) across the state (urban, suburban, rural areas) [1].

Criteria for developing the framework:

How will Smart Mobility be implemented?

The SMF guidebook establishes priorities and provides tools for beginning to implement Smart Mobility at Caltrans and at partner agencies. This section will describe three of those "tools": Smart Mobility Place Types, Interregional Blueprints, and the Action Plan & Checklist.

Smart Mobility Place Types

"Place types are tools to guide change so that communities evolve to achieve higher levels of Smart Mobility benefits."

Seven "place types" are specifically designed as tools for plan­ning and programming that implement Smart Mobility. The place types represent generic development patterns that are present throughout California. The place types are: Urban Centers, Close-in Compact Communities, Compact Communities, Suburban areas, Rural and Agricultural Lands, Protected Lands, and Special Use Areas. Table 5-1 is a snapshot of the place types described in Smart Mobility 2010. The report provides guidance for how Smart Mobility can be implemented in each place type. The key implementation activities are grouped into Planning, Transportation Projects and Programs, and Development and Conservation Projects and Programs. Additionally, the appendix offers resource documents and example guidelines that can be applied to different place types [2].

Table 5-1. Snapshot of Smart Mobility Place Types.
  Presence of Location Efficiency Factors  
Place Type Summary Description
(existing or planned
Community Design Regional Accessibility Examples
3.Compact CommunitiesHistoric cities and towns as well as newer places characterized by strong presence of community design elements. While most compact communities are outside of metropolitan regions, some are on the periphery of metropolitan regions.HighModerate to LowEureka, San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara
4.Suburban CommunitiesCommunities characterized by a low level of integration of housing with jobs, retail, and services, poorly connected street networks, low levels of transit service, large amounts of surface parking, and inadequate walkability.For the purposes of the Smart Mobility Framework, suburban communities are defined by weak-to-moderate presence of location efficient community design factors. Places that share characteristics with suburban communities - such as a high proportion of detached housing, are categorized as being in the suburban community place type only if the match the place type characterization relative to location efficiency factors.They vary with respect to regional accessibility; some suburban communities are located within easy commute distance of urban centers, while others are not.Moderate to High density examples: typical areas of Orange County and Inland Empire counties. Low to Moderate density examples: Central Valley, Salinas Valley and Sierra foothill suburbs
4a. CentersMid-size small downtowns, lifestyle centers, or other activity centers embedded within suburban communities.ModerateVariable 
4b. CorridorsArterial streets with a variety of fronting development types, frequently characterized by inadequate walk and bike environments low land use efficiency and poor aesthetics.WeakVariable 
4c. Dedicated Use AreasLarge tracts of land used for commercial purposes such as business or industrial park or warehousing, or for recreational purposes such as gold courses.WeakVariable 
4d. Neighborhoods Residential subdivisions and complexes including housing, public facilities and local-serving commercial uses, typically separated by arterial corridorsWeak to ModerateVariable 

Source: Smart Mobility 2010: A Call to Action for the New Decade

Interregional Blueprint

For several years, Caltrans has administered the Regional Blueprint Planning program, which helps regional governments develop future land use and transportation visions (more information can be found in the Blueprints Case Study). As part of the Smart Mobility program, the Department will develop a statewide interregional, multi-modal blueprint to be known as the California Interregional Blueprint (Interregional Blueprint or CIB). The CIB will go beyond the scope of the existing California Transportation Plan (CTP) by analyzing the benefits of multi-modal, interregional projects on the transportation system. In line with the regional program, it will also improve understanding of the role of integrated land use and transportation investments in meeting critical strategic growth and sustainability goals. In addition to weaving together existing Regional Transportation Plans into a statewide blueprint, the CIB will result in stronger partnerships with regional and local agencies and tribal governments, and better data for future decision making at the State, regional, and local levels [2].

Action Plan and Checklist

Also included in the guidebook is an Action Plan that identifies the concepts, methods, and resources essential for implementation of the SMF. The Smart Mobility Action Plan identifies ten implementation themes:

The Action Plan is presented as a checklist of high priority activities for implementation. The checklist identifies the relevant level(s) for implementation (state, regional, local); key participants; time frame for initiating the action; reference sections of the handbook; and relevant resource materials [2].

What will Smart Mobility achieve and how will it be measured?

Caltrans' anticipates that several important outcomes will be achievable over a long-term time frame. These outcomes include:

In order to more easily apply Smart Mobility to project and plan development, Caltrans designated a set of seventeen Smart Mobility performance measures (SMPMs), which are shown in Table 5-2. The measures collectively capture Caltrans' role in context-sensitive solutions, regional blueprints, sustainable communities strategies, corridor system management plans, and Interstate commodity movement. For each performance measure, the Call-to-Action report suggests specific metrics that can be used, identifies tools needed to assess each measure, and suggests sources for the necessary data. The report also provides guidance on how the performance measures can be applied to different place types because not all measures are applicable to all place types.  Also, they may require different data collection strategies. Because the SMF is intended to complement and build upon existing policies and plans, the report analyzes the relationship between the proposed SMPMs and Caltrans' Strategic Growth Plan in the California Transportation Plan 2030. To help Caltrans and other agencies use the SMPMs for project assessment or monitoring, the appendix contains hypothetical examples of SMPM application for (1) Regional Transportation Plan, (2) Context Sensitive Design of an Arterial State Highway, and (3) Corridor Systems Management Plan. [2]

Table 5-2. SMPMs and Smart Mobility principles each is most closely related to.
PrinciplePerformance Measure
Location Efficiency1.Support for Sustainable Growth
2.Transit Mode Share
3.Accessibility and Connectivity
Reliable Mobility4.Multi-Modal Travel Mobility
5.Multi-Modal Travel Reliability
6.Multi-Modal Travel Quality
Health and Safety7.Multi-Modal Safety
8.Design and Speed Suitability
9.Pedestrian and Bicycle Mode Share
Environmental Stewardship10.Climate and Energy Conservation
11.Emission Reduction
Social Equity12.Equitable Distribution of Impacts
13.Equitable Distribution of Access and Mobility
Robust Economy14.Congestion Effects on Productivity
15.Efficient Use of System Resources
16.Network Performance Optimization
17.Return on Investment

Source: Smart Mobility 2010: A Call to Action for the New Decade

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.
Multiple indicators to measure six principles: location efficiency, reliable mobility, health and safety, environmental stewardship, social equity, and robust economy

Internal data sources:

multimodal focus: auto-median speed, transit-average wait time, pedestrian-density, and cyclists-lane width

safety focus: speed suitability

External data sources (regional agencies, other state DOTs, stakeholder workshops) used to develop framework with technical help from USEPA to synthesize data

Data intensive for some principles; quality-of-life principles (social equality, health and safety, and robust economy) have fewer robust measures


[1] Smart Mobility Framework website,

[2] Smart Mobility 2010: A Call to Action for the New Decade,

PennDOT Smart Transportation Planning Framework and Design Guidance

Partner Agencies: Pennsylvania DOT with New Jersey DOT and Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission

Brief Description: Comprehensive framework for guiding planning and design decisions and partnering with other agencies, states, and local communities to make financially, environmentally, and socially sustainable decisions.

Topic Area(s): Comprehensive Framework combining Context-Sensitive Solutions, Transportation & Land Use Coordination, Multi-modal Planning; Inter-Agency Cooperation

Contact Person:

Brian Hare

Division Chief, Design Services


What is Smart Transportation?

In 1999, Pennsylvania recognized that the state's historic pattern of land development and transportation investments was no longer sustainable for a variety of financial, environmental, and social reasons.  Further, public funding for all transportation improvements was very limited and costs for new infrastructure were soaring. In response to these challenges, PennDOT embarked on the Smart Transportation movement to use transportation funds efficiently and achieve design flexibility, choices, safety, and land use coordination. The cornerstone of Smart Transportation is partnering with other agencies, states, and local communities to make financially, environmentally, and socially sustainable decisions. In March 2008, Pennsylvania DOT and New Jersey DOT released their collective report entitled "Smart Transportation Guidebook: Planning and Designing Highways and Streets that Support Sustainable and Livable Communities". Since the release of the guidebook, PennDOT has engaged in an extensive internal and public campaign to make Smart Transportation the standard operating procedure for transportation planning and design in the state.

How was the Smart Transportation framework developed?

Smart Transportation is a planning framework that links land use and transportation planning, focuses on system maintenance and preservation, balances priorities among all transportation modes, requires collaboration with planning partners, and emphasizes true fiscal responsibility [1]. Smart Transportation was born out of PennDOT's Sound Land Use Implementation Plan, which was first released in 2000 and updated annually until 2008.  The purpose of the plan was to identify the various initiatives PennDOT was taking to improve the linkage between transportation and land use and monitor progress on implementation. PennDOT's transportation-land use activities influenced development of the 2007 Pennsylvania Mobility Plan (the state's long-range statewide transportation plan), which formally introduced the Smart Transportation approach to planning and design. Following release of the Mobility Plan, PennDOT held external partner workshops with other state agencies and local governments and internal staff workshops to share the message. The official definition of Smart Transportation is "partnering to build great communities for future generations of Pennsylvanians by linking transportation investments and land use planning and decision-making" [2]. Smart Transportation is still about addressing the transportation system's ability to meet regional and local mobility needs (for example, reduce congestion), and balance those needs with other project and community objectives. However, in order to address congestion, project teams are encouraged to use creative approaches (like access management, signal coordination, alternative transportation modes) rather than focusing on intersection or mainline widening. Smart Transportation is supported by ten themes:

  1. Money counts
  2. Leverage and preserve existing investments
  3. Choose projects with high value/price ratio
  4. Safety always and maybe safety only
  5. Look beyond level-of-service
  6. Accommodate all modes of travel
  7. Enhance local network
  8. Build towns not sprawl
  9. Understand the context; plan and design within the context
  10. Develop local governments as strong land use partners

It is not a completely new concept but rather an effort to ensure that the ten principles are consistently and consciously applied to all projects and that Smart Transportation becomes the standard approach for PennDOT's day-to-day operations. A unique feature of the movement is considerable outreach both internally (PennDOT employees) and externally (local governments, transportation professionals, civic groups, Pennsylvania residents) to explain Smart Transportation and how stakeholders can work together to accomplish goals. The official motto is "Smart Transportation - it starts with me", and the official website provides resources for how different groups can be involved day-to-day. For example, PennDOT offers training sessions, information sessions, group or agency presentations, and customizable PowerPoint presentations for transportation professionals. Local governments are encouraged to seek out Smart Transportation guidance - PennDOT support and guidance are available to local municipalities when development projects go through the Highway Occupancy Permit (HOP) Process, municipalities prepare transportation elements for comprehensive plans, and local streets are modified, added, or closed. To aide with outreach and partnering, each of the twelve DOT Districts has an Assistant District Executive (ADE) for Design who serves as point person for Smart Transportation.

How is PennDOT accomplishing Smart Transportation?

PennDOT is integrating Smart Transportation concepts into all of their activities through programs and processes like:

A significant milestone was the release of the Smart Transportation Guidebook in March 2008, which was a collaborative effort with NJ DOT and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. The partnership came out of necessity for coordinating transportation and land use because the Delaware Valley (metropolitan area centered on Philadelphia) consists of five Pennsylvania counties and four New Jersey counties. The guidebook received a 2008 FHWA & FTA Transportation Planning Excellence Award. The guidebook capitalizes on the flexibility of AASHTO Green Book standards and includes matrices that match land use contexts to appropriate design standards and roadway treatments (see Table 5-3 for an example). An important feature of the guidebook is a move from "design speed" to "desired operating speed", which is essentially the speed that highway engineers and community planners would like vehicles to travel at. The desired operating speed is a function of roadway purpose and the surrounding land use context, and it is "enforced" through appropriate design elements like sight distance, horizontal and vertical curves, and streetscaping. The guidebook, which is consistent with AASHTO design standards, is considered a "starting point" for designing all types of transportation facilities in the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey and emphasizes achieving consensus with local stakeholders and using design exceptions when warranted. Features of the design guidebook (like the matrix shown in Table 5-3) were incorporated into a new edition of PennDOT's Design Manual Part 2 that was released in August 2009.

Table 5-3. Example "Matrix of Design Values" from Smart Transportation Guidebook
 RuralSuburban NeighborhoodSuburban CorridorSuburban CenterTown/Village NeighborhoodTown/Village CenterUrban Core
Lane Width11 to 12 ft10 to 12 ft (14 ft outside lane if no shoulder or bike lane)11 to 12 ft (14 to 15 ft outside lane if no shoulder or bike lane)10 to 12 ft (14 ft outside lane if no shoulder or bike lane)10 to 12 ft (14 ft outside lane if no shoulder or bike lane)10 to 12 ft (14 ft outside lane if no shoulder or bike lane)10 to 12 ft (14 ft outside lane if no shoulder or bike lane)
Paved Shoulder Width8 to 10 ft4 ft to 8ft if no parking8 to 10 ft4 ft to 6 ft (if no parking or bike lane4 ft to 6 ft (if no parking or bike lane4 ft to 6 ft (if no parking or bike lane4 ft to 6 ft (if no parking or bike lane
Parking LaneNA7 ft to 8 ft parallelNA8 ft parallel; see 7.2 for angled7 ft to 8 ft parallel; see 7.2 for angled7 ft to 8 ft parallel; see 7.2 for angled7 ft to 8 ft parallel; see 7.2 for angled
Bike LaneNA5 ft to 6 ft (if no shoulder)5 ft to 6 ft (if no shoulder)5 ft to 6 ft5 ft to 6 ft5 ft to 6 ft5 ft to 6 ft
Median4 to 6 ft12 to 18 ft for LT; 6 to 8 ft for pedestrians12 to 18 ft for LT; 6 to 8 ft for pedestrians12 to 18 ft for LT; 6 to 8 ft for pedestrians12 to 18 ft for LT; 6 to 8 ft for pedestrians12 to 18 ft for LT; 6 to 8 ft for pedestrians12 to 18 ft for LT; 6 to 8 ft for pedestrians only
Curb Return25 to 50 ft25 ft to 35 ft25 ft to 50 ft20 ft to 40 ft15 ft to 30 ft15 ft to 35 ft15 ft to 40 ft
Travel Lanes2 to 42 to 42 to 42 to 42 to 42 to 42 to 4
Clear Sidewalk WidthNA5 ft5 to 6 ft6 ft6 to 8 ft6 to 10 ft8 to 14 ft
BufferNA6 ft +5 to 10 ft4 to 6 ft4 to 6 ft4 to 6 ft4 to 6 ft
Shy DistanceNANANA0 to 2 ft0 to 2 ft2 ft2 ft
Total Sidewalk WidthNA5 ft5 to 6 ft10 to 14 ft10 to 16 ft12 to 18 ft14 to 22 ft
Desired Operating Speed (mph) 35-5530-3535-503025-3025-3025-30


  1. 12' preferred lane width for regular transit routes and heavy truck volumes >5%, particularly for speeds of 35 mph or greater
  2. Shoulders should be installed in urban contexts only as part of a retrofit of wide travel lanes to accommodate bicyclists.
  3. 7 ft parking lanes on this roadway type considered appropriate conditions.
  4. Buffer is assumed to be planted area (grass, shrubs, and/or trees) for suburban neighborhood and corridor contexts; street furniture/car door zone for other land use contexts. Min. of 6 ft for transit zones.

Sources for values in matrix: AASHTO Green Book (2001) and ITE "Context Sensitive Solutions in Designing Major Urban Thoroughfares for Walkable Communities" (2006)

As of March 2010, PennDOT was transforming its long range planning process and project development procedures through the Linking Planning with NEPA initiative. The new long-range planning guidance will include project selection criteria that incorporate Smart Transportation themes, and will be used for the program update beginning in July 2011. At the project planning level, Smart Transportation principles will be incorporated into every stage, beginning with the definition of the project problem and continuing through development of project alternatives, environmental approvals, final design, and advancement of future funding phases.

Outcomes of Smart Transportation

Smart Transportation has resulted in concrete and permanent change in PennDOT's planning and design activities. In 2009, PennDOT's Design Manuals and project development process were being updated to incorporate the Smart Transportation themes and principles. PennDOT also set aside a small amount of funding to support Smart Transportation projects through the Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative (PCTI). In 2009 they received 403 requests for $600 million in projects and selected 50 grants totaling $59.3 million. The breakdown of project types represents the creativity and multi-modal approach of Smart Transportation:16% to bicycle/pedestrian, 17% to roads/intersections/local network, 24% to intermodal/transit-oriented development, 13% to land use & transportation planning/redevelopment, 31% to streetscaping/traffic calming, about 1% (or $285,000) for regional planning. PCTI was intended to showcase how the Smart Transportation process can work and demonstrate best practices for projects. The Smart Transportation website provides numerous case studies of right-sizing and context sensitive design projects that have been constructed throughout the state through PCTI and Smart Transportation outreach. Preliminary observations suggest that the DOT is engaged in more planning studies than before, meaning that rather than initiating a capacity-building project, DOT staff or local governments are first examining the problems on a congested corridor and looking for possible operational solutions or minor physical corrections.

Smart Transportation has created an open and collaborative environment, encouraging local governments to become involved in the process. Less than two years after initiating the campaign, a township approached PennDOT to share their best practices and receive feedback on ways to improve their planning process. The township, county government, and PennDOT district office are engaged in on-going dialog on how to best link land use to transportation decisions.

Outcomes of Smart Transportation will be monitored in the future by performance measures in the scorecard. One measure will track the use of land use studies as a component of planning a capacity-building project. A second measure will reflect the "money counts" (or financial sustainability) theme by monitoring how well preliminary cost estimates are maintained through final design and construction.

The Smart Transportation website is frequently updated with new presentations, planning and design guidelines, and news to keep PennDOT employees, local governments, and other stakeholders informed of continual progress and new developments.

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.
The framework depends on ten goals: money counts, leverage and preserve existing investments, choose projects with high value/price ratio, safety always, look beyond level-of-service, accommodate all modes of travel, enhance local network, build towns not sprawl, understand the context, and develop local governments as strong land use partners

Internal measures of success:

Traffic: peak hours LOS (queue lengths, seconds of delay)

Safety: reduction in number of driveways (field count)

Internal and external outreach of ideas:

Internal: PennDOT employees

External: local government, transportation professionals, civic groups, PA residents

Very comprehensive plan developed using multiple agencies with extensive outreach programs to promote wide use; "performance measures" not identified



[2] Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. (2010). Smart Transportation.

[3] October 2009: Using Transportation Dollars to Build Sustainable and Livable Communities, Presentation to Pennsylvania Planning Association,

New Zealand Ministry of Transport 2008 Transport Strategy

Brief Description: National transportation strategy and monitoring system based on sustainability principles.

Topic Area(s): Sustainability Plan and Performance Measurement Framework

Contact Person:

Hon Steven Joyce
Minister of Transport

What is New Zealand's sustainability plan?

Sustainability Plans and Policies are important because they provide a comprehensive and coordinated way to address sustainable transportation within the transportation agency and across other state agencies. New Zealand Ministry of Transport (the Ministry) released its first plan for sustainable transportation in 2008: the New Zealand Transport Strategy (NZTS). The plan is an update of the 2002 Transport Strategy.  In the plan, the Ministry outlines a vision for a sustainable transportation system, to be operationalized by objectives and measurable targets. The objectives are further refined by several indicators to track progress toward achieving the objectives and ultimately the transportation vision. The Ministry also includes a mechanism to periodically review and revise its framework as progress is made or new data becomes available for indicators. While the NZTS is non-statutory, it is supported by a statutory document called the Government Policy Statement (GPS) on Land Transport Funding. Further, NZTS is accompanied by a performance measurement and reporting framework with a procedure to monitor progress towards the objectives and targets in the Transport Strategy and Government Policy Statement. It provides a tool for evaluating the effectiveness of the current policy and for guiding future decisions. The plan also provides accountability by making the monitoring framework publicly available on the web and by publishing an annual report on trends and progress [1].

Ministry of Environment's Definition of Sustainable Transport:

Sustainable transport is about finding ways to move people, goods and information in ways that reduce its impact on the environment, economy and society. Some options include: (1) using transport modes that use energy more efficiently, such as walking or cycling, and public transport; (2) improving transport choice by increasing the quality of public transport, cycling and walking facilities, services and environments; (3) improving the efficiency of our car use, such as using more fuel efficient vehicles, driving more efficiently, avoiding cold starts, and car pooling; (4) using cleaner fuels and technologies; (5) using telecommunications to reduce or replace physical travel, such as tele-working or tele-shopping; (6) planning the layout of cities to bring people and their needs closer together, and to make cities more vibrant and walkable; and (7) developing policies that allow and promote these options, such as the New Zealand Transport Strategy. From

What are the components of the transport strategy?

