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A white paper on innovations in planning


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A white paper on innovations in planning best practices of Florida's 25 metropolitan planning organizations
Physical Description:
1 online resource (30 leaves). : ;
Thomson, Thomas L
Mierzejewski, Edward A
Marshall, Margaret
University of South Florida -- Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida, Center for Urban Transportation Research
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla.
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Urban transportation -- Planning -- Florida   ( lcsh )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Statement of Responsibility:
prepared by Center for Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida ; Thomas L. Thomson, Edward A. Mierzejewski, Margaret Marshall.
General Note:
Title from cover of e-book (viewed Aug. 3, 2011).
General Note:
"November 1998."

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University of South Florida
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aleph - 029209891
oclc - 744678257
usfldc doi - C01-00118
usfldc handle - c1.118
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A white paper on innovations in planning
h [electronic resource] :
b best practices of Florida's 25 metropolitan planning organizations /
prepared by Center for Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida ; Thomas L. Thomson, Edward A. Mierzejewski, Margaret Marshall.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
University of South Florida, Center for Urban Transportation Research,
1 online resource (30 leaves).
Title from cover of e-book (viewed Aug. 3, 2011).
"November 1998."
0 650
Urban transportation
z Florida
x Planning.
Mierzejewski, Edward A.
Marshall, Margaret.
University of South Florida.
Center for Urban Transportation Research.
i Print version:
Thomson, Thomas L.
t White paper on innovations in planning.
[Tampa, Fla.] : University of South Florida, Center for Urban Transportation Research, 1998
w (OCoLC)276356249
Center for Urban Transportation Research Publications [USF].
4 856


A WHITE PAPER ON INNOVATIONS IN PLANNING: BEST PRACTICES OF FLORIDA'S 25 METROPOLITAN PLANNING ORGANIZATIONS Prepared by : Center for Urb an Transportation Research University of South Florida Thomas L. T homson, P.E., AICP, Special Consultant Edward A. Mierzejewski Ph.D., P.E., Deputy Director Margaret Marshall Research Associate Nove mber 1998


December 3, 1998 TO: Florida MPO Staff Directors Florida MPO Chairs Center for Urban Transportation Research University of South florida East Fowler Avenue, CUT 100 Tampa Florida 33620-5375 (813) 974-3120 SunCom 57-4-3 120 Fax (813) 97i-SI68 Web: hrrp:l! Howard Glassman, MPO Advisory Council (5 copies) YseJa Llort, Florida DOT (5 copies) CUTR Advisory Board Members FROM: Edward A. Mierzejewski Ph.D., P.E., Deputy Director SUBJECT: White Pape.r Transmittal The enclosed White Paoer on Innovations In Planning: Best Practices Of Florida's 25 Metropoli ta n Planning Organizations, is forwarded for your use. The preparation of this white paper was part of CUTR's base-fun ded research program, approved by the CUTR Advisory Board. The project was request ed by Florida DOT and the MPO Advisory Council. The white paper describes various best prac t ices as identified by MPO Directors across the State. We believe the sharing of innovating approaches included in this paper will significantly enhance planning activities of all Florida's MPOs. We trust you will find it of interest.


T A BL E O F CONTEN T S I NTRODUCTION ... .... ... ........... . .......... ...... ................... .......... ....... ..... . ........ ... ......... ... I HOW TO DEFIN E BEST PRACTICE S ? ... .......... ........... ... ...... . ....... ...... ..... ......... ........ 2 OVERVIEW OF MPO RESPONSIBILITIES ....... ....... ....... ..... .... . ..... ............. ........... . 2 BEST PRACTICE EXAMPLES ..................... ........... .... ... ......... .... ..... ........... ......... .... ... 3 INTERGOVERNMENTAL COORDINATION ............................................................ 4 Regional -In t ergovernmental Coordination ......................... ................. ............. ...... 5 Supp o rtive Intergovernmental Coordinat i on ............................................................ 6 I n tegrated Inte r governmental Coordination ............................................................. 7 Corridor Int e rgovernmental Coordination .................................... ... ........................ 8 BusinessInte r governmental Coor dination ............................................................... 9 PUBLIC INVOLVEME N T ... .................... .................. .......... ................ ..... ....... ......... ....... 9 Use of Surveys, Game s Eve n ts and Newsletters ................ ............................... ..... I I Inv e stments in Outreach and Consensus .......... .. ....................................................... 13 Ta sk Forces and Citizen Advi sory Committees ........................................................ 14 REPORTING FORMATS ............. .... ....... ......... .... ........... . ............................ ..... ... .... IS USE OF MODEL S AND GIS ............. ... ............................................. ............. .... ....... 16 MANAGEMENT S Y TEMS A N D DATA COLLECT ION ......................................... 16 PROJECT SELECTION CRITERIA AND PROCESSES ........................................... I 7 INTEGRATION OF TRANSPORTATION AND LAND USE PLANNIN G ............. 1 8 CONCURRENCY ....... .... ...................................... .... .................. .......... .... ...... ..... ....... 20 U S E OF THE I N TERNET.. .............................. ...................................... ...... ............... 2 I CREATIVE F I NANCING . ............. .......... ................. ............. ..... .... ................. ........... 2 3 ALTERNA TIVE MODES ..................... ............ ...... ....... ... ... ................... ............... ... 23 AIR QU A LITY .... ..... ...... .......... ....... ...... ........................... ....... ............... ... ........... .... 24 OTHER EXAMPLES ............... ................................. ... ... ....... ....... .... .................. .. ..... 24 ASSESMENTS OF PERFORMANCE UNDER ISTEA ............................................. 25 CLOSING ... .................................. ...... ............... ............... ............. .... ... .................. ....... ... 27 AREA S THAT NEED BEST PRACTICE S ........................................ ... ............. ......... 27 PROFILE OF A BEST PRACTICE MPO ...... ............. ................................................ 28 I


.JNTROI>UCTI O N In July 1997 CUTR released a study, A Review of the Long-Range Transportation Plans of Florida's Merropoliran Planning Organizations, which reported on the issues and challenges facing the MPOs during development of their plans. The study also reconci l ed the MPO plans to the 2020 Florida Transportation Plan The study offered I I suggestions for improving the long-range transportation plans and processes of the MPOs: I. Incorporate a discussion of current issues and problems into long-range transportation plans 2 Incorporate a strong visioning process 3. Incorporate principles of stra t egic planning into the long-range transporta t ion planning process 4. Recognize the interaction between transportation and land use with alternative land use scenarios. 5. Place greater emphasis on difficult policy tradeoffs and l ess reliance on transportation planning models 6. Inc l ude standard reporting o f certain performance mea s ures 7. Include a systematic assessment of safety considerations 8. Include a systematic consideration of hurricane evacuation 9. Standardize the t i ming of plan updates throughout the metropolitan area I 0. Standardi7..e the reporting of es t imated costs and projected revenues II. Report financial information by responsib l e agency and facility type Subsequently, the CUTR Advisory Board with the concurrence of the Metropolitan Planning Organization Advisory Council asked the CUTR staff to prepare a white paper on innovative practices of Florida MPOs. The goal for the "best practices white paper is to describe and highlight some of the more innovative practices undertaken by Florida's 25 Metropolitan Planning Organizations. By doing so each of the MPOs can learn from each other's experiences, resulting in a more rapid technology transfer process among the MPOs. In addition to the information collected in the review of the 25 MPO plans CUTR sent a written reques t for i nformation to each of the MPO d i rectors, seeking examples of innovative practices undertaken during the p l anning process In -depth scheduled te l ephone interviews were also conducted with the directors of 22 MPOs to prov i de a comprehensive view of MPO best practices. This combination of approaches identified numerous examples of innovative practices worth sharing with other MPOs. This report focuses on best practices successfully implemented by Florida MPOs. It starts by examining the MPO director's definition of a "best practice along with the duties and roles of a MPO. Next the MPO best practices are comprehensively presented. I


The resulting census of MPO best practices provides the d irectors' views of the successes and problems with their own planning processes The fina l section of the report, before the closing, adds another dimension to the understanding of MPO best practices It reports on processes or programs they have undertaken to implement the lntennodal Surface Transporta t ion Effi ciency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), citing those they have "done well, would like to improve and would do over." The answers to the three-part question prov i de additional insight to other best practices and the c hallenges faced by MPOs. The report closes by highlighting areas in need of best practice examples and presenting a profile of a best pract i ce MPO. HOW TO DE.F.INE BEST PRACTICE.S? One of the interview questions asked each MPO director to define "bes t practice The und erstand ing of what MPO di r ectors believe is the definition of a best practice is important to appreciate the context of the MPO director's responses. The variety o f the answers provide a rich defmition buil t around a se t of core concepts. The most often cited key words mentioned by the MPO directors when defining a best practice are (in order of frequency of response): 1 Innovative unique or different state of the art expands toolbox 2. Meets goals, results oriented process works useful to communi t y 3. Effective and efficient 4. Benefits what you are trying t o so l ve 5. Exemplary, ideal, emulate illustrates, done well 6. Consensus oriented, engages or i nforms 7 Interesting or attractive to other MPOs A best practice by the MPO directors' standards is one that is inn ovative, different from the usual; that meets goals in an effective efficient and beneficia l way, is accomplished through engaging and reaching a consensus with the pub li c, and may be transferable to other MPOs. However it needs to be recognized that there ca n be a uniqu e context t o a best practice that may make it best for one MPO but not necessarily suited t o another MPO. OVERVIEW OF MPO RESPONSIBILITIES Metropolitan Planning Organiza tion s (MPOs), in cooperation with state depa rtments of transportation, transit operators othe r transportation authorities and local governments are responsible to develop transporta t ion p l ans and programs for urbanized areas '!be plans and programs for each MPO area are to provide for the development of an integrated intertnodal transportation system. Their process for developing the p l ans and programs should include consideration for all modes of transportation. The MPOs are to accomplish their programs through a continuing cooperative and comprehensi ve process. 2


The basic products required of an MPO are an annual unified and cooperative program of planning activities, commonly known as the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP); the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)an annually or biannually updated five year plan of priority projects; and a financially feasible longrange transportation plan covering at least a 20 year horizon. Larger MPOs (those in urbanized areas with over 200,000 in population) have additional planning responsibilities relat ing to congestion management and air quality. In Florida, each Metropolitan Planning Organization also must develop plans and improvement programs that are consistent with the comprehensive plans of the local governmen t s that are within the urbanized area of the MPO. Both the long-range transportation plan and the TIP must consider the anticipated effects of transportation policy decisions on land use and land development. These plans must also weigh the degree of cons i stency with all available long and short-term land use plans. Local governments likewise must consider the MPO plans when developing their comprehensive plans. To assist in canying out this progrant and to help ensure consistency with local comprehens iv e land use plans and the goals and objectives of local governments within their jurisdictions, most MPOs appoint both a technical and a citizen's advisory committee One of the rol es of the MPO that is not specifically legislated but is inherent in their structure is to serve as a forum for cooperative decision-mak i ng within an urbanized area. The legislated cooperative direction of the process and the fact the MPOs are comprised of members of local governments, transit operators and other local transportation agencies positions them as a body to cany out a mediation r ole within their areas TEA-21 continues the MPO process by retaining or refining most of the policy direction set in ISTEA It continues a strong emphasis on multi-modal planning, and meaningful and significant public participation in development of those plans. It refines the list of 16 planning fac.tors of!STEA into a list of seven strategy areas. TEA-21 clarifies the definition of financially feasible but leaves it as an essential element of the long-range plan requirements BEST PRACTICE EXAMPLES The following sections provide over 70 examples of practices that MPOs consider noteworthy. The white paper focuses on what the MPO directors believe to be their best practices. This section is presented generally in the order of the categories of practice most of the MPOs believe they do the best. The section reviews examples of best practices for the following subject areas: Intergovernmenta l CoordinationRegional; Supportive ; Integrated ; Corridor; Business 3


Public Involvement -Use of Surveys, Games Events and Newsletters; Investments in Outreach and Consensus; Use of Task Forces and Citizen Advisory Committees Reporting Formats Use of Models and GIS Management Systems and Data Collection Project Selection Criteria and Processes Community LivabilityIntegration ofTransportation and Land Use Planning Concurrency Use of the Internet Creative Financing Alternative Modes Air Quality Other Examples INTERGOVERNMENTAL COORDINATION Fourteen of the MPOs interviewed cited intergovernmental coordination as a best prac t ice example. This is not surprising because it relates directly to the MPOs role as a forum for transportation decision-making. Coordinated processes and cooperative philosophies are the foundation for intergovernmental cooperation. This major theme for best practices spans several areas of MPO focus: regional planning organization p l anning support, i ntegration with other comprehensive planning, corridor or subarea planning and one that goes slightly outside the intergovernmental box business or public-private coordination. The best practice examp l es reveal three trends for MPO intergovernmental coordination. 1 The increasing willingness to reach out to cooperate with other organizations that have mutually supported interests or interrelationships 2. The increase of meaningful MPO involvement in the management of short-range transportation studies such as corridor studies in cooperation with FOOT or other agencies. 3 The trend to not only integrate the planning activi t ies of MPO p lan ning and comprehensive planning but also the trend toward considering total consistency or nearly identical plan format s The best practices suggest that MPOs have realized that reaching beyond their geographic and organizational boundaries in a cooperative manner helps them achieve their goals. Also, untraditional partners such as the business community (including freight in t erests) and neighborhoods are recognized as important players to help reach a consensus and support for implementation on funding, plans and projects. It also shows that IS TEA has helped MPOs mature in their capabilities in this area. 4


T raditionally MPOs have left the implementation of project s to implementing age n cies such as FOOT. This is another area where IS TEA's encouragement to improve public involvement thrusted many MPOs into a more active role in short-range studies. The trend toward early and continuous involvement in short-range studies helps to ensure the accomplishment of the original intent of the long-range plan and that continual policy and stakeholder involvement occurs. L astly, many of the MPO staffs are also staffs for local government planning activities. L egislative encouragement and the drive for more cost efficienc-ies creates greater interest in integrating the MPO and local government comprehensive planning processes. This trend is partially addressing better coordination of land use and transportation decisions but also developing plans that are more consistent and easier for practitioners and the public to understand. Several examples highlight these trends in intergovernmental coordination. Regional-Intergovernmental Coordination IS TEA placed great emphasis on planning at a metropolitan level. Several significant examples of best practices in intergovernmental coordination on a regional level provide evidence that the ISTEA policy emphasis is producing success stories Metroplan Orlando MPO s commitment to regional cooperation is a major focus of its program and cited as its best practice. It is one of only a few multi-county MPOs in Florida (Orange, Oseola and Seminole Counties). One result of its regional focus is that in addition to the interaction within the three-county area it has strong business and transportation relationships with counties to its east. Some view Ibis combined area as one market and a strong seo se exists that the economies of these areas relate to the greater Orlando economy. As a result a Metroplan Orlando-Volusia County MPO alliance is functioning and discussions are underway to include the Brevard County MPO. The connections between Orlando area businesses, the air quality, growth management issues, access to ports, evacuation routes and the beaches are fueling this partnership. The alliance is addressing some important regional transportation projects. For example, the MPOs are cooperating about the priority of funding improvements to the 1-4 bridge across the St. Johns River. The expanded regional cooperation is attempting to produce a list of other regional timding priorities. Within the MetroplanOrlando MPO area another example of the high degree of regional commitment is the agreement to pool the District Dedicated Revenue" (DDR) fund s T hese funds ordinarily would be programmed on projects within an individual county. Orange, Oseola and Seminole Counties are pooling these funds to use for regionally important projects. The Volusia County MPO also cites the alliance formed with Metroplan to address regional issues as its top best practice. The 1990 Census resulted in the designation of Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco Counties as one urbanized area. IS TEA defined it as a Transportation Management Area which requires additional coordination activ i ties in the transportation planning process. To respond to this requirement the MPOs in these counties, along with the Hernando 5


MPO, the FDOT, and the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council formed the Chairmen's Coordinating Committee to assure regional coordination on transportation related projects. Cooperation to conduct regional studies extended the participation in this cooperative process to the Polk County Transportation Planning Organization (MPO), various transit and other agencies. Two multi-jurisd ict ional studies underway or recently completed in this region are examples of this r egiona l cooperation. The "Tampa H i llsborough-Lak e land-Po l k, Alternatives for Mobility Enhancemen t Major Investment Study" ("Mobility MIS"), and the "Gandy Corridor Major Investme n t Study." The recently completed Mobility MIS i s a study evaluating various types of transportation alternatives including rail transit roadway, and bicycle/pedestrian improvements in Hillsborough County, eastern Pinellas and western Polk Co u nty that will improve the movement of people and goods. It is the first know system (versus corridor) level MIS completed nationally. The Gandy MIS project is a comprehensive study of the area from the end of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in south Tampa to the Interchange of Gandy Bou l evard and Interstate 275 in Pinellas County A similar regional partnership is forming between the Naples/Collier County MPO and Lee County MPO. The Naples/Collier County MPO mentioned this cooperative effort as one of its best practice examples. The MPOs formed a task force to discuss regional t ransportation issues of mutual interest. Living ston Road and J 75 are examples of the facilities under di scussion. The joint meetings have reviewed marketi n g information about the dynamic growth occurring between the two areas and are address ing the type of adjustments or amendments needed in their separate p lan s to accommodate this growth The Broward MPO cites its regional process to coordinate transit programs and planning with Dade and Palm Beach Count ies as one of its best practices. (It is interesting to no t e Broward, which is between l'alm Beach and Dade Counties would cite this example of intergovernmental coordination as a best practice ) An inter-local agreement defines th e organiza t ion and bylaws The structure operates at two levels. The board is comprised of representatives from the loca l transit systems, FOOT, T ri-Rail, and two representatives from each of the MPOs A technical committee is comprised of staffs of the MPOs, transit operators regional planning councils and FOOT The organization has no dedicated staff, however the MPOs share suppon duties. The Broward MPO also cited two other South Florida MPO regional efforts: an air quality committee and a modeling task force. Supportive -Intergovernmen tal Coordination Supportive intergovernmental coordination e"amples relate to achieving planning programs and programs with a philosophy of cooperation and often through joint efforts with other agencies The results of this cooperation are often greater than the products themselves and lead to quality programs and efficient i mpl ementation. The MPO of Palm Beach County attributes its success to its best practice of intergovernmental coordination The MPO s trives to work c ooperatively w ith a range of agencies including the FOOT, the county cities and the regional p lann ing council. Its 6


philosophy is to keep the issues on a technical level. When a prob l em arises its approach is to sit right down and work through it." The MPO offers technical support to its county, transit syste m and cities. This gives the MPO the role of a resource for problem solving versus an adversary. Examples of coopera t ive efforts include the 2015 Plan Update Management Committee, Palm Beach Transit System cooperative planning relationsh i p and the South Florida MPOs' regional air quality committee and regional modeling task force also cited by the Broward County MPO The Ocala/Marion County MPO cites as its best practice coordination with local agencies such as the City of Ocala, City ofBe.Jieview and Marion County. The relationship progressed so that the county and the cities look to the MPO for tran sportation planning support. Successes in bringing enhancement projects to the loca l jurisdictions in coop era tion with FOOT created a good working r ela tionship, which created trust to further extend the coope ra tion to better organize and stabil i ze the project priority list in the TIP. The next step for the MPO will be to get the county and cities to better prioritize local projects lnteerated Intere overnmenta l Coordination The staff support for many MPOs comes from local, county or regional agencies Several of the MPOs cited this type of structure among their best practices The Pasco County MPO cites combining the functional responsibility of the MPO planning prog ram with the comprehensive transportation planning duties of the county staff as it best practice. The County/MPO staff prepares the transportation elements and assists in the preparation of the future land use and capital improvement elements of the comprehensive plan. Similarly, the staff reviews land use, zoning, amendments, and Developments of Regional Impact (DR!s) They a lso contribute to the development of the county's capital improvement program. Th i s arrangement integrat es the staff functions for both a policy role in support of the MPO and implementation role as planners for the county Polk County Transportation Planning Organization (MPO) cites as a best practice its transit planning suppo rt for the Citrus Connection -the transit s e rvice in the Lakeland area. The MPO acts as tbe Citrus Connection's planning ann under an interlocal agreement. The Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission provides the staff for the Hillsborough County MPO. The H illsborough County City-County Planning Comm i ss ion is the local planning agency under state law The advantage in this arrangement is that the planning commiss ion considers the whole spectrum of planning issues, including transportation impacts on land uses and the shaping of land use by transportation decisions. The Pinellas County MPO staff is part of the county planning staff. Its executive director is also the county planning director There fo re, the plann ing programs of the county 7


include the MPO planning process and staff support. Pinellas County also g i ves the MPO responsibility to support some important aspects of its comprehensive planning duties. The MPO staff does all the technical anal ysis for the county for its concurrency and impact fee ordinances. The MPO also provides a forum for solving comprehensive planning issues between the Department of Community Affairs (DCA ) and the county. For example, in the US 19 corridor, which passes t hrough several jurisdictions, DCA wanted consis t ent approa c hes t o the concurrency analysis among the c it ies and county The MPO in c ooperation with the FDO T the cities and the county developed a coordinated solution which among other aspects i ncluded a common set of congestion management strategies and projects for inclusion in the appropriate comprehensi ve plans. CorridorIntergovernmental Coordination The increase in the participation of MPOs in corridor and short-range planning studies seems to have ignited a level of exuberance of interest from a number of MPO staffs, which c ited this as a best practice. MPOs bring significa n t public involvement and community understanding--an essential ingredient for studies with the goal of consensus driven successful ou t comes. Brevard County MPO c i tes as a best practice its involvemen t in the cooperative management of the FOOT-led corridor s tudi es underway in its area. This relationship was forged because a number of previous studies "blew up" because the FOOT could get neither p u b li c n or MPO support for them. The MPO believed it should be more invo lved in the development and conduct of these studies and worked with FDOT to reinvent the process. With the MPO's inv o lvement, the corridors planning activities related more closely to t he MPO's long-range plan. The MPO now assists in the preparation of the scope of work, selectio n of the consultant and management of the study. In addition, through the MPO, the local governments affected by the corridor p l ans ar e more invo lv ed in the deci s ion-making process. The intergovernmental management team conducts a conference call among the MPO, FOOT and consultant every two weeks to discuss project progre ss, details and to provide direction. Occasional facet o-face meetings supplemen t the telephone conferences. This process of intergovernmental coordination is also creating the catalyst for improvements in technical tools and analyses. For exampl e, an inconsistency between the FDOT consultant's approach to design traffic is coordinated better now with the MPO modeling data to provide for system -w ide consistency. The Sarasota/Manatee County MPO is working closely with FOOT on subarea and corridor studies. Its efforts expand the MPO's ab i lity to perform short-range p l anning studies through a cooperative effort with the FOOT. The Sarasota/Manatee County MPO's involvement includes cooperative selection of project s, consultants and participation in the management of the study. One examp le of the success of this approach occurred during the US 301 Mobility Study The MPO and city comprehensive plan called for a six-lane facility. The city's concerns about the impacts of expanding to six lanes prompted the MPO and FOOT to look in more detail at alternatives to widening 8


tha t could resolve capacity issues in the corridor A plan with more transportation system management components and improvements proved to be a viable solution As a result of this coordination, the MPO and city amended t heir comprehensive plans. The Charlotte County-Punta Gorda Ml'O also participates in corridor studies. Its process is similar to the above example A major feature of their corridor planning coord i nat ion process includes regular progress reviews of projects with the technical adv i sory committee citizens advisory commi tt ee and MPO. B usiness Intere overnmental Coordinati o n Although not purely int ergovernmental, MPOs are getting more involved in partnerships outside of other government agenci es. Some e xamples m e nt ioned included increased involvement with freigh t transporta t ion companies, community groups and chambers of commerce. Metro plan Orlando MPO ci ted as one of its best practices the relationship it developed with the business community An informal transportation roundtable bri n gs together transporta t ion and b u siness people with the purpose to engaged the business community to help solve transportation problems. The roundtable group meets once each quarter over lunc h The agendas are prepared cooperatively be t ween the MPO and chamber representatives The roundtable group takes no formal actions but participants are empower e d w it h information and understanding of actions needed to bring about sol utions to problems. The round tabl e group a lso participat e s in a r ea fly-ins to Washington D C. and Tallahassee to promote the transportation priorities of the reg i o n PUBLIC I NVOLVEMENT Ten MPOs cited public participation as their area of best practice. Many of the MPOs m entioning this category indicated the increa sed emphasis of ISTEA on m e aningful public involvement as a major i ncentive to make changes This catalyst provided them the opportunity to ree va l uate t heir programs, to get better or increased support from their policy boards, and to shift resources to public involve m e n t from other program areas This shift in resources also increased the emphasis on consensus driven decis i on-making and dec reased the traditional reliance on models to give the right answer The examples o f best practices in public invo l vement focussed on just a few areas. However. the areas mentioned are just one of a wide-variety of techniq u es and approaches that are use d by the MPOs For example, surveys that were one of t h e techniques often cited as a best practice are delivered through a variety of techniques including in newsle tt ers newspape r s, web pages, at meetings and events and on-board transi t s ystems. The reali t y is th a t s u ccessful pub li c i n vo lv ement programs inc l ude t h e u se of many techniques and approaches that work best if des igned to reach the in t ended audie n ce. Creativi t y and type of delivery seem to be two i mportant features of best practice programs 9


The increasing attention ofMPOs to meaningful public participation since the passage of ISTEA in itself is a major aspect of best practi ces for MPOs. Reviewing the responses of the MPOs citing public involvement as a best practice reveals several trends, which can be approaches to outline best public involvement practices. Many of the public participation programs are: Seeking a broader participation from the public. Random surveys are one example of such a technique. It not only has potential statistica l significance it is a documented result which can provide balance to single issue participants who can skew the decision-making process. Going where people already have meetings scheduled or to create an event. The classic approach to public involvement is to announce a date and place for the public to come and express its opinion. The change in approach is now to go to public gathering places like shopping malls, meetings of civic and neighborhood groups, or events to solicit public opinion. Although not necessarily rando m, these approaches do often obtain opinions of groups not usually represented in the process. Using existing organizations to accomplish public involvement, particularly consensus-building. Most urban areas have numerous active citizens, civic, business, and neighborhood organizations. Us ually these organizations are capable to organize around a program or i ss ue and represent large numbers of individuals or businesses. Many MPO are learning to work better with these organizations to accomplish their programs and plans. The discussion of intergovernmental coordination best practices includes several examples of this. Many MPO are also working through these groups to fulfill public involvement needs and to reach consensus on issues Tying public opinions to the analysis process. The Charlotte County example cited below is particularly noteworthy. Making greater effort to maintain an on-going and continuous relationship with the public through various forms of communication. The objective of this approach is to not just periodically go to the public for a single issue but to continually educate engage and listen to the public on a regular basis This approach nurtures t he relationship, increases understanding and creat es trust that will help when controversial issues enter the public debate. Redirecting the technical process from solely a technical process to a participatory one using consensus-driven decision-making. MPOs increased involvement in short-range and corridor studies is ensuring more participation in the decisions placing more balance between quantitative information and qualitative factors. 10


The challenge facing MPOs i s to create public involve ment activities which, not only give t h e public access, but also engage t hem actively in the transportation decis i on making process. The usual practice of public hearings produces l ess tha n satisfactory participation in long-range planning activities without direc t and near -tenn impacts To overcome these li mita tions several MPOs are using creative app r oaches to engage the public and obtain mean i ngful involvement. Use of Surveys, Games, Events and Newsletters The Charlotte County Punta Gorda MPO cites as its bes t pract ice the innovative use of surveys and games for public i nvolvement. T h e MPO uses random sample surveys and games to help select priorities for projects and ass ist in other decision-making. Among all the MPOs the Charlotte CountyPunta Gorda MPO stands apart in its degree of creativity in the use of games and unusual sophistication used in analyzing its surveys. Overall, the Char lotte Counry-Punta Gorda MPO is highly successful in its efforts to invo l ve the public in the transportation p l anni n g process. Th e MPO devised several d i fferent methods of genera t ing interest, includ ing conducting surveys, holding neighborhood meetings with interes t groups, sol ici t ing c i t ize n response from MPO news le tters and articles, and holding transportation fa irs at different loc a l shopping malls and other venues These varied efforts not only served to generate interest a nd provide a forum to launch d iscussio n s with citizens over their concerns and ideas for the transportation sys t em, but also provided an unconstrained environment for various topic areas to be explored. The transporta tion fair was the approach that gained the most attention and had the most posit i ve outcome for the c iti zens and MPO staffers al i ke The MPO held the fair eight mont h s before adoption of the plan with the intent t o explain the planning process in the informal setting of a mall to solicit early input and future participation in the development of the plan. T ransportation -related prizes ( such as bicycle helmets or free transpo rtation se rvices), were donated by area businesses and participants in the fair were eligib le to enter a drawing t o win. The Charlotte County Pu nta Gorda MPO also pioneered games to increase understand in g about tradeoffs among projects within a fmancially constra ined context. One such game helped citizens to understand the balance of allocating limited resources t o several different high-priority projects In this game players are "given" a limited sum of money (e. g $200 00) and presented wi t h the imaginary cost of different publi c investments (e.g. one mile of highway c osts $25.00; one add itio nal bus costs $6.00). Five people play in each game. Each player gets a length of ribbon and string representing t he availa b le resources for roadway and sidewalk infrastrucmre investments. Plavers use the ribbo n and string by committi n g it to projects by sticking it t o a map, or they can trad e i t for more of another rype of facility. The players discuss tradeoffs and choices until t he resources are committed to projects. The strong grap h ical context of the game allows participants to understand the tradeoffs necess ary in selecting the projects. By recognizing the limitation s of fund i ng and the constraints invo l ved i n prioritizing projec t s the citizens are better able to understand t he difficulty in selecting among II


projects for inclusion in the long-range t ransportation pla n for the region. The MPO and the public like the games. The media can use the graphics to inform the public about the results "!be random sample s urveys used by the Charlotte County Punta Gorda MPO are unique in the application of statist ical analysis to v alidate project selection criteria. The MPO staff has successfully informed the board members and public about the statistical procedure used to ensure that the criteria and relative weighting of the criteria are consistent with the results of the random sample surveys. Communication is a top priori t y of the Naples/Collier MPO pub lic involvement program The MPO uses a variety of techniques to engage the public, including newsletters and transportation fairs which are cited as its top best practices. The Naples/Collier MPO publishe.s two eight-page newsletters on a quarterly bas i s t o ensure the public understands the programs and plans of the MPO. O ver 300 people receive MPO in Motion and Bicycle and Pedestrian News. The MPO hired a public information specialist to produce and publish the newsletters. The MPO uses the newsletters as a way to distribute a transportation survey to ask readers about their trip-making characteristics and priorities for transportation improvements. The Naples/Collier MPO's Transportation Fair and F orum included tents, displays, exhibitors, events, speakers and intended to be a way to solicit project priority votes from participants. The event included incentives such as drawings for prizes to attract attendees. The media cooperated by providing significant coverage before and during the event. Another specific event was "Walk your children to school day co-sponsored by the Partnership for a Walkable America. A poster contest in the school system was used to draw attention to the event and lack of sidewalks between residential areas and schools. The Spring Hill / Hernando County MPO indicated that one of its most effective public involvement teclmiques is a survey form published in the local newspapers and also posted on its web site. The survey i n strument the MPO u s e s is primarily a multiple choice f o rmat. The questionnaire asks for respondents facility priorities and trave l characteristics. Over the two years this teclmique produced 900 respons es to a s sist the MPO to select project priorities and to guide other transpoation planning activities. The Lee County MPO cited its use of a random household survey to solicit input for its enhancement, surfac e transportation, aviation and transit project selection process as its best practice. The MPO achieved about a 15% average response rate. The MPO board members like the approach as a balance to the concurrent process of the teclmical evaluation and recommendations from the T AC. The MPO believes this approach overcomes some of the barriers to participation, which result fro m a few meetings at limited geographical locations. Also cited was a better participation !rom lower-income res i dents who because of lack of transportation or other reasons, cannot attend a community meet i ng. The Lee County MPO also uses a similar survey and a web site to collect data for its Congestion Management System Plan. A "clip and mail" form is published in 12


newspapers, community news leners, and on i ts web site which asks the respondent w h e r e are the congested parts of the transportat i on system. Tit i s technique reac he s people not ordinarily heard from thro ugh more t raditional methods T he technique is well liked by the media who get stories on the front-end advising people of an opportunity to be heard and after by publishing the results. Ele cted officials like it because i t provides them with assurance that the process will reflect public opinion. One drawback is the potential for "stuffing" the results by multiple retums by a group or ind i vidual. T he MPO says it can spo t this and adjust for it, while it likes the use of it to complement the technical process of identifying congestion problems The Brevard County MPO believes every MPO s hou ld publish a newsletter. It uses it n ewsletter to focus on upcoming issues and decisions rather than reporting just on past activities. The newsletter is sent on a quarterly basis t o a mailing list of 1700, including civic groups, neighborhood organizations, agencies and individuals t o alert and educate them about issues about to be decided. lnvestmen!s in Outreach and ConsensuJ In addition to engaging the public other challenges of public involvem ent include reaching a broad spectrum of individuals and groups that don't normally participate, and organizing and presenting the process in a way tha t facilitates reaching a consensus A number of MPOs provide successful examples. The Hillsborough County MPO is taking their message directly to the public through various tec hniq ues tbat go well beyond what is required. A major goal of the MPO is to engage people who would not normally attend public hearings In this way, the MPO is able to raise awareness and seek opinions from people or groups who go beyond the small number of activists who usually participate. The MPO' s public outreach includes setting up displays in public malls, attending civic, neighborhood and chamber of commerce meetings, managing a web site, and creating other sim ilar techniques. The MPO believes that its proactive public outreach program is successfully engaging the public and giving them the opportunity for meaningful participation in the decision making process. The for the long-range transportation plan update the Hillsborough County MPO also had an aggressive public involvement procedure which invited the public to participate in shaping the direction of the community in the future The planning process used to engage the public depicted three distinct approaches to meeting future transportation needs The first, the highway emphasis p lan addressed improvements to the highway system while maintaining the existing bus trans it s sys tem Tbe second, the bus emphasis plan, expanded bus transi t services and continued necessary highway improvements. The third, the rai l/bus/highway plan, included projects related to on both highway and bus service, and on a new rail transit network The MPO's approach allowed the public to consider three discrete long-range plan scenarios each of which had distinct costs and benefits. 13


The Miami Urban Area MPO cites the public involvement process used in defining its Transpo rtation Improvement Program (TIP) as it best practice. It believes its achievement is t o go to the policy board with a consensus of the general public and its technical committee on the priority and selection of projects. The process is ongoing through its monthly staff committee meetings that include representatives from all affected agencies. This technical committee regularly considers the TIP in its deliberations. Concurrently, the citizens committee is addressing the same issues The municipalities and other stakeholders get involved directly through written requests for review and participation in the annual approval cycle. Other tools are used such as a web page and a newspaper insert brochure The Gainesville MPO decided to focus on developing a vision for its next update of the long-range plan by increasing its investment in public participation. It is foregoing revalidating its model and instead using those resources to engage in a public dialog to d efine a strategic vision for the Gainesville urbanized area. There will be a heavy emphasis on testing alternative land use concepts that could be efficiently served with transit. The T allahassee-Leon County MPO conducts a "local advance project delineation p rogram" starting about six months prior to the scheduled start of a detailed project developme nt and environment corridor study. The purpose of this advance public involvement project is to identifY issues and alternat ives well in advance of the more expensive study. This process gets the public involved early and promotes ownership in the problem solving process. It discourages adversarial rhetoric and focuses on issues and alternatives to solve them. People living or doing business within 300 feet of the project receive meeting notices. In addition, the MPO publishes the meeting notices i n local newspapers. Task and Citizen Advisory Committees A number of MPOs make effective use of special purpose task tbrces and citizen advisory committees. The Sarasota/Manatee MPO uses ad hoc task forces to address specific issues and make recommendations to the MPO board. One example was the study and resolution of a drainage problem near St. Armand's Circle. A facilitator was hired to work with the appointed task force that discussed possible alternatives to solving the problem. Another example of use of an ad hoc task force was the controversy over w hether to reconstruct the Ringling Bridge as a high level or low-level bridge. Aesthetics became a big part of the discussion. The advantage of the ad hoc task force is their ability to focus on the problem at hand using informed citizens to keep focused on an issue and to make a recommendation. When the bus iness of the ad hoc group is complete, it disbands. The Jacksonville Urbanized Area MPO believes it has gone over and beyond the typ ical public involvement process for MPO programs. This MPO covers all of Duval County and parts of Clay and St. Johns Counties. The Jacksonville Urban ized Area MPO 14


