Least Cost Planning Methodology for ODOT
In 2009, the Oregon State Legislature adopted the Jobs and Transportation Act, which directed the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to develop a least cost planning methodology for use in the development and assessment of plans and projects at the state and regional level. The Act defines least cost planning as "A process of comparing direct and indirect costs of demand and supply options to meet transportation goals, policies or both, where the intent of the process is to identify the most cost-effective mix of options." Key objectives of the Oregon least cost planning (OLCP) effort include helping ensure that transportation decisions are made in a way that is transparent and accountable to the public, and makes the best use of public funds to achieve long-term goals.
To develop the methodology, ODOT has taken a multi-phased approach, including preparation of a discussion paper on the history and applications of least cost planning in transportation. ODOT also established a staged process to develop the actual OLCP methodology that includes a preamble that explored the origins of least cost planning and presented the key principles and technical attributes of least cost planning, and researched best practices in the United States and abroad. Stage 1 defined the framework for OLCP, including transportation system performance categories, and identified general indicators for each impact category. In Stage 2, HDR identified specific indicators for OLCP, reached out to key stakeholders and potential users and developed an indicator comparison process and least cost planning analysis methodology as well as a guidebook. Finally, Stage 3 implements OLCP on one or more demonstration projects, as resources permit.