Regional Long-range Transportation Plans

The long-range transportation plan (LRTP) is a key document in guiding investment decisions and programming that occurs in regional or statewide transportation improvement programs (TIPs or STIPs).  A requirement for states and MPOs, it is becoming more common for rural regions to develop a long-range plan under contract to the state DOT.  These plans commonly contain a vision that looks 20 years into the future to guide shorter-term investment decisionmaking, and are often coordinated with the visioning and goal setting that occurs in other regional plans such as the CEDS.

A total of 102 organizations, or 57 percent of responding RPOs, complete a regional LRTP.  The largest number of respondents (44 percent) completed their most recent regional transportation plan between 2009 and the present.  Another 37 percent reported that their most recent regional transportation plan was completed between 2006 and 2008, and 13 percent completed their plan between 2000 and 2005.  Approximately six percent of respondents completed their regional transportation plans before 2000.

The vast majority of organizations (93 percent) reported that their LRTPs are updated on a scheduled time frame.  Almost half (46 percent) of regional transportation plans are updated every five years.  Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of plans are updated every two to five years, 17 percent are updated annually, and 8 percent are updated less frequently than every five years.  A small number (7 percent) of plans are not updated on a schedule; instead, they are updated as needed or when funds are available.

LRTPs often are long documents that contain descriptions and maps of the region’s transportation assets, as well as data describing the region and its economy, population and other features.  Because LRTPs are intended to provide a strategy to guide transportation investments, the scan identified eight elements of regional long-range transportation plans that may influence how projects are selected: policy statement, broad goal statement, objectives, quantitative targets, qualitative targets, list of projects, financial plan and reporting mechanism.  Respondents indicated whether each element was developed primarily by the state DOT, jointly by the DOT and region, by the rural or small metro leadership (policy board or technical committee), or RPO staff.

  • Policy Statement: 85 percent of respondents reported that their regional long-range plan includes a policy statement.  In the majority of instances (51 percent), this element is developed by the regional transportation policy board or technical committee.  It is not uncommon for this element to be jointly developed by the state DOT and the region (26 percent).
  • Goal statement: 85 percent of respondents include broad goal statements in their regional LRTP.  This element is most frequently developed by the regional transportation policy board or technical committee (43 percent) or jointly developed by the state DOT and the region (38 percent).
  • Objectives: 85 percent of respondents reported that their regional long-range plan includes objectives.  This element is most frequently developed by the regional transportation policy board or technical committee (47 percent) or jointly developed by the state DOT and the region (30 percent).
  • Quantitative targets: 68 percent of respondents reported that their regional long-range plan includes quantitative targets.  This element is most frequently developed jointly by the state DOT and the region (35 percent), the regional transportation policy board or technical committee (26 percent) or the regional planning staff (25 percent).
  • Qualitative targets: 74 percent of respondents reported that their regional long-range plan includes qualitative targets.  This element is most frequently developed by the regional transportation policy board or technical committee (46 percent), or jointly by the state DOT and region (27 percent).
  • List of projects: 87 percent of respondents reported that their LRTP includes a list of major projects.  This element is most frequently developed by the regional transportation policy board or technical committee (48 percent) or jointly by the state DOT and region (41 percent).
  • Financial plan: 78 percent of respondents include a financial plan in their regional long-range plan.  This element is most frequently developed jointly by the state DOT and region (41 percent) or the state DOT (23 percent).
  • Reporting mechanism: 69 percent of respondents include a reporting mechanism in their regional long-range plan.  This element is most frequently developed jointly by the state DOT and region (47 percent) or the regional planning staff (25 percent).  In some cases, there is also a statewide dashboard or other reporting mechanism that reports on information relevant to RPO members’ interests.

The NADO Research Foundation explored whether particular characteristics of organizations affected the work completed on rural and small metropolitan transportation planning. Having an established MPO under the same organizational roof as an RPO, funding level, and years of existence as an RPO were analyzed to determine if those characteristics affected how LRTP elements are developed. From analyzing the scan responses, the following generalizations can be made:

  • When an organization administers both an RPO and an MPO, regional transportation policy board or technical committees are less likely to have sole responsibility for developing the elements of regional long-range plans specifically mentioned above, such as goals and objectives
  • However, when an organization administers both an RPO and an MPO, it is more common for elements of regional long-range plans to be jointly developed by state DOTs and regions (which may indicate stronger relationships among the regional stakeholders and state agency, as well as planning staff at the regional and state level), as does the development of plan elements by regional planning staff
  • As the annual contract amount increases, regional transportation policy board or technical committees are more likely to have primary responsibility for the development of elements of regional long-range plans
  • Although the joint development of elements of regional long-range plans by state DOTs and regions is widespread across the range of contract amounts, RPOs with smaller annual contracts are most likely to jointly develop elements of long-range plans with their state DOTs
  • The older an organization, the greater the likelihood that elements of long-range plans will be jointly developed by state DOTs and regions
  • The involvement of regional staff in the development of elements of long-range plans is more likely to occur in younger organizations
  • There does not appear to be any relationship between the size of an RPO’s service area or population and the party responsible for developing elements of regional long-range plans

