Regional livability initiatives and planning for sustainable communities and regions require integrated planning efforts, coordinating transportation with other related planning efforts. Sustainable regions are regions that connect land use with transportation, housing with jobs, economic development with environmental protection. Sustainable regions strive to balance economic and natural assets so that the diverse needs of area residents can be met now and in the future. By integrating long-term planning and regional visioning efforts, sustainable regions can become more prosperous and more attractive places for businesses to locate and for young people to settle in. This section contains resources for regional land use and transportation planners and other practitioners looking for tools that will help them expand housing and transportation choices, enhance economic competitiveness, increase energy independence and protect critical natural resources and working landscapes.
NADO-SPONSORED rEPORTS and EVENTS
Regional Approaches to Sustainable Development: Linking Economic, Transportation, and Environmental Infrastructure in Rural and Small Metropolitan America
Regional development organizations (RDOs) working in all types of communities across the country are designing and implementing strategies to create stronger, more dynamic, more resilient regional economies that are based on quality of place. Featuring case studies from California, Michigan, North Carolina, and Utah, this report highlights the opportunities available to RDOs to undertake sustainable development initiatives using a systems-based approach.
September 2011, 40 pages: View the report (PDF)
Peer Exchange: Sacramento Council of Governments
In March 2011, the NADO Research Foundation convened a peer exchange hosted by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG). Through presentations, group discussions and site visits, participants learned about the region’s Blueprint Strategy for long-term sustainable growth and the Rural-Urban Connections Strategy, which SACOG launched to explore the interdependency of the rural and urban parts of the region and investigate the challenges and opportunities facing the area’s robust agriculture sector.
View the Agenda and Background Materials (PDF)
Livability Case Studies:
The NADO Research Foundation is researching a series of case studies exploring how regional planning and development organizations are incorporating livability principles into rural and small metropolitan planning processes.
- Gateway 1 Corridor Action Plan (pdf) showcases how 16 communities along a highly-traveled corridor in coastal Maine partnered with state agencies to develop a long-term plan for the corridor that would support sustainable economic growth and link land use and transportation planning.
- UPDATE: In March 2011, the Maine Department of Transportation suspended the Gateway 1 Corridor Action Plan. The Corridor 1 project site has a timeline of events and letter explaining the termination of the project.
Regional Food Systems Infrastructure:
Many regional development organizations (RDOs) and councils of governments are exploring how they can support regional food systems infrastructure. In recent years, an emphasis on eating locally grown food has flourished as many Americans have sought to direct more of their food-purchasing budget to producers located closer to home. However, significant barriers prevent small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers from connecting with the expanding base of consumers who seek locally grown food. Many regions lack the transportation and distribution network required to support area producers. This report describes the role of RDOs in supporting regional farmers, processors and distributors. Promoting small- and mid-size agricultural operations offers numerous benefits to a region, including sustained economic development, protection for regional farmland and rural landscapes, and reduced vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and greenhouse gas emissions. By developing partnerships with area farmers and other stakeholders, RDOs can help to develop regional food systems infrastructure that will support economic development initiatives and other program goals.
View the report (PDF)
Coordinating Land Use, Transportation, and Economic Development in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania initiated a statewide effort to integrate land use, transportation and economic development at the regional level through a process known as LUTED, under which the state’s regional planning and development organizations developed regional visions and strategies to identify projects related to multiple issue areas.
In April 2010, the NADO Research Foundation held a Peer Exchange event in Pennsylvania to learn more about this effort. At this event, a group of transportation planning practitioners from rural and small metropolitan regions across the nation visited three regional planning and economic development organizations based in Pennsylvania: the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission, SEDA-Council of Governments and Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.
Through presentations, in-depth discussion and site visits organized by the three host organizations, the Peer Exchange participants learned how regional organizations approached the LUTED initiative, their techniques for integrating land use, transportation and economic development planning, and the how they are implementing the Regional Action Strategies that developed from the LUTED process. Although LUTED began as a special state-level initiative, the regions have identified connections with their ongoing work through the U.S. Economic Development Administration-funded Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) process, the regional transportation planning process and other planning programs.
This proceedings report, Integrating Land Use, Transportation and Economic Development in Pennsylvania (PDF), describes the background of regional planning and the LUTED process in Pennsylvania, and provides case studies of how the three organizations observed on the Peer Exchange approached the integration of land use, transportation and economic development planning in their regions.
More information can be found on Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development LUTED Initiative website here.