Defining a Vision, Objectives, and Targets

The NTZS was established based on sustainability principles. It establishes a transportation vision for 2040: 'People and freight in New Zealand have access to an affordable, integrated, safe, responsive and sustainable transport system." The vision was developed to be consistent with national transport priorities and is supported by five objectives, which advance a "sustainable" system:

Each objective is broken down into specific performance targets. A total of 15 targets were included in the 2008 strategy with plans to add more by 2010 as data sources are identified to create meaningful measures for them. In order to determine progress, the strategy includes one or more indicators for each target. Table 5-4 indicates how the goals/objectives, targets, and indicators are related.

Table 5-4. Example of related goals, target, and indicator
Goals/objectives Ensuring environmental sustainability and Assisting economic development
Target Reduce the kilometers travelled by single-occupancy vehicles, in major urban areas on weekdays, by ten percent per capita by 2015 compared to 2007
Indicator Distance per capita travelled in single occupancy vehicles in major urban areas on weekdays

Flowchart of framework for NZTS. Select the image to go to a full description of this image.
Figure 5-2. Framework for NZTS

The NZTS outlines "strategic priorities" to achieve the plan's objectives. Examples include integrated planning, maximizing the efficiency of the existing network, investment in critical infrastructure, increase in availability of public transport and active modes, new pricing mechanisms to provide transport funding, new technologies and fuels, maintaining and improving international links. NZTS establishes action items for each of these priorities, some of which incorporate strategies from other government plans like the NZ Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy. Figure 5-2 illustrates the framework for the 2008 NZTS, illustrating the alignment of vision and objectives with targets, key challenges and actions.

Implementing and Monitoring the Strategy

NZTS 2008 is set apart in its targets setting because the targets will be statutorily enforced through the Government Policy Statement (GPS) on Land Transport Funding. The GPS establishes short-term system goals that will be achieved by prioritizing funding over the next six to 10 years. The national strategy and GPS will be used to link national targets with local priorities through the Regional Land Transport Strategies. In addition to the statutory funding statement, NZTS will also be "enforced" through the Transport Monitoring Indicator Framework, which establishes a monitoring and review process that covers: accountability for delivery of the strategy, a monitoring framework, how gaps in knowledge will be dealt with, proposals for strengthening targets, and a review cycle for the strategy. Further, the indicators are being made available to the public via an online interactive version to allow for easy and transparent tracking. The original framework debuted in 2008 as an outcome-based framework, meaning the indicator sets corresponded to specific objectives. A new version of the framework was released in August 2009 and took a theme-based approach so that the framework will remain relevant even as transportation priorities change. The framework includes ten indicator sets covering traditional transportation themes like Transport Volume, Safety and Security, and Access to the Transport System along with transport-related themes like Public Health, Environmental, and GDP and Population. Transportation trends, as revealed by the indicators, will be summarized in an annual report called the New Zealand Transport Statistics document. The first edition of this report was released in July 2009 [3].

Incorporating Stakeholder Feedback

The 2008 Transport Strategy was developed using an open and inclusive process. The Ministry used multiple forums to obtain feedback from stakeholders. In December 2007, the Ministry published a discussion paper on Sustainable Transport, which was released to the public for feedback. The paper discussed the issues facing the transport sector and objectives for moving forward. It also proposed various targets for measuring progress and discussed options for achieving the targets. Stakeholders from the public sector, private sector, and general population were asked for their views on both the strategies and targets. The Ministry utilized national monitoring and trend data, input from other central government agencies, research from New Zealand and overseas, modeling, professional knowledge and judgment, and the stakeholder feedback in preparing the 2008 NZTS [2].

Future Directions

There are plans to revisit the transport strategy - in 2010 to assess its effectiveness.  NZ Transport plans to strengthen the targets during that review. After the initial review, the strategy will be reviewed every six years after 2010 to monitor performance and revise strategies to account for uncertainty in some of the external drivers like population growth and transport fuel prices. Over time, the Ministry of Transport hopes that all national transportation targets adopted by other agencies will be consistent with the NZTS. With transportation priorities aligned, multiple state agencies will be able to collaborate for a sustainable transportation system.

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.

Various indicators for:

  • Environmental sustainability
  • Economic development
  • Safety and personal security
  • Access and mobility
  • Public health

Various indicators for:

  • Environmental sustainability
  • Economic development
  • Safety and personal security
  • Access and mobility
  • Public health

Internal and External Sources:

Statistics NZ; NZ Transport Agency Travel Surveys; NZ Transport Agency Motor Vehicle Register; Ministry of Economic Development; Local and regional transport authorities; Ministry of Transport's Vehicle Fleet Emissions Model
Data not available at consistent scale; Data for some desired indicators (particularly public health) not yet collected


[1] New Zealand Ministry of Transport. (2009a). The New Zealand Transport Strategy 2008,, (28 March 2010).

[2] New Zealand Ministry of Transport. (2009b). Questions and Answers on the New Zealand Transport Strategy. Available at, (28 March 2010).

[3] New Zealand Ministry of Transport. (2010). Transport Monitoring Indicator Framework. Available at, (28 March 2010).

Caltrans Regional Blueprint Planning Process

Brief Description: Grant program for collaborative regional visioning and scenario planning that integrates transportation, land use, housing needs, resource protection, and other issues. Communities shape their Blueprints process through selection of performance goals. The Blueprints process will also contribute to Caltrans Climate Action Program (see Case Study) through greenhouse gas reduction strategies.

Topic Area(s): Regional Planning; Transportation & Land Use Coordination; Climate Change

Contact Person:

Marilee Mortenson

Regional Blueprint Project Manager

What is Regional Blueprints Planning?

 The California Regional Blueprint Planning Program was originally established in 2005 by the California Legislature as a two-year program. It is administered by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Office of Regional and Interagency Planning. The program was created and has been updated in response to several state and federal directives for regional planning. As a note, regional transportation and land use planning that resulted in "blueprints" began in California in the late 1990s, but a formal grant program was not launched until 2005. The intent of the Blueprints process is to conduct comprehensive scenario planning and have regional leaders, local governments, and stakeholders agree on a preferred land use and transportation scenario that will guide the region's growth for the next few decades. The process is built around interactive public participation that explores trade-offs among transportation planning, land use planning, housing needs, resource protection and other crucial issues like greenhouse gas reduction.

Relevant regional planning legislation at the state levels includes: AB 69 (Chapter 1253, Statutes of 1972); SB 45 (Chapter 622, Statutes of 1997); AB 32 (California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006); and SB 375 (Chapter 728, Statutes of 2008). At the federal level, guidance is provided by TEA-21 and SAFETEA-LU.

How does Regional Blueprints work?

Caltrans has been engaging in collaborative planning through the Regional Blueprint Planning Program since 2005. Regional Blueprints is a voluntary grant program that provides funds for regions to conduct community visioning and model and assess alternate land use scenarios. The program attempts to show local governments the importance of thinking regionally and coordinating planning for transportation, land use, housing needs, resource protection, and other issues (see Framework in Figure 5-3). Reflecting the diverse goals of Blueprints, the program is supported by three primary partners in addition to Caltrans: the Governor's Office of Planning and Research, the Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.

Regional Blueprints Framework.
Figure 5-3. Regional Blueprints Framework. Source: Regional Progress Report 2007

The Blueprint process has 12 performance goals, and communities are able to shape their own process through the designation of key objectives (or a plan of action) to achieve each goal, and quantifiable performance measures to show progress toward each goal. In the grant process, applicants must also designate who the lead agency will be for each objective, any partner agencies, and the anticipated completion date for each objective. The performance goals are:

The designation of performance measures for each goal is particularly important because they are used to assess and compare the different land use scenarios that are generated during the community outreach process. Examples of performance measures in the Blueprint Program are listed below. Blueprints offers a way for regions to respond to state legislation that requires MPOs to achieve greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals through transportation and land use planning. From an environmental sustainability standpoint, a Blueprints process also commonly uses avoidance planning (depending on data availability) in which the agencies use GIS and data support to identify environmentally sensitive lands and plan projects around them.

Regional Blueprints Performance Measures:

Relationship to Climate Change

Regional land use and transportation planning in California will be significantly affected by the recent passage of SB 375. This Bill is arguably one of the most far-reaching pieces of legislation in the US, aiming to tie greenhouse gas emission reductions to transportation investment decisions. Passed in late 2008, SB 375 requires the state Air Resources Board (ARB) to develop by 2010 regional greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to be achieved from the automobile and light truck sectors for 2020 and 2035 through changes in development patterns. Targets will be revised every eight years to conform to a unified housing and transportation planning schedule set up by the Bill. MPOs must prepare a "sustainable communities strategy" (or SCS) to reduce the amount of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in their region and show that the ARB's targets can be attained. The regional SCS, even if it conflicts with local plans, will become part of the official regional transportation plan for the region, thus integrating the new state policy into the federally-required transportation plan. Further, SB 375 requires that regional transportation funding decisions be consistent with the region's SCS. Given the new planning requirements, SB 375 will likely increase demand for Regional Blueprint grants and planning assistance. In addition to MPO planning requirements, developers would get relief from some of the state's environmental regulations if projects are consistent with the adopted sustainable communities strategy (e.g., transit-oriented developments), and cities are required to update their housing plans to be consistent with this policy. It is important to note that the emission reduction targets are on a per capita basis, meaning reduction in per capita emissions may mask a continued rise in total emissions if strategies do not address both.

It is likely that the impact of SB 375 will not be seen for years. Because the community strategy's tie to land use is incentive-based, and given that local governments are not required to comply with the regional plan, it is not clear what ultimate impact SB 375 will have on land use decisions. From the viewpoint of sustainability, however, tying together housing and transportation planning is an important step forward. With respect to funding, the law states that funding decisions must be consistent with the SCS, which is a laudable goal, but whose actual impact will have to await local decision maker definition of "consistency." The exemption and streamlining of state environmental review for development projects that are determined to be consistent with the SCS could foster a shifting in development investment in urban areas in California. This is perhaps of greatest interest to developers and the point likely to have the greatest short term impact.  Specifically, SCSs are likely to concentrate future development around transit stops. From a sustainability perspective, this could have tremendous influence on urban development patterns over the long term.

Examples of Blueprints Planning Activities

From 2005 to 2009, eighteen Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and fifteen rural Regional Transportation Planning Agencies (RTPAs) participated in the grant program. The agencies have received a total of twenty million dollars in federal regional transportation planning funds from Caltrans. In 2009 alone, five million dollars were distributed to nine Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and nine rural Regional Transportation Planning Agencies (RTPAs) across California to support local and regional transportation planning activities.

An example of a completed grant is the Sacramento Region Blueprint Transportation and Land Use Plan, which used innovative technology to develop and build consensus around its preferred growth scenario. The tools used by Sacramento in its scenario development include:

In December 2004, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments adopted the preferred regional blueprint scenario and in 2008 it was incorporated into the Metropolitan Transportation Plan for 2035. The preferred scenario serves as the land use basis on which transportation investment decisions are made (SACOG 2010).

What impact has Blueprints had on regional transportation planning?

"Caltrans Regional Blueprints program wins Federal Highway Administration's Environmental Excellence Award. The Regional Blueprint planning program received an Environmental Excellence Award from FHWA in the category of Air Quality Improvement and Global Climate Change.  The award was presented at the ICOET conference in September 2009 in Duluth, Minnesota and was one of four awarded to Caltrans."

The Regional Blueprints Planning Program has had concrete impacts on planning in California. For example, to fulfill a Blueprints goal, a sales tax measure in San Diego had an environmental enhancement category with funds directed towards protecting habitat areas. Impacts can also be seen at the metropolitan level: Sacramento studied a more compact land use scenario as one of its alternatives, and as a result a compact development pattern is being adopted in local general plans and incorporated into rural planning to guide land preservation throughout the metropolitan region. The outcomes of the first few years of the Regional Blueprints Planning program were formally assessed in the California Regional Progress Report 2007. The report measured progress by comparing performance of Blueprints regions in 2007 to their historic performance (usually year 2000 depending on data availability) in 18 areas. The report concluded that the fourteen regions tell mixed stories, with some showing progress and others not, or at least progress had not occurred in the same areas. Eleven of the fourteen regions reportedly made progress on at least five place measures, which are the measures most closely linked to the goals of Blueprints.

Caltrans and the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) sponsored a second Regional Progress Report, which was released in December 2010 and involved collaboration of over 40 state, regional, non-profit, and academic organizations. The 2010 Regional Progress Report reviewed twenty new indicators rather than the original twenty-seven in the 2007 report. The new set of indicators is more closely related to the goals of the SGC, which is charged with implementing sustainable growth initiatives throughout the state. The new indicators allow for more consistent evaluation of sustainability programs across different state and regional agencies, and are in four areas: 1.) Efficient Transportation and Land Use, 2.) Economic Competitiveness and Opportunity, 3.) Environmental Health, and 4.) Resource Efficiency and Conservation. The report explicitly links these four areas to the three major components of sustainability, as illustrated in Figure 5-4.

Regional Blueprints Framework.
Figure 5-4. Regional Sustainability Framework (Source: California Regional Progress Report 2010)

One of the new economic indicators featured in the report is a green employment or green jobs indicator. In terms of transportation and land use trends, the indicators showed that individuals were driving less overall, but the individual decrease was negated by population growth which led to an overall increase in vehicle miles traveled and fuel consumption [4].

Data needs for the Progress Report are in two areas: land use practices and equity. At a statewide level, there is a lack of complete land use data because of difficulties in coordinating across different state and local agencies. Robust equity measures are difficult to develop because of the gaps between Census data publication. With the rapid changes in the population, Census data quickly becomes out of date. The report calls for agencies and local governments to coordinate on defining sustainability and improving sustainability measurement, as well as to share successful strategies.

Regional Blueprint Planning:

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.

Built around 12 principles that explore the trade-offs among transportation planning, land use planning, housing needs, resource protection, and other crucial issues like greenhouse gas reduction

Performance measures:

  • greenhouse gas emission levels (from fuel purchases/usage)
  • percentage increase in residential density
  • percentage reduction in acres of agricultural or green fields development
  • percent jobs within quarter mile of transit station
  • impacts to environmentally sensitive lands

External partners: Governor's Office of Planning and Research, the Department of Housing, and the Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency

Data intensive with many measurable performance goals; limited quality-of-life goals; land use data limited in coverage area (reliant on local and regional partners)

Sacramento Region Blueprint:

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.

Scenario analysis utilizes PLACE3S software, a GIS-based application which requires:

Parcel database (parcel area, ownership, property value, etc)

Land Use data

Population, employment, housing projections

Travel data

Aforementioned data comes from:

County assessor's office

County or municipal land use plan/ zoning ordinance

Regional planning agency using US Census Data

State DOT statistics

Data intensive, but flexible platform that can be updated with new data and used with multiple audiences (including the public)


[1] Caltrans. (2010). California Regional Blueprint Planning Program., (28 March 2010).

[2] California Center for Regional Leadership, Caltrans, California Association of Councils of Governments, UC Davis. California Regional Progress Report 2007.

[3] Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG). (2010). Sacramento Region Blueprint., (30 March 2010).

[4] Caltrans and California Strategic Growth Council. (2010). California Regional Progress Report 2010.

NJDOT New Jersey Future in Transportation (NJFIT) Program

Partner: New Jersey Office of Smart Growth (OSG)

Brief Description: Sustainability initiatives focusing on transportation and land use planning. Initiatives emphasize working with local communities and agencies to connect and develop existing transportation corridors. NJFIT's approach is intended to provide more transportation options and quality, and context-sensitive development while limiting tax expenditures and satisfying needs of all stakeholders.

Topic Area(s): Transportation and Land Use Planning, Transit-oriented development (TOD), Context Sensitive Design (CSD), Smart Growth


New Jersey FIT Program

What is the NJFIT Program?

The NJFIT program was started in the late 1990s in conjunction with the state's Office of Smart Growth as a Context Sensitive Design program. It was strengthened in 2005 by NJDOT's adoption of a Smart Growth Policy. NJFIT emphasizes re-investment in and transformation of roadways and transit centers using a variety of tools rather than construction of new facilities.  NJFIT has led to three notable programs which have been recognized nationally for tackling coordination of transportation and land use for both roadway and transit projects.

The NJFIT "Toolbox" covers:

Each of these three programs work towards a common set of goals established by the NJDOT. The main goal of NJFIT is to work alongside communities to connect local streets and design them according to CSD principles. By doing this, NJDOT accomplishes other goals like relieving traffic congestion and sprawl, providing affordable transportation alternatives, curtailing negative health effects of inefficient transportation systems, creating more jobs, and preserving and protecting natural resources (see Figure 5-5 for development principles). Instead of continuing to build new infrastructure, NJFIT follows the "Fix-It-First" Policy and renovates existing structures. This approach limits tax expenditures and saves time.

The first program, the Integrated Land Use and Transportation Corridors, was implemented in 1999. The program is a community-based initiative using visioning exercises to study the relationship between transportation projects and the surrounding built environment. The visioning results in corridor plans that are used to guide future decisions about the roadway design and development. The second program, also started in 1999, is the Transit Villages Initiative that involves coordination with ten other state agencies for "placemaking" around New Jersey's transit stations. The goal of the initiative is to revitalize communities by making transit facilities a focal point for both transportation and daily life. The Transit Villages Initiative operates with five principles in mind:

The newest initiative is the Mobility and Community Form program that was started in 2006 to provide guidance for municipal planning, visioning processes, and form-based codes (an alternative to traditional land use zoning). The NJFIT program and other smart growth initiatives are managed by the DOT's Office of Transportation and Sustainable Communities within the Statewide Planning Department. The office was created to leverage the technical expertise of both internal and external groups to create multi-modal, non-highway solutions to transportation problems and community development.

The NJFIT development principles include locations such as rural development, site design and parking, street connectivity, mixed-use, parks and open space. Each location includes a picture demonstrating different ways to design locations. Each location highlights the more compact and interconnected neighborhoods to encourage mixed use towns to avoid the creation of highways.
Figure 5-5. Development Principles of NJFIT (Adapted from Stout 2006)

Integrated Land Use and Transportation Corridors

After years of allowing transportation and community land use planning to evolve separately, the result has been widespread congestion, poorly connected transportation networks, and direct and indirect health problems. While there are many reasons why this approach has failed, NJDOT believes that there are four dominant factors that appear to be responsible [2]:

In order to reverse the problems of congestion, NJDOT has committed to redeveloping existing infrastructure according to sustainable principles and context sensitive designs. As part of the Integrated Land Use and Transportation Corridors initiative, NJDOT created a set of design guidelines for the entire state and helped communities adapt the guidelines to their local context. Interested communities receive funds and expertise from NJDOT to support smart decisions. The goal is to help local planners understand the direction of future development in their community and then make effective, economical transportation decisions. By integrating transportation and land use planning, transportation solutions can be designed to respect the natural and built environment better [4].

In the early stages of the program, NJDOT applied an integrated land use and transportation approach to corridors where there was high congestion or accident levels. Success of the corridor plans paved the way for the other two NJFIT programs, and provided a standard for all future land use and transportation planning. Route 31 in Hunterdon County is an early example of a corridor plan completed as part of the Integrated Land Use and Transportation Corridors initiative.

Example: Route 31 - Hunterdon County, New Jersey: Land Use and Transportation Plan

Route 31 marks the beginning of one of the only North-South passageways in Hunterdon County, and was a major source of traffic in the 1980s. The five-lane roadway was designed to serve vehicles and was uninviting to pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit. Starting in 1987, NJDOT considered several congestion mitigation alternatives for the route. A standard interstate bypass was planned to relieve congestion and connect Route 31, Route 202, and the South Branch River in Hunterdon County. However, after the state established a set of smart growth principles in 2002, NJDOT reexamined this alternative and decided to adopt a more transit-oriented, context-sensitive, integrated planning process [1].

In order to involve the community, local officials, and other stakeholders in the development of Route 31, several forums were held including an advisory group, stakeholder interviews, design workshops, and public visioning sessions. The advisory group met regularly to provide initial direction for the study, review the plan's progress, and suggest changes. Stakeholder interviews were conducted to educate individuals about integrated transportation and land use planning and to gather their feedback on the Route 31 corridor plan. Collaborative work sessions with representatives from the NJDOT, the public, stakeholders, and the advisory group were held to discuss project alternatives. When alternatives and plans were drawn up, public visioning sessions were held to discuss the concerns and goals of the community as a whole. By providing multiple opportunities for public involvement, potential political obstacles were averted and the needs of the community were represented [5].

After the community forums, several propositions were made to transform Route 31. In order to make it more pedestrian-friendly, to the plan proposed adding curb and gutter on both sides of the road to allow for street trees, and for expanded and consistent sidewalk development. To satisfy visual aesthetics and traffic-calming measures, the plan proposed a contrasting pavement material in the middle left turn lane. Figure 5-6 illustrates several of the proposals for Route 31. By considering both transportation and land use motives simultaneously when planning to develop Route 31, an efficient alternative was created that will not only benefit vehicle drivers, but will satisfy pedestrians and bicyclists as well.

