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Your Weekly Planning & MPO Updates

Utah Transit Authority Study: Want to Boost State’s Economy, Health? Invest in Biking, Walking

  • If government invests more to promote bicycling and walking, it would help both Utah’s economy and the health of residents, according to a study conducted by the Utah Transit Authority in collaboration with 11 other transportation and health agencies. The review sought to put a dollar value on the benefits of such things as bicycle and walking tails, bike tourism and cost savings from improving health through “active transportation.”

No More ‘Free Rides’: Colorado Lawmaker Proposes Bicycle Tax

  • Bicycles and cars have always had to “share the road.” Soon they could have to share the cost of the road in Colorado. A state senator from Grand Junction has thrown his support behind a bicycle tax after Oregon passed one as part of its latest transportation funding bill.

PLANNING

Davenport, Iowa Kicks Off Multi-modal Transportation Plan

  • Davenport’s prospective transportation plan is not intended to be about streets, but rather about moving people throughout the city using whatever method is available. RDG Planning and Design and Alta Planning and Design have been hired to sculpt the city’s new multi-modal transportation plan, building off the city’s previous plan, Davenport in Motion, and putting more emphasis on connectivity for those who don’t necessarily want to drive to their intended location.

MPOs

North Florida Transportation Planning Organization Looks to Make Jacksonville Area ‘Smart’

  • The North Florida Transportation Planning Organization took the next step Thursday on a long-term plan to overhaul transportation in northeast Florida by using technology and data integration. Gregory Krueger, associate vice president at HNTB, presented an ambitious plan to pair emerging technology with hefty data sets to improve safety, mobility, economic development and data analytics.

California’s Western Riverside Council of Governments Updates Fee Collection for Transportation Improvements

  • The Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fee (TUMF) Program, administered by the Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG), collects fees in Western Riverside County to ensure development pays its fair share for needed transportation and transit improvements that will support our region’s continued growth. The TUMF Nexus Study establishes the nexus between growth, development impacts, and infrastructure needs. This week WRCOG’s Executive Committee approved an updated 2016 TUMF Nexus Study. The Executive Committee also approved a new TUMF Fee Schedule for all development types.

ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION

San Diego Confronts Bad Data from Bike-Counting Cameras

  • At the intersection of West Grape Street and Harbor Drive, on the edge of Waterfront Park, there are two cameras mounted next to the north- and south-facing stoplights. The cameras look unassuming, but they are busy gathering data that will help the city plan its future transportation network. Well, sort of. The cameras, made by the Santa Ana-based company Iteris, are equipped with patented technology that can count bicyclists and extend green lights to give them more time to ride through an intersection. The cameras were purchased by the city of San Diego in 2014, but nearly three years later, they are still failing to gather credible data on how many people are biking through the intersection.

FUNDING

Americans Say They Back Higher Gas Tax to Fix Crumbling Roads

  • Congress hasn’t raised the federal gas tax since 1993 when Bill Clinton was president, but a narrow majority of Americans would support an increase to help fix crumbling roads and bridges in their own states. Fifty-five percent of Americans in a Bloomberg National Poll say they would back an increase. The concept has bipartisan support, with majorities of Republicans (51 percent) and Democrats (67 percent) backing the idea.

Trump Hasn’t Stopped Familiar Ping-Pong Game on Transit Funding

  • The United States Congress took another step toward reducing the federal transportation budget and eliminating TIGER grants Monday night. The House appropriations committee voted 31 to 20 to approve $17.8 billion in fiscal year 2018 discretionary funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation. Though the House’s $646 million funding cut could hardly be called generous, it’s far less severe than President Donald Trump’s budget blueprint, which would cut $2.4 billion to U.S. DOT.

Trump’s Desire for Private Infrastructure Money Will Narrow His Choices to Mostly Urban Projects

  • Officials in states, cities and counties are increasingly looking to use private money for public infrastructure projects like roads and bridges, a result of tight budgets, eager financial investors and a president who believes that business – not government – can deliver better services to Americans. An analysis by APM Reports has found that at least 46 transportation and water-related projects in 23 states and the District of Columbia presented to the White House could rely on private money to be completed, including investment opportunities in Alabama, drinking water pipelines in California and New Mexico and a massive transit project in the New York City area.

