Transportation Study Guidelines

The County of Placer Transportation Study Guidelines were adopted by the Board of Supervisors on December 1, 2020 and further amended on June 22, 2021. These Guidelines are intended to describe the transportation analysis requirements for land development projects and major land plans in Placer County. 

The purpose of this document is to provide a clear and consistent technical approach to preparing transportation studies in Placer County. The Guidelines establish analysis techniques for transportation studies based on the current state-of-the-practice in transportation planning and engineering. The County expects these guidelines to result in studies that provide comprehensive, reasonable, and accurate analysis of potential transportation impacts to the environment and County facilities and services. This information is essential for decision makers and the public when evaluating individual development projects. 

A Transportation Study may include two types of analysis:

  • CEQA impact analysis that addresses compliance with the State CEQA requirements and expectations, including SB 743.
  • A local transportation assessment that demonstrates project consistency with General Plan goals and policies. 

Placer County will primarily review transportation studies based on the guidance presented in the Guidelines. However, each project is unique and the guidance in this document is not intended to be so prescriptive as to be impractical. Not all criteria and analysis will apply to every project. Early and consistent communication with CDRA and DPW staff is encouraged for all projects. These Guidelines are subject to revision at any time due to future changes in analysis techniques, policies, guidelines, or statutes.

Questions about the Transportation Study Guidelines should be directed to Katie Jackson.

Implementation of SB 743

In 2013, the State of California passed Senate Bill 743 (SB 743), which required CEQA lead agencies to change the transportation metric analyzed in environmental documents. Previously, the industry standard for assessing transportation impacts was Level of Service (LOS), which assesses roadway capacity based on measures like speed, density, delay, etc. On July 1, 2020, SB 743 went into effect requiring lead agencies to transition to using Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) to evaluate transportation impacts. VMT is a measurement of the number of miles traveled by passenger cars and light duty trucks over a given time period. For more information about SB 743, view our fact sheet here.

This change is intended to capture the impacts of driving on the environment rather than the impacts of delay on drivers.  LOS analysis may still be required as part of a project’s land use entitlement process and all projects will still be required to participate in the County’s fee programs. However, LOS will no longer be the basis for transportation impacts under CEQA. 

The County has established a methodology, VMT metric, screening criteria, and thresholds needed to analyze VMT in a CEQA document. Any discretionary project that will be in a public review process will need to assess VMT in their environmental document. The adopted thresholds and screening criteria can be found in the Transportation Study Guidelines (refer to link above).

Questions about VMT should be directed to Leigh Chavez or Katie Jackson.