Proposed Changes to Route 31 - Click on the image to see full explanation of this figure.
Figure 5-6. Proposed Changes to Route 31 (Adapted from HCPB 2008)

Transit Villages Initiative

The Transit Village initiative is a joint effort with NJ Transit that aims to revitalize communities, reduce traffic congestion, and improve air quality. These goals are achieved by utlizing existing infrastructure and public transit service to improve ridership. Municipalities that achieve designation as Transit Villages receive benefits such as priority funding and technical assistance from several state agences, and eligibility to receive planning grants from NJDOT. It also puts them in direct contact with the state DOT and other agencies, allowing them to expedite requests that would normally take longer periods of time. The process and criteria for designation as a Transit Village are depicted in Figure 5-7 [1].

Currently, there are 20 designated transit villages in the state of New Jersey. The City of Orange received designation in 2009 and was awarded $100,000 for planning and design studies. NJDOT accepts applications on a rolling basis, and works with NJ Transit to assist municipalities that are interested in pursuing designation. Several New Jersey state agencies make up the Transit Village Task Force, which meets six times a year to review applications and decide how state funding will be distributed among the existing transit villages. South Orange is one of New Jersey's first transit villages, and demonstrates how the community capitalized on its long history of transit-oriented development.

Example: South Orange Transit Village

The City of South Orange was designated as a transit village in 1999. The area has always been a center for mass transit, being built around the railroads in the late 19th century. Today, the NJ Transit Morris & Essex (M&E) line runs through South Orange, which has the 2nd busiest station on the M&E line, servicing approximately 3,450 riders on a daily basis [3].

After meeting the requirements for designation, South Orange took advantage of priority funding and grants to achieve its multi-modal vision. All of South Orange's residents live within one mile of the transit station, and Following Transit Village designation, the municipality encouraged a mix of housing types including apartments, condominiums, and senior living facilities to serve its residents, all of whom live within one mile of the transit station [3]. An extensive amount of bicycle pathways and storage racks have been placed in and around South Orange's downtown area. All day parking meters and streetscaping have been built to encourage walking. Historical landmarks, including firehouses and village halls, have been constantly renovated and restored in order to preserve the history and cultural context of the environment. Transit Village designation helped South Orange maintain its competitive edge. Since 1999, the municipality has attracted 33 new businesses and retained 8 others, creating jobs for its residents. In response to this development, the population has steadily grown and was projected to rise by 13% in 2030 [3].  For the past decade, South Orange has been working to become a model for future designated transit villages.

Transit Village Application Process
Figure 5-7. Transit Village Application Process (Adapted from NJDOT 2010)

Mobility and Community Form

The Mobility and Community Form (MCF) program helps communities plan future transportation and land use. NJDOT published a Mobility and Community Form Guide (MCFG) to help communities create master plans for their future development designs. Emphasis is placed on connecting the communitiy to local facilities, buidings, and open space more effectively. Pedestrian and bicycle access are incorporated into land use patterns that also support public transit to help improve the quailty of life and raise sustainability [6]. The MCF program is aimed at moving away from traditional land zoning that allowed sprawl and poor transportation and land use planning to occur.

The MCFG specifies seven essential building blocks or "activity patterns" of urban form: circulation, shopping streets, parking, transit stops, neighborhoods, public places, and natural environment patterns (see Figure 5-8). For each of these patterns in community life, the MCFG has standards and guiding principles that each municipality should consider when creating their master plans. Each municipality is allowed to determine how their communities should be developed by creating design guidelines, called a Mobility and Community Form Element (MCFE), which customizes principles and regulations from the MCFG. An MCFE consists of three parts:

The MCFE is used as a guideline for future development, and establishes a framework for new types of development codes.

Activity Patterns as defined by the Mobility and Community Form Guide - click on the image to see a full description of this figure.
Figure 5-8. Activity Patterns as defined by the Mobility and Community Form Guide (Adapted from NJDOT 2010)

Example: Mobility and Community Form Design Guidelines for the Township of Edison

In 2007, the Township of Edison created a Mobility and Community Form Element to replace their traditional zoning regulations and requirements. The guidelines define their specific standards for all community or transportation projects that affect new or existing development, and provide directions for protecting and preserving open space and natural resources. By creating a single standard for all new development in the town, the community can grow consistently and more sustainably.

The community form section of the guidelines refers to the physical shape of development and the patterns in which they occur throughout the community. These include block sizes, setback measurements, and parking lot layouts [7]. These aspects of development can be arranged in a variety of ways, and used to encourage or discourage different transportation and living activities [2]. Figure 5-9 provides an example of how detailed Edison's guidelines are. The guidelines even address the amount of transparency of windows on establishments and the direction in which parking structures and garages should face. The importance of planning and shaping the environment to suit the community's needs is paramount in the community's planning guidelines.

In addition to setting building standards, the guidelines also emphasize planning all travelways to meet the needs of more than just vehicles. Planning the travelways is crucial because travelways provide individuals with access to town amenities. The township of Edison realized the importance of integrating multi-modal travel options, and includes specifications in its guidelines for all sidewalks, crossings, driveways, bicycle facilities, and lighting features along its corridors. The specifications are customized to different roadway types or environments Figure 5-10 provides examples of planning specifications for the Edison Township.

Finally, Edison's guidelines also contain standards for developing areas of "open space": parks, green space, and recreational areas. The Township of Edison believes that planning open space is critical to successful mixed-use centers. They define open space in three ways: formal/informal, active/passive, and open/contained. It is also important that these civic, green spaces be customizable and multi-functional through the use of moveable seating to allow individuals to congregate and define their spaces personally [7].

Comparison of design standards for Town Core and Neighborhood Residential, including block length, setbacks, parking, mix of uses, and massing. Click on the image to see a table with the contents of this figure.
Figure 5-9. Design Standards by Community Type (Edison Smart Growth Planning Initiative 2007)

Standards for a Regional Arterial - Click on the image to see fuller explanation of this figure.
Figure 5-10. Design Standards for a Regional Arterial (Edison Smart Growth Planning Initiative 2007)

What has NJFIT achieved?

NJFIT has 8 long-term goals:

NJDOT's case studies on the NJFIT website provide anecdotal evidence of progress made on these goals. For example, South Orange, one of the first designated transit villages, successfully created a main street that accommodates both automobiles and pedestrians and promotes business interests. This was achieved by carefully integrated land use and transportation planning and considerable involvement [1]. Related to that South Orange's achievement, sensible land use decisions are linked with lasting investments that remain economically sound over time. Each NJFIT initiative weighs several alternatives over a long period of time to make sure that the greatest amount of open space is being conserved, and that the least amount of fiscal consequences and responsibilities will be incurred. Further, by utilizing existing infrastructure whenever possible, NJFIT initiatives have averted additional future construction and maintenance costs because there is no need to build new roads. Fixing existing roads and communities is much more affordable than having to build additional facilities [1].

Another sign of success is the popularity of the NJFIT programs. For example, the Transit Villages program steadily designated new communities and as of 2010 there were 20 official transit villages in the state. The program has been a model for other communities and other state DOTs to promote transit-oriented development. The success of New Jersey's transit villages can be measured by the growth in population, high level of community satisfaction, and amount of businesses flourishing in and around the developing areas. Much of the evidence of success is physical assets like new businesses, housing units, or sidewalk space. But in the long-term, NJDOT expects to see health benefits from promoting multi-modal transportation approaches.

Over time the NJFIT program has been refined by lessons learned from its projects. For example, public visioning exercises for Route 31 project revealed that the community had a very negative opinion of NJDOT.  Since NJDOT had been promising to alleviate congestion on the corridor for more than a decade before the NJFIT program was established, the community had little faith in the agency. The community planning process showed that taking the time to build community trust and openly communicating are key elements for successful transportation planning. As a result of the Route 31 experience, NJFIT initiatives emphasize interacting with the local communities and educating the public, municipal staff, stakeholders, developers, and planning boards [5].

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.

Measure program effectiveness with:

Value of grant funds

Estimated annual costs of new construction authorized by building permits and property value changes within ½-mile of transit stations

Annual changes in transit ridership

Station area walkability

-GIS sources, municipal self reporting, state data sources on construction activity, property value data from state tax records, Econsult Corp. and the National Association of Realtors; and

-Administering surveys

-Walkability Audit - subjectively measure walking conditions around transit stations including Infrastructure/ Maintenance; Continuity; Traffic & Street Crossings; Streetscape & Pedestrian Amenities; Land Use; Security & lighting

Performance measures allow direct impacts of program to monitored; Requires data from multiple public and private sources


[1] New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT). (2010). "New Jersey FIT: Future in Transportation." State of New Jersey Department of Transportation. (Mar. 31, 2010).

[2] Toth, Gary. (2006) "NJFIT: Future in Transportation, Back to our Roots." ITE 2006 Technical Conference and Exhibit, Institute of Transportation Engineers, San Antonio.

[3] Newman, Douglas. (2008) "South Orange: It Takes a Village." 2008 Environmental Congress, Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC), West Windsor.

[4] Project for Public Spaces (PPS) (2008). "Great Corridors, Great Communities." Project for Public Spaces. Available at (April 3, 2010).

[5] Hunterdon County Planning Board (HCPB) (2008). "Route 31 Land Use and Transportation Plan." Hunterdon County Planning Board. (April 8, 2010).

[6] US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and NJDOT. (2006). "Mobility and Community Form: A Guide to Linking Transportation and Land Use in the Municipal Master Plan." New Jersey Department of Transportation. (April 4, 2010)

[7] Edison Smart Growth Planning Initiative. (2007) "Mobility + Community Form Design Guidelines." The township of Edison, New Jersey.{1167D1D0-6B56-4271-A5B8573607E15E89}/uploads/{4BBF71A8-02E1-4F93-B800-340F6601555D}.PDF (March 31, 2010).

[8] Stout, Mark. (2006) "Linking Land Use and Transportation: NJ's Experience." New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC). (March 31, 2010)

NYSDOT GreenLITES Certification Program

Brief Description: Internal rating system for DOT projects to recognize sustainable practices and innovation.

Topic Area(s): Green transportation standards

Contact Person:

Paul Krekeler

GreenLITES Program Manager

How does GreenLITES work?

In 1998 the U.S. Green Building Council introduced Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a green rating system for buildings. The LEED system, while not required, has led to marked improvements in the sustainability of buildings. LEED certification has become a great marketing tool for new developments due to positive public perception. In 2008, NYSDOT released a green rating system for transportation facilities and agency activities which is modeled after LEED. Different levels of NYSDOT, including planning and project development, design, construction, maintenance and operations, are implementing GreenLITES certifications tailored to their specific program areas [1].

GreenLITES Project Design Certification Program

In September 2008, NYSDOT introduced the first completed sustainability rating system for transportation projects. The GreenLITES Project Design Certification Program is a self-certification program. LITES refers to Leadership In Transportation and Environmental Sustainability. It is being used primarily for internal management for NYSDOT to measure performance, recognize good practices, and identify areas for improvement. The program will also provide a way for NYSDOT to demonstrate sustainability achievements to the public. NYSDOT project designs submitted after September 25, 2008 will be evaluated for sustainable practices based on a points system and receive a certification level. Approximately 250 points will be available in five categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Quality, Materials and Resources, Energy and Atmosphere, and Innovation/Unlisted. Because this system extends beyond just road projects, not all credits will be available for each project, thus there is a large number of credit opportunities. Certification levels are as follows:

Certification levels were in part established by analyzing 26 completed DOT projects. For example, 33 percent of the recently completed projects would not have been certified and only two percent (one project) would have received Evergreen certification, indicating that the levels were properly calibrated to encourage innovation [1,2].

GreenLITES is designed to be flexible and will evolve over time as new sustainability practices are developed. Project certifications will be recognized internally and also presented in an annual report to the DOT Commissioner. On Earth Day 2009, NYSDOT issued a press release announcing its first set of certifications and recognizing four Evergreen and six Gold rated projects, and stated that the rating system is being adopted by the State Thruway and Bridge authorities [3]. While the project rating system was developed for DOT projects, other New York State government agencies and authorities, local municipalities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can complete the GreenLITES scorecard and request certification for federally funded local transportation projects. 

GreenLITES Operations Certification Program

The GreenLITES Operations program launched on Earth Day 2009 and is designed to recognize and increase awareness of sustainable methods and practices already incorporate into NYSDOT's daily operations and to expand use of those practices and other innovative alternatives to improve transportation sustainability. Like the Project Design Certification, the Operations Certification will be an internal management program to measure performance, recognize best practices, and make improvements. It also provides a way for the DOT to communicate with the public about progress it is making in transportation sustainability. The Maintenance and Operations Plan (MOP) GreenLITES scoring system will assess the extent to which sustainable operations projects and practices are incorporated into Maintenance Residencies, Regional Bridge Maintenance Groups, Main Office and Regional Operations Program Areas. Each group has specified categories that they will be scored on. A score is based on the number of points achieved over the total number of points available in a category. For example, the Bridges Program will rate "Use environmental protection during bridge repair" by the number of bridges receiving the treatment compared to the number of eligible bridges. Certificates (based on points earned) will be available for Residencies and Regional Bridge Maintenance Groups and Special GreenLITES awards will be available for innovations in Main Office and Regional Operations Program Areas. The certification levels are as follows:

NYSDOT is using the trial year (2009-2010) to calibrate initial certification levels. All of the scores for the first year will be divided into thirds representing low, medium, and high levels of environmental sustainability. The lowest third will not receive certification, the middle third will be certified, and the upper third will be distributed among Silver, Gold, and Evergreen (see distribution in Figure 5-11). As progress is made on sustainability, NYSDOT expects that program scores will begin to skew to the right as operations groups make more and more sustainable choices. To maintain the applicability of the scoring thresholds, certification criteria will be adjusted to reflect that progress. For example, new best practices and innovative approaches will be incorporated into the scoring system whereas practices that become commonplace (like energy efficiency in buildings) will be removed.

Proposed GreenLITES certification distributions by percentile. Click on the image to see a fuller explanation of the figure.
Figure 5-11 Proposed initial GreenLITES certification distribution. (from GreenLITES 2010)

Examples of GreenLITES Evergreen Certified Design Projects

The first set of GreenLITES awards recognized four Evergreen certified projects, representing the most sustainable and innovative projects [4]. The projects include three highway projects and one greenway/multi-use trail. The first project was a three-mile highway reconstruction of New York State Route 30/Ski Tow Road in Tupper Lake, Franklin County. The highway is located along the Adirondack Trail Scenic Byway and borders Tupper Lake, forest preserve, and environmentally sensitive wetlands. The project included multiple examples of environmentally and socially sustainable design elements:

The second project addressed congestion on Route 85 in a way that was compatible with the Town of Bethlehem's comprehensive plan. The primary components were a 1.5 mile bypass (four lane divided highway) and three roundabouts, but the project also included widening of a bridge and construction of a bicycle pedestrian bridge over a stream. Environmental sustainability features included:

The third project is the Buffalo Outer Harbor Parkway, which includes the reconstruction and resurfacing of 2.5 miles of New York Route 5, four new bridges, a new complete diamond interchange, and reconfigured on/off ramps. The project also includes reconstruction of 3 miles of Fuhrmann Boulevard into a two-way facility along the waterfront, construction of two roundabouts, and a multi-use path network. The project's design incorporates the unique industrial heritage of Buffalo and the beauty of the Lake Erie Ecosystem to transform the waterfront into a recreational destination. Specific environmentally sustainable practices include:

The final project receiving Evergreen certification was the Bronx River Greenway, which is a 23-mile multi-use path paralleling the Bronx River. The Greenway will restore and redevelop over 25 acres of open space and provide community amenities like soccer and softball fields, children's playground, picnic areas, over 2 miles of passive paths, and floating docks. Environmental and social sustainability features include:

Assessing Outcomes and Future Directions

As mentioned previously, a primary purpose of the program is internal performance monitoring. The Engineering Division and Office of Operations are developing GreenLITES performance measures that will be collected annually and compared against baseline data to assess achievement of performance goals [1,2]. After a baseline is established in the first year of each GreenLITES program, the Commissioner and appropriate directors will establish annual performance goals. Implementation of a GreenLITES Regional Assessment Rubric is scheduled for Earth Day 2011. It will assess all projects, residencies, and activities across the DOT's regions, and will represent an expansion of the program to include more transit, pedestrian, and rail projects. GreenLITES is also being incorporated into the planning process by including sustainability goals in long range plans and the development of the Department's capital program. At the local level, NYSDOT has introduced a Project Solicitation Tool that allows project sponsors to review and rate the sustainability of proposed transportation projects.

Another purpose of GreenLITES is promoting sustainability to the public. By reporting results and progress on Earth Day, NYSDOT is linking GreenLITES to an annual event. The public, local officials and DOT personnel will come to expect annual reporting, encouraging future leadership to maintain the GreenLITES program as a key monitoring and outreach tool.

In addition to its effects on NYSDOT, GreenLITES is influencing sustainability practices at other transportation agencies. Illinois DOT modeled its Illinois - Livable and Sustainable Transportation (I-LAST) Rating System after the GreenLITES system, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission adapted GreenLITES to analyze the design and construction phases of new or expanded facilities.

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.

Evaluation criteria for:

Projects - sustainable sites, water quality, materials and resources, energy and atmosphere, and innovation

Planning - consistency with comprehensive plan, livability principles, environmental enhancement, economic benefits, et cetera

Operations - maintenance and operations activities for different types of infrastructure (e.g. pave with recycled asphalt or LED highway lighting upgrades)

Project and Operations certification requires DOT generated data for the aforementioned evaluation criteria; Planning (project selection) uses a checklist that will be completed by project sponsors, so will require data entry. Data intensive; difficult to compare results with other state DOTs as similar systems do not exist in other states; First need to define "credits" or evaluation criteria, which requires identifying best practices - likely need external data (materials, processes, etc.)


[1] New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). (2010). GreenLITES Project Design Certification Program,, (21 March 2010).

[2] NYSDOT. (2009). GreenLITES Operations Draft Guidance October 2009.

[3] NYSDOT Office of Communications. (2009). State Transportation Commissioner Glynn Celebrates Earth Day: Announces GreenLITES Expansion&Adoption by Thruway and Bridge Authorities. Press Release April 22, 2009,, (28 May 2009).

[4] NYSDOT. (2009). 2008 - 2009 GreenLITES Evergreen Project Summaries .

[5] Illinois DOT. (2010). Illinois - Livable and Sustainable Transportation (I-LAST) Rating System.

WSDOT Gray Notebook

Brief Description: The "Gray Notebook", so called for its gray cover, provides a quarterly, in-depth report of goals and measures and a "Performance Dashboard" of key indicators. In addition to informing DOT staff, the Gray Notebook also provides accountability to the state government and citizens. It can be combined with WSDOT's Sustainability Plan to provide a framework for monitoring the sustainability performance measures.

Topic Area(s): Performance Measurement

Contact Person:

Daniela Bremmer

Director, Strategic Assessment Office

WSDOT believes that their performance management and accountability program will help achieve a transportation system that is:

What is the Gray Notebook?

WSDOT started publishing Measures, Markers, and Mileposts (or the "Gray Notebook") in 2001 and released its 35th Edition in November 2009. The Gray Notebook (GNB) is published in February, May, August, and November, and provides in-depth reports on DOT and transportation system performance. It is a tool for internal monitoring and for public and legislative communication.  The GNB's sections are organized around WSDOT's five legislative and strategic policy goals, which reflect sustainable transportation principles:

Performance measures are linked to each of the goals. Annually, WSDOT reports on over 100 measures that cover all key agency mandates, functions, and transportation modes. Based on data collection and availability, some performance measures are reported each quarter while others are reported annually. Each section of the GNB includes project narratives, performance measure reports, and charts and tables [1,2,3].

Hard copies of the GNB are distributed to about 2000-3000 subscribers, including all legislators, the Governor, the Transportation Commission, interest groups, city and county governments, national academic and research organizations, national partners, AASHTO members, and international colleagues. Additionally, WSDOT takes advantage of its website to distribute the information to citizens and other interested parties. The agency also maintains an online archive of all past GNBs and a Performance Measurement Library [4]. The Library provides agency and external colleagues access to other state DOTs' performance reports, supplements to the GNB and relevant, up-to-date national and international research on performance topics.

What is unique about the Gray Notebook?

