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Recent Developments

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Listed below are recent developments pertinent to environmental considerations in planning from the past six months.  If you would like to suggest a recent development on this topic, please submit a short description to AASHTO (including any pertinent links) on the Share Info with AASHTO form.

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Research Provides Framework for Tracking Long-Distance Travel

A study on incorporating long-distance travel data into U.S. transportation planning has been issued by the National Center for Sustainable Transportation at UC Davis. The study reviews the history of long-distance travel and suggests a framework for long-distance data collection and tabulation. The report finds this class of travel accounts for more than 2.6 billion annual trips by private vehicle, rail, air, and intercity bus that can impact quality of life and environmental impacts. For more information, link to the study. (October 2018)

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Guidance Offered on Updating Planning Tools to Address Automated Vehicles

Guidance on updating regional transportation planning and modeling tools to address potential impacts of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) has been issued under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. An executive summary report provides key findings of the research and a related guidance provides detailed guidelines to help state DOTs and metropolitan planning organizations update their modeling and forecasting tools and modeling processes to address CAVs. For more information, link to the Executive Summary Report and the Guidance. (11-19-18)

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NCHRP Research to Yield Performance Measures for Public Involvement

Tools for measuring the impact of public involvement campaigns in order to ensure both success and efficient use of public resources are the focus of research prepared under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. The goal of the research is to provide transportation agencies with evidence-based guidance on measuring the performance of public engagement in transportation planning and project delivery. The recently-completed research will be used for a final report expected to be issued early next year. For more information, link to NCHRP 08-105. (11-13-18)

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Shared Mobility Impacts on Transportation Demand, Supply Analyzed in Report

The National Center for Sustainable Transportation has issued a report regarding how shared mobility services affect transportation supply and demand in California. The report uses data from a 2015 public survey that addresses use of transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft, and also other ride hailing, car sharing, and bike sharing services. The report also measures the use of mobility services between generations and analyzes awareness and perceptions of service availability. The report finds that social and economic factors affect how likely people will use ride hailing services but are not a good predictor of how frequently they use it. The mix of land use where people live, frequent long distance travel, and technology availability also affect preferences for using ride hailing services. For more information, link to the report. (3-23-18)

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FHWA Report Evaluates Eco-Logical Program

The Federal Highway Administration has issued a study evaluating its efforts to promote and implement the Eco-Logical approach for infrastructure planning. Eco-Logical is an interagency landscape-level approach to integrating infrastructure development and ecosystem conservation. The evaluation describes a range of actions FHWA has conducted, including publishing the 2006 primary resource document, two rounds of funding, 31 webinars, eight peer exchanges, multiple case studies and reports, reaching 94 agencies in at least two-thirds of the states. The report encouraged the agency to continue efforts to promote the initiative, and called for more resources on the later steps of the framework focused on project delivery. For more information, link to the report. (3-21-18)

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FHWA Issues Guidance on Transportation Scenario Planning

The Federal Highway Administration has issued guidance for using scenario planning to help transportation agencies prepare for what is likely to happen in future projects. The guide highlights challenges to scenario planning in transportation that include funding issues, lack of knowledge, and data requirements. In addition, the guide highlights the scenario planning process and provides a list of planning elements to help define the scenario planning scope and workplan. How to address changing community goals, ensuring resilience, and the need for visioning and building consensus are also addressed. For more information, link to the report.

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FHWA Releases Report on Kansas City Scenario Planning Workshop

The Federal Highway Administration has released a report on noteworthy practices and key recommendations provided during a scenario planning workshop in Kansas City on Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 2017. The Mid-America Regional Council requested that the FHWA host a workshop to help stakeholders learn more about scenario planning. The workshop provided participants the opportunity to review draft scenarios with regard to a regional plan for sustainable development. Peer MPOs from Phoenix, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City provided assistance. For more information, link to the report. (5-30-17)

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NADO Issues Report on Rural Transportation Planning

The National Association of Development Organizations has released a report concerning a September 2016 peer exchange that focused on rural transportation planning and economic development. The report addresses best practices for rural public involvement to support statewide plans and includes suggestions for planning for development that is sensitive to the region, promotes placemaking and builds upon the community. The report also discusses technology improvements to increase transportation safety and the collection of trip data to understand congestion hotspots. For more information, link to the report. (3-2-17)

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Report Issued on Alaska Regional Models of Cooperation Peer Exchange

The Federal Highway Administration has released a report concerning a Regional Models of Cooperation peer exchange held in Alaska. The workshop addressed issues concerning collaboration and cooperation at local and regional levels and with tribal communities. The exchange identified key strategies for regional cooperation that include communication enhancement, establishing regional forums and creating joint planning products. The workshop included case studies to highlight collaboration techniques, challenges, and next steps to understand best practices. The Regional Models of Cooperation Program promotes effective communication between state departments of transportation, municipal planning organizations and transit authorities. For more information, link to the report. (3-1-17)

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Regional Models of Cooperation Detailed in Report Issued by FHWA

The Federal Highway Administration has released a report concerning the Regional Models of Cooperation Program. The program is part of the Every Day Counts 3 Regional Models Initiative to facilitate cooperation among state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations. It emphasizes developing multi-jurisdictional transportation plans and agreements to improve communication, collaboration, policy implementation, technology use and performance management. The report addresses the basis for regional collaboration, including program benefits and examples of forums for communicating, data sharing tools and project planning products. The report also provides case studies from Arizona, California, Texas, Florida and Oregon to provide best practices for communicating and collaborating with various stakeholders. For more information, link to the report. (December 2016)

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FHWA Issues Desk Reference on Developing TSMO Strategies

The Federal Highway Administration has released a reference manual designed to help subarea planning and operations officials to integrate operations, safety, and multimodal transportation planning. Planning for Transportation Systems Management and Operations within Subareas - A Desk Reference provides a foundation for implementing transportation systems management and operations (TSMO) strategies and includes examples of current practices across the country. The reference also includes tools for integrated corridor management, active transportation demand management and principles for metropolitan planning. For more information, link to the reference. (1-25-17)

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FHWA Launches PlanWorks Decision Support Tool for Projects, Announces Funding

The Federal Highway Administration has launched an interactive, online tool to support collaborative decision-making in transportation planning and project development. PlanWorks is built around key decision points in long-range planning, programming, corridor planning, and environmental review. PlanWorks suggests when and how to engage cross-disciplinary partners and stakeholder groups, and includes a decision guide, assessment tools, applications, and a resource library. The tool, formerly known in beta-version as Transportation for Communities - Advancing Projects through Partnerships (TCAPP) – is now permanently managed by FHWA. The agency also announced funding assistance to help state DOTs and metropolitan planning organizations implement the tool. The application period for funding will be open May 29 through June 26. For more information, link to PlanWorks and the Round 6 SHRP2 Implementation Assistance Program announcement. (5-14-15)

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Featured Case Study

  • Case Study Photo

    Utah DOT's web-based mapping system helps link transportation planning and environmental decisions.

    Read Case Study >Photo: Utah DOT

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