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PLANNING

Can Mayor’s Ambitious Mobility Action Plan Unsnarl Denver Traffic? 

  • From his desk in Denver’s Traffic Management Center, Mark Meulemans can see buses crawling up East Colfax toward the Capitol. He can also see trucks rumbling through the drizzle at 56th and Dallas, a dense pack of commuters on rain-slicked Colorado Boulevard, a blocks-long queue of cars forming at Alameda and Broadway. Meulemans may not be all-seeing, but he sees plenty. Located on the fifth floor of the Wellington Webb Building, the TMC features a wall of flat-screens, projecting dozens of shifting images from 502 cameras mounted at intersections across the city.

Transportation Plan Seeks to Take 20,000 Cars Off Twin Cities Roads

  • City planners and transportation officials in the Twin Cities unveiled an action plan Tuesday that seeks to remove 20,000 cars from the metro area within the next five years. The plan was developed by the Shared-Use Mobility Center (SUMC), a national nonprofit dedicated to increasing the use of bikeshare, carshare and rideshare programs in communities across the United States. Joined by the Metropolitan Council, Ride Nice Minnesota, The McKnight Foundation and others, the SUMC laid out the Twin Cities-focused plan that seeks to shift homes away from single-occupant vehicles and toward ridesharing and public transit.

How Planners Are Chasing Better Traffic Flow with Design

  • Few things are more frustrating than being stuck in traffic. Yet Americans spent an average of 42 hours waiting out gridlock in 2016, costing commuters a total of $300 billion, or about $1,400 per driver, according to connected car services and analytics company Inrix. Sitting in traffic can also take a psychological toll on commuters, says researchers Louis-Philippe Beland and Daniel Brent, both economics professors at Louisiana State University. The pair found that the bigger the traffic jam, the more stress and aggravation drivers tend to suffer. Reported incidents of domestic violence went up as well.

South Florida Master Planners Embrace Sustainable City Concept

  • Market demand to create smart growth in urban areas is compelling planners to design walkable communities oriented to pedestrians who want easy access to housing, shopping and mass transit. While real estate demographics continue to shift to sustainable developments, one Coral Gables firm has been out in front of the trend for the past twenty years. Like a breathing organism, a South Miami project created 16 years ago by Dover, Kohl and Partners continues to mature even today with new streetscape improvements for The Hometown Plan for South Miami, a downtown and main street revitalization project.

MPOs

Report on Metropolitan Council Books Adds Fuel to Bitter Transit Debate

  • An audit of the Metropolitan Council found “inconsistencies” between gloomy budget assumptions provided to state legislators and those given to the federal government related to future light-rail projects. A report released Wednesday by the state’s legislative auditor questioned “whether the council was fully disclosing to the federal government its true financial situation,” given its budget deficit and declining financial support from the Minnesota Legislature. The council is expected to apply for $1.7 billion in federal aid over the next year to help build the Southwest and Bottineau Blue Line light-rail projects. Without federal support, it is not likely the two lines will be built.

Montgomery, Alabama MPO Seeks Suggestions on Improving Biking, Walking

  • If you are a cyclist peddling amongst drivers or a driver driving amongst cyclists the danger of the awkward arrangement comes sharply into focus passing just a few feet by a human on a metal frame or being passed by a several ton truck. A three-foot law was recently passed by the state legislature, however three feet does not a safe space make when talking about the unequal dynamic of vehicle versus bike. The Montgomery Metropolitan Planning Organization has developed a campaign called “Walk Bike River Region” to improve existing paths used by cyclists and, as the title suggests, also by pedestrians.

ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION

It’s a Make-or-Break Moment for US Bikeshares

  • Governments, which have long struggled to afford bikeshare systems, are suddenly seeing startups offer free bikes to cities. Previously, cities needed millions of dollars to acquire bikes and stations for parking. But now, money isn’t a barrier to introducing a bikeshare system. Transportation experts have pointed to bicycling as a way to address congestion, pollution and public health issues. Although it’s often the fastest way to get around urban areas, the cost of a bikeshare program has limited it as viable public transportation method.