The GNB evolves over time to account for new challenges or priorities. For example, WSDOT incorporated stimulus tracking into the GNB, going above federal requirements for accountability. As another example, WSDOT has collected data on congestion since 1988. Following the Legislature's creation of the five policy goals in 2007 (including Mobility-Congestion Relief), the agency included congestion reporting in the GNB and began publishing the Annual Congestion Report as part of the September edition. In addition to demographic and economic indicators, the Congestion Report tracks vehicle miles traveled and congestion, hours of delay, and cost of delay on state highways. It also reports corridor specific congestion indicators for the Puget Sound Region and data on WSDOT's congestion relief projects and the Moving Washington program, which coordinates all of WSDOT's congestion mitigation efforts (see Case Study on WSDOT's Climate Change Initiatives). As a final sign of evolution, the Sustainability Plan includes numerous measures to track progress on meeting targets, some of which are already included in the GNB. WSDOT is in the process of devising measures for transportation emissions to include in the GNB [5, 6].

In addition to metrics, performance management at WSDOT includes state-of-the-art performance assessments of projects and programs, referred to as "before and after" studies. The studies verify that intended results were achieved and help staff learn how to improve results in the future. For example, WSDOT has installed 181 miles of cable median barriers on divided highways since 1995 to improve safety. Additional cable barriers are being installed using Federal economic Recovery Act funds (ARRA). WSDOT's before and after analysis of data for over 15,000 collisions indicate that cable median barriers have reduced the rate of serious and fatal injury collisions in or across the median by 58%. Based on this work, WSDOT is evaluating cable median barrier applications to highways with medians greater than 50 feet [1].

Besides improving content, WSDOT has also made the GNB even more user-friendly over the years. The Performance Dashboard was first included in June 2008 to highlight key performance measures for each strategic goal. It shows the current and previous performance mark for each measure, indicates which way the program is trending, and offers an explanation for the trend (illustrated in Figure 5-12). WSDOT started publishing GNB Lite in 2004, which provides a 6-page excerpt of selected performance topics and project delivery summaries from the 100-page Gray Notebook. The quarterly publication of the GNB Lite is more manageable for politicians and citizens to digest. 

Figure 5-12. Snapshot from the December 2009 Gray Notebook's "Performance Dashboard"
 Policy goal/ performance measurePrevious reporting periodCurrent reporting periodGoalGoal metProgressComments
SafetyRate of traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) statewide (annual measure, calendar years 2007 and 2008)1.000.941.00CheckPerformance is trending in a favorable direction.The rate of highway fatalities continues to decline (a lower rate is better)
SafetyRate of sprains and strains/hearing-loss injuries per 100 WSDOT (quarterly measures FY10 Q1, FY10 Q2)2.6/0.73.0/0.42.4/0.4No checkTrend is holdingMeeting hearing-loss rate goal, but sprains and strains rate has increased and exceeded goal.
PreservationPercentage of state highway pavements in fair or better condition (annual measure, calendar years 2007 and 2008)93.5%93.3%90.0%CheckPerformance is trending in a favorable direction.Recovery Act-funded projects are contributing to reductions in "due" rehabilitations
PreservationPercentage of state bridges in fair or better condition (annual measure, calendar years 2007 and 2008)97.0%97.0%97.0%CheckTrend is holdingPerformance level meets goal - trend remains flat
Mobility (Congestion Relief)Highways: annual weekday hours of delay statewide (annual measures, calendar years 2006 and 2008)37 million32 millionN/AN/APerformance is trending in a favorable direction.Delay reduction of 13% due to gas prices, economic downturn, and completed mobility projects
Mobility (Congestion Relief)Highways: Average clearance times for major (90+ minute) incidents on key western Washington corridors (quarterly: FY10 Q1, FY10 Q2)156 minutes154 minutes155 minutesCheckTrend is holdingProgram met performance target, and average clearance time remains steady

Aside from the substantial content, the report is presented in a unique way. WSDOT uses a style of reporting that it calls "Performance Journalism." This style was created by the agency after its first six years of experience with performance reporting. Performance Journalism combines effective narrative writing with visual graphs, tables and measurements in order to provide a clear and accurate assessment to the widest possible audience. The goal is to share the performance of WSDOT's most complex and diverse programs and projects clearly and concisely in a format that everyone can easily understand and explain to their neighbors. This type of communication requires a collaborative effort between the production staff, data analysts, and program experts across the agency. The seven principles of Performance Journalism are:

How has the Gray Notebook helped WSDOT?

The Gray Notebook has led to important internal and external outcomes. Internally, system indicators are tracked and the DOT tries to determine what causes an indicator to change so that corrective or preventative actions can be taken. This performance monitoring helps agency executives and senior managers with decision making. Progress towards achievement of strategic goals has been reported throughout the agency. Performance measurement has become part of the culture at WSDOT because producing the GNB necessarily involves conversations among staff about performance. The importance of performance measurement to WSDOT is expressed by the motto "What gets measured, gets managed."

Externally, the largest impact of such transparent measuring and reporting of performance results was the increased confidence of the Governor, Legislature and public in the projects and programs managed by WSDOT. In particular, public opinion changed. When asked if they trusted WSDOT to spend tax dollars wisely, nearly 75% of voters said no in 2001, but by 2004, 88% said yes. As a direct result of performance management, the Legislature approved gas tax increases in 2003 and 2005 that have supported the largest transportation construction program in the state's history, amounting to around $16 billion. Further, a citizen initiative to repeal the 2005 tax increase was rejected by voters [1;3].

Though the GNB has received consistently positive feedback, WSDOT continuously seeks to improve its monitoring and presentation of data. The agency looks to national and international peers for best practices in performance reporting. For graphing guidance, WSDOT relies on the work of Yale University's Professor Edward Tufte, whose research and publications on graphics have been widely adopted in business and government. Tufte's principles have helped WSDOT deliver clear graphical interpretations of performance data [7].

From its years of experience, WSDOT offers "lessons learned" for other agencies looking to start or refine a performance management program. Examples include:

Additional lessons are offered in "History of Performance Measurement at WSDOT" and "Performance Management and Accountability at WSDOT" [1,3]

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.
Over 100 measures are taken to gage the legislative and strategic goals: preservation, safety, mobility, environment, and stewardship

Internal DOT monitoring

Congestion reporting at WSDOT: average travel times recorded semi-annually, peak volumes

Before and after accident records

External source such as EPA used for climate change monitoring

Data intensive; very little use of external data and few quality-of-life measurements conducted; information is presented in a clear and easy-to-read format


[1] WSDOT. (2010)."Performance Management and Accountability at WSDOT."

[2] WSDOT. (2010). Accountability and Performance Information. Available at

[3] WSDOT. (2008). "History of Performance Measurement at WSDOT". January 2007 (Updated June 2008). Available at

[4] WSDOT. (2010d). Performance Reporting Library. Available at

[5] WSDOT. (2009). 2008 Sustainability Plan and Progress Report Update. Available at

[6] WSDOT. (2010b). Congestion Reporting at WSDOT. Available at

[7] Tufte, Edward. (2001). The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 2nd edition. Graphics Press, Cheshire, Connecticut.

ODOT Investment Scenarios

Brief Description: Oregon Transportation Plan assesses seven policy scenarios and three investment scenarios to determine system performance outcomes of different levels and types of investment.

Topic Area(s): Scenario Planning; Financial Sustainability; Multi-criteria Decision-making

Contact Person:

Michael Rock
Oregon Transportation Plan Manager

How does ODOT use the Policy and Investment Scenarios?

With competing goals and declining funds, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) needed a way to investigate the impacts of its investment decisions and establish key strategies for implementing the Oregon Transportation Plan. ODOT analyzed seven system scenarios and then packaged them into three investment scenarios. The scenario analysis allowed ODOT to consider both system impacts and broader sustainability implications.

The Oregon Transportation Plan, adopted in September 2006, assesses seven policy scenarios and three investment scenarios to determine how the level and type of investment will impact system performance. Based on a needs assessment, ODOT determined funding priorities and three types of scenarios: a reference scenario, sensitivity scenarios, and policy scenarios. The reference scenario included projects that could be funded if the DOT's purchasing power remained level through 2030. It was used as a baseline for comparison with the other six scenarios. The two sensitivity scenarios considered the impacts of increasing fuel prices and relaxing land use policies. The four policy scenarios (flat funding or decreasing purchasing power, maximum operations, major improvements, and pricing) examined impacts of potential transportation policy decisions involving revenue levels, sources, and priorities. The scenarios were assessed based on eight criteria: (1) mobility and accessibility, (2) economic vitality, (3) effectiveness and efficiency, (4) equity, (5) public support for the system and financial feasibility, (6) reliability and responsiveness, (7) safety, and (8) sustainability. Potential impacts were analyzed by mode to determine whether there had been improvement or decline over time. Table 5-5 shows a summary of this analysis for the reference scenario.

Table 5-5. Reference scenario impacts over time by mode from OTP 2006.
Performance criteriaPassenger surface transportationTruckingRail freightAviationPorts
MobilityWorsens over timeNo change over timeWorsens over timeNo change over timeWorsens over time
AccessibilityNo change over timeWorsens over timeNo change over timeNo change over timeWorsens over time
Economic vitalityImproves over time Worsens over timeNo change over timeWorsens over time
Effectiveness and EfficiencyNo change over timeImproves over timeWorsens over timeNo change over timeNo change over time
ReliableNo change over timeNo change over time   
EquityNo change over timeNo change over timeNo change over timeNo change over timeWorsens over time
SafetyNo change over timeNo change over timeWorsens over time  
SustainabilityNo change over time Worsens over timeNo change over timeWorsens over time
Public Support and Financial FeasibilityNo change over timeNo change over time   

The analysis revealed important findings for each scenario:

Reference Scenario: Funding would keep up with inflation but only allow for a few annual capacity-enhancing projects. Congestion and travel times for both vehicles and rail freight would increase state-wide.

High Fuel Price Scenario: Higher fuel prices could lead to changes in mode choice for some trips and to an overall reduction in trip making. This trend could reduce travel times and congestion but would lead to a decline in economic activity statewide. Air travel would experience significant negative effects. The Portland region would be less affected than other regions because of its large size, more compact development pattern, and availability of alternate forms of transportation.

Relaxed Land Use Scenario: Increased availability of land for development along the urban fringe and in rural areas would have minimal impact statewide because of a sufficient land supply within urban growth areas. At the local level, a less compact development pattern could not be supported by existing infrastructure.

Flat Funding Scenario: A flat level of funding would reduce purchasing power by up to 50 percent by 2030. Without new funding sources, the DOT would not be able to invest in necessary transportation capacity projects or in rail and marine infrastructure to boost the economy. Roadway and bridge conditions would deteriorate and long-term maintenance costs would rise.

Maximum Operations Scenario: Making highway operational investments and enhancing local transit services would lead to considerable gains, especially in metropolitan areas. In the Portland area in 2004, increasing frequency of transit services saved 28 to 40 percent of delays while highway operational strategies saved 10 percent.

Major Improvements Scenario: Funding major improvement projects on the state's highway network would lead to travel time reductions. Further, highway and freight rail capacity improvements in the Portland area and the Willamette Valley would positively impact state economics by providing better connections to commercial centers.

Roadway Pricing Scenario: Implementing road pricing strategies statewide would lead to the greatest reductions in travel times and congestion, and in large urban areas, tolled facilities could cover operating costs.

Results of the policy scenario analysis influenced creation of the implementation and investment plans. In particular, the investment framework includes three investment scenarios (see Figure 5-13 below) that illustrate how the publicly-supported transportation infrastructure and services would respond to different levels of funding. The investment scenarios are combinations of the policy scenarios discussed above. The three scenarios are:

Figure 5-13. Illustration of Oregon DOT's three funding scenarios. Click on the image to see a fuller description of the figure.
Figure 5-13. Illustration of Oregon DOT's three funding scenarios.

System impacts by transportation sector were analyzed for each of the investment scenarios in terms of maintenance, preservation, operations, and system expansion. Analysis revealed that Level 1 or 2 investments would not meet the state's needs for livability and economic vitality. In particular, Level 1 would not even maintain existing infrastructure conditions and services. Level 2 would not be sufficient to relieve highway bottlenecks and keep up with capacity needs of rapidly growing regions. As a result, the OTP recommended pursuing Level 3 investment. In order to overcome the $1.3 billion annual funding gap between Level 2 and 3, the state would take incremental steps over time based on available funding sources (traditional and new).

How have the scenarios impacted decision-making?

ODOT developed the policy and investment scenarios to quantify potential impacts of transportation decisions on infrastructure conditions and the state's economy. Investigating trade-offs among the different scenarios helped decision-makers identify priorities and establish key strategies for implementing the OTP. In particular, the performance gap between Levels 2 and 3 provided a strong argument to pursue new funding options like road tolling or public private partnerships.

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.
Evaluate scenarios in terms of required funding level and 8 criteria: mobility/accessibility, economic vitality, effectiveness and efficiency, equity, public support for system and financial feasibility, reliable and responsive, safety, sustainable (land consumed and land cost)
  • Variety of sources including:
  • land use plans
  • outputs of Oregon Statewide Model (an integrated transportation, land use, and economic model)
  • Oregon Office of Economic Analysis
  • Oregon Employment Department
  • DOT transportation statistics
  • Transit agencies
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) forecasts
Requires data from multiple sources


[1] Oregon Transportation Plan, 2006,

[2]ODOT's State of the System Report, 2008,

Sustainability Diamond

Brief Description: Assessment and visualization tool for projects and plans based on multiple sustainability criteria that could be used to compare policy and investment scenarios like those from ODOT or IDOT.

Topic Area(s): Multi-criteria decision-making (MCDM); Visual decision-making tool

What is the Sustainability Diamond?

The Sustainability Diamond (shown in Figure 5-14) is a tool that can be used to evaluate and compare transportation plans, policy packages, or project alternatives in terms of several sustainability parameters. As a composite index, the Sustainability Diamond is used to combine multiple performance measures into one value that reflects how well each alternative does in contributing to regional sustainability goals. The Sustainability Diamond creates an index of measures for transportation system effectiveness, environmental integrity, economic development, and social equity and quality of life.  The approach (1) identifies the key decision criteria for the project, plan or policy under consideration; (2) selects appropriate performance measures for each decision criterion; (3) populates the measures with data; and then (4) normalizes and weights the measures according to their relative importance in the decision being made. The index values can be plotted and then compared for alternative plans, policies, or projects. The Sustainability Diamond can be customized to the type of plan or policy and the local context by developing goals and performance measures that reflect the sustainability issues facing a city, state, or region.

Comparison of three Atlanta regional plan alternatives using sustainability diamond. Click on the image to see a fuller explanation of this figure
Figure 5-14. Comparison of three Atlanta regional plan alternatives using sustainability diamond. Source: Jeon, et al. 2010

How has the Sustainability Diamond been used?

The Sustainability Diamond methodology has been used to compare three different transportation and land use scenarios for the Atlanta Metropolitan Region: Baseline 2005, Mobility 2030 (adopted regional transportation plan), and Aspirations 2030 (financially-unconstrained version of regional transportation plan). Five steps were used to develop the sustainability index and visual representation of the Sustainability Diamond.

Step 1: Identify pertinent sustainability issues or goals

Thirteen goals and objectives were developed for the Atlanta region's transportation system. In addition to transportation system effectiveness, the goals reflected the three components of sustainability:

Step 2: Define relevant performance measures for each goal

In order to measure how well the planning scenarios met the sustainability goals, twenty-seven performance measures were identified with at least one performance measure for each goal. The list of measures was reduced to eleven because data was not readily available for each measure. Table 5-6 shows the final list of goals and corresponding performance measures, with at least one goal for each sustainability component.

Step 3: Analyze and quantify the impacts of different plans

Constructing the composite (or comprehensive) sustainability index starts with building an index for each of the four components of sustainability. Each performance measure is assigned a raw value (see Table 5-7) that is then divided by the minimum or maximum value to create a normalized value. For example, for measure A11 the maximum speed is desirable, so each raw value is divided by the highest speed (47.12) to create normalized values. Values need to be normalized so that they are unit less and can be added together.  For measure B2, the minimum level of pollution is desirable.  Therefore, the minimum pollution is divided by each raw value to create normalized values.

Step 4: Construct composite sustainability index using appropriate criteria and parameter weights

The next step is to assign weights to the measures that reflect the relative importance of each associated goal to regional sustainability. Assigning weights is a subjective process that can follow a variety of methods and will require the consensus of policymakers. An index is calculated as the weighted average of the performance measures:

Index = ∑Normalized Value X Weight

The sustainability index is calculated in the same way as the individual indices. Each sustainability component is assigned a weighting based on priorities of the community. The comprehensive index is the weighted average the component sustainability indices (see Table 5-8 for Atlanta's component and comprehensive sustainability indices).

Step 5: Use Sustainability Diamond to illustrate trade-offs among sustainability indexes

The Sustainability Diamond can be used as a consensus-building tool for selecting among multiple plan or project alternatives. The tool illustrates the relative impacts of alternative plans on system performance, the economy, the environment and social quality of life, and helps decision makers to identify a dominant alternative. Dominant alternatives are those that are better than all others, based on all the evaluation criteria. In reality, there are usually few dominant alternatives but rather alternatives that must be considered for their tradeoffs. Thus, one plan may be particularly strong on economic impacts but weak as far as the environment is concerned, and vice versa. Where no dominant alternative is obvious, the Sustainability Diamond can help decision-makers visualize trade-offs among the four components of transport sustainability for each alternative. For example, in comparing the Baseline 2005 to Aspirations 2030, both scenarios scored similarly in economic sustainability and transportation effectiveness. While Aspirations 2030 performed much better than Baseline 2005 in terms of environmental impact, Baseline 2005 achieved a higher social sustainability index.

Table 5-6. Performance measures corresponding to each goal/objective and sustainability dimension (Adapted from Jeon, et al. 2007)
Sustainability DimensionGoals/ObjectivesPerformance Measures
Transportation System EffectivenessA1. Improve MobilityA11. Average freeway speed
Transportation System EffectivenessA2. Improve System PerformanceA21. Vehicle-miles traveled per capita
Environmental SustainabilityB2. Minimize Air PollutionB21. VOC emissions
Environmental SustainabilityB2. Minimize Air PollutionB23. NOX emissions
Economic SustainabilityC1. Maximimize Economic EfficiencyC12. Total time spent in traffic
Social SustainabilityD1. Maximize Equity D12-1. Equity of VOC exposure
Social SustainabilityD1. Maximize EquityD12-2. Equity of NOx exposure
Social SustainabilityD1. Maximize EquityD12-3. Equity of VOC exposure
Social SustainabilityD1. Maximize EquityD12-4. Equity of NOx exposure
Social SustainabilityD2. Improve Public Health D21-1. Exposure to VOC emissions
Social SustainabilityD2. Improve Public HealthD21-2. Exposure to NOx emissions

Table 5-7. Raw values for selected performance measures (Adapted from Jeon et al. 2007)
Performance MeasuresUnitBaseline 2005Mobility 2030Aspirations 2030
A11. Average freeway speed mile/hour47.1242.2142.21
A22. Vehicle miles traveled per capita mile/person35.0431.7531.75
B21. VOC emissions ton/day118.3353.3853.38
B23. NOx emissions ton/day209.6438.3338.33
C12. Vehicle hours traveled per capita minute/person9.268.958.95
D12-1. Equity of VOC exposure (S) Spatial Equity Index19.123.4523.45
D12-2. Equity of NOx exposure (S) Spatial Equity Index20.0223.5623.60
D12-3. Equity of VOC exposure (I) Income Equity Index10.7455.95427.17
D12-4. Equity of NOx exposure (I) Income Equity Index9.5754.97364.93
D21-1. Exposure to VOC emissions Human Impact Index1354.56467.484134.47
D21-2. Exposure to NOx emissions Human Impact Index2269.79318.922766.65

Table 5-8. Results of sustainability indexes (Adapted from Jeon, et al. 2007)
Sustainability IndexBaseline2005 Mobility2030 Aspiration2030
Environmental Sustainability 0.3171.0001.000
Social Sustainability0.5660.8040.306
Transportation Effectiveness 0.9720.9270.927
Economic Sustainability 0.9671.0001.000
Comprehensive Sustainability0.6980.9060.731

How else could the Sustainability Diamond be applied?

The Atlanta application was intended to demonstrate how the Sustainability Diamond tool could be used to aid planning and policymaking. It has not yet been used in practice, though could easily be applied to prioritization programs like ODOT's Investment Scenarios and IDOT's Program Menu (see Case Study 8) as a visualization tool.

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.

Decision criteria and then performance measures are defined for each project, plan, or policy

Data sources will vary though will likely require a mix of internally collected measures and public data sources

Flexible - performance measures can be selected based on available data.

Presents multiple-criteria in easy to understand form for multiple audiences.

Can visualize trade-offs among criteria.


