Thursday, August 31, 2017

How Seattle Is Accommodating Population Growth And Sustaining Economic Growth While Maintaining Quality Of Life

In cities, towns and suburbs like Seattle all across the country, local leaders are responding to new economic challenges with innovative plans for their transportation networks, including taxing themselves to make their visions a reality. But they can’t do it alone and need strong federal and state partners to make it work.
Set aside some time to read this long profile of what’s been happening in Seattle — which includes their enormous measure on November’s ballot, where voters will decide whether or not to bring the next phase of their regional transit expansion to life.
Read the rest of the story here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Do Our Federal Transportation Priorities Match The Rhetoric We Use To Justify More Spending?

The President’s first budget will almost certainly propose big cuts to discretionary spending programs. While the bulk of annual federal transportation spending is sourced from the highway trust fund and should be more insulated from these cuts, discretionary cuts would fall disproportionately on funding for new transit construction (New and Small Starts) and multimodal and local priority projects (TIGER).
House and Senate appropriators will have two decisions to make: a) whether to appropriate the amounts prescribed by the current long-term transportation law (the FAST Act) for the core programs, which is uncertain as well, and, b) how much to allocate for these other discretionary transportation programs.
Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

One Of The Most Important Parts Of Bike Infrastructure Is Invisible

Since its founding 50 years ago, the top U.S. agency for investigating transportation injuries had been suprisingly quiet about a phenomenon that's behind 30 percent of U.S. traffic fatalities.
Like much of the country's transportation safety establishment, the National Transportation Safety Board had frequently avoided the subject of the speed of private cars. It did so even though the issue has been coming up since the very first collision the agency investigated, in Joliet, Illinois, in 1967.
Avoided the subject until this month, that is.
In a groundbreaking report released last week, the federal agency laid the foundations for a major rethinking of transportation safety practices. The big idea in short, as Kathleen Ferrier puts it: "speed kills."
Read the rest of the story here.

Monday, August 28, 2017

I-66-Route 15 Diverging Diamond Intersecton Complete In Northern Virginia

HAYMARKET – The Virginia Department of Transportation, Town of Haymarket and Prince William County celebrated the completion of Northern Virginia’s first diverging-diamond interchange (DDI) this morning at I-66 and Route 15 that will relieve congestion, enhance safety, operations and capacity, as well as accommodate forecasted traffic demand in the area.
The DDI’s innovative design shifts vehicles to the opposite side of the road and eliminates left turns that cross oncoming traffic. Traffic signals at each end of the interchange reduce time spent at red lights and move twice the number of vehicles as a traditional diamond interchange. VDOT has completed DDIs in Louisa and Roanoke, and has two more in the works in Stafford and Blacksburg. 
This project constructed two longer bridges to carry Route 15 over I-66 with two crossover intersections. It widened the bridges from two lanes to three, and also included:
  • Ramp improvements, including a spur ramp to ease traffic flow from westbound I-66 to northbound Route 15 to westbound Heathcote Boulevard.
  • Improvements on Route 15 from just north of the railroad tracks to just south of Heathcote Boulevard
  • Wider intersections on Route 15 at Heathcote Boulevard and Route 55, adding turn lanes to both.
  • A 10-foot-wide shared-use path on the east side of Route 15 for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Aesthetic treatment of the bridge walls that pay homage to nearby Chapman Mill.
The $59 million project began in Sept. 2015 and was completed on-time and on-budget, under a design-build contract by Lane Construction Corporation of Chantilly.
Traffic on Route 15 averages 35,000 vehicles a day and 60,000 vehicles a day in this area of I-66.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Prioritizing Public Health To Build Prosperous Regions

A new package of case studies released today by T4America, in partnership with the American Public Health Association, showcases a range of strategies that metro area planning agencies can use to strengthen the local economy, improve public health outcomes for all of their residents, promote social equity and better protect the environment.

