Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
As a livability principle promoted by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, coordination and leveraging of policies and investment is fundamental to supporting healthy and economically competitive communities. Within a partnership framework, improving coordination among Federal, State, regional, and local stakeholders can maximize investments across all level of governments, as well as better align policy and program goals.
Partnerships are fundamental in building and maintaining support for transportation projects. Formed across and within government agencies, community organizations, and civic and private sectors, partnerships can be utilized at any time during planning and implementation to help increase and diversify funding opportunities, public support, and technical capabilities to make transportation projects more viable in the short and long terms. Partnerships also help maximize technical and human resources, while expanding the reach and impact of a project throughout decisionmaking.
Through interagency collaboration, HUD, U.S.DOT, and EPA are committed to improving how regions plan for future growth, including fostering livability in transportation projects and programs. This interagency partnership provides a strong foundation for ongoing collaboration between public and private sector partners who are already working together on sustainable transportation planning, overcoming challenges, and promoting livability principles.
This chapter illustrates a range of partnership types that have used innovative coordination strategies to advance common goals consistent with the livability principles. Spanning public, private, and nonprofit interests, these partnerships demonstrate coordination across jurisdictions (interagency) and across divisions and offices within one government entity (interdepartmental). Varying in formality, the partnerships have used a range of collaborative models to meet their funding, policy, or planning goals.
Partners can include:
Roles of partners can include:
Partnerships among government agencies, such as a State DOT joining with local governments, or among agencies or offices within a government unit, are typically referred to as interagency or interdepartmental partnerships. Collaborative relationships between government and nonprofit entities consist of varying levels of formality, including contractual agreements and ad hoc coalitions, and are equally referred to as partnerships in this chapter's discussion.
In transportation, the term "public-private partnership" refers to coordination among public and for-profit entities, as well as agreements that allow for greater private sector participation in delivery and financing of transportation projects. When incorporating livability in transportation, a PPP can be a more informal effort that involves businesses and developers in the planning and implementation of projects along multimodal corridors, TOD, or building or donating ROW for segments of an interconnected network of local streets.
Partnerships can be used to overcome a number of barriers to incorporating livability into transportation planning and project development activities. At every level of government, the misalignment of planning and implementation goals and financial constraints have proven to be key challenges that may stall or prevent project implementation and realization of project goals for all stakeholders.
The Gateway 1 case study showcases an interagency partnership that sought to define a common corridor-wide vision. The partnership is currently working through developing and implementing its action plan. As the economic lifeline running through 21 of Maine's Midcoast communities, U.S. Route 1 serves many roles for local residents, municipalities, and the State. Many challenges, including congestion, population growth, and increasing development pressure, that face the scenic 110-mile transportation corridor cross municipal boundaries. Given the breadth of interests potentially impacted by future changes, it was clear to communities in the State's Midcoast, and to MaineDOT and other State and Federal agencies, that planning solutions would need to be identified that could span corridor boundaries.
MaineDOT initiated a three-phase planning approach aligned with corridor visioning, planning, and implementation. In Phase I, the agency sought to identify the issues and attitudes in the corridor and then reach agreement on the roles and responsibilities of partner entities to include in a Corridor Plan, to be developed in Phase II. In Phase III, the Corridor Plan would be implemented and monitored. The early development of a broad-based, formal partnership framework was integral to the multiphase planning approach; it spanned government agencies and included all 21 communities. The partnership framework was catalyzed by the agency's proactive response to its regional transportation advisory committee's request for a better transportation decisionmaking process to integrate local and regional land use practices along Route 1. The established partnerships, authorized through formal MOUs in 2005, would ultimately guide and coordinate transportation and land use decisions along the corridor.
Based on the strong trust-building and intensive community outreach with corridor communities under Phase 1, MaineDOT developed an MOU with all 21 communities, with FHWA and the State Planning Office (SPO) acting as ex officio members of the Steering Committee. The program included community meetings to introduce project goals, gather communities' perceptions of major corridor issues, and introduce the MOU concept.