Jeon, C., Amekudzi, A., and R. Guensler. (2007). Evaluating Transportation System Sustainability: Atlanta Metropolitan Region. Transportation Research Board 2007 Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers, Washington, DC, January 21-25, 2007.

Health Impact Assessment

Sponsoring Agency(s): Public health departments, private foundations, local governments, federal agencies, and others

Brief Description: Health Impact Assessment is a methodology to assess transportation in terms of impacts on public health and wellness, with a focus on underserved or vulnerable populations. It is a valuable tool for assessing the social dimensions of sustainability.

Topic Area(s): Social Sustainability

What is a Health Impact Assessment?

A Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is a tool for assessing the social impacts of transportation projects and policies. HIAs are used to determine impacts of transportation on public health and wellness, including physical and mental health. HIAs can also analyze the social equity implications of projects and policies by focusing on underserved or vulnerable populations like the elderly, youth, carless or low-income households, and racial minority groups. HIA can be applied at the project or planning level, and can be used prior to or following construction/implementation.

How Does a Health Impact Assessment Work?

HIA originated in the public health field in Europe as a way to measure a proposed policy, program or project's impact on community health. HIA recognizes that there are numerous health determinants and the built environment (including transportation infrastructure) has a significant influence on individual and collective health or healthy behaviors. Further, it uses a broad definition of health: "a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" [1]. In the past, HIA was used as a way to ensure that health impacts were considered in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. Today, HIA provides a way to combine issues of environmental and social sustainability and to directly influence decision-making by bringing health to the forefront [2]. Unlike EIA, an HIA is a voluntary process in US transportation planning.

HIA generally follows six steps (see Figure 5-15). As described by the World Health Organization (WHO), the type and complexity of the HIA depends on the scope of expected impacts and is limited by resources available (time, staff, funds).  There are three main types of HIA:

  1. Rapid Health Impact Appraisal: This requires the least amount of time and resources. It involves experts, decision-makers and representatives of stakeholder groups in a systematic assessment of existing knowledge on the health impacts of a proposed policy, program, or project.
  2. Health Impact Analysis: This is likely the most common approach. It requires greater time and resources than a rapid HIA because it involves an in-depth assessment of potential health impacts of a decision and opportunities to adjust the policy, program, or project in support of a healthy community. This approach involves a broad range of expertise (local government, public health, transportation engineers, community members) and the use of multiple analysis methods. In addition to utilizing existing information, health impact analysis may require production and analysis of new data (survey or interviews, GIS data, et cetera).
  3. Health Impact Review: This is used when a proposed package of policies, programs and/or projects is too broad for in-depth analysis to be feasible. This approach summarizes the most important impacts on health without directly linking impacts to specific elements of the proposal or determining exact cause and effect relationships. Like the health impact analysis, this approach uses a variety of methods to assess impacts, including review of earlier published analyses of similar proposals and expert panel analysis.

Figure 5-15. General Process of Health Impact Assessment - click on the image to see a fuller explanation of the figure.
Figure 5-15. General Process of Health Impact Assessment (Adapted from WHO 1999)

The next section provides examples of different types of HIAs that have been applied in the transportation sector. Regardless of the type of HIA used, each one is "place-based" or customized to the community in question by establishing metrics for measuring and monitoring health impact. Metrics consider issues like:

At least 27 HIAs were conducted in the US from 1999-2007 and an additional ten HIAs in progress [3]. Most of the studies were sponsored by local health departments, private foundations, or federal agencies, and covered a range of polices and projects including after-school programs, power plants, land-use planning, commercial redevelopment, parks and trails, public subsidies for housing, and public transit. Nine of the HIAs investigated transportation-related health impacts. The HIAs used a variety of assessment methods such as literature review, expert panels, GIS mapping, public involvement (interviews or surveys), analysis/forecasting of travel and census data, and review of existing programs or planning documents. Most of the HIAs included recommendations for changing the proposed policy or program. However, there was little documentation of the impacts on implementation [3]. WHO provides numerous examples of HIAs conducted in transportation and other sectors, and toolkits and guidebooks on how to conduct different types of HIAs [4].

Example of Project-level HIA: Atlanta BeltLine HIA

Atlanta BeltLine Project Overview

The Atlanta BeltLine is a planned urban redevelopment project that will create a "continuous loop of urban regeneration" by combining green space, trails, transit, and new development along 22 miles of historic rail segments [5]. The BeltLine offers an opportunity to reconnect neighborhoods and provide citizens with access to key resources. The BeltLine vision is guided by a belief that a strong transportation network will promote a strong local economy. The project includes transit and roadway infrastructure improvements. Current plans propose a 22-mile loop of rail transit (either light rail or streetcar) to be funded by federal grants and local matching funds. The new transit system will connect to existing and proposed regional transit networks and link riders to major activity centers and attractions. The new transit is predicted to attract over six million new riders a year, reduce the number of rail-to-rail transfers, and improve transit travel times [6]. Roadway infrastructure projects will include streetscaping, sidewalk construction, and intersection improvements. Atlanta BeltLine will also include an extensive park and trail system. Approximately 33-miles of new multi-use trails will follow the 22-mile transit loop and extend into surrounding neighborhoods to increase access to the BeltLine. The trail-component of the BeltLine will provide connections to new and existing parks throughout the city and be designed for both recreational and commuter use [7]. Atlanta BeltLine Inc. has two transportation studies currently underway: an Environmental Impact Statement for development of transit and trails in conjunction with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) and design and construction of the second major trail segment, Atlanta Memorial Trail.  Figure 5-16 shows a map of the Atlanta Beltline.

HIA Overall Approach

In 2007, Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development (CQGRD) at the Georgia Institute of Technology completed a Health Impact Analysis of the Atlanta BeltLine to consider the social and environmental justice impacts. The HIA evaluated the degree to which "access to parks, trails, transit, and redevelopment meet the needs of the existing and future populations, and whether improved access, and the resulting health benefits, are equitably distributed geographically and demographically" [5]. A multidisciplinary project team was assembled representing the fields of city planning (transportation, land use, economic development, environmental management, and public policy) and public health (epidemiology and environmental health). The project team recruited a six-person advisory committee to provide overall project direction, component-specific guidance, and analytical expertise. The advisory committee members had expertise in one or more of the following areas: health impact assessment, physical activity and public health, transportation planning, city and regional planning, health psychology, architecture and community design, computation and analysis, quality of life. Later in the process, the advisory committee reviewed the methodology and preliminary results and provided constructive criticism.

Map depicting proposed route for Atlanta BeltLine. The map displays downtown Atlanta, and the Beltline will circle the inner city, encompassing most of downtown.
Figure 5-16. Atlanta BeltLine Concept Map (Source: The BeltLine Partnership, September 2005)

Screening Process

The screening process was conducted during development of the grant proposal. Through a series of meetings, the project team determined that Atlanta BeltLine could impact community health through noise, injury, physical activity, air quality, social capital, crime, accessibility, and gentrification. The team also determined that additional study was needed to assess the direction, magnitude, and distribution of health impacts. Further, the team recognized that a more thorough investigation of the health impacts could lead to a better BeltLine project.

Scoping Phase

The scoping phase involved identifying the parameters of the assessment, the affected and most vulnerable populations, and potential benefits and negative consequences. The project team defined the study area by a 0.5-mile buffer of the BeltLine, based on the distance people are typically willing to walk to transit, parks, and other destinations. The study area was also divided into five segments that corresponded to the City of Atlanta's designated BeltLine Planning Areas. The segments were used later to compare impacts along different parts of the BeltLine. By closely examining the affected population in the study area and previous research in this area, the project team defined "vulnerable populations" as children, older adults, renters, carless, and low economic status. The project team used several approaches to identify potential key health impacts, which were those issues that concerned the public most, may have the greatest impact in terms of severity or number of people affected, or may affect the most vulnerable populations. The team used content analysis of recent local newspaper coverage of the BeltLine, developed a logic framework to draw connections between elements of the project and potential impacts (see Figure 5-17), and engaged in extensive public involvement and education. CQGRD completed a survey of almost 500 people living, working, or going to school near the BeltLine to gauge opinions of current health conditions and perception of BeltLine impacts. During the scoping phase of the HIA, the advisory committee helped refine the scope and recommended data sources and participation strategies. At the end of the scoping phase, the project team identified five critical issues that would be assessed in the next phase: access and social equity, physical activity, safety, social capital, and environment (air quality, noise, and water management).

Logic framework of potential health impacts developed during scoping phase - click on the image to see a fuller explanation of the figure.
Figure 5-17. Logic framework of potential health impacts developed during scoping phase (CQGRD 2007)

Evaluation Phase

The evaluation phase involved profiling the affected communities, identifying and characterizing potential health impacts, and GIS analysis to determine distribution of health impacts. Evaluation included both quantitative (population and employment projections, GIS analysis) and qualitative methods (literature review, expert opinion) and required numerous data sources (both publically available and newly generated) including:


The results were reported along with recommendations for minimizing negative impacts and maximizing benefits, particularly in planning areas with large vulnerable populations. Overall, benefits were found to be distributed along the entire BeltLine. The study did observe some disparities based on race or income, and suggested that refining the BeltLine plans to focus development in vulnerable areas could resolve those issues. Table 5-9 shows examples of measures and key findings related to each of the critical health issues. The full Atlanta BeltLine HIA report containing more detail, describing methodology and recommendations, is available at

Table 5-9. Summary of Key Issues, Measures, and Findings from Atlanta BeltLine HIA
IssueExamples of MeasuresExamples of Findings
Access and Social Equity

Number of people (before and after implementation) with access to (1) parks and trails, (2) transit, (3) housing, (4) healthy food
Composition of population with access (before and after implementation)

Note: "Access" defined as living within 0.5 miles of amenity

New access to parks for approximately 11,000 people (based on 2000 population), or about five percent of the study area population
41 percent of the study area population, would have access to the trail system.
Improved access to transit for 36 percent of study area population provides positive health benefits by enabling higher labor participation rate, offering an opportunity for physical activity (to and from transit), and providing better access to essential services, such as healthcare.
Grocery stores located in neighborhoods that are majority white and of higher socioeconomic status than study area population
Physical ActivityMortality rates for chronic diseases linked to lack of physical activity
Access to parks, trails, and transit
Both parks and trails offer opportunities for physical activity, which is imperative for health.
BeltLine will increase opportunities for physical activity in planning areas with highest mortality rates.
SafetyCrime rates (local, national, transit-related)
Potential for injury
Survey responses: low crime rates have positive effect on health; BeltLine will not lower crime rates but will still have positive effect on health
Survey responses: Both injury and crime were concerns, but not top health concerns for most people
Increased bike and pedestrian activity may reduce risk of bike and pedestrian crashes
Social CapitalDegree to which people feel that they live in and belong to a socially cohesive group, and range of activities and resources that emerge as a consequence of those ties5% of survey respondents felt BeltLine would improve their sense of community
Potential to improve social capital by preserving existing neighborhoods, creating places for formal and informal social interactions, and embracing an inclusive public participation process.
EnvironmentChange in traffic volumes and related air quality issues
Stormwater run-off and management (function of design and amount of impervious surface)
Levels of noise and vibration
Location of brownfields
Transportation improvements would only achieve a four percent reduction in traffic volume growth (as projected by Atlanta Regional Commission). The BeltLine would have a minimal positive impact on air quality.
Could not quantify stormwater impacts without detailed development plans.
Brownfields more likely to be located near low-income and non-white populations

Examples of Other Completed HIAs in Transportation

Planning Analysis: Decatur Community Transportation Plan Rapid HIA

When Decatur, Georgia commenced a comprehensive transportation planning effort in 2006, the community made a commitment to active living through active travel. As part of the planning process, CQGRD conducted a Rapid HIA to identify health impacts related to safety, social connections and physical activity as affected by transportation and land use decisions. The Rapid HIA began with a community workshop investigating the concerns of Decatur residents, businesses, and institutions. CQGRD then used findings from more than 100 research articles and books and insights from local, regional and national experts in planning and health to identify potential health impacts and recommend strategies to increase the number of positive health outcomes and remove or mitigate negative health outcomes. Following completion of the Community Transportation Plan in Fall 2007, Decatur created a new Active Living Division within the Department of Community and Economic Development that combines traditional recreation programs with quality of life programs like environmental sustainability, alternative transportation planning and efforts to encourage an active living lifestyle in the community [5].

See for the full Decatur HIA report.

Multiple Levels: New Zealand Transport Agency's Applications to Land Transport

New Zealand Transport Agency conducted a review of HIA that included three case studies of completed HIAs. The case studies demonstrated applications of both strategic and project level HIA. The case studies assessed the HIA process - why, when, and how it was conducted and its value to planners and other stakeholders. Also, the case studies cover what worked well and what did not. They helped NZTA conclude that HIA needs to be integrated into their transportation planning process in order to better protect public health [8]. The three case studies were:

The World Health Organization provides numerous other examples of HIAs conduct for transportation projects, plans, and programs at

Assessing the Outcomes of HIAs

To be complete, HIAs must be assessed for their outcomes or impacts.  Questions that must be asked include the following:

The effectiveness of HIAs is often a function of commitment, in terms of time and monetary resources and buy-in from transportation officials, the public, and politicians. HIA could be a valuable tool for assessing social impacts of transportation projects, but it has to be made a priority.

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.

BeltLine metrics related to:

Access and Social Equity (parks, trails, transit, housing, food)

Physical Activity (parks, trails, transit, urban form)

Safety (injury and crime)

Social capital

Environment (air quality, water quality, noise and vibrations, brownfields)

Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health

US Census 2000 (census track)

BeltLine studies (private and non-profit sources)

Atlanta Regional Commission population estimates

US DOT traffic and accident data

Atlanta Development Authority housing data

Primarily GIS-based analysis that may require converting existing data into GIS-compatible formats

LCI metrics related to:

Access to Transportation Options

Access to Parks & Greenspace

 Access to Healthy Housing

Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) land use data (parcels and land use classification)

GIS files for block size, transit access (pedestrian shed)

Census demographic block level data

Traffic data from GDOT (ADT, crash data)

Incident data from Atlanta Police Department

Site visits and interviews

Data sets limited to those that were available prior to implementation (2001) and post implementation (2007) for comparison purposes


[1] World Health Organization (WHO). (1999). Health Impact Assessment : main concepts and suggested approach. Gothenburg consensus paper, Brussels, Belgium.

[2] Allen, M. (2009). "2009 Evaluating the Livable Centers Initiative : The Case for Using Health Impact Assessment." 1-71. Master's Option Paper, Georgia Institute of Technology City and Regional Planning Program. Unpublished.

[3] Dannenberg, A. L., Bhatia, R., Cole, B. L., Heaton, S. K., Feldman, J. D., and Rutt, C. D. (2008). "Use of health impact assessment in the U.S.: 27 case studies, 1999-2007." American journal of preventive medicine, 34(3), 241-56.

[4] WHO. (2010). Health Impact Assessment.

[5] Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development (CQGRD). (2007). Atlanta BeltLine Health Impact Assessment and Decatur Community Transportation Plan. Available at

[6] MARTA. (2007). Detailed Technical Screening and Selection of Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA). Available at

[7] Atlanta BeltLine Inc (ABI). (2007). "BeltLine Basics." BeltLine: Atlanta Connected. Accessed 1 April 2008 at

[8] Ball, J., Ward, M., Thornley, L, and Quigley, R. (2009). Applying health impact assessment to land transport planning. NZ Transport Agency Research Report 375. Available at

NYSDOT Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Team

Partners: NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), NYS Climate Action Council, NYS Energy Planning Board, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC)

Brief Description: NYSDOT's Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Team coordinates internal and external initiatives including the following: reporting greenhouse gas emissions for transportation improvement programs (TIPs) and long-range plans; analyzing emissions at the project level to compare alternatives; identifying ways to reduce transportation energy costs for the public; promoting energy efficient programs and projects; and reducing NYSDOT's carbon footprint.

Topic Area(s): Climate Change; Energy Use/Efficiency

Contact Person:

Dr. John Zamurs

Environmental Science Bureau

How did NYSDOT get involved with climate change?

New York State (NYS) recognized that climate change could have serious impacts on its infrastructure. NYSDEC reports that climate change effects were already being seen in NYS in 2010:

Most of these trends could have a significant impact on transportation infrastructure. As a result, NYS government has been proactive in addressing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and the potential implications of climate change. The 2002 NYS Energy Plan touches on transportation, environment, energy, and economic development issues. Thirty out of 65 recommendations were directly or indirectly related to transportation, and involved quantifying and mitigating the energy use and air pollution expected from transportation plans and programs [2]. In April 2008, Governor David Paterson issued Executive Orders No. 2 and 4. No. 2 established an Energy Planning Board to create and implement a State Energy Plan and No. 4 established green procurement rules and agency sustainability programs. A new statewide energy plan was released in 2009 and contains energy demand and price forecasts, assessment of energy resources, and strategies for transportation and other sectors. In August 2009, Governor Paterson signed Executive Order No. 24, which set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 80 percent below the 1990 levels by the year 2050. To achieve the goal, the Executive Order created a Climate Action Council with a directive to prepare a Climate Action Plan by December 2010 [4]. The Climate Action Plan will assess how all economic sectors can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate change, and support a clean energy economy [4].

In response to the state's energy and climate change directives, NYSDOT established a Climate Change & Energy Efficiency team. The team's mission is to assist the DOT in its efforts to have the DOT and the State's transportation sector reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on petroleum. Staff from around the agency participate in a series of work groups to address various aspects of the effort. The initiative is coordinated by the Office of the Environment and the Policy and Planning Division.

How is NYSDOT tackling Climate Change?

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy use from the transportation sector, NYSDOT has strategies on four fronts (or the 4 legged stool in Figure 5-18):

4-legged stool of transportation GHG reductions with each leg supporting the goal of GHG reductions. The legs are fuels, vehicles, vehicles/system operation, and VMT.
Figure 5-18. 4-legged stool of transportation GHG reduction strategies. Source:

NYSDOT's efforts are being coordinated by the Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Team (CC/EE Team), which consists of approximately 70 members representing departments from throughout the agency. The team is supported at the Executive level and is charged with institutionalizing climate change/energy efficiency into everything DOT does. Activities range from shaping major policy and project directions to influencing actions of individual DOT employees. The CC/EE Team is divided into 6 workgroups that work with each other and with other state agencies. Table 5-10 shows a breakdown of the workgroup responsibilities.

Table 5-10. Workgroups and responsibilities in the Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Team
WorkgroupPrimary responsibilities
NYS transportation sectorWork with MPOs, other transportation agencies and the general public to incorporate CC/EE considerations in statewide and metropolitan plan and program development.
NYSDOT carbon footprintReport emissions inventory of NYSDOT's vehicles, buildings, planning practices, design procedures, construction specifications, and maintenance practices.
Fuel availability and cost forecastsWork with NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to develop short-term and long-term energy forecasts, examine fuel cost effects on funding and basic transportation needs, and identify ways to adapt to changes in fuel prices or supply.
AdaptationInvestigate how to adapt design, construction and maintenance practices/specifications to statewide effects of climate change and identify funding for adaptation measures.
Outreach and educationDevelop an outreach plan and promote CC/EE to external stakeholders. Solicit ideas from NYSDOT employees (first round received 150 suggestions) and establish a web board for sharing information with NYSDOT employees.
Funding availabilityIdentify available federal, state, and local funding resources for climate change and energy efficiency programs. Develop a new funding source for local projects that promote CC/EE.

NYSDOT "Top 11" List of Sustainability Actions:

 NYSDOT's climate change initiatives address both planning and project development. At the planning level, the DOT compares the direct and indirect energy requirements of the no action scenario with the TIP or LRP Scenario. This provides a way to weigh the benefits of new capacity and operational projects against the costs of potentially higher energy use. Project-level analysis is conducted for major projects, and includes a comparison among different alternatives including the no-build scenario. Project-level calculations cover construction, operational, and maintenance aspects of the projects. NYSDOT has found that differences among the alternatives range from 1700 to 15000 tons of carbon per year. To put that value in perspective, an average coal-burning power plant emits 1 million tons of carbon per year.

Another notable CC/EE initiative is the Clean Air NY campaign ( It is a year-round program that seeks to improve air quality in the New York metropolitan area by educating residents and organizations about simple ways they can change their travel behavior. Website provides information for individuals like simple, everyday travel changes that all New Yorkers can make to improve air quality. It also offers information for organizations on helping employees make smarter choices. Everyone can benefit from the commuting information, such as locating a carpool or vanpool, and Air Quality Action Day Bulletins that provide information on poor air quality days and what people can do to improve the air on those days.