Today, we’re launching Measuring what we value: Prioritizing public health to build prosperous regions, four short case studies that extend our previous workon data-driven decision-making for choosing transportation projects.
Download the four case studies below.

A growing number of the metro leaders, elected officials and citizens we talk to are asking questions like: can the people in neighborhoods more likely to be unhealthy easily get out for a walk or bike ride without having to traverse dangerous streets? Do our regional planners effectively consider the impacts on regional air quality as we choose which projects to build? Is the area putting forward the most competitive possible projects to win limited state or federal funding for walking and biking?
Read the rest of the story here.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

House & Senate Reject President’s Request To End All Federally Supported Transit Construction

Over the last week, House and Senate committees have both passed transportation budget bills for the upcoming year. While the House made a few cuts, the Senate flatly rejected President Trump’s requests to eliminate the TIGER grant program, halt all new federally supported transit construction, and slash passenger rail service.
After a budget deal was struck in May that avoided most cuts for the rest of this year, negotiations begun on the budget for the 2018 fiscal year which starts this October. This means appropriations committees in both the House and Senate setting funding levels for transportation programs for next year, including the discretionary programs that the Trump administration has targeted for cuts (i.e., those not funded by the Highway Trust Fund.)
In the span of the last week, House and Senate appropriations committees & subcommittees have finalized and voted to approve spending bills for the upcoming year. And while the House did make some cuts, the Senate appropriators unanimously repudiated many of the president’s budget requests for transportation and even made an interesting change when it comes to selecting the best TIGER grant applications.
Read the rest of the story here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Cell Phones Are Not What’s Causing America’s Epidemic Of Pedestrian Fatalities

More people drove in 2016 than in 2015, according to new data released this week by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Alongside that increase was a disproportionately high rise in pedestrian fatalities — a trend that the authors attribute to increases in distracted driving and distracted walking.
This analysis is wrongheaded, and blames individuals for what is a systemic problem. The way we design and build streets is a fundamental part of whether people can walk safely along a road or whether they are at risk for being struck and killed. Street design does not seem to be a priority for GHSA — but it should be.

Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Let’s Get Excited About Maintenance!

It’s been a bad summer for maintenance, especially in New York. Last month Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, underscoring a problem that New York subway riders understand all too well: The M.T.A. relies heavily on emergency repairs because it does not conduct sufficient preventive upkeep. Likewise, in the wake of two recent derailments that caused major disruptions, Pennsylvania Station this month closed aging tracks for repairs and reduced the number of trains serving the station — another example of the costs of neglecting maintenance.
Sadly, the neglect of maintenance is not limited to New York, public transit or this summer. All varieties of American infrastructure — roads, bridges, airports, sewers — are in decrepit condition. Lead poisons the water systems of Flint, Mich., and hundreds of other cities and towns across the nation. The American Society of Civil Engineers considers 17 percent of American dams to be “high hazard potential,” including the one outside Oroville, Calif., that nearly collapsed in February.
Read the rest of the story at the New York Times.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Cell Phones Don’t Make Walking Dangerous — Car-Based Cities Do

All the hype about cell phone use being to blame for pedestrian deaths doesn’t hold up when you review the data. To get a sense of the real sources of risk for people on foot, it helps to look at where fatal crashes happen, because fatality rates have a very strong geographic component. That’s true both within cities — where fatalities tend to be concentrated on a relative small share of streets — and from city to city.

new study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee finds huge disparities in the risk of walking and biking between different American cities. The likelihood of being killed is about five times higher in the most dangerous regions than in the safest ones.

Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Smart Cities Collaborative Rolls On As Cities Get Down To The Nuts And Bolts

We’re just past the halfway mark of the yearlong Smart Cities Collaborative we launched last fall in partnership with Sidewalk Labs. And, thanks to support from the Knight FoundationThe Miami Foundation, and Miami-Dade County, teams from all 16 cities gathered in person for the third time to discuss their pilot projects, meet with new mobility vendors, and continue collaborating with each other as they seek to leverage new technologies to improve mobility and quality of life in their communities.
In Miami, we turned the focus back on the cities and devoted a full day to each city sharing a ten-minute presentation on their particular pilot project and action plan.
Read the rest of the story here.

