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Thread: How can I understand a transportation plan?

  1. #1
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    How can I understand a transportation plan?

    I do not know how to understand a regional transportion plan. I am reading several RTP of different areas. Their goals and methods to improve their transport look similar to me. I want to know what is the essence of a plan and what part of the plan I should pay attention to.

    Thanks,

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    Typically transportation planning (except for a few major urban areas) tends to be just highway planning. Multi-modal models take too much data to be cost feasible to do. The part of the plan that really means anything is the "cost-feasible plan". That's where the needs are tested against potential revenues. Everything else is a wish list. You might also want to look carefully at the land use plan used to prepare the model. More often than not the plan is locked in stone and the transportation system planned to fit the land use. Rarely does the future land use get changed to test that impact on the system need.

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    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cherry View post
    I want to know what is the essence of a plan and what part of the plan I should pay attention to.
    What exactly are you looking to find out? Are you worried that an Interstate is planned to cut through your back yard? Do you want to see if some congested areas on your commute are identified?

    Help us out here.

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    It is about how transportation investment will influence the future of metropolitan areas development. I need to read several regional tranportation plans to estimate the future of these regions.

    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    What exactly are you looking to find out? Are you worried that an Interstate is planned to cut through your back yard? Do you want to see if some congested areas on your commute are identified?

    Help us out here.

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    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    I don't think RTP's will help you much with that. They are federally mandated and tend to have lots of data and few broad transformative visions in them. Sorry to sound cynical but I used to write them and they are designed to keep the federal funding flowing without pushing the envelope much...

  6. #6
    There is great variety in how Regional Transportation Plans are developed and put together. At its base, the RTP is essentially a policy document describing how the MPO is going to implement the projects listed over the timeframe of the plan. There are a great number of Federal requirements regarding plans and so much of the document deals with addressing those.

    All plans should include some sort of population and employment projections and should have some analysis of how this growth impacts the transportation system, including proposed projects. Some Plans have taken the next step and tried to do "visioning" to look at alternative project sets or land use patterns and see how that impacts the transportation system. Two that pop into my head are the Cheyenne, WY MPOs "Plan Cheyenne" and the Porland Metro transportation and land use planning.

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    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cherry View post
    It is about how transportation investment will influence the future of metropolitan areas development. I need to read several regional tranportation plans to estimate the future of these regions.
    What you might want to focus on is anything new to the region, such as a new transportation option in a particular sub-area of the larger metro region (a new bridge across a lake, or finally finishing the rest of the west loop), or a new type of transportation option (such as a new light rail service in an area only previously served by highways). You could project how those changes would influence the surrounding built environment and land uses. Of course, state that all those are based the assumption of the transportation network being built to the plan, which is never a guarantee.
    JOE ILIFF
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    Do you think the Air Quality or the Environmental Justice issues can really influence the plan, given they are required by the federal laws?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cherry View post
    Do you think the Air Quality or the Environmental Justice issues can really influence the plan, given they are required by the federal laws?
    Can they have influence? Sure. How much they really did would mean drawing a conclusion from evidence. That could be a good subject for a paper. Maybe compare a regional transportation plan before and after those Federal laws were adopted, or before and after they were applied to a certain region. See if you can find a manifest difference between a plan that tried to include those issues (or gave them higher priority) than one that did not.
    JOE ILIFF
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    Martin Luther King, Jr.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Joe Iliff View post
    See if you can find a manifest difference between a plan that tried to include those issues (or gave them higher priority) than one that did not.
    Unless you can find an area without any poor or minorities, and sparking clean air, you won't find Plans that don't address EJ or AQ. That being said, many MPOs do a lot more than others on this subject.

    It does not surprise me that many have similar goals and objectives. Everyone wants transportation that works and is maintained. It is how they accomplish those goals and objectives as well as the demographics that make each plan unique. One of our biggest challenges for example is political. This goes way beyond City vs Suburbs (and those are tasks in themselves). There is a large chunk of our economic region that lies outside the United States.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    How do you think about the transportation demand management? Do you think that effective? Transit only accounts for a very portion of the traffic.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Investing in TDM programs/projects is very effective, particularly in areas with peak hour capacity issues. Less SOVs on the street from rideshare, transit or bicycle programs mean less pollution, better travel times of goods to market, cost savings for the individual user of the system.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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