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National Capital, Traffic Circle, 1942, by Gluyas Williams. Courtesy of New Yorker magazine.
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4 The Decision-Support Process INTRODUCTION This chapter focuses on the decision-support process for transportation, beginning with a look back to the antecedents of current practices in transportation planning and decision making. It then reviews the current process and concludes with recommendations on the “who, what, and why” of informed transportation decision making for livable communities. An improved decision-support process—including both data and tools—will help focus attention on the real consequences of transportation investments within communities. Improved data will aid broader consideration of often narrowly defined transportation consequences— for example, better transit access to major attractions, enhanced goods movement, shorter travel times—and foster more insightful consideration of the socioeconomic, land use, and environmental factors that help shape a community’s livability. These factors include mobility and equity consequences across locations within a region and across stakeholder groups; impacts on land use and development patterns and the consequences of those development patterns; the interaction of transportation operations with the natural and built environments, and impacts on sustainability; distribution of economic benefits and costs spatially and demographically; and consequences for community cohesiveness and character. As communities, transportation planners, and decision makers have sharpened their understanding of the links between transportation and livability, the list of questions to be considered in making transportation
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choices has grown in length and complexity. These questions extend from the most basic (e.g., should we consider transportation improvements?), to highly detailed consideration of the interactions between transportation improvements and other valued community features, to the final decision on whether action is warranted based on the projected benefits, costs, and impacts. Such decisions impact the livability of communities and require large bodies of data, many of them crosscutting in nature, to adequately answer the questions and provide informed choices to decision makers. CONTEXT OF CURRENT PRACTICES Good transportation has long been recognized as an important element of a successful society—from the Roman roads, which helped unite an empire, to farm roads, which help bring products to market. Moreover, the physical development of a community has been shaped by the transportation technology that existed during each growth period, whether it was canoes, horsecars, or freeways. The importance of transportation to the economy and society has given transportation decisions great significance and those who make them great power. The importance of the central government in transportation decisions was debated during the formative years of the United States, and transportation continues to be an important function of federal, state, and local governments. The transcontinental railroad was seen as an important factor in unifying the United States after the Civil War, and the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System in the 1950s reshaped population patterns and goods distribution to both a domestic and a world market. This history would suggest the evolution of a highly sophisticated practice, beginning with the transportation studies of the 1950s in Detroit, Chicago, and other metropolitan areas, and concurrent with the early development of computers. For example, the algorithm needed to calculate the shortest path through a network or to estimate traffic flows was borrowed from early research on telephone networks. Once transportation planning moved beyond understanding current travel patterns (which could be estimated though travel surveys) into projections, data needs escalated quickly. In his review of the history of transportation planning, Weiner points out that “through its evolutionary development, the urban transportation planning process has been called upon to address a continuous stream of new issues and concerns, methodological developments, advances in technology, and changing attitudes. The list of issues included safety, citizen
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involvement, preservation of parkland and natural areas, equal opportunity for disadvantaged persons, environmental concerns (particularly air quality), transportation for the elderly and handicapped, energy conservation, and the revitalization of urban centers” (Weiner, 1992). This history also suggests the need for a highly responsive, collaborative decision-making process that is well attuned to livability factors. Such a process would reach beyond a confined view of transportation facility choices and embrace the ways in which these choices interact with valued community assets and impact livability. Instead, transportation planners and providers are often criticized as being impediments to the creation of more livable places and failing to look at transportation choices through the lens of livability. Much planning continues to be narrowly focused on transportation alone, particularly on highways, while concerns such as alternative ways to meet mobility needs, land use interactions, and environmental impacts are given less attention. For several decades, urban planners have recognized that public investment projects in metropolitan regions must be considered within the regional context, not just with reference to the immediate project site. Public parklands, water supply, and sewer systems are several early examples of such metropolitan issues. In the transportation arena, park-way systems in cities such as Boston are early examples. In most of these cases, the metropolitan perspective derives significantly from the fact that sponsor agencies and decision makers have been municipal or regional entities. In contrast, state departments of transportation have sponsored much of the major new public investment in transportation, predominantly highways, funded through the interstate highway system and other federal funding programs. One of the unintended consequences of this well-funded, highly focused, largely single-purpose effort has been a disconnect in planning these investments between the projects and the local and regional contexts within which they set. They have been designed and implemented with little sense of the surrounding place and little focus on how they affect the livability of the host community beyond a narrowly defined transportation function. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and associated regulations from federal transportation agencies sought to require consideration of the environmental interactions and impacts of such federally funded public investments. More recently, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) focused on the need to explicitly consider and analyze major transportation investments in a metropolitan region context, based on sound planning principles.