Source: MaineDOT, 2009.2
After the Gateway Study Team incorporated community feedback, it developed a draft MOU that defined the project scope and partner roles. With town residents, the team identified key transportation and land use problems in each of the 21 communities. After another round of focus groups and five regionally based public meetings, staff updated the MOU language, began drafting language for each town-specific section, and presented drafts to MaineDOT, FHWA, SPO, and the towns for final review and discussion. In early 2005, the study team presented the final MOU to each community's governing board for approval. As of May 2005, 21 municipalities had agreed to work with MaineDOT to complete a regional, comprehensive land use and transportation plan.
The MOUs documented the purpose of the strategic Corridor Plan, identified the roles and responsibilities of all partners collaborating on the project, established a corridor-wide decisionmaking and public involvement process, and established guidelines for how to identify and address local and regional issues. Partners have agreed on three long-term outcomes for Route 1: 1) moving goods and people safely and smoothly; 2) preserving the scenic, rural qualities along the corridor; and 3) expanding the ability to grow jobs in the corridor. Each MOU is distinct in how the community identified major land use and transportation issues in its area.
In Phase II, the Corridor Coalition collaboratively developed scenarios and strategies to guide planning decisionmaking and better align the partners' goals. Recognizing that transportation and land use decisions in one area can affect the quality of life in another, municipalities adjacent to Route 1 agreed to participate in development of a corridor preservation strategic plan called the Gateway 1 Action Plan. The objective of this jointly developed plan is to anticipate and resolve conflicting goals, and guide State agencies, FHWA, and the municipalities in their corridor management efforts.
The MOUs set the foundation for implementation under Phase III. While the MOUs were essential for defining shared goals and partner roles for the corridor, implementation will require more than a framework establishing a collaborative process. While Maine municipalities have legal authority to implement corridor plans within their own jurisdictions, they are not able to jointly implement a plan without an interlocal agreement. MaineDOT is currently entering into a cooperative agreement to establish the Gateway 1 Corridor Coalition. Active partners will likely include representatives from Federal, State, and local governments, as well as community residents. Once formed, the coalition will allow public agencies to exercise jointly the powers that each individually possess. It will act as the decisionmaking group identifying and prioritizing local and regional transportation projects along the corridor. The coalition will provide mutual benefits to all partners, bringing the 21 communities into a new relationship with MaineDOT and FHWA. The relationship codifies an authority-sharing agreement between entities that control land use and those that manage the transportation system. By entering into this power-sharing arrangement, MaineDOT will share authority with participating municipalities to set priorities for transportation construction and transit projects. Under Phase III, implementation of the action plan is currently underway.
Gateway 1 developed a partnership unprecedented in the corridor and in MaineDOT's history. The agency's willingness to try a different approach by embracing a collaborative process to involve land use partners in transportation decisionmaking proved worthwhile, but somewhat more time consuming in the early stage. Nonetheless, the investment that MaineDOT made, along with the SPO and FHWA, in ensuring that all partners had the opportunity to identify and validate their issues and concerns, and to codify that understanding through a formal agreement committed to by all partners, will have a long-term effect on improving Route 1. As communities and the State work toward achieving shared goals with mutual benefits, a more livable and sustainable corridor is anticipated.
The MOUs provided decisionmakers with a foundation on which to coordinate more closely the local land use decisions with Maine's growth management goals and FHWA's National Highway System Standards. The goals identified in the MOU will also act as the guiding principles for MaineDOT's capital investment decisions.
FasTracks has been hailed as a model of regional collaboration that successfully integrated transit modes into a comprehensive region-wide system. As a public infrastructure project and one of the most ambitious transit system expansions in the country, the Regional Transportation District's (RTD) FasTracks program gained broad community support, evidenced by a 2004 region-wide voter-approved sales tax increase of 0.4 percent. Currently, RTD's program to build six new train lines, three rail extensions, and other transit elements by 2017 might be in danger of not being completed due to the economic downturn. Higher costs for construction materials and a drop in sales tax collections have created a $2.45 billion funding shortfall. The need to close this gap has required RTD to reevaluate its financial model to ensure the program's success. The RTD board and local and regional elected officials continue to work as regional partners to identify funding options and make the difficult decisions required to move forward.
