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73 Identification of economic impacts to shipping, freight, Regional Vision and Goals and trucking businesses due to winter weather road closures Identification of physical roadway constraints into key freight nodes such as ports, manufacturing areas, inter- Alternative Improvement Strategies Capital Operating modal yards, airports, or other areas of freight genera- tion or transfer Critical Factors and Inputs Identification of rail constraints such as track slow orders Evaluation and Prioritization of Strategies indicating maintenance problems, low overhead clear- ances that restrict "double stacked" container train movements, at-grade crossings, narrow bridges restrict- Development of Transportation Plan ing track or siding expansion; load-limited rail bridge Low-cost Improvement Option structures, and outdated and poorly located railroad yards Evaluation Methodology and intermodal facilities. Development of Transportation Improvement Programs Planning traditionally occurs at two levels, the planning (Short-term list of projects) level and the project level. The planning level generally is a "macro-level" process that examines planning issues across Project Development an entire network, whether the network is an entire state, a metropolitan area, or a smaller area within the state or metro- politan area. Planning level analysis tends to be focused upon broad, more generalized issues such as: Systems Operations Collaborative development of transportation policies Figure 27. Integration of methodology into Establishment of public input and collaboration processes transportation planning process. Forecasted rates of growth in transportation volumes in all modes Identification and prioritization of areas of congestion ogy can be used to identify the most likely types of improve- Measurement of the effects of potential projects upon that ments that could be considered to address freight mobility congestion constraints, once the constraints have been identified through Evaluation of transportation's effect upon air quality the transportation modeling process. Usually, MPOs utilize Integration of potential projects into the land use plans and transportation planning models that are sophisticated enough policies of communities to identify areas of congestion. Those known areas can be Identification of specific projects to be pursued. reviewed through the methodology to identify likely poten- tial solutions, which can be included in the long-term Trans- portation Plan. 6.5.1 Transportation Planning Process The ultimate product of planning is the identification of Figure 27 illustrates how the planning process begins with projects, strategies, and processes for addressing transportation broad regional goals and progresses methodically down to the needs. These projects and strategies are identified in greater identification of individual projects and strategies for operat- detail after the Transportation Plan stage in the Transportation ing the system. The low-cost freight bottleneck evaluation Improvement Program (TIP). The TIP is a metropolitan area's methodology is intended to assist the larger planning process collection of projects or strategies to be deployed, generally for in the areas of developing the Transportation Plan, making the next 4- or 5-year period. The TIPs are specific collections trade-offs, identifying projects within the plan, and identify- of projects that can be funded with available state, local, and ing operational strategies. Federal funds, which have been evaluated for air-quality The Transportation Plan development process identifies a impacts, and which have been approved by their communities variety of transportation policies, strategies, long-term needs, following a public-involvement process. The Transportation and generalized descriptions of projects that will address Plan generally has a 20-year horizon, which would include four those needs. It usually includes the development of alterna- to five TIPs. tive scenarios. Different scenarios can be based upon alterna- The methodology can be applied at the TIP level as well as tive assumptions about growth rates or funding levels for the at the Transportation Plan level. Generally, the Transporta- region. The low-cost freight constraint evaluation methodol- tion Plan development process produces a list of congestion