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How to Obtain Project Planning Information

What is a TPR and how does it work?

The Transportation Planning Report (TPR) is a report designed to streamline project development by including more of the information that is typically needed in the environmental document. In terms of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the TPR will document the preliminary “purpose and need” of a project. This means the TPR must develop multiple options to fulfill the transportation need and keep adverse environmental impacts at a minimum.

Each option in the TPR will be compared and evaluated as to how well it meets the documented purpose and need. Likewise, the report will include and document options that do not appear to meet the transportation need. Under NEPA rules, the option cannot officially be eliminated until the stage where an environmental document is developed and public hearings are held. However, the TPR will provide a good record of the pros and cons, as well as the outcome reached during the planning process.

The TPR will identify high-level environmental issues within a corridor study area where a project is being proposed. However, it is not the purpose of the TPR to develop a detailed roadway alignment within the study corridor – that is to be done in the Environmental/Preliminary Engineering (PE) stage.

Unlike the Advanced Planning Report (APR) of the past, the TPR will not develop functional plans. Functional plans are part of the preliminary engineering, and should not be done until an alternative has been selected through the environmental process. A cost estimate will also be developed for each potential option.

Questions:

How do we request TPRs?
We ask that each local government coordinate its requests through the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) or the Rural Planning Organization (RPO).

How long does it take to complete a TPR?
The length of time needed to complete a TPR will typically range from 2 to 6 months or longer. TPRs will generally take longer if there are numerous stakeholders, significant environmental factors, or a variety of feasible solutions. In some cases, TDOT may also request detailed land use plans, which could require some response time from the local government.

Will you produce TPRs on non-state routes?
Yes, as long as the route is designated on the federal functional classification system as a collector route or an arterial route.

TDOT has developed a process for local governments who wish to manage their own federally-funded projects. If your local government has determined it wants to manage a particular project, then we suggest you do the TPR as well, since that document leads directly into the environmental stage of project development.

Can we use a consultant to do our own TPRs?
Yes, you may contract with a consultant to develop a TPR. We are in the process of developing an official template to use, however, at this time, we have some recently completed TPRs that can be shared as examples to follow.

TDOT is one of many state DOTs who are in the process of modifying their planning reports to adhere to legislation presented in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – a Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). This new legislation encourages state and regional planning organizations to undertake this effort in order to streamline project development and achieve better results from the funds we invest. Please coordinate each phase (traffic, analysis, etc.) of the TPR with the Project Planning Division. This may prevent costly revisions or delays in the schedule.

If you have further questions in regards to TPRs, please feel free to contact me at (615) 741-2208 or Steve.Allen@tn.gov.