The project plans include the East Corridor, Gold Line, Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility, and the Northwest Corridor
Segment. A private group has been selected to design, build, operate, maintain, and partially finance the project.
Source: Regional Transit District, 2010.3 Courtesy of RTD
FasTracks is utilizing broad-based funding mechanisms and sources to complete the project on time. At the regional level, RTD is constantly monitoring and analyzing every opportunity to apply for Federal money and help offset the program cost to local taxpayers. Although the district has been considering seeking voter support to double the 0.4 percent sales tax hike, it expects to secure $1 billion in Federal funding for the FasTracks transit network.
Parallel to its more recent efforts to secure public funds, RTD has been successfully drawing on its broader experience with PPPs to identify and secure another $1 billion for construction and operations. The agency has an established record of working closely with private partners. Nearly 50 percent of RTD's bus service is operated by private companies, providing RTD with a strong understanding of the structure of the relationships. In addition, RTD worked with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to complete a light rail and highway expansion project along the I-25 corridor-on time and on budget. The project used a design-build partnership framework. RTD expects to draw on these experiences to move forward with utilizing PPPs to implement many of its FasTracks projects.
PPPs are typically long-term (30-50 years) contractual agreements involving payments between a public agency and a private partner. Such an agreement would allow a private entity to borrow funds and repay costs over time, enabling RTD to spread out large upfront costs and preserve cash in the early years of FasTracks implementation.
Conventional Financing Model
P3 - DBFOM Model
Source: Regional Transit District, 2008.4
Courtesy of RTD
In July 2007, FTA approved RTD's request to be part of the Public-Private Partnership Pilot Program. The approved partnership pilot program includes the Gold Line, East Corridor, Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility, and Northwest Rail to Westminster. Coined the Eagle P3 Project, it is a design-build-finance-operate-maintain contract. In September 2007, the RTD Board approved the partnership delivery method as part of the updated FasTracks Financial Plan. As part of this program, RTD can maximize Federal support through the New Starts program, realize efficiencies and savings in capital operation and maintenance costs, and build and operate projects within RTD's financial capacity. By the summer of 2010, the Board is expected to review and approve the partnership concessionaire; however, this is predicated on completion of Environmental Impact Statements, signed Records of Decision, agreements with railroads on ROW acquisition, Federal approval of the pilot's terms, and New Starts submissions.
To initiate selection of private partners, RTD retained an alternative financing adviser to establish a competitive bid process. RTD drafted a request for proposals (RFP) defining requirements related to design, construction, operations, and maintenance. RTD has issued the RFP draft to prequalified teams for their review and comment. The district is also reviewing key elements of the RFP with affected stakeholders as well as the Federal agencies that will provide funding and oversight. RTD will retain ownership of all assets, with no sale or privatization of existing assets. RTD will maintain control of construction and operations, including setting design standards, fares, and schedules, as well as overseeing the look and feel of the project. An in-house management team is expected to oversee performance standards, and if not met, financial penalties will be applied.
This map illustrates RTD's major public works program, FasTracks, which includes
plans to build six new train lines, three rail extensions, and other transit components.
Source: Regional Transit District, 2010.5
Courtesy of RTD
By utilizing PPPs, RTD expects to lower project cost by reducing construction and overall lifecycle costs. At the same time, RTD expects to transfer certain risks to the private sector, but will make lease payments to the private partner, allowing the district to spread out large upfront costs over a longer period. One of the biggest challenges RTD must overcome is navigating the complex contracting process. The procurement and contracting process requires a detailed project definition and concise outline of project roles, structure, and standards to ensure successful implementation and meeting regional goals, especially now that the project is in jeopardy of exceeding its budget and not meeting the initial schedule. Meanwhile, RTD will need to market the partnership as an attractive investment opportunity that will weather fluctuations in the economy.