TRANSIT

Pennsylvania DOT to Review Public-Private TOD Proposals for Amtrak Stations

  • Pennsylvania’s Public-Private Partnership (P3) Board has approved a project to pursue transit-oriented development (TOD) at one or more train stations along Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor between Harrisburg and Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will seek proposals to develop and connect the areas around at least one Amtrak station. Locations to be considered include Harrisburg, Elizabethtown, Mount Joy, Lancaster, Parkesburg and Downington, according to a PennDOT press release issued late last week.

Richmond, Virginia Shows How Smaller Cities Can Get Serious About Transit

  • Last year, Richmond, Virginia, began construction on GRCT Pulse, a bus rapid transit route that will provide faster, more frequent service along the city’s busiest bus corridor. It’s an important step forward for the city’s poorly-used, bare-bones transit system. And it could be the start of a bigger regional BRT system. Dan Malouff at Greater Greater Washington reports that Richmond officials have embarked on a three-phase approach to creating a high-quality regional transit system.

ROADWAYS

Self-Driving Cars Get Boost with Unanimous Vote by House Panel

  • Congress took the first step toward setting rules for self-driving cars, as a House panel unanimously approved a measure that would allow thousands of automated vehicles to hit the road while federal regulators develop safety standards and preempt state rules. The legislation garnered bipartisan support after Republican leaders adopted Democratic proposals for provisions to bolster safety oversight of self-driving vehicles by federal regulators.

Texas DOT Goes High-Tech to Prevent Truck Crashes

  • It seems to happen over and over again — too-tall trucks hitting freeway bridges and overpasses. The latest hit happened earlier this month. TxDOT is now using infrared technology to try to stop drivers with dangerously large loads before it’s too late. When trucks that are too tall slam into bridges and overpasses, it can cause traffic tie-ups and congestion that impacts the entire city.

RAIL

Report to Congress Recommends Passenger Rail Service on Gulf Coast

  • After 18 months of research, the Gulf Coast Working Group has submitted a report to Congress recommending passenger rail service return to the Gulf Coast. The study recommends two routes that would pass through South Mississippi. One route would offer daily service between New Orleans and Orlando. The other route would run daily service between New Orleans and Mobile, AL. This option would be funded by Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. A secondary option recommends a route with daily service between New Orleans and Orlando, but leaves out the state-funded route.

Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Passenger-Rail Service Proposal Enters Next Phase

  • A “purpose and need” statement has been completed for a proposed expansion of daily passenger-rail service between the Twin Cities, Milwaukee and Chicago, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) announced yesterday. The statement’s release defines the project’s purpose and marks a milestone in the project’s development. It also begins the project’s public involvement and environmental processes, MnDOT officials said in a statement. The proposal calls for adding a second daily roundtrip on the Amtrak Empire Builder route between the Twin Cities, Milwaukee and Chicago (TCMC), with stops at smaller cities along the route.

OTHER

Trump’s Executive Order Creates New Advisory Council on Infrastructure

  • While Congress continues to wrestle with health care and seems poised to tackle tax reform, President Trump this week kept infrastructure in the conversation by issuing an executive order that establishes a 15-member Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure. According to the executive order, the council will study the scope and effectiveness of federal infrastructure funding, as well as the support, and delivery of infrastructure projects. The council’s infrastructure focus will extend beyond transportation to include renewable energy, electricity transmission, broadband, and pipelines.

AASHTO Offers Inventory of Regulatory Reform Suggestions to Speed Transportation Project, Program Delivery

  • The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials this week submitted comments in response to a U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Register notice seeking suggestions on policy, guidance and regulations that pose a barrier to delivering transportation projects and programs. The comments included AASHTO’s “Inventory of Potential Administrative and Legislative Improvements for Surface Transportation Program Investment and Project Delivery.” The association started that list earlier this year, when AASHTO committees composed of state DOT executives and technical leaders were asked, “What are the legislative and regulatory barriers in your state that keep the federal program from functioning more effectively and efficiently?”