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Your Weekly Planning & MPO Updates

North Dakota DOT Seeking Public Comments on Transportation Improvements

  • The possibility of autonomous cars and connected cities would change how North Dakotans get around every day. As part of the ND Moves campaign, the Department of Transportation is looking for more information on how to improve transportation around the state. Tuesday’s meeting gave residents the opportunity to tell the DOT what changes they feel are most needed.

Florida Bill Would Require Long-Range Transportation Planning

  • Rep. Bobby Olszewski has filed a new bill in the Florida House called Long-Range Transportation Planning (HB981). In a statement, Rep. Olszewski said about the bill, “Central Floridians know how difficult traffic congestion can be on our roads and, as a state, we need to prepare now for the future with autonomous, electric, and hybrid vehicles becoming more prevalent. This bill requires the Florida Transportation Commission to provide solutions to the Governor detailing the long-range plans preserving the existing transportation infrastructure, enhancing Florida’s economic competitiveness, and improving travel choices to ensure efficient mobility for our residents and guests.”

Few Transportation Solutions Offered at Connecticut Transportation Forum

  • It was billed as a transportation forum for Republican gubernatorial hopefuls, but very few addressed the issue during the 10 minutes they were allotted to address more than 300 members of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association. The problem: Connecticut’s special transportation fund will start running a deficit in 2019. Current estimates say it’ll be $38.1 million in the red. This means that without additional revenue most of Connecticut’s transportation improvements and operations will come to a screeching halt.

I-35 Toll Lanes Removed from Texas DOT Plan After State Transportation Commission Sides with Top Leadership

  • A move by the Texas Transportation Commission has effectively removed plans to add four managed toll lanes on I-35, despite pleas from Austin officials to support the tolled lanes. The commission, which is the governing body for the Texas Department of Transportation, approved Thursday an amendment to its 10-year planning document called the Unified Transportation Program that did not include managed toll lanes on I-35 in the Austin area or on I-635 in Dallas. The 2018 UTP now has no projects with any tolled elements.

Washington Joins Oregon in Pay-by-the-Mile Experiment

  • Beginning early next year, a group of Washington drivers will be keeping close tabs on the number of miles they drive and how much they spend on gas. They will be part of a pilot program to test out a proposed pay-by-the-mile road tax, similar to what Oregon rolled out in 2015.

Missouri Transportation Task Force Prepares to Make Recommendations

  • The chairman of a task force examining funding for Missouri’s transportation system is suggesting both a gasoline and diesel tax increase. State Rep. Kevin Corlew, R-Kansas City, suggests a six to ten-cent gasoline tax increase along with a seven to 12-cent diesel tax increase. “In terms of an immediate impact investment yes, that’s something that could really boost our revenue and enable us to really help out our infrastructure system,” Corlew says. “But that will be just one component of it.”

Outgoing Colorado DOT Executive Director on Creating a State DOT That’s ‘Not Trapped in the 20th Century’

  • The way Shailen Bhatt describes it, the current age is a pivotal one for state transportation agencies. “DOTs have been building and repairing roads and bridges for 100 years,” said Bhatt, who recently stepped down as executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. “And now we’re rapidly moving into this era of disruptive technology,” he continued. “How do you take an agency with 3,000 employees and a billion-five budget and make the necessary structural changes so that agency isn’t trapped in the 20th century?”

New York, New Jersey Governors Detail Plan for Local Costs of Hudson Rail Tunnel, Await Federal Match

  • The governors of New York and New Jersey announced their plan to provide $5.55 billion or half the total project cost to build a proposed Gateway Tunnel under the Hudson River for passenger trains moving in and out of New York City. New York’s Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie of New Jersey said they now look to President Trump’s administration to fund the other half of a project they said is important to the national economy and to train traffic serving a broad region outside their states.


Advocacy Group Demands State Leaders Hold SANDAG to Strict Emission Reduction Standards

  • Yesterday, Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), an organization fighting for environmental justice in the San Diego/Tijuana region, urged the California Air Resources Board to hold San Diego’s public agency leading regional transportation planning, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), accountable to strict pollution-reduction standards under SB 375 implementation. Community members traveled to Sacramento to deliver testimony that advocated for a 25 percent reduction in SANDAG’s current emissions by the year 2035.

