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News & Updates

State and Regional Updates

Caltrans Releases Vision for California’s Rail Plan

  • Caltrans today released the public draft of the California State Rail Plan, which outlines a new framework for California’s rail network. The Rail Plan sets the stage for new and better rail, and multimodal and community connections in the state for the next 20 years and beyond. The Rail Plan is unlike prior plans. Strategic investments will lead to an easy-to-use rail system offering faster and more frequent service, customer-friendly timed multimodal connections, integrated ticketing and trip planning, and increased reliability of travel in congested corridors around the state.

PLANNING

Denver South Sees Smart City Potential with Newly Formed Alliance

  • Communities across the Denver metro region are joining forces to promote smart city technology. Leaders from academia, industry and other sectors are coming together to not only grow entrepreneurial activity, but shape public policy in a direction that embraces 21st-century urban growth. The recently formed Colorado Smart Cities Alliance brings together public and private leaders from 12 cities to grow and develop regional technological innovations.

MPOs

GM of Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada Says Las Vegas Poised to Become Leader in Transportation Innovation

  • When Audi went looking for a city where it could test technology allowing its cars to communicate with street lights, it took one call to get the test started in Las Vegas. Launching in Los Angeles would have required 133 calls, Tina Quiqley, general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission, said today at the National Clean Energy Summit. Her point? Las Vegas, due to the streamlined structure of its transportation system, is well-positioned to take advantage of innovative technology to make traffic move more smoothly and safely.

SANDAG Says Money from California Gas Tax Not Enough for Local Projects

  • The regional transportation agency, SANDAG, has lost its credibility with the public, resulting from over-promising and under-delivering on transit and road projects. And now we learn the agency’s staff is talking about asking the voters for future tax increases to fill the gap. Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey is raising the issue, saying the actual costs for projects were 50 percent higher than what the voters were promised. The proposed increases would be in addition to the 12-cent increase in the gas tax by the state, which takes effect 15 days from now.

$12 Million Grant Will Fund Smart Transportation in Central Florida

  • A $12 million federal grant will allow the Central Florida region enhance intelligent transportation systems aimed at pedestrian safety and easing congestion. The University of Central Florida, Florida Department of Transportation, and MetroPlan Orlando will receive the $11.9 million from the Federal Highway Administration to test the technology of smart cities in the rapidly-growing city of Orlando. The results have the potential to become national models for other growing locations.

Spotsylvania County, Virginia Rejects Proposed Transportation Authority That Could Impose Additional Taxes for Road Work

  • Tax is a four-letter word to many elected officials in Spotsylvania County. So it was no surprise that a proposed regional transportation authority that could increase taxes to pay for Fredericksburg-area road improvements did not go over too well with county leaders. Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Administrator Paul Agnello listed some reasons to consider an authority in a presentation to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. He cited a recent study that named a stretch of Interstate 95 between Stafford and Fairfax counties the worst traffic hot spot in the U.S. But supervisors unanimously voted against the idea, which would require the General Assembly’s approval.

ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION

Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission Seeks $24 Million Grant to Finish Marquette Greenway

  • Gaps in the long-planned 58-mile Marquette Greenway trail could be filled in the next five years if the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission gets a $24 million grant it’s applying for this month. Plans call for the Marquette Greenway to run from the South Side of Chicago to New Buffalo, Michigan. Sections already in use include the Calumet Park Trail in Illinois, Marquette Trail in Gary, Calumet Trail in Porter and LaPorte counties and shorter trails at Whihala Beach Park and George Lake.

Chicago, Once a Bikeshare Innovator, Squeamish About the Next Level

  • Chicago had a new mayor and a progressive new transportation director, both fresh from D.C., in 2012 when it decided to launch Divvy, its city-owned bikeshare system. Since then the Divvy system has seen more than 10 million rides on 5,800 bikes tied to 580 stations connected by 100 miles of bike lanes. But the bike sharing concept has evolved even faster, making Chicago’s heavy bikes and anchored docks seem old-fangled. Only five years later, the state of the art calls for free-floating, dockless bikes tracked by GPS and managed by smart phone. Chicago’s not so sure.

TRANSIT

Uber, Lyft Reduce Transit Use, Increase Vehicle Miles, Report Says

  • As ride-hailing has exploded in popularity, it’s caused a slight decrease in car ownership – but has also reduced use of public transit, biking and walking. The result is a likely increase in both traffic and the number of miles traveled in a vehicle, according to a national study of ride-hailing adoption from the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies being released Wednesday.

How Transit Use Could Rise in Rural America

  • For rural Americans who don’t have access to cars, basics like grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments can turn into an arduous struggle. With few transit options at low densities, the expense and hassle of finding an alternative ride can mean important appointments simply get skipped. That’s a problem. Rural communities increasingly reflect a group of people who don’t drive – they’re older, less mobile, and poorer. That’s the gist of a new report by the American Public Transportation Association.

ROADWAYS

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s ‘Vision’ Eyes More Tolls

  • Will more tollways or so-called “managed lanes” be part of that plan? Yes, says the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, a low-profile public agency responsible for broad-scale land use and transportation planning decisions across the seven counties of Northeastern Illinois. That vision, CMAP says, “will chart a bold, long-term course for the region’s expressway system” to guide future projects and spending by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Tollway.

FUNDING

How Cities Can Secure Funding for Connected Transportation Initiatives

  • In recent years, forward-thinking cities, states and local governments across the nation have started rolling out innovative new connected transportation initiatives. Those cities on the leading edge have experienced significant, tangible benefits, such as improved transportation safety and efficiency, reduced CO2 emissions and even improved satisfaction from residents and visitors. But, as other cities and local governments begin looking at ways they can also enter the era of connected transportation, one of the first questions that always arises is: “How can we pay for this?” Fortunately, there are funds available to help cities, states and local governments achieve their connected transportation goals.

OTHER

Could Self-Driving Cars Reduce Housing Costs?

  • California lawmakers have thrown a lot at the wall in recent months to get the state’s housing costs to go down, but some analysts predict it may be self-driving cars that are the answer. Self-driving cars, controlled by GPS, radar and sensory software, could make housing construction cheaper by limiting the need for parking, says a newly released report from San Diego real estate analyst Gary London.

Atlanta’s Smart Corridor to Serve as ‘Living Lab’ for Smart Transportation

  • In the second installment of MetroLab’s Innovation of the Month series, we recognize the city of Atlanta and Georgia Institute of Technology, whose partnership is transforming one of the city’s key transit arteries into a smart cities test bed.