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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

A Guide to Transportation Decision Making


Transportation planners help the public and elected officials translate the vision into Long-Range Transportation Plans (LRTP). Planners look at different transportation alternatives and work with the public and other agencies to select those alternatives that make the most sense for an area and best use limited funds. Planners often use sophisticated computer models to predict future travel, help facilitate public discussions, and solicit the opinions of the public.

After regions or States develop their long-range transportation plans, the MPO develops its Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), and the State develops its Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). These short-term improvement programs are required to be updated at least once every 4 years. The TIP and STIP both contain individual transportation improvements and projects. All federally funded projects must be part of an improvement program in order to be implemented and receive Federal funds.

The following chart illustrates which organizations tend to use the four types of plans and projects described previously:

Plan Use by Organization *
Organization Vision Planning Long-range Plans TIPSs Project Planning
State DOT's check mark check mark check mark check mark
MPOs check mark check mark check mark  
Transit Agencies check mark check mark check mark check mark
City/Local Trans. Dept.     check mark check mark

*Plan development is the collective responsibility of the MPO, transit operator and State DOT. Project planning may be done by these and other organizations.

Updated: 3/22/2012
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