In addition to the DOT's activities, members of the CC/EE Team are contributing to statewide efforts. First, the acting DOT commissioner serves on the Statewide Energy Planning Board, helping to set the strategic direction for the transportation sector (see list below for priorities for 2009-2010). NYSDOT representatives also serve on the NYS Climate Action Council's Transportation and Land Use (TLU) Technical Work Group and the Adaptation Technical Work Group. These representatives are helping to develop the NYS Climate Action Plan and each work group is contributing data to the state greenhouse gas inventory [9].  Additionally, NYSDOT is serving on the state's Sea Level Rise Task Force, which is identifying infrastructure (including transportation) that is vulnerable to sea level rise. The final report, scheduled for a January 2011 release, will make recommendations for adapting infrastructure, establishing protective standards and enforcement for natural systems, and making changes to state and local statutes to respond to climate change.

Transportation Strategies from NYS Energy Plan:

Vehicle technology

Transportation fuel

Energy efficient transportation system activity

What has the Climate Change & Energy Efficiency Team accomplished?

New York State has demonstrated that CC/EE initiatives can have a significant impact on air quality and energy use. Initial statewide results of State Energy Plan showed a direct energy reduction of 43.5x109 BTUs per day and a carbon reduction of 6,381 tons per day, which equates to about 4% of New York City's daily carbon emissions in 2005 [10]. NYSDOT contributed to the reductions with a package of policies and programs that it introduced from 2008 to 2010. One of the most recognizable CC/EE initiatives is the GreenLITES project rating system, which is highlighted in another case study. Other practices can be found at the individual employee level all the way to more strategic directions for the DOT. Table 5-11 shows examples of common practices to address climate change.  Current and future activities will be documented on the NYSDOT CC/EE website. The true impact of NYSDOT's CC/EE initiatives will be seen over time with the release of future greenhouse gas emission inventories.

Table 5-11. Summary of NYSDOT practices to address climate change
Implementation LevelInitiatives
IndividualPilot compressed work week for NYSDOT employees (as of October 2009, 12% of employees participated)
Shut down computers at night
ProjectB5 biodiesel in NYSDOT diesel fleet
LED traffic lights
Selective building retrofits/upgrades
Experiment with Warm Mix Asphalt and recycled materials
TOD training in Tappan Zee/Hudson Valley corridor
StrategicSoliciting NYS version of Gulf Coast study,
Developed methodological guidance for MPOs to assess energy use and GHG emissions from TIPs and LRTPs
Consider emissions and energy use during project alternative selection for major highway projects.
Carbon Highway Footprinting Research
Joint research co-funded with NYSERDA: 2 rounds of RFPs, $3.2 million, 20 projects selected
Involvement with Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Carbon Dioxide Budget Trading Program
Launched Smart Growth website

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.
Quantify and mitigate the energy use and air pollution expected from transportation plans and programs with strategies on four fronts: (1) vehicle technology; (2) fuels; (3) vehicle miles traveled (VMT)/demand management; (4) vehicles/system operations

Internal research
carbon highway footprint modeling using the capabilities of TRANSIMS and real-time commercial vehicle data acquisition
car share research
recycled material research

External partners/sources
NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
CO2 Allowance Auctions
NYS Climate Action Council
NYS Energy Planning Board
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC)
Green technology manufacturers

Data is specific to NYS, so may be difficult to replicate the footprinting method


[3] NYS climate and energy planning,
[8] "New York - Integration into Transportation Decision Making: Case Studies: State DOT Activities", DOT Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse,
[9] State Greenhouse Gas Inventory,
[10]Inventory of New York City Greenhouse Gas Emissions, April 2007,

Caltrans Climate Action Program

Brief Description: Caltrans' Climate Action Program was developed as an interdisciplinary approach to address both emission reduction and adaptation measures to prepare for climate change impacts. The program is an active mitigation response to statewide legislation to promote cleaner, more energy efficient transportation and coordinate strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. On the adaptation side, Caltrans conducted a sea-level risk assessment with the California Resources Agency to investigate the impacts from changes in temperature and precipitation level. Another climate-related initiative is a habitat connectivity study that examines how habitats will be affected by climate change, where species are likely to migrate to if forced out of their current habitat, and thus what areas need to be protected as future habitats. Caltrans will also help regional agencies incorporate GHG reduction strategies into Regional Blueprint plans (see Regional Blueprints Case Study).

Topic Area(s): Climate Change


Garth Hopkins
Chief, Office of Regional and Interagency Planning

Why is Caltrans addressing Climate Change?

A 1.4 meter sea-level rise over the next century will "put 480,000 people at risk of [what is considered today] a 100 year flood" which would become a common event and cost $100 billion to replace flooded property assuming current levels of development.

~ California Sea Level Rise Report

Climate change impacts like higher temperatures, sea level rise, and more extreme weather events could have a significant impact on transportation infrastructure. And the transportation sector itself is a major contributor to climate change through GHG emissions. In California, transportation represents 40 percent of all anthropogenic GHG production. Annual net GHG from transportation are roughly equal to the product of the number of vehicles, average number of miles traveled by each vehicle, and average net emissions of GHG per vehicle mile traveled. In addition to the emissions, California's unsustainable transportation leads to major economic costs. In 2005, California drivers used an estimated 18.1 billion gallons of motor fuel at an estimated cost of $44 billion and traveled 330 billion miles, representing a 15 percent increase from 1990. While net emissions per VMT may decrease over time, 2005 trends projected significant increases in VMT per vehicle and the number of vehicles on the road [3]. If those trends continued, California would increase its gasoline use and associated GHG emissions 30 percent by 2025. Overall, California represents 6.2 percent of the US's GHG emissions (from California's Climate Change Portal).


Higher average temperatures affect energy production, transmission and demand; increase cooling demands, decrease water availability for hydropower generation increase risk of brown-outs and black-outs impact transmission efficiencies.

Temperature extremes increase road and railroad track buckling decrease in transportation safety and higher costs


(Source: California Climate Adaptation Strategy)

In response to the serious economic and environmental threats posed by climate change, the California Governor's Office and State Legislature have issued a series of directives for dealing with greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts. Governor's Executive Order S-3-05 established GHG emissions reduction targets and created the State's Climate Action Team to lead efforts. In 2006, AB32: Global Warming Solutions Act reinforced the reduction targets, including a reduction to 1990 levels by 2020, and created a comprehensive, multi-year program to accomplish that. In 2009, SB 375 required regional governments to include sustainability and GHG reduction strategies and targets in regional planning. In addition to the state lead, Caltrans Director Will Kempton issued his Policy on Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Climate Change in 2007 to outline the Department's policy and program roles and responsibilities. The Director's policy strived to integrate climate change considerations into normal business operations in order to prove that transportation efficiency and greening measures can have multiple benefits. In addition to easing congestion to lower GHG emissions, he wanted to show that climate change efforts could lead to economic gains and opportunities to create new markets like in the energy sector.

In order to do its part to reduce emissions, Caltrans works closely with the California Air Resources Board and serves on the Governor's Climate Action Team. A key outcome of that work was the 2006 Climate Action Program Report. The Department also collaborates on a variety of initiatives with local and regional agencies, academic and research institutions, NGOs and other environmental and energy stakeholders.

What is the Climate Action Program?

The Climate Action Program (CAP) at Caltrans is an interdisciplinary effort to make climate change a part of day-to-day activities and to promote, facilitate, and coordinate implementation of strategies with partner agencies. The CAP focuses on climate change mitigation through greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction and advances adaptation measures to protect the transportation system from climate change impacts. The program serves as a resource for technical assistance, training, information exchange, and partnership-building opportunities. The overall objectives of the CAP are to:

Caltrans is pursuing these objectives in two ways: building a more efficient transportation system and providing cleaner, more energy efficient transportation operations. The first approach focuses on reducing, managing, and eliminating trips that cause congestion and emissions by investing in ITS, demand management, value pricing, smart land use, and market based strategies. Example initiatives include Regional Blueprint Planning, local development/intergovernmental review, transportation planning grants, and congestion relief projects on high travel corridors. The second approach will incorporate energy efficiency and GHG reduction measures into the planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance of transportation facilities, fleets, and buildings. With the two-fold approach, Caltrans estimated that it could reduce 18.67 MMT of CO2 emissions by 2010, saving 1 billion gallons of gasoline and retaining $2.45 billion in the State's economy [6].

Caltrans Office of Policy Analysis and Research (OPAR) manages the Climate Action Program and is specifically responsible for:

The CAP also receives oversight from the Caltrans Director who provides overall direction for the program. A Management Steering Committee consisting of Directors, Division Chiefs, and project managers from several groups oversee the work plan and delegate tasks to the Technical Working Group that consists of representatives from Resource Conservation, Environmental Analysis, Traffic Operations, Maintenance, Equipment, Transportation Planning, Research and Innovation, and Engineering Services [3].

What has Caltrans accomplished with the Climate Action Program?

The 2007 Climate Action Charter set forth the purpose of the CAP and a list of short-term products. In fulfillment of a work product, Caltrans was one of the first state agencies to successfully certify its GHG inventory with the California Climate Action Registry, a private nonprofit organization that promotes early actions to reduce emissions and develops credible, accurate, and consistent GHG reporting standards. Caltrans also helped produce the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy which suggests the following actions for transportation:

Caltrans future work will address these strategies and provide guidance for planning activities at all levels: strategic, system planning, regional planning, project development and programming.

In November 2008, Caltrans released an addendum to the 2007 Regional Transportation Plan Guidelines to account for climate change and greenhouse gas emissions during that process. The Fleet Greening Program began as a five-year plan in August 2000 and has been continued to promote an efficient fleet mix and use of efficient, low emission vehicles. Specific initiatives in the Fleet Greening Program include regulation compliance, state purchasing policies, and demonstrations of hybrid passenger vehicles, solar-powered equipment, propane-fueled vehicles, low dust street sweepers, diesel particulate filters on heavy-duty, diesel-powered vehicles, two hydrogen demonstration vehicles, and E-85 fuel ethanol demonstration [8].

Each year, Caltrans gathers data on a monthly basis on greenhouse gas emissions in order to compile GHG inventories (assuming no budget constraints). Much of this data is collected by examining purchase records of various gasses, such as acetylene, and by observing bulk re-fueling totals, which are fueling stations for Caltrans vehicles only. These stations track gallons by fuel type, and also gather data on how much power is being used by the vehicle. The inventory is sent to the California Climate Action Registry and verified by a third party before it is published. Other private institutions also complete their own GHG inventories on differing intervals of time, whether it be every year or every 4-5 years. During periods when Caltrans is financially constrained and unable to report a full inventory to the registry, the agency continues to collect data internally and monitor changes in energy usage and sources. By publishing the GHG inventories, Caltrans is able to communicate successful outcomes, like the use of alternative fuels (biodiesel and ethanol) and the reduction of emissions by changing power sources (conversion of street lights to LED bulbs). Caltrans can then use the success stories (backed by real data) to promote expansion of emissions-reduction practices and to explore new practices. Despite their success, Caltrans recognizes that there are limitations to the internal tracking systems, but this must be solved by the managerial divisions within Caltrans. With better internal tracking systems, Caltrans would be able to complete inventories more easily and with lower costs.

Another notable outcome of the CAP is a Sea-Level Rise Study for California's coast that was released in 2009. Caltrans partnered with the Pacific Institute and several state and national agencies to investigate past trends in sea level rise and project future impacts. The study provides a detailed analysis of the population, infrastructure (including transportation), and property at risk from projected sea level rise over the next century. Risks are primarily related to coastal flooding and infrastructure erosion. The report provides estimates for costs of replacing at-risk property and a comprehensive list of recommended strategies for adapting to sea-level rise, including structural and non-structural policies [5].

Currently, Caltrans is working with the NASA Academy of Sciences to put together a more extensive sea-level rise study. After receiving this data, which is planned to be finalized within 12-18 months, they will update the short term products time table and move forward with new initiatives. One of these new initiatives is something called a "hotspot map". Since there is no coordinated master plan for transportation systems directly affected by the anticipated sea level rise, Caltrans is working with the University of California-Davis to compile this data and create reference maps to help with climate-sensitive regional planning. The hot-spot maps will identify critical transportation infrastructure located throughout the entire state that will need to be adapted or reconstructed in preparation for sea level rise. By using resources like the hotspot map, quantifiable data from researching with other state institutions, and regional/master treatment plans, Caltrans will work to effectively mitigate impending climate problems that were not anticipated in past transportation and regional plans.

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.

Two methods:

-building a more efficient transportation system: implementing smart growth/land use

-providing cleaner, more energy efficient transportation: non-vehicular conservation methods (converting lamps to LED); fleet replacement and greening

GHG Inventory:

Based on estimated fuel usage and emissions factors by fuel type

Still collecting internally measured data on energy usage/emissions

Electric bills

Purchase records for various gases like acetylene

Bulk re-fueling totals (fueling stations for Caltrans vehicles only)

-Tracking gallons by fuel type

 -Use of in-vehicle Voyager cards to   purchase fuel when there is no bulk fuel station nearby

Tracking transition to different fuel sources and more energy efficient equipment (like biofuels and LED signals)

External partners developing new data sources for planning:

Pacific Institute and NASA helping to investigate past trends in sea level rise and predict future impacts

University of California-Davis creating "hotspots map" to identify transportation systems directly affected by the predicted sea level rise

Need a better internal tracking system for GHG inventory - some GHG sources are not well-tracked and completing inventory takes considerable time. Change will have to occur within Caltrans divisions. With a limited budget, a full inventory cannot be completed.


[1] Caltrans Climate Action Program,

[2] Caltrans Office of Policy Analysis and Research, Climate Action Program,

[3] Climate Action Charter, October 2007,

[4] 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy,

[5] Heberger, M. (2009). The Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on the California Coast, Pacific Institute, Available at

[6] Climate Action Program at Caltrans, December 2006 Report,

[7] California Climate Action Team Reports,

[8] Caltrans Fleet Greening Program,

[9] Addendum to 2007 Regional Transportation Plan Guidelines,

WSDOT Climate Change Initiatives

Brief Description: Implementation of projects to collectively monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Washington State while improving system quality and efficiency.

Topic Area(s): Climate Change, GHG Emissions Monitoring


Seth Stark

Climate Change Program Lead

What are WSDOT's Climate Change Initiatives?

WSDOT has compiled several initiatives and projects to address climate change within Washington State. High fuel consumption, air pollution and traffic congestion produce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which contribute to climate change. The Climate Change initiatives employ one or many approaches to reduce GHG emissions such as promoting more efficient vehicles and cleaner fuels, reduction of Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), and overall improvements to transportation system efficiency. Many of WSDOT's climate change initiatives are part of the agency's congestion mitigation program, Moving Washington. WSDOT is one of the first state DOTs to produce an emissions inventory, which is required of all Washington state agencies to measure progress towards emissions reduction goals. The reduction goals stem from Washington's involvement in the Western Climate Initiative. It is also involved in the multi-state West Coast Green Highway project. In addition to work at a strategic level, WSDOT also released internal project-level guidance in 2009 for incorporating climate change considerations into all SEPA or NEPA Environmental Impact Statements or NEPA Environmental Assessments [1].

Western Climate Initiative (

The Western Climate Initiative was initiated in February 2007 when the respective governors of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington signed an agreement to develop a market-based program and a regional-wide plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Building upon the accomplishments and research of two previous regional efforts, the West Coast Global Warming Initiative started in 2003 and the Southwest Climate Change Initiative started in 2006, the WCI perfected a plan to reach their goals. It has become a collective collaboration between independent jurisdictions that work together to identify, analyze, and implement policies to mitigate climate change at a regional level.

On January 29, 2009, Chris Gregoire, Washington governor, and other legislative leaders released a package that included an accountable cap-and-trade system that was built on the WCI design. It will be fully implemented in 2015, and will stand as the most comprehensive cap-and-trade program to date. The WCI design includes coverage over six main greenhouse gases in the United States, and it will cover nearly 90 percent of all GHG emissions in the United States and provinces of Canada by 2015. The program will be gradually transitioned into partner states in order to adapt to climate change impacts.

How does Moving Washington address GHG emissions and climate change?

Moving Washington was developed as a ten year program to address the findings of a congestion performance audit of the Puget Sound region. The audit was completed in October 2007 by the State Auditor's Office. The purpose is to enhance mobility and improve future system efficiency by reducing congestion. WSDOT's approach to limiting congestion falls into three categories: (1) add capacity strategically, (2) operate efficiently, and (3) manage demand. By 2010, WSDOT had addressed 21 of the 22 audit findings through the Moving Washington program [2].

Add Capacity Strategically

WSDOT enhances the capacity of its road system by reducing the number of serious "traffic-flow bottlenecks". Many of the nearly 400 projects within the biennium transportation funding package for 2003 to 2005 increased system capacity to alleviate identified congestion zones. However, simply adding more roads is not a long-term sustainable solution, WSDOT also explores multi-modal solutions. For example, the WSDOT Freight Plan suggests capacity improvements to rail facilities as well.

Operate Efficiently

In order to prevent system congestion, WSDOT implements innovative traffic technologies to maintain high system efficiency and safety.

Active Traffic Management (ATM)

ATM uses sensors embedded in the roadway to actively adjust speed limits on electronic signs according to road conditions. These dynamic signs also inform drivers of changes in the road conditions, such as accidents, and re-routes drivers to prevent congestion from building up. For example, in the case of a rush hour traffic accident, the signs may reroute drivers to shoulder lanes. The system is scheduled to be tested along a span 6 mile of the I-5 as shown in the figure below. ATM Construction began in May 2009, and electronic signs are expected to be operational by July 2010 [3,4].

High Occupancy Toll Lanes (HOT Lanes) Pilot Project

In January 2003, the Washington State Transportation Commission adopted a resolution directing WSDOT to evaluate the feasibility of a HOT Lanes Pilot Project. On May 3, 2008 the four-year SR 167 HOT Lanes Pilot Project opened. The Pilot Project converted 9 miles of existing HOV lanes on SR167 to HOT lanes (see Figure 5-19). The lanes are intended to serve unmet capacity during peak hour periods. HOT lanes are generally free for HOVs and give single occupancy drivers the option to pay a variable, electronic toll to use them to avoid congested general purpose lanes. Variable tolls are determined by embedded road sensors which collect real time traffic data such as traffic speed and volume. Toll prices increase when traffic is heavy so that the HOT lanes do not become congested themselves. The HOT lanes are only accessible within access zones indicated by dashed lines on the road (Figure 5-19). The pilot project has shown improvements in traffic flow along SR167. A comparison of traffic in April 2007 to April 2009 showed that general purpose lane speeds increased 10% and volumes increased approximately 3% - 4%. Similarly, HOT lane speeds increased 7% - 8% and volumes increased about 1% - 3%. Based on the project performance after completion in May 2012, the legislature will determine if the southbound HOT lane will be extended to 8th Street East or if an HOV lane will be built instead [5,6].

Image of the HOT lanes configuration which uses overhead signs to indicate the cost of travel and striping to separate HOT from general purpose lanes. In the example, the overhead sign states that buses and carpools are free and other vehicles must pay $1.75.
Figure 5-19. HOT lanes configuration.

Manage demand

By promoting alternative commuting methods to avoid single occupant vehicle commute, the system will be more efficient overall. Moreover, dynamic traffic signs and variable tolling (which changes to accommodate demand) will aim to equally distribute traffic to alleviate congestion. Transportation Demand Management (TDM) provides alternatives for commuters such as riding the bus or train, vanpools, and carpools to reduce single occupant vehicle traffic while at the same time increasing the carrying capacity of Washington's transportation system.

Commuter Trip Reductions (CTR)

The CTR program was created in 1991 by the Washington State Legislature as part of the Washington Clean Air Act. In 2006 the CTR Efficiency Act mandated the reduction of single-occupant vehicle trips and VMT through the development and implementation of new policies in counties with the highest automobile-related GHG emissions. CTR is managed by WSDOT, which staffs the CTR board, and the agency provides guidelines for cities, counties, and regional agencies to develop CTR plans. WSDOT provides funding and technical assistance to help jurisdictions and employers develop and implement CTR plans. This assistance includes training, supporting data collection and analysis, and maintaining networks of partners and documentations on best practices. CTR plans generally contain strategies for encouraging people to ride the bus, vanpool, carpool, walk, bike, work from home, or compress their workweek. Between 1993 and 2007 the approximately 1,100 worksites participating in the CTR Program saw a decrease in the "drive-alone rate" from 71 percent to 65 percent, respectively. During 2007 alone the CTR Program led to an estimated 18% decrease in traffic congestion. From 2007 to 2009, CTR achieved an average reduction of 28,000 weekday vehicle trips each morning. This equated to reduced consumption of about 3 million gallons of fuel. As shown in Figure 5-20, the trip reduction did not hurt economic activity in Washington. In fact, employment rose from 1995 to 2007.

Figure 5-20. Number of Vehicle Trips Reduced at CTR sites and Employment in Washington. Click on the image to see a fuller explanation of the figure
Figure 5-20. Number of Vehicle Trips Reduced at CTR sites and Employment in Washington. Values in table are approximations. Source: CTR 2007 Report.

