5
Capacity Focus Area

SHRP 2 Capacity program goal: To develop approaches and tools for systematically integrating environmental, economic, and community requirements into the analysis, planning, and design of new highway capacity.

Growth in automobile and truck vehicle miles traveled has consumed much of the road capacity constructed during the Interstate era; major forces described in Chapter 1 are at work in some areas of the country demanding more transportation capacity. Much of this capacity will be provided by highways, even with aggressive transit investment and more aggressive management of existing highways through value pricing, improved traveler information, in-vehicle telematics, removal of bottlenecks, and ramp metering. Creating new highway capacity will have significant environmental and social impacts. Without changes, additional travel will exacerbate the nation’s oil importation problems, increase greenhouse gas emissions, affect wildlife habitats, and disrupt communities. The public will insist on a convincing environmental, economic, and social justification for the investment required to expand highways—including demonstration that all of the capacity possible has been obtained from existing highways and arterial streets—and on a heightened level of environmental stewardship by highway agencies.

SHRP 2 CAPACITY RESEARCH

SHRP 2 Capacity research projects address the above challenges. Support from many players is required to build a new highway or complete a major capacity expansion. Collaborative decision making is essential



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5 Capacity Focus Area SHRP 2 Capacity program goal: To develop approaches and tools for system- atically integrating environmental, economic, and community requirements into the analysis, planning, and design of new highway capacity. G rowth in automobile and truck vehicle miles traveled has consumed much of the road capacity constructed during the Interstate era; major forces described in Chapter 1 are at work in some areas of the country demand- ing more transportation capacity. Much of this capacity will be provided by highways, even with aggressive transit investment and more aggressive management of existing highways through value pricing, improved traveler information, in-vehicle telematics, removal of bottlenecks, and ramp meter- ing. Creating new highway capacity will have significant environmental and social impacts. Without changes, additional travel will exacerbate the nation’s oil importation problems, increase greenhouse gas emissions, affect wildlife habitats, and disrupt communities. The public will insist on a convincing environmental, economic, and social justification for the investment required to expand highways—including demonstration that all of the capacity pos- sible has been obtained from existing highways and arterial streets—and on a heightened level of environmental stewardship by highway agencies. shrp 2 capacity research SHRP 2 Capacity research projects address the above challenges. Sup- port from many players is required to build a new highway or complete a major capacity expansion. Collaborative decision making is essential 77

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78 implementing the results of the second strategic highway research program to success, supported by an effective strategy for enhancing the envi- ronment, improving economic vitality, and achieving social goals (see Box 5-1). Also needed are tools for estimating the outcomes of decisions and communicating those expected outcomes to the public and deci- sion makers. Implementation of the results of these efforts will require commitment to change by the nation’s departments of transportation Box 5-1 grand rapids, michigan, us-131 s-curve replacement This project is an example of a collaborative decision-making process in which the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Grand Valley Metro Council (a metropolitan planning organization), the chamber of commerce, local Indian tribes, adjacent property owners, and commuters formed a partnership for compromise and success. In 1998 MDOT discovered that a pier supporting a downtown bridge was sinking. An “as is” replacement strategy was not acceptable to the community; many preferred to have the S-curved bridge straightened for safety and capacity reasons. This solution was not feasible because of cost and right-of-way con- straints. MDOT proposed a widened, safer, and more aesthetically pleasing S-curve structure, with demolition and reconstruction being accomplished in one season. Businesses and the public compromised on the design but felt that the one-season plan was tantamount to closing the downtown area. MDOT ini- tiated an extensive and transparent community involvement program, developed an aesthetic look for the bridge, identified detour routes early on, and responded carefully to comments and questions. MDOT fit the new structure into the original right-of-way; an environmental assessment revealed that this approach would allow the project to avoid a lengthy environmental impact analysis, an estimated 7-year process. Extensive archeological and historic preservation issues still arose, but they were addressed successfully in the environmental assessment. Through collaboration on the design concept, aesthetic appeal, environmental strategy, and construction schedule, a wider, safer, and more pleasing structure was built with the available budget. Within 33 months of the detection of a sinking bridge pier, a new bridge was opened to traffic. The project won the National Quality Initiative Bronze Award for partnering in 2000. SOURCE: Grand Rapids, Michigan, US-131 S-Curve Bridge Replacement (case study prepared for SHRP 2 Project C01 by ICF International, 2008).

