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Planning it Safe - March 2014

Volume 8, Issue 1


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Transportation Performance
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On March 11, 2014, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register as required by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). The NPRM proposes safety performance measures and State DOT and MPO requirements for establishing and reporting specific annual targets for fatalities and serious injuries for the purposes of carrying out the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). The public is encouraged to review the NPRM and submit comments to the docket at!docketDetail;D=FHWA-2013-0020. The comment period closes on June 9, 2014.

USDOT anticipates publishing two additional related NPRMs that address proposed updates to the HSIP, and the statewide and metropolitan and non-metropolitan planning regulations. All three notices will be open for public comment and are one set among the USDOT's proposals to implement MAP-21 performance provisions for the Federal-aid highway program.

A second set of performance-related NPRMs will focus on pavement, bridges, and asset management and a third will focus on congestion, emissions, system performance, freight, and public transportation.
Collectively, these rules advance the vision of Congress to transform Federal-aid transportation programs to provide more efficient investments by:

USDOT encourages the public to review each of the proposed rules as they become available in the Federal Register and to submit comments to the docket for each rule.

AMPO 2013 Annual Conference Sessions Focus on Effective Safety and Performance-Based Transportation Planning

Cheyenne Updates LRTP with Safety in the Forefront

The Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) held its Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon, in October 2013. Several conference sessions addressed the topics of planning for safety, performance-based planning, and safety investment decision making.

Effective Planning for Safety, Coast to Coast Edition - This session explored effective methods of planning for safety, both at the MPO level and regionally. Practitioners from across the country (including Florida, Ohio, Nevada, and Oregon) offered their experience and processes for including safety elements into transportation planning.  Presenters spoke on topics including:

These presentations provided examples of how planning organizations obtain meaningful results from their long-range and corridor planning processes, how MPOs can take the lead in regional safety planning matters, and how the use of outreach campaigns improves safety by generating recommendations through the regional transportation safety plan.

Performance-Based Planning and Programming: Meaningful Results, Forthcoming Requirements - This session provided examples of successful performance based-planning and programming at the corridor and regional levels with insights on forthcoming Federal requirements and their impact on MPOs. Presentations explored how performance measures are being applied at the State and regional level and how buy-in from such integral groups as stakeholders, elected officials, and the public is being obtained. Presentations explored the following topics:

Read more about these sessions and others held during the conference at the following link:


Regional Transportation Planning Organizations: Supporting Transportation Safety in Rural Areas
by Carrie Kissel with the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO)

There are many changes to transportation programs as a result of the MAP-21 legislation. For the first time in a Federal statute, the legislation includes a definition of the basic structure and responsibilities of Regional Transportation Planning Organizations (RTPO) and describes them as being voluntary institutions representing local governments and rural areas. MAP-21 indicates that if such an organization is formed, it must have a policy board mainly made up of local governments as well as a lead planning agency that serves as the fiscal and administrative agent and provides planning staff support. Several required responsibilities are outlined, including:

RTPOs1 may also be called Rural Planning Organizations (RPOs), Regional Planning Affiliations, Regional Transportation Planning Agencies, or simply general purpose Councils of Governments or Regional Planning Commissions; but whatever the name, they engage in rural transportation as one of their program areas and typically comprise local officials, modal agency representatives, and the public. They generally exist to assist state DOTs in meeting requirements for statewide planning, often by compiling regional priorities into a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and a rural long-range plan and by providing enhanced outreach to local officials and the public. An important task, especially for addressing safety issues, is offering technical assistance to local governments on transportation issues. About 30 states have developed a model for working with rural, regional planning partners.

RTPOs typically report that safety, economic development, and system preservation are the most important factors considered in identifying regional project priorities. With more than half of all roadway fatalities occurring on rural roadways, safety is a critical issue that RTPOs address by incorporating safety as a planning factor, participating in or organizing road safety audits, assisting with speed studies, and occasionally completing special analyses, such as corridor safety studies.

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Since most RTPOs are housed in and staffed by a parent agency that completes many other types of regional planning, the organizations will convene diverse partners to discuss regional issues and priorities. As a result, RTPOs are well positioned to initiate discussions on safety with a variety of stakeholders in areas where attention to safety is needed.

NADO and the NADO Research Foundation work with regional economic development and planning organizations, including RTPOs and similar agencies. One of the ways it supports RTPOs is through its website, This website offers models for establishing an RTPO, a Resource Library that serves as a point of reference for transportation and economic development professionals on range of transportation modes and issues as well as reports and events. This website is in the process of being redesigned and updated with new resources and with descriptions of rural planning efforts existing in many states to help newly formed and future RTPOs identify best practices and learn from the experiences of other similar organizations.

With support from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), NADO, its program affiliate RPO America (the professional network of rural and small metro transportation planners), the Development District Association of Appalachia, and other partners organize the National Rural Transportation Peer Learning Conference as an annual training event. This year, the conference will occur on December 3 - 5 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Learn more at

In addition, the NADO Research Foundation has worked to produce numerous best practices reports and other resources related to rural planning, which are catalogued at

For more information on NADO or the work we are doing to support regional planning organizations, contact NADO Associate Director Carrie Kissel at or 202-624-8829

1 For the purposes of this article, the term RTPO represents all the different rural planning and rural transportation planning organizations.


