Glossary of Transportation Terms

23 CFR, Part 450

Title 23 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 450 is Federal regulations pertaining to statewide and metropolitan transportation planning.


23 USC 134

23 United States Code 134 is the part of the USC that governs the metropolitan transportation planning process.



Employing a Continuing, Cooperative and Comprehensive (3C) planning process is a requirement for all MPOs as specified in 23 CFR 450.300.



Average Annual Daily Traffic is a measure used primarily in transportation planning and transportation engineering. It is the total volume of vehicle traffic of a highway or road for a year divided by 365 days.



Accessibility is the extent to which facilities are barrier free and useable by persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users.



The Americans with Disabilities Act is Federal legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability requiring accessible transportation services.



Average Daily Traffic is the average number of vehicles passing a specific point in a 24-hour period, often measured throughout a year, it is a standard measurement for vehicle traffic-load on a section of road and is used when making transportation planning decisions.


Age Discrimination Act of 1975

The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 states that no person shall, on the basis of age, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. This act prohibits age discrimination in Federally Assisted Programs.



The Clean Air Act is a United States federal law designed to control air pollution on a national level. It requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and enforce regulations to protect the general public from exposure to airborne contaminants that are known to be hazardous to human health.



The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 is comprehensive federal legislation which establishes criteria for attaining and maintaining the federal standards.



The Citizens Advisory Committee is the main body providing citizen input into the deliberations of the MPO.



Developed and approved by the SAWMPO, the Financially-Constrained Long Range Transportation Plan is a regional plan that includes all transportation projects and programs that the SAWMPO realistically anticipates can be implemented over the next 25 years. In order to receive federal funding, transportation projects must be included in the CLRTP and the TIP.



Conformity is a process in which transportation plans and spending programs are reviewed to ensure that they are consistent with federal clean air requirements; transportation projects collectively must not worsen air quality.



The 17-member Commonwealth Transportation Board, appointed by the governor, establishes the administrative policies for Virginia’s transportation system. The CTB allocates highway funding to specific projects, locates and provides funding for airports, seaports and public transportation.



An Environmental Impact Statement is a comprehensive study required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) before certain types of major transportation projects may proceed.


Environmental Justice

The 1994 Presidential Executive Order directs Federal agencies to identify and address the needs of minority and low-income populations in all programs, policies and activities.


Executive Order 12898

Executive Order 12898 mandates that federal agencies address equity and fairness or Environmental Justice toward low-income and minority populations.


Executive Order 13166

Executive Order 13166 mandates that federal agencies ensure that people who have Limited English Proficiency (LEP) have meaningful access to federally-conducted and/or funded programs and activities.



Any allowable expense actually incurred in implementing a particular capital or operating or capital program.



Within the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration is responsible for coordinating and regulating the airline industry and airports.


Federal Aid Highway Act of 1973

The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1973 states that no person shall, on the grounds of sex be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal assistance under this title or carried under this title.



Within the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration is responsible for highway issues, including federal laws and regulations related to metropolitan transportation planning.


Fiscal Constraint

Making sure that a given program or project can reasonably expect to receive funding within the time allotted for its implementation.



The Federal Railroad Administration is a federal department that was created by the Department of Transportation Act of 1966. The purpose of the FRA is to: promulgate and enforce rail safety regulations; administer railroad assistance programs; conduct research and development in support of improved railroad safety and national rail transportation policy; provide for the rehabilitation of Northeast Corridor rail passenger services; and consolidate government support of rail transportation activities. Today, the FRA is one of ten agencies within the U.S. DOT concerned with intermodal transportation.



Within the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Transit Administration is responsible for public transit issues, including federal laws and regulations related to metropolitan transportation planning.


FTA 5303

Federal Transit Administration Planning funds for urban areas.


FTA 5307

Federal Transit Administration Capital and Operating funds for urban areas.


FTA 5309

Federal Transit Administration Discretionary Grant Program funds.


FTA 5311

Federal Transit Administration Capital and Operating funds for private and non-profit transportation providers in urban and rural areas.



Geographic Information System is a computer-based data management tool used for mapping, storing, retrieving, analyzing and displaying geographic data.



Commonly called “Ice Tea”, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 made broad changes in the way transportation decisions are made, emphasizing balance of transportation modes, strengthening public involvement and giving more power to metropolitan planning organizations, including the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro MPO.



