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Federal Requirements

Did you know…?

In addition to being a smart planning practice, long-range transportation planning is also a federal requirement?


Federal law has mandated transportation planning at the state and metropolitan (population greater than 50,000) levels since the 1960s.


Guidelines and requirements for transportation planning are included in past and current federal transportation laws, including 2015’s Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), which directs metropolitan planning organizations, such as COMPASS, to conduct continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive transportation planning processes.

Planning for a Broad Impact

Federal regulations recognize that the impacts of transportation planning extend far beyond “just” transportation. The FAST Act specifies that “metropolitan planning shall consider projects and strategies that will:


1. support economic vitality, especially by enabling global competitiveness, productivity, and efficiency;


2. increase the safety of the transportation system for motorized and non-motorized users;


3. increase the security of the transportation system for motorized and non-motorized users;


4. increase the accessibility and mobility of people and freight;


5. protect and enhance the environment, promote energy conservation, improve the quality of life, and promote consistency between transportation improvements and state and local planned growth and economic development patterns;


6. enhance the integration and connectivity of the transportation system, across and between modes, for people and freight;


7. promote efficient system management and operation;


8. emphasize the preservation of the existing transportation system;


9. improve the resiliency and reliability of the transportation system and reduce or mitigate stormwater impacts of surface transportation; and


10. enhance travel and tourism.” (23 CFR§450.324)

What Else is Required?

Federal regulations also have other specific requirements for long-range transportation plans, including:


  • Fiscal constraint — the planned transportation system can only include transportation projects that have funding identified to pay for them.



  • Performance-based planning — the plan must include performance targets coordinated with state and public transportation providers to track progress toward attainment of critical outcomes for the region.
View the full list of all federally required aspects of long-range transportation planning and resulting plans.