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News & Updates

Your Weekly Planning & MPO Updates

PLANNING

More Accurate Traffic Modeling Could Improve Planning for Construction Projects

  • Construction on Twin Cities freeways gives drivers plenty of chances to try alternative routes-and sometimes, find that those routes are under construction, too. In a project funded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), U of M researchers evaluated the capabilities of simulation software packages that could be used to improve construction project staging and, ultimately, help minimize disruption from overlapping projects in a region.

Indianapolis Officials Launch ‘Indy Moves’ Program

  • City officials launched the Indy Moves program to determine the status of transportation in Marion County and plot its future. At 400 square miles, Indianapolis has 8,175 miles of city-maintained roads that are augmented by bike lanes, sidewalks, greenways, railroad tracks and state and federal roads and interstates. Indianapolis drivers spend an average of 18 hours a year in vehicle congestion, according to a report compiled by the city and the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is significantly less time than motorists in other peer cities such as Nashville, Denver and Columbus.

Toll Roads, Other Transportation Topics Discussed at Mobility Matters Symposium in Houston

  • A panel consisting of Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough discussed some of the major transportation issues the Greater Houston faces at the annual Mobility Matters Symposium hosted by Transportation Advocacy Group-Houston Region on Wednesday. The keynote speaker for the event, Texas Department of Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin, focused his remarks on what he described as the need to prioritize projects regionally and to explore multiple modes of transportation.

Loudoun County, Virginia Mulls Takeover of Traffic Studies from Developers

  • Loudoun County is weighing an initiative that would give the county control of traffic studies, which are currently done by developers who want to build residential and business projects in the area’s wealthiest and quickest-growing jurisdiction. Right now, developers hire traffic consultants to assess how future development would affect traffic in a given neighborhood. The county uses the privately conducted studies in determining what roads need to be built or altered (usually by the developer) before the county grants approval for a land-use application.

Lake County Transportation Alliance Shifting Focus Away from Primarily Cars and Roads

  • The Lake County Transportation Alliance plans to shift its vision next year away from primarily cars and roads as a way to address traffic congestion in the region. “We’re at capacity. We’re not going to be adding a lot of lanes to anything,” LCTA President Suzanne Zupec said after the agency’s annual meeting Wednesday, at the University Center of Lake County in Grayslake. “What comes after that?” It’s a shift to thinking of transportation as a connected network that includes buses, trains, ride-shares and bicycles, said Bethany Williams, strategy and intelligence manager for Lake County Partners, the county’s economic development agency.

MPOs

South Dakota DOT, MPO Seek Public Input on I-29 Corridor

  • The South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT), in collaboration with the Sioux Falls Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and Lincoln County, will hold a public open house on Tuesday, Oct. 24, on the beginning of a corridor study for Interstate 29 from Exit 62 (US18/Canton) to Exit 73 (Lincoln Co. 106/Tea). This open house public meeting will be held beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at the Tea Middle School Commons, 505 W. Brian St. in Tea. The purpose for the open house is to inform the public of the study’s intent, to record any concerns the public may have along the study’s corridor and to gather ideas to help determine the future look of the corridor.

Texas DOT Runs Numbers on Merger of MPOs

  • Nearly five years of sometimes intense debate, hundreds of hours of talk and backtalk, and a good dollop of traditional regional mistrust finally may be reaching a conclusion. For years, the three metropolitan planning organizations in the Valley have pushed and pulled with and against each other over the possibility of merging into one super-MPO to improve the odds of gaining more highway funding for the region.

Bill Christian, Executive Director of Fargo-Moorhead Metro COG, Dies Unexpectedly

  • The leader of the organization that decides transportation policies for Fargo-Moorhead area has died. Bill Christian was executive director of the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Council of Governments, or Metro COG. His death was confirmed Wednesday, Oct. 18, by Brenda Elmer, chair of the Metro COG Policy Board and a Moorhead City Council Member. “It’s very unfortunate that he passed away unexpectedly,” Elmer said, adding: “I don’t have a lot of details.”

Reed Macmillan Hired as Director of Dover/Kent County MPO

  • The Dover/Kent County Metropolitan Planning Organization Council voted Oct. 18 to approve the hire of Reed Macmillan as its new director. Macmillan, of Middletown, comes to the MPO from New Castle County government where he has worked since 2002. Most recently, he worked in New Castle County’s Department of Land Use as the assistant land use general manager. There, Macmillan performed management duties overseeing the department’s various operations and functions.

ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION

Massachusetts MPO Announces New Bikeshare System

  • The Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the regional planning agency serving the people who live and work in 101 cities and towns across Greater Boston, recently announced it is working to bring a new bike share network to the Metro Boston area by spring. In 2011, MAPC helped bring the Hubway Bike Share system to Boston; the next year, with MAPC’s coordination, Hubway expanded into Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline. The system now includes 190 stations and 1,800 bikes, hosting more than 6 million rides since its launch.

ROADWAYS

Report: Self-Driving Cars Could Ease Traffic, But Increase Sprawl

  • A new study inspired by Boston’s early experiments with self-driving cars finds that the technology could ease congestion, but also lead to more cars on the road and further encourage urban sprawl. The report, released Tuesday by the Boston Consulting Group and the World Economic Forum, is a mostly optimistic take on how autonomous vehicles could change cities. Three companies are now testing self-driving cars in Boston’s Seaport District. One of them, NuTonomy, has also partnered with ride-hailing service Lyft to research how passengers book and route a self-driving car.

Hagerstown/Eastern Panhandle MPO Approves $75 Million Plan to Widen I-81 in West Virginia

  • Two more travel lanes are planned for part of Interstate 81 south of Martinsburg. The Hagerstown/Eastern Panhandle Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Interstate Council unanimously voted Wednesday to put the $75 million project into its 2017-20 Transportation Improvement Plan. The funding specifically was put into fiscal 2018. The work will widen I-81 from four to six lanes from about Exit 8 for Tabler Station Road north to where the current six-lane highway starts near Exit 12 at Apple Harvest Drive. The new lanes will be built in the median.

TRANSIT

Nashville Mayor Unveils $5.2 Billion Transit Plan for City

  • Mayor Megan Barry introduced a sweeping $5.2 billion transportation and infrastructure plan Tuesday, designed to connect communities in Davidson County. The plan is called Let’s Move Nashville. If approved, parts of it could go into place in 2019, with the final phase to be completed in 2032. It calls for 26 miles of light rail, four rapid bus routes and an underground tunnel through downtown Nashville.

Lyft, Phoenix Partner to Give Discounts for Riders Traveling to, from Bus Stops

  • If your morning view is an endless line of cars, the City of Phoenix and Lyft’s new partnership, dubbed the ‘First Mile Last Mile Program,’ could work for you. “What this service does is allows you to take a Lyft to get from where you start, that doesn’t have that transit service, to the nearest bus stop that works for you to get where you need to go in the day,” Maria Hyatt, the City of Phoenix public transit director, said.