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Your Weekly Planning & MPO Updates

Texas DOT Partners With Strava for Data on Bike-Pedestrian Networks

  • Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has joined the likes of bike-pedestrian friendly states such as Oregon, Colorado, and Florida in partnering with Strava, a leading website and smartphone app used by thousands of people daily to track their activities via GPS. Over the next two years, TxDOT will receive important data from Strava which it will use in analyzing existing and proposed bike-pedestrian networks across the State of Texas.

West Virginia Division of Highways Official: ‘Absolutely’ No Tolling on I-70

  • West Virginia Division of Highways District 6 Engineer Gus Suwaid says there will be no tolling on Interstate 70 after a proposed major rehabilitation of bridges along the highway in Ohio County. Suwaid discussed the upcoming state road bond referendum set to go before voters on Oct. 7 – and the projects the road bonds would fund – before a small gathering of Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce members Wednesday night in the Wheeling Hospital auditorium. Early voting in the special election will begin Sept. 22.

How Michigan DOT Plans to Cut 10 Years on I-75 Modernization Project

  • The Michigan Department of Transportation announced Monday a new plan for the Modernize I-75 project that could shave 10 years off of the project’s original 17-year lifespan. They are now using a long term approach called design, build, finance and maintain (DBFM) method. Instead of doing the project in eight different spans through 2032, they will instead complete the project in three different stretches. The first segment between South Blvd. and Coolidge Highway is already complete.

PLANNING

Technology Is Changing Transportation, and Cities Should Adapt

  • It has taken only a few years for ride-hailing services to make urban journeys more convenient in many cities, much to the delight of city dwellers the world over. And as innovation brings self-driving cars, electric vehicles, in-vehicle data connectivity, mechanisms for sharing rides and vehicles, and other technologies to more people, getting around cities will become easier, faster and safer. Such improvements could help cut the costs of traffic congestion (about 1% of GDP globally), road accidents (1.25 million deaths in 2015), and air pollution (health problems like respiratory ailments).

San Antonio Planners Ditch Cars as They Prepare to Figure Out Transportation Issues

  • The city of San Antonio is trying to figure out how to get residents to ditch their cars and use public transportation. The Alamo City is expected to add another 1 million people by 2040. With that growth, city planners know congestion and pollution will become an issue. The city’s transportation committee is looking at ways to turn San Antonio into a “smart city.” To better understand the problem, many in the group are learning how to get around without a vehicle.

MPOs

Fresno Council of Governments Won’t Release Employees’ Names with Salaries, Now a Watchdog Sues

  • Taxpayers pay the salaries of public employees, but do their names have to be identified with their wages? That is the heart of a new dispute in Fresno County Superior Court. A public agency in Fresno County is keeping secret the identities of its employees so their salaries can’t be published next to their names, and that upsets a watchdog group. Under the California Public Records Act, the public has the right to know who is getting paid public money, Transparent California said in a lawsuit filed Monday in Fresno County Superior Court.

Metro Council Refuses to Put Proposed Transportation, Roads Tax on Ballot in Baton Rouge

  • Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s first proposed tax package sputtered and crashed Wednesday when the Better Transportation and Roads plan lost its shot at appearing on the Nov. 18 ballot. Broome’s bid to build more than 40 infrastructure projects to alleviate traffic congestion, synchronize traffic lights and pave sidewalks crumbled Wednesday on a 5-5 Metro Council vote that was 2 votes short of the 7 needed to put the proposal on the ballot.

FREIGHT

Teamsters Chief Fears US Self-Driving Trucks May Be Unsafe, Hit Jobs

  • The head of the 1.4-million member International Brotherhood of Teamsters union is mounting an aggressive effort to convince Congress to reject new rules to speed the deployment of self-driving trucks, warning they could lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and reduce road safety. James P. Hoffa, who has headed the union since 1999, said on Tuesday that Congress could help major trucking companies ultimately get rid of drivers by automating vehicles, which would also pose serious risks to American drivers.

