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Planning for Transportation in Rural Areas

Appendix C: Case Study Profiles

This section presents four case study profiles that provide examples of successful rural transporation planning activities:

Case Study Profile #1: Pennsylvania's Rural Planning Process

1. Background

During fiscal 1990, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) introduced a rural transportation planning program designed to integrate rural planning with ongoing metropolitan initiatives. The resulting rural transportation program(s) are incorporated into the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). PennDOT recognized that, within the state, over seventy percent of linear highway miles are located in rural areas, which (currently) includes forty-four percent of all vehicle miles traveled. A primary objective was to develop a planning process based on cooperative decision-making between county, regional, and state agencies. The plan helped to ensure that priority goals and objectives were implemented with respect to both rural and metropolitan transportation planning.

Exhibit C-1: Pennsylvania's Seven Local Development Districts (LDDs)

color code for Pennsylvania Map: green, Northwest; yellow, North Central; pink, Northern Tier; blue, EDCNP, brown, SEDA-COG, orange, Southern Allegheyn, purple, SPRDC
Map showing Pennsylvania's seven local development districts (LDDs)

2. Action

Seven Local Development Districts (LDDs) and two independent counties are now under contract with PennDOT to carry out rural transportation planning and programming. Funding is allocated based on a formula that accounts for population data, the area of land involved, and the complexity of the area's transportation system(s). A work program that includes federal, state, and local funding is negotiated annually between PennDOT and regional agencies. This work program includes funding targets and proposed planning activities to be conducted during the next fiscal year. Only activities approved in the work program are undertaken in that fiscal year.

State, regional, and local decision makers participate in technical advisory committees and policy committees which identify issues and opportunities, conduct studies and offer informed recommendations for programming and implementing transportation projects. These advisory and planning committees are charged with evaluating all aspects of transportation planning, including highway, bridge, transit, rail, bicycle, and pedestrian issues. Short- and long-range plans are approved in each area of interest. Together, the planning partner and PennDOT develop, negotiate and approve their rural portion of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).

3. Outcomes

During fiscal 2000-2001, each of the six Local Development Districts received approximately $80,000 in federal and state funds for transportation planning and programming, in addition to a matching 10% from local funds. The two independent counties received approximately $40,000. During 2000, rural planning partners worked with PennDOT to implement the statewide Transportation Policy Plan and served on committees that developed a new corridor-specific, statewide long-range plan, known as the PennPlan. Although the role of rural planning agencies is still evolving, the overwhelming opinion remains positive with regard to their role in planning transportation in Pennsylvania. With capable and professional staffing, the rural planning partners continue to assist with public involvement, coordination of transportation goals and objectives, and maintaining an overall focus on economic development.

For more information on the Pennsylvania process, contact Howard Grossman, Executive Director of the Economic Development Councilof Northeastern Pennsylvania, at (717) 655-5581 or Jim Smedley, Transportation Planner for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, at (717) 772-1772.

Case Study Profile #2: Kentucky's Transit Coordination

1. Background

In the past, Kentucky's transit network had experienced inconsistencies in the overall level of service, as well as problems with delivery processes, increasing costs, and potential exposure to fraud and abuse. Transportation services were not readily accessible statewide, particularly in rural communities. In addition, Kentucky's welfare reform initiative was also expected to double transportation usage for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

2. Action

The Human Service Transportation Delivery (HSTD) Program, developed during 1997/98 under Governor Paul Patton's Empower Kentucky Project, consolidated transportation services which had previously been provided by various state governmental agencies. Under the provisions of the program, transportation services are provided to Medicaid recipients meeting the following requirements:

The HSTD program continues to provide a number of benefits to eligible transportation recipients. A total of 15 statewide transportation regions operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with a "broker" established in each region. Brokers are responsible for coordinating and subcontracting transportation services as well as evaluating the eligibility data of recipients. Twelve of the 15 transportation regions are nonprofit Rural Transit Demand Response Public Systems. The twelve nonprofit transit systems coordinate their HSTD transportation with the general rural public transportation services. In order to reduce costs, a per capita rate structure was developed for each region. The Transportation Cabinet, the lead agency for this project, is tasked to oversee and properly monitor the functions of the HSTD.

3. Outcomes

Early program results reflect cost containment as well as an increase in the use of the system by recipients. Along with consolidating agency services statewide, the program further enhances the overall quality of transportation services by requiring random drug and alcohol testing and by setting higher standards for vehicle maintenance. The public now receives additional services and improved access to medical care, social services, and job training. To date, the program has provided over 3 million TANF and Medicaid trips.

As expected with any new program, challenges exist. The Kentucky Legislative Research Commission (LRC) released an evaluation of the HSTD program in November 1999. The evaluation noted recipients' concern in the following areas: lack of choice as to who will provide the transportation services, the inconvenience of scheduling trips 72 hours in advance, and poor pickup reliability.

As a result of the LRC findings, several recommendations were offered to improve the Transportation Cabinet's task of independently monitoring and enforcing the quality of transportation services delivered to program recipients. The combined efforts of the Transportation Cabinet and the brokers/service providers have led to a positive outcome for both recipients and taxpayers. In addition, the state benefits as a result of providing improved transportation services, with streamlined costs and less exposure to fraud and abuse.