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capacity focus area 79 (DOTs), metropolitan planning organizations, zoning authorities, and resource agencies. The SHRP 2 Capacity focus area comprises projects in four theme areas: (a) elements of collaborative decision making, (b) an ecological approach to surface environmental protection, (c) improved tools for analysis of travel behavior, and (d) tools for estimating the economic impacts of highway investment. These four theme areas are the basis for strategic packaging of the results of multiple research projects. The first theme area encompasses the central product of SHRP 2 Capacity research: the Collaborative Decision-Making Framework (CDMF). The other three theme areas address particular types of tools or data that support the CDMF but also may be used as independent products. A list of projects in the Capacity focus area and corresponding products is provided in Appendix B. promising products, and potential users, incentives, and barriers The results of individual Capacity projects will have their own benefits for those interested in those particular topics. However, the end product of Capacity research will be nothing short of systematic integration around key decision points of practice whose value has been demonstrated in applications over the past 15 to 20 years: providing for interactive public involvement and for consultation among affected agencies; incorporat- ing more environmental work into planning and successfully navigating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and permitting processes; introducing an environmental stewardship culture into transportation agencies; embracing an ecological approach to the environment; seri- ously looking at improved highway efficiency through operations, tele- matics, and pricing; communicating the economic benefits of highways in a more compelling and transparent way; and dealing with public– private partnerships. Accomplishing this amounts to rewriting the book on transportation planning to reflect collaborative decision-making prin- ciples. The final product will be an integrated, web-based product orga- nized on the basis of key decision points in the process for delivering new highway capacity.

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80 implementing the results of the second strategic highway research program Collaborative Decision-Making Framework1 The essence of the CDMF is having the right people at the table at the right time with the right information (see Box 5-2). Achieving this requires con- tinual attention because the transportation decision-making process com- prises many individual steps. Key decisions are those points in the process where the general work activities need review and approval from higher levels of authority or where consensus needs to be reached among diverse decision makers before the project can advance. For this reason, key deci- sions most often occur in the policy decision-making process. Key decision points, therefore, represent only a portion of the overall decision-making Box 5-2 the san antonio kelly parkway An 8.8-mile, four-lane, limited-access parkway was proposed in southwest San Antonio to spur economic redevelopment of the former Kelly Air Force Base by providing access to an inland port and improving linkage of the former base to the regional highway network. Community leaders saw the project as a redevelopment opportunity that would relieve truck congestion and bring economic opportunities to the low-income south side of the city. However, organized opposition developed in the largely Hispanic neighborhoods along the route. The project team worked with the community to select a parkway-style limited-access road that would use the alignments of existing roads and railroads to minimize community impacts. More than 100 stakeholder meetings were held. Issues addressed included envi- ronmental justice, safety, transportation of hazardous materials, and concern that construction would release groundwater contaminants known to be on the base. A breakthrough occurred when a long-standing faith-based community organization became supportive because the problems could be fixed and the economic benefits, improved connectivity, and beautification opportunities were great. A record of decision was signed in 2006. Although the project is currently on hold pending funding, it represents an example of integrated planning, creative use of exist- ing rights-of-way, economic redevelopment, and proactive community involvement. SOURCE: The San Antonio Kelly Parkway (case study prepared for SHRP 2 Project C01 by ICF International, 2008). 1 This description of the CDMF is adapted from material provided by SHRP 2 Capacity contractor ICF International.

