Engaging the transportation planners of the future

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by Whitney Morgan

On Feb. 18, the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) honored the legacy of Garrett A. Morgan and his contributions to the transportation industry by exposing some young area students to the work of transportation planners, engineers, architects and others. COMTO hosts the Garrett A. Morgan Shadow Day each year to encourage young people to pursue transportation-related careers and help grow and sustain a workforce to meet the technical demands of the 21st century.

As part of the Shadow Day, 12 students visited the MARC offices to learn about urban and transportation planning from Whitney Morgan and Steven Lachky, two of MARC’s transportation planners. Students also learned about engineering and infrastructure design from Leonard Graham (Taliaferro & Browne) and Vernal Stewart (SE3). The students later visited the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, and Metro Transit Centers at 10th and Main and 7th and Minnesota.

The transportation industry can provide great career opportunities for young people, and the demand for both traditional and new skills is expanding. As many experienced members of the transportation workforce approach retirement, the need for skilled, technical workers will grow. Transportation-related industries offer career opportunities for young people in planning, engineering and other related fields. MARC was pleased to participate in the Garrett A. Morgan Shadow Day and share information with local students about these opportunities.

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MARC Board approves regional bikeway plan

KCRBP_cvr_visionOn Jan. 27, the MARC Board adopted the Kansas City Regional Bikeway Plan. The bikeway plan, when completed, would create a network of on- and off-road facilities for bicycle riders that crosses multiple cities and counties in the bistate region. The plan creates a network of more than 2,000 miles and works to promote active transportation and mobility choices for residents.

City, county and state personnel participated in Steering Committee sessions and Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meetings to review priority corridors, current planning efforts and the direction of the plan along with MARC staff and the consultant team. Area residents also added input during a series of open house meeting and through use of an online WikiMap tool.

The Greater Kansas City Regional Bikeway Plan outlines benefits of a regional bikeway, reviews current facilities and gaps, introduces a model/scoring system for priorities and looks at a range of corridor classifications along with costs for per-mile implementation. Looking toward project implementation the plan looks at best practices, the five Es (engineering, education, enforcement, encouragement and evaluation), facility maintenance and financial direction.

Going forward, MARC will use this plan as a guide to work and partner with local governments and area stakeholders to provide a connected bikeway system across the region. The plan provides recommendations for:

  • A prioritized network of regional bikeways.
  • Regional planning and coordination.
  • Data collection and technical capacities.
  • Education and encouragement campaigns.
  • Enforcement efforts.
  • Encouraging national designation applications, such as Bicycle Friendly Community.

The plan, along with supplemental resources and county-level maps, is available online at marc.org/bikeplan.

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KCATA and Johnson County Transit make partnership official

KCATA_JCT_ConsolidationOn Dec. 17, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and Johnson County signed a two-year agreement that allows KCATA to provide administrative and management services for Johnson County Transit. The Johnson County Board of County Commission approved the agreement on Dec. 11.

This official partnership and consolidation of services is expected to save Johnson County about $455,000 while positioning KCATA for a stronger role in coordinating regional services. In advance of the agreement, the two organizations conducted a study with results that supported management consolidation.

At a signing ceremony this week, Ed Eilert (left), chairman of the Johnson County Board of Commissioners and Robbie Makinen (right), chair of the KCATA Board of Directors, made the partnership official.

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We want your input

comment bubblesPeriodically, MARC seeks public comments on transportation planning efforts and major amendments to transportation plans. Our public input page provides details about how to submit your comments. All comments will be documented and reviewed by MARC’s Total Transportation Policy Committee.

We are currently seeking public feedback on one transportation-related program:

2015 1st  Quarter Amendment to the 2014–2018 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)
(comments due by Monday, Jan. 5, 2015)

The TIP is an important, short-term planning document that helps budget funds for significant transportation improvements in the region. It identifies significant projects that receive federal funds which will be implemented over the next three to five years. MARC amends the TIP on a quarterly basis to allow for the addition of new projects and changes to existing projects in the TIP.

