The Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) held its annual conference in St. Louis last month. The two-and-a-half day conference included several highlights:
• The keynote speaker was Aaron Woolf, creator of the film Blueprint America: Beyond the Motor City which documents the history—and possible future—of transportation in Detroit, including “how Detroit may come to represent the future of transportation and progress in America.” The film was broadcast locally last month by WHRO TV on Oct. 21 and 28.
• In the Enhancing Freight Planning at MPOs session, Rolf Moeckel of Parsons Brinckerhoff discussed available freight data including FHWA’s Freight Analysis Framework (FAF). FAF includes an origin-destination database organized by FAF zone. Because there are only 130 FAF zones in the US, this database cannot be used for intra-metro freight movement analysis. In this freight session, Joe Waldo of IHS Global Insight discussed other freight data sources, both public—including the US Census’ Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey (VIUS), the USDOT’s Surface Transportation Board (STB) Carload Waybill Sample (rail), and the US Census’ Commodity Flow Survey (CFS)—and private—including IHS Global Insight’s Transearch Insight and U.S. Inland Trade Monitor (USITM) databases.
• In the New Challenges / New Approaches / New Collaborations session, Mike Kozlosky of the Wilmington (NC) MPO discussed the planned rehabilitation of Wilmington’s Market Street, an aging commercial corridor.
• In the Congestion Management session, Richard Backlund of FHWA discussed The Building Blocks of a Model Transportation Plan Incorporating Operations – A Desk Reference (FHWA 2010). In this congestion session, Andrew Canon of Hidalgo County (TX) MPO reported 1) that the INRIX company is an inexpensive source of speed data, and 2) that operations projects can be implemented more easily than lane-addition projects due to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements for the latter. Finally, Matthew Day of ICF International discussed the visualization techniques in An Interim Guidebook on the Congestion Management Process in Metropolitan Transportation Planning (USDOT 2008) including travel time contours, x-y graphs of corridor congestion (with location along y axis and time of day along x axis), and before and after videos.
• In the Integrating Land Use, Transportation, and Economic Development Planning session, Stephen Williams of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (Charlottesville) presented the efficacy of 1) using a project’s steering committee membership to build partnerships, and 2) using GIS to overlay plans of various agencies.
• In the Sustaining a Vision Over the Long Haul session, Hannah Twaddell of Renaissance Planning Group listed seven keys to the successful implementation of a vision: 1) foundation (i.e. strong foundation), 2) clarity, 3) champions, 4) ownership, 5) details, 6) dialogue, and 7) celebrate (e.g. celebrating small victories along the way). In this vision session, Mell Henderson of the Mid-America Regional Council told of a project for which inviting elected officials to appear in a TV advertisement resulted in those officials taking “ownership” of that project. And Maggie Mund of Parsons Brinckerhoff discussed using only income, as opposed to income and race, to define “environmental justice” communities.
• In the Livability in Transportation session, Scott Bernstein of the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) discussed the fact that livable neighborhoods allow households to have fewer vehicles, not necessarily zero vehicles.
• In the FHWA/FTA Town Hall session, Jim Cheatham of FHWA predicted that the next federal transportation authorization bill would apply performance-based planning first to pavement, bridges, and safety—areas with good existing data. He also indicated that the definition of “livability” depends on context (e.g. rural vs. urban). In addition, Victor Austin of FTA discussed that agency’s “Transit at the Table” initiative, and members of the audience discussed 1) using regional performance measures as a guide for picking projects, and 2) needing access to the FTA database known as TEAM in order to track project dollars.