Intelligent Transportation System refers to advanced technology applications which aim to improve transportation services and traffic management and enable users to be better informed and make safer, more coordinated and ‘smarter’ use of transportation networks. Examples include vehicle navigation systems, computerized signalization systems, surveillance cameras used to locate and clear accidents, etc., as well as electronic signs that notify drivers of traffic conditions.


Land Use

The way specific portions of land or the structures on them are currently used or planned for use such as commercial, residential or industrial.



Level of Service is a measuring technique used to gauge the level of efficiency of an individual roadway or a highway network; generally expressed as A, B, C, D, E, or F, with A being the lightest level of congestion and F being the heaviest.



Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act was signed into law in 2012 and provides Federal funding authority for surface transportation programs at over $105 billion for fiscal years (FY) 2013 and 2014. MAP-21 is the first long-term highway authorization enacted since 2005.



Measures of Effectiveness are parameters describing the quality of service provided to drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Speed, delay, passenger loadings and transit vehicle travel time could be examples. Qualitative rankings such as Level of Service and On-Time Performance would be based on these measures.



A Memorandum of Understanding is an agreement between parties.



Federal transportation laws and regulations require the establishment of a Metropolitan Planning Organization in every urbanized area of the U.S. with a population over 50,000. MPOs are responsible for meeting the federal metropolitan planning regulations for transportation.



A multimodal transportation system has the availability of multiple transportation options. A multimodal approach to transportation planning focuses on the most efficient way of getting people or goods from place to place, be it by truck, train, bicycle, automobile, airplane, bus, boat, foot and including telecommuting.



The U.S. EPA has defined National Ambient Air Quality Standards that set allowable concentrations and exposure limits for ozone, carbon monoxide and particulate matter.



The National Environmental Policy Act was signed into law and established a national environmental policy intentionally focused on Federal activities and the desire for a sustainable environment balanced with other essential needs of present and future generations of Americans.



The National Highway Institute is part of the Office of Professional and Corporate Development (OPCD) within the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). NHI helps improve the performance of the transportation industry through training. To achieve this mission, NHI provides leadership and resources to guide the development and delivery of transportation-related training in many formats including both classroom-based and distance-based learning.



The National Highway System is an approximately 160,000 mile network consisting of the 42,500 miles of the Interstate system, plus other key roads and arterials through the United States. Designated by Congress in 1995 pursuant to a requirement of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, the NHS is designed to provide an interconnected system of principal routes to serve major travel destinations and population centers.


Nonattainment Area

Any geographic region of the United States that the U.S. EPA has designated as not attaining the federal air quality standards for one or more air pollutants, such as ozone and carbon monoxide, is designated as a nonattainment area.



Paratransit is defined as comparable transportation service required by the ADA of 1990 for individuals with disabilities who are unable to use fixed-route transportation systems.


Park and Ride Lot

Designated parking areas for automobile drivers who then board transit vehicles or rideshare from these locations.


Peak Period

Morning and afternoon time periods, usually coinciding with the commute to and from work, when transportation demand is heaviest.


Performance Measures

Indicators of how well the transportation system is performing with regard to such things as average speed, reliability of travel and accident rates. Used as feedback in the decision making process.



The purpose of the Public Involvement Plan is to increase public awareness and participation while widening the range of voices and views in the planning process.


Planning Funds are the principal source of funding for carrying out the MPO process.


Public Transportation

Transportation by bus, rail or other conveyance, either publicly or privately owned, which provides to the public general or special service on a regular and continuing basis. Also known as “mass transportation,” “mass transit” and “transit.”


Reverse Commuting

Movement in a direction opposite the main flow of traffic, such as from the central city to a suburb during the morning peak period.



Request for proposals is a document advertising opportunities to submit bids for a particular purchase or service contract.



Ridesharing is a form of transportation, other than public transit, in which more than one person shares the use of the vehicle, such as a van or car, to make a trip. Also known as “carpooling” or “vanpooling.”



A Right-Of-Way is a legal land easement granted or reserved for transportation purposes. ROW identifies the land that is set aside for transportation purposes, such as for a roadway, trail, driveway, rail line or highway.



Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users is the 2005 amendment of the U.S. Code Transportation section and related federal funding bill.


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that no qualified disabled person shall, solely by reason of his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that receives or benefits from federal financial assistance. This Act protects qualified individuals from discrimination based on their disability.



