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Analysis of Statewide Transportation Plans

Prepared for the Federal Highway Administration and
Federal Transit Administration Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program

Prepared by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center,
U.S. Department of Transportation

December 3, 2005

Publication number FHWA-HEP-07-009


The U.S. Department of Transportation's Volpe National Transportation Systems Center completed this analysis for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program (TPCB). This report is a brief update of earlier in-depth analysis by the Volpe Center for FHWA and FTA in 2002, which reviewed all statewide long-range transportation plans (SLRPs) to identify national trends and innovative transportation planning practices, as reflected in those products of the statewide planning process. Although the focus is on the SLRPs themselves and not the broader statewide transportation planning processes, these evaluations offer some insights into the overall planning processes.

This report is the result of a short exercise to review a set of 15 of the most recently updated SLRPs. The Volpe Center reviewed the plans to identify trends and examples of planning practice in three topic areas:

The following are links to SLRPs reviewed in this report:

State Title/Link
Arizona "MoveAZ Plan"
Colorado "Moving Colorado, Vision for the Future, 2030 Statewide Transportation Plan"
Idaho "Idaho's Transportation Vision"
Indiana "The INDOT Twenty-Five Year Plan"
Louisiana "Louisiana Statewide Transportation Plan"
Maine "Keeping Maine Moving, 2004-2025 Long-Range Transportation Improvement Plan"
Minnesota "Minnesota Statewide Transportation Plan, Moving People and Freight from 2003 to 2023"
Ohio "Access Ohio 2004-2030, Statewide Transportation Plan"
North Carolina "Charting a New Direction for NCDOT, North Carolina's Long-Range Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan"
Rhode Island "Transportation 2025, State Guide Plan Element"
Utah "UtahTransportation2030, State of Utah Long Range Transportation Plan"

For additional information about the original research on statewide long-range plans or this update, contact Lorrie Lau, FHWA, or William M. Lyons, USDOT/Volpe Center,

Type of Statewide Long-Range Plan

State DOTs take several broadly different approaches in developing long-range transportation plans (SLRPs). These approaches include:

SLRPs often combine more than one of the above approaches. The following analysis summarizes these approaches and provides examples.

Needs-Based Plans

State Examples performance measures
Arizona - Average delay per trip
- Average bike suitability
Louisiana - Pavement condition distribution
- Airport facility standards
- Port capacity utilization
Minnesota - Average commuter automobile occupancy
- At-grade railroad crashes
Ohio - Lane width sufficiency
- Transit level of service

Vision-Based Plans

Policy Plans

Almost all the SLRPs reviewed have a policy component, though with different levels of specificity. Some identify previously defined goals or policies, while others develop new ones as part of the planning process. Some SLRPs include performance measures that can be used to measure results.

Many SLRPs articulate policies without necessarily identifying specific projects (e.g., Rhode Island, Idaho, West Virginia, Minnesota, Colorado), while others provide examples of projects to illustrate policy implementation (e.g., Maryland and Connecticut).

Rhode Island Minnesota
Goals Strategic Directions
Objectives Outcome Statements
Policies Policies
Strategies Policy Guidance
Performance Measures Performance Measures & Targets

Project-Based Plans

Corridor Plans

Other states incorporate corridor planning into the larger SLRP. In addition to modal analyses, Ohio's plan includes a multi-modal summary of technical information, analysis and projects for each major corridor.

Fiscally Realistic Plan

Most states identify current funding levels and many project expected funding. State plans, including North Carolina and Louisiana's, that describe future funding sources clearly state the assumptions made in estimating federal funding levels and rates of inflation. This transparency allows stakeholders and the public to understand key aspects of statewide planning.

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Planning Factors

SAFETEA-LU and its predecessor, TEA-21, identify the following factors that need to be considered in the statewide transportation planning process:

Although safety and security were originally combined in a single factor in TEA-21, SAFETEA-LU now separates them, adding a stronger emphasis to each.

This section describes the approach specific states take to incorporating the planning factors within their SLRPs. Most of the SLRPs reviewed explicitly recognize the factors. For example, West Virginia and Indiana's plans respond directly to each.

The following identifies SAFETEA-LU language for each factor, discusses how states are incorporate individual factors into SLRPs, and provides examples of SLRPs that clearly incorporate individual factors.

Economic Vitality

SAFETEA-LU factor: "Support the economic vitality of the United States, the States, nonmetropolitan areas, and metropolitan areas, especially by enabling global competitiveness, productivity, and efficiency."

SLRPs can promote national, state, regional, and local economic development through transportation goals, policies, programs, or projects that explicitly address the interrelationship between transportation systems and the state economy. Plans often describe coordination between the state DOT and economic development agencies or business interests.


SAFETEA-LU factor: "Increase the safety of the transportation system for motorized and nonmotorized users."

SLRPs can incorporate safety by including related statistics, describing a primary safety concern for the overall plan, or by identifying specific goals, policies, or programs designed to promote safety. Often these SLRPs include evidence of planning and program coordination with law enforcement, emergency response, or other non-transportation safety agencies.

Most SLRPs identify safety as a priority or goal and identify broad approaches to improve safety. Some states provide basic safety statistics such as the number of at-grade railroad crashes or road crashes per VMT.


SAFETEA-LU factor: "Increase the security of the transportation system for motorized and nonmotorized users."

