Sunday, 20 January 2013



The transportation planning process comprises seven basic elements, which are interrelated and not necessarily carried out sequentially. The information acquired in one phase of the process may be helpful in some earlier or later phase, so there is a continuity of effort that should eventually result in a decision. The elements in the process are:

=>Situation definition
=> Problem definition
=> Search for solutions
=> Analysis of performance
=> Evaluation of alternatives
=> Choice of project
=> Specification and construction

==>>Situation Definition==>>

The first step in the planning process is situation definition, which involves all of the activities required to understand the situation that gave rise to the perceived need for a transportation improvement. In this phase, the basic factors that created the present situation are described, and the scope of the system to be studied is delineated. The present system is analyzed and its characteristics are described. Information about
the surrounding area, its people, and their travel habits may be obtained. Previous reports and studies that may be relevant to the present situation are reviewed and  additional noise or air pollution will occur if the transportation facility is built. Usually, cost is a major factor, and so the process will include estimates of the construction, maintenance, and operating costs.

==>>Problem Definition==>>

The purpose of this step is to describe the problem in terms of the objectives to be accomplished by the project and to translate those objectives into criteria that can be quantified. Objectives are statements of purpose, such as to reduce traffic congestion; to improve safety; to maximize net highway-user benefits; and to reduce noise. Criteria are the measures of effectiveness that can be used to quantify the extent to
which a proposed transportation project will achieve the stated objectives. For example, the objective “to reduce traffic congestion” might use “travel time” as the measure of effectiveness. The characteristics of an acceptable system should be identified, and specific limitations and requirements should be noted. Also, any pertinent standards and restrictions that the proposed transportation project must conform to should be understood.

==>>Search for Solutions==>>

In this phase of the planning process, consideration is given to a variety of ideas, designs, locations, and system configurations that might provide solutions to the problem. This is the brainstorming stage, in which many options may be proposed for later testing and evaluation. Alternatives can be proposed by any group or organization. In fact, the planning study may have been originated to determine the feasibility of a particular project or idea, such as adding bike lanes to reduce traffic volumes. The transportation engineer has a variety of options available in any particular situation, and any or all may be considered in this idea-generating phase. Among the options that might be used are different types of transportation technology or vehicles, various system or network arrangements, and different methods of operation. This phase
also includes preliminary feasibility studies, which might narrow the range of choices to those that appear most promising. Some data gathering, field testing, and cost estimating may be necessary at this stage to determine the practicality and financial feasibility of the alternatives being proposed.

==>>Analysis of Performance==>>

The purpose of performance analysis is to estimate how each of the proposed alternatives would perform under present and future conditions. The criteria identified in the previous steps are calculated for each transportation option. Included in this step is a determination of the investment cost of building the transportation project, as well as annual costs for maintenance and operation. This element also involves the use of mathematical models for estimating travel demand. The number of persons or vehicles that will use the system is determined, and these results, expressed in vehicles or persons/hour, serve as the basis for project design. Other information about the use of the system (such as trip length, travel by time of day, and vehicle occupancy) are also determined and used in calculating user benefits for various criteria or measures
of effectiveness. Environmental effects of the transportation project (such as noise and air pollution levels and acres of land required) are estimated. These nonuser impacts are calculated in situations where the transportation project could have significant impacts on the community or as required by law.

==>>Evaluation of Alternatives==>>

The purpose of the evaluation phase is to determine how well each alternative will achieve the objectives of the project as defined by the criteria. The performance data produced in the analysis phase are used to compute the benefits and costs that will result if the project is selected. In cases where the results cannot be reduced to a single monetary value, a weighted ranking for each alternative might be produced and compared with other proposed projects.For those effects that can be described in monetary terms, the benefit–cost ratio (described in Chapter 13) for each project is calculated to show the extent to which the project would be a sound investment. Other economic tests might also be applied, including the net present worth of benefits and costs.

==>>Choice of Project<<==

Project selection is made after considering all the factors involved. In a simple situation,for example, where the project has been authorized and is in the design phase,a single criterion (such as cost) might be used and the chosen project would be the one with the lowest cost. With a more complex project, however, many factors have to be considered, and selection is based on how the results are perceived by those
involved in decision-making. If the project involves the community, it may be necessary to hold additional public hearings. A bond issue or referendum may be required. It is possible that none of the alternatives will meet the criteria or standards, and additional investigations will be necessary. The transportation engineer, who participates in the planning process, may have developed a strong opinion as to which alternative
to select. Such bias could result in the early elimination of promising alternatives or the presentation to decision-makers of inferior projects. If the engineer is acting professionally and ethically, he or she will perform the task such that the appropriate information is provided to make an informed choice and that every feasible alternative has been considered.

==>>Specification and Construction<<==

Once the transportation project has been selected, the project moves into a detailed design phase in which each of the components of the facility is specified. For a transportation facility, this involves its physical location, geometric dimensions, and structural configuration. Design plans are produced that can be used by contractors to estimate the cost of building the project. When a construction firm is selected, these plans
will be the basis on which the project will be built.


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