In November 2008, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Standing Committee on Planning (SCOP) completed a Strategic Plan: 2008-2009 to guide their deliberations and decisions. The mission is to “Provide AASHTO and its members with planning expertise, a forum for collaborative policy development and problem solving; and be the catalyst for innovation and a source of technical excellence. Among other things, the Plan’s goals include developing, sharing, and advancing best practices and new frameworks in multimodal, integrated transportation planning and to provide meaningful information to decision makers to respond to changing transportation needs.
One method for achieving the goals is to identify, develop, implement, evaluate, and refine a tool to enable the explicit consideration of safety in the planning process. The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) along with the subsequent Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) broadened the issues that be considered as part of the transportation planning process. ISTEA reinforced this change in focus with the requirement for six management systems, one of which specifically targeted safety. Although mentioned prominently in ISTEA and TEA-21, where safety was introduced as a required planning factor for the first time (safety and security), safety received little serious quantitative attention in transportation planning. SAFETEA-LU further reinforced a prominent role for safety by separating safety and security into separate planning factors, enhancing the importance of both, and requiring the states to develop and implement Statewide Highway Safety Plans.
NCHRP project 8-44 resulted in a guidebook for MPOs and DOTs on the explicit consideration of safety in the transportation planning process. A follow on project, NCHRP 8-44-2, developed a suite of software programs to enable safety forecasting for use during the planning process. The software is robust, incorporates the latest quantitative knowledge in road safety, and is fully functional. Implementation is the next critical step.
This project will focus on the implementation of the PLANSAFE software within two MPOs. The specific project objectives are to:
1. Refine and update the analytical routines and algorithms in the software (and corresponding User’s Manual);
2. Test and refine the graphical user interface (GUI) based on user feedback;
3. Form an initial practitioner user group, and identify user issues;
4. Identify the longer-term maintenance requirements of the software; and
5. Prepare the software for wide scale adoption and implementation
Accomplishment of the project objectives required the following tasks:
Task 1: Identify and recruit two MPOs of different size and one Department of Transportation (DOT) for adoption of PLANSAFE software.
Task 2: Implement PLANSAFE within the DOT and MPOs (data preparation and software calibration).
Task 3: Train MPO and DOT staff on operation of PLANSAFE (familiarize users with functionality).
Task 4: Assess functionality of PLANSAFE (through iterative feedback from users).
Task 5: Refine PLANSAFE software and update user manuals based on Task 4.
Task 6: Finalize software and User’s manual.
The final project report is available HERE.