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Lecture 3 - Transportation Infrastructure Delivery And Decision Making

Sustainable Transportation Curriculum for Universities

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INVEST - Sustainable Highways Self-Evaluation Tool (logo).

LECTURE 3: Transportation Infrastructure Delivery and Decision Making

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Transportation system infrastructure and services are usually developed and managed by multiple (mostly public-sector) entities

These entities operate under a governance framework specific to their nation or region. Decision making occurs within this context.

While approaches to transportation decision making vary, they generally aim to achieve certain higher-level goals or objectives

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Transportation Infrastructure — Terminology


A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places that has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by foot or by some form of conveyance. Roads consist of one or two roadways, each with one or more lanes and any associated sidewalks and road verges.


Rail transport is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles running on rails, which are located on tracks.


A walkway is a passage or path for walking along, especially a raised passageway connecting different sections of a building or a wide path in a park or garden.


A tunnel is an underground passageway, dug through the surrounding soil/earth/rock and enclosed except for the entrance and exit, commonly at each end.

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Transportation Infrastructure — Terminology (continued)


A station is a regular stopping place on a public transportation route, especially one on a railroad line with a platform and often one or more buildings.


An airport is an aerodrome with extended facilities, mostly for commercial air transport.


An airway or air route is a defined corridor that connects one specified location to another at a specified altitude, along which an aircraft that meets the requirements of the airway may be flown high.


A waterway is any navigable body of water.


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Transportation Infrastructure — Terminology (continued)


A port is a maritime facility that may comprise one or more wharves where ships may dock to load and discharge passengers and cargo.

Cycling Infrastructure

Infrastructure for bicycles includes bicycle highways, bike paths, and bike lanes.

Last Mile

The last mile is the cost and design challenges of reaching homes and businesses with physical infrastructure, services, and transportation.

Right of Way

A right of way is a right to make a way over a piece of land, usually to and from another piece of land.

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Transportation Agency Roles and Responsibilities

In the United States, several agencies are responsible for transportation at the federal, state, regional, and local levels

Funding for most transportation capital investment projects is from federal sources

Planning is conducted at the state and regional/local level following applicable federal regulations and guidance

Decision making occurs at the local level to reflect needs and priorities of communities and stakeholders

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Transportation Agencies

National Level

  • U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT)
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • Federal Transit Administration (FTA)

State Level

  • State departments of transportation (DOTs)
  • Independent toll authorities

Regional/Local Level

  • Metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs)
  • City or county public works or transportation departments
  • Public transit agencies
  • Local toll authorities

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Transportation Agencies — National Level

U.S. Department of Transportation logo.
U.S. Department of Transportation

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is a cabinet-level agency of the federal government responsible for helping maintain and develop the nation's transportation systems and infrastructure. From roads to airlines to railways, USDOT carries out planning that supports the movement of Americans by cars, truck, trains, ships, and planes.

U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration logo.
Federal Highway Administration

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) helps maintain the nation's system of interstate highways and provides enormous support in the form of funding. The agency also establishes rules for building safe roads, overpasses, and bridges that governments and contractors must follow.

Federal Transit Authority logo.
Federal Transit Administration

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds mass transit systems across the country by distributing billions of dollars in grants to local and state governments and other organizations. FTA's goal is seeing new transit systems come online or to improve existing mass transit operations. The agency is also responsible for ensuring that recipients of grants follow federal mandates along with statutory and administrative requirements.

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Transportation Agencies — State Level

State departments of transportation

The chief duties of the department are to delineate, build, and maintain all state highway and public transportation systems; issue permits for the use of heavy trucks; and register motor vehicles.

Aerial view of a highway interchange

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Transportation Agencies — Regional/Local Levels

Metropolitan planning organizations

A metropolitan planning organization (MPO) is the policy board of an organization created and designated to carry out the metropolitan transportation planning process. MPOs are required to represent localities in all urbanized areas with populations over 50,000, as determined by the U.S. Census.

Public transit agencies

A transit district or transit authority is a government agency or a public-benefit corporation created for the purpose of providing public transportation within a specific region. A transit district may operate bus, rail, or other types of transport including ferry service, or may operate other facilities.

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Transportation Planning and Delivery Process


  1. Identify goals/problems to be solved
  2. Identify options or solutions
  3. Prioritize and select from options
  4. Implement
  5. Monitor/evaluate
The image represents the Transportation Planning Process from the FHWA Transportation Planning Briefing Book.

Source: The Transportation Planning Briefing Book. Federal Highway Administration.

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Transportation Planning and Delivery Process (continued)

Long-range transportation planning

Develop a vision for transportation investments

Short-range transportation planning

Use capital programming to match priority projects with funds

Project-level planning

Identify project needs, community concerns, and potential solutions

Project-level environmental review

Elaborate review to consider impact on environment, guided by regulations

Design, land acquisition, and permitting

Prepare engineering plans, purchase right of way, and obtain permits

Construction, maintenance, and operations

Build it and keep it working

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Project Life Cycle

The project development process for construction projects is generally the most complicated part of the project life cycle

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LECTURE 3: Transportation Infrastructure Delivery and Decision Making




Lecture 3 - Transportation Infrastructure Delivery and Decision Making

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Lecture 3 - Transportation Infrastructure Delivery And Decision Making

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