Transportation Planning

The CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. got underway October 28 with a transportation-focused bus tour hosted by the Maryland Department of Transportation. The tour included a stop at the future site of the Takoma Park/Langley Transit Center (now the site of a Taco Bell) and a briefing on plans for the Purple Line light-rail project, an innovative transit public-private partnership. The tour also stopped at Mid-Pike Plaza in the White Flint area of Montgomery County, where a mixed-use, transit-oriented development is under construction. Attendees also traversed the length of MD200, the Intercounty Connector as MDOT officials discussed the financing and operation of the two-year old toll road that connects Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Below is a compendium of presentations and handouts from the tour as well as additional reading on some of the topics discussed.

Eleven state legislators from around the country, many of them transportation committee chairs in their respective states, attended the invitation-only CSG Transportation Policy Academy July 18-20, 2013 in Portland, Oregon. The event included an intensive briefing on Oregon’s pursuit of a mileage-based road user fee, tours that encompassed both the flow of commerce at the Port of Portland and transit-oriented development along the city’s South Waterfront, keynote addresses on the history of Portland’s approach to transportation and land use and how the Oregon Department of Transportation is evolving to meet the state’s needs, and a roundtable discussion that examined such topics as: the state of the nation’s infrastructure, the role of the business community in encouraging infrastructure investment, the role of metropolitan planning organizations, state efforts to seek new transportation revenues and the future of the federal-state-local partnership on transportation. Below are links to pages highlighting various aspects of the policy academy with additional photos, resources and further reading.

State legislators attending this July’s CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Portland, Oregon also had the opportunity to see some of the city as part of a tour organized by First Stop Portland, a Portland State University-housed organization that develops urban sustainability study programs for visiting delegations. Academy participants attended a luncheon at the Mirabella high rise retirement community where they heard remarks from local transportation officials and others. They also toured the transit-oriented South Waterfront, rode the Portland Aerial Tram and Portland Streetcar, saw a bridge currently under construction as part of the Portland-Milwaukie light rail extension that will serve the area and visited the construction site for a new academic campus for Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), one of the area’s largest employers.

The final panel at the CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Portland, Oregon focused on the future of the federal-state-local partnership in transportation. Among the speakers was Larry Ehl, the founder and publisher of Transportation Issues Daily, a nationally recognized blog on federal transportation issues. Ehl draws on more than 20 years as a government affairs and transportation professional including as Federal Relations Manager for the Washington State Department of Transportation, Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA) and Director of Corporate and Government Relations for the construction services company Fisher Companies, Inc. He talked about rural transportation concerns, complete streets policies and the search for new transportation revenues at the state and local levels.

The importance of infrastructure to economic development was the focus of remarks by Charlie Howard at the CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Portland, Oregon on July20th. Howard is Director of Integrated Planning at the Puget Sound Regional Council, a Metropolitan Planning Organization and Regional Transportation Planning Organization that helps to develop policies in regional growth management, transportation and economic development in the Seattle area. He told policy academy attendees how the Seattle region’s burgeoning population is informing what his agency does.

The opening dinner of CSG’s Transportation Policy Academy in Portland, Oregon included remarks by Jennifer Dill, Ph.D., professor in the School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University and Director of the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium. She introduced the group to the city of Portland and its unique approach to transportation and land use planning in a presentation entitled “Toward Sustainable Urban Mobility: Insights from Portland’s Journey.”

Republican Congressman David Joyce reached across the aisle this week to longtime “Complete Streets” supporter Democratic Congresswoman Doris Matsui to co-sponsor the Safe Streets Act of 2013. The bill reportedly contains language similar to that included in a 2011 bill introduced by Matsui. Complete streets policies like the Safe Streets Act seek to encourage the inclusion of design elements that make a transportation network more safe and practical for cyclists and pedestrians. The latest federal push for complete streets legislation comes after much activity at the state and local levels in recent years. With West Virginia being the most recent addition in 2013, 27 states and Puerto Rico all have one or more policies the National Complete Streets Coalition recognizes as complete streets policies.

Efforts by states and communities to move forward with infrastructure investment were among the reasons some areas of transportation saw improvement in recent years, according to a new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers that provides a treasure trove of information for state officials about exactly what the nation faces.

I’m about to head to Washington, D.C. for the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting (more on that below). But before I hit the road, I thought I would leave you with a few links to some recent transportation-related reports and articles that might be worthy of your time. I have items on mileage-based user fees, the future of tolling, speed limits, the road building industry forecast for 2013, transit-oriented development and how to communicate the value of preserving infrastructure.

Before I depart for the long holiday weekend, I thought I would pass along some transportation policy-related links you might want to peruse in between turkey sandwiches, Black Friday sales and endless football over the coming days. There are items below about some potential new transportation leaders in Washington, a starter list of states that might address transportation revenue needs next year, and more.

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