Some of the SLRPs reviewed identify potential areas of concern and specific policies or programs designed to improve security. SLRPs can also demonstrate an important aspect of an integrated approach to security by reflecting coordination with non-transportation agencies with operational or planning responsibility for security.

Perhaps in part because security and safety were not separate factors until 2005, few of the SLRPs reviewed provide a distinct focus on security. It is reasonable to expect that the emphasis on security will increase in the future.

Accessibility and Mobility

SAFETEA-LU factor: "Increase the accessibility and mobility of people and freight."

SLRPs that consider accessibility and mobility recognize the importance of efficient coordination for both freight and passenger services and of access to transportation services. Plans identify policies, projects or strategies that support accessibility and mobility.

The focus on accessibility and mobility covers a range of issues. For urban areas, SLRPs focus on general traffic congestion, travel time reliability (mitigation of incidents), and access to jobs. Many plans discuss the loss of rail corridors or the needs of non-driving populations.


SAFETEA-LU factor: "Protect and enhance the environment, promote energy conservation, improve the quality of life, and promote consistency between transportation improvements and State and local planned growth and economic development patterns."

Plans that incorporate environmental stewardship recognize a variety of specific environmental impacts of transportation systems and describe goals, policies, programs, or projects that explicitly minimize transportation system impacts on the environment.

Environmental issues are integrated throughout Rhode Island's SLRP addressing land use, fuel types and greenhouse gas emissions, overall energy consumption, and minimizing environmental impacts of construction.

Integration and connectivity

SAFETEA-LU factor: "Enhance the integration and connectivity of the transportation system, across and between modes throughout the State, for people and freight."

Plans that consider integration and connectivity of the transportation system recognize the importance of integrating multiple transportation modes to create an efficient network for both freight and passenger service. These plans typically identify policies, projects or strategies that support integration of modes for both freight and passenger services.

Many SLRPs reviewed recognize the importance of integrated and coordinating transportation services.

Management and Operation

SAFETEA-LU factor: "Promote efficient system management and operation."

As an alternative for infrastructure expansion, some SLRPs provide policies, programs, and strategies to manage and operate the transportation system more efficiently, or recognize that management and operational techniques can substitute for some expansion.

Plans with a strong emphasis on management and operations include:

Topic Example States
Intelligent Transportation Systems Utah
Maryland (Operations Centers)
Connecticut (Operations Centers)
North Carolina
Travel Demand Management Colorado
Agency Operations North Carolina (Planning Process)
Maryland (Management Systems)
Connecticut (Management Systems)
Virginia (Life-cycle Modeling)
Rhode Island (Process, Capacities and Tools)
Project Management Maryland (Environmental Streamlining, Design-Build)
Minnesota (Project Timeliness and Cost Deviation)
Virginia (Coordinating Projects)
Incident Management Connecticut
North Carolina
Access Management Virginia


SAFETEA-LU factor: "Emphasize the preservation of the existing transportation system."

SLRPs that emphasize preservation discuss the condition of existing transportation infrastructure and identify preservation as a primary goal. This can be explicit, through programs or investments, or implicit, through distribution of funds.

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Multi-modal Planning

Some of the SLRPs reviewed reflect a statewide systems approach to multi-modal planning, including:

Non-highway Modes

Although all state DOTs have responsibility for construction and maintenance of highway systems, their responsibility for other modes varies. This responsibility can range from financing to sometimes owning and operating other modes, such as public transit. More typically, city and county or modal public authorities are responsible for constructing facilities, owning, and operating other modes including bicycle and pedestrian facilities, rail, maritime, or air, as well as transit. This limited responsibility and the fact that most travel occurs on the highways, may be major factors that contribute to the frequent focus on highway travel in SLRPs.

All state plans reviewed consider transit, bicycle and pedestrian, air, and rail transportation to some extent. Some SLRPs also consider additional modes; for example, SLRPs for states with port access consider water transportation. Although many plans consider ground access to ports or airports, some actually reflect some planning for those facilities, again depending on state responsibilities.

Many states summarize or otherwise incorporate components of statewide mode-specific studies or plans.

The following table summarizes the SLRPs reviewed that include relatively detailed modal discussions:

Mode States
Aviation Louisiana
Rail Ohio
North Carolina
Transit Connecticut
Rhode Island
Bike and Pedestrian Rhode Island
Water Louisiana
North Carolina

Integrated Modal Planning

Some of the SLRPs reviewed focus on specific purposes and needs for each mode individually.

Plans that focus on policy more than projects tend to have an easier time integrating modal planning.

Colorado's SLRP corridor visioning process allowed the state's many transportation providers to cooperatively address a corridor's comprehensive transportation needs, incorporating all modes.

As part of integrated modal planning, some states include a focus in SLRPs on intermodal facilities.

Integrated Passenger and Freight Planning

Some SLRPs focus on both passenger and freight needs. While there is overlap in the transportation networks, it is important to note that there are important differences in planning for passenger and freight modes. Economic vitality, urban congestion and highway maintenance are issues that affect both passenger and freight transportation. Freight considerations, however, are more applicable to port and rail infrastructure, while pedestrian, bicycle and transit are solely passenger modes. Many SLRPs identify specific goods movement issues.

Some SLRPs reviewed, such as Utah and Maine's, discuss the needs of passenger transportation separately from freight, separating consideration of human demographics from freight demand, freight from passenger rail service, and differentiating intermodal needs.

Updated: 10/20/2015
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