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2010 Transportation Planning Excellence Awards

Award Winners


Implementing the Regional Plan: The Community and Transportation Linkages Planning Program

Capital District Transportation Committee, Albany, New York
Category: Transportation and Land Use Integration

The Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC), the metropolitan planning organization for New York's capital region, developed the Community and Transportation Linkages Planning Program (the Linkage Program) to provide assistance to communities undertaking local planning initiatives that integrate land use and transportation. The Linkage Program was initiated, in part, to address the challenge of encouraging local governments to work together as a region to implement New Visions, the regional transportation plan.

By providing CDTC staff and private consultant support, the Linkage Program has jump-started proactive planning, particularly in those communities with limited local staff and financial resources. Since its inception in 2000, the Linkage Program has funded 61 local planning studies in 37 communities, including urban, suburban, and rural municipalities and counties. Planning initiatives funded by the Linkage Program have included land use plans; highway and transit designs; zoning ordinances; and driveway, sidewalk, bicycle, community design, and other local standards. These local plans help to implement key policies of the New Visions regional transportation plan, which calls for reducing the growth of vehicular travel by one-third from trend forecasts largely by altering the form and location of growth and its accompanying transportation systems.

Each local planning effort that is funded by the Linkage Program is required to be guided by a study advisory committee consisting of State, regional, and local community representatives, including elected officials, planning/zoning board members, business owners, residents, local institutions, and not-for-profit groups. In addition, each planning effort is required to feature a minimum of two interactive public workshops. This collaborative process ensures that the land use and transportation concepts developed as part of each study are feasible enough to implement as funding and development/redevelopment opportunities arise.

The Linkage Program has successfully made the regional transportation plan relevant and relatable to those at the local level. Through financial and technical support, the Linkage Program enables local communities to convert the promise of sound land use planning into reality and illustrates that good site and community design are essential to achieving regional transportation system goals.

For more information:
Sandra Misiewicz
Capital District Transportation Committee

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Transportation Safety Management Plan

Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization, Wyoming
Category: Safety Planning

The Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has taken a leadership role as one of the first MPOs in the country to develop a regional transportation safety management plan (TSMP). This plan is one of the first in the country to apply the analytical approach used for the federally mandated State strategic highway safety plans at the MPO level. To develop the plan, the MPO organized regional safety stakeholders and transportation professionals to engage in a discussion focused on developing solutions to reduce roadway crashes in the region. The Cheyenne MPO identified emphasis areas based on fatal and injury crash factors in the region where concentrated efforts can make effective, positive impacts.

The safety analysis of emphasis areas represents a new approach to roadway safety analysis by including populations, crash types, infrastructure, behavior, and modes. Cheyenne's Transportation Safety Advisory Committee-composed of 26 individuals with a background in enforcement, education, engineering, and emergency medical services-selected six emphasis areas for focus: older drivers, younger drivers, alcohol, intersections, distracted driving, and safety belt use. Once the emphasis areas were identified, the Cheyenne MPO organized a Transportation Safety Summit where participants from the greater community worked together to identify short-, medium-, and long-term transportation safety strategies for implementation in the Cheyenne area.

Since its adoption in 2008, the Cheyenne MPO has begun actively implementing the TSMP. As a result of the plan, for the first time the MPO received grants from the Wyoming Highway Safety Office to implement safety strategies.

In 2009, the grants were used for a law enforcement summit on safety belt enforcement and a study to prioritize hazardous intersections. Additional grants awarded in 2010 to conduct a legislative briefing on transportation safety and a "Battle of the Belts" effort focused on increasing occupant protection among high school students.

For more information:
Sreyoshi Chakraborty
Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization

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Atlanta Regional Managed Lane System Plan

Georgia Department of Transportation
Category: Modeling and Technology Applications

The Georgia Department of Transportation's (GDOT's) Atlanta Regional Managed Lane System Plan (MLSP) is the first planning study in the Nation to quantify the benefits of a system of managed lanes in a metropolitan area. Prior to the MLSP, GDOT conducted a number of potential managed lanes projects on highway facilities throughout metro Atlanta; however, these studies were developed independently of each other and of a larger system. In order to better understand the relationship between the numerous managed lane proposals, GDOT undertook the MLSP to bring all previous efforts together and provide overall direction and insight into the financial obligations necessary to deliver a system of managed lanes to the region.