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capacity focus area 81 process, but these points effectively link existing planning and project development processes and practices. Many key decision points are com- mon among transportation agencies. Some are defined by law, while others have arisen through convention or through adoption of good practices. Because state laws and regulations vary, the individual work activities that link and feed key decision points can be different from state to state. SHRP 2 is developing the CDMF to identify key decision points in four phases of transportation decision-making processes: 1. Long-range transportation planning, 2. Corridor planning, 3. Programming, and 4. Environmental review and permitting. The CDMF incorporates overall context-sensitive solution (CSS2) and project management principles and is built on a set of design goals estab- lished by SHRP 2. The design goals provide the following guidance: • Establish a collaborative decision-making approach that identifies par- ticipant roles and responsibilities at each key decision point and includes (a) early and ongoing involvement of formal decision makers and individu- als with the potential to significantly affect the timely and cost-effective delivery of transportation improvements and (b) a tiered decision-making approach to capacity improvements that encourages binding decisions at the earliest possible point. • Encourage timely and cost-effective project delivery through a process that (a) ensures transfer of information and decisions between phases; (b) encourages early and comprehensive agreement on data sources, level of detail, evaluation criteria, and performance measures; and (c) establishes a comprehensive and proactive risk management strategy. 2 The Center for Environmental Excellence of the American Association of State Highway and Trans- portation Officials defines CSS as follows: “Context sensitive solutions is an approach to advancing transportation programs and projects in a collaborative manner and in a way that fits into the com- munity and environment....[T]he concepts of CSS [go] well beyond the design process to include all phases of program delivery, including long-range planning, programming, environmental studies, design, right-of-way, construction, operations, and maintenance.” http://environment.transportation. org/environmental_issues/context_sens_sol/ #bookmarksubWhatisCSS.

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82 implementing the results of the second strategic highway research program • Encourage a decision-making approach that evaluates transportation needs within broader community and environmental contexts; integrates land use planning and development policy, capital improvement planning, and protection and enhancement of the human and natural environments; and addresses sustainability issues to the extent possible so as to support community vision and goals. • Encourage consideration of a wide range of options for addressing capacity problems during the planning phase of decision making, as well as early and ongoing incorporation of operational elements as a part of the overall decision-making approach. • Establish a decision-making approach based on fulfilling the intent of legal and regulatory requirements while providing implementation flexibil- ity and adaptability consistent with the design goals. The CDMF is intended to be readily available to all practitioners who wish to implement a collaborative decision-making approach, whether throughout the entire transportation decision-making process or only in specific areas. For this reason, the ultimate vision is for the framework to be accessed through a web-based tool. The architecture of the CDMF is being designed with this vision in mind. The structure of the CDMF encompasses a series of portals through which increasingly detailed information can be retrieved for each key decision point, first at the entry level and then at the practitioner level. Figure 5-1 is a schematic of the CDMF entry level, illustrating how a user can access information through a series of portals where one or more key decision points occur. The figure illustrates the upper-level steps in deci- sion making, as well as how the individual phases relate to one another. A design goal listed above is “timely and cost-effective project delivery.” One of the choices a user of the framework will need to make is which steps to conduct in parallel rather than in sequence and what risks are entailed. The web-based product is being designed to help practitioners select a strategy for a particular capacity enhancement that will avoid redo loops, success- fully hand decisions forward in the process, establish an interactive link between planning and project development, engage the community at the right time, and ensure that the transportation decision-making process includes the larger goals and visions of the region. The intent of the CDMF

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Visioning Input Programming Approve Scope the Determine Evaluation Adopt Assess Long-Range Long-Range Long-Range Criteria and Long-Range Strategies and Transportation Transportation Transportation Methodology Transportation Scenarios Planning Plan Parameters Planning Plan Process and Needs Approve Project Priority List Reach Develop Corridor Planning Define the Develop the Adopt Consensus Corridor Problem Solution Set Corridor Plan on Draft Process Transportation Improvement Program Approve the Transportation Improvement Environmental Program Review or NEPA Determine Scope the Analyze Approve Project Merged with Purpose and Environmental Alternatives Details Permitting Need Process figure 5-1 cdmf entry level. Source: SHRP 2 Project C01, work in progress.