With an expected increase in traffic congestion on U.S. Route 50, a rural highway running through Virginia's Loudoun and Fauquier Counties, VDOT proposed studying a series of bypass and widening solutions. This initial approach to solving growing traffic problems conflicted with the values and expectations of communities that still would be impacted by the growth in traffic along Route 50. Communities feared that a bypass/widening project would reduce safety due to higher traffic speeds, and that added roadway capacity would result in higher traffic volumes. The communities also believed the agency's proposed plan threatened the character of historic main streets, while introducing further suburban development. Nonetheless, due to its policies and administrative processes, VDOT was not initially in a position to respond to the local concerns that would require an alternative design response to integrate transportation and land use solutions.
Understanding that VDOT was not able to fully participate in an alternative traffic calming approach on Route 50, local citizens moved forward on their own by developing a consortium of local nonprofit organizations. This partnership, called the Route 50 Corridor Coalition, was intended to develop a common vision among residents, businesses, elected leaders, and other interests, whether VDOT participated or not. The coalition's efforts ultimately resulted in plans that would support a more livable Route 50 corridor.
Source: Fauquier and Loudoun Counties, Virginia, 2003.6
The coalition hired engineering consultants to develop a traffic calming plan for the corridor that was better suited to the vision and stakeholder expectations (see chapter 3). Through this strong local partnership, a traffic calming plan was completed for the towns of Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville, and adopted in 1997 by the Middleburg Town Council and Loudoun and Fauquier County Board of Supervisors. The coalition successfully secured a special allocation from Congress as a result of its presentation of community benefits that would be achieved through the traffic calming approach.
VDOT's full involvement came later, once congressional funds had been secured, and the coalition's plan was given to VDOT to use in project implementation. The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) directed VDOT and the coalition to work together through the Route 50 Traffic Calming Task Force. Although the ensuing process was not without challenges, the task force provided a venue for collaboration between the two entities. VDOT was also able to build on the highly participatory nature of the coalition's initial visioning process and continue a similar approach throughout project development. Several VDOT engineers also formed good relationships with community leaders during the design development process.
Although the traffic calming plan received widespread community support, including from local officials, VDOT initially resisted the proposed plan as an alternative to the Route 50 bypass project. Because VDOT declined to partner initially with the coalition in the alternative visioning process, there have been obstacles in project implementation due to initial designs not meeting department standards. Nonetheless, Route 50's success story is remarkable in that it brought together community members to agree on, support, and implement one common corridor vision. The grassroots-led traffic calming project catalyzed the community and municipal leaders, and later received dedicated Federal funding that made it the first State traffic calming project for a rural highway.
Although an effective partnership now exists between VDOT and local organizations, partners continue to struggle with technical and financial challenges. Ideally, the coalition would not have proceeded with developing an alternative plan without ensuring VDOT's support earlier in the visioning process. Without the agency's full involvement, the coalition was not able to "ground-truth" its plans early on, which led to some complications later in project delivery. Despite these implementation issues, the coalition developed an innovative plan that attracted broad support from the community, CTB, and Congress.
Charlotte has spent many years organizing its growth around a vision that combines land use planning with expanded regional mobility options (see chapters 3 and 5). The city achieved this through an organizational structure and policies that encourage the highest level of partnership among various city departments, as well as between the city and the private sector.
The successful integration of land use and transit planning was implemented through two key partnership structures: 1) an interdepartmental partnership that aligned different departments to carry out the city's planning efforts, and 2) broader based interagency partnerships and collaboration with the private sector and surrounding communities. The first partnership structure is based on the City of Charlotte's strong tradition of interdepartmental coordination for transportation involving the Departments of Planning, Transportation, and Economic Development, and CATS. Cooperation has resulted in an institutionalized, collaborative structure where planning decisions are made and projects are implemented. This has allowed for greater sharing of budget and technical expertise across departments, as well as reduced expenses associated with administrative procedural efforts. Charlotte's efficient organizational structure has also led to a natural promotion of partnerships across agencies, along with community alliances that have, in turn, supported comprehensive regional visioning and project implementation.
