Introduction to Transportation Planning
II. What Is Transportation Planning?
Transportation planning is more than listing highway and transit projects. It requires developing strategies for operating, managing, maintaining, and financing the area's transportation system to achieve the community's long-term transportation goals. It looks for ways to solve current transportation problems while anticipating and addressing issues likely to occur in the future. The planning process:
- Links transportation goals to the goals of land use, cultural preservation, social, economic, environmental, and quality of life for the area covered by the plan;
- Uses data to examine current transportation operations and identify future transportation needs;
- Helps planners and Tribal governments make well-informed decisions on how to spend money set aside for transportation projects;
- Involves Tribal communities, Federal government agencies, State and local governments, metropolitan and regional planning organizations, special interest groups, and others.; and
- Results in workable strategies to achieve transportation investment goals over both the long term (20 years or more) and the short term (three to five years).
Figure 3 shows the basic steps in the transportation planning process. While each step in the process depends on all the other steps before it, the "feedback" arrows demonstrate that the process is continuous and flexible. The planning process accommodates changes that influence the transportation system and related decisionmaking processes.