FUNDING

After I-405 Blowback, Regional Washington State Planners Stepping Back from Vision of Widespread Tolls

  • The unpopularity of the express toll lanes on Interstate 405 might have a lasting impact on how our region pays for roads. In a 2010 planning document called Transportation 2040, the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) envisioned filling funding gaps with “highway system tolling” that would be widespread. “All the freeways, which would no longer be freeways, and possibly even principal arterials,” said Sammamish City Council member Don Gerend, who worked on that plan and is now working on an update. He says the idea of counting on money for transportation from future highway tolls has fallen out of favor with regional planners since the toll lanes opened on I-405.

RAIL

SMART Confronts Crush of Bike-Toting Commuters

  • The North Bay’s new commuter rail lines is proving popular among commuters with bicycles – so popular that SMART officials may eventually adjust the way they run trains to better accomodate passengers who bring their wheels on board. Throughout September, SMART’s first full month of operations, trains usually carried about 250 to 300 bicycles daily on weekdays, and less than 100 daily on weekends, according to figures recently provided by the transit agency. Those numbers scrambled expectations of some Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit leaders who thought more bicyclists would ride on the weekends and more commuters would choose to leave their bikes behind before hopping on a train.

ROADWAYS

Los Angeles Reworks Another ‘Road Diet,’ Restoring Car Lanes in Playa del Rey

  • Faced with an ongoing furor over traffic congestion and so-called “road diets,” Los Angeles officials announced they will restore car lanes removed from two Playa del Rey boulevards earlier this year. Traffic crews will add back a single westbound vehicle lane to Jefferson and Culver boulevards, the latest reversal in a coastal district represented by Councilman Mike Bonin. In a Facebook message posted Monday night, Bonin said the change along the 1.1-mile stretch is an interim step recommended by a community task force looking at street safety and complains about traffic congestion from residents and business owners. That panel is expected to present final recommendations next month.

TRANSIT

Los Angeles Seeks Public-Private Partnerships to Build Mass Transit Faster

  • Officials with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) have begun to explore the potential opportunities public-private partnerships (P3) might afford the entity as it seeks to fast-track the construction of several key transit expansion across the Los Angeles region.

INTERNATIONAL

Amsterdam Rethinks the Traffic Light’s Role in City Planning

  • In the United States, each new piece of quality, dedicated bicycle infrastructure is a victory for advocates and planners working to carve out safe, efficient space in which bicyclists can travel. In Amsterdam, where bicycle infrastructure has been a centerpiece of planning for decades, traffic engineers have been experimenting with removing infrastructure in service of that same goal. The Netherlands’ capital isn’t about to do away with its nearly 500 miles of bike paths and lanes, but it is, in certain cases, experimenting with taking out protective barriers and other traffic controls to improve flow and speed for its hundreds of thousands of daily bicyclists.

OTHER

National Capital Planning Commission Agrees to Mull Federal Parking Policies

  • Federal commuters could see a change in their office parking lots, after the National Capital Planning Commission voted to consider updates to its parking policies. The commission on Thursday unanimously accepted a parking study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, and directed staff to evaluate a handful of actions related to parking ratio policies, variances and facilities’ visitor guidance.

Ronnie Hakim: NY MTA Managing Director, ITS NJ Hall of Fame Member, Looks at Technology from Both Sides of Houston

  • At ITS New Jersey’s annual meeting in September, Veronique (Ronnie) Hakim, Managing Director of the MTA, was inducted into the organization’s hall of fame. Hakim, who served the Garden State for six years as executive director of NJ Transit and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, has had a unique opportunity to see the bi-state transportation network from three of the largest transportation agencies in the US. She spoke with Transportation Radio about what she learned during her time in New Jersey, especially from a technology perspective.