A Guide to Transportation Decision Making
Different Transportation Plans and Programs
Before transportation planners start their work, the residents and officials of a region or a State must have a long-term vision for transportation in that area. A vision provides broad goals for what the region or State will look like and reflects what is important for the future.
To develop a vision, consider the characteristics of your region and State, and how you expect these characteristics to change over the next several years. Here are some characteristics to consider:
- Projected population growth.
- Projected economic changes.
- Current and future transportation modes and their unique needs (air, bicycle, bus, rail, roads, pedestrian, and water)
- Maintenance, operations, and management of transportation facilities.
- Preservation of the human and natural environment.
- Freight movement.
- Community livability and quality of life.
Once a region or State has reviewed and established goals for its vision, it has also developed a foundation for improvements to that area's transportation system. Long-range plans outline transportation solutions that cover 20 or more years. Solutions might include a new traffic signal system, a pedestrian pathway, a new bus line, or a completely new road project.
Some transportation plans focus strictly on transportation, while others are broader, with transportation included as just one part of a larger plan for green space, parks, and other land uses. Transportation-planning processes often are complex because they cover entire State and metropolitan transportation systems. A State plan will also include regional, metropolitan, and other local transportation plans.