Beginning with Habitat


Comprehensive Planning

1. Guide | 2. Required Elements | 3. Topic Areas | 4. Plan Topic: Water Resources | 5. Plan Topic: Critical Natural Resources | 6. Plan Topic: Transportation | 7. Crafting a Future Land Use Plan | 8. Regional Coordination | 9. Example Comprehensive Plans

BwH Highlighted Topic: Transportation


State Goal:

To plan for, finance and develop an efficient system of public facilities and services to accommodate anticipated growth and economic development.

Legislative Requirement:

The Act requires that each comprehensive plan include an inventory and analysis of:

Existing transportation systems, including the capacity of existing and proposed major thoroughfares, secondary routes, pedestrian ways and parking facilities.

In addition, the Act requires that the implementation section of the plan:

Develop a capital investment plan for financing the replacement and expansion of public facilities and services required to meet projected growth and development.

Please Note: * indicates minimum conditions and trends data, analyses and key issues, policies, and strategies that communities are required to address under the Comprehensive Plan Review Criteria Rule. The information provided below addresses only the habitat-related requirements and offers additional suggestions. Visit the Comprehensive Plan Review Criteria Rule for a full list of minimum requirements.

Conditions & Trends:

The Beginning with Habitat (BwH) map series and conservation planning principles will help you to assess how transportation and habitats influence and impact each other. Map 1 Water Resources and Riparian Areas, Map 2 High Value Habitats, and Map 3 Undeveloped Blocks as well as the additional BwH maps each depict state and town roads as well as important habitat data. From these maps you will see that transportation infrastructure, fisheries and wildlife habitat, and land use are integrally linked and each influences and impacts the other. The linear nature of roads often results in a direct loss of habitat and the presence of wildlife travel corridors in turn poses a safety risk for drivers and passengers. Roads are constructed or improved in response to an identified need or demand. Additional capacity, however, often leads to increased development along corridors, which then necessitates more transportation improvements further fragmenting habitat. Roads can fragment landscapes, segment streams, isolate wildlife populations, restrict movement between breeding and feeding or over-wintering areas, restrict genetic flow, and increase the likelihood of local extinctions. Proactively aligning local transportation policies, land use, and wildlife concerns will benefit local species diversity, town character, and help to minimize future repair and maintenance costs.

Analyses & Key Issues:

Using the conditions and trends data, your committee will analyze and identify key issues related to transportation. To identify issues that relate to habitat, your committee may want to ask:

  • *What, if any, environmental degradation caused by state or local transportation facilities or operations (e.g. wildlife mortality, habitat fragmentation, erosion, groundwater contamination, non-point source pollution) is occurring?
  • Are there deficiencies in current public works repair, maintenance, and construction practices related to the environment? For example, how does your community approach stream crossing design such as culverts and bridge crossings? Are these practices consistent with best management practices outlined by the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT)?
  • *What steps can the community take to encourage development to occur in a manner that minimizes transportation-related environmental impacts such as habitat fragmentation and/or vehicular CO2 emissions?
  • Does your community have a clear policy with regard to accepting privately built roads? Are there construction standards for such roads? Who is responsible for maintaining roads that are to remain privately owned?
  • *Do planned or recently built subdivision roads (residential or commercial) simply dead-end or do they allow for expansion to adjacent land and encourage the creation of a network of local streets? Where dead-ends are unavoidable, are mechanisms in place to encourage shorter dead-ends resulting in compact and efficient subdivision designs? What are the implications for town services, such as snow plowing, school busing, and emergency services where dead-ends occur?


Based on analyses and key issues identified, transportation policies related to habitat might include policies:

  • *To promote public health, protect natural and cultural resources, and enhance livability by managing land use in ways to maximize the efficiency of the transportation system and minimize increase in vehicle miles traveled.
  • To protect water quality.
  • To protect aquatic and terrestrial habitat values and maintain connectivity between habitats.


Depending on the policies adopted, implementation strategies related to habitat might include: (specific examples of many of these strategies can be found in the Tools section.)

  • Update or establish road construction, maintenance, and repair standards that address fish and wildlife passage using MDOT passage policy guidance as a starting point. For example, your community may wish to upgrade its approach to culvert designs to permit unrestricted flow, prevent flood damage, and provide for fish and wildlife passage. MDOT currently provides technical assistance to local public works departments.
  • Update or establish road standards for subdivisions and private roads including dead-end length limits to minimize fragmentation of remaining undeveloped habitat blocks.

Next: Crafting a Future Land Use Plan

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