Links to the regional planning and development organizations in Pennsylvania and the Regional Action Strategies and related documents that emerged from the LUTED process are below:
- Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission
- Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission
- North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission
- SEDA-Council of Governments
- Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission
- Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission
- Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance
- Lehigh Valley Planning Commission
- Lehigh Valley Regional Action Plan (scroll down to Lehigh Valley Regional Action Plan)
- Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
- DVRPC LUTED Plan (PDF)
- South Central County Commissioners Caucus
Role of Transportation Planning in the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Process: A Nationwide Scan
This research report identifies the extent and methods used by economic development districts to incorporate transportation plans, projects, stakeholders, and issues into the regions’ comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) documents. The research team also identified and described promising practices and case studies. This report was produced in 2009 by the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University under contract to the NADO Research Foundation’s Center for Transportation Advancement and Regional Development.
View the report (PDF)
Metropolitan and Rural Transportation Planning: Case Studies and Checklists for Regional Collaboration
This 2009 report provides case studies and checklists of possible actions that metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), rural transportation planning organizations (RPOs), state departments of transportation (DOTs), local government entities, and other planning partners may take to enhance their partnership efforts. Case studies from Vermont, Washington and other states relate directly to how RPOs and MPOs are addressing integrated planning and livability efforts.
View the report (PDF)
Regional Strategies for Environmental Stewardship: Successfully Merging Environmental Protection with Regional Development
With funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the NADO Research Foundation conducted a scan of regional development organizations in 2006 to determine how they promote economic development and environmental sustainability. The scan, along with extensive research and telephone interviews resulted in this detailed report which highlights specific projects and programs that highlight the link between environmental sustainability and economic development.
- Coordinating Transportation and Land Use Leads to Successful Development in New York
- New Hampshire Regional Development Organization Guides Communities in Managing Growth
- Mixed-Use Developments Provide Alternatives to Single-Use Zoning
- Full report (PDF)
The Grand Vision
The citizen-led land use and transportation study provides a framework for the next 50+ years of development in six Northwest Michigan counties. With extensive public participation (over 15,000 individuals in a scenario process), the project developed a plan and is moving toward implementation.
- The Grand Vision project website
- The Grand Vision document (PDF)
- The Grand Vision Land Use and Transportation Strategy (PDF)
Presentation by Sarah Lucas, Northwest Michigan Council of Governments, at the 2009 National Rural Transportation Peer Learning Conference
- Northwest Michigan Council of Governments
Northwest Vermont Project: Transportation and Land Use Connections
A partnership between five regional planning commissions, one MPO, and the Vermont Agency on Transportation, this project was a collaborative effort to study growth and development in northwestern Vermont as it related to the region’s transportation infrastructure.
- Northwest Vermont Project website
- The Northwest Vermont Project (PDF)
Presentation by Michele Boomhower, Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization, at the 2009 National Rural Transportation Peer Learning Conference
Integrating Transportation and Community Planning Program
The Nashua Regional Planning Commission is changing the way people think about community planning. By integrating transportation, land use, and environmental planning, iTRaC helps communities to deal with the challenges of growth in a manner that sustains community character and fosters a sense of place. iTRaC is a comprehensive program with services that support the diverse planning needs of our local communities.
Sustainable Environment for Quality of Life (SEQL) Initiative
SEQL is an integrated environmental initiative for the 15-county metropolitan Charlotte region in North and South Carolina. The actions and examples given address livability issues, such as planning for land use and transportation and improving regional environmental quality. The project was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency through a grant to the Centralina Council of Governments in cooperation with Catawba Regional Council of Governments.
SEQL project website
State Highways as Main Streets: A Study of Community Design and Visioning
The Washington State Department of Transportation released this 2009 report exploring community transportation design policy to improve collaboration when state highways serve as local main streets.
View the report (PDF)
Several presentations from recent rural and regional transportation conferences provide case studies of how RPOs and MPOs are working to integrate land use and planning to promote more livable communities within their regions.
Partnership for Integrated Planning (PDF)
Presentation by Marjie Kirn, Merced County Association of Governments, at the 2008 National Rural Transportation Peer Learning Conference
NC 73 Council of Planning (PDF)
Presentation by Bill Duston, Centralina Council of Governments, at the 2008 Southeastern Regional Transportation Forum
Maine’s Regional Transportation Assessment and Corridor Investments: Linking Transportation, Land Use, and Economic Development (PDF)
Presentation by Tom Reinauer, Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission, at the 2007 National Rural Transportation Peer Learning Conference
Chapter 527: Implementing New Transportation and Land Use Legislation in Virginia (PDF)
Presentation by Richard Caywood, Virginia Department of Transportation, at the 2007 National Rural Transportation Peer Learning Conference
Putney Road Master Plan (PDF)
Presentation by Matt Mann, Windham Regional Commission and Bob Stevens, Stevens & Associates, at the 2007 New England Regional Transportation Forum
Land Use & Transportation (PDF)
Presentation by Chris Lukasina, Upper Coastal Plain COG, Rocky Mount, NC and Paul Black, Triangle J COG, Durham, NC, at the 2006 National Rural Transportation Peer Learning Conference
Linking Rural Land Use Planning with Rural Transportation Planning (PDF)
Presentation by Chuck Wise, Two Rivers-Ottauquechee, VT, at the 2006 National Rural Transportation Peer Learning Conference
Reports, studies and other resources
US DOT-EPA-HUD Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities
In 2009, the US Department of Transportation, US Environmental Protection Agency and US Department of Housing and Urban Development formed a partnership to integrate transportation and housing policies to benefit the environment and citizens in urban, suburban and rural America. This partnership strives to provide transportation choices, promote affordable housing and increase economic competitiveness in communities across the nation. In addition to providing planning grants to sustainable communities that align transportation and land use planning, these three agencies have joined forces in research, data collection and outreach.
