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News & Updates

State and Regional Updates

North Dakota DOT Looking Into the Future with ‘ND Moves’

  • The North Dakota Department of Transportation is changing the future of transportation. A new project is getting started and targeting the needs of North Dakotans. What does North Dakota need for the future of biking, walking, rolling and public transportation? The North Dakota Department of Transportation is bringing communities together to answer that question for their new program, ND Moves. “Coordinating with local communities like Fargo to hear what challenges people are having as they’re biking, out walking or using public transit,” said Jessica Laabs, a consultant with NDDOT.

Wisconsin DOT Studying Possibility of Driverless Vehicle Lanes on I-94

  • Spurred by Foxconn Technology Group and its plans for a mega-factory in Racine County, state highway planners are studying the possibility of including special lanes for driverless vehicles on I-94. Should that come to pass-and at this point it is only something being contemplated-it would put Wisconsin in the vanguard of what many believe will be a key part of transportation in the future.

PLANNING

Real-Time Sensor Net Helps Cities Evaluate Trends

  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory is working with Oak Ridge, Tenn., to deploy sensors to deliver real-time information on population density, traffic and environmental conditions. The UrbanSense program began with the idea of using data from cell towers to estimate population density in real time. ORNL researchers figured out a way to passively collect anonymous cellular tower data from the open broadcasts mobile networks make to manage capacity, according to lab officials.

Vibrant Ag Economy Helps Urban Areas, Planner Says

  • Growers should form partnerships with local government planners to have input on land-use policies that could maximize their farms’ earnings potential, a Sacramento-based official told them on Nov. 7. While working with government is “not an arena they normally like to play in unless they have to,” farmers can benefit from the relationships, said David Schabazian, a manager for the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. Schabazian is leading a project called the Rural-Urban Connections Strategy, a nearly decade-long effort to more explicitly include rural areas in the region’s land-use and transportation planning decisions.

MPOs

DC-Area’s MCOG Doing Once-a-Decade Travel Survey of Residents

  • The Washington, D.C., metropolitan area’s transportation infrastructure has undergone extensive transformation in recent years, as regional leaders seek to alleviate congestion with expanded roadways and improved public transit options. Now, transportation planners have their first chance to study how those changes are affecting the ways in which citizens get from one place to another. Over the next year, thousands of households in Fairfax County will be asked to participate in the Metropolitan Council of Governments (MCOG) Regional Travel Survey, and researchers hope that as many people as possible accept the invitation.

Hillsborough County, Florida Planners Scrap Reversible Lanes to Ease Brandon Traffic

  • After a number of public hearings and a heap of public outrage, Hillsborough transportation planners insist they’re going to scrap the idea of reversible lanes on Bloomingdale Avenue as a means of reducing Brandon’s daily rush hour nightmare. “Our recommendation is there will not be reversible lanes on Bloomingdale,” said Melissa Zornitta, Executive Director of the Hillsborough MPO. The $230,000 study, called the Brandon Corridors & Mixed-use Centers Pilot Project, examined a number of options to reduce east-west traffic congestion on major corridors from State Road 60 to Lumsden Road and Bloomingdale Avenue.

ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION

Nebraska MPO Produces Metro-Area Bike Trail Map

  • The rapid spread of bicycle trails across the metro area during the past 30 years has created a vast arterial web that is tracked and identified in a new Bike Map published online by the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency. MAPA’s Interactive Bike Map can be found at bikemap.mapacog.org or in hard copy at 22 locations around the metro area, including Olde Towne Cyclery at 2227 Madison St., in Bellevue and the Trek Bicycle Store at 8410 S. 73rd Plaza, in Papillion.

Seattle Planner Who Designed City’s Bikeshare Permitting Now Working for Bikeshare Company

  • The Seattle transportation planner who led the city’s process to allow the new stationless, private bike shares that dot city streets and sidewalks has left city government to work for one of those bike companies. Kyle Rowe, who was the city’s bike-share program manager, left the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) about three weeks ago to become the head of government partnerships for Spin, one of the three bike-share companies operating in Seattle.

TRANSIT

Taskforce Launched for Nashville’s Proposed $5.2 Billion Transit Plan

  • A taskforce has been launched to identify strategies and policies for the proposed $5.2 billion transit plan in Nashville. The transit plan includes the city’s first light rail system and an underground tunnel. Co-chaired by Mayor Megan Barry, Davidson County Clerk Brenda Wynn and former mayor Bill Purcell, officials say the taskforce will tackle residents’ concerns.