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Current Transportation Planning Process The traditional transportation planning process has four steps and is carried out at local, regional, and statewide levels. First, goals and objectives are developed. These often are in the form of level of service standards or other desirable operating conditions for the transportation system. These goals and objectives should be based on community values and cover such topics as structural condition, congestion levels, safety, alternative modes, and other transportation outcomes. The second step is determining system deficiencies based on the goals and objectives. Often, transportation demand models are used to determine where current and future congestion deficiencies exist. Traditional models assume current and future land use patterns as a given from local comprehensive plans, and forecast traffic conditions given those patterns of growth. Land use can also be a variable, since land use patterns affect modal travel and travel patterns, and since transportation facilities have a feedback effect on land use. The third step is alternatives analysis, in which different approaches to fixing deficiencies are examined. Increasingly, alternatives analysis examines multiple modes of transportation (e.g., simultaneous access to highways, bicycle paths, and mass transit) as possible solutions. Travel demand models are also used to evaluate how alternatives perform on a system level. The final step is selection of a preferred alternative. This preferred alternative is usually a result of compromise among competing interests and often includes a mix of modal components that work together to address the deficiency. Transportation models have been developed to predict the likely origins and destinations of trips and the likely use of different modes, based on projections of where people would live, work, and play. Just like livability, assessing travel requires data on both people and places. Such information was generally not available in the 1960s (and frequently is not available today), so transportation planners often had to create the data for themselves. As a result, decision-support tools were not designed for the diverse stakeholders involved in livability planning. They were instead developed as inputs to transportation models at different geographic scales than were common for public planning data. Long-Range Planning Planning for transportation is typically large scale and long term, whether at the statewide or local level, and it requires project development (i.e., project-specific planning). Long-term plans are developed by
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state departments of transportation or, for major metropolitan areas, by metropolitan planning organization (MPOs). Project planning can occur at the local scale or, with very large projects, for large corridors or sectors of a region; and they can be sponsored by a state department of transportation, the MPO, or a local unit of government—a municipality or county—depending on the project. Long-range plans typically have a 20- or 30-year time horizon and build on the area’s long-term vision, as well as long-term projections of population, economic development, and transportation needs. They also include a short-term element, in which specific transportation improvements are programmed for each of the coming years—either a statewide transportation improvement program or the MPO’s transportation improvement program, including specific projects. Project Planning Project planning is the process by which a proposal for a specific transportation improvement is assessed. In the process of planning a federally funded project, major decisions focus around these questions: Is the solution a project (such as building a trolley line) or non-project solution (such as changing the timing of signals to improve traffic flows and give buses and emergency vehicles priority at intersections)? Will the project be likely to have any significant impacts? The answer to these questions determines the types of analyses that will be required to comply with NEPA requirements. If the answers are uncertain, an assessment is performed to determine whether there will be significant impacts. If so, draft and final environmental impact statements are required, followed by a record of decision. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) have issued regulations to guide transportation agencies on complying with NEPA in assessing transportation improvements. Changes in the Transportation Planning Process Meyer (1999) suggests that two issues in particular will strongly characterize the next period of planning: the first is technology applications in the broadest sense (such as Geographic Information Systems [GISs]), and the second is growing awareness of sustainable development. GIS and visualization are just beginning to be used widely; technical engineering standards, design standards, and mathematical models are more com
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monly used. Benchmark measures typically focus on the physical infrastructure. An excellent example of a different approach is the Aurora Partnership, a public-private collaboration to stimulate the development of decision-support tools, services, and systems and the application of spatial data for natural resource and environmental management (http://aurorapartnership.org). It seeks to address the needs of policy makers, land and resource managers, and county and community leaders. The four principles of the Aurora Partnership, formed in 1998, are the following: Support existing and new partnerships at local, regional, and national levels. Adopt a perspective of place-based management incorporating other user needs in addition to those associated with natural resources and the environment. Focus on decision processes and stakeholder involvement as well as technology and software. Provide a national forum for the exchange of decision-support knowledge. Although the practice of transportation planning is technically sophisticated, it tends to be focused on travel and traffic outputs and does not