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State and Regional Updates

Wyoming DOT I-80 Master Plan Seeks Improved Winter Safety, Proposes New Funding Options

  • Interstate 80 has a lot of two things: heavy trucks and crashes. Trucks comprise half the traffic on Wyoming’s primary east-west transit corridor and are involved in roughly 40 percent of the 1,500 crashes that take place on the route every year. “We’ve had a number of high profile crashes involving multiple vehicles (in recent years),” said transportation department spokeswoman Aimee Inama. Over half of the crashes on Wyoming’s three interstates take place on I-80 and a new master plan for the freeway, unveiled last week, calls for a series of safety improvements in addition to several other changes. The draft master plan calls for creating or extending third lanes used by freight trucks ascending steep sections of the freeway as well as additional parking areas where truck drivers can wait out storms.

PLANNING

Engineers Could Learn a Lot from Dance When Designing Transport

  • There is little more important for the sustainability of cities than the ways we move around them. With transportation estimated to account for 30% of energy consumption across the majority of the world’s developed nations, reducing the necessity for energy-reliant vehicles is fundamental to addressing the environmental impact of mobility. But as cities become the predominant habitat for most people in the world, it is important to think about other kinds of sustainability too.

Georgetown University, UPS Partnership Has Lessons for Urban Planners

  • How can a major international corporation benefit from partnering with an urban university? In this installment of the Innovation of the Month series, we’ll explore how a partnership between UPS and Georgetown University created a new learning experience for future urban planners to explore one facet of today’s urban environment: how to effectively and efficiently deliver packages and develop solutions for tomorrow’s smart cities. MetroLab’s Executive Director Ben Levine sat down with Uwe Brandes, associate professor of Practice in Urban and Regional Planning at Georgetown University, and Thomas Madrecki, Director of Urban Innovation and Mobility at UPS, to discuss the collaboration.

With an Eye to the Future, Planners Prepare Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley for Rapid Technology Changes

  • Peter Leyden found a perfect metaphor for how America and the Lehigh Valley are adapting to the brave new world of “digitization”-the conversion of information into an electronic format that has revolutionized how we live, work and communicate. From his hotel room at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, he could see Bethlehem Steel, a leading industrial power of the 20th century, re-purposed into an arts center and a casino. The change is indicative of a nation transforming itself amid rapid technological changes and economic shifts, said Leyden, a futurist and former editor of Wired magazine.

MPOs

Cooperation Steers Pinellas County, Florida Transportation Projects

  • Pinellas County Commissioners got a lesson in how a coordinated effort paves the way for transportation projects during a Dec. 5 work session. Staff from Forward Pinellas, as well as the county’s Planning and Public Works department talked about their different roles, including development of the capital improvement program that leads to the eventual design and construction of transportation projects.

Casper Area MPO Holds Public Meeting to Kick Off Parking Study

  • It’s been the better part of two decades since the City of Casper undertook a downtown parking study, and a lot has changed since then. The Old Yellowstone District and a revitalization of downtown has city planners looking to address the future growth of the area, and a public meeting to kick off a new parking study is planned for Wednesday, December 13th, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Fox Theatre on Second Street.

ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION

Bikeshare Growing Pains Help Dallas Chart Plan to Rethink Transportation

  • If you’ve been in the Central Business District of Dallas, you’ve seen bike share rentals on sidewalks and street corners. They are helping chart the city’s future alternative transportation needs. “We cannot build our way out of congestion,” said Dallas City Councilman Lee Kleinman. “So we have to look for alternatives.” The population of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex is expected to increase by more than 50-percent in the next quarter century. Kleinman says getting people out of their cars into public transportation or on bikes is key.

Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission Awaits Word on $24.2 Million Federal Grant to Finish 58 Mile Marquette Greenway Trail

  • The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission expects to learn early next year if it’s won a $24.2 million federal grant that it estimates could have economic benefits equal to about $186.7 million. NIRPC officials announced in October their intention to apply for the grant to complete the 58-mile Marquette Greenway trail, and submitted an application that month with a 30-page narrative and 72 letters of support from public officials and private entities.

