Focus Areas

Rural and Small Community Planning


The Rural and Small Community Planning focus area page is a one-stop shop for resources about transportation planning in rural and small communities on the TPCB website. It includes links to publications, legislation and guidance, recent peer events, upcoming calendar events, and related websites.

Resources and Publications


  • Better Plans for Better Places: How the Sustainable Communities Initiative changed the way the country plans for a prosperous future
    The Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI) represents the most comprehensive federal support for community and regional planning in recent history. Never before has the federal government provided funding for planning that spans the environmental, social and economic challenges facing our communities. This investment enabled people and organizations in 143 places, representing nearly 40 percent of the US population, to work together--across jurisdictions, sectors, all manner of old divides--in broad and deep coalitions toward ambitious goals of vibrant, healthy, livable communities. These diverse places--urban and rural, regions and neighborhoods, thriving and more challenged--were supported by a team of experienced organizations using innovative techniques to build community capacity in myriad ways. Their results will have lasting impacts for the 145 million residents living in grantee communities and beyond.
  • A Guide to Transportation Decisionmaking
    Have you ever wondered how decisions are made about the transportation projects that affect your life? How do government officials decide where to put a bus stop, road, or bridge? How are these and other transportation projects planned? And how can you make sure your opinions are heard and considered by residents, planners, designers, and elected officials? The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) created this guide to answer these and other transportation project-related questions. We hope this guide will help you understand how transportation decisions are made at the local, State, and national levels; and that you will take advantage of the opportunities provided to contribute your ideas. We believe that the better the public understands the transportation decisionmaking process, the more certain it is that the transportation system will be safe and efficient, and that the planning process will be responsive to public needs and concerns about their communities and the natural environment. A revised version of this guide was published in April 2015.
  • Moving Toward Performance-based Transportation Planning in Rural and Small Metropolitan Regions
    This report from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation draws on research and training efforts conducted by the NADO Research Foundation from 2010 – 2014 and with support and guidance from the Federal Highway Administration. Throughout this period, the NADO Research Foundation collected planning documents from rural, regional transportation planning organizations, held interviews and conversations about planning and performance measurement with regional planning professionals and their state partners, and conducted training and outreach on performance measurement where discussion in the sessions also informed the research effort. The research found that many organizations are adopting measures and considering performance measurement carefully. The efforts of state DOTs and state legislatures to increase performance culture play a significant role in determining the extent to which regional agencies are moving toward performance measurement. In many cases, a strategic planning framework is already well entrenched in RTPOs’ planning processes and could be adapted to include systematic performance measurement. Some of the strategies to move toward performance-based planning used by RTPOs, MPOs, and state DOTs that participated in the research include working with partners on data, analysis, selecting measures, and creating measurement frameworks; communicating the information that resonates with the audience; using data to drive decisionmaking; making use of funding scenarios and plan alternatives to understand the performance implications of potential future investment decisions; and more.
  • View the Briefing Book Non-Metropolitan Local Officials Consultation - The webpage describes the role of non-metropolitan local officials in the statewide transportation planning process.
  • The Transportation Planning Process: Key Issues (the "Briefing Book") - The "Briefing Book" is a primer to help you better understand Federal transportation planning regulations and requirements at the statewide and metropolitan planning levels.

Click here to access a full list of Legislation, Regulations, and Guidance related to rural and small community planning on the TPCB website.

Calendar of Events

Check the calendar

Peer Event Reports

The TPCB peer program is a free resource for agencies in need of transportation planning assistance. Visit the peer program page to learn more or apply for a peer event.

Related Websites and Organizations


For more information about the TPCB program, contact Michelle Noch at FHWA (202-366-9206) or Tonya Holland at FTA (202-493-0283).

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