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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Transportation Planning Update Newsletter

Summer 2001

In this issue:

Lessons Learned in Project Development: 2001 New Starts Roundtable

By Tonya Holland, FTA

In 1999 the New Starts Roundtables were implemented by the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Office of Planning. The vision led to the first inaugural Roundtables held in Washington, DC July 2000 and in Las Vegas, NV August 2000. The success of the Roundtable cultivated partnerships between FTA and local project sponsors seeking Section 5309 funding for transit projects. Presently, Charlotte M. Adams chairs the NSR and initiated the second series of Roundtables held May and June 2001 in New Orleans and Los Angeles. This year's theme was Lessons Learned in Project Development.

The NSR mission includes:

To guide the development and implementation of the New Starts Roundtable program, the Steering Committee functions as a channel for ideas, issues or topics that help improve upon the NSR program yearly. Chaired by the FTA Associate Administrator of Planning, the Committee consists of ten representatives from local agencies, along with a comparable number of FTA Headquarters and Regional staff. In advance of the inaugural roundtable sessions in 2000, the Committee developed the following guiding principles:

The second series of the New Starts Roundtable (NSR) were held May 24-26, 2001 in New Orleans, LA and June 6-7, 2001 in Los Angeles, CA. The theme for the 2001 Roundtable was Lessons Learned in Planning Project Development. During the first day of the Roundtables Charlotte Adams opened by discussing briefly the background for continuing the NSR and the importance of the meetings. She mentioned that project sponsors need to share their local experiences with the new Administration about their plans and policies to forward transit and transit supportive development in their communities.

Next, staff from FTA discussed the changes in the New Starts Final Rule issued in April 6, 2001. Dave Vozzolo, Chief of the Analysis Division in FTA's Office of Planning and Richard Steinmann, Director of FTA's Office of Policy Development briefly reviewed the New Starts process and the importance of the changes in the Final Rule. Both Dave Vozzolo and Rich Steinmann emphasized changes but their main focus and purpose in the second series of Roundtables was "lessons learned" in planning project development during the New Starts process.

Many of the topics for Roundtable sessions came directly from the grantees last year during the inaugural Roundtables. Topics for the 2001 Roundtable were summarized in the last year's NSR proceedings. This year's Roundtable topics were an overview of the final rule, lessons learned in local metropolitan planning issues, integration of New Starts and the NEPA process, FTA's preliminary engineering and final design approval procedures and requirements, project management oversight of New Starts projects, defining project scope, cost estimation and application of contingencies, shared used corridors, FTA's full funding grant agreement procedures.

For more information about the FTA's New Starts Roundtable or copies of the 1999 and 2000 NSR Proceedings, please contact Tonya Holland at 202.366.1592.

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Summer Transportation Institute

Photographs and article by Bernadette Dupont, FHWA

Twenty-four students participated in this year's Summer Transportation Institute (STI) at Kentucky State University. The program operates with limited federal and state funding, and relies on many corporate and private sources for additional funds. There are 33 STI programs on campuses across the nation, and that number grows each year. For the last two years, Kentucky State University's program has won the "Best STI in the Nation" award from the Federal Highway Administration.

Students all over Kentucky compete to become members of this select group. To be considered for this program students must be recommended by their high school counselors, show an interest in the field of transportation, and have 3.0 or better GPA.

Students live on campus and go on a variety of different field trips. One of those trips includes a trip to Chicago.

In Chicago, the students had a chance to increase their knowledge of various careers in transportation and to experience the various modes of transportation as well. The STI group drove to Chicago in a motor coach and students helped navigate the trip. Once they arrived, the group visited the training center for the Tuskegee airman. They also went out with the US. Coastguard and participated in a search and rescue mission. Students were given the opportunity to man the vessel and experience first-hand to rigors of waterway travel. The also got the chance to ride in a hot air balloon over Lake Michigan. Tony Gilkey, assistant Civil Rights Coordinator for Federal Highways in Kentucky, helped chaperon this trip.

The trips in Kentucky were just as adventurous as those in Chicago. Students visited the Kentucky Transportation Museum in Frankfort, KY, and hiked at Red River Gorge and attend several classes.

