STATUS: The research is complete. NCHRP Report 798, The Role of Planning in a 21st Century State Department of Transportation--Supporting Strategic Decisionmaking is available HERE.
Transportation agencies are responding to a wide variety of global and domestic events and trends—economic, environmental, political, safety, social, and technological—that impose new challenges and present new opportunities. The rate at which various issues and events are complicating the preservation, operation, and improvement of transportation system elements is accelerating. State departments of transportation (DOTs) increasingly find themselves competing with other societal priorities for limited financial resources. In response to shrinking operating budgets, many DOTs are downsizing as well as developing and implementing new service delivery systems that involve the private sector in unfamiliar ways. Transportation planning has historically played an influential role in transportation decisions, but planning’s role, and the practices and tools used by transportation planning professionals, must continue to evolve to provide maximum value to transportation agencies that are making decisions on infrastructure and service investments under demanding economic, social, and environmental conditions. Transportation planning—performed by professionals with the necessary knowledge and expertise—can play a key role in helping agencies making transformative changes by supporting and enabling them to successfully address the complex issues facing DOTs. Research is needed to ensure that planning provides the decision support that agencies need to preserve, maintain, operate, and improve transportation infrastructure and services.
The objective of this research was to explore and provide guidance on how planning by state DOTs can best influence future decisions to positively impact transportation services, operations, and projects, and should be useful to state DOT executives, transportation planning managers, educators, and professional certifying organizations.