All local governments in Florida must prepare and adopt a comprehensive plan that guides future development and growth in accordance with Chapter 163, Part II, Florida Statutes (F.S.). Comprehensive plans must contain a number of elements, including a transportation element that addresses mobility issues in relation to the size and character of the local government. The plans are to be based on relevant and professionally accepted data sources and analysis methods, and address a variety of issues including multimodal transportation system needs coordinated with future land uses, levels of service, availability of facilities and services, correction of existing deficiencies, and methods for meeting identified needs.
When the Florida Community Planning Act was enacted in 2011, many local planning requirements formerly contained in Rule 9J-5, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.) were codified in statute. The Community Planning Act also made sweeping changes to Florida’s planning and growth management requirements, making transportation concurrency optional and adding multimodal transportation planning requirements. For example, Chapter 163.3177(6)(b), F.S. indicates that the purpose of the transportation element is to plan for a multimodal transportation system “that places emphasis on public transportation systems, where feasible. The element shall provide for a safe, convenient multimodal transportation system, coordinated with the future land use map or map series and designed to support all elements of the comprehensive plan.”
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) asked the National Center for Transit Research (NCTR) at the University of South Florida (USF) to develop model multimodal transportation elements that can serve as guides for Florida local governments when updating their local government comprehensive plans to meet the provisions of the 2011 Florida Community Planning Act and specifically §163.3177(6)(b), F. S. Two model elements were developed to address differences in statutory requirements for communities of different sizes and planning context. The first model element includes guidance for large local governments and those within the boundary of a metropolitan planning organization (MPO). The second includes guidance for smaller or more rural communities outside of MPO boundaries.
Each model element encourages a range of best practices in multimodal transportation planning that were identified through an extensive review of the literature, agency plans, and related documents. Emphasis is placed on ensuring a multimodal transportation system appropriate to the community, providing for and promoting public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian travel, and aviation, rail and seaport facilities where applicable, improving accessibility and connectivity between modes (transit stations, intermodal terminals, bicycle and pedestrian facilities), and coordination with land use. The model elements address key concepts in contemporary multimodal transportation planning best practices, which include the integration of land use and transportation planning, focus on both local and regional mobility and accessibility, use of objective language, and regional coordination and consistency with other agency plans and programs.
The model elements are organized broadly around key components of the plan and/or tasks of the planning process. The contents address:(a) community vision and priorities; (b) data sources and analysis procedures or tools; (c) existing and future conditions mapping guidance; (d) level of service standards and performance measures; and (e) example goals, objectives, and policies, as well as evaluation and monitoring methods. Guidance is also provided on coordination of the local transportation element with plans and programs of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) including the Florida Transportation Plan and adopted work program, any applicable metropolitan planning organization (MPO) or transportation agency or authority, and other local jurisdictions.
The multimodal transportation plan is intended to reflect the community’s vision and priorities; therefore, determining these visions and priorities is a critical activity. The process begins by collecting information: inventorying and analyzing existing land use and transportation conditions; examining other planning efforts; and developing public involvement, which provides continuous feedback on the process. The inventory and analysis of existing conditions highlights both the needs of the current transportation system as well as improvements needed to accommodate growth.
Analyses of both current and future needs share several commonalities, such as quality/level of service analysis for all modes, sketch planning analysis for network planning, and evaluating transit, bicycle and pedestrian needs. Estimates of future travel demand in relation to planned future land use will inform the planning effort, as will estimates of potential future changes in travel behavior based on land use and the availability of additional transportation modes. Local vision statements and supporting goals and objectives can provide a framework for evaluating alternatives and for selecting appropriate projects and strategies for the community.
Goals, objectives, and policies should reflect the community vision and priorities. Chapter 163, Part II, F.S., provides the following definitions for these terms:
– Goal means the long-term end toward which programs or activities are ultimately directed;
– Objective means a specific, measurable, intermediate end that is achievable and makes progress toward a goal;
– Policy means the way in which programs and activities are conducted to achieve an identified goal.
Best practices and strategies for consideration in the development of effective multimodal transportation goals, objectives and policies are categorized as: state; regional and internal consistency; land use and multimodal environment; multimodal quality/level of service; major roadway network; access management; minor street network; public transportation network; transportation demand management; bicycle and pedestrian network safety; and ports, aviation, rail, and intermodal facilities.
This report identifies the proposed content and best practices for each of the model elements along with clear instructions regarding their application. It will serve as a guide to Florida local governments when updating their local government comprehensive plans to meet the provisions of the Community Planning Act, and will provide helpful guidance to any local jurisdiction preparing a transportation plan.