Options for Improving the Coordination of Transportation and Land Use Planning in Virginia

Report No: 04-R14

Published in 2004

About the report:

Virginia's 2003 General Assembly directed the Secretary of Transportation to (1) assess best practices used by other states to coordinate transportation and land use planning, (2) review current state efforts to provide technical assistance to local governments in the development of a transportation component of the local comprehensive plan, and (3) report the results of these efforts to the 2004 session of the legislature. The Virginia Transportation Research Council was commissioned to perform the necessary research. This report responds to that request. The report notes that there is no single best practice that coordinates transportation and land use planning. Instead, a best practice occurs when the state legislature clearly articulates a policy goal that transportation and land use planning are expected to achieve. Seven possible policy goals are given in the report, and because one or more of these policy goals may be contradictory, statement of a clear, specific policy is critical to achieving better coordination. Examples of policy goals include, but are not limited to, developing a transportation system that supports any existing or future land use desired by localities, encouraging compact development, improving air or water quality, providing greater transportation choice for consumers, and explicitly aligning transportation goals with land use goals. Based on a review of statutes from states that reflect centralized and decentralized planning, interviews with representatives from such states, interviews with representatives of various state and federal technical assistance programs outside Virginia, and active participation in two local technical assistance efforts, methods for implementing better transportation and land use coordination are suggested. Options include (1) helping counties quantify the transportation impacts of proposed land development alternatives (especially as a transportation element within the county comprehensive plan), (2) ensuring that VDOT participates in site plan reviews to the fullest extent possible when provided such an opportunity by a locale, (3) using the appropriate legislative and administrate tools (notably the Minimum Standards of Entrances to State Highways and § 33.1-58 of the Code of Virginia) to help resident and district engineers engaged in the permitting process consider corridor or system impacts of additional access points rather than only site-specific impacts, (4) establishing an access management code defining appropriate levels of access for the roadway, and (5) dedicating VDOT staff to the technical assistance function of working with localities, given the latter's control over land development.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Last updated: November 30, 2023

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