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84 implementing the results of the second strategic highway research program is to help practitioners determine the best transportation solution by engag- ing the community effectively and ensuring environmental stewardship. The community visioning process illustrated in Figure 5-1 is recommended as a best practice to ensure that the transportation decision-making process reflects the larger goals and visions of the region. Although Figure 5-1 provides a concise overview of the CDMF, transpor- tation practitioners will need specific information at each key decision point to consider implementation of the collaborative decision-making process. A CDMF practitioner-level version will provide access to the full extent of information available at each key decision point, including the following: • The purpose and outcome of the key decision point; • Decisions made at each step; • Roles and responsibilities of the formal decision makers; • Roles and relationships of stakeholders and project champions; • Supportive data, tools, and technology; • Related influential processes and subprocesses; • Primary products of this step; • Associated best practices; and • Linkage to other SHRP 2 Capacity research, such as the Performance Measurement Framework and case studies on economic impacts of trans- portation investments. Other community and environmental planning processes are external to but have an impact on transportation decision making. Examples are economic development plans, wildlife action plans, watershed plans, open space and recreation plans, land use plans, air quality plans, and greenhouse gas initiatives. Within the CDMF, these processes are identified as subpro- cesses or influencing processes. While subprocesses have a direct effect on transportation decision making through certain critical-path steps, other external processes, such as the development of wildlife or watershed action plans, strongly influence transportation decision making; best-practice col- laboration would engage these processes as well. The integrated web-based tool that represents the ultimate vision for use of the CDMF will allow users to enter the framework at any point and follow a topic of interest through all the available information. Results of

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capacity focus area 85 individual SHRP 2 Capacity research projects will be synthesized and condensed in a final user-oriented product with links to full-text source material supported by examples and illustrations. This is essentially a new collaborative planning tool focused on decisions, not process. Implementing the CDMF will require a number of elements. A case for change must be made; that is, state DOTs and metropolitan planning orga- nizations must recognize that there are problems with the current way in which highways are delivered with respect to the public acceptability of design solutions, excessive delays, and difficulty in achieving consensus and support on community and environmental issues. Highway-owning agen- cies will need to adopt a risk management philosophy that considers it wise to invest in building consensus up front so as to be more efficient down- stream by avoiding rework, revisiting of alternatives previously dismissed, and other delays. Agency champions must come forward to demonstrate the benefits of doing business in the new way. Representatives of highway and environmental resource agencies must be involved in designing the research products that address problems. A brand name may need to be developed for the CDMF. And last, but definitely not least, an entity must be identified and funded to own, maintain, and update the tools that form the CDMF in much the same way that the Highway Capacity Manual and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Policy on Geometric Design have ownership structures and updating mechanisms. Incentives to implement the CDMF stem from its two principal benefits. First, it promises to produce better decisions on transportation projects by bringing the right people and information together at the right time and by preserving decisions and reasoning from one stage to the next. Sec- ond, decisions are likely to be made more quickly because of this integrated approach, which promotes smoother and more timely flow of information and reduces the need to revisit earlier stages. The CDMF can be expected to have the additional benefit of improving a transportation agency’s relation- ships with its partners and stakeholders by promoting more transparent communication and decision making. A number of barriers to implementation of the CDMF can be anticipated. First, the CDMF could be perceived as a one-size-fits-all solution. It must be emphasized that the CDMF is a framework, not a specific process. Any user who agrees with the framework’s essential approach—collaborative

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86 implementing the results of the second strategic highway research program decision making that integrates social, economic, environmental, and tech- nical considerations—can use as much or as little of the CDMF as desired. The framework is designed to address all legal requirements and to be com- patible with established processes in different agencies. There are also costs associated with implementing the CDMF in states and metropolitan planning organizations. More staff time may have to be devoted to public engagement and early strategizing with resource agen- cies. This is really the cost of a risk management strategy: spending more up front to build consensus makes it possible to avoid much greater costs downstream associated with delay and rework. Another potential barrier to implementing the CDMF is insufficient data in some jurisdictions. The CDMF is predicated on having the right informa- tion at each stage; if the information is not available, the effectiveness of the framework may be compromised, at least in particular jurisdictions or for specific key decision points. An agency can use parts of the CDMF for which it has the appropriate data and expand its use of the framework as it acquires additional data. Ecological Approach to Surface Environmental Protection The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) document Eco-Logical pro- vides the conceptual foundation for the projects in this group. Eco-Logical recommends integrated conservation plans and mitigation activities that transcend individual agency jurisdictional boundaries and encourages an outcome-based ecosystem approach to conservation. Eco-Logical was signed by FHWA and eight other federal agencies with environmental responsibili- ties that are on the critical path to expansion of highway capacity. As such, it provides an excellent springboard for developing an ecological approach to conservation and mitigation that should help in achieving public consensus as part of the collaborative decision-making process. Box 5-3 provides an example of such an ecological approach. The products of the SHRP 2 projects in this area will be an ecosystem- based credits system, business model, and guidelines designed to enable conservation banking or other strategies to rise above resource-by-resource mitigation. The research plan envisions the use of a multiagency advisory body to guide the work and build support. This work may form the basis for future revision of regulations pertaining to wetlands and habitats. The

