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35 The most successful corridor protection strategies rely on early, consistent, and clear planning. Planning is the first and most important step in creating effective processes and opportunities to achieve freight-compatible development, reduce community-freight conflicts, and preserve critical freight corridors and facilities. Tools to achieve effective advanced planning can be found on the EnvisionFreight website at http://www.EnvisionFreight. com/tools/default.aspx?id=planning, and include â¢ State enabling acts, â¢ Local comprehensive plans, â¢ State and regional plans, â¢ Regional collaboration, and â¢ Mapping. State Enabling Acts and the General or Comprehensive Plan The power to regulate land usesâexcept where limited by federal lawâis primarily a power âreservedâ for the states under the U.S. Constitution. As illustrated in Figure 6-1, most states have delegated this power to local municipalities and counties under the planning and zoning enabling laws enacted by state legislatures. Most issues about future land uses affecting the present or future viability of freight facilities arise from, or come to a head in, the context of zoning or development site plan approvals. Almost always, nothing is built in America unless and until the use of the land concerned has been approved in a city or county general plan, the prop- erty has been specifically zoned for that use, a development site plan has been approved, and a building permit has been issued. These are all local government functions. As Figure 6-2 illustrates, zoning, site plan, and subdivision decisions are based on guidance from the municipality or countyâs comprehensive plan (also called a general plan or master plan in some places). One way to avoid poor zoning and site plan decisions is to decide the issues in advance in the regular updates of the city or countyâs general or comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan is intended, and in most places required, to guide zoning and site plan decisions. The comprehensive plan also sets expectations as to the allowed use of land in various locations, and devel- opers and builders may make investment decisions based on that plan. Comprehensive planning that protects freight can prevent the formation of investment-backed expecta- tions that may be difficult to unwind in the zoning and site planning processes. Comprehensive plan updates almost always are performed following a menu of topics provided in the stateâs planning enabling act. Unfortunately, as illustrated in Figure 6-3, most state enabling acts do not require freight to be included in comprehensive plans. As a result, most city and county staff members do not focus on freight issues, and there are few available tools and little guidance for consideration of freight interests or avoiding conflicts with non-freight land uses when it comes to planning and zoning. If the state enabling laws required or suggested that plans to protect all modes of freight should be included in a general plan, significant new protec- tions would likely evolve naturally in our land-use system nationwide in the next decade or so. Federal Preemption of Interstate Commerce and Freight Federal preemption functions to foreclose state and local regulations. The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Art. VI, Cl. 2) states the following: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof . . . shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. C h a p t e r 6 Long-Range Planning for Freight- Compatible Development
36 Source: Grow & Bruening. Figure 6-1. Land-use authority in the United States. Source: Grow & Bruening. Figure 6-2. Typical local government land-use system. Source: Grow & Bruening. Figure 6-3. State enabling acts often do not account for freight. This clause is the foundation for the legal doctrine of federal preemption. The Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Art. I, Â§ 8, Cl. 3) also can be used to strike down local land- use and zoning laws. Under the Commerce Clause, Congress possesses the exclusive power to regulate interstate commerce. This may limit state power to regulate commerce even in the absence of congressional action (481 U.S. 69, 107 1987). However, courts prefer to avoid engaging in a Commerce Clause analysis if they can find preemption under a federal statute (38 F.Supp.2d 1096, 1101, (D. Minn) 1998). Below, this report summarizes federal preemption as it relates to the various freight transportation modes and facilities. Air TransportationâFederal preemption is not as abso- lute with respect to air transportation as with other modes. Federal preemption generally holds in land use and zoning around airports. Local regulation of aircraft and airport noise
37 is broadly preempted, except when a municipality operates the airport. Federal regulation of land use sur rounding air- ports is principally limited to Runway Protection Zonesâ established by the federal government to protect its invest- ment in airport facilitiesâthat cannot be modified without federal approval. Local regulations that are consistent with federal requirements or affect areas altogether outside the Runway Protection Zones are not preempted. When zoning prevents airport expansion, the law is unsettled, and local efforts to use zoning powers to prevent expansion may or may not be preempted. PortsâFederal preemption often does not hold in land- use and zoning actions concerning ports/marine facilities. The Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (CZMA) creates a vol- untary program for states to create Coastal Zone Management Plans outlining how states will regulate their coastal zones. Courts have recognized that the scheme established by the CZMA strongly suggests against federal preemption of local and state regulation. Accordingly, local land-use regulations surrounding ports are unlikely to be preempted by federal law. The CZMA specifically grants states broad authority to regulate the coastal zone. Further, if local land-use reg ula tions happen to impact navigation, the local regulation will stand as long as it does not directly conflict with federal regulation. Rail TransportationâFederal preemption of land-use and zoning regulations affecting freight rail transportation is far-reaching. Most local regulations placed on railroad right of ways, operating procedures, crossings, and facili- ties are preempted by federal law. Most attempts at zoning or land-use regulation will be preempted when such regula- tions tend to make the operations of railroad carriers more difficult. Federal preemption of regulations on railroads is found in the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1996 (ICCTA). The broad definition of âtransporta- tionâ in the ICCTA ensures that many railroad operations are protected from state and local regulation by federal preemp- tion. Courts, however, have been forced to limit the reach of federal preemption by finding that some facilities do not fall into the category of âtransportationâ by rail carriers, and that the incidental involvement of a railroad (such as being a landlord) is not sufficient for federal preemption of state and local actions. Furthermore, although most land-use and zon- ing regulations placed on rail carriers will be preempted by ICCTA, a few state courts have recognized a limited class of regulations that are not preempted. Reasoning that compli- ance with certain regulations would not substantially dis- rupt the operations of rail carriers, these courts have upheld some local and state regulations that impose minimal re- quirements on railroads. However, relatively few cases have allowed for this type of local regulation, and the area is far from settled. TruckingâFederal preemption has been invoked regard- ing trucking interests and for services that facilitate truck- ing such as truck stops. Following the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, Congress clarified that states could not ban trucks that met approved weight and length standards from travel- ing on federally funded primary routes, with some limited exceptions. In 1990, Congress established uniform rules for the transportation of hazardous materials that include stan- dards for labeling of hazardous materials. Recently, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and Houston have begun to address the polluting effects of the trucks that access these facilities through programs addressing the drayage industry. Issues regarding pre emption continue to arise around regula- tion of trucking activity. In 2008, the American Trucking Asso- ciations, Inc., challenged the implementation of concession requirements that were asso ciated with the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach Clean Truck Program, arguing that they were preempted by the FAA Authorization Act 49 U.S.C. Â§14501(c) because they improperly attempted to regulate the price, route, or service of any motor carrier. The court found that some reg- ulations imposed by the defendant port on motor carriers were not preempted by the existing motor vehicle safety acts, as they did not fall within the motor vehicle safety exception. Recommended Changes to Enabling Act Comprehensive Planning Goals Section In many states, statutes include a list of elements that must or may be included in comprehensive plans. Generally, this list is contained in a section of the state code referred to as the âzoning enabling actâ or sometimes the âplanning enabling act.â One element that is often missing within the enabling act requirements is freight. Ideally, the state enabling act would require local governments to evaluate how to protect current freight systems from incompatible uses and capacity problems, as well as to protect needed future freight facilities. Changing the enabling act transportation and land-use element instructions for the comprehensive plan will result in the inclusion of better freight review within the plan and have a far-reaching impact on local land-use decisions. There are few national examples of enabling acts that include freight requirements. Washingtonâs Enabling Act has specific elements regarding ports that are required within the compre- hensive plan, as follows: RCW 36.70A.085âComprehensive plansâPort elements (1) Comprehensive plans of cities that have a marine con- tainer port with annual operating revenues in excess of sixty million dollars within their jurisdiction must include a container port element.
38 (2) Comprehensive plans of cities that include all or part of a port district with annual operating revenues in excess of twenty million dollars may include a marine industrial port element. Prior to adopting a marine industrial port element under this subsection (2), the commission of the applicable port district must adopt a resolution in support of the proposed element. (3) Port elements adopted under subsections (1) and (2) of this section must be developed collaboratively between the city and the applicable port, and must establish policies and programs that (a) Define and protect the core areas of port and port- related industrial uses within the city; (b) Provide reasonably efficient access to the core area through freight corridors within the city limits; and (c) Identify and resolve key land-use conflicts along the edge of the core area, and minimize and mitigate, to the extent practicable, incompatible uses along the edge of the core area. (4) Port elements adopted under subsections (1) and (2) of this section must be (a) Completed and approved by the city according to the schedule specified in RCW 36.70A.130; and (b) Consistent with the economic development, transportation, and land-use elements of the cityâs comprehensive plan, and consistent with the cityâs capital facilities plan. (5) In adopting port elements under subsections (1) and (2) of this section, cities and ports must: ensure that there is consistency between the port elements and the port comprehensive scheme required under chapters 53.20 and 53.25 RCW; and retain sufficient planning flexibility to secure emerging economic opportunities. (6) In developing port elements under subsections (1) and (2) of this section, a city may utilize one or more of the following approaches: (a) Creation of a port overlay district that protects container port uses; (b) Use of industrial land banks; (c) Use of buffers and transition zones between incom- patible uses; (d) Use of joint transportation funding agreements; (e) Use of policies to encourage the retention of valu- able warehouse and storage facilities; (f) Use of limitations on the location or size, or both, of nonindustrial uses in the core area and sur- rounding areas; and (g) Use of other approaches by agreement between the city and the port. (7) The *department of community, trade, and economic development must provide matching grant funds to cities meeting the requirements of subsection (1) of this section to support development of the required container port element. (8) Any planned improvements identified in port ele- ments adopted under subsections (1) and (2) of this section must be transmitted by the city to the trans- portation com mission for consideration of inclusion in the statewide transportation plan required under RCW 47.01.071. [2009 c 514 Â§ 2.] Notes: *Reviserâs note: The âdepartment of community, trade, and economic developmentâ was renamed the âdepartment of commerceâ by 2009 c 565. FindingsâIntentâ2009 c 514: (1) The legislature finds that Washingtonâs marine con- tainer ports operate within a complex system of marine terminal operations, truck and train transportation corridors, and industrial services that together support a critical amount of our state and national economy, including key parts of our stateâs manufacturing and agricultural sectors, and directly create thousands of high-wage jobs throughout our region. (2) The legislature further finds that the container port services are increasingly challenged by the conversion of industrial properties to nonindustrial uses, leading to competing and incompatible uses that can hinder port operations, restrict efficient movement of freight, and limit the opportunity for improvements to existing port-related facilities. (3) It is the intent of the legislature to ensure that local land-use decisions are made in consideration of the long-term and widespread economic contribution of our inter national container ports and related industrial lands and transportation systems, and to ensure that container ports continue to function effectively along- side vibrant city waterfronts. [2009 c 514 Â§ 1.] Guidelines for Developing Comprehensive Plan Freight Components The comprehensive plan should â¢ Provide a vision of the long-term future character and design of a community, â¢ Show the importance and interrelatedness of many topics, â¢ Cover a wide geographic area and show interdependencies among geographic areas, â¢ Show potential long-term impacts, and â¢ Represent the interests of a broad range of citizens and stakeholders (Anderson 1995, 7, 14).
39 Ideally, local zoning practices also should align with the goals of the comprehensive plan. In many places, such alignment is mandated. The general or comprehensive plan is usually made up of four main areas: goals, objectives, policies, and maps. These intersect and align to create a comprehensive plan. There may be separate sections within the comprehensive plan dealing with different elements; for example, a land-use element and a transportation element may be separate sections of the plan. Both of these elements are relevant to freight. The economic development element also will have ramifications for freight groups. Goals are a direction-setting element. They will describe an ideal future that the community wishes to attain that will be related to public health, safety, or general welfare. The goals will encapsulate general expressions of community values and may not be quantifiable or time-specific. Examples of freight goals could include the following: â¢ A diversified economic base for the city, â¢ Promotion of global freight connectivity as the [x] largest logistics hub in the United States, and â¢ Protection of freight facilities or freight corridors to ensure a continued viable economic base for the city. Objectives will be a specific, delineated end, state, or condition that is a step in attaining the goals set within the plan. An objective should be achievable and have some type of performance metric that is measurable and time-specific. Examples for freight could be â¢ Mapping of all freight corridors and associated and ancillary facilities by [x] date, â¢ A reduction in freight-related pollutants around port facilities, â¢ A 50 percent reduction in industrial land conversion over the next [x] years, â¢ First Street and Harbor Avenue to be designated as major trucking arterials, â¢ A new Logistics Center Park to be located in the area bounded by E and H Avenues and Commerce Drive. Policies are specific statements that guide decision making within the comprehensive plan. Clear policies help in judging whether zoning decisions, projects, public works activities, and other projects are consistent with the general plan. Examples of a policy from the freight perspective could include â¢ The city shall not approve a zoning ordinance variance to rezone industrial to residential uses that is located within 300 feet of the identified railroad corridors, logistics zone, or port facility. â¢ The city will not approve or permit distribution center or logistics facility development adjacent to schools, hospitals, residential care facilities, libraries, or emergency service stations. â¢ The city will not approve the placement of hospitals, schools, residential care facilities, libraries, and emergency service stations within 500 feet of any freight facility that operates on a 24-hour basis. â¢ Residential neighborhoods within a city should not be placed in proximity to, or adjacent to, port facilities, rail yards, rail corridors, and heavily trucked routes. â¢ To reduce trespass, schools should not be placed close to railroad tracks. â¢ The city will establish minimal acceptable level of service (e.g., peak-hour level of service) for major truck thorough- fares. â¢ The city will develop minimum setback and buffer standards for any new sensitive land use that may be developed close to freight facilities. â¢ The city will adopt a specific plan for the logistics park. â¢ Areas designated for freight activity should be placed in industrial/freight zone areas. â¢ The city will develop a financing program to implement the highway at-grade crossing closure program. Some comprehensive plans may include implementa- tion measures, which are the action, program, procedure, or technique that will carry out the comprehensive planâs policy. For example, in its guidance on developing comprehensive plans, California notes that all policies developed âmust have at least one corresponding implementation measureâ (State of California 2003, 16). Maps will be developed to accompany the comprehensive plan. These will often show land uses, current and future trans- portation corridors, urban design features, and geologic and other natural hazards. Often, aerial maps and other photo- graphic elements will be placed within the comprehensive/ general plan sections. A comprehensive/general plan that effectively addresses freight would conduct a freight inventory that shows major freight corridors (highway/rail), logistics and distribution center facilities, major industrial and manu- facturing hubs that are utilizing the multimodal system, ports and marine facilities and terminals, rail yards, large container storage areas, major air cargo facilities, navigation easements and runway approaches, and connecting highways used by trucks to access air cargo facilities. The comprehensive plan also should designate future corridors, needed improvements to corridors, and future expansion of other freight facilities. The comprehensive plan also should take into consideration (1) the long-range plans and transportation improvement plans that the metropolitan planning agencies are required to prepare under federal law and (2) the state transportation
40 plans that often will have a freight multimodal component. This will ensure that the comprehensive plan and any land- use plans created as a consequence of the comprehensive plan effectively consider transportation goals, policies, and projects that are being conducted at the regional and statewide level. Resources and Materials for Developing a Comprehensive Plan There are many useful resources and guides provided by the states on to how to develop a comprehensive plan. Californiaâs General Plan Guidelines (State of California 2003) is a good resource to consider utilizing since California requires a noise evaluation to be considered in the comprehensive plan, and this will require analysis of freight systems and facilities. The Pennsylvania Mon Valley Land Use & Transportation websiteâs freight movement section also provides a useful starting point for integrating freight planning into the compre- hensive plan (Mon Valley Land Use & Transportation 2010). (This web resource to support multimunicipal planning was adapted from Pennsylvania DOTâs Transportation and Land Use Toolkit.) Industrial inventories are also an extremely useful item for a city/county to develop and map out industrial facilities and the major freight corridors and facilities. They also often provide an excellent baseline to show the value of freight within the local/regional economy, highlighting, for example, taxes, wages, and building permits issued. As part of indus- trial inventory activities, local jurisdictions should conduct an Internet search to see if any freight plans may have been developed by the state department of transportation, metro- politan planning association, or other freight stakeholder or freight taskforce groups. These may provide good starting points and, in some instances, may have GIS layering that can be used within the inventory process of the comprehensive plan to develop freight facility and corridor location maps. Freight task groups also may have developed maps that show critical bottlenecks and areas where freight facilities are close to environmental justice communities. For example, in the development of its Regional Freight Mobility Plan in 2007, the Atlanta Regional Commission had multiple freight stake- holders involved in the committees that provided technical and policy advice to the consultants developing the plan (Atlanta Regional Commission 2008a). These groups provided examples of bottlenecks, discussion of how design elements in mixed-use areas were impeding efficient freight delivery, and also mapped out where the environmental justice com- munities were located in extremely close proximity to freight facilities and corridors. Examples of industrial inventories include San Franciscoâs industrial inventory, released in October 2010 (San Francisco Planning Department 2010), and Oregonâs Promoting Pros- perity: Protecting Prime Industrial Land for Job Growth, which reported on the conversion of industrial land to nonindustrial land (Oregon Industrial Conversion Study Committee 2004). This 2004 report found that the State of Oregon had an interest in preserving a supply of prime industrial land for short- and long-term needs. Portland, Oregon, also has undertaken or commissioned reviews of its industrial land inventory, including a market demand analysis (ECO Northwest 2003) for the citywide industrial lands inventory and assessment and a review of Portlandâs working rivers in 2008 (Abbott 2008). Industrial inventories were undertaken in 1998, 2003 (City of Portland 2003), and 2005, and the city created an Industrial Districts Atlas in 2004 (City of Portland 2004) and developed a Freight Master Plan in 2006 (City of Portland 2006). Many municipal and regional economic development groups and chambers of commerce also may have industrial inventories that can be utilized to develop local industrial plans. For example, the East Tennessee Development District created an Industrial Land Inventory in June 2009 (East Tennessee Development District 2009) that gave details on tract size and acres, service by utilities, and service by rail and barge. In 2010, the City of Chanhassen, Minnesota, created a land inventory map including current available land (City of Chanhassen, Minnesota 2010) that also could be utilized to determine where new freight and industrial areas should be created. It is recommended that all local jurisdictions develop appropriate maps for use in determining the areas in which new industrial/freight activity should be encouraged to locate and to provide information if any zoning variance applications are made to the cityâs planning commission. These maps should be updated no less often than the comprehensive plan. State Transportation Planning Federal law requires that all state DOTs complete a long- range statewide transportation plan (STP) with a minimum 20-year forecast (United States Code 23 U.S.C. 135 2007). States also are required to complete a Statewide Transporta- tion Improvement Program (STIP) for all areas of the state. The STIP covers a period of 4 years and is updated every 4 years. Areas that are in non-attainment for air quality under the Clean Air Act provisions are required to update the STIP every 3 years. State transportation planning is of primary importance outside of MPO boundaries, because MPOs do the majority of regional transportation planning within their own boundaries. The STP and STIP developed for each state provide for the development and integrated management and operation of transportation systems and facilities that will function as an intermodal transportation system for the state and an integral part of an intermodal transportation system for the United States. The process for developing the statewide plan and the transportation improvement program is required to
41 provide for consideration of all modes of transportation and is required to be continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive to the degree appropriate given the complexity of transportation problems to be addressed. States are required to coordinate with the MPOs. State DOTs also are encouraged to develop the transportation portion of the state implementation plan as required by the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.). The scope of the statewide planning process requires that each state provide for consideration and implementation of projects, strategies, and services that â¢ Support the economic vitality of the United States, the states, nonmetropolitan areas, and metropolitan areas, especially by enabling global competitiveness, productivity, and efficiency; â¢ Increase the safety of the transportation system for motor- ized and nonmotorized users; â¢ Increase the security of the transportation system for motorized and nonmotorized users; â¢ Increase the accessibility and mobility of people and freight; â¢ Protect and enhance the environment, promote energy conservation, improve the quality of life, and promote con- sistency between transportation improvements and state and local planned growth and economic development patterns; â¢ Enhance the integration and connectivity of the transporta- tion system, across and between modes throughout the state, for people and freight; â¢ Promote efficient system management and operation; and â¢ Emphasize the preservation of the existing transportation system. As part of the development of the statewide transportation plan, the state must provide citizens, affected agencies, freight shippers, private providers of transportation, and other stake- holders with a reasonable opportunity to comment on the proposed plan. These opportunities usually take the form of public meetings. The STPs and STIPs can be found on the respective state DOTsâ websites. These are usually located on the planning department or divisionâs section of the website. MPO Planning MPOs are mandated by federal law for most metropolitan areas. An MPO is an organization that includes representatives from local government and governmental transportation authorities. Often, COGs function as MPOs. MPOs are required by federal law (United States Code 23 U.S.C. 134 2007) to prepare and update a long-range transportation plan for its metropolitan planning area, as well as a shorter-range âtransportation improvement programâ to which construction funds are allocated. The MPO plans determine where federal transportation funds will be spent within the planning area and, for that reason, have a significant impact on freight movement. In addition, local governments often respect and protect cor- ridors shown on MPO long-range plan maps. An MPO long-range transportation plan is required to be updated every 4 years (or more frequently, if the MPO elects to update more frequently) in the case of each of the following: â¢ Any area designated as nonattainment, as defined in sec- tion 107(d) of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7407(d)). â¢ Any area that was nonattainment and subsequently des- ignated to attainment in accordance with section 107(d) (3) of that act (42 U.S.C. 7407(d) (3)) and that is subject to a maintenance plan under section 175(a) of that act (42 U.S.C. 7505a) (United States Code 23 U.S.C. 134 2007). The plan is required to be fiscally constrained, indicate resources from public and private sources that are reasonably expected to be made available to carry out the plan, and recom- mend any additional financing strategies for needed projects. Federal Transportation Bill Requirements for MPO Plans From the federal perspective, planning for freight changed in 1991 with the introduction of the ISTEA. ISTEA required the MPOs and state DOTs to conduct freight planning as one of 15 factors to be considered as they developed the state and local transportation plans (ISTEA Â§ 1024, codified at Section 134 of Title 23 of United States Code). This was mirrored in the two subsequent re-authorization acts, TEA-21 and SAFETEA-LU, which also added some specific freight-orientated sections to fund large-scale freight preservation projects such as the Alameda Corridor in Cali- fornia, CREATE in Chicago, and border trade and corridor facilities. TEA-21 required that the metropolitan planning process for freight seek to â¢ Support the economic vitality of the metropolitan area by promoting and enabling global competitiveness, produc- tivity, and efficiency; â¢ Enhance the integration and connectivity of the transporta- tions system, across and between modes, for people and freight; â¢ Promote efficient system management and operation; and â¢ Include the freight community in the development of both the Regional Transportation Plan and the Transportation Improvement Plan. In 2005, SAFETEA-LU added the following: â¢ MPOs are encouraged to consult and coordinate with planning officials responsible for other types of planning
42 activities affected by transportation including planned growth, economic development, environmental protection, airport operations, and freight movement. â¢ Safety and security of the transportation system are now separate planning factors that are to be considered during the metropolitan planning process. SAFETEA-LU also added specific programs targeted at freight, which included â¢ A truck-parking facilities pilot program, â¢ A highway-railroad crossing safety improvement funding program, â¢ Allowance to construct truck-idling reduction facilities on Interstate highway rights-of-way, â¢ A highway bridge funding program, â¢ A new program for research, training, and education to support freight transportation planning, and â¢ A freight intermodal distribution pilot programâwhich gave grants to facilitate intermodal freight transportation initiatives at the state and local level for the relief of con- gestion and to improve safety and provide capital funding to address infrastructure and freight distribution needs at inland ports and intermodal freight facilities. Regional Visioning and Freight Regions, according to Seltzer and Carbonell (2011) are territories defined primarily by function and only rarely by jurisdiction. Regional planning is the development of plans and programs by communities and institutions working collaboratively to address issues that affect their shared geo- graphic territories. Figure 6-4 shows the identified mega- regions in the United States. With the likely emergence of freight megaregions that do not respect state or even national boundaries, a new planning dialogue is required to prepare for the next-generation freight system to support these regions. Planning decisions made over the next decade will be critical to our future transportation system efficiencies and regional competitiveness. Local and regional freight planning in this context will require highly skilled freight transportation plan- ners and new strategies and tools, community support, and legislative authority. Strategic visioning is an emerging approach to problem solving that is being applied in major metropolitan regions across the country. Examples are California DOTâs Regional Blueprints and the Chicago Metropolis 2020âs reports on devel- opment and transportation. Strategic visioning recognizes that todayâs urban challenges have natural or economic boundaries (e.g., air sheds, watersheds, commuter sheds, and commerce Figure 6-4. Identified megaregions in the United States (America 2050 2010).
43 and trade patterns) that must be respected in seeking best solu- tions. These challenges do not respect city or state boundaries and, with the emergence of megaregions, sometimes do not even respect regional boundaries. The primary goal of strategic visioning is to identify and preserve the widest range of best choices or future possibilities. Strategic visioning uses the analy- sis of future alternative scenarios to empower stewards to make wise decisions and establish robust strategies that will enhance the probability of the best choices actually coming to fruition. It has been said that the most common strategy for dealing with the future is denial. As humans, we show an uncanny ability to ride old, expiring trends into the ground before we will engage in deep thinking about the future. A regional vision- ing process is an attempt to engage in such deep thinking in light of existing trends and future uncertaintiesâto con- sider various scenarios for the future of the region in order to explore answers to the question, âWhat if?â What if the population of the region expands over the coming decades? Where and how will these people be accommodated? What if the price of gas eventually rises to $10 per gallon? What if potential new transportation corridors to or across the region become blocked by surrounding development? Most regional visions do not currently deal with freight in depth, but tremendous potential exists to significantly affect decision making that impacts freight. Regional visioning pro- cesses can expand their thinking about the future to include freight concerns. How important is freight to the economy of the region? What role can freight play in the economic future of the region? How will rapidly expanding freight needs in a region be accommodated? What if the creation or expansion of freight corridors and facilities is blocked by development? The regional vision is the proper scale for tackling freight issues. An important component in making informed land-use decisions as they relate to freight transportation is an under- standing of the economic costs and benefits of these decisions. In the context of freight transportation corridors, economic costs and benefits must be viewed on a large-scale perspective because freight transportation infrastructure is an important factor in the performance of the U.S. economy and a regionâs competitiveness on a global scale. Decision makers at the local level are typically subject to local political pressure from both residents and developers who often have little concern for local impacts on freight systems. In this context, the clichÃ© âfreight doesnât vote,â is relevant. Figure 6-5 illustrates how regional visioning fits into land-use decisions. The freight portion of a regional visioning exercise should include the following aspects: â¢ Baseline information gathering, including maps of com- ponent parts of the freight system (freight routes/corridors, distribution hubs, inland ports, waterways, air cargo, etc.), as well as data related to these component parts, such as tonnage, value, routes utilized and density of goods on the routes, capacity of facilities, vehicle trips, economic impacts, jobs created, taxes paid, and current bottleneck areas. Data also should be gathered regarding current trends and future projections. Interviews with industry experts can reveal current and future issues. â¢ Inclusion of freight-related stakeholders in the vision- ing process to serve on technical and other committees. These stakeholders would include railroads, ports, trucking companies, airports and air freight carriers, government officials, industry organizations, and consultants with expertise in the field. â¢ Public outreach that includes freight issues. Freight can be included in public workshops and open houses, surveys, and other outreach mechanisms. â¢ Creation of land-use and transportation scenarios that take significant note of freight considerations. Land-use scenarios should consider freight needs, including possible future expansion or creation of facilities. Transportation scenarios should not focus on movement of people without adequate consideration of the movement of goods. â¢ Technical analysis of the impact of various future scenarios on freight. Various measures that can be modeled might include congestion and its costs in terms of money, time, and air quality; public safety impacts; freight corridor externalities; economic impact of the freight industry over time; and overall assessment of costs and benefits of alter- native land uses. â¢ Vision goals and strategies that include freight as a key component of the economic, land-use, transportation, and environmental future of the region. Mapping Freight Corridors and Facilities Much of the research conducted over the past 25 years re- garding corridor protection and preservation has noted that mapping of freight corridors and facility elements is a critical element to ensure continued viability. In some states, advanced planning and approval of trans- portation corridors do not require a change in statutes or Source: Grow & Bruening. Figure 6-5. Regional visioning and land-use decisions.
44 regulation. However, corridor approval will require environ- mental analyses to determine and confirm the final corridor location on a map. Advanced planning allows local govern- ments and private parties to better plan developments while more land is vacant, minimizing social, economic, and envi- ronmental impacts (Perfater 1989). Advanced planning also provides notice to citizens, property owners, and developers through adoption of an official thoroughfare protection map (Williams and Marshall 1996). Official mapping requires state or local statutory authority, although existing statutes may, in many cases, already provide the needed authority. The most often cited example of corridor mapping and management legislation is Floridaâs 1995 corridor management legislation. Florida requires the designation of corridors in local comprehensive plans consistent with Floridaâs growth management policy. Floridaâs law encour- ages local governments to designate corridors, adopt corridor management ordinances, and create official corridor maps. Local governments are directed to notify the Florida DOT (FDOT) before approving any rezoning, building permit, or subdivision change (within 1,000 feet of the corridors) that may impact the future viability of the corridor. This creates a process whereby FDOT can identify problems and then nego- tiate for alternatives to mitigate impacts. Highway corridor preservation research also has found that in conjunction with legislatively authorized mapping powers, several states employ a development review and permitting process to ensure compatible use within and along the cor- ridor. The process for review is simple, as follows: â¢ Corridors are prioritized, and a map is filed with the relevant local jurisdiction. â¢ When a developer files a permit request, it is submitted to the state DOT for review and approval. â¢ The DOT will have a set period of time to approve or deny the request (usually 30 to 120 days). According to FHWA, this process can involve negotiations with developers to ensure compatible land use at permit approval (U.S. Department of Transportation 2000). Under its official mapping power, the North Carolina DOT can delay a project filed for development along a corridor for up to 3 years. If an agreement is not reached within 3 years, the state must acquire the corridor. North Carolina also was given significant permitting and encroachment prevention procedures regarding rail in its 1988 Rail Corridor Preservation Act. This gave the North Carolina DOT âauthority to purchase railroads and preserve corridorsâ (North Carolina Department of Transportation 2010). The North Carolina DOT can use the same process for rail corridor development permitting that it uses it for highway corridors. As a recommended best practice, official mapping, along with development permitting, provides the optimal process to pro- tect and preserve freight routes and facilities. This would reduce the speculation that often occurs around industrial land and often leads to inappropriate rezoning. It also would reduce un- certainty that currently exists around many U.S. freight facilities. Summary Figure 6-6 summarizes the planning process and the role of various elements, including regional visioning, long-range planning, and the comprehensive plan. Zoning issues will be discussed in Chapter 7. Figure 6-6. Planning process summary. Many of these processes are authorized, mandated, and/or regulated by state enabling acts Source: Grow & Bruening.