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Transportation Planning

Transportation Management Plans

When government agencies build a new facility, the impact on local traffic is an important aspect to be considered during the planning and design phase. A Transportation Management Plan (TMP) is particularly useful if a greenfield development is taking place in a large metropolitan area. Federal agencies use a TMP to set short – and long-term transportation goals, and to establish specific transportation demand strategies to meet these goals. In an effort to reduce traffic congestion and improve regional air quality, the strategies included in the TMP encourage changes in travel modes, trip-timing, travel routes, frequency and length of trips.

The most fundamental purpose of a TMP is to strategize any reasonable methods to reduce the quantity of single-occupancy vehicles (SOVs) for the proposed development area. 

The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) oversees construction within the National Capital Region (NCR) which consists of Washington DC and surrounding counties of Maryland and Virginia. The NCPC strongly recommends TMP’s to minimize SOV travel and reduce adverse impacts on the existing transportation network. The NCPC requires TMPs for any master plans or development projects deemed of sufficient scale to have significant impact on transportation. 

This report will address transportation management more broadly and is fully applicable to federal projects or developments in the NCR where a TMP is strongly recommended or required.

Reducing Traffic Impacts through Transportation Management

Once the planners understand the full array of traffic impacts anticipated through a proposed development they use this knowledge to develop the fundamentals for a TMP. The most common strategies for reducing SOV’s through at TMP are as follows:

  • Mass Transit: a TMP not only looks at existing public transportation routes—bus, train (light rail, commuter rail), ferry, but also investigates the ease and likelihood of  expanding or modifying existing routes to better serve commuters or visitors. .
  • Walking/Bicycling: the TMP explores the number of people within bicycling or walking distance of the proposed development, usually one-half mile for walking and up to five miles for bicycling.  Safety is a primary factor: sidewalks and crosswalks for walkers, bike lanes (protected versus unprotected), as well as provisions at the destination to serve commuters: bike parking, locker rooms, and showers. 
  • Shuttles: a TMP investigates if specialized point-to-point options are useful at bringing multiple people to the destination in a single vehicle much like transit, this method will require a consistent funding stream to retain its utility and ensure that it is sufficiently reliable; however, unlike transit, the businesses or agencies supporting the shuttle will probably need to directly finance it.
  • Carpool/Vanpool: a dedicated parking space located some distance from the destination can facilitate the organization of visitors or commuters to travel together in a single vehicle.  A centralized coordinating initiative coming from businesses at the proposed development may help ensure this becomes a desirable option.
  • Shared Parking Arrangements: if the proposed development is in a reasonably urbanized area with ample existing surface lots nearby, it is possible that the uses in those adjacent lots may have different schedules of peak parking demand.  While this tactic may not reduce the number of vehicles on the roads, it could allow for a mutually beneficial arrangement that offsets the need for constructing new parking at the proposed development site—another important goal of a TMP.
  • Incentives: businesses that require many workers on site can incentivize the staff to use any of the other strategies listed above, either through financial awards, transit subsidies, preferred parking (for carpools), or long-term rewards programs.

It is important to note one solution that is typically absent from a TMP: the construction of new roads.  Typically a Traffic Impact Study highlights potential bottleneck locations, by increasing the capacity or number of existing roads By contrast, a TMP looks for alternative solutions to road widening.  That is its fundamental purpose. Good planning seeks long-term permanent strategies for the whole transportation network.

In the words of the NCPC’s Transportation Management Plan Handbook, a TMP intends “to change travel behavior, such as reducing the number of peak travelers, reducing the total number of travelers, encouraging more travelers to share vehicles, and shifting travelers to more sustainable transportation modes”.  (This Handbook provides considerable detail on how to develop and execute a TMP: https://www.ncpc.gov/docs/TMP_Handbook_August2021.pdf

As urban areas continue to grow and consume greater quantities of available land, the need for reducing private automobile dependency will only increase.  It is the goad of TMPs to reduce the dependency on solutions that involve larger parking lots or wider roads by focusing on diversified and sustainable alternatives. For more insights into the future of the construction industry and advice about how to adapt to developing trends, start by contacting Alliance today.