Urban Planning/Redevelopment Research Paper PPA 604

PPA 604 Urban Planning/Redevelopment

Final Research Paper

The final research paper will be based on the urban planning topic:

Transportation Planning in the United States.

Analyze the key issues with the use of exhibits and an appendix.

You must include (but are not limited to) a discussion of the historical background and contemporary issues related to the paper topic.

You must also include an evaluation regarding the plausible political issues that urban planners could potentially encounter and the potential consequences that could result from decision making.

Sample paper

Transportation Planning in the United States


The primary objective of this research paper is to identify paramount issues and challenges with the use of exhibits that widely affects the transportation planning in the United States. The historical background of this study that is entirely based on the earlier form of transportation and transportation planning forms the foundation of the research. Moreover, contemporary issues associated with the transportation and urban planning will be discussed in details to show the challenges and hindrances that the government and other transportation agencies face in their attempts to create and formulate a successful transport plan. Transportation planning and designing is not a one man show and requires collective efforts and inputs from all stakeholders.  Notably, transport planning involves techniques and skills such as land use, traffic, the character of the host community and civil engineering concepts.


Abstract 2

Introduction. 4

Historical background of transportation planning. 4

Contemporary issues of transportation planning. 6

Political issues affecting urban transportation planning. 8

Consequences of transportation planning decisions. 10

Summary. 12

Conclusion and Remarks. 12

References. 14

Appendix. 16


Of recent, we are witnessing climate changes that are happening now and then and have significant impacts on businesses as well as individuals especially when it comes to transportation.  As a result, governments and authorities of various states and countries have to consider a way of building durable transportation infrastructures that cannot be affected by changes in weather. Transport planning comprises of more than one aspect of civil engineering. This knowledge and skills are needed at the local, regional, national and international level to ensure that there is a working transport network regardless of climatic condition, geographical area or the terrain (Levy, (2013). Transport planning comprises of evaluation, assessment, designing of transport facilities in the preparation of future needs to transport people and goods to the desired destinations.  However, transport planning and urban planning work together, and they entirely depend on con one another to an extent one cannot work without the other.  The government and other transportation agencies need to put into consideration the two variables before creating and formulating projects. Creation and development of good transportation planning, as well as urban planning, ensures there is economic development in individual countries. In addition, all important stakeholders should be involved before and during the

planning process. Thus, transportation planning is very important to a nation or a state. This paper attempts to examine the key issues in transportation planning in the United States of America.

Historical background of transportation planning

Transportation planning can be undertaken in various forms and at various levels ranging from strategic planning to project planning over various geographical scales. Over the last four decades, transport planning had undergone a tremendous revolution and continued to change and evolve with more invention and innovations in the transportation sector. The primary urban transportation planning process consists of three correlated paramount components: the pre-analysis level that involves identification of the transportation needs and formulation of goals.  The second level is known as the technical level that involves the mathematical descriptions of travel and travel related behavior as well as prediction of the consequences of each transportation alternative (Wier, 2009). Finally, there is the post analysis level that comprises of prediction and projections of impacts and effects of alternative plans and policies.

Transportation planning is crucial to the economies of many countries not only in the United States but around the world. In the earlier days, highway and road construction was not seen as a necessity with many people regarding automobile as a pleasure vehicle since most of the individuals in that day could walk or use horses to transport their goods. However, the technique used in those days is quite different from what is used today as most of the highways consisted of comparatively short sections built from the cities into the countryside. With time, the notion of the automobile as a luxury vanished, and there were great improvements in the transportation industry with the emergence of trains boats, ships, and airplanes. With the rise and increment of economic activities, there was the need to find a mode of transport that would aid carrying of bulk trading commodities, and this was key to a revolution in the transportation industry. In this century, people around the world are using fast moving trains, ships, vehicles and airplanes to travel to various parts of the globe within the shortest time possible.

Following the adoption of the Federal-aid system, in the federal-aid act of 1921, in the United States, more focus was put on the highway construction to close the gaps between the urban centers and countryside. By 1930s, the United States began the construction of two-lane roads to connect various parts of the country and it was easier to travel on a smooth, all-weather highways. However, this was not the end, but it created a further need to collect and analysis information and data on problems associated with the use of highways on a more comprehensive scale to make the necessary adjustments (Waddell, 2007). No one in this century wants to travel on a horse or a chart thanks to technology that is improving each single day. By integrating technology and transportation more and more, changes in the transportation industry are expected in future.

