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Appendix: Case Study Profiles

12. Pennsylvania - PennDOT Smart Transportation Program

Funding Sources and Amounts: Smart Transportation Initiative - various amounts

PCTI Program - $60 Million for initial round

Years: 2004–present

Federal funds and State Department of Transportation funds

Agencies/Organizations Involved: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), other State agencies, counties, municipalities, various MPOs and rural planning organizations (RPOs).

Geographic Area: All of Pennsylvania.

Problem to Be Addressed

Link transportation and land use decisions to build sustainable communities.

Resize the State's and region's transportation program to be consistent with the financial resources available.

Objectives of Project

Smart Transportation is a program that includes several initiatives by PennDOT to make better trans- portation and land use decisions that lead to projects and programs that support a community's goals and objectives, are affordable, and can be implemented in reasonable timeframes. Some specific objectives are to:

Summary of Project

This program evolved from development of Smart Transportation themes to help guide the agency to development of implementation tools, pilot projects, and incentive programs to educate and
raise awareness about the link between land use and transportation.

Pennsylvania is a home-rule State, where land use decisions are made independently by more than 2,600 municipalities. A major tenet of Smart Transportation is the need to link transportation and land use decisions. PennDOT actively engaged MPOs, RPOs, counties, and municipalities in development of Smart Transportation tools and practices. They have developed outreach and education materials and worked with the Township Association to share this information throughout the Commonwealth. They conducted land use/transpor- tation workshops with MPOs and counties, where concepts were applied to projects on the ground.

Type of Funding Used for Project / Plan

Population Served and ModesServed

Municipalities and regions throughout Pennsylvania are served by this initiative, which includes all trans- portation modes.


  • Culture change requires diligence and patience to achieve.
  • MPOs/RPOs are good partners but may have differ- ent goals than a State DOT.
  • The idea of linking land use and transportation is not well understood by all the players that are involved in those decisions.
  • A complete and effective planning process is needed as a basis for PennDOT's program.
  • Lack of understanding for the need and cost of asset management allows some regional programs to artificially include capacity-adding projects that might not be cost feasible.


  • The Smart Transportation Guidebook has been adopted and is being applied on all PennDOT proj- ects and permitted development projects on Stateroadways.
  • Land use decisionmakers understand the important link between land use and transportation.
  • A new project development process will be adopted that incorporates Smart Transportation principles into projects from the LRTP through construction.

Project Details

Smart Transportation is a new approach to roadway planning and design where transportation investments are tailored to the specific needs of each project. The desired land use, financial, and community contexts help determine the roadway design. The best transportation solution arises from a process where a multidisciplinary team, considering a wide range of solutions, works closely with the community. Inclusive of context-sensitive solutions (CSS), Smart Transportation also encompasses cor- ridor and access management, street design, network connectivity, and capacity issues.

Smart Transportation is centered on the following principles:

The program includes alignment of all phases of project delivery, beginning with PennDOT policy and practices, aligning regional and State pri- orities through Linking Planning and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and using flexible design guidance provided by the Smart Transportation Guidebook. Key elements of the program are described below.

The guidebook, developed in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Transportation and Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, expands the use of flexible design criteria by linking the context of the area to be served with the desired function of the transportation facility and its desired operating speed. The guidebook identifies the range of land use/community contexts and identifies design parameters that would be consistent with the existing and future land use contexts. Training courses were used to inform and educate transportation planners, engineers, resource agencies, transit providers, MPOs, RPOs, counties, and municipalities on this shift in direction and culture at PennDOT.

The Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative (PCTI) is a pilot program that provides funding for community-based transportation projects. PennDOT set aside $60 million to educate and encourage municipalities to plan and construct multimodal and livable transportation projects.

Linking Planning and NEPA is the name used for development of a new project delivery process that strengthens the role of planning to ensure more predictable schedules and budgets for project delivery. This process was developed in partnership with PennDOT engineering districts and central office personnel, resource agencies, MPOs, RPOs, and municipal representatives. The revised process enhances the early decisions with better data and analysis to ensure projects meet the purpose and need, are consistent with the region's goals, and are affordable. Planning-level asset management strate- gies will be used in development of all Long-Range Transportation Plans (LRTPs).

Livability Principles Promoted by Project

Promotion Livability Principles
F Increase transportation choices
  Promote affordable housing
F Enhance economic competitiveness
F Support existing communities
P Coordinate Federal policies and leverage investment
F Value communities and neighborhoods

P: Partly Supports
F: Fully Support

Perspectives on Implementing the Project and Its Impacts

Project Status

Policies and guidance to implement Smart Transportation ideas have been drafted and several have been adopted. Training and education has been conducted. Internal and external outreach has been conducted and is ongoing. PCTI is underway and the new project delivery process is being formalized into revisions to PennDOT's design manuals.

Applicability of Lessons Learned to Other Projects or Challenges

Roles of MPOs / DOTs and Policy / Plan Outcomes

MPOs and RPOs perform much of the planning work that is done prior to a project being pro- grammed on the TIP. The planning effort will be strengthened through partnerships with PennDOT.

For More Information

Sources and Other Resources:

HUD-DOT-EPA Interagency Partnership | DOT Livability | FTA Livable & Sustainable Communities
Updated: 10/20/2015
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