implements significant el e ment s of its program thro ugh existing p l anning advisory groups. ln the city of Jacksonville, the Mayor appoints the members of six different citizens planning advisory committees, one for each planning district of the city The CPACs perform advisory duties for a broad range of planning activities. Th e MPO uses this existing public involvement structure to present its plans and programs for review. Similarly, in other jurisdictions within its area, the MPO soli c its the review of local community planning and zoning board s The MPO' s c i tizen advisory committee is comprised partially of the chairs of each of these platming advisory or zoning committees. In this way these committees and the MPO C A C provide input on local interests and potentially consistency with other planning decisions. A similar process is specifically used for its long-range transportation plan and TIP, and enhancement program development. Separate special steering committees comprised of agency technical staff and citizens provide a working group t o participate from the start of each process This allow s early scree n ing and input to plans and programs before engaging in other aspects of the public involvement program. REPORTING FORMATS One of the communication tools that might be considered an element of public involvement, but can stand alone as a best practice is th e formatting of published reports such as the long range plan, the T IP and other larger volume reports The four examples given are among the best practices cited by several MPOs. The Ocala/Marion County MPO reorganized its TIP by roadway segments as opposed to its previous m ethod of listing by project number order. This seemingly minor change made it much easier for the public t o understand and to find the projects of interest. In addition, one of the MPO's most popular documents is its Traffic Counts Book that contains state county and city roadway data. The Brevard County MPO is planning to create a reference data book which provides s t atistics and other information about each section of roadway and other components of its transportation system. The MPO of Palm Beach County develops computer programs which help solve various traffic LOS analysis problems. It has plans to publish these programs in a handy reference guide. The Vol usia County MPO pub li shed its T AZ data book for the firs t time with maps to facilitate understanding of the data The Polk County Transportation Planning Organization (MPO) recently published a ll its transportation documents in one binder for easy reference by the public and other practitioners. 15


USE OF MODELS AND GIS These examples of best practices highlight two significant trends First MPOs are increasing their capabilities t o present data graphically oilen directly from model output. The use of GIS capabilities is a powerful way to commun i cate complicated data to the public. Second the emphasis on addressing multi-modal plan ning has created a need for improved models. The Broward County MPO is making an effort to convert data files to display in GIS applications. To develop its approach to the application of GIS, the MPO staff visited other MPOs and agencies to view their systems. Also in cooperat ion with other MPOs, it sought and gained the assistance of federal agencies and tbe state to support staff training As a result of this interaction, a users group was formed. The director expressed the opinion that it is a good practice in itself to have MPOs to come together t o help each other out." One example of the application of the GIS system was to analyze WAGES client data relating to residence and job locatio n and the availability of the transportation system t o serve them. The Pasco County MPO staff has responsibility to manage the county's comprehensive planning process. As one tool it uses GIS maps to track and show historic data relating to the trends of consumption of undeveloped lands. These data are helpful i n developing factors for projecting future development trends for use for population and transportation planning. The Metroplan-Orlando MPO uses a new version of the Florida Standard Urban Transportation Model Structure that incorporates the ability to conduct transit modeling during the development of its long-range plan. Thi s newer version of the model improved the accuracy of mode choice analysis and conformed to the Federal Transit Administratio n s requirements for majo r investment studies. The impetus for the expansion of the model was re a lly geography: Orlando's urbanized area is adjacent to several other co u nties that generate significant numbers of work trips into and out of the urban core. The MPO wanted to better combine its transportation and land use planning, and thus, tried to expand its study area to better simulate external travel into and out of the urbanized area. MANAGEMENT SYTEMS AND DATA COLLECTION The Broward County MPO cited its Congestion Management System (CMS ) planning and associated corridor planning as its best practice. The FDOT worked closely with the MPO to develop a prototype CMS that could be a model for others. The resulting plan identified 16 corrido rs, for which it examined the traftk demand, in tersect ions crash prob lem s vehicle occupancy, geometries, land use character, transit, pedestrian and bicycle fa cil ities, and access to better understand travel i n the corridor. One important aspect of the procecgs is getting the neighborhoods to help determine what transportation system management improvements would work best to preserve the character of their areas. This process has been successful in engaging the neighborhoods and elected .16


officials partially because of the detailed leve l, character and relative immediacy of the types of improvements under consideration. A study which recommends a turn-lane at an intersection to reduce r ear-end crashes is the type of recommendation easily understood in terms of impacts and benefits. This "touchy-feel it" type of corridor approach is generating a great deal of interest. The process goes beyond identification priority setting and funding by tracking and guiding the implementation. The MPO chooses the priority order for the 16 corridors and the priorities for the list of improveme n ts identified within each corridor for funding Funding i s set-aside for the CMS plan projects from the STP, Enhancement and CMAQ funding categories. The Pinellas County MPO's systems monitoring and data collection p rogram supports its CMS planning efforts as well as the county's concurrency programs The MPO assigned three staff members full-time to the collection and analysis of the data. Part of their duties includes the identification of congested corridors and high accident locations and monitoring the performance of the system. The MPO produces a performance report, whic h tracks trends and prov ides an evaluation of the performance of implemented strategies. The Hillsborough County MPO believes its efforts to maintain an inventory of t ransportation sys tem characteristics and system performance data will soon result in an effective tool for decision-making. The system is a series of linked databases that can display some of the data for analysis uses. The primary use at this time is to help analyze corridors and to test alternatives for projects in the congestion management plan. The Gainesville MPO collects data annually for LOS measurements and is a concurrency data clearinghouse for Alachua County, the City of Gainesville and various consultants. This prov ides one consistent source of data for LOS information for concurrency and other analyses. PROJECT SELECTION CRITERIA AND PROCESSES The MPO's annual list of project priorities must be based upon project se lection criteria that considers the approved long-range transportation plan, the results of the transportation management systems, and the MPO's public involvement procedures. The selected projects of the Transportation Improvement Program also must be consistent with the approved comprehensive plans within the MPO boundaries. Some of the MPO long-range plans were developed in close cooperation with the local governments in the ir metropolitan areas resulting in transportation projects that strongly reflect local land use and development objectives. Designing project selection criteria that reflect consistency and technical requirements is a challenge. Some examples of best practices show how MPOs addressed this challenge. The St. Lucie MPO project selection process for its aiJport, port, transit and roadway prio rity lists relate to principles from all of the ISTEA management and monitoring systems. The qualitative criteria employed principles from four of the seven IS TEA 17


management and monitoring systems. Priority was given to consistency with the MPO's cost feasible plan and projects on the FIBS. The quantitative criteria employed three of seven ISTEA management and monitoring systems. In addition accident analysis was a factor in the priority. A maximum of 49 points can be awarded based upon the combined qualitative quantitative and accident criteria. The process weights some of the criteria to balance selection between new construction, reconstruction and intersection improvements. This very sys t ematic approach makes it easy for MPO board members to reach agreement on the selections The Brevard Urban Area MPO used both objective and subjective criteria to gauge the extent to which proposed improvements would become prioritized projects. These criteria included cost and availability of rights-of-way environmental impact, neighborhood impacts conformity to the co mprehensive plan improvements in mobility, system connec t ivity, hurricane evacuation potential, work committed and cost effectiveness. The Broward County MPO developed a seven-factor system to distinguish among its proposed improvements Projects received weighted scores based on whether the improvement met the criteria. Projects with the highest rating became part of the cost feasible plan. Thei r seven criteria are: social sensitivity, interrnodal accessibility FIHS/hurricane evacuation support, network continuity, location in a transportation concurrency exception area, volume-to-capacity ratio and cost effectiveness ratio Fort Walton Beach also weighed its improvement projects against both quantitative and qualitative criteria. Its assessment criteria considered the degree to which residential or business relocation would be necessary, the impacts on historic landmarks, disruption of scenic beauty of the region, the impact of a project on the mission of the military in tbe region (Eglin Air Force Base), and also on the reduction of overall vehicle hours of travel. The Miami MPO pr ior itized its selections by using criteria that evaluated: whether an improvement promotes the development of a multi-moda l transportation system; if it improves mobility and preserves the social integrity of the community ; whether it improves the environmental quality of the area; and whether it encourages economic development. The Lee County MPO a ls o reviewed whether a project had an impact on the surrounding jurisdictions, and the extent to which it was compatible with the improvements planned in adjacent counties (specifically Collier County). INTEGRATION OF TRANSPORTATION AND LAND USE PLANNING Developing t he long-range transportation plan in conjunction with the local government comprehensive plan is an integral part of planning for a well designed transportation system that will be adequate to meet future land use demands Recognizing l ocal 18


