Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
Funding Sources and Amounts:
$400,000 for staff support of task forces and working groups.
$300,000 to support New Visions public outreach.
FHWA metropolitan planning (PL) funds. CMAQ funds. Local matches (25% cash local matches are required for Linkage Program studies to be awarded to municipalities).
Agencies/Organizations Involved: Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC), Capital District Regional Planning Council (CDRPC), New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), municipal governments of the Albany, NY, region.
Geographic Area: Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY, metropolitan planning area, which includes Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady Counties, and the constituent municipalities of those counties.
New Visions is the long-range transportation plan (LRTP) for the Albany-Schenectady-Troy region, developed and administered by the Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC), the region's metropolitan planning organization (MPO). CDTC sought to direct the transportation investment function of the LRTP to a broader set of community-responsive project types, limiting the preeminence of congestion relief and capacity-adding projects and emphasizing a broader range of modes and community needs in project definition and programming.
CDTC set out to develop a long-range plan based on a broad set of community objectives, allowing for a more prominent connection between transportation, land use, and other specialized areas of planning. In a region that is not experiencing significant growth, planners and elected officials have focused on planning proactively for the region's future. In terms of transportation, this includes controlling the growth in vehicular travel.
Transportation and land use coordination is the cornerstone of the New Visions philosophy, based on understanding that the Albany region is not experiencing significant growth and thus should plan proactively for its future by supporting land use planning and encouraging smart growth. Based on the desires of elected officials, this involves directing transportation investment to established communities and selecting projects that do not impact those communities.
The first New Visions plan, New Visions 2015, was developed in 1993–1997 through an extensive public involvement process and was ultimately adopted in 1997. It included an extensive 3-year public involvement process intended to articulate a vision for the region's future. While New Visions functions as the region's LRTP, it also used the broad foundation of goals and desires identified in the vision statement to establish a philosophy for how transportation planning and project delivery need to occur in the region. In 2000, while still in the active period of the first New Visions, CDTC launched the Linkage Program, which provides local assistance in carrying out specific plans intended to reflect the New Visions philosophy. The Linkage planning studies have occurred in the form of corridor studies, transit feasibility studies, and small-area sector plans, in addition to many others, and have contributed to candidate projects to be evaluated for potential TIP inclusion.
Subsequent updates to New Visions have not employed the same level of public involvement as New Visions 2015, instead using stakeholder groups and task forces to provide recommendations on target update areas. The Linkage Program has provided an ongoing level of public comment and response to the New Visions goals, facilitating the update processes that have occurred since its adoption.
The Albany-Troy-Schenectady area's approximately
820,000 residents; all modes are provided for in the LRTP and Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) projects, with transit, bicycle, and pedestrian projects receiving special attention as focus areas for enhancement.
Perhaps the key to the success of New Visions has been the Linkage Program, established in 2000 while the first New Visions plan was in effect.
The Linkage Program was designed to connect New Visions to local-level planning processes through local transportation and land use planning efforts. CDTC emphasizes this aspect of implementation in recognition of the critical role that collaborative and coordinated regional-local planning plays in achieving regional transportation system goals.
CDTC has funded 65 collaborative, jointly funded Linkage studies, and more than $4.5 million in Federal, State, and local funds have been committed to the Linkage Program since its inception in 2000. Participation in a Linkage study provides municipalities with consultant or CDTC staff technical assistance for joint planning initiatives that link transportation and land use. Study sponsors have included urban, suburban, and rural municipalities and counties as well as not-for-profits and other public entities. Supported studies include land use plans and visions, highway and transit designs, redevelopment plans, corridor improvement plans, zoning ordinances, and other multijurisdictional planning efforts. Assistance to municipalities for Linkage studies is financed through FHWA PL funds and CMAQ funds, and a 25 percent local match is required to encourage ownership of the process by the locality. CDTC devotes approximately one-third of its annual planning allocation to the program.
Studies are managed by the CDTC staff while conducted by consultants, ensuring products that are both useful for the municipalities and consistent with regional policies. Linkage studies have been adopted by municipalities as components to comprehensive plans or area master plans, to leverage additional support for planning processes, and have provided a stream of viable project candidates for CDTC's TIP. The Linkage Forum, a regional roundtable of municipal planners (with mandatory participation of Linkage Program study municipalities), meets quarterly to allow communities to build on each others' experiences, and is another regional resource that grew out of the New Visions effort. The program is cited as having helped raise the stature and visibility of CDTC, better enabling it to effectively address regional planning issues at the local level in a State where it has no direct oversight or approval functions for local plans.
Subsequent New Visions updates reflect overall success of the visioning effort of the first plan. As mentioned previously, the bulk of the underlying philosophy was first fully articulated in the original New Visions plan in 1997. Since then, CDTC and its members have focused on implementing and refining the plan. In contrast to many other metro areas, the Capital District's physical landscape increasingly reflects this regional planning philosophy. CDTC's TIP programming reflects the plan's philosophy foundation, and joint land use-transportation plans have been developed in nearly 30 municipalities through the Linkage Program since the original New Visions adoption.
The New Visions 2030 process focused on regional transportation and land use connections. Issues were identified primarily through a Quality Region Task Force and CDTC staff. In addition, five working groups were created to explore topics of further interest. The topics covered in working groups were approached from a transportation and land use perspective and included the following topics: expressway issues; "big ticket" transportation ideas; regional development patterns and local planning efforts; and "larger than regional" education, workforce, and economic development issues.
Building on the philosophy of the original 1997 plan, the 2004 update for New Visions introduced the use of scenarios to understand potential transportation outcomes of current land use and community planning decisions. It evaluated four growth scenarios: two scenarios using a trend-based population growth rate, one of these depicting this growth in a compact form of development throughout the region and the other showing growth in a more dispersed pattern; and two scenarios with a high growth rate (one with dispersed development and one with concentrated development) It then evaluated the same two land use configurations with a more aggressive population growth rate. CDTC staff used the regional travel demand model to forecast traffic patterns and summarize likely transportation investment needs for each scenario.
CDTC staff estimated that the most recent New Visions update process (2004–2007) totaled roughly $400,000 for staff support of task forces and working groups, as well as related research and technical activities. During this same period, an additional $300,000 was expended through the Linkage Program, which also supported New Visions public outreach during local strategic planning efforts. The CDTC utilizes FHWA PL funds for these planning processes, setting aside approximately one-third of these funds specifically for the Linkage Program.
Livability Principles Promoted by Project
|P||Increase transportation choices|
|P||Promote affordable housing|
|P||Enhance economic competitiveness|
|F||Support existing communities|
|F||Coordinate Federal policies and leverage investment|
|F||Value communities and neighborhoods|
P: Partly Supports
F: Fully Supports
As of early 2010, the status of the project is as follows:
CDTC's process to develop and implement the elements of the transportation plan can be carried to other MPOs.
As the region's planning organization, CDTC had a leading role in the development of New Visions.
Factors in the planning process that provide an advantage to CDTC are its ability to program all Federal assistance funding within its region and not needing to share this responsibility with NYSDOT. These are, in part, responses to New York legisla- tion that only gives the State control of a highway system outside the corporate limits of municipalities. CDTC felt that strong direction from NYSDOT in programming Federal aid funds, especially National Highway System funds, would leave insufficient funds for urban transportation projects and therefore leave CDTC unable to work adequately toward New Visions goals of investing in established communities.
Sources and Other Resources:
CDTC New Visions 2030 Update Web site: http://www.cdtcmpo.org/rtp2030/2030.htm