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Creating Livable Communities

Chapter 4: Evaluation and Prioritization of Strategies

Key Strategies for Addressing Livability Objectives in Evaluation

  • Use livability indicators to evaluate different alternatives.
  • Introduce funding considerations at this stage.
  • Expand traditional auto-focused performance measures to include accessibility and transportation choice.
  • Use new partners to help facilitate discussions about tradeoffs of different scenarios.
  • Establish a strategy for communicating the benefits of the desired set of alternatives.

How does the vision perform?

When compared to a projection of what 2040 might be like (based on current growth plans and current planned road and transit projects), the Wasatch Choices 2040 Vision results in 18% less congestion, 12% more transit use, and 23 fewer square miles of land consumption.

What goals matter most if I have to choose? What combination of transportation strategies seem most supportive of the type of community we want in the future? Evaluating and prioritizing strategies in support of livable communities means seeking the right combination of transportation and development concepts to achieve the greatest livability benefits within long term financial constraints. The livability indicators developed in early phases should be used to help the public, staff, elected officials and other stakeholders to measure the effectiveness of different scenarios and multimodal alternatives. This planning-level evaluation is not an exact science; it is meant to show the relative differences between pursuing one set of strategies over another. These comparisons help highlight key tradeoffs associated with different transportation and development decisions. While the distinctions between scenarios may be somewhat exaggerated for comparison purposes, most efforts do not end up with a single preferred alternative chosen. The review process usually leads to the development of a hybrid scenario or set of strategies to move forward with into the planning stage.

Different land use and transportation scenarios are typically developed to reflect certain assumptions about the relationships between different livability indicators, and how those factors can work together. For example, a regional scenario that focuses on expanding transportation choices is also likely to have more compact, mixed use development patterns. When compared to a more auto-focused scenario, these development patterns will demonstrate positive impacts relative to overall land consumption, protection of natural resources, reduced energy and water consumption, increased reinvestment in existing communities and making walking an attractive option for some of each household's daily trips.

Supporting livable community goals during the evaluation and prioritization phase requires effective facilitation of the tradeoffs discussion, leading to identification of a preferred set of strategies to move forward. Multiple partners representing housing, economic development or other interests should be at the table to ensure that the broadest set of livability indicators is developed. This typically means going beyond the traditional set of transportation performance measures such as automobile safety, preserving the existing transportation system, and reducing congestion and travel time delay. It requires incorporating additional measures such as accessibility, reducing GHG emissions (as measured by per capita VMT), reducing transportation and housing costs, improving bicycle and pedestrian safety, improving transit quality of service, improving efficiency of "last mile" freight deliveries, supporting existing neighborhoods, and other applicable measures. The following table illustrates example draft performance measures that can be considered; however, it is critical that the measures used relate directly to the local or regional vision and goals.

Communicating how different scenarios perform can be as simple as producing a livability scorecard that compares indicators across each scenario, mapping growth patterns or density, or using other graphics to demonstrate how different alternatives impact the look, feel and character of a place over time. GIS mapping showing the locations of future housing and jobs, or 3-D illustrations showing before and after renderings of potential corridor improvements, can show how both development and transportation infrastructure might evolve over time. These images can also become important in helping a widely-supported vision to live beyond the next political cycle.

Example Performance Measures
Transit Accessibility How usable is the transit network in terms of getting people to the top community destinations?
  • Households within five miles of park and ride lots or major transit centers.
  • Percent of daily/peak period trips (origins and destinations) starting or ending within ¼ mile of a transit stop along routes that are accessible for all, including people with disabilities.
  • Percent of population and employment within 0.4 miles of transit along routes that are accessible for all.
  • Share of population with good transit job accessibility (100,000+ jobs within 45 min).
  • Number of households within 30 minute transit ride of major employment center.
  • Percentage of work and education trips accessible in less than 30 minutes transit travel time.
  • Percentage of workforce that can reach their workplace by transit within one hour with no more than one transfer.
Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) How much are people driving on a daily basis?
  • VMT per capita.
  • Light duty VMT per capita.
  • VMT per employee.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Mode Share How many daily trips are made by walking or biking?
  • Percent bicycle trips to overall trips.
  • Percent of bicyclist fatalities as a share of all fatalities.
  • Percent walking trips to overall trips.
  • Percent of pedestrian fatalities as a share of all fatalities.

Compelling imagery, quotable storylines and talking points about key benefits of a preferred strategy are an important step in ensuring long term public support and ultimately securing funding for implementation. Creating compelling stories about the preferred strategy should resonate well beyond transportation stakeholders. Doing so can help to build support and identify opportunities where new funding sources can leverage traditional transportation funding to support implementation.

The goal of this stage is to identify a set of multimodal alternatives and desired community features regarding:

At the end of the prioritization stage, the public and elected officials should have a clear understanding of the most desirable conceptual land use and transportation strategies and how those strategies can support livable community goals. These concepts will be used as the starting point for subsequent planning efforts and policy changes. From a transportation perspective, the alternatives will be translated into more specific plans, policies and projects during the development of the long range transportation plan and TIP. However, scenario concepts that deal with land use, housing and community development, public health, access for people with disabilities, open space or habitat preservation, will require plans and policy shifts outside of the transportation process. Having new partners at the table who represent these interests can help ensure that related plans and investment priorities reflect the preferred set of strategies. The completion of the evaluation and prioritization phase creates a framework or blueprint for all subsequent plans, policies, and projects.

Proposed multimodal improvements and redevelopment opportunities on Kamehameha Highway in Honolulu, Hawaii that includes the transformation of a six-lane roadway into a four-lane divided roadway with a center median, and adjacent angled parking and one-way frontage roads that include bicycle lanes.  Building frontages are near the street edge and include pedestrian friendly uses such as retail with accessible storefronts.  The center and side medians are heavily landscaped providing strong buffers between through traffic lanes and slower speed frontage roads.

Photosimulation of potential multimodal improvements and redevelopment opportunities on Kamehameha Highway in Honolulu, Hawaii.

HUD-DOT-EPA Interagency Partnership | DOT Livability | FTA Livable & Sustainable Communities
Updated: 1/3/2014
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