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Summary Report: Workshops on Integrating Climate Change with Transportation Planning, October & November 2010

III. Summary of Workshop Proceedings and Outcomes

A. Introduction and Overview

This section provides a summary of the proceedings of each of the five workshops. It also provides highlights of the various key issues associated with the consideration of climate change in transportation planning raised by participants. Section IV of this report provides a distillation and assessment of these issues and their implications for future FHWA activities.

B. State Departments of Transportation (DOT) Workshops

1. Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)

Summary

Florida DOT helped convene the FHWA workshop to explore how best to address climate change adaption information sharing, coordinated planning and coordinated implementation actions. In Florida, the framework for working on climate adaptation via transportation planning at the State level is just being formed. With the lack of a transportation-climate change adaptation framework, the workshop posed many questions, identified obstacles, and highlighted areas for follow-up, but did not produce many conclusions between participants.

Overall, FDOT itself wishes to improve sharing of data and projected assumptions and impacts associated with sea level rise, storm surge, scour, and other key adaptation challenges that confront Florida. Participants that represented a variety of State, regional, and non-profit entities explored additional outcomes including avenues to improve multi-sector and multi-agency coordinated adaptation planning, including the identification of vulnerabilities. A key issue raised by workshop participants was that they believe the State needs to define an overarching process goal (e.g., data sharing only, data plus collaborative planning, etc.) as different governmental entities at various scales approach these issues together.

Themes of Participant Comments/Discussions

2. Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)

Summary

WSDOT helped convene the FHWA workshop to help MPOs across the State explore scenario planning at the regional scale. The MPOs in Washington are working to implement Washington State Executive Order 09-05 (EO), which mandates that MPOs with urban counties "develop and adopt regional transportation plans that will, when implemented, provide people with additional transportation alternatives and choices, reduce greenhouse gases and achieve the statutory benchmarks to reduce annual per capita vehicle miles traveled..."3 Washington State was in the very early stages of implementing this executive order at the time of the workshop; meetings to discuss the EO were being held in the same week as the FHWA workshop, which reduced attendance from some invited MPOs. Presentations generated conversation on modeling topics, communication techniques that address climate change and regional land use and transportation characteristics, and techniques to establish a vision once a series of scenarios have been developed.

Themes of Participant Comments/Discussions

C. Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) Workshops

1. Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO)

Summary

The Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO), in partnership with the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC), invited a broad range of participants, many from non-profit organizations and State and local public agencies that have addressed climate change in a variety of ways in the Burlington area in recent years. The CCMPO suggested that the workshop was organized around the central question of how the region should conduct a Climate Action Plan (CAP) process that would be led jointly by the CCMPO and CCRPC. The backdrop for this discussion was the announcement of a $1-million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) "sustainable communities" program.

During the course of the workshop, participants explored a series of fundamental questions, including the goals of the CAP, specific GHG mitigation and climate adaptation actions, components of the CAP planning process, parties to engage in the process, public involvement approaches, and the ultimate CAP products.

Themes of Participant Comments/Discussions

2. Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC)

Summary

ARC has conducted a variety of regional visioning and scenario planning efforts in the past decade including the recent Envision 6 effort. Therefore, this workshop focused on next steps toward more effective implementation of existing regional land use frameworks and programs. The Atlanta region is currently facing a severe water crisis. A Federal court ruling last summer threatens Lake Lanier's future viability as the region's primary source of water. The water crisis together with an upcoming transportation sales tax referendum put the topic of addressing climate change in a broader and more complicated political context. Discussion centered on utilizing these immediate threats and opportunities to move GHG mitigation efforts forward. This would be done by focusing on co-benefits and communication techniques that do not center on climate change by itself. Of the five workshop sites, the Atlanta region is one of the more sensitive when it comes to openly discussing human-caused climate change with local officials and regional stakeholders.

Themes of Participant Comments/Discussions

D. MPO/DOT Partnership Workshop

1. Lane Council of Governments (LCOG) and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT)

Summary

In 2010, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 1059 (SB1059), a statewide, comprehensive bill aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation.4 SB1059 names the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development as the lead agencies in implementing its requirements. The relevant State agencies along with Lane COG and the other MPOs affected by SB1059 (all except for the Portland area MPO, METRO), were early in the process of operationalizing the language of SB1059 in the months before and after the FHWA workshop.

It was premature to address specific questions and answers regarding how to address SB1059. Some key decisions need to be made to narrow the universe of options before meaningful 'next steps' discussions can be held. Therefore, participants preferred to reflect on SB1059, ask key questions that the legislation may create, think through some of the unanticipated consequences, and outline general approaches to ensuring that the legislation most effectively accomplishes its climate mitigation goals.

The workshop focused on a few key topics: fundamental approaches to scenario planning, the range of roles, resources, and guidance that the State could provide to enable MPOs to be effective in the work of addressing SB1059, and an open discussion of the broad range of transportation-related strategies that should be explored to reduce GHG.

Themes of Participant Comments/Discussions

Updated: 03/27/2014
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