Over the past decade, the National Park Service (NPS) and other federal land management agencies have been working with state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), gateway communities and other agencies responsible for transportation in and around many national parks to use transportation proactively to deliver a quality visitor experience that supports local economies while minimizing the impact of transportation on pristine park lands. New shuttle bus services, intelligent transportation systems (ITS), off-site parking facilities, and roadway improvements represent just a few examples of recent projects.
Planning these and other transportation improvements is more challenging given the diverse agencies and stakeholder groups involved, the constraints of various funding categories, and the breadth of procurement requirements. For example, the environmental review procedures vary between agencies, the funding cycles differ, and procurement/contracting procedures may vary dramatically. The objectives of park land preservation and park visitation and use could and do sometimes create discord.
This project performed a case study synthesis of best practice examples of planning/resource partnerships among federal, state, regional, and local agencies that addressed transportation issues in and around national parks. The role of private non-profit groups, gateway community businesses, and national corporations was also examined. Sample agreements and the performance metrics were compiled where they existed. Special attention was given to transportation approaches that link transportation services and connections beyond park boundaries to service within the parks. The case studies were selected to provide a mix of the issues, project types, institutional arrangements, and funding approaches. The results from the case studies summarize the best practice approaches to addressing the unique transportation issues facing national parks and gateway communities. Topics addressed include the roles of the different agencies, the institutional arrangements, the public involvement process, funding approaches and constraints, performance measurement, and the relationship to environmental review process, relationship to state or regional transportation plans, relationship to park management plans, and relationship to local economic development planning. The results should be of use and benefit to personnel at state departments of transportation, transit agencies, MPOs, local communities, NPS, FHWA, FTA, and other federal agencies.