The proposed amendment to the 2014–2018 TIP includes 12 projects: nine new projects and three modifications, including:

  • #627002 and #634070 —Projects in Grandview and Jackson County, Missouri, recommended for Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) funding.
  • #180073 — Intersection improvements at U.S. Highway 73 and Marion in Leavenworth, Kansas.
  • #738108 — Sugarland Drive improvements in Pleasant Hill, Missouri.

Details of the projects are available online at www.marc.org/Transportation/Plans-Studies/Transportation-Plans-and-Studies/TIP/TIP-AmendmentArchive/Archive-assets/15Q1amend.aspx

Please submit your comments by Monday, Jan. 5, 2015.

  • By mail:  Mid-America Regional Council,  600 Broadway, Suite 200,  Kansas City, MO 64105
  • By phone: 816-474-4240
  • By fax:  816-421-7758
  • By email: transportation@marc.org

Additional information about the MARC transportation planning process can be found in A Guide to Transportation Decision-Making and MARC’s Public Participation Plan.

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We want your feedback

comment bubblesThroughout the year, MARC seeks public comments on transportation planning efforts and major planning amendments. We are currently seeking feedback on two items related to the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP). The UPWP is an annual planning document that promotes a regional approach to transportation planning in order to achieve regional transportation goals and objectives.

In short, the UPWP:

  • Details major transportation projects, with information about who will perform the work, project schedule, activity goals and project budget.
  • Documents the proposed spending of federal, state and local funds.
  • Compiles information from local governments, area transit providers and the state departments of transportation.

The Draft 2015 Unified Planning Work Program

Major initiatives proposed for 2015 UPWP include responses to MAP-21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act; completion of the Transportation Outlook 2040 update; continuation of the Planning Sustainable Places initiative; analysis of regional transportation performance measures; development of the 2016–2020 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP); and a Bus Rapid Transit study for Prospect Avenue. A complete list of major goals and initiatives is outlined on the transportation public input webpage.

Amendment #4 for the 2014 Unified Planning Work Program

This amendment includes:

  • Revision of task 2.5, Transportation Research and Database Management: reduction of staff expenditures (funding decrease of $20,000).
  • Revision of task 1.1, Program Administration: funding for equipment replacement (funding increase of $20,000).
  • Addition of task 6.9, KC Workforce CONNEX: MARC and its area transit partners were awarded a $1.2 million TIGER (Transportation Improvements Generating Economic Recovery) grant for a study to double the number of jobs accessible by transit over 10 years.
  • Adjustment of the MARC operating expense budget in Appendix C, Schedule 3 to reflect changes in tasks 1.1 and 2.2, as described above.

Please submit your comments by Thursday, Nov. 6.

  • By mail:  Mid-America Regional Council,  600 Broadway, Suite 200,  Kansas City, MO 64105
  • By phone: 816-474-4240
  • By fax:  816-421-7758
  • By email: transportation@marc.org

Additional information about MARC’s transportation planning process can be found in A Guide to Transportation Decision-Making and our Public Participation Plan.

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Transportation funding recommendations recently announced

Funding_wheel_smThis month, the MARC Board of directors will consider a recommendation from the Total Transportation Policy Committee (TTPC) to fund more than $100 million in area transportation projects.

The process began in March with a call for projects for transportation funds from three sources: 2015–2018 Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality funds, 2017–2018 Surface Transportation Program funds and 2014–2018 Transportation Alternatives funds. MARC received 181 applications seeking $410 million — about four times the anticipated funds available.

Committee stakeholders participated in a June workshop to evaluate project applications and make recommendations.  “This was a very competitive process and our committees spent many sessions deliberating,” said Missouri TTPC co-chair David Bower.

Programming committees made final recommendations with at least partial funding for 94 transportation-related projects around the region.  A list is available online.

“These recommendations reflect a balanced distribution of modes, project types and geographical  locations and are well-aligned with the planning committees’ priorities and regional policy goals,” said Kansas TTPC co-chair Chuck Adams.

