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Transportation is any means of shifting goods and people. Transportation planning is about developing systems to develop efficiency of the transportation in order to improve human access to goods and services (NRDC, 2010).
Transportation helps improve economic health and quality of life of a country or an area. It not only provides means of mobility and also patterns of grown and prosperity. Transportation planning recognizes the important links between transportation and other social goals. The planning process requires developing strategies for developing, managing, maintaining, and financing (Transportation, 2007). The planning is being done by making eco analysis a part of it. It consider ecosystem issues to help future transportation decisions, uses advance planning to avoid or reduce impacts, and actively involve stakeholders. The transportation planners and state resource agency officials most commonly reports reduction in ecosystem impacts and improved cost and schedule estimates as positive signs. For example, considering environmental issues and considering areas mobility needs in New York City a planned five-lane highway was changed to a lower-impact two-lane. In another case in Massachusetts resource agency officials said that considering ecological requirements in planning improved schedule certainty during the federally requisite environmental review (GAO, 2004). The transport planner role is now changing from technical analysis to the promotion of sustainability by integrated transport and sustainable policies (Wikipedia, 2010).
There are over 350 metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) in the United States. MPOs develop a long range transportation plan with a minimum 20-year planning horizon, which is revisited every four years in air quality maintenance areas like the SPC (Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission) region; and a transportation improvement program (TIP) that covers a four-year period, and is updated at least every four years (Commission, 2008).
Transportation planning in the US now shifted towards an approach that takes into consideration the communities and lands which streets, roads, and highways pass through. It focuses on passenger rail networks which had been neglected until recently. This new approach is known as Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) try to ensure people movement efficiently and safely with environmental sustainability and historic preservation. The CSS idea was initially introduced in 1998, Thinking Beyond the Pavement, conference to discuss and put forward transportation projects that preserve and enhance the above characteristics. CSS principles have since been adopted as guidelines for highway design in federal legislation. The recent advances have lead to the development of a professional certification program called, Professional Transportation Planner (Wikipedia, 2010).
Transportation in Seattle
Seattle's Transportation Strategic Plan (TSP) is basic set of guidelines to outlines the specific strategies, projects, and programs as per policies of transportation in Seattle since 1998. The 2005 TSP Update followed the Comprehensive 10-Year Update in 2004. To successfully operate a complex transportation system, SDOT must be thinking for both daily and long terms bases. The TSP helps do just that. It helps daily decision-making and sets new directions for the future (Seattle.gov, 2005).
SDOT is shifting focus from an auto-driven strategy to one that stresses on walking and biking. More alternative travelling choices, the more it is helpful to protect the planet from the harmful impacts of climate change and also by not keeping roads from getting even more congested, especially when it comes to moving freight (Seattle.gov, 2005).
The more emphasis is being put on understanding and assessing the needs of those who, in the past, have not been heavily interacting in working with City Governments (i.e., the poor, refugees and new immigrants), the elderly, young people, and those with disabilities. Everyone is entitled to high-quality transportation services and the transportation system must give special consideration to those Seattle residents who face special obstacles of mobility or language (Seattle.gov, 2005).
In a research out of the 36 transportation planning agencies that GAO (General Accounting Office) contacted, 31 considered ecosystem conservation in transportation planning. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has presented the 2005 update of the Transportation Strategic Plan (TSP), which is a SDOT's 20-year work plan. This highlights the measures describing the actions SDOT will take in order to achieve its goals and policies in the Comprehensive Plan. The local's feedback would also be included in early in 2010 to get ideas and positive changes as highlighted by Mayer of Seattle in a letter to residents (Crunican, 2005):
Get Seattle Moving
Transportation is and will be a paramount issue for our economic development, the environment and the people of Seattle. So in order for businesses development, jobs creation, and generating tax revenues, there should be a sound and efficient transportation system to move goods and people around the region efficiently and economically. Thus building light rail network, partnering with transit agencies, and replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct are essential efforts to create a 21st century transportation network.
Keeping Neighborhoods Safe
The Public safety is the top most agenda of the of the City government. There should be more emphases on police and fire personnel as they are important to us so should be recognized so. They should be equipped with necessary tools, training, and equipment to perform difficult jobs. They would insure accountability for actions taken and insure we are the most prepared city in the United States for natural or man-made hazards. For transportation, this means ensuring transportation routes are available during a catastrophe and ensuring emergency access remains on our roads and bridges. It also means sidewalks where children can play and on-street bike lanes where bicyclists can get to work safely.
Create Jobs and Opportunity for All
Economic opportunity is about creating jobs and such an environment that encourages new investment in our City. Seattle's transportation system provides access so that people can get to jobs and goods can get to market.
Build Strong Families and Healthy Communities
Healthy communities make up the heart of a great city. Every part of the city is distinctive and essential to growth and our ability to sustain what we love about living and working here in a healthy atmosphere. The diversity of cultures brings life, strength and economic growth to Seattle. There should be a renewed commitment to the neighborhoods. This will require us paying focus to the needs of each community and responding to those needs in an effective way. City's transportation system should enhance the quality of its neighborhoods (Crunican, 2005).
Commission, S. P. (2008). II. Understanding Transportation Planning. In S. P. Commission, 2009-2012 Transportation Improvement Program for Southwestern Pennsylvania (pp. 5-14). Southwestern Pennsylvania: Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.
Crunican, G. (2005). Itroduction: The Transport Strategic Plan update. Seattle: Seattle Department of Transportation.
GAO. (2004). TRANSPORTATION: State and Metropolitan Planning Agencies Report Using Varied Methods to Consider Ecosystem Conservation. Washington, D.C.: General Accounting Office.
NRDC. (2010). Glossary of Environmental terms. Retrieved 2010, from Natural Resources Defense Council: http://www.nrdc.org/reference/glossary/t.asp
Seattle.gov. (2005). Transportation Strategic Plan. Retrieved 2010, from Seattle.gov: http://www.cityofseattle.net/transportation/tsphome.htm
Transportation, U. D. (2007). A Briefing Book for Transportation Decisionmakers, Officials, and Staff. New Jersey Ave: A Publication of the Transportation Planning.
Wikipedia. (2010, 1 26). Transportation planning. Retrieved 4 6, 2010, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transportation_planning#United_States