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Livability in Transportation Webinar Series: Planning Approaches that Promote Livability

Part 2 Transcript: Partnership, Design, and Implementation & Funding

Hello and welcome to this webinar from the National Transit Institute. This is part two of our Livability in Transportation webinar series. It will focus on partnership, design, and implementation and funding. Thank you very much for participating in this webinar.

Because this is the second in a two part series, we encourage you to view the first part as well. You can find the link to that online. We will not be repeating the introductory materials in this session. Today's webinar is structured based on the Livability in Transportation Guidebook, supplemented by new research and material. The first webinar covered the first three chapters of this guidebook, plus updated material.

First on our agenda today we will have an introduction by Lilly Shoup, then we will have an overview of the guidebook from Shana Baker, next our three chapters will be partnership, design, and implementation and funding, and finally we will wrap it up and discuss the next steps.

Our presenters today will include Lilly Shoup representing the Office of the Secretary at USDOT, Shana Baker representing the Federal Highway Administration, and Jeff Price from the Federal Transit Administration. And with that, I would like to hand it off to Lilly for the introduction.

Great, thank you so much. It is important, I think, to start with a shared definition of livability. Most Americans don't use the term sustainability, livability, or smart growth, and its definition can differ dramatically depending on the region and the community. The definition on this side is condensed from the Livability in Transportation Guidebook, but what I like to use is that a sustainable community as an urban, suburban, or rural community has more housing and transportation choices, is closer to jobs, shops, and schools, is more energy independent, and helps protect clean air and water.

Livability in transportation includes things like road safety and capacity, integrating transportation and land use, and using the existing system more efficiently through transportation demand management and ITS solutions. USDOT has been working to promote livability strategies for some time now, through a variety of different programs and offices. And what we're seeing is that communities that begin using these tools are able to support local decision-making and comprehensive planning. They are able to leverage a variety of financial resources to provide more transportation options. This is especially important right now when so many transportation agencies are facing budget shortfalls and trying to find ways to achieve more with less. Now I'll turn it over to Shana Baker to talk about the guidebook.

Great, thank you Lilly. I'll begin with a brief overview of the guidebook and then transition into partnership. The Livability in Transportation Guidebook was developed by the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration for use by transportation practitioners, decision makers, and the general public to advance livability. The primary purpose of the guidebook is to illustrate how livability principles have been incorporated into transportation planning, programming, and project development in urban, suburban, and rural areas. The guidebook includes examples of how communities use the balanced approach to maximize the effectiveness of existing resources and targeting transportation funds to support reinvestment in existing communities.

This diagram depicts steps for incorporating livability into transportation planning decision making. The steps are key processes or areas to input livability discussions and actions. The diagram shows how livability principles, concepts, and activities can be mainstreamed into each step in the transportation decision making process.

Now for partnership. Partnerships are fundamental in building and maintaining support for transportation projects. Partnerships can be utilized at any time throughout planning and implementation to help increase and diversify funding opportunities, and to increase public support and technical capabilities. Partners can include a wide array of people from various sectors, such as the public sector, institutional sector, and private, community, and civic sectors. Partners can span public, private, and nonprofit interests, which demonstrate coordination across interagency, inter-department, and regional agencies.

Partnerships can involve funding - funding through discretionary grants or pass-through funding. Partnerships can also involve interagency partnerships, such as the HUD-DOT-EPA interagency partnership for sustainable communities, which I will share more information about shortly. Partnerships can also involve public-private areas with coordination among public and for-profit entities. And finally, partnerships can involve overcoming barriers to incorporate livability into transportation planning and project development activities.

One example of a successful partnership at the federal level is the HUD-DOT-EPA interagency partnership for sustainable communities. Formed in 2009, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities works to coordinate federal housing, transportation, water, and other infrastructure investments to make neighborhoods more prosperous, allow people to live closer to jobs, save household time and money, and reduce pollution. The partnership agencies incorporate six principles of livability into federal funding program policies and future legislative proposals. We have also found that many regional partnerships, similar to the Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, are being formed at the state and local levels.