Although this organizational structure increases programmatic alignment, the city's policies continue to make planning efforts efficient and effective. Each year, the City Council establishes five focus areas for targeting community resources: housing and neighborhood development, community safety, transportation and planning, economic development, and environmental issues. Focus area policy goals guide budget and operational decisions, with specific strategies overseen by interdepartmental subcommittees. These goals are also incorporated in staff allocation, professional development, and staff review. For instance, the multicorridor transit effort (discussed in chapter 2) was not just a transit project for CATS, but a project to also address economic development and community-building goals.
The second partnership structure is an interagency partnership between MTC and the county (the towns of Davidson, Huntersville, Cornelius, and Matthews), Charlotte, and other partners, who collectively adopted the Transit Station Area Joint Development Principles in 2003. This successfully influenced numerous development projects along future transit lines to become more transit-supportive and, in the process, to better align their transportation goals with community needs.
The joint development principles provide a regulatory framework for public agencies and private developers to follow when developing around station areas. The principles address co-location of public facilities and allow for provision of public infrastructure needed to serve TOD. This framework, established by a strong interagency partnership fostering greater commitment among its partners, has enabled localities' TOD zoning changes to be made as needed to support the transit project. The principles also support development of affordable housing and foster PPPs that provide private sector incentives for TOD and help retain a mix of transit-supportive businesses. Together with the Station Area Plans, the joint development principles have provided guidance for the city's TOD zoning and SCIP.
The Charlotte City Council has made increased land use intensity a high priority.
Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission, 2001.7
Charlotte has also committed to an interagency and PPP model in which it organizes key staff to provide in-house and consultant technical expertise in reviewing development plans. The city's development response program goes beyond the typical approach taken by a local government development review committee (DRC). In the response program, the city uses consultants with planning, urban design, and transportation expertise to help the development applicant meet the city's objectives for the transit corridor and station area planning process. These workshops bring together city staff with property owners interested in developing around station areas to better integrate TOD design into development. The sessions provide a communication forum between city and community interests and developer interests at the early stages of a project when there is the most flexibility for shaping the project. Early collaboration enables stakeholders to identify mutually agreeable solutions that support livability principles.
The process is more design-oriented than a typical DRC process, which tends to list conditions and specific changes that a developer would need to make to have a project approved, but without much grounding in design details and without clear explanation of rationale for the desired changes. In the typical review process, developers do not fully understand the physical impact and benefits of desired changes. However, Charlotte's development response review process is performed collaboratively in a workshop setting, allowing developers to make design changes in real time and understand more quickly and clearly what is expected of them.
Charlotte's response program assists developers in identifying ways to increase intensity while mixing land uses.
Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission, 2001.8
As a result of this responsive and more comprehensive review process, the private sector in Charlotte has remained cooperative and supportive of TOD efforts. Several successful development response sessions have reshaped projects to become more supportive of community goals and transit ridership, prior to implementation of the projects. Examples of development response activities include modifying the design and site plan of a Walmart and an IKEA, developing a lower impact and less costly solution to the "weave" at the U.S. 29/NC 49 interchange, and refining the 3030 South Development, a successful TOD built along the LYNX Blue Line.
The Charlotte case study illustrates successful integration of land use and transportation planning and decisionmaking, from project design and planning to project implementation. The city's interdepartmental and interagency partnerships have allowed for a comparatively high level of coordination between transportation and land use. The city has proactively developed policies, guidance, and regulations that have helped shape land uses along future transit routes. Because planning, economic development, transportation, and transit are all under the city's purview, the programs and resources of various departments are more easily and closely aligned toward the same community-building goals.