pay much attention to sustainability and livability indicators. Most of the standard tools are not easy to use and require special training and experience available only to the most technically sophisticated agencies. Since the 1980s, decision makers, planners, and community members have stressed the importance of a multimodal and intermodal perspective on transportation. Multimodal refers to the inclusion of many modes— highway, transit, railroad, walking, bicycle, and so forth—in deciding how best to meet mobility and access needs. Intermodal refers to the links between modes—a bus-rail station or cargo carried on a ship and then a truck—and the nature of most trips, whether by people or goods. Decisions based on such modal considerations require integrated databases, which capture both the functional aspects of the modes and how they relate to one another and the relationship between the choice of modes and impacts of transportation investment and service decisions on livability. Indeed, many of the arguments related to the choice of one mode over another are tied directly to crosscutting considerations of livability. For instance, the choice of a highway for a corridor instead of public transit will entail much more fuel consumption and associated environmental impacts, and the highway may well contribute to exurbanization and sprawl. However, the highway choice will provide better service for goods movement, along with associated economic ben
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efits, and may well enhance personal choice and mobility for door-to-door auto trips. By way of an intermodal example, the decision on whether to invest in a new intermodal ship-truck-rail terminal will include consideration of environmental, economic, land use, and other impacts on the immediate and surrounding areas, in addition to more narrow considerations of transportation functions and economies of different movement patterns between the modes. Thus, it is impossible to take a broad perspective across and among transportation modes without considering livability impacts and options. Transportation plans are best made in the broad context of the long-term goals of the community, state, or region. This long-term vision must include thinking about factors such as projected population growth, economic change, transportation needs and maintenance requirements, and potential impacts of alternatives on natural and human environments. Transportation decisions involve a great breadth of issues. Major transportation projects are undertaken for a variety of purposes, including safety improvement, reduction in congestion, and promotion of economic development. Other reasons include national defense and counter-cyclical investments to jump-start a slow economy. However, with sufficient support at the federal level, livability could be introduced as one of the specific items to be addressed in federally funded transportation planning. It is important to change the attitudes of participants to make livability an important goal. Such a change may be occurring already. A movement known as “context-sensitive design” aspires to lessen the negative effects of routing streets and highways through living areas and to foster the reestablishment of a community sense of place. According to Thomas Warne, past president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, “. . . highway projects can be designed with imagination, creativity, and collaboration to preserve and enhance the character and quality of community without sacrificing transportation mobility and safety.” Five “lead states” (Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, and Utah) are pressing this initiative with support from the FHWA (Gavin, 2000). As part of the 1991 ISTEA, all metropolitan planning in the United States was required to address a set of 15 factors, grouped under three categories: (1) mobility and access, (2) system performance and preservation, and (3) environment and quality of life. (See Box 4.1, which includes examples of data that should be used to assess livability.) Despite the fact that this mandate was dropped in the 1997 transportation legislation (known as the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century [TEA-21]), these factors represent important considerations in metropolitan
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BOX 4.1 Metropolitan Planning Factors Assessing Impacts on Livability Mobility and Access for People and Goods Factor 1. Effects of all transportation projects (e.g., cumulative impact of the system on land use and development patterns, open space and natural area degradation, sprawl, housing affordability, and access of people in different economic strata to jobs) Factor 2. International border crossings and the promotion of access to critical areas and activities (e.g., extent to which links with border crossings enhance regional and national economic competitiveness, distribution of economic benefits by industry and job sector, and impacts on employment and job creation by industry sector and location) Factor 3. Road connectivity from inside to outside metropolitan areas (e.g., impacts of connectivity on local and regional growth and development plans, improved access to jobs by population and income sectors, impacts on traditionally underserved segment of the population, and impacts of connectivity on increased pressure for development in environmentally sensitive areas) Factor 4. Enhancement of efficient freight movement (e.g., impacts on location and distribution of freight-related industries, contribution to employment and job creation for underemployed sectors of the population, and noise and other impacts on sensitive environmental resources) Factor 5. Expansion and enhancement of transit services and use (e.g., improved access to education and jobs for low-income, female-headed, and auto-less households; increased mode share by geographic area for transit; and level of reduction in environmental impacts resulting from shifts to transit from auto and single-occupant vehicle trips [for peak and off-peak periods]) System Performance and Preservation Factor 6. Congestion relief and prevention (e.g., extent to which congestion relief measures promote efficient energy use and energy savings; impacts of congestion relief and prevention on economic productivity in the movement of people and goods) Factor 7. Preservation and efficient use of existing transportation facilities (e.g., economic impacts, by sector, from transportation to asset protection, potential shift of resources from capital to maintenance expenditures, and impacts on business sectors and job classifications) transportation planning, and they should be incorporated in the planning process at an early stage. The relevance of each factor will of course vary depending on local circumstances, as will the manner in which transportation planners consider and analyze these factors. However, it is important that the factors be given explicit and appropriate consideration. The