An example of a successful partnership and regional level is the FasTracks program. The Regional Transportation District's FasTracks program is a multi-billion-dollar, twelve year program to build 122 miles of new commuter rail and light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit, 21,000 new parking spaces at rail and bus stations, and enhanced bus service for easy, convenient bus and rail connections across an eight county district and Denver, Colorado. As a public infrastructure project, and one of the most ambitious transit system expansions of the country, the Regional Transportation District's FasTracks program gained broad community support evidenced by a 2004 region-wide voter approved sales tax increase of 0.4%.

As costs for providing public infrastructure projects continue to rise, the Regional Transportation District is looking at innovative financing options, but delivering the FasTracks program by using public-private partnerships. Public-private partnerships are typically long-term 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 cost over time, enabling the Regional Transportation District to spread out large up-front costs and preserve cash in the early years of FasTracks implementation. Public-private partnerships have a solid reputation for delivering projects one-time and on-budget. The Regional Transportation District is planning to utilize public-private partnerships to implement many out the FasTracks projects, including Denver Union Station, North Metro, and I-225 corridors, as well as the East Corridor, Gold Line and commuter rail maintenance facility projects.

The Route 50 project in Loudoun County, Virginia, is an example of a grassroots partnership. Communities on Route 50 in Loudoun County feared that a bypass widening project would result in higher traffic volumes and reduce safety due to higher traffic speeds. The communities believe the proposed project plan threatened the character of historic Main Street while introducing further suburban development. In response to their fears, local citizens developed a consortium of local non-profit organizations called the Route 50 Corridor Coalition. The coalition intended to develop a common vision among residents, businesses, elected leaders, and other interests. The coalition's efforts resulted in plans to support their more livable Route 50 corridor. Due to their efforts, the Virginia Department of Transportation was able to build on the highly participatory nature of the coalition's initial visioning process and continue a similar approach throughout the project development.

The Gateway One corridor in Maine is a good example of what can happen when communities come together. Running through 21 of Maine's mid-coast communities, US Route One serves many roles for local residents, municipalities, and the state. Route One is also challenged by congestion, population growth, and increasing development pressure, which cross multiple municipal boundaries along the scenic 110 mile transportation corridor. Given the breath of interest potentially impacted by future changes, it was clear to communities in the states mid coast, and to Maine DOT and other state and federal agencies, that planning solutions spanning corridor boundaries would be needed. An early partnership framework was catalyzed by the agency's proactive response to its regional transportation advisory committee's request for a better transportation decision making process to integrate local and regional land use practices along Route One. The established partnership would ultimately guide and coordinate transportation, land use, and decisions along the corridor.

In conclusion, partnerships created early from the ground up can translate shared visions and goals into realistic projects. Partnerships can also increase agency accountability and responsiveness. And finally, public and private-sector involvement can clearly identify resources available for planning and implementation, and then allocate responsibilities to the parties best positioned to produce the desired results. With that, I will turn it over to Jeff.

Thank you Shana. Now I'll talk about the design chapter from the guidebook. Design is where an agency's efforts and approach toward livability is most visible to our communities. Designing for livability requires understanding who will use the system, including them in the design process, and incorporating their input into the final design. Livability-oriented design takes cues from the planning and project development process, and is often explored at the concept level during visioning. Land use plans and policies, community characteristics, and local and regional policy goals can help define transportation facility design priorities. And finally, transportation projects that provide multimodal mobility and support compact mixed use development patterns must incorporate an overall network approach went urban design and a detailed facility design that balances use by all modes.

Design can be challenging. Common challenges faced by agencies working to apply livability based approaches to project design include: The fact that conventional design standards may need exceptions to meet with livability goals and respond to the context. An example of this might be in street design; trees may be in the clear zone, which may not meet standards, so an exception must be thought about. Secondly, roadway access and mobility need to be balanced with the land use context and the roadway's regional role. Third, road widening his controversial in establish communities. But context sensitive design approaches can provide realistic options to meet the multiple goals. Transit station area planning must balance multiple tradeoffs between operational functionality, creating economic activity opportunities, and creating attractive public places. And station typologies between an urban district and a park-and-ride are a good example of the different tradeoffs made based on the context of where the station is located.

