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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Statewide Transportation Planning: Lessons from California


State DOT's are grappling with how to meet federal mandates that they engage in multimodal transportation planning with metropolitan planning organizations and other governmental agencies. The experience of one state, California, shows that the recent round of soul-searching is nothing new. California's experience is one of episodic, triage-style planning undertaking in response to a recurring series of fiscal or physical crises and external mandates. The only exception to this pattern was the long-range planning surrounding the California Freeway System plan adopted in 1959. But given today's transportation policy environment and prevailing public attitudes abut building large transportation facilities, the ability of state DOTs to craft far-reaching, long-range plans along the lines of the 1959 example is a Herculean task. Today's round of organizational soul-searching could represent the first hesitant steps towards an era of thoughtful, proactive planning, or it could simply be the latest example of reactive planning. Past experience suggests that the latter is more likely the case.

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