Metropolitan areas prepare local State Implementation Plans and regional areas prepare local and regional SIPs showing steps they plan to take to meet federal air quality standards.


Smart Growth

A set of policies and programs designed to protect, preserve, and economically develop established communities and valuable natural and cultural resources.



The Statewide Mobility Plan is VDOT’s 10-year plan for adding capacity to the transportation system using the Mobility Category Funds of Federal and State Transportation funding.



State Planning and Research funds are allocated by VDOT in support of MPO program activities.



Required by federal law, the State Transportation Improvement Program is a four-year “programmatic document” that requires joint FHWA and FTA approval and that portrays the projected use of legally committed federal “obligated dollars” to transportation projects over the course of the four year documents. The STIP is produced at least every four years (sometimes two years), and it is amended often.


STP Funds

Surface Transportation Project funds are Federal funds disbursed through State DOTs.



Required by state law, the Six-Year Improvement Program is a six-year “programmatic document” that requires CTB approval and that portrays the state’s allocation of federal funds to transportation projects including the allocation and projected use of federal “obligated dollars” to those projects over the course of the first four years of the six year SYIP. The SYIP is produces and approved annually.



The Transportation Advisory Committee is a committee of elected officials within the local MPO responsible for communication and coordination between various policy boards and that takes action on issues in the transportation planning process.



Transportation Control Measures are specific measures that reduce emissions by reducing vehicle use or reducing traffic flow, like improved public transit, shared-ride services, bicycle/pedestrian facilities and flexible work schedules.



Transportation Demand Management involves various services/strategies designed to reduce demand of roadways, including carpooling, vanpooling and telecommuting.



The Transit Development Plan is an intermediate-range transit plan (usually five years) that examines service, markets and funding to make specific recommendations for transit improvements.



ISTEA created a funding category for projects that enhance the compatibility of transportation facilities with their surroundings. Examples of Transportation Enhancement Activities projects include bicycle and pedestrian paths, restoration of rail depots or other historic transportation facilities, acquisition of scenic or open space lands next to travel corridors and murals or other public art projects.



The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century is the legislation that reauthorized the federal reauthorization programs in 1998. TEA-21 retained and expanded most of the programs of ISTEA, in addition to greatly increasing overall funding for transportation.



Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery is funding for supplemental discretionary grants for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.



Developed and approved by the TPB, the Transportation Improvement Program is a list of projects and programs that will be implemented over the next six years. In order to receive federal funding, transportation projects must be included in the CLRP and the TIP.


Title VI

Part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits discrimination in any program receiving federal assistance (see Environmental Justice).



Transportation Management Areas are urbanized areas over 200,000 in population, and any other area that requests such designation.


Transportation Disadvantaged

Transportation disadvantaged are people who are unable to transport themselves or to purchase transportation due to disability, income status or age.



The Transportation Research Board’s mission is to promote innovation and progress in transportation by stimulating and conducting research, facilitating the dissemination of information and encouraging the implementation of research results.



U.S. Department of Transportation is the cabinet-level federal department responsible for federal transportation laws and regulations. It includes the FHWA and FTA, two agencies that are directly involved with the MPO process and therefore, with the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro MPO.



U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is the federal agency responsible for federal environmental laws and regulations. EPA plays a central role in implementing the federal Clean Air Act, which deeply affects the metropolitan transportation planning process.


Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970

This Act prohibits unfair and unequitable treatment of persons displaced or whose property will be acquired as a result of federal and federal-aid programs and projects.



MPOs must adopt and implement an annual work program and budget known as the Unified Planning Work Program. The UPWP identifies all activities to be undertaken by the MPO during the fiscal year which begins July 1st and ends the following June 30th.



The U.S. Census Bureau’s Urbanized Areas are defined by densely developed land, irrespective of local government boundaries, and encompass residential, commercial and other non-residential urban land uses.


Volume/Capacity ratio: A ratio >1 indicates the facility is carrying more traffic than it can handle and improvements may be needed.



Virginia Department of Transportation is the agency responsible for statewide transportation facility planning, construction and maintenance. VDOT is separate from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (VDRPT).



Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation is an agency under the Virginia Secretary of Transportation (as is VDOT) providing technical and financial assistance to Virginia’s public transit.



Vehicle Miles Traveled is the total number of miles driven by all vehicles within a given time period and geographic area, and it is used by regional transportation and environmental agencies for planning purposes. Since 1970, vehicle emissions have decreased even as vehicle miles traveled have increased.