Transportation Toolkit for Federal Land Managers: Phase II


Abstract: One important group of stakeholders in understanding the needs of America’s rural transportation system is Federal lands, including National Parks. The Federal government manages significant portions of rural land, much of which serves as destinations for tourism and recreation. Unlike many tourist destinations, Federal lands are typically bound by significant legal constraints based on their need to preserve and protect natural, cultural and historical resources. Maintaining the balance between the demand for increased visitation and the need to preserve resources can be challenging. Within a Federal land, there may be significant constraints on the transportation infrastructure, including gate capacity, vehicle length and weight restrictions, right-of-way limits, lack of ability to expand parking and similar issues. A variety of problems may result from these constraints, including potential resource damage, slower emergency response, and a degraded visitation experience. While these issues may be, to a certain extent, addressed within a particular Federal land, many potential solutions will not be effective without integration and coordination with adjacent federal lands, gateway communities and surrounding counties. The primary mission of managers of the Federal lands is to preserve the resources and provide for the public enjoyment of the resources within their boundaries. Staffing decisions are typically made on this basis, with most lands focusing on adding staff specialized in wildlife, botanical, and archeological fields with generally little background in transportation. The lack of background in transportation may hinder Federal land managers from appreciating and implementing various transportation solutions – both “traditional” traffic engineering measures as well as advanced technology or intelligent transportation systems (ITS) solutions – that may allow for both increased visitation and resource preservation. Traditional solutions may have had some implementation in rural settings including Federal lands in recent decades; nevertheless, these solutions may not be well known to those who have not been trained in transportation. ITS solutions will likely have little recognition among Federal lands managers, because these systems have typically been deployed in urban areas to address congestion, safety and traveler information. Phase I of this project created a web-based Toolkit to provide Federal land managers with a decision support system to help analyze and resolve transportation challenges in Federal lands. The intention of the project was neither to replace engineering judgment required for any transportation improvement in a Federal land nor comprehensively address all challenges that a Federal land may have. Rather, the Toolkit was created to be a “clearinghouse” of information providing a decision support system, challenges-solution matrix, and fact sheets, along with up-to-date contact information. The current Toolkit will be available on the Central Federal Lands Highway Division website: http://www.cflhd.gov/ by January 2007. The Toolkit will have a “Comment” feature which allows for input on the Toolkit from Federal Land Managers. Researchers will collect and prioritize comments by frequency and update the Toolkit after a reasonable comment period. Depending on future funding, the Toolkit will be maintained and updated as a clearinghouse of transportation-related information on Federal lands.

Sponsoring Organization: Federal Highway Administration - Federal Lands Highway Division

Completion Date: 8/31/2007

Additional Project Information: http://www.westerntransportationinstitute.org/research/4W1307.aspx

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