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Factor 8. Transportation needs identified through the implementation of management systems (e.g., needs by demographic and economic sector, by location and transportation mode; extent to which meeting needs will promote more equitable distribution of transportation benefits and costs by population sector) Factor 9. Preservation of rights-of-way (e.g., extent to which preservation of rights-of-way reduces the impacts of development and exurbanization; impacts of preserved rights-of-way on movement patterns of wildlife and preservation of plant communities) Factor 10. Use of life cycle costs in the design and engineering of bridges (e.g., extent to which life cycle costing presents a more full accounting of the total costs of the investment, including the distribution of costs over time, by location, and by economic sector) Environment and Quality of Life Factor 11. Overall social, economic, energy, and environmental effects of transportation decisions (e.g., crosscutting impacts of the transportation program; extent to which transportation investments stimulate positive economic development, protect environmental resources, and are consistent with regional land use and development goals; also, trade-offs between economic benefits and costs and land use or development and environmental benefits and costs) Factor 12. Consistency of planning with energy conservation measures (e.g., changes in transportation energy consumption by household income, including progressive or regressive impacts of transportation energy taxes by income level and impacts of changes in energy consumption on air quality) Factor 13. Relationships between transportation and short- and long-term land use planning (e.g., impacts on short-term housing costs, by income group according to race and location, and impacts on long-term housing and development patterns, particularly in terms of development concentration and transit-supportive development) Factor 14. Programming of expenditures on transportation enhancement activities (e.g., distribution of enhancement activities by location, measured by socioeconomic characteristics of neighborhoods surrounding the location) Factor 15. Capital investments that increase transit system security (e.g., impacts of increased security and lower crime on perceived community livability) FHWA and the FTA recognize the complexities involved in the consideration and analysis of some of these factors, and have established general guidelines with respect to consideration and analysis of the 15 factors. Their consideration may also be a part of the public involvement process, a major investment study (MIS), or adjustments to management systems
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implementation, all of which are required in the metropolitan planning process. Nonetheless, these agencies have established general guidelines with respect to the consideration and analysis of the 15 factors. Decision Process Framework Although analysts may be uncomfortable dealing with conflicting goals, they are a fact of life. People prefer not to choose between, say, a good economy and a healthy environment or a suburban environment and free-flowing roads. They want both livability and affordability. These conflicting desires create a potential dilemma for those making transportation decisions. For example, at what point does mobility degrade rather than enhance livability? More importantly, how will that decision be made and by whom? At some point, these questions must be addressed. The decision-making process includes all stages of the decision from problem definition, to alternative selection, to implementation and evaluation. Key components are identification and definition of the problem; formulation and evaluation of alternative courses of action; and selection, implementation, and evaluation of the solution. Stakeholders include those who might be affected or served by the decision, as well as those advising decision makers of their viewpoints. Meyer and Miller (2001) stress the complexity of the transportation planning process resulting, in part, from the varied perspectives and purposes of the people involved in the process (see Box 4.2 for discussion). In addition, transportation decisions must take a future perspective on outcomes and stakeholder needs. Boulding (1974) suggested these important considerations: Transportation planning must be seen as an integral part of a much wider process of decision making. Too often in the past transportation solutions have been seen as the only way to resolve transportation problems . . . transportation must be seen as part of the land-use planning and development process which requires an integrated approach to analysis and a clear vision of the type of city and society in which we wish to live. A decision-oriented approach to urban transportation planning should focus on the information needs of interested decision makers and should recognize the often limited capability of individuals unfamiliar with technical analysis to interpret the information produced. Planning should provide not only the information desired by decision makers, but also the information needed to provide a more complete understanding of the problem and of the implications of different solutions.
