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Your Weekly Planning Updates

Transportation Bill, Including Unique Bike Tax, Heads to Oregon Governor

  • The approval of a $5.3 billion transportation package came with a unique tax that no other state in the country has: a tax specifically targeting bicycles. House Bill 2017-already approved by the Oregon House-passed through the Senate Thursday.

As Road Funding Dries Up, Minnesota DOT Faces Dilemma: Patch or Redo?

  • The joints had been fixed and fresh asphalt laid over 40-year-old concrete on Interstate 94 between downtown Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center. But before traffic even started to roll over the new multimillion-dollar freeway, the pavement buckled in five places from the 90-degree June heat, leading to higher costs and more delays. The incident highlights a wrenching debate that is playing out among state officials trying to stretch limited transportation money to fix or replace as much roadway as possible. In Minnesota and in many other states, transportation funding has lagged as road conditions have deteriorated.

Task Force Starts Looking Into Transportation Issues Floridians with Disabilities Face

  • A new Florida task force met for the first time this week to start looking into transportation issues people with developmental and intellectual disabilities face on a daily basis. The Task Force on Transportation Disadvantaged Services was created as part of a new law that just took effect.

PLANNING

Denver Mayor Lays Out Ambitious Transportation, Housing Plans in State of City Address

  • Mayor Michael Hancock laid out an ambitious plan to cut the number of drivers on city roads, increase transit ridership and cycling, while cutting traffic deaths and adding more affordable housing to the city in his 2017 State of the City address, while also taking several shots against the current administration in Washington.

A Silicon Valley Suburb Turns to Waze to Curb Traffic and Finds a Bigger Jam

  • Like many problems plaguing modern life, traffic is a daily nuisance that many are trying to fix with technology. From Uber and Lyft to autonomous vehicles to navigation apps such as Waze, tech firms keep searching for ways to deliver us from our daily commute. One California town near Silicon Valley, Los Altos Hills, decided that tech was both the cause and solution to its traffic problems. It learned, however, that while apps come and go, regional transportation planning (or lack thereof) has a much longer lifespan.

MPOs

Berkshire MPO Wants Closer Look at Public Transit Options

  • The MPO wants to take a much more serious look this fall at how public transportation serves its customers. The Berkshire Metropolitan Planning Organization is in charge of prioritizing federal transportation dollars allotted to the county. That includes funding for the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority. The issues with the BRTA haven’t changed in years-a lack of funding leads to limited hours, infrequent service, and constrained geographic coverage. The MPO wants to “think outside the box” and find how to address some of those issues to better serve the community.

In Patchwork of Transportation Agencies, What Makes SANDAG Unique?

  • A bill in Sacramento that would make big changes to San Diego’s transportation agencies is moving forward in the Senate. AB 805, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, aims to make the San Diego Association of Governments more transparent and accountable by creating an internal performance auditor and giving more decision-making power to the county’s big population centers.

ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION

New York City Transportation Activists Demand More Bike Lanes After Four Cyclists’ Deaths

  • Cycling activists in New York City are calling for more bike lanes in the wake of four cyclists’ deaths, all of whom were fatally struck by cars or buses while they rode in city streets last month. Transportation Alternatives, the major urban transportation advocacy group, called on the city’s transportation department to drastically step up its rollout of protected bike lanes.

Bike-Ped Map Adds Data to Tippecanoe County, Indiana Anecdotes

  • Tippecanoe County leaders will get a look Thursday at one of the first data-driven attempts at measuring cycling and walking in the community. The Area Plan Commission will see a map showing more than 40 sites where volunteers have measured the volume of bikes and pedestrians. APC Assistant Director for Transportation Planning John Thomas says it’s just a first step – more sites will still be surveyed – but it’s a way to keep lawmakers skeptical of building more bike-ped infrastructure engaged in the discussion.

FUNDING

Data from Island Ferries Brings Cape Cod Transit Agency Extra $3.2 Million

  • The Cape is set to receive an extra $3.2 million a year in transportation funding as a result of a collaboration between the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority and the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority. The transit authority this year began including the Steamship Authority’s activity in the regional calculations for urban areas transportation funding from the Federal Transit Administration. The funding is based on a formula that takes into account data including passengers carried and miles traveled in the urbanized zone, which encompasses all of Barnstable County and a small area off-Cape.

13 States Now Charge Fees for Electric Vehicles

  • The gas tax is catching up to electric vehicles in a growing number of states. Several states have passed or enacted new fees this year, bringing the total to 17.* Recent additions include West Virginia, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and California, which is home to leading EV maker Tesla and a suite of policies designed to incentivize electric-car adoption. South Carolina enacted a biennial fee for electric cars.

RAIL

Massachusetts Awards $1.5 Million Contract to Study North South Rail Link in Boston

  • The state has awarded a $1.5 million contract to Boston-based Arup USA Inc. to study a proposal to build a rail link between North and South stations. The study, due to be completed by the spring of 2018, is being commissioned by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Office of Transportation Planning. The goal is to study the costs as well as benefits of the so-called North South Rail Link project to “determine whether further technical and financial analysis is warranted,” according to Joe Pesaturo, spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

FREIGHT

Congress Under Pressure to Raise Truck Weight Limits

  • Do you involuntarily brace and grasp the steering wheel when you catch a glimpse of an 18-wheeler bearing down on you on the interstate? That reaction isn’t uncommon, as trucks weighing up to 80,000 pounds have been allowed to share the highways with passenger vehicles since 1982. In contrast, most automobiles weigh in at about 4,000 pounds. But the maximum size of giant commercial trucks could increase soon, with a coalition of trucking and shipping companies now working behind the scenes in Congress to convince lawmakers to let them use vehicles weighing in at 91,000 pounds.

ROADWAYS

Planners to Weigh Second Potomac River Crossing Between Maryland and Virginia – Again

  • A second Potomac River bridge connecting Montgomery County and Northern Virginia – an idea that has been studied and debated since the 1950s – is again drawing both interest and criticism, as elected officials and transportation planners search for ways to ease the region’s notoriously heavy traffic. Next week the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, the body that helps set transportation priorities for the metropolitan area, will consider listing the bridge project for further analysis.

TRANSIT

Another Try at Detroit Regional Transit? Smaller Footprint May be Better This Time

  • Visions of four metro Detroit counties joined by one regional transit system may be in for something of a revision. The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan is weighing whether to shrink the size of its taxing district, cutting off rural parts of Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties from the taxes and services that would be part of any future transit plan. Such a prospect raises a host of questions, including whether the state Legislature would need to weigh in, but it could help with a key hurdle for transit plan advocates.

New Proposal Connects Austin, Texas Residents to Transit Corridors via Parklands

  • Austin residents are calling for a more compact and connected city. Thanks to a proposed strategy to reimagine the use of parklands around the city, Sustainable Neighborhoods might have the solution residents are seeking. Steve Zettner of Sustainable Neighborhoods presented the organization’s suggestions to the Parks and Recreation Board at its June 27 meeting. He described strategies for ways public spaces could be used to support transit hubs along the city’s corridors.