Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
The literature review provided documentation of additional case studies and peer examples in research reports about similar material. The following summaries highlight the findings in five recent studies of either the metropolitan planning process or state department of transportation rural planning practices.
John Mason. "Understanding the Communications and Information Needs of Elected Officials for Transportation Planning and Operations. The Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program. Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration, 2005.
The focus of this paper is on non-federal elected officials who play a decisionmaking role in surface transportation planning and operations. This includes officials who affect transportation planning and operations decisions of executive and legislative agencies at the state, regional and local levels. The emphasis is on surface transportation planning, primarily highway and transit. The aim is enhanced communications (not lobbying, a practice prohibited for U.S. Department of Transportation and most state and local government employees).
The basic approach taken in this paper is to identify the players, briefly characterize them, describe the environment, and suggest some principles in designing outreach to locally elected officials. The report includes several key observations about the perspectives of elected officials at the state and local levels. Those observations include the following:
Julie Hoover, Gian-Claudia Sciara, and Bruce McDowell. Transit at the Table: A Guide to Participation in Metropolitan Decisionmaking. Federal Transit Administration, Federal Highway Administration, and Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, 2004.
This report presents the observations, perspectives and recommendations of a cross-section of transit agencies from large metropolitan areas on how to secure strategic positions in the metropolitan planning process. The report is intended, in part, to be used as a guide to how to use strategic positions through participation in the MPO to win policy and program support for priority transit service.
Although the primary audience for Transit at the Table is transit general managers and transit senior staff, the information is valuable to other key MPO stakeholders as well. The overall effectiveness of an MPO and the metropolitan transportation planning process rises and falls with the depth of the decision-making partnerships. The suggestions and strategies presented in this report represent significant opportunities for improving current practice that are applicable to all MPO stakeholders.
The report identifies 10 benefits of MPO participation and strategies for achieving policy and program support for transit. The benefits can be more broadly applied to any agency, community, or modal program as suggested below [references in bracket replace "transit" in the original]:
ICF Consulting. Evaluating State DOT Rural Planning Practices. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Standing Committee on Planning, December 2003. Prepared as part of NCHRP Project 08-36, National Cooperative Highway Research Program, Transportation Research Board.
This report provides a description of how transportation planning and programming is performed in rural areas, focusing in particular on the role of state departments of transportation (DOT) and rural planning organizations (RPO). The report documents some notable practices in state DOT rural planning and programming, and identifies topic areas that are particularly challenging and warrant improvement. The study focuses on eight sample states, selected to achieve diversity in terms of size, population, percent of population and highway miles that are rural, geographic region, and role of regional planning organizations. Detailed interviews were conducted with state DOT staff in each of the sample states, followed by shorter interviews with staff of state, regional, and local agencies to gain different perspectives. The eight sample states are: Colorado, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon. The report is organized around five topic areas, the content of which are highlighted in the following.
Over the last decade, a number of states have experimented with delegating some rural transportation planning responsibility to RPOs (Colorado, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, and Oregon). Other state DOTs retain a more traditional centralized approach that are considered to work well.
In states that have empowered RPOs with a formal role in transportation planning, the interviews were unanimous that this change has improved rural planning. In these states, rural officials feel that they now have more say in the state transportation decision-making that affects them.
Some RPOs may lack the capacity to properly take on transportation planning functions, both in terms of funding and staff knowledge. State DOTs should ensure that expectations of RPOs do not exceed their resources and should provide RPOs with guidance and training.
Approaches to public participation in rural areas vary widely between states. Many state DOTs acknowledge difficulty in obtaining input from rural residents unless there is a specific and controversial project under consideration.
RPOs are often in a good position to engage the public and businesses as a result of their work in the areas of social services, economic development, and natural resources preservation. In some states (Maine and Missouri), RPOs conduct their own public outreach in order to support transportation planning and programming. Other states (Ohio and Oregon) have successfully contracted with RPOs to conduct public involvement.
Some state DOTs take relatively few steps to ensure public involvement in their rural transportation decision-making process. A broader approach to public involvement is needed in these states. States increasingly recognize the need to improve rural public involvement, and the trend toward greater reliance on RPOs is one direct result of this recognition.
As a result of limited funding and consequent funding priorities, few states conduct systematic statewide planning for rural transit. In states that require transit development plans, these plans do not typically assess needs, limiting usefulness for statewide planning.
Some states (Florida) have taken steps to improve the coordination of rural transit service, which can facilitate better service through resource sharing. Some of the states that use RPOs to assist with rural highway planning (North Carolina and Colorado) are turning to these organizations to play a role in regional transit coordination as well.
There is an increasing recognition of the importance of integrating transportation and land use planning in rural areas. The degree of transportation and land use coordination varies widely among the eight sample states in this study.
In some states there is little or no land use planning in rural areas and the state avoids any attempt to influence local land use decisions. In these situations, state DOTs have little opportunity to coordinate their investment decisions with land use decisions.
Other states included in the sample (Oregon and Maryland) are national leaders in promoting the integration of transportation and land use planning. In these states, local governments are required to develop land use plans, the state attempts to influence land use decisions through smart growth legislation, and a variety of initiatives exist to better coordinate transportation and land use.
A number of states (Oregon, Missouri, and Florida) have established funding sources earmarked for transportation projects that promote rural economic development. The growing use of RPOs helps to ensure this link because many RPOs serve as rural economic development coordinators.
When rural transportation projects are advanced for economic development purposes, state DOTs do not usually apply rigorous methods to assess whether the investments will actually achieve the economic growth that project proponents claim. State DOTs should develop and use more rigorous analyses of potential economic development impacts.
Best Practices for Small and Medium Sized Metropolitan Planning Organizations
Fort Smith Arkansas, April 28-30, 2004
The Peer Exchange Workshop was intended to be a sharing and discussion of the effective practices used by small and medium sized MPOs. The following highlights the roundtable discussion about cooperative decisionmaking. This roundtable intended to develop strategies for improving the collaborative effort in the planning process. Participants discussed how to improve the quality of public officials' and the public's involvement in the planning process. The recommendations identified at the roundtable included the following:
Participants in the roundtable also highlighted the need for more cooperation among MPOs as their geographic regions grow toward one another. The following recommendations emphasized the theme of cooperation:
Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) EXPO 2003
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 19, 2003
The primary objective of this Peer Exchange Workshop was to facilitate dialogue among small urban and rural professionals from both mature transit programs and transportation programs in a conceptual or developmental phase. The workshop provided a forum to explore the complex challenges posed in the planning and operation of a community transit systems, and the methods used by some state departments of transportation (DOT) and other agencies to address transportation needs. The Peer Exchange Workshop participants heard presentations from FHWA and FTA and from panelists representing several small and rural transit programs. The last half of the program consisted of small groups working together to identify priority needs for improved community transportation planning and programming. The priority areas of needs were: financial constraint, public participation, land use and transportation, and tribal governments.
The discussion surrounding public participation centered on a variety of strategies for community agencies to consider in order to create a more effective and efficient participatory process. The following lists the recommendations that resulted from the dialogue between Peer Exchange Workshop participants regarding public participation:
This study focuses on developing five case studies of noteworthy practices that have made progress towards more closely integrating transportation with land use. Despite differences in project techniques, methods and goals, there was a common framework among all projects. The framework was built on the following themes:
Other important lessons were derived from the study. These include: