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C h a p t e r 8 Tracking Commitments Introduction may involve multiple jurisdictions and agencies, with distinct leadership, planning processes, time frames, objectives, and Implementation of a visioning process is as important as the requirements. For example, a vision may require initial action development of the vision itself. A source of frustration for by a local government to amend comprehensive plans or many communities is that after developing a shared vision, zoning practices to ensure compatible land uses adjacent to a implementing agencies proceed with a business-as-usual transportation corridor, before a DOT can honor a commit- approach that trivializes the selected preferred future. For ment. Or the vision may include transportation system goals example, a transportation agency may fail to carry through and commitments that require intense coordination among commitments made during visioning to project develop- a DOT, MPO, transit agency, and local government. Elected ment, design, or construction activities. For the purpose of and appointed leadership of agencies and governments may this project, the term "commitment" refers to any action or change multiple times before the vision is implemented, and process a partner agency agrees to complete as a result of new leaders may not be familiar with or support the vision. the vision. This includes the ongoing monitoring of perfor- The process of handing off vision implementation responsi- mance indicators. bility then becomes critical. If the partner agency does not There are a variety of reasons why a transportation agency follow through, the transportation agency may have limited may fail, either in appearance or in actuality, to honor recourse to ensure that the conditions for the vision and commitments. Often it is difficult to develop commitments related projects remain in effect. that are specific enough to be verified without additional In spite of these challenges, best practices can be used as documentation and ongoing dialogue. For instance, com- the basis of an effective, performance-based community mitments to investigate or attempt mitigation action, to commitment tracking process. Several of the case studies coordinate with resource agencies, or to take some action developed for this project feature successful commitment contingent upon external events all require ongoing com- tracking elements. Further, independent of visioning efforts, munication with the community and additional documen- transportation agencies in a number of states have implemented tation, if an agency is to demonstrate action on a commitment. successful commitment tracking systems and approaches Or, a commitment may appear not to be honored if the that carry through from long-range planning to design and vision produces a long-term objective that may not remain construction. These have lessons relevant to implementing consistently important to implementing agencies as they a vision. deal with shorter-term priorities and requirements and A common theme in the examples of commitment track- periodic changes in leadership. Sometimes the challenge ing is that commitments must be explicitly recorded and may be organizational. For example, staff responsible for reported, and there should be periodic review of the degree reviewing the transportation impacts of a separate devel- to which an agency is meeting its commitments. Implement- opment proposal or approving a permit for new access, or ing a robust, performance-based process for tracking com- even designing and engineering new facilities, may not mitments can help increase the likelihood that commitments realize that these applications do not support the aims of made will be honored. Equally important, a process can help the shared vision. build trust between the transportation agency, other part- A transportation agency also may be relying on partners to ners, and the community that is instrumental in successfully follow through on project support commitments. A project implementing the vision. 59