As part of the study, GDOT developed the Alternative Visualization Analysis Tool ("AltaViz") to organize, process, and understand the tremendous amount of data generated during the study. AltaViz allowed GDOT to interactively analyze a corridor or system of corridors to determine the performance and impacts of various lane management strategies. The tool was also used to interactively compare managed lane corridors and systems and identify those corridors that would most benefit from managed lane treatments.

As the first system-wide evaluation of urban area managed lanes performed in the United States, the MLSP enabled GDOT to ensure that individual corridors would maintain a set of system-level goals while maintaining interoperability with one another. The system-level approach also allowed GDOT to consider the most appropriate policies and determine the most suitable corridors to implement.

Since its completion, the MLSP has been widely accepted. In December 2009, the State Transportation Board of Georgia adopted the MLSP as a guide for GDOT to use in developing individual managed lane projects within metro Atlanta. Already, the MLSP is paying dividends in Georgia. As a direct result of the MLSP, in February 2010, GDOT solicited its first public-private partnership.

Based on the success of the MLSP in Georgia, this plan can be used as a model for other metropolitan areas to better analyze and prioritize managed lane projects to help mitigate both increased congestion and decreased transportation funding.

For more information:
Matthew Fowler
Georgia Department of Transportation

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Conserve by Transit: Analysis of the Energy Consumption and Climate Change Benefits of Transit

Florida Department of Transportation
Category: Transportation Planning and Environment

In response to the Florida Climate Action Plan- a statewide set of strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions- the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) initiated the Conserve by Transit project. The project complemented the statewide climate change effort by raising awareness about and developing a means to quantify public transportation's potential contribution to GHG reductions.

The Conserve by Transit project produced measurable criteria to analyze the levels of GHG emissions displaced by transit due to: 1) the offset of trips that would otherwise be made by private automobiles, and 2) roadway congestion relief associated with those transit trips. The analysis examined the relative proportion of GHG reductions and energy savings that could be achieved from three different transit investment scenarios. It also included critical factors such as temperature and humidity, variables which have not been traditionally used in GHG calculators. This analysis demonstrated that real GHG savings can be achieved through smart investments in the State's public transit systems.

While other similar efforts have largely focused on a single metropolitan area, Conserve by Transit encompasses the vast majority of Florida's transit systems from very small systems serving towns and rural populations to systems serving the State's largest metropolitan areas. The project produced emission calculators for 25 transit agencies in Florida. These calculators, which can be easily replicated or adopted by any transit agency, will serve as important tools for supporting agencies' grant applications and investment decisions.

FDOT is now developing a second phase of the project, Fast Footprint, to estimate emissions for all of Florida's 28 transit agencies in an online automated environment. As part of this next phase, the Department will develop carbon footprints for all of Florida's transit agencies to use in estimating the impact future technological and operational strategies will have on reducing GHG emissions.

For more information:
Diane Quigley
Florida Department of Transportation

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Integrated National Transit Database System

Florida Department of Transportation
Category: Modeling and Technology Applications

The Integrated National Transit Database System (INTDAS) was developed by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Transit Office to integrate over 20 years of National Transit Database (NTD) data and provide a set of user-friendly tools to enable the quick application of these data trend analyses, peer comparisons, and other general data inquiries. The goal of the INTDAS project is to allow users to make effective use of NTD data and tools provided to help plan, manage, and improve transit facilities and services.

The NTD is the single most important data source for the Nation's transit industry. Collected and distributed by FTA, NTD is the sole source of standardized and comprehensive data for all constituencies of the transit industry. The NTD includes data on transit organization characteristics, vehicle fleet size and characteristics, revenues and subsidies, operating and maintenance costs, vehicle fleet reliability and inventory, services consumed and supplied, and safety and security.