Of the 105 scan respondents who complete a long-range plan, 63 percent indicate that it is used to guide project selection and transportation project programming.  Fifty-four percent say the state DOT considers their LRTP while developing the statewide long-range plan, and 35 percent of respondents have their regional long-range plan directly incorporated into the statewide plan—this includes states such as South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington.  Of the respondents with an LRTP, 83 percent deliver it to the state DOT, 81 percent distribute the document to member local governments and stakeholders, and 54 percent share it with neighboring rural or metropolitan planning organizations.

In interviews conducted through the national scan, specific consideration was given to the issue of targets as an element of policy framework that is often identified as a hinge point in framing decisionmaking.  A fairly large number of scan respondents indicated that they assign qualitative and quantitative targets to the goals (68 percent and 74 percent, respectively), however targets were not very visible in the review of planning documents that occurred in the course of this research.  Individuals interviewed indicated that targets are generally process-oriented rather than system-oriented, such as adopting benchmarks regarding which planning partners are responsible for implementation.  Desired outcomes for the transportation infrastructure tend to play a greater role as weighted criteria that are used in the identifcation of priority projects to recommend for the STIP, rather than being defined as targets in the rural LRTPs.

Alternatively, targets may be viewed as an issue area where the regional planning and projects support a statewide target rather than one formally adopted in the regional plan.  For instance, safety is an issue area that is more commonly assigned a quantitative target.  Several states have initiated a Toward Zero Deaths initiative through their strategic highway safety planning process.  Some states are working to reduce traffic fatalities by a certain percentage over an amount of time, while others have actually adopted a zero deaths target.  RPOs and small MPOs can also adopt the state’s performance structure in their regional plans by referencing the statewide goals, objectives, and targets in the regional planning documents.  The regions’ efforts toward a set of shared safety goals and objectives is helping to reach the state’s target.

Analysis of planning documents reveals that mobility is one goal area that lends itself more to qualitative targets, as is economic development.  For the latter, since permanent job creation (not construction jobs) as a result of infrastructure investment is often something that does not directly appear for several years after a project’s completion, it may be difficult to measure or estimate either through forecasting or reviewing the impact soon after project completion.  However, economic development may be considered by proxy by qualitatively analyzing factors such as whether new or improved access to markets is a result of a project.

Return to Report Overview | Next >> Spotlight: Virginia’s Statewide and Rural Long-range Plans


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Regional Development Researcher Andrew Coker joined the NADO team in March of 2023 after spending two and a half years as the Regional Economic Resiliency Coordinator at West Central Arkansas Planning and Development District. Andrew holds a bachelor’s degree from Hendrix College and a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

At NADO, Andrew conducts research on the newest economic and community development best practices from Economic Development Districts across the country. He helps produce easily digestible information on complex regional issues through case studies, tip sheets, and research reports. Andrew also hosts training and professional development opportunities including conference sessions and virtual webinars for member regional development organizations.

Andrew is one of our Missouri-based team members and enjoys reading and training for his next triathlon.

Jack Morgan came to the NADO team in 2022 after seven years with the National Association of Counties (NACo) as a Program and Senior Program Manager. Prior to NACo, Jack was a Policy Analyst for Friends of Southwest Virginia. Jack holds a bachelor’s in geography from Emory & Henry College and a master’s in geography from Appalachian State University.

As a NADO Senior Program Manager, Jack leads capacity-building and peer-learning work supporting energy communities in economic transition, regional resilience, and recreation economies. He also helps with the EDA-Austin training program Emerging Leaders.

Jack is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and is a member of the American Planning Association (APA) in the Regional & Intergovernmental Planning division. He also serves on the Emory & Henry College Alumni Board.

Taking road trips, reading non-fiction, and indulging in top-notch barbecue and coffee round out Jack’s days. He loves maps, mountains, and of course, all things sports.

Karron Grant joined the NADO team in 2023 as Administrative Specialist and is the first face (or voice) you’ll see or hear when reaching out to NADO. As Administrative Specialist, Karron manages our database and coordinates NADO event operations. He ensures members’ needs are met, contact information stays current, and NADO’s office is running efficiently.

Karron came to NADO after four years in the classroom teaching at The New Century School and Old Mill Middle North where he received the Patriot of the Year award. He attended Towson University and the University of Maryland Global Campus and holds a bachelor’s in international studies and humanities.

Visiting art galleries and museums, playing basketball and bowling, and taking in movies and music are some of Karron’s interests and hobbies.

