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News & Updates

Statewide Planning Updates

Massachusetts Governor to Form Commission for Transportation Review

  • In response to a business group’s report that called for an independent review of state transportation infrastructure needs. Gov. Charlie Baker will sign an executive order creating a new commission to review transportation needs and how the state could fund them. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito made the announcement Wednesday morning at a transportation forum hosted by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

Kansas Groups, Lawmakers Gather to Talk Transportation Needs, Policy

  • As legislators gear up to replace the Transportation Works for Kansas (T-WORKS) program inaugurated in 2010 and slated for termination in 2020, statewide transportation groups and southwest Kansas lawmakers and officials gathered in Garden City Wednesday to discuss regional transportation needs and how to tackle them in the future.

Colorado Transportation Tax Proposal Will Be About More Than Highway Lanes

  • Worn out roads and bridges in Colorado cost businesses time and money, according to the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. So it plans to lead a campaign to raise the sales tax to pay for transportation infrastructure improvements. Tax increases in Colorado require voter approval, and Chamber President Kelly Brough tells Colorado Matters her group aims to put a tax measure on the ballot in 2018. She does not yet know how big of an increase they will ask for.

PLANNING

An App for Democratizing Street Design

  • When autonomous vehicles take over the streets, the streets will change to accommodate them: Expect special priority lanes, curbside pickup “docks,” and a massive reconfiguration of superfluous parking spaces once people no longer drive themselves. Put in charge, how would you shape the thoroughfares of the future? A simple but intriguing tool called ReStreet invites any would-be transportation engineer to flesh out ideas. Developed and released by a team of planning and design specialists at the University of San Francisco and California Polytechnic State University, ReStreet offers two template streetscapes, one urban and suburban, for reimagining.

Toyota-Backed Study Offers Data on Transportation Issues in Tupelo, Mississippi

  • A mobility study funded by Toyota has identified the All-America City as home to several population segments likely to benefit from increased public transportation options. The Community Transportation Association of America is near the completion of a demographic and economic analysis of Northeast Mississippi. This analysis seeks to identify transportation options available in the area as well as populations underserved by current options. Tupelo’s City Council has received a draft copy of the study, though the city did not pay for it. Only Toyota provided funding.

Proposed Transportation Scenarios in Plano, Texas

  • After continuous growth and development near the Plano area, a study is now being done to try and figure out possible scenarios for improving traffic flow and increasing safety. “Warren County is growing a lot. By 2040 we’re expected to grow 46%,” says Karissa Lemon, MPO Coordinator for the Bowling Green-Warren County Metropolitan Planning Organization. “Plano Road is situated with the fairly recent construction of the Natcher Parkway. It’s situated for a lot of development, it’s in a good location for that,” she adds.

MPOs

Virginia MPOs Back Proposals to Improve I-64 Over Afton Mountain

  • Transportation planners on both sides of the Blue Ridge are backing proposals to improve safety and reduce congestion on Interstate 64. Members of the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro and Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organizations met in Crozet on September 27. They agreed to work together to make the drive over Afton Mountain better for commuters. A new study recommends about 30 improvements, including truck climbing lanes, safety measures to reduce crashes with animals, and additional park and ride lots.

Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission Will Apply for Grant to Help Missouri Finish I-49

  • The Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission will apply for a federal grant to help cash-strapped Missouri finish its part of Interstate 49 around Bella Vista. “It’s a long shot, but nothing ventured, nothing gained,” said Jeff Hawkins, executive director of regional planning. “It’s totally within our planning area, both sides of the line.” The Bella Vista bypass is now labeled the Missouri/Arkansas Interstate 49 Connector Project to better denote its regional significance, planners said.

Speaker Tells Omaha MPO Summit to See Transportation as a Way to Solve Problems

  • Think of transportation as a way to solve problems, not as a problem to be solved, a transportation technology expert urged people at a conference in Omaha Wednesday. Ben Pierce, who is the transportation technology lead for HDR Inc., helped the City of Columbus, Ohio, win the national Smart Cities Challenge-and $50 million in grants-last year. That was a U.S. Department of Transportation program that called for cities to use technology to improve transportation networks.

ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION

Dockless Bikeshares Are Here, Are Cities Ready for Them?

  • A new kind of bike share has popped up in many U.S. cities in recent months, and it’s most noticeable for what it’s missing: a designated place to park the bikes. The new “dockless” bike shares have arrived in places like Seattle, Dallas and Washington, D.C., since the summer. They’re run by private companies like LimeBike, MoBike and Spin. Riders locate and unlock the bikes using their mobile phones and they can leave them, well, almost anywhere. The bikes have kickstands and lock themselves, so most don’t even have to be next to a pole, rack or fence to attach them to.

Blue Zones Encourage Active Transportation

  • Wearing a yellow vest and a headset microphone, Dan Burden of the Blue Zones Project led about 50 community members and city and state officials along the downtown Roseburg sidewalks Wednesday morning. He stopped occasionally to pull a measuring tape across a traffic lane, point to traffic lights and crosswalks and evaluate how friendly the city is to bicyclists and pedestrians. The Blue Zones Project, a health and well-being initiative, considers different elements that make people in a community live longer, better lives.

‘Bicycle Barometers’ Help San Francisco Cyclists Feel Validated

  • Bike commuting is the fastest-growing mode of transportation. And San Francisco can attest to that. Every time a cyclist rolls past one of the city’s digital bike counters-or “bicycle barometers,” as they are officially called-the daily and yearly totals tick up. In 2016, there were an estimated 82,000 bicycle trips taken per day in San Francisco. That number has been steadily rising since 2006, when manual counting of bikes began. Today, there are 75 counters-some with digital displays, some without-throughout San Francisco. City planners use the data to better understand how bicyclists use roads and bike lanes.

TRANSIT

Los Angeles Metro Investing in Affordable Housing

  • If you’re a transit operator with a new system, ridership numbers-which are hardly an exact science and can make or break your budget-are probably going to be among your biggest concerns. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has a solution to this anxiety-producing dilemma: helping to build housing along its bus and transit lines. The transit agency is earmarking $9 million for a loan program to encourage affordable housing near its stations, KPCC reports. Doing so could help with ridership (put simply, if there are more people densely clustered along the line, more people are likely to ride the line) but the project is also meant to help counter gentrification and displacement.

Light Rail Tops Priorities in Latest Tampa Bay Transit Study

  • Light rail is the top-ranked mode of transit identified to connect Wesley Chapel, the University of South Florida, Tampa, the Gateway business district in Pinellas County and St. Petersburg, according to results from the Regional Transit Feasibility Plan presented Friday. That route would roughly follow Interstate 275. The Florida Department of Transportation financed the $1.5 million study and it was facilitated through the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit authority and Jacobs Engineering.

ROADWAYS

Philadelphia Releases Three-Year Plan to Improve Street Safety

  • Within a 44-page report on street safety in Philadelphia released Thursday is a map showing the most dangerous streets in the city. On that map, red lines trace roads like a cross hatch of scars, including Market Street, Broad Street, and Roosevelt Boulevard. The map highlights only about 12 percent of all the paved roads in the city, but they account for 50 percent of the serious injuries and deaths that happen in Philadelphia. In the fight to make the city’s streets safer, those red lines are where the battle will be fought.

Climate Change Demands Change in Transportation Designs and Materials, Says ASU Engineer

  • Extreme summer heat has become more frequent across the contiguous U.S. over the past 20 years, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. As temperatures continue to rise, transportation designs and materials will need to be more durable and sustainable, according to Kamil Kaloush, a professor in Arizona State University’s School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment.

INTERNATIONAL

University of Toronto Team Launches App to Track Transit Data to Cut Down on Gridlock

  • University of Toronto researchers are launching an app today designed to collect transit data that can be used by provincial and local governments as they make transit planning and funding decisions. The university has been conducting transit surveys every five years since 1986, as part of a project funded by the Ontario government and municipalities in the Toronto area, as well as key transit agencies such as Metrolinx and the Toronto Transit Commission. Eric Miller, a professor of civil engineering at the university, and the principal investigator on the project, says that until now, the surveys have been conducted using landlines.