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capacity focus area 87 Box 5-3 california multiple project conservation for species of concern This project is one of many examples of success reported in Eco-Logical: FHWA, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and several local trans- portation agencies are planning five interchange improvements on Interstate 10. These improvements will impact sand dune habitat that houses two listed species of concern: the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard and milk vetch. Rather than develop discrete conservation measures for each project, the participating agen- cies have developed a mitigation strategy for the five interchange projects that will be carried out as each project goes through the environmental process. As a result, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will issue a Programmatic Biological Opinion for the five interchange projects, which will expedite project delivery. Participating agencies are preparing a draft cooperative agreement and will begin acquiring land from willing sellers as soon as each project completes its environ- mental document. Approximately 1,800 acres will be conserved for the five projects. (Brown 2006, 53) This project is an example of considering the ecology of a large region to protect the habitat for at least two species of concern. The interchange construction projects were expedited, and the sensitive land was protected in perpetuity. intent is to develop a scientifically sound system of credits or programmatic strategies that can provide a means to implement a multiagency ecological approach for protecting and conserving the environment. Despite the interagency consensus reflected in Eco-Logical, current prac- tices and procedures developed in response to regulations and laws dictate that resources be considered individually. To put the ecological approach into practice, it will be necessary to develop scientifically sound solutions to the following issues, which are addressed in SHRP 2 research: • Defining environmental functions and quality of wetlands and assign- ing credit values; • Defining environmental functions and quality of habitats and assigning credit values;

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88 implementing the results of the second strategic highway research program • Designating service areas that are sufficiently flexible so that critical mass habitats and ecosystems can be developed, preserved, or enhanced; and • Developing a method to demonstrate that the ecosystem approach and credits satisfy the various statutes and regulations that apply. The main incentive behind the projects in the ecological theme area is to preserve and improve the natural environment in the process of providing new highway capacity. The products of this research can be used on their own, but their benefits are most apparent in the context of the CDMF. Spe- cific products include methods and procedures for interagency environ- mental cooperation and science-based approaches to habitats, wetlands, and endangered species—the kinds of tools that support collaborative decision making around key decision points pertaining to environmental protection. There are several conditions for successful implementation of the eco- logical approach: • Awareness among regulatory agencies of acceptable regulatory inter- pretations. A narrow interpretation of a regulation may preclude a benefi- cial ecological practice. • Willingness of transportation agencies to embrace a broader role in environmental stewardship. This requires developing a business case for doing more than is strictly required by regulation. • Willingness of affected agencies to pursue changes to accepted practices that may be needed to implement an ecological approach. To fully attain the benefits of research in this theme area, it will be neces- sary to overcome any potential perception on the part of environmentally interested parties that SHRP 2 tools will adversely influence hard-won regula- tions addressing wetlands and endangered species. This can be accomplished by ensuring that consensus exists on the underlying science that supports the research products. In addition, road owners will have to demonstrate a commitment to multipurpose conservation and avoidance of sensitive environmental areas. It will probably be necessary to show that the envi- ronment is not only unharmed but actually better off with the highway than without it.

