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FHWA Resource Center


Land Use and Transportation Planning

Land use decisions affect the transportation system and transportation investment decisions affect land use. Complications arise because land use decisions are usually made at the local level and decisions about major investments in transportation take place at the regional or state level. The challenge facing many areas today is finding ways to coordinate land use and transportation decisions that will preserve or improve the quality of life in their communities. It is important to understand the relationship between land use and transportation and to be aware of disconnects in investment decisions. The accumulation of the numerous decisions being made each day at the local level can have a profound affect on transportation operations and investments by transportation agencies.

The Land Use Seminar offered by the Resource Center Planning Team is designed to address challenges faced by planning professionals in dealing with land use and transportation activities. Course learning objectives include:

    • Understanding the links between transportation and land use

    • Identifying roles and responsibilities of local, state, and federal agencies in transportation and land use planning

    • Explaining how land use plans are developed and used

    • Exploring opportunities for coordinating land use and transportation planning decisions.

Interactive sessions are used in the seminar to encourage participants to share their experiences and explore local challenges.

There is also a new 3-day NHI course (NHI 151043) on land use and transportation that is a “how-to” workshop and provides fairly detailed information on topics like; regional planning, corridor planning, project development, roadway and streetscape design, transit oriented development, analytical tools, and public and stakeholder involvement. It wraps up with a session on implementation tools. The National Transit Institute (NTI) was a partner in the development of the course. See the NHI website for more information on this course.

FHWA also has a couple websites that offer useful resources, website links, and other information addressing the growing demand for exploring the interrelationships between land use and transportation.

FHWA’s Linking Land Use and Transportation website

FHWA Environmental Programs Support State and Local Smart Growth Policies website

Scenario Planning

“Scenario planning provides a framework for developing a shared vision for the future by analyzing various forces (e.g., health transportation, economic, environmental, land use, etc.) that affect growth. Scenario planning can be done at the statewide level or for metropolitan areas. Scenario planning tests various future alternatives that meet state and community needs. Effective scenario planning will actively involve the public and elected officials on a broad scale, educating them about growth trends and tradeoffs, and incorporating their values and feedback into future plans.”

To promote this strategic initiative, FHWA offers to provide technical assistance such as:

    1) providing feedback on scenario planning efforts that are being planned or implemented,

    2) providing information on similar efforts around the country, and

    3) identifying resources, handbooks and tools that may be available to support scenario planning efforts.

For technical assistance contact Brian Betlyon, 410-962-0086 or Jim Thorne, 708-283-3538.

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