I-27 Focus of Port-to-Plains Annual Conference

  • Community leaders from across North America’s energy and agriculture heartland gathered in Lubbock last week to celebrate 20 years of progress on the Ports-to-Plains corridor and look forward to the next milestones, including Interstate 27. Among the speakers and conference attendees were elected officials, members of the Texas Department of Transportation and other transportation groups from across the country. Four West Texas mayors spoke on a panel discussion to make their plea. The discussion was booked as “Efforts to Create a Major Milestone.”

ROADWAYS

USDOT Releases New Guidance for Vehicles with Automated Driving Systems

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation and its National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued new voluntary guidance about developing vehicles using automated driving systems, in what was widely reported to be a more industry-friendly version than guidance last year by the Obama administration. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the latest guidance, dubbed 2.0, “supports further development of this important new technology, which has the potential to change the way we travel and how we deliver goods and services. The safe deployment of automated vehicle technologies means we can look forward to a future with fewer traffic fatalities and increased mobility for all Americans.”

Lyft Thinks It Can Fix Los Angeles Traffic With Fewer Lanes

  • For the past several decades, cities have designed streets around the assumption that they’ll be used for personal cars. If you need a poster child for this, you just have to look at Los Angeles’ Wilshire Boulevard — it has a whopping 10 lanes for vehicles, and even the bus lanes are almost treated like afterthoughts. It’s no wonder gridlock is such a common problem, since LA is practically inviting more drivers and the traffic chaos that results. Lyft isn’t happy with this state of affairs, and it thinks urban planners need to reinvent the road if they want to reduce traffic and embrace the future. It’s partnering with designers at Perkins+Will and Nelson/Nygaard on a conceptual Wilshire Boulevard redesign for an era when car ownership fades away and public options dominate.

TRANSIT

Aspen, Colorado Task Force Recommends Congestion Pricing, More Transit to Ease Traffic Woes

  • The upper Roaring Fork Valley should use a carrot-and-stick approach to improve transit mobility between Aspen and Basalt, according to a new task force. The carrots would include an enhanced public bus system. The sticks would include congestion-based pricing to drive into and park in Aspen. The Aspen Institute Community Task Force on Transportation and Mobility advised in a 50-page report against adding traffic lanes to Colorado 82 or, at this point, using the Marolt Open Space for a straight-shot solution into Aspen.

Los Angeles Metro Wants to Hear from Companies on Its Latest Idea to Fill Gaps in Transit Network

  • Los Angeles’ transit agency already runs buses and trains throughout the county, but now it’s looking into a brand new option for transportation – on-demand van pools. Dubbed micro-transit, the vehicles could be hailed by riders at street corners who need to get to transit hubs or destinations not served by buses and trains. “It’s kind of combining the best of the Uber and Lyft model with the best public transit model,” said Joshua Schank, chief innovations officer for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

INTERNATIONAL

How Politics, Not Evidence, Drives Transit Planning in Toronto

  • It was the first time Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca had faced reporters since the controversy began. The press conference at a GO station in Burlington had nothing to do with the province’s plan to build a series of new stops. But the minister had not yet directly answered why two proposed locations – Kirby, in hsi own Vaughan riding, and Lawrence East, part of Mayor John Tory’s “SmartTrack” campaign promise – had been approved against expert advice. Nor had he explained why the board of Metrolinx, which is meant to be an arm’s-length agency of the province, reversed its early position to not support those stations under pressure from his ministry.

OTHER

Carpooling Is Totally Coming Back This Time, We Swear

  • In so many ways, the 1970s are making a comeback. Wide-leg jeans! Off-shoulder tops! Profound levels of distrust in government! Here’s a tentative addition to that list: carpooling. New Census data released on Thursday shows upticks in the proportion of workers who report they’re sharing a ride to the office, across a number of major U.S. cities.