Partnership for Sustainable Communities Year 1 Summary Report (PDF)
DOT Partnership for Sustainable Communities
EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities
HUD Sustainable Housing and Communities
The Role of FHWA Programs in Livability: State of the Practice Summary (PDF)
This publication of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides an overview of the current state of the practice relative to the implementation of livability principles within the context of the Federal-aid highway program. This research paper also highlights the challenges facing FHWA and other transportation agencies in changing traditional planning approaches and evolving institutional frameworks to more effectively incorporate livability principles. It offers a sampling of strategies and tools for implementing livability through different programs and agencies, and across various scales as they pertain to highway program planning and development. An HTML version of the report, "The Role of FHWA Programs in Livability: State of the Practice Summary," is available at
Livability in Transportation Guidebook: Planning Approaches that Promote Livability (PDF)
This FHWA publication includes numerous case studies focusing on increasing transportation choices and affordable housing, driving economic competitiveness, maintaining unique community character and leveraging federal funds to create new or improved transportation access.
The Impact of Community Design on Travel Behavior (PDF)
This UC Davis Sustainable Transportation Center PowerPoint illustrates how land use and design have causal effects on travel behavior.
Healthy Urban Development Checklist: A Guide for Health Services When Commenting on Development Policies, Plans and Proposals (PDF)
This Australian publication encourages public health professionals to become involved with the planning community and provide advice on new plans and policies, for the health of a country.
Putting Smart Growth to Work in Rural Communities (PDF)
This joint EPA/International City-County Management Association report shares the principles of Smart Growth, and goals, strategies and policy tools for rural Smart Growth.
Toolkit for Rural Community Coordinated Transportation Services (PDF)
The Transportation Research Board's Transit Cooperative Research Board released its Report 101, an in-depth study of the costs and benefits of coordinated transportation, how to implement and fund coordination, lessons learned and success stories of coordinated transportation.
Transportation for a New Era: Growing More Sustainable Communities (PDF)
This Urban Land Institute publication provides recommendations to guide federal transportation policy - from focusing on high-density development to developing an infrastructure bank.
transportation and housing
Virginia's Transportation and Housing Alliance (THA) Toolkit
The statewide THA initiative links public and private efforts in the areas of housing and transportation. Produced through a grant awarded to the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission by the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, the toolkit provides approaches to assess current housing and transportation needs, project future needs, and identify overlapping issues and opportunities to promote livable communities for all citizens.
Transportation Housing Alliance website and toolkit
Transit and Livability
Redeveloping Brownfields into Transit Hubs and Transit-Oriented Development Projects
Infill development and brownfields redevelopment can offer opportunities to integrate transit into a livable communities plan and facilitate downtown revitalization. Case studies from the 2006 NADO Research Foundation report Strategies for Success: Regional Approaches to Brownfields Redevelopment offer examples of how this can be achieved.
Land Use and Mode Choice
Having transportation options within a community is a significant component of a livable communities plan, including addressing how land use affects public transportation and bicycle/pedestrian use.
Enhancing the Effectiveness of Rural Public Transportation: Addressing the Land Use Challenge (PDF)
Presentation by Claude Morelli, TransNuevo, LLC, at the 2007 Southwest Rural Transportation Forum
Transit and Small Urban Sprawl
The Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at North Dakota State University has this report in November 2009, exploring ways that small urban transit providers can integrate transit service into sprawling communities while fostering relationships with local government officials and addressing the transportation impacts that sprawl creates.
View the report (PDF)
Coordination Resources: Livability
Developed by the Community Transportation Association of America's National Resource Center, this site provides resources on people-centered orientation in communities that ensures economic vitality, connectivity, and mobility.
National Resource Center for Human Service Transportation Coordination Livability Resources
TOD projects can encourage effective use of the existing transportation network, use of transit, and walkability in a community, as well as promoting smart growth principles.
- Federal Transit Administration Overview of Transit-Oriented Development
- Center for Transit-Oriented Development
National Main Street Program
Your Town: The Citizens' Institute on Rural Design
Environmental Protection Agency Smart Growth Program
The White House Office of Urban Policy: Form and Function, speech given by Bruce Katz, Brookings Institute, at the NYU School of Law