Steering Committee Holds Inaugural Meeting on Development Around Indiana Rail Stations

  • Monday’s inaugural meeting of a steering committee that will “provide information and guidance” regarding development around commuter railroad stations helped illustrate the opportunities and challenges facing communities along the South Shore Line and its planned West Lake Corridor. The committee, with a representative from each of the nine municipalities home to a current or proposed station, was established this year by state legislation that allows creation of transit development districts, or TDDs, around the stations.

RAIL

Passenger Rail Study Moves to Next Phase with Focus on Corridor Between Oklahoma and South Texas

  • A federally funded study to determine the feasibility of passenger rail service between Oklahoma City and South Texas recently advanced to the next phase allowing for continued exploration of the proposed route. The $7 million Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study covers an 850-mile corridor broken into three segments going from Oklahoma City to Dallas-Fort Worth; Dallas-Fort Worth to San Antonio; and San Antonio to South Texas.

ROADWAYS

Maryland Preps for Statewide Intelligent Traffic System

  • Maryland is integrating new hardware and software into its transportation ecosystem to make traffic signaling decisions based on real-time conditions and alleviate congestion. A pilot that installed 14 smart signals on state Route 24 and US 1 Business in Harford County north of Baltimore, resulted in a 13 percent reduction in total commute time for the about 40,000 daily drivers, according to Charlie Gischlar, the Maryland State Highway Administration’s media relations manager. The state plans to have these signals installed throughout 14 major corridors as part of its ongoing efforts to improve traffic operation and ease congestion.

FREIGHT

Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Debut Hybrid Trolley-Trucks

  • The Ports of LA and Long Beach have debuted a new green drayage system called eHighway, a combination of electric and hybrid trolley-trucks connected to overhead electrical power lines. The one-mile, six-month-long project is expected to cut energy consumption in half and reduce local air pollution in the tightly-regulated LA airshed. Its operators gave a public demonstration along Alameda Street on Wednesday.

FUNDING

Transit Group: Tax Proposal a ‘Missed Opportunity’ to Fix Highway Trust Fund

  • The group representing U.S. public transit agencies said the House Ways and Means Committee’s new tax reform plan is a “missed opportunity” to include measures that could put the Highway Trust Fund on a sustainable financial footing. Richard White, acting CEO of the American Public Transportation Association, said in a Nov. 3 statement that the plan offered by House majority Republicans “fails to address key priorities of the public transportation industry.”

Trucking Industry Says Gas Tax Increase Is Only Way to Pay for Infrastructure

  • The US trucking industry’s not-for-profit research organization, American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), has released its much-anticipated assessment of the country’s transportation investment options, with an increased gas tax the leading choice. The report, A Framework for Infrastructure Funding, concludes that the only meaningful mechanism for attaining the administration’s vision for a large-scale infrastructure program is through a federal fuel tax increase.

INTERNATIONAL

French Cities Opt for Free Public Transport

  • A few months ago, the northern French town of Dunkirk made headlines by announcing that all of its buses would be free all the time as of next September. The gritty seaside town with a population of over 90,000 (but whose public transport network extends to 200,000) will then become the largest of over 20 other French towns and cities to offer completely or partially free public transport. With this scheme, the mayor of Dunkirk hopes to provoke nothing less than a transport ‘revolution’.

OTHER

Louisville Uses Waze Data for Better Transportation Outcomes

  • The days of sending out crews to deploy traffic counting equipment to measure highway volume could be coming to an end as cities turn to apps like Waze. The free, crowd-sourced navigation app offers constant traffic information to drivers as they head through town. But cities like Louisville, Ky., have also started partnering with the company to capitalize on its wealth of daily transportation data. And from this data officials can pinpoint areas of congestion, as well as analyzing modifications to the roadway system, like lane reductions or traffic signal changes.

Researchers Developing Plan for Future of Alaska Marine Highway

  • At the Southeast Conference in September, conference leaders announced a plan to reform the Alaska Marine Highway System, aiming to run it as a public corporation instead of as a part of the Alaska Department of Transportation. Leaders of the reform project team, including the Southeast Conference, the Elliott Bay Design Group, the McDowell Group and KPFF Engineering, have been working recently to develop more of a strategic plan for the future. Susan Bell, principal at the McDowell Group, spoke at Monday’s Republican Women of Juneau luncheon about the plan, which is called the AMHS Reform Strategic Business and Operational Plan.