An important application of NTD has been to perform trend analyses, which require multiple years of NTD data. However, accessing multiple years of NTD data was a tedious process due to the organization of the data. As a solution to this issue, FDOT developed the INTDAS, a free web-based tool that integrates 25 years (starting with 1984) of NTD data in a single, standardized database, thus allowing users to access multiple years of data in a single request. INTDAS also provides direct access to over 60 transit performance measures calculated from the original NTD data released by FTA. These data are also available at different aggregate levels, including agency-wide and statewide.

An important application of NTD has been to perform trend analyses, which require multiple years of NTD data. However, accessing multiple years of NTD data was a tedious process due to the organization of the data. As a solution to this issue, FDOT developed the INTDAS, a free web-based tool that integrates 25 years (starting with 1984) of NTD data in a single, standardized database, thus allowing users to access multiple years of data in a single request. INTDAS also provides direct access to over 60 transit performance measures calculated from the original NTD data released by FTA. These data are also available at different aggregate levels, including agency-wide and statewide.

For more information:
Diane Quigley
Florida Department of Transportation

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Minnesota Comprehensive Freight and Passenger Rail Plan

Minnesota Department of Transportation
Categories: Freight Planning, Planning Leadership, and Public Involvement and Outreach

In 2008, the Minnesota Legislature and Governor charged the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) with the task of creating a Statewide Comprehensive Freight and Passenger Rail Plan, through an open public process, to be amended to the Minnesota State Transportation Plan upon adoption. The resulting plan, the Minnesota Statewide Comprehensive Freight and Passenger Rail Plan, was one of the very first State rail plans in the Nation to be developed with Passenger Rail Improvement and Investment Act of 2008 (PRIIA) requirements and principles integrated into the scope and work plan.

The public outreach associated with the development of the plan, which included industry, shipper, traveler, labor, and other stakeholder input, was conducted at an unprecedented level. Over 150 organizations and individuals had an active role in the Plan's advancement through participation in forums, steering committees, technical advisory committees, and open houses. The evolution and outcome of the Plan was directly influenced by the public's extensive involvement in these various activities.

In developing the Statewide Comprehensive Freight and Passenger Rail Plan, Mn/DOT has created a roadmap to sustain and strengthen commodity movement by rail while laying out a system approach and a passenger rail network of linked routes that will improve travel times, energy conservation, environmental impacts, and traveler convenience throughout the region while tying together virtually all major regional trade centers.

Using data and planning analysis from the State Rail Plan, the State, with its partners, submitted rail-related Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant applications for rail-related projects. As a result, the State received funding for the completion of the St. Paul Union Depot. Minnesota was also awarded the only basic high-speed planning grant in the country from first-round stimulus funding for development of the Chicago-Twin Cities corridor.

For more information:
Dave Christianson
Minnesota DOT

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200 Lane-Mile Commitment

New York City Department of Transportation
Category: Livability/Sustainability

In June 2009, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) fulfilled its commitment by building 204.8 lane-miles of bicycle facilities in all five boroughs, doubling the number of on-street bicycle facilities and bringing the total mileage of bicycle facilities to over 600 lane-miles. This commitment originated with the release of the 2006 report, Bicyclist Fatalities and Serious Injuries in New York City 1996-2005, which found that bicyclists were safest in bike lanes.

The 200 lane-mile project is an unprecedented expansion of the city's bicycle infrastructure that radically improves the quality of the streets of the Nation's most densely populated city. The 200 lane-miles included the execution of 88 separate projects on scores of unique street segments. To accommodate the vastly different street conditions, NYCDOT's planning and design staff utilized innovative designs, such as protected bicycle paths, which position cyclists between the curb and the parking lane, the first of their kind in the United States.

Before-and-after data from the protected paths proves their safety benefits: up to 56 percent reductions in all injuries along the project corridors, up to 29 percent reductions in pedestrian accidents, and up to 57 percent reductions in cyclist accidents. Data from the 9th Avenue and Grand Street protected paths shows an 84 percent reduction in illegal sidewalk riding.

