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News & Updates

Your Weekly Planning Updates

Michigan’s New Flex Route Can Cut Travel Time in Half, MDOT Says

  • Drivers on Michigan’s U.S. 23 north of Ann Arbor are experiencing a new traffic management system called Flex Route, in which they can use the inside median shoulder during rush hours. Overhead signs direct drivers when the additional lane is available. A green arrow means it’s open, while a red “X” means it’s closed. Along with rush hours, it can be used for special events and traffic accidents, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Indiana Lawmakers Want to Add Tolls to More Highways

  • INDOT is working on a study that could affect your travel plans. State lawmakers want to add tolls to more highways. Interstate 80-90 generates a lot of revenue. The company that leases the road paid the state $4 billion. That money was used for infrastructure improvements all over the state. Northern Indiana drivers have been paying at these booths for decades. Now they say it’s time for southern drivers to chip in too.

Own a Hybrid? Get Ready to Pay New Fee to South Carolina

  • Owners of hybrid or electric cars will soon have to pay a new fee to the state. The “road use fee” is part of the roads bill that passed state government earlier this year. Owners of vehicles powered exclusively by electricity, hydrogen, or another fuel other than motor fuel will pay $120 every other year. Owners of hybrid vehicles will pay $60 every other year.

Gas Taxes in Pennsylvania Pushing Businesses Just Over Border Into Ohio

  • How far would you drive for cheaper gas? Pennsylvania state taxes are leading to more business development in Ohio, specifically at the border. Mike Kassem, owner of Morgan Oil in Struthers, said a new tax in PA made him decide it was time to expand his business to Route 224 in Lowellville. “It’s going to be kind of a truck stop. We’re going to have take-out food and a place for people to sit and eat their food,” he said.

PLANNING

Columbus Announces Age-Friendly Strategic Plan, with Emphasis on Transportation

  • The city of Columbus released its age-friendly strategic plan on Tuesday, following two years spent two years collecting data and surveying residents about their top concerns. The city teamed with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and an advisory council to carry out the survey and create the recommendations.

New Miami Mayor Keeps Transportation Planning Seat

  • The new mayor in Miami, former city commissioner Francis Suarez, wants to continue his membership on a regional government body, the Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization (TPO). “I want to be reappointed,” Mr. Suarez told city commissioners at the first meeting since his election to the top job Nov. 7.

Downtown Dallas 360 Plan to Manage Traffic, Growth

  • After a burst of amazing growth in Downtown Dallas the past few years, city leaders got their first look Monday at a new plan to manage up to 50,00 more downtown residents, bringing more traffic and development. Resident Ryan Burris, who moved to a Commerce Street apartment over the summer, said he has already seen a change in his new neighborhood. “There’s so much traffic. Yes, better in a way that it’s coming back to life now,” Burris said.

MPOs

Flint Hills MPO Study Shows Second Bridge Over Kansas’ Blue River Will Probably Not Solve Congestion

  • A second connection between Pottawatomie County and Manhattan across the Blue River will probably not solve traffic congestion on U.S. Highway 24, according to a recent study. Still, Pott County Commissioners said Monday they are interested in pursuing the second connection. Representatives of the Flint Hills Metropolitan Planning Organization (FHMPO) presented the commission with results of a recent Bluetooth study that tracked origins and destinations of vehicles driving into Manhattan from Blue Township in southwestern Pott County.

ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION

Bikesharing Data and Cities: Lesson’s From China’s Experience

  • The first U.S. city to host a docked bike-share system, Washington D.C., is now home to a rapidly growing influx of dockless bikes, with five companies vying for the market. The docked system still accounts for 87 percent of the shared bikes in the United States, but the number of dockless bikes-which can be located by riders using an app and then left anywhere-is growing rapidly. The data from these location-enabled bikes provide a unique opportunity to measure the point-to-point transportation needs of millions of people in some of the world’s densest cities.

FUNDING

Can Taxing Pollution Pay for Infrastructure Improvements?

  • Rebuilding America’s infrastructure is an idea lots of politicians embrace. But how to pay for it can be tricky. Now, one Connecticut congressman is suggesting a possible solution: taxing pollution. It’s called a carbon tax. And Democrat John Larson wants to use it to pay for a $1 trillion infrastructure program he’s pushing in the House.

ROADWAYS

Regional Planners in Virginia Search for Solutions to Reduce I-64 Crashes

  • Regional transportation planners are close to completing a yearlong study of Interstate 64 and U.S. 250 that will be used to identify ways to ease congestion and improve safety along a corridor that can become paralyzed with a single crash. “For western Albermarle residents, it is a daily nightmare of whether traffic is going to be moving or if it’s not,” said Supervisor Ann Mallek. “People never quite know if they should stay on U.S. 250 or to get on I-64 to get to work.”

Driverless Car Bill Hits Senate Speed Bump

  • A driverless car bill that had been speeding through the Senate hit a speed bump in the upper chamber this week. The measure was set up under a fast-track process with the hopes of getting it over the finish line this year, but multiple senators are blocking the legislation from moving forward.

TRANSIT

Regional Plan Association Proposes Ending New York City’s 24/7 Subway System

  • Imagine New York without its 24/7 subway system? The experts at the Regional Plan Association did, and they believe it’s key to building a reliable transit system for a growing metropolitan area. The radical idea to snuff the pride of New York is one of dozens of recommendations in the research group’s latest regional plan – the association’s fourth region-wide blueprint since 1929 – being released Thursday.

Long a Bus City, Ohio’s Capital Hires Consultants to Explore New Transit Options

  • A new study will determine whether a train, bus-rapid transit or another type of transportation system that moves a lot of people in a single vehicle is needed to serve different parts of the Columbus area as it develops in the future. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is working with Columbus, the Central Ohio Transit Authority and several other Ohio communities to study development possibilities in five corridors stretching from downtown to past the outerbelt.

RAIL

Regional Plan Association Calls for Massive Rail Expansions in New York City Area

  • A direct ride from West Nyack into Midtown Manhattan? The same from White Plains to downtown Brooklyn? The Regional Plan Association, a private but influential 95-year-old urban planning group, released its fourth regional plan today. Among the 61 long-term recommendations for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut is a plan that would massively expand the metropolitan area’s commuter rail system with new tunnels, lines and stations.

OTHER

Initiative to Accelerate Transportation Projects in Time for the LA Olympics Picks Up Steam

  • Metro’s governing board is moving forward with a proposal to seriously speed up several major transportation projects around Los Angeles County by 2028, when the region will host the Olympic games. The projects include the Sepulveda Pass transit corridor, the West Santa Ana light rail line, an extension of the Green Line to Torrance, and a Gold Line extension to Whittier or El Monte.

As Infrastructure Ages, So Do Those Who Keep It Running

  • While much of the infrastructure in Wisconsin is aging and in need of replacement, so too is the workforce designing and maintaining it. From engineers who are planning future infrastructure to mechanics and laborers who keep systems running, higher education officials are warning of a pending shortfall of those who keep infrastructure working. “We’re seeing between 20 and 30 percent of the population retiring around the year 2020,” said Josh Gamer, dean of the Integrated Technology Division at Western Technical College based in La Crosse.