US Department of Transportation

FHWA PlanWorks: Better Planning, Better Projects

US Department of Transportation

FHWA Planworks: Better Planning, Better Projects

COR-1: Approve Scope of Corridor Planning Process

Corridor Planning


This is a crucial first step of corridor planning. It involves a process of assessing what data, decisions and relationships need to be considered, acquired or made throughout corridor planning. The corridor planning scope is informed by long range transportation planning and informs environmental review. This is a key point to form or acknowledge existing relationships with partners in transportation decision-making and other decision-making processes.


The first table describes the purpose and anticipated outcome of a Key Decision. If the decision is federally mandated, the purpose and outcome will relate to the legal intent.

The second table describes roles for key partners with legal decision making authority in the transportation process. The roles indicate the influence a partner can have on a decision, and show each partner where their input is most needed. For a full understanding of roles see the Partner Portal.


To initiate a corridor planning process, either in a rural or metropolitan area. Issues considered should inclusive of transportation, environment, and community in order to agree on a comprehensive scope and overall direction of the process.


A clearly defined scope to guide the corridor planning process.

Partner Role Type Description
MPO Decision Maker (urban), No Role (rural) Ensures the scope of the corridor planning study is sufficiently broad and inclusive to consider all potential solutions and opportunities.
FHWA/FTA Advisor Ensures the process of developing the corridor or sub-area plan is inclusive of appropriate federal and state agencies and considers other accepted plans.
State DOT Advisor (urban), Decision Maker (rural) Provides an understanding of state needs and plans with respect to the corridor.
Resource Agency Advisor Agree to collaborate in the corridor planning process and ensure appropriate information is brought forward and used. Bring forward the ecological planning region, ecological goals and priorities or ensure information carried forward from LRP is up-to-date.
Public Transportation Operator(s) Advisor Provides an understanding of transit needs and plans with respect to the corridor.

Questions to Consider

Questions are a way to gather input from partners and stakeholders that can be used to inform the decision. Decision makers can discuss the questions provided to ensure a broad array of interests are considered to support a collaborative process. Questions also allow staff to collect stakeholder interests, ensure these are included in the decision, and provide a response based on the decision outcome. Although Public Transportation is not represented by a PlanWorks Application, the information provided may be useful in a collaborative transportation process.