Other innovations in the 200 lane-mile commitment include the use of high-visibility green bicycle lanes and the introduction of more than 204 bike boxes and intersection markings. These and other innovative designs are captured in the NYCDOT Street Design Manual, which can be used as a resource for other cities working to retrofit unique streets with bike lanes.

New York's bicycle network provides a backbone of routes throughout the city, including safe connections to the four East River Bridges, each of which has protected paths supplemented by more than 600 directional signs for bicyclists trying to reach them. The completion of the 200 lane-mile commitment and the installation of guide signs have helped to make cycling a viable transportation choice for many more New Yorkers.

Citywide, NYCDOT counts show that as a result of this program, commuter cycling in New York City increased more than 79 percent from 2006 to 2009. In line with the city's Bike Master Plan, NYCDOT plans to install 50 bicycle lane-miles a year until the citywide 1,800 bicycle-lane mile network is complete.

For more information:
Hayes Lord
NYCDOT Bicycle Program

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Freight Rail Grade Crossing Assessment Study

North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority
Categories: Freight Planning and Safety Planning

Recognizing a need to address safety, traffic, and community impact issues near rail crossings, the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) conducted a Freight Rail Grade Crossing Assessment Study at 64 grade crossings along five of the region's major freight rail lines. The study systematically assessed a variety of impacts and resulted in a prioritized list of high-impact rail crossings, along with a range of strategies and solutions for addressing these impacts. A toolbox was developed to enable these approaches to be applied to other freight rail grade crossings outside the study area.

The study utilized a standard, quantified framework for evaluating crossings and identifying root issues. The study team located, inventoried, mapped, and described attributes relating to at-grade rail crossings on each of the five key freight rail lines in the NJTPA region. The five most highly impacted crossings were selected for detailed analysis and recommendations.

In conducting the study, the NJTPA sought broad stakeholder participation and extensive community involvement, specifically designed to maximize input and idea-sharing, stimulate open and meaningful discussion, and create a common foundation for moving forward.

Based on the evaluations and rankings produced in this study, corrective actions for the highest impact locations have already been implemented, and a second location has been approved and funded by the New Jersey Department of Transportation. As funds become available, additional locations on the prioritized list will be addressed by adapting the solutions to meet the community values and needs of the specific location.

For more information:
Ted Matthews
North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority

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Opportunity Link, Incorporated

Opportunity Link, Incorporated, Montana
Categories: Planning Leadership and Tribal Transportation Planning

The Plains region of north central Montana experienced decades of economic decline and community depopulation, resulting in the loss of Main Street businesses, schools, medical services, stores, and young people. Opportunity Link, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to fighting the effects of persistent poverty in 11 rural counties and three Indian reservations in Montana, identified transportation as a key strategy to revitalize the region.

In 2007, the organization engaged a broad range of community stakeholders in a regional planning process. This planning effort successfully convened an unprecedented partnership of government, business, and educational institutions from remote tribal and rural communities to explore public transit options. The outcome of the planning effort was the adoption of four new rural alternative transportation systems, each designed to respond to the most pressing transportation needs of low-income residents as identified through a needs assessment. The four new transit services are North Central Montana Transit in Hill and Blaine Counties, Fort Belknap Transit Service at Fort Belknap Indian Community, Rocky Boy's Transit at the Chippewa Cree Tribe's Rocky Boy's Reservation, and Northern Transit Interlocal serving Toole, Pondera, and Teton Counties.

Opportunity Link coordinated funding contributions from government, business, social service organizations, and educational institutions, demonstrating an ability to leverage private funds, local public funds, and Federal funds to develop and operate public transportation services. By establishing funding and service partnerships between isolated rural communities, the four new transit systems now successfully link residents of neighboring rural towns and three Indian reservations with metropolitan services over 100 miles away. These new alternative transportation services enable low-income rural residents to access needed services, maintain affordable homes in outlying areas, have dependable transportation to employment and schooling, and connect to commercial and intermodal services.