To counter those challenges, good design includes: Building on early concept level designs in the visioning and planning phase, understanding who will use the system and incorporating their input, interactive public involvement at every stage of the transportation decision making process is important. Also, developing innovative concepts that can provide more cost effective solutions for a phased network approach. Incorporating context sensitive solution concepts is a very key element, and I would like to direct you to a resource at the Federal Highways context sensitive solutions website at www.fhwa.dot.gov/context.

Our first case study is the Massachusetts DOT Project Development and Design Guide from 2003. The goals of the program are to give communities more flexibility and input in designing local road and bridge projects, including bicycle and pedestrian accommodations. Second goal is to help preserve the character of our cities and towns. Third, to cut levels of approvals at the state level. In 2003, a 28 member task force comprised of representatives from municipalities, regional planning agencies, professional organizations, advocacy groups, and state agencies developed a vision and goals for this guidebook.

Project development processes included eight steps, with public involvement included in each step. The diagram on the right-the two diagrams-show two of the nine context area types. These context area types provide context for roadway functional classification.

Our next examples are city street design standards. Cities are preparing design manuals, such as New York City's Street Design Manual which is based on eight principles, including that streets should be designed with an understanding of their role in both the local and larger planning contexts. The New York City Street Design Manual gives users the flexibility to determine which overall design is most appropriate and practical, in light of the goals and priorities established throughout the planning process and the overall policies of the manual. Other example cities including Los Angeles, Charlotte, Chicago. The Los Angeles Downtown Design Guide was developed in 2009 to cover a wide area of downtown LA, which is to be applied in conjunction with new street standards to emphasize alternatives to cars and wider sidewalks. The guidelines were developed collaboratively between multiple city departments.

The next case study is the Hillsborough Street improvement project in Raleigh, North Carolina. The project converted Hillsborough Street to a two-lane, median-divided facility with on-street parking on both sides. Also, it included a seven-foot wide raised median, sidewalk bulb-outs at intersections and mid-book locations, and several pedestrian signals. The original design featured newly emerging concepts, such as roundabouts and pedestrian countdown crossing signals and midblock crossings, which are now regard as standard practices. As one of Raleigh's main connections to the expressway system, this project was attempting to serve the dual roles of business main street and urban thoroughfare. It did not serve either of them been very well before the construction of this new project. And initial motivation for this project came from the community residents, who brought their project ideas to the attention of the city council to gain funding and begin the project development process by creating a municipal service district along Hillsborough Street. This case study demonstrates that community objectives sometimes conflict with the roadway's designation, but that appropriate design could help meet both community and transportation system goals.

The next case study is the Chattanooga Riverfront Parkway. This project was a conversion from a four-lane limited access expressway to an urban surface street, which help fulfill a long-term vision for transforming downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee. A network of intersections and not one interchange improved access to the community and its multimodal connections to downtown really improved access to the river. The city of Chattanooga and River City Partners, a not-for-profit organization, commissioned a consultant team to develop a whole slew plans based on this project and to redevelop the community.

Our final example is a design example from the city of University Place in Washington State. University Place, Washington, has a population of 31,000. And Grand View Drive is a street or a road along this community. As you can see on the slide, on the left is the before picture and on the right is the after picture. This is an example of a complete street re-engineering for a suburban roadway, which included adding new sidewalks, bike lanes, multi-use trail, and intersection improvements, and some roundabouts to improve operational safety. And it functions as the city's primary linear park space. The redesign of the road, built 1995, resulted in speed reductions of over eight miles per hour on average over traditional traffic enforcement. And it improved - citywide it improved to over 25 miles of sidewalks and bike lanes. And it reduced accidents by 37 percent, injury accidents were down by 47 percent, and there was a high community acceptance and support.