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sion makers, but also because this body of information will be available to individuals, stakeholder organizations, and public officials from communities potentially impacted by such decisions. Individuals and groups may be excluded from the decision-making process by agenda setting that expressly or inadvertently makes the impacts of decision making a foregone conclusion prior to the process of discussing and agreeing upon data sources and information needs (Innes, 1996). Judith Innes (1996) discusses “communicative planning” and practices that draw on the work of Jurgen Habermas (Habermas, 1984, 1987). She makes three main points: Communicative practice must be embedded in institutions and practices rather than being applied in a particular case by a scientist or planner interested in involving the public in the decision-making process. The process by which information is produced and useful or necessary data for the decision are chosen (agreed upon) is crucial. Many types of information may count, not just objective or formal information. The third point refers to the choice of indicators that will be used to measure the effects of a decision or the success or failure of an intervention. Both qualitative and quantitative measures are important in the overall decision process. Role of Public Involvement in the Decision Process Strong public involvement is essential for sound transportation decision making. Just as definitions of what livability means in real communities derive from the perceptions and aspirations of their members, so must good decisions on transportation investments build on the wants and needs of the community and its perceptions of the desirability of investment options, including the no-build alternative. Clearly, this is a great challenge for transportation planners and decision makers, because various stakeholder groups in a community may have competing interests and different perceptions of the benefits and costs of a plan, especially if the distribution of benefits and costs leads to a disproportionate impact on one segment of the community or region. In fact, recent attention to environmental justice in transportation stems from concern over the potentially inequitable distribution of the benefits, impacts, and costs of transportation across population groups within the community. In addition to the technical assessment of these distributional effects, it is
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important to seek out and involve traditionally underserved members of the community as transportation services and facilities are planned. The following are some of the key principles for strong public involvement of all stakeholders: Participation extends from the very start of planning through all decision points. Participants are involved in determining the involvement program that best fits their community, including its style and members’ needs. A full range of interested and affected stakeholders is involved, including traditionally underinvolved and underserved segments. Programs are accessible in various locations, languages, and alternate viewpoints in order to allow participation by all community members. There is a mix of written, verbal, visual, graphic, and in-person techniques for community information, education, and involvement. Information is timely, complete, unbiased, and understandable to laypeople. Participants understand the process, timing, and people involved in decision making; and public involvement and inclusion efforts are particularly extensive around major decision points. The community is informed of major decisions, such as how its input was used (or not) and what will happen next. When public involvement programs are developed with these principles in mind, both participants and decision makers benefit from a structured process for collaborative decision making that fosters open consideration of the trade-offs and consequences of decision choices. Within such a process, decision-support tools can further clarify and aid decision making. Role of Decision-Support Tools Nyerges (2001) identified eight types of systems for decision support (see Box 4.4). Nyerges argues that all eight system types make significant contributions to sound decision making by individual groups. Items e, f, and h (i.e., choice models, structured-group process techniques, analytical reasoning methods) are especially useful in comparing different solutions and achieving consensus across various groups. Software has been developed to support each of these eight functions, although no single product is capable of addressing all of these tasks. Sound software exists
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BOX 4.4 Role of Tools in Decision Support Level 1: Basic Information Handling Support Data management and access (e.g., storage, retrieval, and organization of spatial data and information using stand-alone or distributed database management system support) Visual aids (e.g., shared displays of charts, tables, maps, diagrams, matrix and/or other representational formats) Group collaboration support (e.g., idea generation, collection, and compilation; anonymous input of ideas, along with the pooling and display of textual ideas; electronic voting; electronic white boards; computer conferencing; and large-screen displays) Level 2: Decision Analysis Support Phenomenon models (e.g., interlinkage indicator models, site suitability models, location-allocation optimization models, and dynamic simulation models) Choice models (e.g., option preference ranking lists based on pairwise