Contemporary issues of transportation planning

The road and the process of transport planning are not smooth and straight forward. There are major issues associated with the transportation planning especially in terms of financial viability. Below are some of the issues that greatly affect transportation planning.

  1. Air quality and pollution – the usage and exploitation of transportation system are very influential in a region’s quality of air. Before construction of projects and roads, the government and other transportation agencies should put into consideration the level of pollution that is likely to be caused by the project in question. Too much gas emissions from automobiles and other transportation facilities can affect the level of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the air and thus tampering with the quality of air in a particular place. Areas and places with nonattainment air quality status are required to maintain a consistent emission of gasses to the atmosphere to reduce the adverse effects of air pollution. Moreover, other transportation such as sea and water transportation may cause water pollution that may cause loss of sea life and contamination of drinking water. The quality of air and water should remain a priority for all transportation planners at all times.
  2. Congestion in urban areas – congestion management process is one of the new and trending issues in the transport planning process. The congestion management process is a technique that applies technical tools and methods to consider congestion-related issues based on an evaluation of performance measures (Golob, 2013).  This process helps systematically to review the performance of multimodal transport systems in a wide region as well as identifying strategies to address congestion issues in most of the urban areas. In most cases, this process is applied and implemented in areas with more than 200,000 residents. With proper implementation and execution of the process, a transport planner has high chances of addressing congestion through the provision for effective management and operation based on the demand for transportation in a region.
  3. Financial viability – availability of funds is one of the common issues and challenges that are encountered by most of the transportation planners. Despite the transportation planning funds being generated from various sources such as taxes, fines, and credit assistance, thy may not be enough to construct a durable transportation facility. Federal funds are usually controlled and authorized by the Congress in the case of United States. Moreover, the department of transportation is tasked with the allocation of these funds into various programs before redirecting those funds to the state. The long funding process causes delays in the planning process which in turn affects the transport sector in general. On other occasions, there are no enough funds to complete a project fully and successfully, and this leaves some transportation project half- baked or half-completed.
  4. Land use and transportation – despite transportation offering the opportunity to communities to transport commodities from one place to another and traveling from one destination to another, it has more significant impacts on the community. Transportation widely affects the character of the community, settlement pattern, human environment and economic development patterns. At times some members of the community are very reluctant to give up their piece of land to be used to construct roads. Such members of the community affect the execution of transportation planning. Moreover, on other occasions, regions with good road network may be densely populated, and the planners have no alternative rather than implementing other modes of transport rather than roads (Litman, 2011).

Political issues affecting urban transportation planning

The politics of a host country are too important to be ignored. Different countries and states adopt a different mode of administration and thus creating a different political arena. There are those that use a central form of government while others use decentralized form of government, and thus, political challenges encountered by transport planners may be different.  There are so many political issues and challenges that arise during the planning process that may delay the planning process. Some of these challenges include:

  1. Political instability – some countries are known for its violence that is usually politically triggered especially in the developing countries. Some of these political eruptions are extreme to an extent that some houses are burnt and business demolished. On other scenarios, activist damage railway lines like in the case of Kenya. Countries that constantly face political violence and chaos stand a slim chance of successfully completing their transportation plans due to the interruption in the work in progress and working materials.
  2. The blame game – a country that uses both central and decentralized forms of government may be in the risk of experiencing delays in the execution of their plans due to the blame game. The county and state governments blame the national government for the slow execution of the plan or delay in releasing funds(SteadieSeifi, 2014). On the other hand, the national government does the same, and this creates confusion as to who is responsible since both the governing bodies do not want to take responsibilities. On another occasion, the state government may feel that the planners should directly report to them, and the county and federal governments feel the same, and this creates a power wrangle between the two bodies thus delay any progress.
  3. Corruption and embezzlement of public funds – of recent, there have been increased cases of corruption and embezzlement of public funds by some of the political leaders. At times, the political leaders are too greedy to handle public money that is meant to execute urban and transport plans. These funds end up disappearing in the pockets of few chosen politician.as a result, the whole country suffers a delay in the execution of its plans and at times, these transport projects are completely abandoned due to lack of funds to complete them.
  4. Appointment of unqualified personnel to oversee the activities of planners – most are the times when unqualified political leaders are appointed to chair or lead activities of a transport and urban planning committee. Considering that these chairs and leaders do not have the necessary and required skills and knowledge, it is hard for them to tell when things are going in the right direction or when they are moving in the wrong direction. When the things are not smoothly flowing, then there is an uproar from all sectors that the committee failed in its planning, yet the problem was not the committee members but rather to the leaders. At times, political leaders put their people in the planning committee as chairs so that they can control the activities of the committee from the outside and this highly affects the working, credibility, and transparency of the committee in question(Litman T. A., 2008).
  5. Building by law enforcement – the government and politicians are generally tasked with the duty of formulating and preparing documents and policies that ensure certain and particular standards in the built-up urban area are met and observed. It sets the basic and ground cover for all urban construction. This bylaw helps to cut down overcrowding in urban areas and ensures the welfare of the neighbors is fully observed. Considering that this law is formulated by politicians, they may formulate laws that serve their interests rather than laws that serve the interest of all publics in a country.  Moreover, delay in formulation of these laws may force the transportation planners to delay their plans and execution of the plans since they have to get the go-ahead nod from the necessary authorities.

