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2015 Transportation Planning Excellence Award Winners

The Transportation Planning Excellence Awards Program (TPEA) is a biennial awards program developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and co-sponsored by the American Planning Association. The program provides a unique opportunity to recognize and celebrate the outstanding transportation planning practices performed by planners and decisionmakers in communities across the country.

An independent, expert panel of judges reviewed each nomination, and identified eight Award Winning projects that went well beyond standard practice to demonstrate an exceptional level of innovation and creativity.

We recognize all applicants for their efforts in applying to the program and appreciate the work that is being done to advance transportation planning across the county. The following list of award winners represent excellence in transportation planning and may serve as models for their peers.

Award Winners Include:

Honorable Mentions Include:

Top of Page Moving Forward Update 2035 Regional Transportation Plan

Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Moving Forward report cover. Bike, Transit, Drive, Walk.

Selected as the 2015 TPEA's Best of the Best award recipient, the "Moving Forward Update 2035 Regional Transportation Plan" used innovative techniques in the making of a collaborative, balanced and financially feasible transportation plan for the Colorado Springs area. In an 18-month process, the project team developed measurable goals and worked with diverse groups - federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, Army Corps of Engineers, and Forest Service as well as state and local stakeholders - to develop the plan. Of its 17 performance-based goals, eight went beyond transportation, such as forecasting socio-economic growth, measuring habitat conservation, estimating air pollution emissions, and predicting changes in water quality.

Top of Page Mt. Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan

Oregon Department of Transportation, Portland, Oregon

Cars pass a snow plow on snowy US 26 near Mt. Hood, Oregon

This comprehensive plan for the 70-mile Mt. Hood Highway corridor identifies new travel options and improves safety for millions of annual visitors and several rural communities. Due to environmental and financial constraints, US 26 could not be widened, forcing ODOT to find innovative solutions to enhance safety and reduce congestion. The plan prioritizes 38 projects such as installing intelligent transportation systems, building a bicycle/pedestrian bridge, and increasing the number of daily express bus runs.

Top of Page Bus Stop Accessibility Study

Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, Roanoke, VA

Back of a public bus approaching Route 11 in Roanoke, Virginia

To upgrade bus stops and improve pedestrian accessibility, the Roanoke Valley project team created a bus stop activity index based on FTA data to prioritize stops needing infrastructure investment. The Bus Stop Accessibility Study developed measures that considered ridership and frequency of paratransit trips. The innovative evaluation process led to one major bus route adjustment and funding for pedestrian enhancements to bus stops along a high-activity, low-income corridor.

Top of Page Humanizing Infrastructure: Design for the Replacement of I-95

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania

Artist rendering of proposed I-95 riverfront

To reconnect neighborhoods isolated from the Delaware River by eight lanes of interstate highway, PennDOT engaged in a planning and urban design initiative to reconstruct an I-95 interchange in Philadelphia. PennDOT partnered with a waterfront group and received foundation funds to design welcoming underpasses, multimodal accommodations, and green spaces through and around the  interchange. Residents of Philadelphia's river wards will enjoy 10-foot wide sidewalks, bike paths, upgraded trolley tracks and stops, improved pedestrian crossings, LED lighting, "green" storm water infrastructure, clear sound barriers to maintain river views and public art in the highway underpasses that reflects the history of Lanape Native Americans.

Top of Page 4th Street/ Prater Way Bus RAPID Transit Project

Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, Reno, Nevada

Artist rendering of 4th Street/Prater Way Bus Rapid Transit project in downtown Reno

The 4th Street/Prater Way Bus Rapid Transit project connects downtown Reno with Sparks through enhanced zero-emission bus rapid transit service, accessible sidewalks, and bike lanes. Project leaders expect the BRT line will spur economic development and improve quality of life in an area where 59 percent of households report incomes below $20,000 by connecting residents to nearly 39,000 jobs, the University of Nevada-Reno and a community college. With daily volumes of 3,411 pedestrians, 600 bicyclists, and 39 wheelchair users, the corridor will enhance safety and connectivity with accessible sidewalks and bike lanes. The 4th Street/Prater Way Bus RAPID Transit project received a $16 million TIGER grant and will begin construction in 2016.

Top of Page Chattanooga-Hamilton County/North Georgia Transportation Planning Organization Community-Sensitive Performance-Based Planning

Chattanooga, TN

Two men speak at a community meeting about the Chattanooga-Hamilton County 2040 Regional Transportaton Plan

To balance investments in the local community with the need to increase the region's economic competitiveness, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County/North Georgia Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) developed a framework for its 2040 Regional Transportation Plan that categorized projects by its local, regional and statewide importance. Plan authors scored potential projects with performance measures - such as reduction in vehicle miles, access to community resources, and closing gaps in bicycle, pedestrian and transit networks - according to the goals of each category as well as travel impacts. By prioritizing the highest-ranking projects in each category, the TPO selected projects that were not only diverse in scale, but also in the modes they benefited. As a result, bicycle and pedestrian investment doubled, transit capacity investment increased 6 percent, and roadway capacity investment decreased 20 percent.

Top of Page Minnesota's 20-Year State Highway Investment Plan

Minnesota Department of Transportation, St. Paul, Minnesota

Minnesota 20-Year State Highway Investment Plan report cover

The Minnesota 20-Year State Highway Investment Plan guides the state DOT's investment decisions on 12,000 miles of state highway over 20 years. The plan provided for $18 billion to be invested, although projected needs total $30 billion. Using risk performance and scenario-based planning techniques, MnDOT developed priorities - safety, new multi-modal connections, economic development, and quality of life improvements - to minimize the impact of that $12 billion gap. The project team used a variety of creative communication techniques, such as an online interactive scenario tool and online map, in addition to traditional strategies, to educate and engage the public. The site received more than 900 visitors, 565 of which provided input.