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capacity focus area 89 Another barrier to implementation of the ecological approach is the large number of agencies involved. Systematic attempts to engage all these stake- holders have begun in the research phase of SHRP 2 and must be carried on throughout implementation. As in the other areas of Capacity research, a lack of data can also hinder an agency’s ability to fully utilize some of the ecological tools produced. Improved Tools for Analysis of Travel Behavior Current travel demand models and static networks are inherently incapable of analyzing the questions being asked today about traveler responses to tolls and congestion, the behavioral impacts of travel time variability, the relation- ship between transportation and land use, and the air quality and greenhouse gas consequences of capacity-enhancing transportation proposals (TRB 2007; see Box 5-4).3 To address these issues, FHWA and about 10 states and metropolitan planning organizations have invested in the new generation of activity-based travel demand models; both FHWA and private entities have developed time-sensitive network software. However, no one has successfully integrated advanced models and time-sensitive networks and demonstrated that they can actually perform as intended. The result is hesitancy to move forward. SHRP 2 will act as a catalyst to advance the state of modeling prac- tice by partnering with one or two agencies already using advanced models. SHRP 2 will provide additional support to assist these agencies in completing a model set, using some SHRP 2 products, and in conducting prespecified sensitivity tests. The nominal product of this effort will be reports describing the methods and the degree to which the sensitivity tests demonstrate the value of this approach. The most valuable outcome will be demonstration of success to states and metropolitan planning organizations so they perceive less risk and can adopt the new methods with confidence. 3 Special Report 288: Metropolitan Travel Forecasting: Current Practice and Future Direction (TRB 2007) recommends federal funding to support the adoption of advanced models by transportation forecast- ing agencies, a national travel forecasting handbook, a supportive research program, a peer review structure, model user groups, and studies of the efficacy of advanced models. SHRP 2 is conducting research that will advance the recommendations of Special Report 288 by examining the efficacy of advanced models and time-sensitive networks with respect to congestion, shift in time of travel, shift in route, response to tolls, response to smart-growth policies, and inputs from evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions. Other recommendations in Special Report 288 have been considered in proposing an implementation approach for the products of this theme area.

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90 implementing the results of the second strategic highway research program Box 5-4 assessment of transportation planning models Special Report 288: Metropolitan Travel Forecasting: Current Practice and Future Direc- tion, released by the National Research Council, describes the reasons why a strategic approach to capacity enhancement must address travel demand models and net- works. Critiques of the ability of the current modeling process to address the issues with which metropolitan planning organizations must deal are numerous. On the demand side, the process is not behavioral; that is, it is not well suited to representing travelers’ responses to the complex range of policies typically of interest to today’s planners. On the supply side, the process cannot represent dynamic road condi- tions. The following are among the issues that the current, widely used metropolitan demand forecasting process cannot adequately characterize (TRB 2007, 67): • Road pricing, including high-occupancy toll lanes; • Time-specific policies, such as parking, work schedules, or scheduling of truck deliveries; • Hourly speeds or traffic volumes; • Improvements in traffic operations; • Nonmotorized travel; • Peak spreading and highly congested networks; and • Goods movement. Taking full advantage of new and existing road space requires the ability to analyze these aspects of highway capacity alternatives. SHRP 2 projects in this theme area are also developing the mathemati- cal relationships among motorist behavior, pricing, and congestion. The results of this work are intended for use in travel demand models. Another project will demonstrate the effects of highway management strategies on sustainable highway throughput in peak conditions. These results will be applied in a modeling and operations environment. The ability to obtain answers to these difficult planning questions is the main incentive for using these SHRP 2 products. However, a number of potential barriers to implementation of these products exist. Implementa- tion of a new generation of transportation models and time-sensitive net- works will require investments in software, updated travel surveys, and staff.

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capacity focus area 91 The first challenge is communicating the results of SHRP 2 research and field demonstrations to the many organizations involved in transportation planning at the state, regional, and local levels. Numerous dissemination structures exist. The Transportation Research Board (TRB) has at least six standing committees concerned with travel analysis methods, as well as a task force on implementing advanced models; an ad hoc group of stakehold- ers exists for the same purpose. The Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations has a committee on travel demand modeling. The effective- ness of communication efforts will depend on translating the results of SHRP 2 demonstration projects into actionable items for each city and state. The perception exists that advanced models and networks are needed only by large urban areas or states. However, almost all areas are being forced to rely less on construction and more on management of highways, which requires advanced techniques. Unfortunately, there is a limited pool of expertise in advanced models and networks, and successful implemen- tation will require widespread development of such expertise. The lack of trained staff and funds to collect the data needed to support the advanced models is a significant barrier to implementation. Economic Impacts of Highway Investments This theme area addresses analysis of the economic impacts of highway capacity expansion. While techniques and software tools for this task abound, a lack of transparency makes it difficult to communicate results to decision makers and the public (Box 5-5 provides an example of these challenges). One project in this theme area will conduct before-and-after case studies built on a typology of conditions that includes type of highway, location on an urban–rural scale, and type of area (e.g., growing sunbelt city). The case study background will include unique conditions that may be associated with an impact, such as industrial development policies or tax incentives. A practitioner’s handbook will be developed that will make development impacts more transparent to noneconomists and provide the basis for approximation of impacts by analogy. A second research project will develop improved economic analysis tools and integrate these tools with the case-based reasoning tools produced by the case study research. Implementation of the results of research in this theme area will benefit from coordination with a number of existing organizations and groups. For

