The evolution of multimodal transportation planning: key factors in shaping the approaches of state DOTs
Smith, Denise A.
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As a result of the changing needs of society since the early 20th century, approaches to transportation planning have been continually shifting from highway-focused to multimodal, an approach which takes multiple modes of transportation into consideration. This evolution has been reflected in federal transportation legislation and continues to have many implications for transportation agencies, especially state departments of transportation (DOTs). The objective of this thesis is to analyze what state DOTs have done in order to adapt to the shift. More specifically, the project focuses on the organizational and funding structures of state DOTs. First, an organizational structure analysis of all 50 state DOTs was carried out. This analysis looked at how state DOTs incorporate multiple modes of transportation into their organizational structure. Secondly, the results of a statewide multimodal planning survey, to which 35 states responded, were analyzed. The survey gauged to what extent the representative from a given state DOT thought that their agency was conducting multimodal transportation planning. It also analyzed state DOT modal responsibilities, funding options, and characteristics that influence multimodal transportation planning. Lastly, case studies were carried out for six state transportation agencies: Florida DOT, North Carolina DOT, Oregon DOT, Virginia's Transportation Secretariat, Maryland DOT, and Massachusetts DOT. These case studies focused on organizational structure, funding, and multimodal efforts. Findings from the three different aspects of this thesis support the notion that highway is still the dominant mode in statewide transportation planning in most state DOTs. However, this research also supports the idea that this situation is changing, though more rapidly in some states than in others. Though it is not evident that one type of organizational structure is better than another, states have used the reorganization of these structures as a method for adapting to multimodal transportation planning. Overall, state DOTs tend to incorporate multiple modes of transportation into their organizational structure through multimodal divisions, separate modal divisions, or a combination of both. In addition to the organizational structures, some states have also restructured their funding mechanisms in order to make funds more flexible across all modes of transportation so that they may be able to better accommodate multimodal transportation planning. Those state DOTs with transportation trust funds and separate modal programs have generally shown more initiative in embracing a more multimodal approach to transportation planning. Besides organizational and funding structures, leadership, organizational culture, and institutional issues have been recognized as factors that influence the extent of multimodal planning.
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