The joint "ownership" of the transit project across various city departments (transit agency, planning, economic development, and transportation) provided a learning opportunity for those involved, broadening each department's perspective. The partnership between agencies helped ensure a strong fit between transportation and other community objectives, which in turn led to more transparent and successful decisionmaking.
Through its development response sessions, the city was able to work through issues related to development density and scale, and implement regulations to protect residential neighborhoods from impacts of TOD. The city has been successful in these efforts because it worked closely with developers to identify potential conflicts early in the process, offering technical assistance for how to integrate TOD principles into conventional development approaches and establishing buy-in from entities driving on-the-ground land development. The city recognized that a forum facilitating and encouraging communication between the public and private sectors would help ensure that mobility options would be expanded, while fostering economic growth throughout the region.
In a region where planners and elected officials have focused on planning proactively for the region's future, CDTC, the MPO for the Albany-Troy-Schenectady, NY, region has forged strong partnerships with the region's communities. Like most regional agencies, the MPO reports to the localities and State partners on its board. In 1993-1997, CDTC carried out extensive public involvement activities to integrate a broad set of community objectives into its long-range transportation plan, New Visions 2015 (now New Visions 2030).
This was accomplished through extensive public outreach that lasted nearly 3 years, but resulted in a finer alignment of regional goals, local-level planning processes, and community desires and values. Local governments, interest groups, and private organizations throughout the region joined efforts to explore a range of community issues outside the conventional scope of transportation planning, such as environmental protection and preservation of neighborhoods and downtown areas. These collaborative efforts were formalized in a partnership approach called the Linkage program, initiated by CDTC in 2000.
The Linkage program provides local technical assistance to develop specific plans (e.g., corridor studies, transit feasibility studies, small sector plans) that reflect the New Visions philosophy. As a planning assistance program, CDTC awards a portion of its FHWA planning funds to local governments under its MPO jurisdiction on a competitive basis. The MPO recognizes the critical role that collaborative and coordinated regional planning plays in achieving regional transportation system goals. To help local governments articulate their planning priorities, CDTC and partner localities use the Linkage program to test planning goals and realistically align LRTP goals with community needs, while also identifying projects for TIP.
The images above illustrate the application
of the New Visions philosophy in the form
of a complete streets concept.
Source: BFJ Planning, 2008.9
Participation in a Linkage study provides municipalities with technical assistance from CDTC staff or consultants for joint planning initiatives to link transportation and land use. Since many small communities have limited technical staff to guide planning decisions, the Linkage program provides technical resources to solve a range of planning issues beyond transportation and introduce sustainable planning principles. Study sponsors have included urban, suburban, and rural municipalities and counties, as well as private, not-for-profit organizations and other public entities. The MPO has helped fund land use plans and visions, highway and transit designs, redevelopment plans, corridor improvement plans, zoning ordinances, and other multijurisdictional planning efforts.
Although more LRTPs are being developed collaboratively with more stakeholders, this has not always been common practice. Since passage of Federal transportation legislation in the 1960s, most LRTPs have been very checklist-oriented in defining policy direction, and have relied largely on technical tools such as travel demand forecasting. The beginning of the New Visions effort in 1993, along with the ensuing Linkage program, demonstrated the potential for an integrated, collaborative planning and technical assistance framework. For a relatively small region with little growth, the broad investment of time, funding, and staff resources in an extensive vision process was remarkable and serves as an innovative model that is still applicable to livability planning efforts today.
The case studies illustrate how various kinds of partnerships have been used to promote livability principles by removing barriers to collaboration and financial constraints. Various partnership structures have been used, from legally binding cooperative agreements, to MOUs, to task forces, to grassroots coalitions bringing together public agencies, private developers and technical experts, to align visions and policies, secure funding, and achieve implementation goals while improving livability.
The new Sustainable Communities Partnership will provide increased support to the partnership structures illustrated in this chapter. The Federal partnership will also likely encourage development of new partnership structures, formal or informal, among State, regional, and local entities to overcome transportation challenges and promote livability principles, while being responsive to the needs and expectations of a range of stakeholders.