comparison, multiple-criteria decision models, preference sensitivity modeling, and Bayesian decision models) Structured-group process techniques (e.g., brainstorming, Delphi, modified Delphi, and technology of participation) Level 3: Group Reasoning Support Judgment refinement amplification techniques (e.g., the specific contribution of criteria to project options, sensitivity analysis, and social judgment analysis) Analytical reasoning methods (e.g., using mathematical programming or expert systems guided by automatic mediation, parliamentary procedure, or Robert’s Rules of Order) that identify patterns in a reasoning process SOURCE: Nyerges (2001). for addressing a and b (i.e., data management and access, and visual aids), but the question remains whether any of these computer-based decision-support tools are adequate for comparative purposes. Table 4.1 presents a summary of what Nyerges terms “Micro, Decision Strategy Activities”—the basic steps that are undertaken in any decision process—in the first column, and “Macro, Decision Strategy Phases” in the next three columns. The cells highlight helpful decision-support tools when carrying out different activities within different phases of the decision-making process.
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TABLE 4.1 Micro, Decision Strategy Activities Micro, Decision Strategy Macro, Decision Strategy Phases Activities Intelligencea Designb Choicec Gather Participant input on values, goal, and objectives using information and structured-group process. Data using information management and phenomenon models to generate options Values, criteria, and feasible decision options using group collaboration support methods Organize Goals and objectives using visual aids, group collaboration support, and structured-group process An approach to decision option generation using structured-group process techniques and models Values, criteria, and feasible decision options using choice models and structured-group process techniques Select Criteria to be used in decision process using group collaboration support methods Decision options from outcomes generated by structured-group process techniques and models Goal and consensus achieving decision options using choice models and structured-group process techniques Review-approve Criteria, resources, constraints, and standards using group collaboration support methods Decision options and identification of feasible options using information management and choice models Recommendations of decision options using judgment refinement techniques aAbout values, objectives, and criteria. bOf a feasible option set. cAbout decision options. SOURCE: Nyerges (2001). Information Needs of Decision Makers To make responsive, responsible decisions on potential transportation investments, decision makers need information such as that outlined in the 15 metropolitan planning factors in Box 4.1. This information can then be used to answer questions such as those that follow, for long-range plans and projects. These questions are not new. Rather, they are answered
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using more inclusive, crosscutting information that results from posing the questions within the context of decision making for livability, and then conducting the planning analyses with that broader information. These questions reflect the types of analyses that should be performed during the course of planning, and also correspond broadly to various stages in the planning and decision-making process. In addition to such analyses, close consultation with the public is an essential part of a sound planning and decision-making process. For long-range plans, the following questions are applicable: What is the geographic and temporal scope of the plan? Who was involved in developing the plan? In particular, was there significant, extensive, inclusive public involvement, and to what extent does the plan reflect the input of community participants, from individuals to interest groups, to elected and appointed officials, and including traditionally underrepresented and underserved members of the community? What is the region’s vision for its future, and to what extent does this plan incorporate the goals and desired outcomes of the plan? What are projected demographic, economic, and other significant regional trends (including multiple states when this broader regional scale is relevant), and how realistic are the projections? Are all the relevant components and features of the community included in the plan (e.g., land use and development, open space and other environmental assets, housing, education, major community facilities)? To what extent does the long-range transportation plan relate coherently to other major plans, goals, community components, and features of the area? Are alternative ways of achieving the goals of the plan assessed? Are potential costs, benefits, impacts, and mitigation measures included in the plan, at a level of detail appropriate to long-range planning (versus project development)? Is livability explicitly addressed in the plan, including the following: a community-based definition, a discussion of the relationship of the transportation plan to community livability, and the use of crosscutting indicators expressing the impacts of the plan on livability? For project planning, decision makers should document the following: the purpose of and need for the project; the goals of the project and relevant evaluation criteria;
