Making Transportation Planning Applicable in Tribal Communities Research Study: Final Report

The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Office of Tribal Transportation (OTT) planning staff have observed two challenges in Tribal transportation planning: (1) that existing planning analysis tools do not always align with Tribal community context and needs and (2) it is not always clear what benefits planning provides to transportation project selection and delivery in Tribal communities.

by Federal Highway Administration

FHWA began the Making Transportation Planning Applicable in Tribal Communities research study in June 2020 with the goal of aligning available planning analysis tools to Tribal community interests based on a range of contextual factors and measuring the benefits of planning analysis in the project selection and delivery processes.

Recognizing the diversity of population size, geography, and transportation goals across Tribal communities, this study analyzes the transportation project development lifecycle (i.e., planning through design, construction, and maintenance) to understand which planning analysis tools best serve Tribal communities’ interests and to what effect. The specific study goals are to:

1. Align planning tools to the specific Tribal planning interests

2. Ensure long-range transportation plans (LRTPs) are implementable by Tribal staff

3. Link planning phase to project design, construction, and maintenance

This report presents the process and results of this study, which is composed of six memoranda detailing the information gathered on Tribal transportation planning processes. These memoranda include detailed information on existing literature, methodology for selecting Tribes and organizations to discuss planning processes, analysis of findings from those discussions, and recommendations for tools and resources.

Attached document published October 2023

About the Author


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), part of the US Department of Transportation, provides expertise, resources, and information to improve the nation's highway system and its intermodal connections. The Federal-Aid Highway Program provides financial assistance to the States to construct and improve the National Highway System, other roads, bridges, and trails.

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