By funding innovative activities at the neighborhood, local, metropolitan, state, and regional level, the TCSP program will increase our knowledge of the costs and benefits of different approaches to integrating transportation investments with community preservation efforts, land development patterns, and environmental protection.
The TCSP program includes a comprehensive research program to investigate the relationships between transportation, community preservation, and the environment, and to investigate the role of the private sector in shaping such relationships. The research program, which will complement the TCSP grants program, includes monitoring, evaluation, and analysis of projects carried out under the grant program, as well as, outreach and technical assistance to share and implement results of the projects. The goal of the research program is to build a knowledge base of work in this field that will enable State, regional and local government agencies, the private sector and neighborhood groups, through transportation activities, to help shape sustainable communities that meet current and long-term environmental, social equity, and economic goals.
FHWA is working to identify and initiate needed research to support the purposes of the TCSP program with coordination and input from its partners and stakeholders. During the TCSP workshop in Denver, participants completed a research survey to provide input on future research priorities for the TCSP program. The survey also asked whether participants supported the two proposed priority research areas for the TCSP program for FY 2000 which include:
Evaluation of Results of Current Community Preservation Practices - which would provide information on specific outcomes of current statewide, regional, and local community practices such as green corridors, smart growth initiatives, urban growth boundaries, higher density development, and land use controls to improve transportation efficiency.
Development of Analytic Tools and Methodologies to Support Decision Makers - which would seek to enhance transportation-related tools and analytical techniques to help support the state and local decision makers in taking a longer term view and balancing economic, social equity, and environmental goals.
Participants in the Denver workshop completed surveys on research priorities and ideas for research projects. Feedback on the research survey generally supported the two proposed research areas as defined. However, the comments focused more on specific research topics that participants would like to see addressed. These topics could be categorized under one of four general headings: General Institutional Roles; Evaluation of Results; Development of Analytic Tools; and TCSP Programmatic Issues.
General Institutional Roles
Research topics recommended under this category dealt generally with the role State and local agencies play in bringing community and systems preservation principles to the forefront of the transportation planning process and dialogue. In particular, participants were interested in:
Evaluation of Results
Research topics recommended under this category dealt generally with questions of how to evaluate the effects of community preservation practices and transportation strategies with specific issues that participants would like to see addressed and evaluated including:
Need for Benefit/Cost Approaches - Research is needed on the benefits and costs of and methodologies to evaluate traffic calming, neighborhood bicycle and pedestrian re-design, impacts on such factors as travel behavior, mode shifts, treatments in regional system models and air quality analysis. One example would be to evaluate the impacts of a series of traffic calming and roadway re-designs on air quality, congestion, and other considerations, and how these considerations are reflected in regional systems plans.
Accounting for Community Preservation Practices in Regional Transportation Models - How should the impacts of transit oriented design, traditional neighborhood development, conversion of four lane routes to three lanes with bicycle lanes, and other strategies be modeled in the regional systems planning models?
Optimum Densities for Transit Oriented Design - How dense is dense enough? What are the minimum optimum densities for efficient and cost effective transit service? This is critically important to encourage adequate consideration of sufficient densities to support transit as part of the planning process for transit oriented development. Furthermore, it is important to dispel the notion that high density is not necessary for effective transit oriented development so that communities in which transit is proposed understand the relationship between density and cost effective transit.
Urban Growth Boundaries - Evaluate the effects, if any, that urban growth boundaries have on housing prices.
Transportation Impacts on the Environment - Evaluate transportation impacts on salmon in the Pacific Northwest.
Development of Analytic Tools
Research topics recommended under this category dealt generally with the what tools, techniques, and methodologies are needed to enhance information for transportation decision makers including:
Progressive Land Use Tools - tools which planners can use to show the actual effect of zoning and traffic reduction ordinances as well as examples of localities where these tools are in place and working.
Geographic Information Systems - GIS impact analysis tools are needed which integrate transportation and buildings into community planning and visioning. Furthermore, emphasis should be placed on integrating spatial data from a variety of sources (utility, assessor, private, DOT, local government) through GIS to support transportation, land use, and community decision-making.
Secondary Impacts of Transportation - Develop a methodology for projecting secondary impacts of transportation development.
Integration of Design and Community Standards - Successful techniques are needed to adapt surface transportation designs to meet community goals. For instance, how can arterial roadways be designed to be efficient, safe, and still promote livable communities?
TCSP Programmatic Issues
Research topics recommended under this category dealt generally with how the TCSP program might be enhanced including:
Communications and Peer Exchange - Enhanced communication is needed between and among grantees, potential applicants, FHWA Division TCSP contacts, and other interested partners to exchange information, experiences, and extend the TCSP partnership to a broader arena. Communications could be enhanced through sharing of e-mail addresses, phone numbers, web sites of participants, establishment of a TCSP list serve, or a forum on the TCSP website through which participants might communicate with each other.
De-Emphasize Evaluation for Smaller Projects - It would be refreshing (especially for our smaller rural communities) for the TCSP program to say to applicants, "don't worry too much about the evaluation component. Just do your best to give us an idea about how you might evaluate the project and we will work with you to help develop the final evaluation plan." Good project ideas should not be eliminated due to a weak evaluation plan in the proposal.
Establish a Mini-Grant Program - Establish a mini-grant program for small projects (up to $25,000) using a simplified application process (such as letter of interest) and geared to smaller, unique and innovative projects on research proposals. To streamline FHWA management requirements for these mini-grants, a third party could be selected such as AMPO, trB, ITE, or others as a single prime grantee. This mini-grant program might permit the TCSP concept and principles to be applied to smaller communities on projects that might extend the dissemination of best practices to a much larger audience. A $2 to $3 million set-aside might be considered to fund up to 100-150 small projects nationwide. Many smaller communities and organizations many not have staff or resources to compete for larger TCSP projects, yet in a small community, neighborhood, or corridor, approximately $15,000 to fund a design charette, an innovative construction project, or a small research activity or project which could reap substantial payoff to extend the TCSP principles to a wider national arena.