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Your Weekly News Updates

Texas DOT Meets to Discuss Freight Plan

  • The Texas Department of Transportation was in the Permian Basin Wednesday to talk about the future of the state freight transportation plan, from those who know it best. “One of the key components of the freight plan is making sure that we have a statewide network that identifies where trucks move primarily and then what kind of investments we need to make in those corridors,” said Caroline Mayes, with TexDOT. One change to the plan could be to designate more corridors, such as the I-20 corridor spanning Midland and Odessa.

North Carolina DOT Uses Data — Not Feelings — to Open Up Congested Roads

  • At 10 a.m., traffic rolls pretty well on westbound Interstate 40 near the Durham County-Orange County line. But Julie Anzora says it’s not like this when she leaves work. “It comes to a stop every day from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.,” Anzora said. Just inside Orange County, I-40 squeezes from four lanes to just two lanes between U.S. Highway 15-501 and the Erwin Road bridge. It’s one of the Triangle’s perpetual bottlenecks. DOT engineers want to add lanes to both directions, but so far the project hasn’t met the funding criteria.

PLANNING

Miami-Dade Leaders Debate Which Transportation Projects Should Get Top Priority

  • Miami-Dade County leaders eager to dive in on a long-term, multi-project transit plan are divided over how to pick which project to fund first. The goal of the SMART (Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit) Plan is to give commuters transit options other than freeways and highways that turn into parking lots during rush hour. The plan identifies six high-traffic “corridors” where train lines and express bus routes would be developed to reduce congestion. It’s expected to cost from $3.6 billion to $6 billion.

MPOs

To Merge or Not to Merge Tampa Bay’s Planning Groups? That Is the Transportation Question

  • The business community has been touting a regional planning group as part of the solution to Tampa Bay’s transportation woes. But not everyone is on board – including one of Hillsborough’s must trusted voices on transportation. Beth Alden, the executive director of Hillsborough’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, has some serious hangups about merging the area’s individual county MPOs – each has a federally-mandated authority that plans local transportation projects – into one regional group.

ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION

Cities Trying to End Pedestrian Deaths. New Data Suggests They’re Making Progress

  • In recent years, a number of U.S. cities have been intently focused on reducing the number of pedestrians who are killed in traffic accidents. These cities have started to transform their streetscapes to minimize pedestrian, cyclist and motorist deaths as part of the Vision Zero movement, which emphasizes that no traffic deaths are acceptable. But the big question about those efforts is just how effective they really are. Now, new data is emerging that gives policymakers a better picture of where Vision Zero is working. And more data tools are on the way that could help address dangerous conditions before traffic deaths or injuries occur.

Minneapolis Expands Bike Lane Network with Eye on Disability Access

  • Minneapolis’ network of bike lanes is growing – and not just on side streets. Many popular commercial corridors, including Hennepin Avenue in Uptown, will eventually cede part of the roadway to designated lanes for bicycles. It’s the next step toward the city’s vision of streets with fewer cars and more emphasis on bicycles and pedestrians. The changes will come as the city works through millions of dollars in road maintenance projects in the coming years, prioritizing people who walk, bike or take transit as they redesign streets.

TRANSIT

As Park-and-Rides Overflow, Would Building More Parking Boost Transit Ridership?

  • Tens of thousands of Puget Sound commuters use park-and-ride lots each weekday, and some leave their cars at lots’ entrances or outside of striped rows after searching for legitimate, open spots to no avail. Several lots reach capacity by 8 a.m. For this week’s column, transportation experts offered analysis and hypothetical solutions for the crowding issue, such as the imposition of parking fees, after one North Seattle reader contacted Traffic Lab to question the connection between transit ridership and park-and-ride room.

What Will New Orleans Transit Look Like in 20 Years? RTA Is Developing a Plan

  • Maybe the bus routes in New Orleans don’t take you where you need to go. Maybe you’re frustrated with buses being late. Here might be your opportunity for a fix: The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority is going through a full evaluation of the city’s transit system and what it needs to do to plan for the future. The agency is working with a San Francisco-based consultant to draft a 20-year plan, which could also incorporate newer approaches to public transit like real-time bus tracking apps and partnerships with ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

FREIGHT

Will County, Illinois Considers a Former IDOT Secretary to Implement Freight Plan

  • Will County officials are considering hiring a former Illinois Department of Transportation secretary as a consultant instead of employing a full time transportation planner. But some members of the county’s Executive Committee are questioning the one-year contract proposal in which Ann Schneider would work on a monthly retainer fee of $7,500 to implement a freight plan and seek grant funding for it. Her services would be capped at 40 hours per month under the plan. After debating the suggested retainer fee, the county board’s Executive Committee narrowly voted 6 to 5 Thursday to move Schneider’s proposed contract forward to be heard by the full county board at its June 15 meeting.

Where Can the Big Rigs Park? 

  • Why should a person care about another driver on the road? Specifically, would it matter if that other driver was carrying the new computer you want? Or the food you are going to eat in a couple days? What if that driver’s vehicle is transporting up to 46,000 pounds (20,865 kilograms) of the kinds of things you need every day? Wouldn’t you want to do everything you could to help that other driver? That is what the U.S. Department of Transportation is doing-helping those drivers-and one of the ways is by addressing the issue of parking for big rigs, that is, semitrailer trucks.

FUNDING

Maui MPO Told Available Funds Fall Short of Meeting Highway Needs

  • Simply put, there isn’t enough federal and state money to pay for all of Maui County’s highway maintenance and expansion needs – now projected to cost $3.1 billion through 2035, members of the Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization heard last week. In the next 18 years, a long-range transportation plan calls for Maui County to get about $1.2 billion, or 18 percent, of the state Department of Transportation Highways Division’s state and federal funds through 2035, said Ken Tatsuguchi, head planning engineer for the division. Most federal-aid projects require a 20 percent match from the county and/or the state to qualify for federal funds.

INTERNATIONAL

New Smart Cards for Edmonton Transit Boast a ‘Social Justice’ Edge

  • Edmonton finally confirmed this week a preferred supplier for its five-year effort to go paperless on Edmonton Transit fares and that’s giving residents a peek at some unexpected benefits. Vix Technology and its account-based system won’t just make boarding the bus and reloading the transit card easier. According to transit officials, it could also address a persistent inequality issue in Edmonton – fixing this with a simple, technology based solution: “fare capping.”

OTHER

San Francisco Takes Uber, Lyft to Court for GPS Traffic Data

  • City Attorney Dennis Herrera is gunning for Uber and Lyft’s data. The City Attorney’s Office issued subpoenas Monday for the two ride-hail giants’ traffic data, in an effort to help the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency manage city traffic. Groups as diverse as the SFMTA, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and even transportation advocacy nonprofits have previously raised concern that swarms of ride-hail vehicles – numbered as high as 45,000 in The City – may be a cause of congestion on city streets and a potential safety hazard as well.

Business Leaders Propose Solutions to Traffic and Lack of Housing Affordability in Miami Area

  • Transportation and affordable housing, two of the region’s most pressing problems, were at the forefront of Wednesday’s Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce 2017 Goals Conference, as elected officials from both Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami committed to prioritizing a proposed link in the county’s southern corridor. Addressing the opening session, Gene Schaefer, new chairman and Bank of America’s Miami market president, ranked traffic as one of the community’s top challenges and noted the scarcity of convenient, affordable workforce housing.