Commission Adopts Rural Transportation Plan
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Commission Adopts Rural Transportation Plan

Rural component complements broader statewide planning efforts

AUSTIN -- Today, the Texas Transportation Commission adopted the Texas Rural Transportation Plan 2035 (TRTP), putting in place a rural component of the state's broader long-range planning efforts and providing a blueprint for the development of a safer, more efficient and less congested transportation network between population centers.

This is the first plan the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has prepared that specifically addresses transportation issues in rural areas, noted Commissioner Fred Underwood.

"Rural transportation planning in Texas is a collaborative process that brings TxDOT together with public and private transportation stakeholders, local elected officials and the public." Underwood said. "The TRTP focuses on rural areas of the state and transportation projects that connect users in rural areas to urban markets, jobs and services."

Underwood added that the TRTP is an analytical assessment of rural transportation needs and unfunded projects.

"It's a starting point, not the end all," he explained. "As usual, there will be other factors that come into play during project development that will determine which projects move forward."

The TRTP is a component of the agency's 2035 Statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan (SLRTP), a much broader planning effort that received Commission approval in November of 2010. Like the SLRTP, the rural version examines all modes of transportation including highways, inter-city buses, rural aviation, rural port access, freight movement and bicycle and pedestrian facilities. The TRTP identifies planned improvements for highways by focusing on rural added capacity projects that address statewide mobility and connectivity goals. Also included is a ranked list of district highway projects to be used as a guide to shape the future of rural transportation.

In January, the agency adopted new rules that better define requirements for developing the SLRTP and the Unified Transportation Plan (UTP) as well as specify coordination with Rural Planning Organizations (RPOs) to develop long-range plans. RPOs generally make recommendations to the department concerning transportation projects, systems or programs that impact the rural area.

TxDOT conducted a series of public meetings earlier this year in each of the agency's 25 districts to present the project selection process and the findings and to solicit customer feedback. Stakeholder meetings with RPO representatives, county judges, business leaders, and other transportation partners were also held to develop a consensus on the project selection process and the projects actually chosen. The rural plan builds on the work done previously in the SLRTP.

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June 28, 2012