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News & Updates

Your Weekly Planning & MPO Updates

Pennsylvania DOT Secretary Calls for More Collaboration with Communities

  • Leslie Richards is the first planner to lead the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and she’s also a former township and county elected official. So she understands why local communities sometimes get frustrated with PennDOT for undertaking projects without considering local planning objectives until it’s too late. The new PennDOT Connects program aims to change that.

Maryland Governor to Sign Bill on Scoring Transportation Projects

  • Gov. Larry Hogan plans to sign more than 100 bills into law on Tuesday, including legislation granting tax breaks to manufacturing companies that create new jobs, an ethics bill and a bill that delays implementation of a scoring system for state-funded transportation projects. The event will be the first of multiple bill-signing ceremonies that the governor traditionally holds in the weeks following the conclusion of the annual General Assembly session. The governor has until late May to decide which bills to sign, veto or become law without his signature.

Arkansas Highway Department Introduces New Bicycle, Pedestrian Plan to Improve Development

  • The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department has published a new bicycle and pedestrian transportation plan. It’s a team effort composed of state agencies and stakeholders that include Arkansas State Police, The Department of Health, Parks and Tourism, and more. The last plan was published nearly 20 years ago. Everyone involved with the plan felt it was time for an update and a few improvements.

Virginia I-66 Express Lanes Project Planners Run Into Major Obstacle

  • Express lanes are coming to Interstate 66 outside the Capital Beltway — but a major hurdle has come to light that could drastically change the project. Part of the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station in Vienna, Virginia, is in the way of the I-66 expansion project, specifically the power station that is right next to the interstate.

Who Should Pick Road Projects? Minnesota DOT, Lawmakers Clash Over ‘Earmarks’

  • As Minnesota leaders debate how much new money to put toward the state’s roads, they’re also fighting about a related issue: who should choose which roads get attention? Ordinarily, the Legislature appropriates money for roads and bridges, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation decides how to spend the money. But bills in the Legislature this year take a different path: they order the MnDOT to do specific projects.

Utah Finds Unexpected Benefits from Statewide Road Data Project

  • How many stop signs do you pass on your way to work? How long is each guardrail on your local highway? Most people don’t know, but Utah, however, is able to figure out the answers. Thanks to a program initiated in 2011 to begin surveys of state-owned roadways using light detection and ranging (lidar), the state now has a comprehensive list of all major roadway assets. Lidar uses 40 sensors strapped to a vehicle to collect 2,000 points of data per second, creating a visual representation of the streets.

Algorithm Powering New Iowa DOT Site Delivers Bridge Conditions ‘In Nearly Real-Time’

  • The Iowa Department of Transportation has created an interactive website that provides detailed bridge conditions across the state in a map format covering structures owned by cities, counties and the state. Data provided includes conditions, serviceability based on current design standards and weight restrictions on individual bridges.

 

MPOs

Santa Barbara County Association of Governments Upbeat on State Funds for Highway 101

  • More highway lanes, yes. Commuter trains, not so much. That was the word from Santa Barbara County Association of Governments Executive Director Marjie Kirn, who told business leaders on April 10 she’s optimistic that passage of a California transportation tax will fill a big part of the $300 million gap in funding for the Highway 101 widening project.

TRANSIT

Philadelphia, Los Angeles Transit Agencies Face Questions Over Power Plans

  • The same week President Donald Trump signed an executive order designed to roll back Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, climate activists in two cities on opposite sides of the United States were pressuring their transit agencies to think about how today’s investments will impact the adoption of renewable energy sources in the future.

Rhode Island Public Transit Agency Plans High-Frequency Downtown Bus Corridor

  • What began as a plan to revive the streetcar era in Providence has evolved into something simpler, a high-frequency downtown bus corridor to improve mass transit in Rhode Island and help reverse years of ridership declines. Financed in large part through a $13-million federal grant, the $17-million corridor will funnel seven existing Rhode Island Public Transit Agency bus lines into a 1.4-mile route from the Providence train station to the cluster of hospitals on the upper South Side.

INTERNATIONAL

Mexico City Planners Rethinking Counterflow Bus Lanes

  • In the late 1970s, car-centric policies in Mexico City led to the construction of wide arterial roads that reduced travel times and alleviated congestion on smaller streets. Such roads also gave way to an oddity of the city’s public transportation system: Buses that run against the flow of traffic. On a grid of mostly one-way roads with mixed traffic, so-called counterflow lanes created two-way bus service, helping pedestrians avoid walking roughly 1 km (0.62 miles) to other main arteries to take a bus in the opposite direction. But a growing recognition of the dangers of such counterflow lanes is leading modern-day Mexico City to re-think the configuration.

Innisfil, Ontario Picks Uber for Public Transit

  • Uber is suffering from a legal attack, a self-driving car crash, sexism criticisms and other concerns, but it just won a victory in a Canadian town looking to help its citizens get around. Innisfil, population 32,727 as of 2014, concluded in a March council meeting that subsidizing the car-hailing service was a better deal than paying for a bus line. The city plans to pay 100,000 Canadian dollars (about $75,000) for a first stage of the program and CA$125,000 for a second round about 6 to 9 months in.

OTHER

Waikiki Transportation Management Association May Oversee Street Parking and Deliveries in Section of Honolulu

  • Honolulu City Council members were briefed last week on plans to ease parking and delivery congestion in Waikiki. The Waikiki Transportation Management Association, if approved, would oversee street parking and curb-side deliveries in the one-square-mile area from the Ala Wai Canal to Kapahulu Avenue. Waikiki Improvement Association president, Rick Egged, says this is only a proposal and details have yet to be worked out with the community and city departments.