Monday, August 7, 2017

NTSB: Speed Kills, And We’re Not Doing Enough To Stop It

More than 112,500 people lost their lives in speed-related crashes from 2005 to 2014, accounting for 31 percent of all traffic deaths in America over that period. In a draft report released earlier this week, the National Transportation Safety Board says excessive speed is a deadly problem in our nation’s transportation system — one that federal and state officials aren’t doing enough to address.

The recommendations presented at an NTSB board meeting on Tuesday represent a breakthrough for the agency, which is known for investigating plane and railroad disasters. Traffic crashes are less spectacular but cumulatively much more dangerous, claiming tens of thousands of lives each year. When the agency does turn to road safety, it has tended to focus on impaired driving and seat belt use. A thorough look at the dangers of speeding and how to prevent it is a welcome departure.

Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Jim’s Journeys … Traveling the TTA Highway

Hey everybody!  What a busy summer it has been. The Virginia LTAP has had a full workshop schedule so far this summer. In June and July we conducted over 29 workshops, at ten different locations, including private training workshops in Fairfax, Arlington and Virginia Beach.
In mid-July the VA LTAP, in collaboration with other LTAP centers from the Mid-Atlantic region, co-hosted the 2017 NLTAPA Conference in Portsmouth. I was asked to participate in one of the breakout sessions called Innovative Outreach Measures. Joining me on stage was Matt Carter (DE LTAP) and Carly Keane (MD LTAP). We discussed our best practices on reaching the forgotten locals. I spoke with other LTAP representatives about my monthly journeys to remote townships and counties, with workshop materials in tow, inquiring about their training needs. The most gratifying aspects of my travels throughout Virginia are building strong relationships and working partnerships with our locals.
So what’s new? We’re working with Bob Pettit, VDOT State Training Operations Manager, and Ed Stellfox, VA LTAP instructor and civil engineer, to bring a revised Winter Maintenance Operations training workshop to our locals this fall. Please be sure to check our website for locations where this training will be taking place.
I will be back out facilitating classes until mid-August, and will hopefully squeeze in a few visits to our locals. If you would like me to come by and talk about your transportation needs or the types of training we provide, please send me an email at and we’ll see about setting up a visit.
If you already have training in mind and want to set up a class, please contact Robin Carpenter at and she will get you what you need!
Be safe out there this summer and I’ll see you on the TTA Highway!

How Tech Giants Can Actually Fix LA's Transportation Problems

“What if, instead of working together to outsmart traffic, we found a way to just get rid of it?” claims the website of Waze Carpool, a new service that just launched in Los Angeles with the goal of “ending traffic.”
Tech companies keep coming up with old ideas for solving LA transportation problems. It’s not just Waze that’s to blame. Elon Musk is reinventing the subway beneath our feet. There’s Lyft’s new Shuttle, which, as many people have noticed, is literally a bus. And a “moving hotel” taking passengers from LA to San Francisco, which is also literally a bus.
Transit advocates get frustrated every time they hear an announcement like this, and for good reason. Tech companies tout their “solutions” as better than the city’s, and they often are more convenient—so convenient that they might have already lured riders and fares away that would have helped improve the public transit options. Ridership is down in most major cities in the U.S., including LA, leaving gaps in service and holes in budgets. Routes have been cut in many neighborhoods and maintenance problems are plaguing systems due to the financial shortfall.
Tech companies have made Angelenos believe that with the right app, the right discount code, or a smarter vehicle, we can cheat the system when it comes to transportation.
None of these solutions will work—including the shiny promise of hyper-efficient autonomous vehicles—until we get a lot more cars off LA’s roads.
Read the rest of the story here.