Key Strategies for Addressing Livability Objectives in TIP Development
Moving from long range plans to project programming (the term typically used by transportation agencies to refer to project-level budgets) requires annual consideration of transportation project priorities. Whether developing the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), the regional TIP or a local capital improvement program (CIP), this step in decisionmaking should involve a technical process that prioritizes projects relative to how well they match up with livability indicators.
Many States and MPOs have incorporated a project selection and prioritization process or tool into their programming decisions. Incorporating livability factors into this process requires adjusting or developing new project prioritization criteria that link back to the vision, goals and performance measures. As an example, the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) in Kansas City developed its 2040 long range transportation plan which included a regional vision that is "socially, environmentally and economically sustainable." This vision includes a series of goals and measures that address broader livability goals. MARC produces an annual progress report (as shown below) that demonstrates how well the community is advancing those goals. The data analyzed in this report can be incorporated into the annual project prioritization process to evaluate program priorities against current trends.
|Factor||Measure||Desired Trend||Actual Trend|
|Level of transit service||Population within 1/2 mile of fixed-route transite service||↑||Population living within 1/2 mile of fixed-route transit stops||↓||-5.27% (2000-2010)|
|Ridership||↑||Annual unlinked passenger trips||↓||-9.22% (2008-2009)|
|Revenue service hours||↑||Annual hours of operating service||↑||+7.15% (2008-2009)|
|Environmental justice||Transportation investment in environmental justice tracts||↑||Percent of total federal funds invested in environmental justice tracts||N/A||Awaiting data release in October 2011|
|Factor||Measure||Desired Trend||Actual Trend|
|Transportation costs||Affordability||↓||Combined housing and transportation costs as a percent of median income||N/A||Awaiting release of 2010 data|
Excerpt from MARC's Annual Progress Report Summary in June 2011. This annual report tracks progress in the region in advancing the goals outlined in Transportation Outlook 2040, and helps inform annual project priorities.
Linking the TIP with Livability Goals
State DOTs and MPOs are required to certify that all projects in the STIP are in conformance with the long range transportation plan. Long range plans that contain specific, measurable livability objectives can be a very powerful tool in this process.
Programming projects typically follows a logical sequence where previously ranked projects move up in priority in a fairly predictable manner. Coordinating TIP/CIP updates with local housing plans, other relevant short-term community development plans, or private development projects can help planners to be more responsive to opportunities for leveraging funding, or identifying areas where design and construction projects might overlap. Additionally, most HUD Consolidated Plans only cover a five year planning horizon and therefore identify near term issues, strategies and priorities. For example, the City of Seattle's 2008-2012 Consolidated Plan identifies needs and priorities for:
Better coordination of housing and transportation investments at the local or regional level can be reinforced by looking for geographic and policy overlaps. In the example noted above, what transportation projects are being programmed in Seattle's Housing Investment Areas? Are these projects increasing accessibility for residents or helping to lower transportation costs? Encouraging discussion of non-transportation livability criteria during the annual transportation improvement program update is an important feedback step that can help reinforce livability policies or identify gaps that need to be addressed. Integrated policies can also be reinforced at the State level by coordinating the STIP update with budgeting and grant making decisions by State housing, environmental, and economic development agencies.
Programming documents can also provide transportation improvement project descriptions that capture the full rationale and justification of the project need relative to meeting livability goals. This could include more details on how the project will address livability factors, as well as maps, concept-level designs, or illustrative graphics that show the relationship of the project with other community initiatives, or the unique context or design considerations desired.
The Augusta-Aiken Metropolitan Planning Organization incorporated several livability goals into the most recent update of the long range transportation plan. To aid in advancing these goals, Aiken County developed a new project prioritization tool that incorporates livability measures as part of the project evaluation and scoring process. These measures reward projects that improve multimodal access to city amenities, incorporate all modes, create walkable neighborhoods, improve connectivity between modes, support local comprehensive plans, protect environmental resources, and strengthen existing communities. The graphic below shows a screenshot of this tool applied to a roadway widening project.