Deputy Executive Director Laurie Thompson has been with NADO for 25 years. Laurie helps keep the NADO and NADO Research Foundation wheels turning through management of the daily operations of the Research Foundation, securing financial resources and overseeing grants management, and helping execute NADO’s Annual Training Conference each year.

Laurie holds a bachelor’s in public affairs and government from Mount Vernon College and a master’s in health services administration from The George Washington University. Prior to NADO, Laurie spent time as a Field Specialist and an Eagle Staff Fund Director at First Nations Development Institute.

When she’s taking a rare reprieve from her NADO work, Laurie enjoys traveling domestically and internationally to visit friends and family.

Jamie McCormick joined the NADO team as a Policy Fellow first in 2019, then moved into her current role as Legislative Associate in 2021. As Legislative Associate, Jamie keeps NADO members apprised of any policy and regulatory issues and communicates NADO’s policy priorities to federal stakeholders and partner organizations. She is also the first stop for members with inquiries on policy issues. The planning and execution of NADO & DDAA’s annual Washington Conference is also managed by Jamie.

Jamie holds a dual bachelor’s in political science and international relations from The State University of New York College at Geneseo and a master’s in international development studies from The George Washington University. In addition to her roles at NADO, Jamie also worked as a Legislative Assistant for the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association.

Outside of her NADO work, Jamie is an active volunteer with the VOLO Kids Foundation and a fundraiser for YMCA youth programs. She is also NADO’s resident baker regularly providing treats for those in NADO’s D.C. office. Traveling, taking her pup on walks, and hiking in the northeast keep Jamie busy. 

Brett Schwartz began at NADO in 2012 as a Research Fellow after earning his J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law. The following year, he was promoted to Program Manager and has now been leading as an Associate Director since 2018. Brett is responsible for managing NADO’s Economic Development District Community of Practice (EDD CoP), as well as researching and monitoring the latest trends in regional economic development and resilience, including best practices for the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). With more than a decade of experience on the NADO team, Brett is a dynamic relationship builder helping connect and build capacity among the national network of regional development organizations.

Brett also holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a master’s from Trinity College Dublin, as well as a certificate in mediation training. He’s a member of Catalyst Grantmakers of San Diego and Imperial Counties and was a participant in the 2021-22 Field Trips to the Future Cohort.

Brett is one of NADO’s West Coast team members residing in San Diego, CA where he enjoys spending time outdoors, attending concerts and festivals, and soaking up life as a parent of two young children.  

Communications Manager Katie Allison joined the team in 2023 to lead the strategic communication efforts of NADO. Katie creates and develops print and online materials, communicates NADO’s updates to members via weekly emails, and maintains content for and NADO’s social media channels. She also works with different departments to generate new ideas and strategies to effectively describe and promote the important work NADO is doing for EDDs and RDOs across the country.

An experienced nonprofit communications professional, Katie has worked for organizations in western North Carolina for nearly a decade. She holds a bachelor’s in communications from Wingate University where she was a four-year student athlete. Katie has also completed Vision Henderson County, a comprehensive leadership development program that promotes informed and committed civic volunteerism.

Katie stays busy trying to keep up with her two young sons whom she enjoys exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains with. Traveling to new and favorite places and cheering on the Atlanta Braves are some of her family’s favorite pastimes.

Senior Program Manager Ciara Ristig has been a member of the NADO team since 2021, and helps with NADO’s EDD Community of Practice, EDD staff capacity building and other grants on a range of subjects, including equity and solar energy. Before NADO, Ciara worked as a Planner for the County of Santa Barbara and an Assistant Project Manager for REM Consult. Ciara holds a bachelor’s in urban studies and French from Bryn Mawr and a master’s in urban studies from Ecole d’Urbanisme de Paris.

When she’s not traveling, you can find her outrigger paddling and serving on the board of the Blue Sky Center in New Cuyama, CA, near her home base of Santa Barbara.

Carrie Kissel has been a member of the NADO team since 2005 when she began as a Research Fellow. She later moved into the roles of Program Manager in 2006, and then Associate Director in 2011. Carrie holds a bachelor’s in anthropology from Ball State University and a master’s in public anthropology from American University. As Associate Director, Carrie oversees NADO’s work in rural transportation and rural wealth creation. She provides technical assistance and support to rural regions on transportation and economic development issues and develops training and peer exchange events on transportation issues and rural wealth creation as an economic development strategy.

Carrie is a member of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and secretary of TRB’s Rural Transportation Issues Coordinating Council. She is also a member of the American Anthropological Association and the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology.

Reading, gardening, hiking, and kayaking are a few of Carrie’s hobbies, and she organizes and facilitates a DEI/social justice-focused book club in her community.