Performance-Based Planning and Programming Guidebook

Performance-based planning and programming applies quantifiable measures to elements of the planning process with the goal of producing specific outcomes in the multimodal transportation system.  Such measures address mobility and safety issues as well as issues developed during goal and objectives planning by state, regional, or local agencies.  Activities within the planning process support development of plans and programs including long-range transportation plans and State and metropolitan transportation improvement programs. Map-21 requires the use of performance-based approaches on statewide, metropolitan, and non-metropolitan transportation planning.  To assist agencies and planning organizations in meeting the requirements in MAP-21, the FHWA developed the Performance-Based Planning and Programming Guidebook.  The Guidebook provides a framework, strategies, and examples of how State and local agencies conduct performance-based planning within their organizations.  The Guidebook is available at:

Systemic Safety Project Selection Tool: Identify and Treat High-Risk Road Features

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Safety has released a new Systemic Safety Project Selection Tool that provides analytical techniques and models for State, regional, and local transportation agencies to apply the systemic approach to safety, which involves widely implemented improvements based on high-risk roadway features correlated with specific severe crash types. The approach provides a comprehensive method for safety planning and implementation that supplements and compliments traditional site analysis.

The Systemic Safety Project Selection Tool involves three basic elements: selecting locations and countermeasures, achieving the correct balance between systemic and traditional safety investments, and evaluating the effectiveness of the systemic approach. It can be applied to a variety of systems, locations, and crash types. It also promotes a process that can be incorporated into existing safety management efforts, so minimal training and technical assistance is required. Since the systemic safety process is based on risk rather than location, the tool helps agencies identify characteristics to support system-wide risk assessments.

To download the Systemic Safety Project Selection Tool or to obtain more information, please visit: Additional resources to help State, regional, and local agencies advance systemic safety planning and evaluation efforts, including an Overview Fact Sheet, a Narrated Presentation, and Archived Webinars, can be found at

Safety Data & Analysis Technical Assistance Program

FHWA recently began offering support to state and local transportation agencies through its new Safety Data & Analysis Technical Assistance Program. This program provides technical assistance, training, and resources to help agencies develop analyses that integrate crash, road inventory, and traffic data to pinpoint vital safety improvements in a holistic way.

This program is designed to provide answers to agencies on nearly any safety related question-from general questions, such as how to review and improve roadway data inventories, to more specific questions, such as which statistical models are best to address crashes at a complicated intersection. Agencies can receive either formal or informal technical analysis support in a flexible format, including through one-on-one sessions with experts. Quarterly webinars are open to all interested agency representatives and cover broader data topics to supplement the individualized sessions.

Apply for Data and Analysis Technical Assistance at or contact Bob Pollack at for more information.

Safety Focused Decision Making Guide

FHWA envisions a safety planning decision-making environment where transportation organizations take a holistic, programmatic approach and optimize the selection of roadway safety infrastructure improvements across a roadway system using performance management practices to track progress and achieve safety performance targets. With that, FHWA recently developed a Safety Focused Decision Making Framework to demonstrate how analysis tools can provide planners with data and information that they can use to enhance safety consideration in the transportation planning process.

The framework is defined by five high-level common steps across planning processes and shows how the different analysis tools can be applied to each step. The analysis tools include: Crash Modification Factors, Geographic Information Systems, Highway Safety Manual, Safety Analyst, and Systemic Safety Project Selection Tool.
Please visit the following link for the guide that provides a summary of the material:

A training presentation is also available at:


The TSP Subcommittee (ANB10 (23)) met during the Transportation Research Board 93rd Annual Meeting. At the meeting, the Subcommittee discussed communication, Subcommittee structure, and research needs. Members gave updates on current TSP, performance management, and other safety planning related legislative activities and initiatives. During this meeting, the Rutgers Center of Advanced Infrastructure and the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization provided a presentation on MPO safety initiatives. The group also received an update on NCHRP Project 08-76B - Transportation Safety Planning Framework: Implementation, Testing, and Evaluation. This project will result in a guidebook based on experience and input from practitioners. The authors are currently searching for good examples. Ideas or suggestions for examples to be included are welcome and should be sent to Susan Herbel at or Nicole Waldheim at Please contact the Subcommittee Chairperson, Ed Stollof at for additional information and meeting notes.


2014 NADO Washington Policy Conference - March 23-26, 2014 - Arlington, VA. For more information, visit

2014 APA National Planning Conference - April 26-30, 2014 - Atlanta, GA. For more information, visit

2014 AASHTO Spring Meeting - May 28-30, 2014 - Louisville, KY. For more information, visit

14th National Conference on Transportation Planning for Small and Medium-Sized Communities: Tools of the Trade - July 21-23, 2014 - Burlington, VT. For more information, go to

Updated: 12/12/2014
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