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Your Weekly Planning Updates

Nebraska Will Test-Drive New Vanpooling Program That Lets Six to 15 People Share a Ride

  • The state is hoping Nebraskans will consider taking advantage of a new twist on carpooling. The Nebraska Department of Transportation has entered a three-year contract with Enterprise Rideshare to bring a statewide vanpool program to Nebraska. The program provides a way to carpool using vehicles large enough for six to 15 people. A travel study conducted in 2013 by the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency found more than 2,000 people commuting daily between Lancaster and Douglas Counties.

PLANNING

‘We Can’t Keep Building Highways’: North Texas Mayors Call for More Innovation in Transportation

  • North Texas is booming – something that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. And it’s why local leaders say we must start addressing the transportation needs of the future. But they insist the solution isn’t more highways. “We can’t keep building highways,” said Grapevine Mayor William D Tate. “They’re too expensive. It costs millions of dollars to build an overpass. And [to acquire] the right of way, you keep having to tear down businesses.” So what is the answer? That’s what Tate, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams met with members of the Tarrant Regional Transportation Commission Wednesday to discuss.

New San Francisco Bay Area Traffic Study Hopes to Improve Commutes

  • A new plan could change the way tens of thousands of people in the Bay Area get to work. SamTrans released a study on Dumbarton transportation Thursday recommending possible solutions to improve mobility between Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. To help improve auto, transit, bicycle and pedestrian commutes, SamTrans is recommending a Dumbarton Rail line to connect passengers from Newark to Redwood City by 2025, as well as a Dumbarton Rail line with BART, Caltrain and ACE by 2030.

Land-Use Webinar to Focus on Aligning Transportation with Local Planning

  • How the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is connecting transportation projects with local municipal land-use planning initiatives will be the topic of a web-based seminar offered by Penn State Extension. Presenting the 75-minute webinar from noon to 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 16, will be Angela Swallop Saunders, of PennDOT; Alan Piper, of the Berks County Planning Commission; and Matt Stewart, of the Mercer County Regional Planning Commission. The presentation is part of Penn State Extension’s summer-fall land-use webinar series.

MPOs

Gridlock Over San Diego Region’s Transportation Future Tightens with Scandal

  • Beset by allegations of poor management and even deceit, can the region’s premier long-range transportation planners succeed in galvanizing the public’s trust so it will give billions more in taxpayer dollars for new mass-transit and highway projects? As voters from Los Angeles to Santa Clara to Seattle passed tax increases in November to pay for new transportation projects, San Diegans rejected such a ballot proposal. The region now faces difficult questions about how to pay for everything from highways to trolley tracks to bike lanes.

Grand Strand Area Transportation Study at Crossroads of Growing Public Interest

  • All roads lead to GSATS. Almost. “We’re not looking at neighborhood streets and potholes,” said Mark Hoeweler, director of the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study. What they are looking at is ways to improve traffic flow and highway safety through a region that stretches from Georgetown to Brunswick County, N.C. The creation of a transportation plan that extends to 2040 has drawn attention from Waccamaw Neck residents concerned about the growing traffic. About a dozen people showed up for a recent meeting of the GSATS policy committee. Over 100 attended a forum in Murrells Inlet last month to review the 2040 plan.

ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION

Baltimore Bike Share Program Hampered by Thefts, Lack of Returns

  • When Baltimore launched its $2.36 million Baltimore Bike Share system last fall, officials said the program would begin with 200 bicycles at 20 stations, then expand to 500 bicycles at 50 stations in the spring. Officials have pushed back the program’s expansion to this fall, blaming a delay in receiving a steel component for the bike docks from the manufacturer. But the program has also been plagued by a high rate of the bikes stolen or otherwise not returned – so many that Corps Logistics, the subcontractor that operates the program and maintains the bikes, has devoted two employees solely to bike recovery, dispatching them daily around the city to pick up bikes left leaning against trees or discarded in alleys.