Bernadette Dupont, a FHWA Transportation Engineer, taught a hands-on class at the University of Kentucky's Transportation Center. This class utilized a variety of equipment from the Center's field laboratory. Students learned how to use thermography equipment to determine various temperatures in pavements, used quicksand apparatus to learn about liquefaction, and used an earthquake simulator to observe the effects of a large-scale earthquake on buildings. The students also learned metric conversion by doing actually pacing off a room, measuring themselves, determining mass, in metric units.

Terry Chism, Safety Engineer the Kentucky Division, held an all day safety class for the students. In this class students were taught to be aware of the many pitfalls that young drivers encounter and how to be a "Smart Driver". Kentucky's "Drive Smart" campaign participated by sending their "Crash Dummies", Vince and Larry, to the program as well.

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Students determine the mass of everyday objects. For instance, they learned that the mass of a dollar bill is one gram

photo: Two students at a table. Click the image for a larger version. Click the image for a larger view.

Students work on calculations for determining the volume of a room.

photo: Group of students in a classroom

"Length" Students measure their height in metric units.

photo: Group of students in a classroom. One girl standing by a doorway while other students measure the girl's height.

Students unwind after a long day of learning by running on the Bluegrass of Kentucky

photo: Group of students running across a grassy field

"It All Adds Up to Clean Air"

By Kathy Daniel, FHWA

The U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) state and local stakeholders have identified an acute need to: 1) strengthen the public's understanding of the connection between their travel choices, congestion, and air pollution and, 2) through information exchange, media campaigns, and networking, to educate the public about opportunities to have mobility and clean air.

As a result, the agencies developed "It All Adds Up to Cleaner Air," a comprehensive public education and partnership building program to support regional, state and community efforts to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. The goal of the program is to expand the public's knowledge and understanding of the effects that their individual, daily transportation choices have on air quality and traffic congestion. The program has provided communities with guidance and technical assistance for developing a successful outreach campaign, a set of broadcast and print promotional materials, and limited funds to support program implementation. "It All Adds Up" delivers consistent, national themes that can be easily adapted and tailored to meet information needs in communities where traffic congestion, air pollution, and public health are concerns for area residents.

The "It All Adds Up" initiative has three main elements: community partnerships, high-quality marketing materials and resource toolkit, and a national coalition, the Alliance for Clean Air and Transportation (ACAT). As a result of ACAT collaboration, DOT and EPA have been able to work with the Ad Council to develop two television ads that promote environmentally sound transportation use (vehicle maintenance and tire inflation). The ads will begin airing nationally in September 2001 and may be requested for local customization. At the end of the PSAs, the Ad Council will include the ACAT logo and the "It All Adds Up to Cleaner Air" artwork. This work will provide our state and local partners with two new, high-quality TV ads produced by the Ad Council, which will assist them in placing the ads on their community television stations at no cost. For more information, contact or

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Engaging the Public Participation Process with a Visual Preference Survey

By Michael Chong, FHWA

As part of its Transportation Community and System Preservation (TCSP) grant, the Capitol Region Council of Governments, the MPO for Hartford, Connecticut, hired A. Neleseen Associates of Princeton, New Jersey to conduct a VPS to probe many of the issues of Smart Growth. The process is referred to as "Planning and Design by Democracy" and evaluated responses to different visual and spatial characteristics. Participants rated images from a +10 to a -10 based on the question, "How acceptable or unacceptable is the image you are seeing now and in the future for the Hartford Region?" An average value and a standard deviation were used to determine the relative acceptability or unacceptability of various development forms.

The VPS was used in three prototype areas:

Suffield (Rural Community - 1990 Median HH Income $50,714)

West Hartford (Suburban Community - 1990 Median HH Income $49,642)

Hartford Parkville Neighborhood (Urban Community - 1990 Median HH Income $19,864)

In addition, 573 persons completed the survey at a series of public meetings and in walk through displays, and 170 took the survey on the internet.

An evaluation of a range of regional conditions included 78 images that were divided into three sections based on the prototype communities.

The images with high average values and low standard deviations were considered to be the most appropriate and acceptable for incorporation into future municipal plans by those who participated in the survey. Negative images were indicative of areas of concern where the community perception is to avoid the conditions. The VPS is truly an innovative approach of planning by democracy where the community is placed in the driver's seat, and they feel that they have a decision in the future shape of their community.

VPS Walk Through Display

photo: A display tent in a parking lot with four people looking at the display.