Design conclusions. Design is where the agency's approach to livability is visible to communities - most visible to communities - and this includes our highways, our road designs, our transit vehicles and transit stations, and really a balanced approach includes all users and all modes. Secondly, community engagement. Participating in an agency's design process, community partners can understands what is possible within a reasonable cost, and engineering parameters. Finally design-based approaches rely on the context of the project, including the characteristics of the transportation system including the demand, but really focusing on all modes and users, and looking at the context of the land use, the building characteristics, and the street function. For instance, how do the buildings on a street function in relation to the design of the transportation system and the road? With that, I'd like to hand it over to Lilly Shoup.

Great, thanks! This last section of the guidebook deals with the last phase of the planning process: Implementation and funding. Implementation and funding is the last phase, so these issues can pose some of the biggest and final hurdles to aligning transportation projects with livability goals. As many of the case studies you've seen today demonstrate, aligning investments with community livability goals can actually improve system performance, and leverage additional public and private investment. In this last stage of the planning process, livability principles can be incorporated into TIPs and STIPs at multiple levels of government, from states all the way down to the project level. And doing so can result in phased projects that are coordinated with local development decisions and maximize the effectiveness of investments.

Some of the approaches that we will explore this afternoon in the case studies are aligning regional visions and state policies. For example, agencies can use scenario analysis at a regional scale to identify appropriate locations for transit support of growth around existing towns and villages. Other case studies will look at using corridor- and area plan-level strategies, such as increasing street connectivity and connecting multiple modes of transportation, and finally, using project-level strategies such as performance measures and project phasing. On the innovative funding side, case studies will look at ways to increase project partners both public and private, which can stretch limited public dollars and increase livability at the same time. The private sector can be instrumental in advancing livability at the local level and, and some of the key cities will demonstrate that.

Our first case study is the Atlanta BeltLine. The BeltLine project is an innovative project that integrates livability into both the funding and implementation elements. The project is to construct a multimodal transportation corridor along an old railroad right-of-way that encircles the city. To fund the project, the city looked to multiple agencies, local TIF financing, and over 35 million dollars in private contributions. This widespread community financial support for the project built energy and enthusiasm for getting the project started. Since much of the redevelopment money from the city was coupled with private donations, and maximized through the Atlanta BeltLine Corporation's involvement, it's now moving forward.

On the implementation side, the BeltLine project is using a phased approach to move forward with elements of the project and build momentum for future sections. Key elements of the Atlanta BeltLine are being implemented under the BeltLine Redevelopment Plan, while other elements are in project design or scoping.

Our second case study looks at the Maryland Department of Transportation and how they were able to align regional visions and state policy. Like many states, their Department of Transportation had limited funding to put towards transit oriented development. These kinds of projects face funding and procedural hurdles to providing adequate parking to support transit and the surrounding development. At the same time, public finance mechanisms available to Maryland DOT for other types of projects, such as tax increment financing, could not be easily applied to TOD because it is a private development with supporting public infrastructure. Finally, Maryland DOT was limited by legislation to using its funds for transportation public purposes, which included transit stations and supporting facilities, but not development initiatives.

So Maryland changed the legislation to enable creative funding and implementation of TOD. The Office of Real Estate within the State Department of Transportation follows a TOD strategy built around the goal of surrounding stations with vibrant neighborhoods where people can live, work, shop, or eat - all within a safe and pleasant walk to the trains, subways, and buses. The program is insuring that station areas are market ready for development, educating Maryland state agencies and localities to understand the potential of TOD, and promoting TOD as a concept statewide within other agencies. Finally, the office is enhancing the potential for federal funding to expand transit, by showing that development patterns can support transit. Maryland DOT is assembling resources that can design, entitle, finance, and construct market mixed-use mixed-income TOD that supports the surrounding neighborhood.

Our next case study moves to Fargo, North Dakota, where the town is using a corridor strategy to integrate livability and implementation. The town is leveraging the Broadway streetscape transportation project to mobilize additional project partners and funding. The 10 million dollar facelift of the main commercial and retail corridor is designed to slow down traffic, improve safety and promote walkability. The area is now an official bike-ped safety zone and features a multi-use path, on-street bike racks, and bike lockers.

