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Planning for Transportation in Rural Areas


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  1. Introduction
    1. Background
    2. Federal Rural Transportation Policy
    3. Document Structure
  2. Our Rural Transportation System
    1. What is "Rural"?
    2. Characteristics of the Rural Transportation System
    3. Conditions Addressed by Rural Transportation Plans
    4. Challenges for Rural Transportation Planning
  3. Responsibility for Rural Planning
    1. Areas of Responsibility
    2. Jurisdictional Approaches
    3. Statewide Planning Roles
    4. TEA-21 Planning Factors
  4. Successful Rural Transportation Planning
    1. Getting Started...Questions to Answer First
    2. Success Factors
    3. Public Consultation and Rural Transportation Planning
    4. Key Transportation Planning Elements to Address
    5. Incorporating Environmental Review

Appendix A: Basic Steps Used to Develop Transportation Plans
Appendix B: Some Additional Tools for Planners
Appendix C: Case Study Profiles
Appendix D: Resources for Rural Transportation Planning



This document is designed as a resource to rural planners, city and county engineers, stakeholders, local officials, and other decision-makers involved with developing rural transportation plans. It is intended to foster a better understanding of the characteristics, issues, and trends affecting rural transportation systems and the benefits of good rural system planning. It provides approaches and case study profiles for public consultation, environmental review, transit system planning, intelligent transportation system planning, and access management.

The document does not establish a step-by-step process for rural transportation planning. Rather, it provides information and references that participants in rural transportation planning can use in fashioning a planning process that best suits local circumstances.


The contents of this document reflect the views of the author, who is responsible for the facts and accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the Department of Transportation.

This document does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

Updated: 3/28/2012
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