NACTO Releases New Guidance for the Next Generation of North American Bike Facilities

  • The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), an organization that represents 58 major cities in North America, today released guidance to help cities decide what types of bike infrastructure will best achieve their goals to build bike networks that are safe and comfortable for riders of all ages and abilities. The new guidance, Designing for All Ages and Abilities, builds upon the organization’s groundbreaking Urban Bikeway Design Guide, an internationally renowned technical guide that has helped cities to dramatically increase the number and quality of urban bike facilities in the United States and Canada over the past decade.

TRANSIT

What Salt Lake City’s New Transit Master Plan Means to You

  • Here is Salt Lake City’s vision for 2040: Three out of four residents live within two blocks of a transit stop. With cheaper and more frequent buses, the city is a place where people comfortably live without owning a car. And with fewer cars, the air quality has improved. Lower-income residents more easily rely on public transit for work or school, and the effective transportation network has spurred economic development. To get there, the Salt Lake City Council adopted a citywide transit master plan Tuesday, a vote that Council Chairman Stan Penfold called “a really big deal and a first-time opportunity for Salt Lake City.”

After Harvey, Houston Leaders Look to Rebuild Around Transit

  • It’s been about three months since the deluge of Hurricane Harvey inflicted an estimated $200 billion in damage on the Houston region. The recovery is just beginning. Billions in federal support will be flowing into the city. Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently requested $61 billion in relief in addition to what’s expected to come from FEMA and HUD, reports Rice University’s Raj Mankad at OffCite. About a third of that $61 billion would be spent on housing. The recovery effort should help ensure that Houston will be better prepared to deal with future extreme weather events, says Mankad, and that includes directing housing resources toward transit-accessible locations.

MIT-Designed Tool Lets Users Test Realistic Changes to Local Transit Networks

  • Have you ever wanted to change your city’s public transit system? A new digital tool developed by an MIT team lets people design alterations to transit networks and estimate the resulting improvements, based on existing data from urban transit systems. The team, led by Christopher Zegras, a professor in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, has already tested the tool with residents in four major U.S. cities-Atlanta, Boston, New Orleans, and San Francisco-as well as in London and Santiago de Chile, and is now planning additional projects in Chile, Colombia, and South Africa.

ROADWAYS

AI and Supercomputers to Help Alleviate Urban Traffic Problems

  • Look above the traffic light at a busy intersection in your city and you will probably see a camera. These devices may have been installed to monitor traffic conditions and provide visuals in the case of a collision. But can they do more? Can they help planners optimize traffic flow or identify sites that are most likely to have accidents? And can they do so without requiring individuals to slog through hours of footage? Researchers from the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), the University of Texas Center for Transportation Research and the City of Austin believe so.

Traffic Apps Like Google Maps, Waze Present Challenges for Traffic Engineers

  • As more drivers utilize traffic maps to minimize time spent on congested streets, a principal traffic engineer said it’s creating challenges for traffic engineers and side roads. Matt Duncan, the city of Lakewood’s principal traffic engineer, said neighbors expressed concern about increased traffic and accidents at Pierce Street and Kentucky Avenue. Neighbors living in the area figured the increased traffic came from new developments in the area, but Duncan said traffic engineers are seeing an increase in side-street traffic because of traffic apps such as Apple Maps, Google Maps and Waze.

INTERNATIONAL

Uber, Phillipines Department of Public Works and Highways Join Forces for Better Traffic Planning

  • In a change of pace from the past months, transport network company (TNC) Uber now finds itself teaming up with the government to help ease the country’s traffic woes. Uber Philippines and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday, December 5. The ride-hailing company will build the Movement for Manila platform with the help of the DPWH Planning Department “to provide inputs for enhanced traffic management and troubleshooting.”

New Tool by University of Toronto Researchers Help Construction Industry Reduce Carbon Footprint

  • A team of researchers from the University of Toronto is partnering with the construction industry to help reduce the carbon footprint of buildings, bridges, public transit and other major infrastructure projects. “What we’re building is a decision-support tool that can be used in the early stages of design and planning,” says Heather MacLean, a professor in the department of civil engineering who is one of five Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering professors involved in the project. “Ultimately, the goal is to produce infrastructure with much lower greenhouse gas impact.”