San Francisco’s Market Street Plan Would Ban Private Cars, Add Bike Lanes

  • Market Street, a tortured tangle of buses, bikes, streetcars, delivery trucks and a few private cars, is about to get an overdue makeover worthy of its status as the city’s grand civic boulevard. The plan would ban cars, including Uber and Lyft, from Market Street’s eastern reaches while delivering continuous protected bike lanes and Muni-only lanes. It would make room for taxis and other commercial vehicles such as delivery trucks. But it would get rid of Market Street’s signature brick sidewalks.

Push to Allow ATVs on New Hampshire Rail Trails Draws Opposition

  • A push by a pair of New Hampshire communities to loosen restrictions on using off-highway recreational vehicles on rail trails has drawn local opposition from area trail advocates and Keene’s mayor. The municipalities, Claremont and Haverhill, sent a joint letter to New Hampshire’s congressional delegation in May, asking them to amend federal legislation prohibiting motorized vehicles on rail trails.

FUNDING

I-95 Corridor Coalition Testing Pay-per-Mile Charging

  • The future of driving could be more tolls or new taxes based on exactly how far you drive. The I-95 Corridor Coalition, a group whose membership includes transportation agencies from Florida to Maine, is moving forward with new testing in Delaware and Pennsylvania of a system that would charge drivers based on the number of miles traveled as either a replacement for or addition to the gas tax. “We’re not endorsing this…but we want to make sure we explore it,” Executive Director Patricia Hendren said.

ROADWAYS

National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board Votes to Study New Potomac River Bridge Crossing

  • The possibility of an additional crossing over the Potomac River north of the American Legion Bridge has advanced to further consideration after the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB), which is part of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, voted to further study the project on July 19. According to Lyn Erickson, plan development and coordination program director for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, a TPB member had requested through a resolution that a Long-Range Plan Task Force be created to explore transportation issues affecting the Washington D.C. metropolitan region.

TRANSIT

New York City Mayor Will Push for Tax on Wealthy to Fix Subway

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to push for a tax on wealthy New Yorkers to pay for improvements needed to address the crisis engulfing New York City’s subway, city officials said on Sunday. The proposal is the latest move in the battle between Mr. de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over who bears responsibility for repairing the deteriorating transit system. The plan would also pay for half-price MetroCards for low-income riders – part of a national movement that has gained momentum in New York.

Panel Seeks Advice As It Studies Georgia’s Transit Future

  • A legislative commission is seeking professional help as it studies the future of mass transit in Georgia. On Wednesday the House Commission on Transit Governance & Funding approved a request for proposal seeking a consultant to study the Peach State’s mass transit needs. The commission plans to select a consultant in September. House Speaker David Ralston has asked the commission to study ways to integrate mass transit into Georgia’s statewide transportation system.

RAIL

FRA to Invite Bids to Replace Amtrak on Certain Routes

  • The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has published a final rule for a new pilot program that would seek competitive bids from “eligible petitioners” to replace Amtrak as the operator of up to three long-distance routes. The rules fall under a provision of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act that requires the FRA to implement the pilot program. Published in the Federal Register last month, the final rule takes effect Sept. 5 and establishes a petition, notification and bid process by which the FRA will evaluate and select bids to provide passenger-rail service over particular long-distance routes.

Lyft Partners with Amtrak for First-and Last-Mile Trip Tie-In

  • Lyft and Amtrak are teaming up on a partnership that will allow Amtrak app users to book a trip directly in the train operator’s mobile software. The Lyft ride quest feature is designed to help travelers manage those first and last legs of their journey, and the team-up also comes with a $5 credit for new Lyft users for their first four rides. This is another example of Lyft forming partnerships with major players operating in spaces adjacent to their own that the ride-hailing provider has announced in a week-it’s also working with Disney on in-resort transit and with Taco Bell on mid-ride pit stops for fast food eats.

FREIGHT

Uber Freight App Rolls Into California, Arizona, Chicagoland

  • Uber Freight, which officially launched in May as a way for short-haul truckers to more easily book their loads, is making a big national push after a test run in Texas. Truckers will be able to book freight pick-ups in California, Arizona, Georgia, the Carolinas and around the Chicago area, the company announced in a blog post Thursday. The rollout will take a few months. The Uber Freight app also will begin proactively suggesting loads to truckers based on their past routes and deliveries.