Consequences of transportation planning decisions

  1. Economic development – investors both local and international are attracted to areas with good and better transportation system that aids the transportation of raw materials to the factories and transportation of finished products to the market. Due to this network, more and more investors tend to invest in these areas thus leading to economic development and improvement of living standards of the people around. Moreover, investors can also aid in developing transportation infrastructure in areas where the government and the necessary authorities are doing their best to increase its accessibility through public responsibility programs.
  2. Increased population – areas with good transportation network and accessibility will always attract more and more people considering that these are the same areas with high employment opportunities. Most of the times, urban areas are densely populated owing to good transport infrastructure and availability of better social amenities compared to rural areas. As a result, transport planners need to be careful when executing their plans since the availability of a good road network can read to overcrowding and overpopulation in an area which may cause congestion (Waddell P. , 2011). Good transport planning process ensures that the population is evenly distributed over a large and vast area to reduce congestion.
  3. Good drainage systems – considering that transportation planners have to work hand in hand with urban development planners, there is a high chance of creating and constructing good drainage systems which give a headache to most city and urban residents. A good drainage system is crucial in maintaining a healthy population free from diseases associated with dirty water. Depending on the decisions of the transport and urban development planners, a city may have a good drainage or a poor drainage system.
  4. Affordability – economic efficiency in an area is highly affected by the transportation resources costs. If the value delivered by the exploitation and use of transport facility reduces, the cost of these resources than they can be accessible and affordable to citizens of all brackets of income.  At times, to increase the efficiency and value of transport resources, priority should be given to higher trips and long trips rather than lower and shorter trips. This provision will enable people to transfer trading commodities from distant places with ease and at an affordable rate.


Transport planning plays a very vital role in the economic and social development of a country. Moreover, it has a significant impact on the lives of all citizens in a country, and it may change the perception that people have on transportation especially the use of automobiles (Nijkamp, 2012). Establishing accessible and affordable transport network and resources such as road, bikes, and roadside walk will make people happier especially urban residents who only walk and travels for short distances. Thus, each government from all countries should put more emphasis on the transportation planning since it is crucial and does not matter where an individual lives.  However, considering that the government forms the laws that oversights the activities of the planners; the objectives of the formulated rules and regulations should in line with the goals and aims of the planning committee. The aims should be the provision of affordable and accessible transport network and infrastructure.

Conclusion and Remarks

In conclusion, we can say that urbanization and good transportation planning is needed in every society, and it is the duty of the governments to provide them. The government should try to involve all the necessary stakeholders to see to that an appropriate plan has been developed which favor a certain city at a certain period. Moreover, good transportation planning brings nothing else to the society and the country in general rather than advantages such as economic developments (Lyman, 2008). Despite the planning having both the positive and negative effects, the plans developed should have more of positive effects than adverse effects. Proper and successful planning and execution of the transport plans opens up the country and makes it accessible to all individuals. However, the department of transport and other necessary and associated agencies should ensure that they come up with a durable transportation and urban development plan that does not require constant review because it can lead to interruption of other plans. Moreover, change of plans will significantly affect people’s life, and more and more funds will be drained in demolishing and constructing more structures and transport network


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