Least-Cost Transportation Planning—meeting travel demand at the least cost to society as a whole—is an idea that in the past decade has gained traction in the transportation planning community. The transportation agencies of three states—Washington, Oregon, and Virginia—have already integrated elements of least-cost planning into their policy processes. Least-cost planning provides a framework for assessing long-term direct and indirect effects and overall cost effectiveness of proposed transportation projects, planning scenarios, and alternatives.
VEIC identified the following opportunities for implementation of least-cost planning at VTrans:
- Long range planning: Following the lead of Virginia and the Puget Sound Regional Council, VTrans could include estimated direct and indirect costs associated with the proposed long-range plan (and alternate scenarios, if appropriate), as well as an evaluation of the plan and scenarios according to recent energy performance measures.
- Budget process: VTrans could build budgets that not only reflect needed capital appropriations, but also consider out-year maintenance, and economic and health budget needs, even if they will not be in the VTrans budget request.