Opportunity Link continues to pursue funding for additional transit improvements needs throughout the region and is working to achieve greater efficiency in transportation through further coordination among neighboring systems.

For more information:
Barbara Stiffarm
Opportunity Link, Inc.

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Union Street Railroad Bridge

City of Salem, Oregon
Categories: Livability/Sustainability and Public Involvement and Outreach

The Union Street Railroad Bridge project in Salem, Oregon, represents an extraordinary community effort to preserve and re-use a well-loved, but obsolete, piece of industrial infrastructure. The bridge, which was built across the Willamette River in 1912 by Southern Pacific Railway, sat unused for many years. The City of Salem purchased the bridge in 2004, and it was subsequently added to the National Register of Historic Places. That year, the city began its effort to convert the unused historic bridge, which many viewed as blight, into a significant landmark for Salem's downtown riverfront.

Through funding and support from citizens, nonprofit organizations, including Friends of Two Bridges, and local, State, and Federal government, the historic bridge has been transformed into a new passage for bicyclists and pedestrians. The bridge also serves as an emergency access across the Willamette River. Engineering innovations and unique design elements were utilized to maintain the bridge's structural integrity and retain its historical features and character. In addition, responsible and sustainable deconstruction practices were utilized to protect the Willamette River from construction debris, retain and refurbish existing navigation lights, and re-use landscaping blocks along the waterfront.

Since its initial opening in April 2009, the pedestrian and bicycle bridge has experienced high usage. By connecting two large urban parks, Wallace Marine (114 acres) and Riverfront (23 acres), the project fulfilled a critical half-mile link in the bicycle and pedestrian circulation system. It now provides safe and friendly access across the Willamette River for families, commuters, visitors, and recreationists. In addition to realizing the vision of a connected bicycle and pedestrian system, this exceptional project met additional community goals of mitigating for past environmental degradation and stimulating redevelopment in two blighted neighborhoods, all while preserving a significant tangible reminder of the past.

For more information:
Todd Klocke
City of Salem

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City of San José Trail Network

City of San José, California
Category: Livability/Sustainability

With a year-round pleasant climate and level topography, San José, California, is uncommonly well-suited for bicycle and pedestrian travel. Leveraging these natural advantages, the City of San José has incrementally created an off-street trail network that currently consists of 54 miles of paved and unpaved trails along the city's many waterways and open spaces. Through its trail program, San José is actively seeking to expand the existing trails into a 100-mile, cohesively interconnected network of 35 different trail systems by the year 2022. Once completed, the 100-mile trail network will connect with 400 miles of on-street bike lanes to form the Bike Web. The Bike Web serves neighborhoods, employment centers, shopping, and recreation areas across the city and links to regional trails.

The trail network was defined in the San José Greenprint, the city's 20-year strategic plan for parks, recreational facilities, and programs. The key focus for the trail program is to develop and promote the trail system as an integral component of a comprehensive, multimodal regional transportation network. The Mayor and Council's Green Vision identifies ten goals for economic development and sets 2022 as the deadline for completion of the 100-mile network. The city's General Plan update for 2040 includes a trail-specific chapter to guide private and public development of trails.

In addition to contributing to a sustainable transportation system, the trails are designed according to principles of sustainability and environmental best practices. For example, all new trails currently use recycled asphalt concrete base rock and are designed so that stormwater runoff can sheet flow across the trail and through vegetation before entering a waterway, thereby enhancing water quality protection.

San José's trails are already supporting a majority share of bicycle commuters. The program's annual Trail Count event in 2009 found that 52 percent of the surveyed trail users were primarily using the trails for active transportation/commuting purposes. In order to continue to maximize the potential for bicycle commuting as a practical and efficient transportation choice, the offstreet trails planned as part of the network will interface with the existing and planned on-street bike lanes to the maximum extent possible. The trail network, in its existing state, is already well-distributed throughout the city; nearly all residents have trail access within three miles of home, making bicycle travel throughout the city viable for all.

For more information:
Yves Zsutty
City of San José

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Updated: 1/31/2017
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