For more information regarding the Kentucky coordination effort, contact Vicki Bourne, Public Transit Branch Manager, at (502) 564-7433.

Case Study Profile #3: New Hampshire's Route 16 Corridor Study

1. Map showing NH Route 16 corridor area and the townships along the corridor.Background

The Route 16 Corridor along New Hampshire's eastern border is a 156-mile corridor that contains 5 cities, 24 towns, and 8 unincorporated areas. The Corridor exhibits a highly diverse economy, population, and natural features. It was not surprising, therefore, that a variety of issues and opinions existed regarding the improvement of transportation along the Corridor.

2. Action

The Route 16 Corridor Protection Study, which began in 1994, was a five-year project funded with 80% federal funds and 20% state funds. The Study involved local communities in the development of initiatives to improve transportation along the Corridor. The project's goal was[11]:

To demonstrate an innovative approach to developing a long-range solution to the problem of providing an efficient transportation system that promotes economic vitality and a high quality of life for the residents of communities and visitors to the regions served by the Route 16 Corridor.

Focusing on the connections between transportation, land use, the economy and quality of life, this plan was based upon an approach that relied upon input and feedback from the people who live and work along the Route 16 Corridor. Regular community meetings, a quarterly newsletter, and the establishment of five working groups contributed to the success of this outreach effort. Innovative methods and advanced communication tools allowed NHDOT to help town officials, residents, business owners, and other interested citizens to better understand the issues and to identify concerns. Instructional media included videos, interactive CD-ROMs, the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and other visualization techniques.

This Study was distinctivebecause it effectively integrated components of both transportation and land use planning. Local land use decisions affect regional transportation needs as transportation improvements alter land value and regional growth.

The Study was divided into four phases:

3. Outcomes

This Study confirmed that transportation, land use, access management, zoning, quality of life, and other factors drive the growth and development of the Route 16 Corridor. The Study also provided a new approach involving state-of-the-art planning tools and active participation from a diverse and large number of concerned parties. This approach was successfully adopted in two other corridor studies, four community pilot studies and a number of other community and regional projects.

The Study determined that "perhaps the single most important realization in developing the final recommendations was that 'we cannot build our way out of congestion.' In other words, roadway construction projects must be accompanied by other non-highway transportation improvements that can help mitigate future traffic growth."[12]

Following is a list of initiatives that have been introduced as a result of the Study:

For more information on this study, contact Ansel Sandbourn at New Hampshire Department of Transportation, at (603) 276-3344.

Case Study Profile #4: Hutchinson County, Minnesota Transportation Plan

1. Background

Since completion of the 1970's transportation plan, the population of Hutchinson County increased by over 43 percent; and as a result, the area experienced major economic development and growth in traffic. Employment centers such as 3M and Hutchinson Technology attract large numbers of employees commuting from adjacent communities. The area's close proximity to the Twin Cities metropolitan area makes Hutchinson County an attractive place to live.

Exhibit C-2: Hutchinson Area Transportation Study Issues Map

Hutchinson Area Transportation Study Issues Map

2. Action

The Hutchinson Area Transportation Plan was a cooperative, coordinated effort to build a comprehensive transportation planning study for the City of Hutchinson and the surrounding area. The study involved the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), along with transportation planners from McLeod County and the City of Hutchinson from the spring of 1997 to the summer of 1998. Together, these agencies expanded their understanding of growth trends, examined local transportation problems and needs, and developed joint solutions to common problems. This collaboration resulted in effective and long-lasting transportation solutions.

Public participation was considered necessary in order to identify issues and concerns. Throughout the planning process, MnDOT and its partners provided the public with opportunities to participate, including:

Surveying travel patterns provided a perspective on the function of each of the major roadways serving the City of Hutchinson. Of specific interest were TH 7, TH 15, TH 22 andCounty State Aid Highway (CSAH)12. From this survey, the public and agencies concluded that a TH 7 or TH 15 bypass was not feasible at that time. Instead, they decided to focus efforts on developing alternative, peripheral routes.

Residents and businesses voiced opinions on critical TH 15 traffic congestion and safety concerns. Serving as the primary north-south route through the City of Hutchinson, traffic delays and safety issues are an ongoing concern during peak travel times. Plan recommendations addressed these issues. Among others, one recommendation involved alternate routes for local vehicular and truck traffic. City and county agencies recommended a west periphery route be developed to reduce regional traffic south of the city. Additional signage and completion of local construction were suggested to help minimize traffic congestion.

Safety, operational and access issues were the primary concerns relating to TH 7, a main east-west city corridor. A corridor study that identified operational, design and access issues resulted in a recommendation for reconfiguring the TH 7/TH 15 intersection and providing improved access to other intersections.

The Hutchinson Area Transportation Plan not only responded to immediate needs, but continues to serve as a guide for addressing long-term transportation system issues. The Plan offers several alternatives to be considered when managing access along important corridors:[13]

Agencies developed an implementation plan to prioritize short-term (0 to 6 years), mid-term (6 to 12 years) and long-term (12 to 20 years) initiatives.

3. Outcomes

The intergovernmental cooperation and support received from community leaders, businesses and citizens were significant to the overall success of the Plan itself. Findings and recommendations are highlighted below:

For more information on the Minnesota Transportation Plan, contact Patrick Weidemann, District Planning Director, at (320) 214-3753.

Updated: 3/28/2012
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