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News & Updates

Statewide Planning Updates

Florida DOT Barrier Island Traffic Study Pitches Innovative Solution: Driverless Vehicles

  • An update on the Florida Department of Transportation barrier island traffic study went better than the previous discussion, when critics questioned the study and how it was being conducted. DOT project manager Frank Domingo and Tricia Labud, District 1 traffic operations spokeswoman, emphasized solutions in a presentation in October for the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Texas DOT Surprises with I-20 Frontage Road Conversion Funding

  • The Permian Basin Metropolitan Planning Organization public policy board has made clear it’s committed to converting two-way frontage roads on Interstate 20 to one-way for safety reasons. Last week, the MPO learned the state is committed to the plan, as well. The Texas Department of Transportation recently released an update to the draft version of its 2018 Unified Transportation Program, the 10-year guide to construction projects throughout the state.

 

Departing Virginia Transportation Secretary: Demise of Streetcar Project Is a Regret

  • Regrets? He’s had a few. And one of them relates to Arlington. As he prepares to wrap up a four-year tenure as Virginia’s secretary of transportation, Aubrey Layne said the cancellation of the Columbia Pike streetcar project ranks as one of the major disappointments of his tenure. The project, which had the strong support of state transportation officials, died when two members of the Arlington County Board (Jay Fisette and Mary Hynes) in 2014 switched sides and voted to kill it.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Raises New Objections to LaHood Plan for Metro

  • Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn has raised new objections to the Metro reform plan proposed by former U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood, adding to doubts about whether it will be accepted. Rahn questioned whether a smaller “reform board” proposed by LaHood would make a difference, because it would not have legal power to alter labor agreements or take other significant steps to reduce Metro’s costs.

Colorado Builds Roads in Hopes of Trading Out for Alternative Transportation

  • Completing a passenger rail for the long-term but expanding the highway in the short-term make up a large part of the future transportation plans for northern Colorado. The last community issues forum of the year, hosted by Sen. John Kefalas and Rep. Joann Ginal, featured an expert panel to discuss the future of Colorado transportation.

Texas DOT Recommends Studying I-27 Extension Again

  • Efforts to extend Interstate 27 down to the border received a boost last week when the commission that oversees the Texas Department of Transportation recommended a new feasibility study be completed. This study has been referred to as the “next step” in the process. After a bill directing TxDOT to complete this study failed to get out of committee in the state House this past legislative session, proponents said there was still a chance TxDOT would fund a study without legislation directing it to. That seems more likely with the new recommendation from the Texas Transportation Commission.

PLANNING

I-285 Transit Meeting Is Latest Cross-City Planning Effort in Georgia

  • A new multi-city group may form to advocate for mass transit on the top-end Perimeter following an informal Nov. 8 gathering convened by Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst. And that’s just the latest regional idea to spin out of a new four-city nonprofit called the Peachtree Gateway Partnership, which is also looking at a possible self-taxing business district in the area of Buford Highway and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard.

Planners Trying to Anticipate Future Travel Needs for Growing Northeast Florida Region

  • Planning for the transportation needs of a county that is rapidly adding new residents is a serious undertaking, so those in charge are asking for a little help. The North Florida Transportation Planning Organization, which formulates transportation plans for the area, isn’t asking for solutions, but it would like to know your habits. The organization is in the final week of its North Florida Travel Survey in which residents are asked to answer questions about their travel activity.

Matanuska Susitna Borough, Alaska Wins National Transportation Planning Award

  • In a video series known as Whistle Stop, officials in the valley announced the recent award gained by their transportation department ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. Vern Halter, the mayor of the Mat-Su borough, sat down with Jessica Smith, who received the nationally-recognized Transportation Planning Award for their long-term look at the borough’s transportation needs as well as its limitations.

New Course Brings Transportation Planners to Minnesota

  • This fall, 15 professionals from the Shenzhen Urban Transportation Planning Center (SUTPC) came to Minnesota for a new training opportunity. The four-week course was offered by the U of M’s Global Transit Innovations (GTI) Program, CTS, and the China Center’s Mingda Institute for Leadership Training. “The overall goal is to help to advance the participants’ professional skills and knowledge of state-of-the-art transportation research and practices in the United States, and to identify international collaboration opportunities,” says Yingling Fan, associate professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and GTI director.

ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION

Los Angeles Planners Want to Make Century Boulevard a Pedestrian-Friendly Hub Around LAX

  • With a major overhaul of LAX in the works, and the Crenshaw/LAX Line on the way, Los Angeles planners want to make the 1.5-mile stretch of Century Boulevard leading in and out of the airport something less depressing than the row of hotels, rental car facilities, and chain restaurants that it is today. Earlier this month, the city’s planning department released a draft of a streetscape plan for the segment of Century Boulevard that runs between Sepulveda and La Cienega boulevards. It’s a thoroughfare the department views as the “Gateway to Los Angeles,” and the plan is aimed at making it a bit more walkable and “creating a sense of place” that visitors to the city will be able to pick up on.

Maine Planners Consider Portland-Yarmouth Multi-use Trail Along Unused Rail Line

  • A 9-mile section of unused railroad between Portland and Yarmouth could become the region’s newest multi-use trail. A proposal envisions a trail for walking, cycling and running in the right of way alongside the tracks, instead of replacing the rail line. “The Department of Transportation’s stance is that these corridors should be preserved for future rail activity,” said Molly Henry, New England coordinator for East Coast Greenway, a nonprofit advocating an off-road path from Florida to Maine.

Plan Proposes Trails, Bike-Lane Projects to Connect Cape Girardeau and Jackson, Missouri

  • A recently unveiled regional plan envisions a biking/pedestrian trail that would connect Cape Girardeau and Jackson. The Southeast Metropolitan Planning Organization (SEMPO) is seeking public input on the 161-page document. The North Jackson-Cape Trail would extend 6.25 miles and cost an estimated $5 million to $8.75 million, the plan states.

RAIL

Despite Setbacks, Iowa Amtrak Boosters Push for More Passenger Trains

  • It’s doubtful conductors will be shouting “all aboard” anytime soon in Iowa City or Des Moines, but that isn’t stopping Iowa supporters of railroad passenger service from enthusiastically promoting more Amtrak train routes. A long-debated proposal to expand passenger rail service in Iowa remains under study by the Iowa Department of Transportation, keeping the issue alive. But there are no immediate plans to add new long-distance trains, according to state officials, and ridership on Iowa’s existing Amtrak trains is down slightly over the past year.

TRANSIT

Transit-Oriented Developments Underway in Oakland

  • The BART Board adopted a bold policy in June 2016 to encourage Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) on lands owned by BART. Creating mixed use, commercial or housing developments at BART represents a smart strategy that improves the region’s quality of life, economy, and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Living and working near BART represents access to opportunity.

ROADWAYS

New Bridge Connecting Ohio and Kentucky Brings Change to Towns

  • One year ago today it opened to great fanfare, and since then the new bridge between Russell and Ironton has changed the two towns it connects. Recently christened the Oakley C. Collins Memorial Bridge after a long-time Lawrence County, Ohio state legislator, the span bypasses downtown Russell and siphons traffic directly to U.S. 23. Conversely, the Ironton approach curves gently down to Second Street, one of the city’s main downtown thoroughfares, unlike the cramped and narrow ramp from the old bridge.