Shared Development of Plans and Policies chart demonstrating Shared Development of Plans and Policies

What is shared development of plans and policies?

Several federal, state, and regional agencies have developed standards and structures for interagency and multidisciplinary coordination during specific types of planning and project development processes, such as comprehensive plans or growth policies. Some of these standard approaches are a response to federal transportation planning requirements to consider environmental and economic issues during the development of major transportation investments. Others are "home-grown" approaches generated by state and regional agencies in response to specific needs within their jurisdictions. For example, MPOs, Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs), and Councils of Government (COGs) have provided technical and/or financial assistance for local comprehensive planning and/or small-area planning activities that link transportation and land use. Similarly, state DOTs have provided assistance for integrating transportation considerations into local comprehensive planning and land use considerations into statewide transportation planning.

Who can implement it?

Public and quasi-public agencies at the state, regional and local level can initiate shared development of plans and policies. No enabling legislation is necessary for such interagency cooperative efforts.

What are the keys to success and potential pitfalls?

Essential keys to success include the fostering of working relationships and open communication among appropriate personnel across agencies, a clear understanding of project goals, desired outcomes, and agency roles. Interagency relationships can get bogged down by politics, bureaucracy, and lack of a clear understanding among all stakeholders of the purposes and outcomes expected from the undertaking.

Where has this strategy been applied?

Examples in Montana

  • Montana Local Comprehensive Plans - Montana's municipal governments have been authorized to adopt master plans or comprehensive plans since 1957 and county governments have been authorized to plan since 1971. Growth policies are not regulatory documents and development of a growth policy is optional for local governments in Montana. Local governments are not required to have a compliant growth policy in place; however, failure to comply with the law can have impacts on the ability of local governments to adopt or amend zoning regulations. Local governments in all of Montana's rapidly expanding communities have growth policies in place.
  • Integrated Transportation and Ecological Enhancements for Montana (ITEEM) is the first effort in the nation to "pilot" federal guidance established by a document entitled "Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects." Eco-Logical encouraged agencies to collaboratively and strategically plan infrastructure projects and related mitigation with goals of conserving and connecting important habitats, while increasing predictability and transparency of planning and regulatory permitting processes. ITEEM encourages the consideration of alternative approaches for more effective ecological mitigation during construction and maintenance of a transportation system.
  • City and County Growth Policies, MT

Examples outside of Montana

  • GO TO 2040 - The comprehensive plan for the Greater Chicago Area is the culmination of an extensive public involvement process that included 200 workshops where 4,000 participants expressed their vision of how the region should address growth through the year 2040. The 2040 Plan provides a framework to: guide regional development; coordinate local land-use plans and regional-level decisions; and strengthen the link between land-use planning and investment in transportation and other infrastructure across the region. Recognizing local autonomy for land-use decision-making, the 2040 Plan calls for local communities to voluntarily and proactively apply detailed implementation strategies. With action at the local level, the plan can help lead the region into a highly livable and economically prosperous future.
  • Colorado's Strategic Transportation, Environmental, and Planning Process for Urban Places (STEP-UP), is a pilot project, which aims to increase early consideration of environmental impacts in the transportation planning process, and to reduce the time for environmental review of programmed projects during project development. It is a partnership of Colorado DOT, FHWA, U.S. EPA Region 8, and the North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization (NFRMPO)
  • Florida's Efficient Transportation Decision-Making (ETDM) process involves federal, state, local, and tribal organizations as signatories on the original MOU. The ETDM is a system designed to streamline the transportation planning and project development process without compromising the quality of Florida's human and natural environments. The project's goal was to develop a process for early and continuous resource agency input into the FDOT environmental review, decision making, and permitting process to make project delivery more efficient and less costly.
  • North Carolina's Interagency Leadership Team came together in 2004 believing that it is essential, and possible, to develop future transportation projects in a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that involves all stakeholders and preserves the scenic, historic, natural environment and community values setting while efficiently meeting the mobility, economic and safety needs of citizens. The NCILT membership is representative of federal and state agencies that are integrally involved in the planning, development and implementation of North Carolina's transportation system: the North Carolina departments of transportation, environment and natural resources, agriculture and consumer services, commerce, cultural resources, and the Wildlife Resources Commission; federal agencies, including the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Highway Administration, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
  • Rhode Island adopted A Coordinated Plan for Public Transit-Human Services Transportation in February 2008. The plan was developed under the direction of a Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Steering Committee consisting of representatives from the state departments of elderly affairs, human services, labor and training, transportation, administration/statewide planning program, the Public Transit Authority, and the Governor's Commission on Disabilities. The plan represents Rhode Island's initial effort to develop a coordinated response to public transit and human services, and is intended to introduce efficiencies that may enhance transportation services and fill service gaps, while at the same time providing more rides with the same dollars by minimizing service duplication.
  • In addition to the above, numerous FHWA/DOT case studies for state or metropolitan areas across the country that decided to change their approach to conducting planning and environmental processes can be found at Examples that may be of interest to Montana planners include the following:

Case studies

How can I get started?

First steps toward shared development of plans and policies include identifying what issues would benefit from such a structure and what local, regional or state agencies or quasi-public organizations might be able to provide needed resources. Once organizations or agencies are identified, focus on developing effective working relationships with appropriate staff through establishing working groups, forums, or more formal partnerships. These tools foster relationships between planners and resource and regulatory agencies, providing opportunities to identify red flags and to share resource and issue concerns

Where can I get more information?

  • The North Carolina Interagency Leadership Team website includes information on the mission, goals, background, benefits, and role of the NCILT.
  • The Federal Highway Administration has developed an Environmental Review Toolkit for the purpose of enhancing environmental stewardship by streamlining resources for FHWA Division Offices, state departments of transportation, resource agencies, and consultants. Information and resources for topics on the environment and transportation can be found on the FHWA website and