Category Questions to Consider
Long Range Planning
  • Are any existing analyses available from the LRP phase?
  • What major changes have occurred since the LRTP was adopted?
  • No specific questions
Corridor Planning
  • What plans and programs are available as tools and data sources? (e.g., LRTP, land use plans, conservation plans, a regional ecosystem framework, or economic development plans)
  • Are the tools up to date and sufficient for this process?
  • Is the identified geographic area for the corridor study sufficient for broad consideration of potential impacts?
  • Is the scope set up to consider both people and freight movement?
  • What additional information outside of plans and programs is available to complete the corridor planning process?
  • What are the potential risks to a timely completion of this corridor planning process?
  • Who should be involved in the corridor planning process? (e.g., partners, modal partners, stakeholders, and operational partners, etc.)
  • How will partners, stakeholders, and the public be involved?
  • How, when, and by whom will decisions within the corridor planning process be made?
Environmental Review
  • Do we anticipate that any projects coming from this corridor study will require a NEPA analysis?
  • Is the scope sufficiently documented inform environmental review scope and decisions?
Bicycles and Pedestrians
  • Which bicycle, pedestrian, and accessibility stakeholders should be at the table, and how will their needs be balanced and considered?
  • How does this corridor fit into the regional bicycle and pedestrian network?
    Is this corridor currently reflected in local, regional, or state pedestrian, bicycle, or Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Transition plans?
  • What are the bicycle and pedestrian issues affecting the corridor, both along and across the corridor?
  • Are important destinations such as jobs, schools, essential services, recreational areas, and goods and services located along the corridor?
Capital Improvement
  • Have capital improvement planners been invited to participate?
  • How will the corridor study consider non-transportation infrastructure improvements?
  • Are there projects in the capital improvement plan that relate to the geographic area and to potential transportation infrastructure improvements?
Economic Development
  • Have economic development partners and stakeholders been invited to participate in the process? Do they have resources to consider?
  • Are there emerging economic development issues that affect this corridor?
  • Are there established economic development visions or goals to consider?
  • To what extent is the corridor impacted by freight movement?
  • Have freight stakeholders been identified to participate in the corridor planning process?
  • Have any freight advisory committees been consulted for recommendations on who to involve?
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Are there key resources, partners, and stakeholders with an interest in GHG reductions?
  • Are there requirements that will influence how GHG emissions will be considered? For example, is there a state, regional, or local climate action plan or state/federal GHG inventory or reduction requirements?
  • Is the corridor plan part of a larger GHG-reduction or climate action plan?
Health in Transportation
  • Do transportation agency participants in corridor planning recognize public health as an important transportation issue? If not, what benefits, strong community support, or other factors can be used to inform their consideration?
  • What existing plans, partnerships, or relationships support integrating health and transportation in the corridor? Examples include, the Strategic Highway Safety Plan, Toward Zero Deaths, or Health in All Policies.
  • Who are the potential health and community stakeholders in the corridor? Can they provide relevant information and perspectives for assessing and addressing the community’s health needs and priorities?
  • What points in the corridor planning process will be most beneficial to engage health and community stakeholders?
  • In general, what transportation-related health issues are relevant in the corridor: safety, air quality, physical activity, noise, equitable access to community resources and opportunities, health equity, or other issues identified by community and health stakeholders?
Human Environment and Communities
  • Have any groups or agencies with an interest in the human environment to participate in the corridor planning process been identified?
  • Are there special populations to consider (e.g., EJ, low-income, disabled, and minority communities) and to target for engagement?
  • What data, information, and analyses are available about the community or individual population groups to use as a baseline?
Land Use
  • Have transportation decision makers and land use partners agreed to collaborate in corridor planning?
  • Have the land use priorities been identified?
  • Are there emerging land use or development issues that affect this corridor?
  • Have land use patterns and growth forecasts been considered in defining the corridor planning area?
  • How does land use information from the LRTP inform corridor planning?
Linking Planning and Operations
  • How will system reliability be reflected in the corridor planning study?
  • What operational partners have been identified for participation?
  • Does the scope include potential TSMO improvements?
  • What are the operational issues affecting the corridor?
  • Is there a regional concept of operations or operations related plan?
  • Are there local operations strategies in place that can be built upon to create a regional operational approach?
  • Have the modes, data, and analysis needs been identified?
Natural Environment and Implementing Eco Logical
  • Is there a formal interagency conservation and transportation partnership agreement?
  • Are there existing relationships with resource agencies and conservation NGOs? Have they been invited to participate?
  • Is any existing ecological plan being incorporated into the corridor planning process?
  • Are there any data on ecology and ecological goals? Are updates needed?
  • Are there any relevant conservation opportunities or mitigation strategies?
Performance Measures
  • Are there performance measures and targets that pertain to this corridor?
  • Which partners/stakeholders are most appropriate to include for supporting performance measurement?
Planning and Environment Linkages
  • Is this corridor planning study to be conducted using a PEL approach?
Public Private Partnerships
  • Is there private sector interest in this corridor?
  • Is there public or political support or opposition to the use of P3 financing in the corridor?
  • Are there public/private sources of data relevant for assessing the potential for P3 in the corridor, including from non-transportation processes?
  • Does the required federal or state legislative authority exist?
  • Is there a state or regional agency/department that assists with P3 projects and who can serve as a trusted P3 advisor?
  • Are existing tools sufficient to support revenue and risk analysis?
  • Is there documentation from long-range planning about previous P3 consideration?
Public Transportation
  • What are the public transportation needs and plans with respect to the corridor?
  • What safety data exist and how can they be used in the corridor planning process?
Stakeholder Collaboration
  • This Key Decision is not associated with the Application.
Transportation Conformity
  • This Key Decision is not associated with the Application.
Visioning and Transportation
  • Is anything from a visioning process available and applicable, such as the scope, goals, measures, or commitments?


The following list of data may be needed to support the Key Decision. Practitioners collect this information for decision makers to consider. Although Public Transportation is not represented by a PlanWorks Application, the information provided may be useful in a collaborative transportation process.