Melissa Levy has worked at NADO as a Regional Development Researcher since February 2023 and is the Principal Consultant at her own firm specializing in wealth-based economic development consulting. With a career spanning nearly 30 years, Melissa brings a breadth of knowledge to her role as a Regional Development Researcher. Melissa provides in-depth research, coaching, and training on regional economic resilience, rural wealth creation strategies, and economic development.

Melissa is a North American Food Systems Network trained AgriCluster Resilience and Expansion (ACRE) facilitator and a WealthWorks coach, facilitator, and trainer. In addition to her professional work, Melissa serves on the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Council, on the board of the Hinesburg Community Resource Center, and on the Hinesburg Economic Development Committee.

A true outdoorswoman, Melissa enjoys cross country and downhill skiing, paddleboarding, hiking, biking, and kayaking, as well as yoga, and teaching Tai Chi.

Program Manager Krishna Kunapareddy began her role with NADO in February of 2023 after 14 years of service at Boonslick Regional Planning Commission in Missouri. Krishna manages NADO Research Foundation’s Planning and Environmental Linkages and Center for Environmental Excellence projects. In addition to researching and writing, Krishna also conducts virtual workshops on innovative tools and techniques related to transportation planning.

She holds an undergraduate degree from Andhra University and a master’s from JNT University in India, as well as a master’s in city and regional planning from the University of Texas at Arlington. Krishna is also a certified Smart Cities Academy Practitioner and holds the Location Advantage certificate from geographic information system software company ESRI.

In her spare time, Krishna volunteers with Mentors4College helping high schoolers better plan for their post-high school paths. She is also a dedicated advocate for documented H4 Dreamers.

Krystal DeLeon joined the NADO team in October of 2020 as Database & Grants Manger, but in January of 2022 transitioned to her current role as Operations Manager. Krystal keeps NADO running through behind the scenes work of invoicing, solving any database issues that may arise, producing membership reports, and much more. Her organizational skills and thorough knowledge help the NADO team operate more efficiently across all departments.

Prior to NADO, Krystal was the Conference Services Coordinator for State Services Organization. She is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), a licensed realtor, and holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Liberty University. When she’s not keeping NADO’s operations in order, Krystal enjoys running and rock climbing, and adventuring with her husband and son.

Senior Program Manager Bret Allphin joined NADO in April of 2022 bringing with him a wealth of knowledge after a 20-year career with Buckeye Hills Regional Council in Marietta, Ohio. In addition to his bachelor’s in political science and master’s in public affairs, Bret is licensed Geographical Information Systems Professional (GISP). He is NADO’s go-to team member for all things mapping while also supporting members with transportation and economic development technical assistance services.

An avid sports aficionado and former collegiate athlete, Bret enjoys cheering on his Cincinnati Reds, hitting the trails on his mountain bike, and improving his golf game whenever possible. Bret is an involved community member in Marietta dedicating much of his spare time to serving on local nonprofit boards.

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Applications cannot be saved and returned to at a later time. It is recommended you compile all of your information in advance in a word processor and cut and paste into the application below.

2023 Impact Awards

The primary applicant must be a NADO member. Project partners, both NADO and non-members, can be recognized under "Project Partners" below.

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Please craft clear, thoughtful, and engaging responses to the following questions. Use the following sections to tell us how your project has made an impact, such as its use of creative funding mechanisms, efforts to create efficiencies or reduce costs, unique partnership models, and emphasis on building resilience and/or enhancing your region's quality of life.

For award-winning projects, the information provided below may be used verbatim to inform project descriptions that will be published in the 2023 NADO Impact Awards materials and included on the NADO website.

Please submit at least one photo showing your project in action. Please keep file size to a minimum (<2Mb) and use JPEG format. If uploading multiple files, ZIP files prior to submitting. If you have trouble uploading images they can be directly emailed to Brett Schwartz at [email protected]. Include the project title they correspond to in the subject line of your email.

Note: Submitted photos may be used in NADO Impact Awards materials and in other NADO published materials with credit to your organization. Please also consider submitting photos for NADO's 2023 Photo Contest, which will be held this summer.

Your application is not submitted until you are directed to a confirmation page. If you have any questions or are unsure if your application has been submitted, please contact Brett Schwartz at [email protected]

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Joe McKinney serves as Executive Director of the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). Headquartered in Washington DC, NADO provides advocacy, education, research, and training for the nation’s 500+ regional planning and development organizations.

Joe has thirty-one years of experience having served in city, county, regional, national association, and government management since 1991. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy Analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a candidate for a master’s degree in Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.

McKinney has provided congressional testimony on numerous occasions regarding the importance of regional development organizations in helping shape the nation’s economic growth. He is nationally recognized for promoting innovative solutions in areas such as planning and economic development, workforce development, transportation and transit, and aging services.

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