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  • CHAPTER 1

    PLANNING CONTEXTS3

    1.1 ENGINEERS IN THE PLANNING PROCESS

    Although this book occasionally refers to "planning" and "engi-neering" as though they were unrelated professions or disciplines, itdoes so only to differentiate between two parts of a large process.Planning and engineering are very closely bound to each other, as,indeed, planning is bound to many other disciplines. Planning is essen-tially the first phase of the development process and, as such, is also thefirst step in the engineering process.

    Traditionally, engineering has been subdivided into five phases:planning, design (preliminary and final), construction, operation andmaintenance, and monitoring or evaluation. In some respects, planninghas become identified as a separate function, and design, construction,operation, and maintenance are commonly referred to as the engineer-ing elements. It must be emphasized that this is by no means a cleardistinction. However, the division of labor that has characterized tech-nology since the Industrial Revolution, combined with the reality of anincreasingly complex society, have resulted in the separation of plan-ning, which is the broad view, from design and construction, which aremore specifically directed. This division may also be characterized by thestatement that design and construction efforts are directed toward meet-ing a need while planning efforts, in addition to meeting needs, are alsoconcerned with identifying the need and determining the implications ofmeeting that need in a variety of different ways.

    Occasionally, the planning phase of a project results in a recom-mendation that no further engineering is necessary. Rather, benefits canbe most appropriately achieved by a management or operational courseof action. For example, the decision to expand bus service rather thanconstruct a rail line, or the decision to implement an aggressive ride-sharing program rather than widen a congested highway corridor, are

    aPrepared by: Thomas Debo, M.ASCE, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta,GA: A. Ruth Fitzgerald (Affiliate), Vice President, CE Maguire, Inc., NewBritain, CT; Sigurd Grava, M.ASCE, Parsons, Brinckerhoff, Quade & Douglas,and Columbia Univ., New York, NY; Richard S. Howe, F.ASCE, Univ. of Texas,San Antonio, TX; C. Thomas Koch, Consulting Engineer, C. Thomas Koch,Inc., Blanco, TX; James Meek, M.ASCE, U.S. Environmental ProtectionAgency, Washington, DC; John G. Morris, M.ASCE, Morris EnvironmentalEngineering, Inc., Wheaton, IL; Paolo F. Ricci, A.M.ASCE, Electric PowerResearch Institute, Palo Alto, CA; and Gene E. Willeke, M.ASCE, Institute ofEnvironmental Studies, Miami Univ., Oxford, OH.

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  • URBAN PLANNING GUIDE

    examples of nonengineering solutions to problems which originally mayhave been perceived to need design or construction solutions. Indeed,there is evidence that the high cost of public works projects in recenttimes, combined with a growing awareness of resource limitations andenvironmental factors, have increased the incidence of nonengineeringsolutions to problems. Similarly, and largely for the same reasons,"renovation and reuse" solutions are replacing new construction inmany situations.

    The increasing emphasis on planning during the last few decadesrequires that the proposed project must also be viewed in terms of itsimpacts on society and the environment. The engineer has increasinglybecome part of a complex system of linkages between project construc-tion and the social, political, economic, environmental, and estheticimplications of the project. Real problem solving in the engineeringprofession generally requires consideration of both construction andimplications, and any successful problem-solving effort requires integra-tion of the several engineering functions. Integration results from anunderstanding of the various roles an engineer must assume and aworking methodology for incorporating all the necessary skills andinformation.

    1.2 TYPES OF PLANNING

    Planning can be almost infinitely subdivided into various disci-plines and contexts. Each planning situation is different, and each typeof planning occurs within its own set of guidelines and methodologies.There is great overlap among the subdisciplines. This should be ex-pected, because urban and regional systems are interrelated.

    The field generally referred to as urban and regional planning iscomprised of numerous planning elements. Some of these include:

    Transportation planningAir quality planningSolid waste planningSite planningProject planningMaster planningComprehensive planningHealth services planningWater quality planningRecreation facilities planning

    This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor are these types of planningindependent of one another.

    Some of the subareas listed, such as site planning, are quite specificwhile others, such as transportation planning, can be broken downagain into several components. These might include:

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  • PLANNING CONTEXTS

    Land transportation planningAviation systems planningWater systems or port planning

    Within these major components exist numerous other possible areas ofemphasis. For example, land transportation planning includes the fol-lowing:

    Urban transportation planningRural transportation planningShort-range transit studiesLong-range facility feasibility studiesElderly and handicapped transportation studiesParatransit systems planning

    Again, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Professional specializationoccurs in all these subfields and in many even more specialized areas ofstudy.

    The purpose of later chapters of this book is to give some insightinto the planning process as it relates to some of these technical areas ofspecialization.

    1.3 GEOGRAPHICAL AND TEMPORAL CONTEXTS

    In addition to identification of the various technical contexts inwhich planning occurs, it is important to consider the application of theplanning process to different sized geographical areas and over differenttime spans.

    Planning is appropriate in all geographical contexts, from siteplanning or project planning, through town planning, regional plan-ning, and state-wide planning, to planning on the national level forconsiderations such as energy use or air quality. Although the planningprocess to be described in Chapter 2 can be applied at all of these levels,the outcomes vary depending on the context involved. For example, airquality planning on the federal level may result in national policies forachievement of National Ambient Air Quality Standards, while planningon the local level may result in the development of a new system ofsignalization to reduce queuing and, therefore, engine idling and excesspollutant emissions.

    Planning also occurs on various temporal levels. Various planningprocesses result in detailed one-year and five-year implementation pro-grams and budgeting. This is typically considered short-range planningand is most appropriate in situations where the recommended actions donot require long lead time for implementation. Long-range planningwith a 20-yr to 25-yr (or longer) focus occurs when a significant infra-structure is anticipated requiring a long lead time for design and con-struction. Again, the outcomes of the two extremes differ considerably.

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  • URBAN PLANNING GUIDE

    A short-range plan provides many specifics for development, while along-range plan is more concerned with general directions and policies.Much mid-range planning also takes place using a 10-yr to 15-yr timeframe.

    1.4 COORDINATION IN THE PLANNING PROCESS

    One important element of the planning process is the provision ofa mechanism for coordination with other projects and communicationamong the various involved parties.

    Awareness of and coordination with other projects or plans iscritical to the success of any planning effort. If a plan does not reflectthese elements and their significance to the project under study, it canpresent an unrealistic description of the issues involved and a misdi-rected recommendation for improvement. When a planning effort failsto allow for interface with other planning efforts, the possibility existsthat the recommendations will be unimplementable and the process willhave to be repeated, as a plan which cannot be implemented is aworthless document. An unworkable plan typically results from lack ofcomprehensiveness in dealing with significant issues and implicationsposed by a proposed project or situation. The planning process mustnever take place in a vacuum.

    As a principal area of project interface, planners working on thesubject project should investigate both previous pla

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