Altoona, Pennsylvania MPO Recommends Trail Project for State Funding

  • The county Metropolitan Planning Organization voted last week to recommend an Antis Township Trail project for a chance to receive state funding. The township only narrowly bested Altoona’s Safe Route to School plan, when MPO members rated the projects using a pre-established scorecard. Out of a possible 65 points, the Antis project scored an average of 46, and Altoona scored 44.7, said Wesley Burket, a transportation Planner with the Blair County Planning Commission and MPO.


Sustainable Transportation Experts Descend on Harvard

  • From the newest trends in bike-sharing to figuring out the best ways to promote carpooling, the Sustainable Transportation Summit is proving to be an important resource for schools throughout the region. In what has become an annual gathering, Harvard’s CommuterChoice program recently hosted over 40 transportation and sustainability experts from 15 schools across Massachusetts and Vermont. The half-day, discussion style meeting, allowed for an exchange of ideas, best practices, success stories, and common challenges. The one thing everyone agreed on is that the desire to expand sustainable transportation options is stronger than ever.

Florida Bill Would Create Statewide Alternative Transportation Authority

  • New bills filed in the Florida House and Senate would create a “Statewide Alternative Transportation Authority” and repurpose $60 million out of an existing rail fund to fund alternative transportation projects – such as “Bus Rapid Transit” and autonomous vehicles – starting in the Tampa Bay area and Miami. Rep. Jamie Grant, R-Tampa, co-sponsored the effort, saying rail ways and new roads are “too expensive, rigid and inflexible.”


US October Road Traffic Continues Run of New Record Highs

  • Motor vehicle travel on all U.S. highways and streets increased 1.2 percent in October from a year earlier – adding 3.3 billion more vehicle miles – and continued a string of record-high volume levels. The Federal Highway Administration in its latest monthly “Traffic Volume Trends” report said motorists racked up an estimated 275 billion vehicle miles in October as demand for roadway travel kept growing. After traffic volume set an all-time yearly high in 2016, it is on pace for another record year in 2017.


Beyond the Bus: ‘Microtransit’ Helps Cities Expand Transportation Services

  • For several years, private companies have tried to fill the last-mile gap in public transit systems by offering on-demand, shared rides. Many of these “microtransit” services –something between ride sharing and traditional transit — have foundered. Now, several public transit agencies have started to explore whether they could offer microtransit options themselves. The clearest example comes from Los Angeles County, where LA Metro, one of the nation’s largest transportation agencies, announced in October that it would take bids from companies on how to deliver microtransit.

Pittsburgh Bucking US Trend by Growing Its Transit Ridership Numbers. How’s It Doing It?

  • It’s no secret that public transit in the US is struggling to grow. There are, however, a few cities, including Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that are managing to slow the downward trend relative and provide strong rider experience that is keeping more riders with the service. What is this Pennsylvanian city doing to keep people riding at a rate that’s 92 per cent higher than the national average? It is continuing to implement new solutions and not shying away from the challenges that transit agencies face.


20 MPH Safe Zones in Two UK Cities Result in More Pedestrian Deaths

  • A year after the UK cities of Bath and Somerset enacted 20 mph “safe zones,” statistics reveal they are anything but. To reduce traffic deaths, Bath and Northeast Somerset declared 13 safe zones both in urban and more rural areas with strictly enforced 20 mph speed limits. The idea behind these zones is that with reduced velocity, drivers would be better able to react to pedestrians. In practice, this hasn’t been the case, as nearly all areas have reported a higher instance of pedestrian deaths in the year since the new limits took effect.


Commuters Lose Transit, Parking, Biking Benefits in Tax Bill

  • Count commuters among the losers in the Republican tax bill that the House and Senate are expected to vote on next week. The final bill agreed to by Republican negotiators and released late Friday eliminates the tax incentive for private employers that subsidize their employees’ transit, parking and bicycle commuting expenses.

Why Downtown Parking Garages May Be Headed for Extinction

  • For decades, providing downtown parking was a top priority for urban planners. Huge parking garages for commuters’ cars occupied prime real estate that otherwise might have been used for housing, stores or offices. But ride-hailing services and autonomous cars are going to revolutionize parking in cities across the country-in garages, in lots and along curbs. By 2030, 15 percent of new cars sold will be totally autonomous, according to one estimate. One in 10 will be shared. And as it becomes easier for people to summon shared or autonomous cars when they need them, fewer people will want to own their own vehicle, meaning fewer cars overall.