Top of Page Project Connect North Corridor: Taking Transit Where No Transit Has Gone Before!

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Austin, Texas

Austin Capital Metro Rapid bus with bike on front rack

Capital Metro received an FTA Livability Grant in 2011 to conduct an Alternatives Analysis in a 28-mile highly congested, rapidly growing corridor extending from central Austin to the nearby city of Georgetown, Texas. Since more than half of the study area falls outside of the Capital Metro service area, the planning team undertook a thoughtful and comprehensive public outreach approach to generate support to add transit services along with new development. With that thorough public engagement strategy, Capital Metro developed a package of transit improvements that include new park-and-ride lots, express routes, bus rapid transit, and local bus service. The first phase of services is planned to begin by 2016.

Honorable Mentions

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2035 Regional Transportation Plan - Pocket Booklet

Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, Reno, Nevada

Following the completion of its "2035 Regional Transportation Plan" (RTP) in April 2013, the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) developed the accompanying "RTP Pocket Booklet" as a strategy to better communicate and share information about the RTP with the public. The Pocket Booklet is an innovative, readable, and condensed version of the RTP. RTC's development of the Pocket Booklet helped it reach a broader audience by making the policies and programs addressed in the RTP easier to understand at a glance.

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Connect Livingston: Linking Our Communities

Livingston County Planning Department, Geneseo, NY

In March 2012, the Livingston County Planning Department launched "Connect Livingston: Linking Our Communities," a county-level transportation connectivity plan that incorporates goals for quality of life, mobility, and economic growth. Throughout the plan's development, the County sought to foster partnerships and connections and execute an extensive outreach plan. Adopted in December 2013, the final plan promotes a sustainable Livingston County for residents and visitors and has resulted in improved land use and transportation planning for this predominantly rural area.

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Excellence in Regional Cooperative Multi-Disciplinary Planning

Evansville Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Evansville, IN

To address transportation, economic, environmental, and other issues in a regional context, the Evansville Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) created the Sustainable Evansville Area Coalition (SEAC), a consortium of local organizations and government agencies. Working together, SEAC members developed "The Millennial Plan for 2040: A Regional Plan for Sustainable Development," a holistic, context-sensitive plan that establishes a vision for the region's anticipated growth. The plan included the development of an innovative land-use model integrated with the transportation model used in scenario analysis to analyze impacts and identify a preferred growth scenario.

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Herding Cats and Wrangling Wild Horses: Bicycle Planning in the West

Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Cheyenne, WY

To achieve a master bicycle plan for the Cheyenne region, the Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) leveraged significant public outreach efforts. While bicycle planning was not new to the region, the Cheyenne MPO faced challenges in building public awareness and support. Through a variety of public engagement opportunities, including written and online surveys, public open houses, and stakeholder presentations, the Cheyenne MPO engaged the local community in a discussion on bicycle planning. As a result of the MPO's efforts, in 2013, the master bicycle plan was unanimously adopted.

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PPACG and City of Colorado Springs Wildfire Evacuation Plan

Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, Colorado Springs, CO

The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) partnered with the City of Colorado Springs in a planning effort to model a large-scale evacuation of residential neighborhoods at risk for wildfires. City fire, police, transit control center, and PPACG staff worked together to develop a custom tool based on PPACG's travel models. In June 2012, the region experienced a fire in the nearby Waldo Canyon. Over 32,000 persons-more than half the residents in the canyon-were evacuated in 90 minutes. The model developed by PPACG and its partners estimated the time-to-evacuate at 1.28 to 1.63 hours, which aligned closely with the experienced time-to-evacuate of roughly 1.5 hours, and continues to serve as a resource for emergency response and preparedness.

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Southwest Johnson County Area Plan

Kansas Department of Transportation, Topeka, KS

The "Southwest Johnson County Area Plan" evaluated the travel impacts of various land use scenarios for a 21-square mile area that surrounds a new 440-acre intermodal facility, borders a 560-acre logistics park, and involves multiple jurisdictions, several roadways, and a rail line. To accommodate the new developments and identify potential transportation impacts and improvements, the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) worked with several partners, including the Mid-America Regional Council, Johnson County, and the cities of Gardner and Edgerton. The final plan includes "implementable" projects that the partners agreed would help enable efficient vehicular, freight, bicycle, and pedestrian movement in the area.

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Tri-Rail Coastal Link Station Area Analysis

South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Pompano Beach, FL

The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) and its project partners studied the economic impact of the future Tri-Rail Coast Link commuter rail service through three inter-related activities. First, SFRTA prepared an economic impact assessment of potential station areas for the rail service, which will run through Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. Next, SFRTA compiled a summary of local station area plans to better understand each station area's existing uses. Lastly, SFRTA created a video to further educate and demonstrate the economic benefits of the rail service. Through SFRTA's efforts, the three counties can better test their transit readiness based on current land use and zoning codes.

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North Carolina Department of Transportation, Raleigh, NC

"WalkBikeNC" is North Carolina's first statewide bicycle and pedestrian plan. Adopted in 2013 by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) Board, the plan offers a transformative vision for improving active transportation choices throughout the State. NCDOT worked closely with the North Carolina Departments of Commerce, Environment and Natural Resources, and Health and Human Services to develop the plan and establish a stakeholder network for collecting input. The final plan uses a five-pillar approach centered on mobility, safety, economics, health, and environmental stewardship to recognize the importance of a multi-agency and multi-disciplinary approach to bicycle and pedestrian planning.

Updated: 7/27/2015
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