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 and review.

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Congratulations to KCATA and Kansas City, Missouri residents

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe Kansas City Area Transportation Authority received a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and a $300,000 match from the city of Kansas City, Missouri. The KCATA will help create a “Ladders of Opportunity” along the Prospect Avenue corridor by adding rider amenities, updating sidewalk and curb infrastructure along with the addition of bus shelters and benches.

Dick Jarrold of KCATA is pictured here with U.S. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx who received a personalized Metro Stop on Monday, Sept. 29.

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RTCC making progress on regional “to do” list in its first year

RTCC_Septmtg_0735smIn September 2013, the Regional Transit Coordinating Council (RTCC) launched with many goals in mind for its first year. The RTCC brings together key stakeholders and decision-makers from local governments and all of the transit agencies in the Greater Kansas City region to help create a more seamless, regional transit experience for riders.

Accomplishments to date:

  • Since April 2014, riders have been able to use Johnson County Transit’s 31-day pass* as a universal pass, honored on The JO, KCATA, IndeBus and Unified Government Transit buses.
  • A regional transit map showing routes for all four systems was developed earlier this year. Plans are currently under way to create a printed map, including a frequent network map that highlights corridors that have service every 15-30 minutes throughout the day, for regional distribution.
  • All four area transit systems are now using General Transit Feed Specification — a common format for public transportation schedules and associated geographic information. In short, this means riders in the Kansas City metro can find routes for all four services using Google Transit.
  • The RTCC worked on developing a regional transit brand and identity with Willoughby Design. Concepts were shared with various transportation committees and with the public in a transit stakeholder forum earlier this year. The RTCC hopes to approve and adopt a new brand in early 2015. The branding would eventually be applied to buses, signage/bus stops, fare cards, maps and more.
  • As KCATA undergoes a redesign of its website, it will be designed to serve as a single regional transit website with integrated information from all area transit services. The site will carry the regional transit brand once it is adopted.
  • Mobility management planning was launched to improve the delivery of transportation services for passengers with special needs, create a uniform eligibility process, and centralize trip planning through a one-call/one-click call and dispatch center. KCATA and MARC staff presented a work plan to the RTCC at its July meeting.

In addition, RTCC members are working to finalize the council’s work plan for 2015 and expect to approve the plan in November. Key tasks include:

  • Conduct a regional study of transit fares and fare policies, and propose a strategy to implement a new fare payment system.
  • Continue region-wide mobility management planning.
  • Update the SmartMoves plan, the Kansas City regional transit vision that was last updated in 2008.
  • Oversee KC Workforce Connex efforts to develop a plan that will double transit-to-employment connections in 10 years. This 18-month project received a $1.2 million in TIGER planning grant in September.
  • Expand the vanpool program across the region.
  • Address current funding policies and develop a strategy for future transit investment.

The RTCC is co-chaired by Robbie Makinen, chair of the KCATA, and Brian McKiernan, commissioner of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas. RTCC partners include KCATA, Johnson County Transit, Independence Transit, Unified Government Transit, and the Kansas City Streetcar Authority. The Mobility Advisory Council (MAC) and the Transit Stakeholder Forum are advisory bodies to the RTCC.

*Some bus routes excluded, as noted online.

Staff contact: kclawson@marc.org

Follow us at @kcsmartmoves.

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Kansas City area schools set to join International Walk to School Day on Oct. 8

GroupWalking_blogStudents, parents, families and educators across the Kansas City regional will walk to school on Wednesday, Oct. 8 as part of International Walk to School Day. In 2013, 38 area schools participated in Walk to School Day, and we hope that number increases this year.

Walk to School Day events help to stress the importance of creating safe routes for children to walk and bicycle to schools. Events help emphasize positive benefits of walking — creating a sense of community, increasing physical activity and using alternative modes of transportation to driving.

Many area schools will hold special events on Oct. 8 and throughout the week to celebrate IWTS Day along with over 4,000 elementary schools across the country.

As there may be an increase in walking and biking activity around schools throughout the week, drivers are strongly encouraged to use good driving practices in neighborhoods with children and in school zones.

  • Be attentive and keep your eyes on the road.
  • Do not text and drive.
  • Obey posted speed limits, including reduced speeds near schools.
  • Yield to children crossing the street and crosswalks.

MARC and our nonprofit partner BikeWalkKC encourage all elementary schools in the Kansas City metropolitan area to participate in this important global event. We hope your school, parents and students will participate in International Walk to School Day and we look forward to working with you to encourage safe, active forms of transportation — both on Oct. 8 and throughout the school year.

Additional walking information is available:

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2014 Green Commute Challenge saves 539,193 commuter miles

GCC_forblogby Matt Davis

August 29 marked the end of the seventh annual Green Commute Challenge. This event challenges businesses and commuters from around the region to use alternative forms of transportation for work commutes. The goal is to introduce commuters to new transportation options while helping to protect air quality by reducing emissions. Participants may choose to carpool, take the bus, bike, or walk to work and are eligible to win prizes for their efforts.

This year’s challenge included 28 teams with 421 participants. This group of committed individuals reduced driving by 539,193 miles and prevented 393,723 pounds of emissions. Collectively, we saved $101,387 in driving costs — more than $240 per person!

The RideShare team would like to thank our silver-level sponsors — UMB, Commerce and Hallmark; our bronze-level sponsor — VRide; and all of our prize donors. We appreciate the support of these organizations that help bring this great event to the Kansas City region each year.

 The RideShare team would also like to thank all of the individuals and organizations who participated in this year’s challenge. Your hard work and dedication helps make the Green Commute Challenge such a successful annual event. We hope to have you all back next year!

Next year, the Green Commute Challenge will run from June 1–August 31. If your company would like to participate, keep in touch on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ridesharekc or stay connected through our website, www.ridesharekc.org.

For more information about the RideShare program, please email rideshare@marc.org or call 816-842-RIDE (7433).

To find out about final team challenge rankings, visit the results page online.

The Green Commute Challenge is sponsored by the RideShare and Air Quality programs at Mid-America Regional Council.

 

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New freight option available soon in the Kansas City region

PAKCMOEarlier this week the Port Authority of Kansas City, Missouri, announced that it will reopen its Woodswether Terminal in partnership with Kaw Valley Companies as the new operator. The port has been closed for seven years. This public-private partnership will provide an improved, efficient freight movement service that will benefit Kansas City, Missouri, and the surrounding region.

The revitalized operations will allow for an additional freight transportation option — along the Missouri River — using the less congested inland waterways and existing infrastructure of the port.  Just last year, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced the designation of M-29 (the stretch of the Missouri River from Kansas City, Mo., to Sioux City, Iowa) as part of the Marine Highway Program. The Port Authority of Kansas City, Missouri, applied for this marine highway designation to allow transport of cargo on water routes, which can enhance safety and reduce pollution and congestion on roadways. Other marine highways serving the Kansas City region include M-70, the Missouri River from Kansas City to the Mississippi River at St. Louis, and M-55, the Mississippi River from St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico.

Port Authority leaders see the reopening as an opportunity for our waterway resources to become a regional economic catalyst, helping to support and expand rail and road shipping services in the region. The group’s mission is to promote the economic vitality of Kansas City, Missouri, through trade, commerce and transportation.

The Port Authority of Kansas City, Missouri, is represented by voting members on MARC’s Total Transportation Policy Committee and Goods Movement Committee.

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