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Corridor & Project Planning

Article

Guiding principlesCorridor/project planning is structured, collaborative decision-making process.  Successful transportation planning, in particular, results from an understanding of the needs of adjacent property and business owners, facility users, local residents, and the facility owner.  The needs and priorities of these stakeholders should be used to shape key decisions.

A successful planning process must also involve professionals with a variety of technical backgrounds, including engineers, landscape architects, urban designers, and other specialists. 

The transportation projects which come as a result of the planning process should:

  • Address the transportation need,
  • Be an asset to the community, and
  • Be compatible with the natural and built environment.

Key elements of the processWhile there are unique considerations involved in planning every project, successful plans have a number of common elements, outlined above. The process should always be collaborative, interactive and transparent to both participants and observers. The resulting Plan document serves as a useful record of the logic of the process and its outcomes.

There are five major steps involved in planning, including:

  1. Endorsing the process

  2. Developing the evaluation criteria

  3. Developing and analyzing ideas, concepts and strategies

  4. Defining, refining and selecting the preferred alternative

  5. Documenting the process

Step 1: Endorsement of the process is often overlooked or shortchanged because of anxiousness to move forward with the project.. During the endorsement stage, the team should begin by identifying stakeholders with an interest in the outcome of the corridor plan.  Next, they should work towards understanding the context of the project so the solutions take into account transportation, land use, economic development, and historic preservation issues, among others. Lastly, the team will finalize the document outlining the planning process approach and how the team will arrive at a preferred design solution.

Gaining stakeholder endorsement of the process used to select the preferred alternative prevents the perception that the solution or design was predetermined.  At the outset of the process, it is important to set aside time to discuss the "rules of the game" with everyone affected by the solution.  This step helps create stakeholder buy-in and builds trust in the process.

Step 2: The second step in the planning process is to develop detailed evaluation criteria  based on stakeholder input, comments, concerns and values.   Each criterion should be clear and measurable.  Working with technical staff and stakeholders also deepens the team's understanding of the project context and the impact a facility will have in the community.

Step 3: At this point in the process, the team should begin analyzing ideas based on discussions with stakeholders.  Ideas may be screened for feasibility, combined, or refined to better solve the problems identified in Step 1.

Step 4: In this step the team identifies the best strategies and determines a preferred alternative.  The types of strategies utilized to create great streets will often involve motorized and non-motorized transportation improvements, and design/development ideas for adjacent properties, including new development and redevelopment. The proposed solutions may require public-private partnerships or agreements between multiple agencies.

Step 5: In practice, documentation is often carried out concurrently with other steps in the planning process to ensure detailed, accurate, and compliant record-keeping.

While the steps prescribed above are logical and somewhat intuitive, they are often completed out of sequence or neglected entirely.  As a result, sometimes projects are delayed, participants fail to reach consensus, or the issues standing in the way of unique, responsive solutions are not addressed.

Adapted from: NCHRP Report 480