The funding recommendations were announced in September, followed by a period for public review and comment before final decisions are made by TTPC and the MARC Board.

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Region receives $1.2 million TIGER grant

kc_wf_connex_smInitiative will explore expanding job access through transit improvements

In September, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $1.2 million TIGER (Transportation Improvements Generating Economic Recovery) planning grant to MARC and its regional transit partners.  This grant, along with local matching funds, will finance KC Workforce CONNEX, which will outline plans to double the number of jobs accessible by public transit over the next 10 years.

MARC applied for the TIGER grant on behalf of the Regional Transit Coordinating Council, RTCC – a partnership of MARC, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, Johnson County Transit, Independence Transit and Unified Government Transit.

A recent Brookings Institution report found that only 18 percent of jobs in the Kansas City region can currently be reached by transit trips in 90 minutes or less. The KC Workforce CONNEX study,  expected to begin in early 2015 and last 18 months, will use employment and population forecasts to help create a balanced regional strategy that will provide more transportation options and strengthen people-to-jobs connections across the region using a four-part strategy:

  • Identify high-priority areas where improvements will have the most impact.
  • Expand the region’s existing corridor framework, connecting more suburban employment centers.
  • Engage employers and community organizations in planning through extensive public engagement and outreach.
  • Use technical tools to evaluate specific strategies and recommendations in targeted, high-impact areas.
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2014 Planning Sustainable Places: By the Numbers

Applications for Planning Sustainable Places grant funds are currently under review. This competitive grant program, launched in 2013 as part of the Creating Sustainable Places initiative, funds planning projects that help advance sustainable development objectives.

The Total Transportation Policy Committee will vote on grant awards in November, and successful applicants are expected to begin their projects in January 2015.

PSP_numbers

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Updated NRI planning tools now available

NRIIdeabookMapstack__landcover_smThe Natural Resource Inventory, originally compiled by MARC in 2005 and updated this year, includes a suite of planning tools and publications, including detailed, high-resolution land cover data and maps that can help inform environmental, development and planning decisions across the Kansas City region.

Two new books, published in June, illustrate how the NRI can help local governments evaluate policy, land use and development decisions.

  • The Nature of Greater Kansas City — Conservation, Restoration and Enhancement of Our Land, introduces the concepts behind the NRI and is geared toward a general audience. The fourth in MARC’s Idea Book series, it provides a high-level overview of the value of the NRI data in promoting stewardship of natural assets and achieving the quality of life expected by residents and businesses.
  • The Nature of Nature in Greater Kansas City — Using Natural Resource Inventory Data in Planning delves into the technical aspects of the NRI, with detailed maps that feature topographic information, ecosystem services analysis, conservation and restoration priorities, and are overlaid with additional data layers such as transportation corridors and greenways, both existing and planned, and population growth forecasts – providing an in-depth look into potential applications of NRI data sets.

These tools will be valuable in linking future land-use and impact on transportation planning. Both publications are currently available on the NRI downloads page at marc.org/nri. The page also contains links to download the NRI data, in geodatabase and layer file formats suitable for use with GIS software.

Staff contacts: Tom Jacobs, tjacobs@marc.org, or Andrea Repinsky, arepinsky@marc.org.

 

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Transportation Matters 2040 process update

TO2040_MayMeeting_7627_blogThe revision of the Metropolitan Transportation Plan is in full swing. MARC’s transportation committees are rolling out individual drafts of the chapters to modal and planning committees. Committee members will have the chance to offer input over the next couple of months and review content to ensure it supports the region’s transportation goals. Draft content can be found on committee webpages, as chapters become available.

Back in May, regional stakeholders gave input on modal regional transportation priorities and in June, the Total Transportation Policy Committee approved a list of highway project priorities for Missouri. MARC’s committees will work this fall to create and approve the project lists for Kansas highway projects as well as other transportation modes. All priority lists will be included as part of the plan update.

The final Transportation Outlook 2040 update is expected to be presented to the Total Transportation Policy Committee in 2015 and will be available for review.

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