According to the US Census, in 2013 rural counties included 15 percent of the U.S. population is spread across 72 percent of the U.S. land area. Many of these rural communities are linked by an extended, aging, and sometimes overwhelmed transportation infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers 2014 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure awarded the U.S. a “D” while awarding the State of Arkansas a slightly better grade of “C”. Rural counties that border urbanized communities face an additional challenge of serving a growing number of suburban and exurban drivers on roadways engineered to serve rural drivers.
In response to these challenges, many rural counties have established rural or regional planning organizations (RPO) to:
Coordinate transportation policy and practices;
Collaborate with the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO); and
Prioritize regional transportation projects.
Project prioritization is often found at the heart of these RPOs and represents what is great about regional governance allocating limited resources toward the greatest public good. Most RPO￼transportation project prioritization processes will include these common steps:
Model Existing Network
Issue a Call for Projects
Distribute Project Priorities
Present and Score Projects
Finalize Regional Project Priorities
This field guide includes step-by-step tutorials that guide and support your region in creating a￼prioritized list of regional transportation projects. Prior to initiating the process, RPO members￼should discuss and vote on an explicit procedures for prioritizing the projects including the:
Discussing and agreeing to these procedures prior to initiating the process is an important step firming up regional support for the process and the resulting list of priorities.