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Integrating Context Sensitive Solutions in Transportation Planning

Regional 2030 Transportation Plan

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Graphic. Logo of the Tri-County Region Planning Commission, Lansing Region, Michigan.

Tri-County Regional Planning Commission
Lansing Region, Michigan

The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission (TCRPC) is the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for an area that includes 75 jurisdictions, 3 counties, and a population over 450,000 in south central Michigan. The region has historically been a major center for auto and auto parts manufacturing. Although General Motors remains a significant employer in the region, the economy has diversified into government, health care, insurance/banking, and education. This last sector is led by the Michigan State University, with 10,500 employees and 45,000 students. The shifting economic structure has recently played a role in sparking urban revitalization projects in Lansing's urban core. Like many urbanized regions, the region faces air- and water-quality issues. Construction and agricultural sediment runoff have damaged streams, an important issue to the region's game fishermen. The region was designated as a non-attainment area for eight-hour ozone levels in 2004.

The region was selected for a national demonstration project funded under the Federal Transportation Community Systems Preservation Pilot Program to integrate land-use and transportation planning at the regional scale. This project, "Regional Growth: Choice for Our Future," used scenario analysis to develop a regional vision which, in turn, became the basis for the transportation plan that is linked to a land-use planning framework of "smart growth" (called "wise growth" in the region).

CSS Highlights

Based on a Comprehensive Public Involvement/Participation Plan: TCRPC refined a number of often-used tools, including newsletters, website, toll-free telephone hotline, logo/slogan development for all materials, and open houses/public forums. For example, media announcements were timed to promote forums or plan milestones. A local television station hosted and broadcast coverage of the first round of public forums, raising the visibility and the credibility of the effort. Speakers training and a guidebook were provided to project speakers at public meetings including local officials and other stakeholders. All speakers were carefully trained and used a guide to ensure consistency and quality of presentations at formal meetings, neighborhood associations, business groups, and even informal gatherings. Some 60,000 printed placemats helped spread the word about important process milestones.

In addition to these methods, TCRCP used high-tech tools. Visual choice polls with real-time electronic voting equipment were used to gather information about, and gauge community support for, community design choices related to project outcomes from focus groups. This strategy resulted in a remarkable 92 percent of participants, randomly selected citizens and public officials, reaching consensus on community values and goals. The imagery used in this process was carried forward to help communicate how the region will look as a result of implementing the plan.

Aside from collecting comments and input at meetings, TCRCP used a professional survey research firm along with public relations professionals to conduct a telephone survey. The survey was administered to residents and local officials to gauge public opinion on land use and transportation needs and priorities as well as to highlight any differences between public opinion and officials' positions. Targeted surveys were also administered to residents who had relocated from urban areas to lower density fringe and rural areas to determine the factors involved in their location choices and the implications of those choices for the transportation system and project design.

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Updated: 07/01/2014
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