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Transportation Plans: An Overview

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… Traffic impact studies for any site development are an important part of the land use review process. As a planning commissioner, the odds are good that you’ll need to deal with them from time to time. But before talking about traffic impact studies (which will be the focus of my next column), it’s important to understand how these studies “fit” into the broader transportation planning picture. Because of this, I want to take a few minutes to provide you with an overview of transportation plans.

There are four levels of concern involving traffic and transportation issues:

Level 1: A long-range 25 year horizon for strategic planning of major transportation corridors, land use patterns, and other elements of the urban environment.

Level 2: An intermediate 10 – 20 year horizon for the planning of significant changes in transportation facilities, and other major infrastructure elements and land use patterns.

Level 3: A short-range 5 – 10 year horizon for planning and programming major and minor transportation developments.

Level 4: Design and implementation of individual public works projects and private developments.

Level 1 – Comprehensive, Continuous, and Coordinated (“3-C”) Transportation Plan

The traditional comprehensive area-wide transportation planning process was first developed in the 1960s to evaluate alternative land use and transportation plans. The process is designed to:

  • Identify major travel corridors and provide projections of the approximate volume of traffic within these corridors;
  • Identify major potential problem areas in the proposed network; and
  • Provide a basis for planning and programming major network improvements.

The 3-C process also provides information by which the compatibility of future land use and transportation assumptions can be evaluated. It is used to gauge changes in accessibility that would result with different transportation systems, and to see if proposed commercial or industrial concentrations are situated at locations which have, or will have, a high level of capacity for traffic flow.

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