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the project area, including relevant surrounding areas in the region and transportation system; comments from stakeholders about the desirability and impacts of the project (both positive and negative); documentation of the public participation program—its extent, components, and assessment of efforts to include the full range of project stakeholders, including traditionally underrepresented and underserved constituencies; alternatives that have been considered, those maintained and dismissed, and the rationale behind them; a statement about the trade-offs between different alternative ways to meet the need versus the likely impacts: Is a “no build” decision better than any build-implement choices? analyses performed and the results; a full accounting of the costs, benefits, and impacts of the project, including how impacts will be mitigated; the distribution of impacts, both positive and negative, spatially and among different subsets of the population: What primary and secondary impacts will result? Are there ripple effects through the transportation system that bring about other consequences? Are there similar ripple effects economically, socially, and environmentally? explicit consideration of the impacts of the project on the livability of the community, as defined by its members, and the extent to which crosscutting indicators of livability are included in the assessment of project consequences; relevant legislative and regulatory requirements and how they have been addressed in developing and evaluating the project; and the final conclusions—on balance, across these many interacting factors, what is the best choice, and what are the implications of that choice in the short and long term? Information for decision makers, indeed, for all process participants, must be accurate, complete, timely, and expressed in terms that are understandable to laypeople. The information also has to be meaningful; that is, it must be sufficiently comprehensive to capture the range of interactions involved in the proposed plan or project with the surrounding community and the transportation system of which it is a part; and it must shed light on noteworthy differences between decision alternatives. These interactions and the resulting impacts must include the kinds of data and crosscutting indicators that help explain what the consequences of the project or plan are in terms of community livability. The Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) issued Statement 34 in 1999, which includes new accounting standards on the presentation of all
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assets and liabilities (including infrastructure) on the public balance sheet. In the short run, implementation of GASB 34 is putting a strain on public agencies, but in the long run it will produce new information about the magnitude and cost of transportation and infrastructure investments for all public entities. Implementation of GASB 34 reporting requirements will be easier for public agencies that have already documented their infrastructure using Geographic Information Systems. CONCLUSIONS Transportation decision making must be part of an integrated approach that reflects broad consideration of the relationship of transportation to achieving a community’s vision of livability. The overall decision process is complex, involving a variety of decision-support tools, a potentially large and wide-ranging body of relevant information, and diverse participants. A decision-oriented approach to transportation planning should focus on the information needs of decision makers. As discussed throughout this report, the information needed for decision making that leads to livable communities often includes what we consider spatial data: for example, data about the location of resources such as hospitals or data about the relationship between one place and another, including the public transportation links between a city and its suburbs. The needed information is comprised of multidimensional social or economic data (e.g., children under age 5, per household, environmental or historical data such as location of toxic waste sites). Accordingly, it is important to recognize the limited experience of many decision makers with the kind of synthetic and technical analyses required to interpret and use the existing data. The regional context of transportation decisions is important because of links between transportation, land use, and economic development at the regional scale. The history of transportation planning suggests the need for a highly responsive decision-making process, well attuned to recent interest in livability. Various tools contribute to sound decision making through supporting the basic handling of information, decision analysis, and group reasoning (Nyerges, 2001) and helping people to overcome their lack of familiarity with data and data analysis. Geographic information tools and visualization can also support the decision process. In particular, the following can improve the transportation decision-support process: working actively and collaboratively with the community from the very start of transportation planning, incorporating the commu