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92 implementing the results of the second strategic highway research program Box 5-5 using case studies and meta-analysis to inform the public and decision makers The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) was planning a number of new highway bypasses to relieve congestion in local communities. However, agency planners understood that these types of projects are often controversial, with some civic leaders supporting them and local business leaders expressing concern about loss of sales. In the past, a lack of information often had led to unrealistic fears and expectations. To address this problem, Caltrans staff spon- sored a study to improve basic knowledge about the impacts of bypasses on the economic health of small towns. The study compiled state and national informa- tion covering more than 200 built bypass projects to assess actual before-and-after experiences and factors affecting those outcomes. The project team then developed a spreadsheet tool—the Highway Bypass Impact model—that applies this informa- tion to help forecast potential economic impacts of planned future bypasses. Cal- trans staff will be using the study findings and analysis tool to enhance the ability of local residents and officials to make judgments about likely impacts of proposed projects on their communities. SOURCE: System Metrics Group et al. 2006. example, TRB has a Committee on Transportation and Economic Develop- ment. The National Association of Regional Councils is also active in this area, and there are associations explicitly devoted to economic develop- ment professionals. Most states and cities have an economic development group, but they do not necessarily communicate regularly with transporta- tion planners and engineers. There is fertile ground here for communica- tion and outreach. Implementation mechanisms may emerge from the case study research since it will involve 50 or more cases. TRB’s Committee on Transportation and Economic Development, in conjunction with FHWA and others, sponsors a major research conference every few years. One of these conferences may be an appropriate opportunity to showcase the results of SHRP 2 work in this area. The greatest barrier to implementing products of research in this theme area is the inherent complexity of the topic and the lack of transparency of traditional tools. The data-based, econometric approach yields answers,

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capacity focus area 93 but decision makers and the public are not sure how much confidence they can have in those answers. A second barrier is the sheer number of special-purpose analytical products now available. In effect, data are run through a chain of black boxes to yield an answer. The SHRP 2 products will be introduced into this environment, adding a case-based approach to the various existing analytical approaches. Extra effort will be necessary to demonstrate the reasonableness and transparency of the SHRP 2 tools. conclusion SHRP 2 Capacity research represents a bold effort to reimagine the way highway projects are planned and prepared for and to provide innovative tools that support the new approach embodied in the CDMF. Achieving the objectives of this research is critical to meeting mobility needs in the 21st century in a socially and environmentally responsive manner. The barriers to successful implementation are not trivial, but it is difficult to imagine how highway capacity can be provided effectively without adher- ence to a framework such as that described here. The availability of suf- ficient resources to integrate this framework into capacity planning at all levels will be critical to its successful implementation. references Abbreviation TRB Transportation Research Board Brown, J. W. 2006. Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects. Report FHWA-HEP-06-011. Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C., April. System Metrics Group, Inc., Cambridge Systematics, Inc., Economic Development Research Group, Inc., HLB Decision Economics, Inc., and Judd Associates. 2006. California Bypass Study: The Economic Impacts of Bypasses, Volume 1: Planning Reference. California Depart- ment of Transportation, Sacramento, May. www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tpp/offices/ote/studies_ files/Bypass_Final_Report_1_v3.pdf. TRB. 2007. Special Report 288: Metropolitan Travel Forecasting: Current Practice and Future Direction. National Academies, Washington, D.C.