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TCSP Grant Workshop Washington, D.C.

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Plenary Session: Perspectives of the TCSP Program from Partner Organizations

Roy Kienitz, Executive Director, Surface Transportation Policy Project

Roy Kienitz, speaking on behalf of the Surface Transportation Policy Project, described the motivation behind the creation of the TCSP Program. The intent of the program is to influence the process through which transportation projects are created and developed; specifically, to introduce a broader range of considerations, such as land use and community livability, into this process.

In 1991, the passage of ISTEA signified a change in how transportation policy worked. A significant goal was to increase local choice in transportation planning and to involve a wider range of people in state and metropolitan level decision-making. According to Mr. Kienitz, ISTEA "has been a partial success in this regard." It created a very strong and active planning environment. However, it did not address the underlying process by which transportation projects are actually developed. While MPOs were empowered by ISTEA, they can only choose from items on the list with which they have been presented. The MPO board cannot approve an idea for funding -- only specific projects. While some progress has recently been made, especially within state agencies, the process for developing projects for the most part has barely been touched by ISTEA reforms.

TCSP directly tackles the project development process. In the traditional process, project development is aimed at providing capacity increases "necessary" to accommodate a certain forecast traffic volume. The motivation for creating TCSP was to develop different processes that take land use, community, and other considerations into account, and that are collaborative and cross-disciplinary. Ultimately, Mr. Kienitz said, "people should decide what is best for a place, rather than planners deciding how much the road must be widened to accommodate cars."

The vulnerability of this program is that there is no statutory mandate for the results of TCSP projects to be considered for funding by DOTs or MPOs. Instead, people must be responsible for seeing projects through. Since most TCSP funding is for the convening and planning phase, we need to produce sufficiently persuasive plans and processes for getting new ideas into the system. As participants in the planning process, this is our responsibility.

Updated: 08/01/2013
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