In 2007 the state legislature approved Growth and Transportation Efficiency Centers (GTECs) as a specialized part of the CTR. Whereas the CTR addresses the commuters working for major employers, the GTCEs offer smaller-scale commute alternative programs to growing neighborhoods, schools, and business within densely populated zones in the state. From 2007 to 2009 CTR worksites within GTECs had the greatest decrease in VMT (11.0%) compared to all the CTR sites. Overall, CTR contributed to a 2.8% reduction in VMT during that timeframe. In the Central Puget Sound Region, fewer vehicles during rush hour has equated to a reduction of 62 million VMT and 12,900 hours of delay annually [7,8,9]. WSDOT maintains 14 years worth of CTR data that WSDOT, local jurisdictions, and transit systems use to develop their plans and to conduct future planning.

Trip Reduction Performance Program (TRPP)

Created in 2003 by the state legislature, the TRPP is an incentive for "entrepreneurs, private companies, transit systems, local governments, non-profit organizations, developers and property managers to provide services to employees that result in fewer vehicle trips arriving at worksites [10]." Companies submit proposals to lower single occupant vehicle trips of their employees and funding is awarded to those projects which meet the preliminary quota. From 2007-2009 approximately $1.5 million were allocated for the TRPP to eliminate about 4,271 commute vehicle trips from Washington State highways each day [10,11].

Vanpool Investment Program

The Vanpool Investment Program was created by the Washington State Legislature in 2003, and was implemented by WSDOT. A ten year investment program of $30 million was developed in 2003 to increase the vanpool program statewide, doubling the number of operating vanpools to about 3,180 by 2013. These funds are designated only for public transit agencies and can only be used on capital costs associated with putting new vans on the road or for incentives for employers to increase employee vanpool usage. Vanpool ridership increased approximately 41% from 2003 to 2008; however, since 2008 vanpool ridership has been declining due to the economic downturn as employees lose or change jobs vanpools struggle to keep enough riders to continue. Additionally, many employers have been forced to reduce transportation funding, including vanpool subsidies, and further limiting vanpools [12].

How does West Coast Green Highway (WCGH) address climate change?

The West Coast Green Highway will span a total of 1,350 miles of Interstate 5 (I-5), traveling from the U.S. border with Mexico through California, Oregon and Washington, reaching Canada (route shown in Figure 5-21). It will promote low and zero-carbon-emitting vehicles which should increase the demand for more efficient vehicles; this would result in a reduction of dependency on foreign oil and transportation related GHG emissions. The WCGH will include alternative fuel infrastructure such as electric vehicle charging stations which will encourage commuters to travel in cars which support alternative fuels. Other alternative fuels which the WCGH may support include hydrogen, and biodiesel. Since transportation accounts for 47% of all of Washington's GHG emissions (making it the largest source of GHG emissions in the state) the change from standard to alternative fuels will drastically reduce GHG emissions within Washington and the U.S. to meet both state and national standards. The WCGH project will also incorporate advanced highway technology such as traffic management systems which coupled with the alternative fuel incentives will lead to a more efficient and environmentally sustainable highway system [13].

The Green Highway Project was stimulated by a Governor's Executive Order (#09-05 "Washington's Leadership on Climate Change"), which included a directive to develop a plan and seek federal funding to electrify the West Coast interstate highway and metropolitan areas along the route. It was intended as a collaborative effort among the states of Washington, Oregon, and California. Two subsequent legislative efforts in 2009, both concerning electric vehicles, support the Green Highway Project - Washington State House Bill 1481 and RCW 47.38.070 Electric Vehicle Infrastructure. The project is being pursued with several initiatives including the NewMobility Hubs, a Solar-powered Highway, and an Alternative Fuels Corridor.

Map of the West Coast Green Highway which stretches from Canada to Mexico along Interstate 5.
Figure 21. 1,350 mile I-5 West Coast Green Highway Project Map.

NewMobility Hubs

NewMobility Hubs will incorporate cutting edge technology like RideshareOnline, vehicle charging and mobile in-vehicle communication systems to transform existing park and ride lots and transit centers into high-tech, multi-modal hubs. WSDOT has teamed with Microsoft, Inrix, Ford, Cascadia, University of Washington, and others to create the NewMobility Hubs [13].

Solar-powered Highway

The first "solar highway" in the US is located on the West Coast Green Highway at the intersection of I-5 and I-205 in Oregon. The intersection is lit with clean, renewable, and secure energy from 594 solar panels. WSDOT is using lessons learned in Oregon to investigate solar and wind-power technology to meet sustainability goals and reduce energy costs. WSDOT uses solar power to illuminate remote facilities and power electronic message signs. The agency is investigating the feasibility of using sun or wind to power traffic lights, cameras, facilities, safety rest areas, and even electric vehicle charging stations [13].

WSDOT Alternative Fuels Corridor Economic Feasibility Analysis

Completed in February 2009 this economic analysis includes background information on different fuels' supply chains, estimated station costs and expected station revenues for alternative fuels (AF) to be sold in the I-5 corridor. Within the analysis four categories were considered to establish the feasibility of integrating AF infrastructure into the I-5 corridor, including AF supply chain assessment, station spacing analysis, operating feasibility, and alliance opportunities. In order for AF infrastructure to be viable there must be an ensured commitment from legislative bodies, private investor companies (such as automotive companies which invest in AF vehicle production) and future users of the system: the consumers [13].

How did WSDOT complete a GHG Emissions Inventory?

As mandated by the 2008 Washington State climate change legislation WSDOT's GHG emissions were above allowed thresholds of 2,500 metric tons (MT) of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) for vehicle fleets and 10,000 MT CO2e in total. WSDOT must therefore report GHG emissions released through agency activities, including existing ferry and highway systems as well as from agency buildings and vehicles. The 2007 GHG Emissions Inventory was calculated following The Climate Registry's General Reporting Protocol to a limited extent. It was calculated from information on utility payments that the WSDOT makes rather than direct utility use. This estimated 2007 GHG Emissions Inventory (a snapshot shown in Figure 5-22) does not take into account utilities within rent payments for leased space, but, for the 2010 report, WSDOT is working on quantifying utility use for which payments are not made directly by the agency. The 2007 GHG Emissions Inventory serves as a baseline comparison for future reports. In the future, the agency will be able to track and reduce its GHG emissions to address its climate change impact, which may lead to savings in operation costs [14].

Pie chart of WSDOT 2007 GHG emissions. Of the total 264,686 MT CO2 equivalent, 69% came from the ferry fleet, 14% from the vehicle fleet, 10% from traffic services, 5% from facilities, and 2% from ferry shoreside operations. Click on the image to see a fuller description of the figure.
Figure 5-22. 2007 WSDOT GHG emissions: Total Emissions (L), Emissions by Category (R). Source: 2007 WSDOT GHG Emissions Inventory

Climate Registry (

The Climate Registry was founded when several states became interested in establishing state and regional GHG registries. States believed that this data would dramatically help the planning process to deal reducing GHG emissions. The climate registry is the largest initiative in the United States, and North America, including over 80% of the US population, Canadian provinces, and some Mexican states and Indian territories and tribes. It is critical that the information is very precise, so independent third-party verification is required when states submit their registries. All data is also available to the public to ensure that nothing is being withheld. Any organization can participate in the Climate Registry, and potentially save money on energy and be recognized as a global environmental leader. The first step is to gather data on an annual basis, and input that data into a web-based software. That data is then approved by a third-party verifier annually. If verified, the data will be displayed publicly on the Climate Registry website and any other information you wish to provide with it if necessary.

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.
Purpose is to enhance mobility and improve future system efficiency by reducing congestion; goals fall into three categories: (1) add capacity strategically; (2) operate efficiently, and (3) manage demand Internal plans and data:
Data on commute reduction programs - report VMT reduction and fuel savings based on individual and employer data
WSDOT maintains database of CTR data to be used by the agency, local jurisdictions and transit providers for future planning
Collect number of active vanpools, number of new vans purchased for use
HOT lanes pilot project: measured before and after travel speeds and estimated volumes in the HOT lane and general purpose lanes
Complete GHG emissions inventory using utility payments (rather than direct measure of energy use)
Progress measured in terms of contribution to state's emissions reduction goal; lack of specific performance goals and measures


[1] Guidance for Project-Level Greenhouse Gas and Climate Change Evaluations


[3] WSDOT Active Traffic Management,










[13] West Coast Green Highway:

[14] WSDOT 2007 GHG Emissions Inventory:

London Sustainable Freight Distribution Plan

Brief Description: The London Sustainable Freight Distribution Plan identifies the challenges posed by the growth of London and climate change, and details how freight transportation intersects with both challenges. The Plan explains the strong need for partnership among public and private entities to achieve a vision of sustainable freight distribution, and proposes actions for addressing the challenges. The Plan also reveals the shortage of freight data and outlines a strategy to collect better data. In order to monitor progress on proposed actions, the Plan includes performance measures and a framework for annual reporting.

Definition - Sustainable Freight Distribution

The balanced management and control of the economic, social and environmental issues affecting freight transport that:

Topic Area(s): Freight Planning


Transport for London, Freight Unit

Why is London concerned about Freight Planning?

By 2025, planned population growth in London is expected to increase demand for freight and servicing by 15 percent. This growth will likely lead to worse congestion and contribute to climate change unless the transportation sector is prepared to deal with it. Transport London recognizes that proactive measures and partnerships with freight operators are necessary for a sustainable freight system. The foundation of the London Sustainable Freight Distribution Plan can be found in the national report Sustainable Distribution: A Strategy.  This report was published by the former Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions in March 1999 and reissued by the Department for Transport in January 2004 [5]. The premise of the report is that growth in the freight industry should not be at the expense of sustainable development, or the needs of economy, environment and society. The Mayor's Transport Strategy (released in 2001) also recognizes the important role freight plays in supporting the economy and that growth would create competition for space among freight modes and other transportation services. In 2005 the London Sustainable Distribution Partnership (LSDP), a group charged with identifying strategic freight investments for London, established the following vision for sustainable freight distribution in the city:

 "…the safe, reliable and efficient movement of freight and servicing trips to, from, within and, where appropriate, through London to support London's economy, in balance with the needs of other transport users, the environment and Londoners' quality of life…"

Transport for London coordinates the LSDP and also takes a specific role in promoting efficient freight transport practices that support London's economic development; maintain London's local, inter-regional and world city role; and contribute to reducing the environmental impact caused by freight in London.

How will the vision for sustainable freight distribution be achieved?

In order to achieve LSDP's vision for London's freight system, Transport for London (TfL) embarked on a strategic freight planning study. The freight study was intended to "improve the sustainability of London's freight distribution in balance with the needs of other network users… to reduce capacity used by road freight vehicles (particularly in peak periods) and to improve the economic, environmental & social efficiencies of the remaining road freight vehicle movements" [2]. In January 2008, TfL published its findings and recommendations in Sustainable freight distribution: a plan for London. The report is organized into three sections. The first section outlines the vision and policy context for the Plan. The second section identifies operational challenges for freight by mode and by sector. The last section details plan delivery, including proposed projects, a monitoring framework, and funding sources.

The Plan explicitly lays out seven goals in terms of sustainable development:




While the Freight Plan lacks statutory force, it has been developed to support the Mayor's Transport Strategy which is a statutory document describing the city's future spatial pattern. In addition, it will have considerable influence at the local level because it will inform boroughs' Local Implementation Plans and Development Plan Documents (DPDs) and the implementation of traffic authorities' Network Management Duty Process. Additionally, the Plan emphasizes partnerships among public and private entities to achieve development goals and maintain competition in freight distribution.

TfL is working with a number of partners including: Department for Transport, London Councils, British Waterways, Port of London Authority, Learning and Skills Council, Greater London Authority, Thames Gateway Development Corporation, Olympic Delivery Authority, and London's Freight Quality Partnerships. To support effective partnerships, the roles of different stakeholders are communicated through supporting documents like:

 Freight Planning and Climate Change

Despite its positive contribution to the economy, TfL recognizes that freight is a key contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Based on 2006 data, the estimated contribution from freight transport in London contributes an estimated 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which represents 23 percent of the total for ground-based transport and 5.1 per cent of the city's CO2 production and energy use (illustrated in Figure 5-23).

Figure 5-23. 2006 CO2 emissions from the transport sectors. Source: Click on the image to see a fuller explanation of the figure.
Figure 5-23. 2006 CO2 emissions from the transport sectors. Source: Mayor of London (2007) Action Today to Protect Tomorrow, The Mayor's Climate Change Action Plan

Because freight is such a large contributor to climate change, it provides a great opportunity to reduce emissions. Detailed analysis in the Freight Plan suggests that up to 1.21 million tons per year of CO2 could be saved from the freight sector by 2025.Table 12 shows where CO2 savings could come from. Because many of the opportunities are out TfL's hands, the Plan recognizes that freight operators have a significant role to play in supporting the climate change agenda by adopting green fleet management [1].

Table 5-12. Potential freight CO2 savings (million tons) by 2025.
OpportunityMillion tones CO2 per year saved used travel plan and procurement linksReduced CO2 per year saving without travel plan or procurement links
Road user charging (should it be pursued as part of a national scheme)0.200.20
Modal change0.080.00
Fleet efficiency0.290.06
Out of hours deliveries0.010.00
Construction consolidation0.130.00
Retail/office consolidation0.100.00
Waste fleets0.0020.00
Voluntary adoption of alternative fuel and low carbon vehicles0.200.10

Source: London Sustainable Freight Distribution Plan

What strategies does the Freight Plan suggest?

The London Sustainable Freight Distribution Plan identifies four projects to be completed from 2008 to 2018. The Plan quantifies the economic, environmental, and social impacts of each project and establishes specific milestones over the 10-year period. It also defines roles and responsibilities for accomplishing each milestone. The overall investment in the first three years of the implementation program could range from £150m to £450m, with TfL contributing between 20 and 40 percent of this total.

The four projects are as follows:

Project One - Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) will provide incentives for private freight operators to reduce CO2 emissions and accident rates. A FORS participant will receive a "membership level" (either bronze, silver or gold) based on how well it addresses fleet and freight vehicle operational efficiency and reduces CO2 emissions, congestion, collisions and operator costs.

Project Two - Delivery and Servicing Plans (DSPs) will be used to increase building operational efficiency by reducing delivery and servicing impacts to premises, congestion and collisions. DSPs will be contractual relationships between building operators and their supply chain that specify a commitment to sustainable freight distribution. DSPs will likely involve FORS membership, assurance of legal loading locations, and approaches to reduce delivery trips, particularly during peak periods. TfL and the GLA Group will demonstrate implementation of DSPs for their own premises, and provide guidelines for the boroughs to create their own plans. DSPs will also be linked to planning conditions for major new developments.

Project Three - Construction Logistics Plans (CLPs) are similar to DSPs but will be applied to the design and construction phases of facilities. Example initiatives include reducing lane closures and travelway restrictions and reducing construction duration. As with DSPs, TfL and GLA Group will model implementation of the plans for their own construction projects.

Project Four - Freight Information Portal will provide London with a single interface for information on freight between London's public authorities and freight operators. The project is intended to reduce operators' administrative costs and improve access to freight journey planning in the city, to support improved operational efficiency, better driver behavior and the use of alternative fuels (including bio-fuel) and low-carbon vehicles.

The four projects described above will be supported by the implementation of three "workstreams":

Workstream 1 - Partnership development will be facilitated at pan-London and sub-regional levels to help coordination between TfL, businesses, operators and boroughs. A particular goal of the partnerships will be to identify and demonstrate best practices for reducing CO2 emissions and improving safety. Also, partnerships will be very important for securing funds to accomplish the plan. Transport London will be able to leverage funds from public agencies, businesses, and freight operators, all of whom have a stake in sustainable freight movement.

Workstream 2 - Major projects will focus on promoting modal change from road to more sustainable alternatives (such as rail and water), and on reducing CO2 emissions. Specific projects will be developed as they arise and as funding is secured.

Workstream 3 - Data, modeling and best practices will be needed to build the freight knowledge base and build a business case for changing freight practices and infrastructure development.  

As mentioned earlier, the Sustainable Freight Distribution Plan supports the Mayor's Transport Strategy and the Climate Action Plan. As such, future versions of the Mayor's Transport Strategy will include cross-modal freight strategies. In the long-term it will tackle congestion, changing the balance between freight modes, and deploying technology to improve freight operations [1].

What are preliminary outcomes from the Sustainable Freight Plan?

Progress toward the vision is going to be reported annually by seven main "progress measures" that reflect the three areas of sustainability: economy, environment, society. Additional measures will be added under each main measure as data sources are developed. The seven measures are:

The first annual Data Report was released in 2008 and used 2007 data to create a base line for future progress reports.

The TfL Sustainable Freight Distribution Program is TfL's contribution to delivering the plan. It is funded at £4m per year to 2018 within the current TfL Business Plan. It achieves a monetized benefit cost ratio of 2.4:1 based on forecast journey time savings, CO2 and injury reduction. As of March 2009, four out of five sub-regional Freight Quality Partnerships (as prescribed by Workstream 1) were set up and TfL was in the process of appointing managers for each of them. In addition, FORS reached 40,000 vehicles on 23 November 2009 and covered an estimated 12 per cent of the commercial freight vehicles working in London. While the workstreams were progressing slower than anticipated, TfL was still optimistic about reaching its 2018 program goals [4].

A post-analysis of the London Sustainable Freight Distribution Plan [2] provides important "lessons learned" for agencies that may be interested in a similar process. A few learning points are given below:

The analysis also reported several key results for FORS members 18-months after the program's launch:

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.

Plan lays out seven sustainability goals that fall under the categories:

-economic: improve efficiency of freight; balance needs of freight with other transport users

-environment: reducing freight's contribution to climate change by

-society: improve quality of life  and safety in London

Internal data

number of commercial vehicle parking-related violations

incidents of illegal freight dumping

reduction of noise and vibrations to improve quality of life

accident reduction to improve safety

External partners: private freight operators partner with city in the Freight Operator Recognition Scheme which encourages freight operators to reduce CO2 emissions and accident rates

Highly successful program that incorporates many private freight operators; some quality-of-life and environmental standards have few measurement methods


[1] Transport for London, Sustainable freight distribution: a plan for London, 2008
[2] Steele, S. (2009). Practical Steps for City and Region Authorities Promoting Sustainable Freight Distribution - Lessons from the London Freight Plan, 9/10/2009
[3] Transport for London, 2010, London Freight Plan Website,
[4] Transport for London Freight Unit, March 2009, Transport and Environment Committee (TEC) "London Councils TEC Paper March 2009", Available at
[5] UK Department for Transport, 2010, Freight,

WSDOT Freight Planning

Brief Description: The Freight Report considers freight movement as a vital economic concern for statewide planning. It explores freight movement on three levels: "Global Gateways", "Made in Washington", and "Delivering Goods to You." Following up on the Freight Report, WSDOT embarked on an in-depth rail plan to identify needs, vision and goals, and benefits to society. The goals of the freight plans are sustainability-oriented.

Topic Area(s): Freight Planning


Brian Calkins

Senior Research, Freight Strategic Planning and Research

Why is WSDOT concerned about freight?

Freight is a national concern and WSDOT is being proactive with planning in order to position itself for future state and federal investments in the freight system. Freight is also a big and vital industry in Washington, as shown by the value of freight shipments in Figure 5-24.

Bar graph showing the value of Washington State's freight shipments in 2005. Approximate values are: $80 billion for US International Imports via WA Gateways, $70 billion for US International Exports via WA Gateways, $150 billion for Washington Producers and Manufacturers, $100 billion for retail, $10 billion for transportation services, $100 billion for Wholesale/Trade. Aircraft accounts for about a third of the international exports via WA gateways.
Figure 5-24. Washington State Value of Freight Shipments. Source: Washington State Transportation Plane Freight Report

WSDOT's Freight Division is responsible for trucking, rail, and marine freight movement in three ways:

  1. Developing the state's strategic investment plan for freight, which is based on the Washington Transportation Plan (WTP) Freight Report.
  2. Building regional participation and support for the freight investment plan by working together with freight system partners.
  3. Managing the state's freight and passenger rail capital programs and operations.

How has WSDOT planned for freight system improvements?

