The National Academies

NCHRP 08-35 [Final]

Incorporating ITS into the Transportation Planning Process

  Project Data
Funds: $449,999
Research Agency: Mitretek Systems
Principal Investigator: Jim Bunch
Effective Date: 4/13/1998
Completion Date: 6/30/2002

Background: The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) established a national priority to research, develop, test, and apply intelligent transportation systems (ITS) to transportation problems throughout the United States. In recent years, the U.S. Department of Transportation, private industry, and a number of state and local agencies have made a major commitment to the nationwide deployment of ITS. ISTEA also expanded the responsibilities of state departments of transportation (DOTs) and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) for transportation planning and priority programming for transportation improvements tailored to their specific conditions and needs. It is through these planning processes that ITS applications will be developed, financed, and implemented.

A number of issues still confront practitioners as they attempt to integrate ITS into the metropolitan and statewide planning and environmental processes. It is important to develop a broader understanding of the factors effecting transportation investment decisions involving ITS. State, metropolitan, and local transportation decision makers need information regarding the roles, requirements, and capabilities of ITS strategies to address their transportation problems. They also need information regarding ITS performance expectations as a basis for decision making. They require data and tools appropriate for assessing the impacts of proposed ITS improvements. More and more, they will need a greater understanding of the evolution of necessary institutional changes related to the consideration and implementation of ITS strategies. Additionally, other important issues include data collection and maintenance requirements; capital, maintenance, and operational costs (life-cycle costs); ownership/operations; financing approaches; multimodal and intermodal integration; technological applications integration; environmental impacts; and legal implications associated with various ITS applications.

Objective: The objective of this project is to develop a guidance document for incorporating and integrating ITS improvements into the multimodal planning and programming processes. This guidebook will be used by state, metropolitan, and local decision makers and staffs as well as by federal agencies and private industry partners; it should supplement U.S. DOT guidance documents, training initiatives, and other research on ITS. The research should focus on lessons learned from actual experiences in different regions with different scopes and levels of complexity. At a minimum, it should include statewide, urban, and rural applications as well as a range of differing sized metropolitan areas. It should also identify the various approaches to implementing ITS through the existing planning, project development, maintenance, and operations processes. Attention should be given to the integration of appropriate ITS strategies tailored to the needs of the specific area. In addition, it should also focus on analytical methods, data requirements, and planning and programming process actions that can assist decision makers in evaluating and prioritizing ITS applications to their transportation systems. Finally, the project should produce recommendations for disseminating the findings and conclusions of this research as well as recommendations for maintaining and updating the information in the guidebook.

Tasks: Phase I, project design and outreach: (1) Critically review the state of the practice as documented in relevant research, literature, state and MPO procedure documents, and information developed by the FHWA, FTA, and others. (2) Develop a plan to contact practitioners to identify needs, issues, lessons learned, and state of the practice beyond that developed in Task 1. This plan should include methods for collecting information regarding the issues identified in the Research Problem Statement and for identifying information sources and contacts. (3) In accordance with the outreach plan developed in Task 2, collect information and data from practitioners to be used in the subsequent project tasks. (4) Prepare a technical memorandum that synthesizes effective practices identified in input received from Tasks 1 and 3. This synthesis may serve as the basis for additional outreach activities designed in the Task 2 outreach plan, especially in Tasks 3 and 7. Based upon NCHRP approval, prepare the memorandum in the appropriate form for publication as a research results digest. (5) Identify other needs for effective integration of ITS applications in the ongoing transportation planning processes. Identify and document gaps in research and applications. Submit a technical memorandum summarizing these findings. This summary may also serve as the basis for outreach activities, especially in Task 7. (6) Submit an interim report that documents the work performed in Tasks 1 through 5 and that recommends any proposed research plan amendments for Phase II. Present the information in the interim report at a meeting of the panel and obtain panel approval prior to initiation of Phase II activities.

Phase II, handbook preparation: (7) Following NCHRP approval to proceed, complete data gathering, research, and analysis as needed for input into the Task 8 guidebook. (8) Prepare a draft practitioner's guidebook for incorporating and tailoring ITS improvements in the transportation planning and programming processes. The guidebook should be the primary product embodied in the final report. It is intended as a reference document for practitioners, containing best practices, methods and tools, approaches for assessment of costs and benefits at both project and system levels, and implementation approaches. It should also address solutions to the various issues identified in the Research Problem Statement. (9) Develop recommendations and guidance for dissemination of the research findings and the guidebook to appropriate federal, state, and local practitioners. Recommend appropriate training approaches or opportunities to encourage widespread use of the guidebook. Identify research needs emanating from activities associated with this project. (10) Develop recommendations for maintaining the currency of the guidebook for ongoing use by practitioners. (11) Prepare a final report that documents the entire research effort and includes the guidebook. Task 9 findings and Task 10 recommendations shall be included in the appendices.

Phase III. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) was enacted during Phase I of the project significantly, changing the environment in which transportation planning and programming is carried out. During the same period, the planning, programming, and use of ITS has been rapidly evolving. The project panel expressed an interest in continuing the project to ensure that project information is updated during a crucial period for the integration of ITS and transportation planning (after publication of the final TEA-21 regulations). Specifically, the continuation will: update the project information and products to reflect the final TEA-21 policies concerning the Management and Operations Planning Factors, and the National ITS Architecture Consistency; carry out additional outreach and obtain feedback on the Integrated Planning Framework and how it is described in the project products; develop and refine additional products such as a TRB Research Digest(s), workshops, training materials, and web site hosting options.

Status: The project is complete.

Product Availability: NCHRP Web-Only Document 118, Part I: Incorporating ITS Into the Transportation Planning Process: An Integrated Planning Framework (ITS, M&O, Infrastructure) Executive Guidebook is a summary of the full report that was published as NCHRP Web-Only Document 118, Part II: Incorporating ITS Into the Transportation Planning Process: An Integrated Planning Framework (ITS, M&O, Infrastructure) Practitioner’s Guidebook.

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