Category Data to Consider
Long Range Planning
  • All scenarios considered in the long range planning process and reasons for eliminating scenarios
  • Background information on the initial identification of partners
  • Long range planning boundary
  • The adopted LRTP including information related to recommended improvements to the corridor
  • The approved range of strategies
  • Transportation deficiencies in the corridor
  • No specific data
Corridor Planning
  • Multi-modal plans or facilities
  • Planning boundaries from corridor and small area plans
  • Travel data including auto occupancy data, speed and delay, traffic count data, weather data, and special events
  • Data on existing conditions including aerial images, bridges and culverts, control data
  • Population and employment data (baseline and forecasted) in the corridor planning area
  • Public involvement plan, list of stakeholders
Environmental Review
  • Active or identified NEPA studies
Bicycles and Pedestrians
  • Bicycle and pedestrian data
  • Existing and proposed pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, injuries and fatalities, and volume/activity
  • Existing bicycle and pedestrian studies, data to support analysis, and stakeholders to engage
Capital Improvement
  • Capital improvement plans or development plans
  • Input from potential capital improvement partners
Economic Development
  • Data used for economic planning in the state, region, or local area and performance indicators
    For example, comprehensive planning data
  • Inventory of current economic environment and key businesses or industries, stakeholders, economic development philosophy of the region and/or state
  • Potential freight stakeholders
  • Previous analyses and traffic studies of freight movement in the corridor
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • An estimate of applicable emissions sources and rates
  • Travel activity and network performance analyses
  • Analysis years
  • Data and tool availability by emissions source, travel mode, and data format
  • Public or political support for GHG reduction, and relevant rules and regulations
Health in Transportation
  • Assessment of agency, political, and public support for the incorporation of health into transportation decision making
  • Existing plans and studies that assess health in the corridor and its communities
  • Contact information for health stakeholders, including contacts in this agency, other transportation agencies, public and community health organizations, and other organizations and community advocates for public health, health equity, or the social determinants of health in the corridor
Human Environment and Communities
  • Goals and community context
  • Data or analyses reflecting the subarea surrounding the corridor
  • Specific archeological or historic areas to consider
  • Demographic and community data on population characteristics
Land Use
  • Adopted land use plans or covenants within the area
  • Greenways, easements, set-backs within the corridor
  • Land use and smart growth vision, goals, policies
  • Land use and land planning data, including planning boundaries, access commitments or restrictions, applications for development or access
Linking Planning and Operations
  • Operations goals, potential stakeholders, and performance measures
  • Information on current and planned TSMO in the corridor
Natural Environment and Implementing Eco Logical
  • Documentation and agreements from an integrated ecological process
  • Ecological goal, planning region, and related data
  • Conservation, restoration, and enhancement priorities if available
  • Relationships formed between resource agencies, conservation NGOs and transportation agencies
Performance Measures
  • Performance measures and targets for the corridor/sub-area
Planning and Environment Linkages
  • PEL guidance and scope, if applicable
Public Private Partnerships
  • Assessment of private sector interest and public/political support or opposition for the use of P3 financing in the corridor
  • P3 projects in this or similar corridors
  • Experience and authority to consider P3
  • Analysis capabilities and tools
  • Documentation of previous P3 consideration
Public Transportation
  • Data on public transportation needs and plans for the corridor
  • Data on existing and proposed routes and stop locations
  • Previous analyses and studies conducted during long range planning or public transportation planning
  • Plans or other information safety partners can contribute
  • Agreement between transportation decision makers and safety partners to participate in corridor planning
Stakeholder Collaboration
  • This Key Decision is not associated with the Application.
Transportation Conformity
  • This Key Decision is not associated with the Application.
Visioning and Transportation
  • Baseline information and analysis from visioning
  • Any goals, measures, or commitments made in visioning that would be relevant to the corridor
  • Potential stakeholders to engage in corridor planning


In - depth case studies of successful practices in collaborative decision making were used to develop the Decision Guide.Links in this table point to a specific paragraph or section of a case study that supports a Key Decision. It is not necessary to read through an entire case study to find the example; however, full versions are available in the Library.

PlanWorks Case Study Examples:
US 64 Asheboro Bypass - Merged NEPA and Section 404 Permitting Processes cor-1

Other Examples:
Fletcher Avenue Complete Streets (Hillsborough County, Florida)