The Washington Transportation Plan (WTP) is a data-driven process that leads to Transportation Commission prioritization of investments into high, medium, and low priority. The WTP looks at the transportation system as a whole to determine strategic future investments based on the data analysis for each sector of the system. This analysis is then compared to realistic levels of transportation funding in Washington and plausible projects are set for implementation over the next ten years. As part of the Washington Transportation Plan for 2007-2026, the Freight Systems Division completed a Freight Report that identified challenges and strategic investments for improving freight movement within and through the state [1]. The Freight Report is a multi-modal study focusing on roadway, rail, water, pipeline, and air transport. The report analyzes original research and existent information about Washington State freight customers to inform decision makers on:

The freight planning process started with data collection on population, freight movement, economic impacts, traffic conditions, highway features that may impede truck movement, and detailed rail freight statistics. The Freight Division then used GIS files to map the freight network and key resources. The planning process also involved extensive stakeholder outreach. From February to October 2004, the Freight Systems Division completed over 150 one-on-one interviews with high-volume shippers and carriers across the state to identify their requirements of the freight system. They also held numerous focus groups with state, regional, local, and federal partners. To follow up on initial findings, WSDOT commissioned Hebert Research, Inc. to conduct a statewide phone survey. In May 2004, Herbert Research interviewed 347 businesses representing a wide range of industries (an 82.4% response rate). WSDOT used statistical analysis to determine "industry satisfaction ratings" of current freight system performance, prioritize the single most important infrastructure or operational requirement (by region), define "on-time" service, estimate the percent of time spent incurring additional expenses to recover from shipping problems, and identify methods of transporting products to final market and of receiving inputs.

In the final report, WSDOT organized the freight system into three levels:

The report explores trends, challenges, and priorities at each level and discusses interactions between different freight modes (for example, trucks stuck in congestion on highways can lead to delays in air cargo system). Based on all of the analysis, WSDOT identified twelve "highly productive investments" in the freight network to deal with identified bottlenecks and weather or maintenance-related deficiencies in the system. Washington State's freight planning is a best practice because it examines how the freight system impacts the environment (emissions, dredging waterways), the economy (manufacturers and freight companies), and society (way-of-life for Washingtonians who rely on freight-related industries and Tribal Freight Needs).

In addition to the DOT's efforts, Washington provides a good example of regional freight planning. To support its regional transportation plan update, Transportation 2040, Puget Sound Regional Council conducted detailed freight analyses in four areas: truck values of time, operating costs, speeds, and performance measures. The primary findings were:

Truck counts were compiled to assist in the validation of the truck model for use in regional planning. PSRC's research will improve the regional travel model's ability to plan for freight and be incorporated into the Congestion Management Process.

WSDOT's Freight Rail Plan

The State Freight Rail Plan, released in December 2009, is an update of the 1998 plan. It establishes a new 2030 Vision for Freight Rail in Washington State:

The Washington State freight rail system is a reliable, cost effective, energy efficient and environmentally-friendly transportation mode for domestic and international cargo deliveries.

The study for freight rail was a "fact-based and data-driven" process. WSDOT strengthened its data collection and analytical capacity and developed improved databases and forecast models to evaluate the needs of the freight rail system better. Economic impact assessment, benefit/cost analysis, and cross modal comparisons link investments to their effects on the economy and society/environment. Further, as a critical part of Washington's multimodal transportation system, the rail system leverages intermodal connections to:

The Freight Rail Plan describes the state's role and investment policies for freight rail, identifies "emerging issues" for infrastructure and operations, and recognizes data gaps. In addition, it monitors measures related to freight infrastructure in the Gray Notebook (see Case Study). Completion of the State Freight Rail Plan update will qualify Washington for federal grants authorized through the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA).

Another important aspect of the State Freight Rail Plan is that the process was stakeholder-driven. In May 2009, members of advocacy organizations, cities, counties, federal agencies, railroads, metropolitan planning organizations, ports authorities, regional transportation planning organizations, tribes, other state agencies, and other WSDOT offices were invited to participate on an advisory committee. The role of this committee was to (1) help develop the vision and goals of the State Freight Rail Plan; (2) provide assistance to update information for the freight rail system, capacity, and needs; (3) help identify and assess port access and rail abandonment issues; (4) help assess and evaluate beneficial impacts of rail infrastructure improvements on society; (5) help WSDOT understand concerns of local communities and organizations; and (6) share information.

The Advisory Committee established six goals for the freight rail:

  1. Economic Competitiveness and Viability: Support the state's economic competitiveness and economic viability through strategic freight partnerships.
  2. Preservation: Preserve the ability of the state's freight rail system to efficiently serve the needs of its customers as well as preserve the potential of the system in the future.
  3. Capacity: Coordinate the freight rail system capacity increases to improve mobility, reduce congestion, and meet the growing needs of the state's freight rail users, when economically justified.
  4. Energy Efficiency and Environmental: Take advantage of freight rail's modal energy efficiency to reduce the negative environmental impacts of freight movement in the state.
  5. Safety and Security: Address the safety and security of the freight rail system and make enhancements, where appropriate.
  6. Livability: Encourage livable communities and family-wage jobs through the freight rail system and its improvements.

As part of the planning process, WSDOT and the Advisory Committee developed a benefit/cost methodology to evaluate state projects against the six legislative priorities for Washington's transportation system:

In addition to the involvement of the Advisory Committee, a Public Open House was held to review the draft plan.

WSDOT's Freight Partnerships

In addition to its own planning efforts, WSDOT also participates in notable public private partnerships. The Regional Freight Mobility Roundtable is a nationally recognized public-private forum to define and recommend actions serving freight mobility needs in and through the central Puget Sound region. WSDOT joins other public sector participants like local governments, the ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett, state agencies, USDOT (including rail, highway, maritime divisions) and the Department of Defense. Private sector participants include rail, marine, air cargo and trucking carriers, and shippers such as Boeing and Weyerhaeuser. The Roundtable provides input for state and regional transportation plans.

WSDOT was also an original partner in the Freight Action Strategy (FAST) Corridor Program. FAST is an innovative partnership that is working to improve the movement of freight along the Everett-Seattle-Tacoma corridor. The partnership consists of local cities, ports, counties, the trucking industry, the BNSF Railway and UP Railroad, economic development organizations, and business interests. Since its inception in 1996, the FAST partnership has helped to leverage $568 million for 25 improvement projects that will benefit passenger and freight mobility and safety in the central Puget Sound. As of 2010, nine FAST projects have been completed [2].

What progress has WSDOT made since releasing the Freight Plan?

WSDOT has continued research and planning efforts to support its goals for the Freight System. The agency has completed long-term studies for each of the modes (Web links available in the references section) and developed new data and modeling resources for future planning efforts. In 2007, the DOT enlisted researchers at Washington State University to work on a State Freight Data System. The purpose of the study was to gather local, state, and national data sources and identify gaps and areas for future development. As part of the State Freight Data System, WSDOT would like to maintain a database and have an interface with state data users.

WSDOT has completed another data related study: Development and Analysis of a GIS-Based Statewide Freight Data Flow Network. The purpose of the work was to improve state freight's resiliency by modeling supply chain freight flows after disruptions like traffic accidents and weather events. Researchers completed a Geographic Information System (GIS) based model that represents the state's freight highway, arterial, rail, waterway, and intermodal network. The model will enable WSDOT to accurately predict how companies will route shipments during a disruption and can help the state prioritize strategies that protect industries most vulnerable to disruptions [3].

Another project is the Washington State Truck Freight Performance Measure Research. The study used on-board-truck Global Positioning System (GPS) location reads to document where truck trips began, where they went and how long it took them to get there. The method was used to monitor a known truck bottleneck and for before and after monitoring of truck speeds for a bridge improvement project. By being able to accurately track truck trip travel times and network reliability, WSDOT feels the research deliverables put the state at a great advantage for the following [4]:

In 2008, WSDOT completed work with Massachusetts Institute of Technology to investigate Freight System Resiliency (FSR). The study looked at how the state freight network can respond to and recover economically from natural or man-made disaster. It resulted in a plan for the state that complements the existing emergency response plans. The FSR plans how WSDOT should monitor, manage, and control its transportation network assets and work with private sector partners to improve the resiliency of the entire network [5].

In addition to the freight rail plan, WSDOT conducted analysis on each of the freight modes (see Resources for documents). Using the results of these follow-up studies, WSDOT published a map and description of state freight priorities in March 2010. The map identifies bottlenecks in different modes and recommends specific projects to solve the problems.

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.
The Advisory Committee established goals: economic competitiveness and viability; preservation of states rail system; capacity coordination to improve mobility; energy efficiency and the environment; safety and security; and livability to support communities and jobs through the rail system

Internal Sources:

freight division uses GIS files to map the freight network and key resources; freight performance measured using onboard GPS tracking of speeds

Stakeholder outreach to public and private divisions such as local governments, USDOT, Department of Defense, and rail marine, air cargo, and trucking carriers such as Boeing and Weyerhaeuser

External sources:

Amtrak passenger rail reports; MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics study for Development of a Statewide Freight System Resilience Plan

Study integrates data from a wide variety of sources to form a comprehensive plan; Several quality-of-life and environmental goals are difficult to measure


[1] WSDOT. (2008). Washington Transportation Plan Update Freight Movement,

[2] Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC). (2010). Freight Mobility/FAST Corridor,

[3] WSDOT. (2009). Development and Analysis of a GIS-Based Statewide Freight Data Flow Network,

[4] WSDOT. Washington State Truck Freight Performance Measure Research Interim Report, December 2009,

[5] MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics. (2008). Development of a Statewide Freight System Resilience Plan,

Modal Freight Reports:

Washington State 2010-2030 Freight Rail Plan,

Washington State Long-Term Air Transportation Study, July 2009,

2009 Marine Cargo Forecast Technical Report , March 2009,

Highway System Plan Technical Update 2007-2026, December 2009,

Amtrak Cascades and WSDOT, March 2010,

Life Cycle Analysis for Sustainability

Brief Description: Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) is a common approach for assessing long-term economic costs of transportation alternatives and is used extensively in pavement management. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a method for considering environmental impacts over the life of an asset. LCA is more common in product development, but recently has been applied to transportation projects, though mostly in academic research. Both LCCA and LCA take a long-term view that is necessary for sustainability assessment. By integrating LCA and LCCA and adding metrics for social quality of life, transportation agencies could assess the sustainability of projects and plans.

Topic Area(s): Financial sustainability; Multi-criteria decision making

Why should transportation agencies consider life cycle costs?

The environmental, economic, and social implications of transportation infrastructure are not fully experienced until long after construction is completed. Over the course of its design life, infrastructure leads to considerable costs for annual maintenance and periodic repairs. It also costs money to monitor infrastructure for potential environmental or social impacts. Even at the end of its 20, 30, or 50-year design life, transportation infrastructure has considerable impacts like potential safety issues, demolition costs, and waste recycling or disposal. By considering the full costs of transportation projects over their design life, transportation agencies can prioritize capital and operating funds better or identify future funding gaps. The concept of life cycle engineering is depicted in Figure 5-25.

Life cycle engineering includes the stages of planning and design, acquisition of materials, construction, operations and maintenance, renewal or rehabilitation, replacement, and recycling or disposal of materials. Infrastructure moves through these stages in a cyclical process.
Figure 5-25. Life Cycle Engineering

Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) or Life Cycle Costing (LCC) is a tool for evaluating the overall long-term economic efficiency of a system, product, or service. LCCA is valuable for comparing alternatives; however, it does not examine environmental or social impacts. LCCA used extensively for infrastructure asset management and by many state DOTs for pavement selection.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a method for assessing the total environmental impact of a system, product or service.  It can be a valuable tool for the sustainability evaluation of competing alternatives (e.g., policies, plans, projects etc.). The tool was first developed for products. In the 1970s, economist Wasilly Leontief developed the Economic Input Output Life Cycle Analysis (EIO-LCA) model. Researchers at the Green Design Institute at Carnegie Mellon University adapted the model in the mid-1990s into a user-friendly online tool to evaluate a commodity or service as well as its supply chain ( The EIO-LCA model requires a lot of data, it provides an explicit opportunity to capture and include the environmental "externalities" of various decisions more accurately and thoroughly in transportation decision making.

How is LCCA used by State DOTs?

Life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA) has become a common practice in road construction and pavement design at the state level since the 1990s. Illinois DOT and Michigan DOT provide two examples of how LCCA is being effectively applied. Additional examples and guidance on conducting LCCA, including a costing tool, is provided by FHWA (

Illinois DOT

According to an IDOT bulletin from 1998, LCCA can improve money management by aiding selection of the material or project that will have the lowest costs over its entire usable life. IDOT's LCCA process evaluates alternatives based on the present worth of future capital, maintenance, and operations costs. It allows the agency to compare alternatives that may incur costs at different times during their lifecycle. It also incorporates the interest rate, which is an important consideration for large investments using brrowed funds. LCCA helps identify the best value for investment expenditures (i.e., the lowest long-term cost that satisfies the performance objective) [1].

Illinois DOT has used LCCA for a few different applications. The Materials Research Group uses it to analyze new and rehabbed pavement options. Chapters 53 and 54 of the 2002 Bureau of Design & Environmental Manual provides guidance on pavement LCCA [2]. The manual suggest s that LCCA be used as early as possible in the design process, and that it use the following characteristics:

In 2003, IDOT also used LCCA to evaluate alternative Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technologies. The agency planned to deploy ITS field devices in conjunction with several multi-million dollar construction projects, and was looking for the least cost option for communicating between the field devices and the District office. The alternatives analysis looked at the initial capital cost, operations and maintenance costs, and 15 year life cycle costs. The results showed that life cycle costs for the four options ranged from $43 million to $52.5 million. The analysis allowed staff to make a well-informed decision [3].

Michigan DOT

Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has used LCCA in the pavement selection process since the mid-1980s.MDOT reviewed the effectiveness of the process in 2008. A research study used case studies to analyze how accurately MDOT projected actual costs over the pavement service life and whether they chose the lowest-cost pavement alternative. Ten highway sections in Michigan were grouped into four case studies. The researchers compared the estimated and actual accumulated construction costs and estimated versus actual maintenance schedules for activities like microsurfacing and joint repair. The study revealed two important trends: (1) MDOT's LCCA procedure correctly predicted the pavement type with lower initial construction cost and (2) actual costs were usually lower than estimated in the LCCA. To improve prediction of accumulated costs, the cost estimation module in MDOT's model could be refined to consider site-specific factors. The LCCA process helps MDOT's pavement engineers conduct a comprehensive assessment of long-term costs in order to allocate capital, operations and maintenance funds more optimally [4].

How has LCA been applied in transportation?

LCA has a range of applications in infrastructure decision making.  It has been used to analyze the regional supply chain economic and environmental effects of shifting specified percentages of intercity freight carried by trucks to rail [5].  It has also been applied to compare alternative bridge deck designs from a sustainability perspective accounting for the total life-cycle costs including agency, user and environmental costs [6]; it has been applied to assess the impacts of using public road transportation to the use of private transportation (i.e. automobiles) [7]; and it has been applied in pavement design alternatives evaluation and materials selection [8]. Whitaker conducted life cycle assessments (LCAs) of energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of existing mass transit systems in Denver, Colorado and Chennai, India [9]. The analysis focused on bus and electrified urban rail transit. Among other things, the analysis suggested that GHG emission factors of electric grids can be up to three times greater than for diesel fuel, comparatively disadvantaging electrified urban rail systems. Two researchers at the University of California, Berkeley developed a framework for life cycle assessment of passenger transportation. Using this framework, they analyzed the life cycle costs of several systems in the US including three different types of automobiles, typical urban buses, three sizes of aircraft, California's San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and Caltrans, the Massachusetts's Boston Green Line, and the proposed California High Speed Rail. The analysis looked at the entire life cycle (design, raw materials extraction, manufacturing, construction, operation, maintenance, and end-of-life) of the vehicles, infrastructures, fuel production, and supply chains for each system. It quantified both energy inputs and GHG and criteria air pollutant outputs. The results can be used to inform funding prioritization for different modes [10,11].

How could LCA and LCCA address transportation sustainability?

In order to consider sustainability over the entire lifecycle of a transportation project or program, an integrated approach to LCA and LCCA could be applied. Flintsch proposes using LCA to evaluate transportation projects, programs, and strategic plans based on multiple sustainability criteria (engineering, economic, environmental, social) rather than just environmental indicators. LCA could also be enhanced by incorporating uncertainty, as is done with probabilistic LCCA. Flintsch suggests adapting the LCA framework from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), as depicted in Figure 5-26 [12]. The key is to establish goals and inventory measures related to all aspects of sustainability. Yusoff and colleagues developed a similar framework for incorporating life cycle assessment into strategic transportation planning and project development activities. The framework covers both short-term and long-term environmental, economic, and social considerations. It integrates LCA with a systems analysis approach into a five-step process [13]:

Step 1: Identification of the system and the scope/objectives of analysis.

Step 2: Environmental and economic [and social] inventory.

Step 3: Environmental and economic [and social] impact assessment.

Step 4: Setup and evaluation of alternative scenarios.

Step 5: Action plan formulation and implementation, including maintenance plans.

Flintsch and Yusoff et al. seem to emphasize environmental and economic indicators. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) broadens this framework by providing a framework and specific indicators for Social LCA of products, which could be adapted to transportation [14]. There are also tools like Health Impact Assessment (see Case Study) that could be integrated into an LCA process to assess broader social impacts. The integration of LCCA with Environmental LCA and Social LCA could help transportation agencies analyze the full range of sustainability impacts.

Framework and application of life-cycle assessment based on ISO guidelines. Click on the image to see a fuller explanation of the figure.
Figure 5-26. Framework and application of life-cycle assessment based on ISO guidelines. Source: Adapted from Flintsch (2008)

Data Needs Data Sources Comments:
Strengths, Limitations,
Desired Data, etc.
Characterize (or quantify) the environmental, economic, and social impacts (benefits or costs) over the life of the facility, policy, et cetera. Consider direct and indirect impacts occurring during all stages. Data sources will vary though will likely require a mix of internally collected measures and public data sources. Data intensive


[1] IDOT Bureau of Local Roads and Streets, September 1998. Life Cycle Cost Analysis: How does life cycle analysis improve money management? Facts, Tips, & Bits. Illinois Technology Transfer Center,

[2] IDOT, Bureau of Design & Environmental Manual, 2002 Edition, Part VI, Chapters 53 and 54, Available at

[3] Siesel, Douglas E. (Iteris) and Brian A. Sneed, PE (Illinois DOT). LCC of ITS Systems: Traffic Operations Center/ITS Field Components Communication Study. Paper presented to the 13th ITS America Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2003. Available at

[4] Chan, A., Keoleian, G., and Gabler, E. (2008). "Evaluation of Life-Cycle Cost Analysis Practices Used by the Michigan Department of Transportation." Journal of Transportation Engineering, American Society of Civil Engineers, 134(6), pp 236-245.

[5] Hendrickson, C. T., Matthews, S. H., and G. Cicas. (2006). Analysis of Regional Supply Chain Economic and Environmental Effects of Expansion of the U.S. Freight Rail System. Applications of Advanced Technology in Transportation. Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference, American Society of Civil Engineers.

[6] Kendall, A., Keoleian, G. A., and Helfand, G. (2008). "An Integrated Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Cost Analysis Model for Concrete Bridge Deck Applications" Journal of Infrastructure Systems 14(3) 214-222.

[7] Barba-Gutierrez, Y., Gonzalez-Torre, P. L., and B. Gonzalez. (2005). A Life Cycle Assessment in the Service Sector: The Case of Bus and Private Transportation. Urban Transport XI: Urban Transport and the Environment in the 21st Century.

[8] Phillips, P., Woodward, D., and A. Woodside. (2005).The Development of a Life Cycle Assessment Model for Sustainable Highway Construction. 2005 International Symposium on Pavement Recycling. Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie.

[9] Whitaker, Michael Bryce. (2007). Life cycle assessment of transit systems in the United States and India: Implications for a carbon-constrained future. Dissertation, University of Colorado at Denver, 198 pages.

[10] Chester, M., and A. Horvath. (2007). Environmental Life-Cycle Assessment of Passenger Transportation: A Detailed Methodology for Energy, Greenhouse Gas, and Criteria Pollutant Inventories of Automobiles, Buses, Light Rail, Heavy Rail and Air [Version 1], 117p. UC Berkeley Center for Future Urban Transportation Working Paper.

[11] Chester, M., and Horvath, A. (2010). Environmental Life-Cycle Assessment of Passenger Transportation: An Evaluation of Automobiles, Buses, Trains, Aircraft, and High Speed Rail in the United States, Available at

[12] Flintsch, G. W. (2008). "Chapter 9: Life-Cycle Assessment as a Tool for Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure Management." Environmentally Conscious Transportation. Myer Kutz, Ed. John Wiley&Sons Incorporated, pp 257-282.

[13] Yusoff, S., Hansen, S., and Ibrahim, N. (2005). The Life Cycle Approach for Strategic Transportation Planning. Proceedings of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies, Vol. 5, pp. 2294 - 2307. Available at

[14] United Nations Environment Programme, 2009, Guidelines for Social Life Cycle Assessment of Products, Available at

Updated: 03/27/2014
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