MassDOT is among a growing number of state agencies tackling sustainability efforts in the transportaiton section and its approach offers valuable lessons for others. number of state agencies tackling this issue and its approach offers valuable lessons for others. This paper traces the evolution of MassDOT’s sustainability efforts, beginning with its revised Project Development and Design Guide, published in 2006, and ultimately encapsulated in its ongoing GreenDOT program, launched in 2010. These efforts represent the combined actions of state legislators, agency leaders, and personnel at all levels of MassDOT.
As federal government mulls performance measures, the TTI congestion report returns
The timing is apparently coincidental, but the Texas Transportation Institute issued its latest estimate of traffic congestion costs in late August, just as US DOT seems to be finishing work on its MAP-21-mandated performance measures on congestion and system performance. Because it is easy to understand, describes a common experience, and is formatted in a series of lists, it is perfectly suited for uncritical press coverage. However, the press attention and catholic policy orientation notwithstanding, the TTI approach is widely criticized on both technical and conceptual grounds.
Virginia adopts multimodal, competitive project scoring process
Last year Virginia enacted legislation to select state-supported transportation projects through a multimodal, competitive process. The law prescribed five areas to be considered in the scoring, along with project cost: congestion mitigation, economic development, accessibility, safety, environmental quality and land use. The relative weights of those elements, and details of how to assess project benefits in those categories, were left to the rulemaking process, which concluded June 17.
Caltrans’ strategic plan embraces multimodalism, sustainability
The nation’s largest state DOT, Caltrans, signaled a strong move toward multimodalism, sustainability, and customer focus in a new strategic management plan released last week. The plan, which comprises a series of performance measures, represents a step away from traditional automobile infrastructure-centric views of DOT work. As Director Malcolm Dougherty notes in his introduction, this shift follows previous work to refocus the department’s mission.
Transportation engineers question the use of common practices and metrics
This month, for at least the second time in a year, the Institute of Transportation Engineers has challenged its members to rethink common practices and metrics that are often thought of as objective and unbiased, but that convey values that aren’t necessarily in line with the greater public interest. In particular, these values emphasize the movement of vehicles above all other interests.
Beyond mobility—prioritizing accessibility in urban transportation
The San Francisco Transit Accessibility Map is a new online tool showing how much of the city is accessible by transit or walking within a selected travel time. Although the map is useful as is, it also presents an enormous opportunity to develop a richly layered analysis that could be used to understand accessibility more broadly by adding data on non-work as well as work destinations. It could also highlight the need to improve accessibility for underserved areas.
GreenDOT implementation: Putting policy into practice
MassDOT’s ambitious GreenDOT program has released the first in a series of “data- and performance-driven progress reports.” The report, released in December, documents the key policy shifts, performance measures, and changes in the project selection and prioritization processes that are helping MassDOT achieve its sustainability goals.
Pasadena development review moves away from auto delay and toward auto miles traveled
The Southern California city of Pasadena is revising transportation performance measures it uses in development review, downplaying highway level of service and emphasizing vehicle miles traveled and multimodalism. The Pasadena reforms come at a time when the state of California, in pursuance of SB 743 (2013), is also moving away from LOS-based environmental mitigation, which has sometimes added substantial costs to desired infill development.
Oregon DOT preparing new tool to align investments with state transportation goals
Transportation agencies are broadening their mission statements and long-range plans to focus on issues such as livability, sustainability, equity, and economic vitality in addition to their historical focuses on mobility. Oregon DOT recently developed Mosaic, a least-cost planning tool that accounts for each of those goals.
Toward performance-based development of urban trail networks
The Trail Modeling and Assessment Platform (T-MAP) project, an effort led by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), will create a performance-based urban trail development toolkit for planners, policy makers, and advocates. T-MAP offers a set of data collection instruments, methodologies, and analysis tools that will transform the way planners, policy makers, and the public think about and develop trails and trail networks.