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nity’s definitions of livability in framing the issues and needs to be addressed in planning; conducting transportation planning—whether for a regional system or facility or a local project—within the regional context and relating issues, needs, and choices to that larger regional context; developing transportation plans within the context of long-term community and regional goals, including consideration of population and economic growth, land use and development, transportation access and mobility needs, and potential impacts on the natural and built environments; following the principles of context-sensitive design in developing transportation plans, particularly through collaboration with community members, consideration of the fit between facilities and services in the local context, and use of design principles that meet both community and technical standards for sound, responsible practice; collaborating with other units of government within a region to better integrate transportation considerations across responsible agencies, jurisdictions, and modes; planning transportation in cooperation with land use, natural resources, economic development, and other agencies responsible for these community assets; including livability as an important goal in transportation planning and measuring the consequences of transportation choices with reference to livability, among the host of factors that go into planning; actively using data and crosscutting measures that show the relationships of transportation choices to land use, economic development, and the environment and the potential impacts of these choices on livability; using GIS and other tools to support analysis and decision making, emphasizing interrelationships, and making the content and implications of planning information clear to analysts, community members, and decision makers; using the 15 metropolitan planning factors, with appropriate supporting information, to develop and assess transportation plans and their impacts; implementing active, inclusive community involvement programs as an integral part of the planning and decision-making process, including diverse stakeholders from public officials to users, residents, businesses, civic and special interest groups, and those traditionally underinvolved and underserved; incorporating community perspectives and needs via the partici
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patory process; tailoring potential improvements to community goals, and seeking the support and consensus of a broad range of community stakeholders on desirable courses of action; using information display and management tools, along with decision-support processes and tools, to better inform all participants in planning (transportation analysts, community participants, and decision makers) and to highlight relevant conflicts and choices that are legitimate parts of analysis and deliberation; presenting information so it is clear and useful, both for those with technical expertise and for laypeople, as well as using multiple media, particularly visual displays, to make the meaning of the information clear and unambiguous; and making the decision process itself transparent; identifying those important decision points that occur midstream in planning and at key milestones; and specifying who makes the decisions, with what information and input from others, and with what authority and expertise. REFERENCES Atkinson, A., and J. Stiglitz. 1980. Lectures on Public Economics. New York: McGraw Hill. Banister, D. J. 1994. Transportation Planning. Spon, London. Boulding, K. E. 1974. Reflections of planning: The value of uncertainty. Technology Review 77(1):8. Copeland, T. E., and V. Antikarov. 2001. Real Options: A Practitioner’s Guide. New York: Texere. Dixit, A., and R. Pindyck. 1994. Investment Under Uncertainty. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Fisher, A., J. Krutilla, and C. Cicchetti. 1972. The economics of environmental preservation: A theoretical and empirical analysis. American Economic Review 62:605-619. Forester, J., ed. 1985. Critical Theory and Public Life. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Forester, J. 1969. The Deliberative Practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Planning Processes. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Gavin, Jennifer. 2000. Building livable highways. AASHTO Quarterly (Fall):23-25. Habermas, J. 1984. Reason and the Rationalization of Society, Volume 1 of The Theory of Communicative Action, Thomas McCarthy, transl. Boston: Beacon Press [originally published in German in 1981]. Habermas, J. 1987. Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason, Volume 2 of The Theory of Communicative Action, Thomas McCarthy, transl. Boston: Beacon Press [originally published in German in 1981]. Innes, Judith. 1996. Information in Communicative Planning. Institute of Urban and Regional Development Working Paper 679 (October). University of California at Berkeley . Meyer, Michael D. 1999. Refocusing transportation planning for the 21st century. Presented at Conference on Refocusing Transportation Planning for the 21st Century, February, Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C. Meyer, Michael D., and Eric J. Miller. 2001. Urban Transportation Planning: A Decision Oriented Approach. New York: McGraw-Hill.
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Nyerges, Timothy. 2001. Panel 4: Data and technology: Tools, access, and decision-making. Data process and tools for transportation decision-making. Presented at National Research Council Workshop on Transportation Decision-Making: Place, Community, and Quality of Life Irvine, Calif., January 29. Tiebout, C. 1956. A pure theory of local expenditures. Journal of Political Economy 64:416-424. Weiner, Edward. 1992. Urban Transportation Planning in the U.S.—A Historical Overview. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation. Zodrow, G., ed. 1983. Local Provision of Public Services: The Tiebout Model After Twenty-Five Years. New York: Academic Press.
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