But the transportation elements in downtown Fargo's Broadway streetscape project are linked to a larger redevelopment initiative, and served as the foundation for the downtown Fargo redevelopment framework. Started in 1999, the 39 block Renaissance Zone provides tax breaks for local developers that invest in the neighborhood. In addition, the local housing authority is leveraging HUD's Community Development Block Grant program to build almost 600 units of affordable housing, as well as doing storefront and downtown rehabilitation. As a result, the whole project including the transportation components, building values in the Renaissance Zone have risen 110%, from about 100 million in 2000 to over 200 million in 2009. In addition, more than 60 infill and adaptive reuse condominium and apartment projects have been completed, with more underway.

Similarly, the Mid-America Regional Council Green Impact Zone also leverages additional resources to achieve a greater transportation impact. The Green Impacts Zone is a 150 square block area of Kansas City. It has experienced severe abandonment and economic decline. Before the project, about 25% of its properties were vacant lots, and another 1/6 in vacant structures. This MPO initiative was a way to concentrate resources in one specific neighborhood and coordinate the transportation investments with other investments, to make a substantial impact on the residents' lives. By addressing social problems, economic dimensions, and transportation mobility simultaneously, the transportation investment has a bigger impact and more community involvement. The program is using a public-private partnerships as well as regional and local funding to align goals with implementation.

And finally, another innovative funding strategy is the use of joint development. Joint development is an approach through which property interests, owned or controlled by a transit agency, are marketed to private developers with the objective of developing transit-oriented projects. Joint development can assist local jurisdictions with recapturing a portion of their financial contributions into the project, as well as continuing to make payments on long-term funding bonding concerns. Finally, joint development can be a way to increase the local property tax base and generate other local revenue.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Association has an Office of Real Estate whose mission is to pursue joint development opportunities. Metro owns or controls substantial real estate in support of its transit operations, which can promote transit ridership and enhance the local community. Metro encourages transit oriented development and provides opportunities for real estate partnerships through the joint development program. On the Rhode Island Row project, Metro partnered with a private developer to build a mixed-use transit oriented development at Rhode Island Avenue Brentwood Metro Rail Station. This is in Washington, D.C. The project includes building 275 Class A apartments, about 55 affordable apartments, retail, and other amenities on the property. These are dedicated to local community businesses and include a shared parking structure. And as a result, Metro is hoping to increase ridership at the station and in the system overall.

From these case studies, we can see that there are many strategies to incorporate livability into the implementation and funding stage. First, working at a regional or project level in several localities at once can be an effective way to develop and test new policies and programs. By broadening the scope, most MPOs can work on projects into their work program or TIP that address capacity issues and commercial corridors. Updating the project scope include planning for a complete streets network, land use and development planning, or transit system expansion can relieve traffic growth along heavily used corridors and reduce congestion all at the same time. Similarly, operational strategies can help maximize the performance of the existing transportation investments. And finally, agencies can incorporate housing and community development policies into investment decisions to better leverage the investment on the transportation project side. Now I'll turn it over to Jeff.

Okay, time for some wrap-up and next steps. In the second part of the Livability in Transportation webinar, we covered partnership, design, and implementation and funding. In partnership, we looked at how we can help overcome transportation challenges and promote livability principles, while responding to the needs and expectations a variety of stakeholders. In design, we looked at when transportation projects are designed with livability in mind, human factors and community context can be considered more effectively. And with implementation and funding, we can use operational strategies to support phased implementation livability projects, and we can coordinate current funding and programs to implement livability initiatives.

In part one of the Livability in Transportation Webinar: We look at visioning, where we looked at engaging communities and residents and stakeholders. Planning and process, looking at an all hands on deck approach, including a variety of stakeholders. And we discussed policy in continually evolving to incorporating recognize new needs and new approaches to develop new programs.

Next steps. We'd like to recommend that you look at select agency resources on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities website. SustainableCommunities.gov And also our DOT, FHWA, and FTA livability websites. On the FTA website we've got sections on bicycles in transit, livability grant programs, and transit oriented development information. As you can see, below is the Sustainable Communities website, in the diagram. And again, the Livability in Transportation Guidebook can be downloaded at the FHWA livability website. We hope that this webinar series helps further the conversation of livability for you, and thanks for participating today.

Updated: 01/03/2014
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