government goals to encourage efticient development patterns that comb i nes different land uses, red uces trips, and conserves land, some MPOs plaru>ed transporta t ion improvemems that would support these patterns. The Charlotte County Punta Gorda MPO drafted its LR TP as the transportation element of the comprehensive plan t o ensure close coordina tion be t ween the two. The MPO linked its long-range plan to t h e comprehensive plan by coo r dinating the goals objectives, and policy statemen t of each document, resul t ing in complete consistency be tween the two documents. This cooperative approach has led to more responsivenes s to land use, housing, conservation, coastal management and other issues that emerged. Each set of goals, objectives and policies pertain to the agene )' tha t adopts the plan, which is also consistent with the Florida Transporta tio n Plan. The MPO also performed analyses of the "build-out" of its adopted land use p lan to d e termine the ultimate impac t on the transportation system. The appwach was successfu l in the sense that the large cost of the transportation system under build out was far beyond the available resources As a result of this analysis, land use p lan changes were made providing for better distribution of commercial uses, more use of transit and more recommended acquisition of land through the C.A.R.L. program This work was nominated for the 1999 Federal Highway Adminsitration's Environmental Excellence Award. In some areas within the Brevard County MPO the residential uses and non-residential uses are quite segregated, resulting in an i ncreased demand on the transportation network. In these areas of the county, the MPO considers a higher priority to i mplement transportation strategies if they have the potentia l to create a better job to hou sing balance. The MPO recognizes the value of a mixed use development patterns that creates shorter home to work trips, less congested roadways and an overal l reduction in traffic volume s The Goals and Objectives in the MPO's long -r ange t ransportation p lan clearly stress the need to evaluate transportation projects for thei r anticipated effect on development decisions. The Tallaha ssee-Leon County MPO also pays particular attention to the relationship between the transportation system and the surrounding land development patterns, when developing its impro vement projects. The Capitol region struggled with the decision of how best to improve its tra nsportation system, cognizant that new improvement projects would have the direct impact of channeling new growth throughout the area. The pressing question became where was most desired location for new growth to occur To address this issue the long-range plan evaluated three different land use scenarios. One emphasized conformity with the current comprehensive plan approach t o growth, another emphasized improvements tha t would enhance urban infill and a t hird focused growth in what became known as the "sou the rn strategy." The compreh ens ive plan approach dealt with growth rates based on historical t rends and patterns and allocated most of the growth to the eas t and northeast sec tions of the county's urban service area. The urban infill scenario dealt with concentrating growth in the urban core, encompassed by Capital Circle and Interstate 10. This scenario also assumed several factors, such as a high degree of infill development h igher densities major redevelopment efforts, and dis in cent i ves to building outside the infill boundary. The ftnal scenario, the southern 19


strategy, focused on encouraging development in the southeast pan of the county The eventual approach approved by the MI'O was the latter of the three alternatives: to focus the thrust of gro\\1h into the traditionally underdeveloped sout h end of the county by primarily focusing infrastructure improvements in that area. By developing plans to channel gro\\1h in a more desirable manner, the MPO was also able to address another community goal that of preserving one of the area s natural resources. It has always been a local priority to maintain the aes thet ic character of the region, by preserving the traditional road canopy along some of the major arterials of the region Facing high growth rates and pressures to accommodate increasing demand, the MPO considered the historical policy of not widening canopied arterials important during plan develop ment. This emphasis on exploring and promoting alternative modes of trave l and on testing improvements in the ''southern strategy," allowed the development of strategies to preserve these resources. The Martin County MPO cites as a best practice its approach to its 2025 long-range plan update. The scope of work, which i s under development will link transportation and land issues much better than the previous plan. The approach will address many more non-highway alternatives. The emphasis also will be on alternative land use analyses which include a greater level of mixed-use communities (versus sprawl and strip commercial centers) and other alternatives to provide an alternate future to the currently adopted land use plan. The MPO hopes to get the cooperation of the county s land use planners t o assist them and to consider modifications to the comprehensive p lan to promote alternatives that create more transportation efficient development patterns. CONCURRENCY Addressing concurrency requirements was another area where innovations in planning resulted in a more desirable outcome for the metropolitan region. The requirements of Chapter 1 63, Florida Statutes, stipulate the need for roads and o the r public services to be available concurrent with the impacts of development. The legislation recognizes however, that an unintended result of this requirement is the discouragement of urban in fill development and redevelopment which may directly conflict with the land use goals of local governments and the state. Continued expansion of this infrastructure can also be prohibitively expensive for an urban region and can have negative impacts o n the quality of life for its citizens, directing gr0\\1h out into the hinterlands and inevitably increasing dependency on vehicular travel. To address this balance between achieving desired development patterns and maintaining the necessary transportation infrastructure, some MPOs employed innovative measures to encourage more redevelopment and infill development in the central core The Broward County MPO designated a Transponation Concurrency Excep tion Area (TCEA) i n its long-range plan to encourage developmen t patterns that support the use of transit. In the e astern portion of the County development is exempt from meeting transportation concurrency requirements of esta blished level-of-service standards. Due to 20


the less stri nge nt LOS requirements, roadway imp r ovements in this area receive a low er priority consi d eration than do improvements out side its boundary The Hillsborough County MPO also supported a TCEA tor the entire geographic area of the City of Tampa, excluding a segment north of the University of South Flo rida campus The city defined its TCEA by designating its d owntown area ( including Ybor City) as a downtown revitalization area, the West Sho r e area and eastern city industrial area as an urban redevelopment area, and t he remainder o f the City as an urban infill area. In this the City can take a more flexible approach to ensuring those p ub li c fa c ilities and services needed t o support development are available conc u rrent with that development. It can also permit more diverse planning strategies t o encourage neighborhood preservation, i nfill developmen t revita li zation, and use of alternative transportation systems. It was determined that the establishmen t of a TCEA for the City ofTampa would allow desirable growth t o continue and e n s u re the e c onomic comp et i t iveness and we ll -being of t h e region's most significant residential and business center. The Pasco County MPO uses its mode l expertise to maintain the coun ty's concurrency management system The i n puts are updated b i ennially to provide the latest traffic capacity estimates to determine excess capacity availability for issuing rezoning and building permits. This information is also used in the update of comprehen sive plan elements. USE OF THE INTERt"'ET Many of the metropolitan planning organizat i ons are currently using the World Wide Web to provide users with information about their organizational structure, agency mission, l ong-term regional goals and object i ves Some arc using it to communicate detailed information about major transportation planning and construction projects underway. Some uses of the web i nclude: soliciting real-time feedback from the public through e l ectronic mail, reader-feedback surveys, and interac t ive bulletin boards. The following examples highligh t a samp l e of the creativ e and resourceful best practices now employed by many MPOs via the I nternet. The North Central Florida Regional Planning Counc il maintains an internet site for the Gainesville MPO that h i ghlig h ts the transportation planning activities undertaken in recent years Users can preview key elemen t s o f the region's Year 2020 Long Range Transportation Plan, as well as learn abou t programs offered by the transportation disadvantaged program. The Brevard M e tropolitan Planning O r gan ization provide s citizens with information on an ongo ing arterial corridor project within Indian River County The U S I Arterial Investment S!Udy is one of the project web s i tes The web site explains bow the project will affect citizens during the both proc ess and follow ing its completion It spe ll s out the purposes of the study, its expected dura t ion, and provides several differen t avenues for the public to get more information and to participate. 21


The Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization maintains a web site that provides an overview of the MPO's organizational structure, purpose and ongoing transportation planning efforts. Part of the web site provides for interactiv e communication between citizens and the agency. The public can describe any problems it is experiencing on particular roadway segments. The MPO uses this information to create a "Traffic Congestion Report." Survey participants can submit the name of the problematic roadway segment. They are prompted for the specific points be twee n w hich congestion is the worst the time and conditions unde r which they experienced the problems and what they would offer as a proposed solution to the trouble The public sees examples of cost affordable solutions, such as traffic signal t im ing extension of turn lanes, minor intersec t ion improvements, designation of one-way streets, or changes in road striping. This information is very beneficial to the MPO when developing its Transportation Imp rov ement Program The West Florida Regional Planning Council maintains web sites for the Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach and Panama City MPOs. The borne pages offer a thorough overview of the various groups that advise the MPOs, suc h as the technical coordinating committee, the citizens advisory committee the local coordinating board, and the bike/pedestrian advisory committee The web sites also offer descriptions of all of the products generated by the MPOs, including the TIP, the LRTP, UPWP, the Bicycle Plan, the Pedestrian Needs Plan, and others. The web sites provide contacts and telephone numbers as well as e-mail options for further informat ion T he site has links to each of the individual MPOs in the Panhandle. The Fort Walton Beach MPO's Home Page allows users to view different maps showing the adopted Cost Feasible and Needs Plan projects. Minutes from each MPO mee t ing are also available for viewing on the web site This allows the public to h ave newly updated action reports of scheduled or recommend ed actions, a t the press of a button. The site offers links to various other national, state, and loca l p l anning agencies, transportation research centers, and related government departments. Both the Panama City and the Pensacola MPOs' Home Page offer on-line memoranda and updated meeting agendas highlighting items for information discussion, and action. Each site includes a link to the Institute of Transportation Engineers' documents on "Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Transportation." These and other MPOs in F lorida and others around the country use t he Internet in their planning and public involvement efforts Their efforts are leading the way to the future Increasingly as people gain access to the Internet's vast array of offerings web site development will likely become a more prominent medium tor the dissemination and exchange of i nforma tion by MPOs. Real-time data, instant electronic feedback on proposed acti ons, and widespread accessibility of information to anyone who can access a computer are malting clear the importance of the Internet in public invo l vement, intergovenun cntal coordination and transportation planning efforts 22


CREATIVE FINANCING The Gainesville MPO's long-range plan revealed a shortfall in funding to pay for the ident ified needed improvements. A s s uch the Gainesville MPO considered various alternative rev enue sources including: increasing tbe local option gas t a x ini t iat ing road impact fees, inc r easing the parking fees at the Un i versity and initiating a s tudent transportation fee to fund transit investments. At the core of the cost feasible plan w ere sev eral policies relating to the transportation n etwork surround ing the University. Examp l e policies include: no new parking spaces at UF; an increa se in the cost of parking deca l s to $750.00; and free bus passes for facu lty students and staff. The MPO includes these policy recommendations in it s long-rang e p l an although it h as no power t o dictate policy c h anges with in the Univers it y. The res u lting cost feasible plan included improve men ts t otaling approximately $72.4 million (leaving a slight surplus of unspen t revenues assuming implementation of its polic i es is accomplis h ed) Facing a significant funding shortfall the L ee Coun t y MPO developed a reserve list of pr ojects totaling $ 1 65.6 million in costs This list of projects has equal priority those incl u ded in the fin ancially feasible p l an but will be funded in part through alt ernative or innovative sources incl uding land developer contributions, as they become available One alternati v e funding s ource was recently implemen ted in Lee Coun ty The long range plan indicated that the only way to offer financial incentive s for travel outside pe ak hours is t o adjust t oll pr icin g on the Cape Cora l Br i dge Sani b el Causeway and on the Mid Poin t Bridge." The MPO implemented a congest i on pricing demonstra t ion project which offers off-peak t oll discounts as an inducement to cross the Cap e Coral and Mid Point Memorial Bridges just before or after the peak period A federal demonstration grant funds part of the debt service on the bridge construction bonds. ALTERNATIVE MODES During the deve l opmen t of the long range plan, s taff of the M i ami Urb an Area MPO and its adv isory co m mittees discus sed whether bicycle / pedestrian modes although identified and required by ISTEA, were being under-emphasized. The Technical Advisory Committee of the MPO recommended allocation of 1.5% of all fut ure funding for bicycle p ede strian, and greenway projects (separate from and in addition to transporta t ion enhancements). The MPO board adopted this recommendation, and has determ ined to se t as i de 1.5% from all eligible capital projects for such improvements. Alternat i ve modes of trave l are strongly encouraged in the Pinellas Co unty MPO l ong range plan. The bicycle plan in cludes a network of offroad and on-road faciliti e s for travel throughout the area. The single larges t bicycle facility available i n Pinellas County is th e Pinellas Recreational Trail ("the Pinellas Trail"), which begin s in Tarpon Sp rings, and extends south through Clearwater to downtown St. Petersburg Sidewalks are a ls o a priority in the LRTP which requires that they be included in all new roadway construction projects. 23


The Pasco County MPO also had a strong emphasis on incorporating alternative modes of t ravel into the long-range t ra nsportation plan indicating that both bicycle and pedestrian facilities will be included on most new county and state roadway construction. This will inc lude sidewa lks and a new 4-foot wide paved shoulder, whe r e right-of-way constraints are not an impediment to their construction. The plan calls for sidewalks on both sides of the road in the urbanized parts of the region It is expected that by the plan's 2015 horizon, 48% of all transportation corridors will have bicycle lanes or wide outside lanes to accommodate bikes and 19% of all corridors will include pedestrian facilities. The Volusia County MPO addresses bicycle and pedestrian facilities at great length throughout the long-range plan. Bicycle crashes in Volusia County were rated the fourth highest in the state in 1991, nearly 281 per 100 ,000 people. The MPO established a "suitability rating for all major roadways for bicycle usc. The plan includes standards for its future bicycle network that require all improved urban roads to be constructed with marked bicycle Janes, and improved rural roads w i th paved shoulders or marked bicycle lanes. Where the roadways are constrained bicycle safety is improved by removing on street parking. AIR QUALITY Pinellas County is an a i r quality maintenance area; Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties are considered a single airshed. The Pinellas County MPO is using Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds to pursue alternative fuels for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority's (PSTA} fleet. PSTA currently operates an electric bus powered by a stationary photovoltaic array allowing the bus to run virtua1\y emission free. The Hillsborough MPO is also pursuing the use of altemative fueled buses to reduce mobile source emissions OTHER EXAMPLES A few other miscellaneous examples briefly presented comple t e best examples provided by the Flo rida MPOs. The Ocal a/Marion County MPO assists in the reviews of Developments of Regional Impact (ORis) and in the preparation of the local government comprehensive plan's evaluation and appraisal reports (EARs). The Spring Hill/Hernando County MPO has solved a staffing problem by hiring an "inhouse" part-time consultant. The Martin County MPO cites its zero-based budgeting process for the UPWP to lower tbe cost of its staff services without affecting deli ver ables The budget ties to a tracking system to ensure expenditures are consistent with the budget plan. 24


ASSESMENTS OF PERFORMANCE UNDER JSTEA The sign ing of!STEA in December of 1991 created a new set of opportunities fo r MPOs especially Transportation Management Areas (TMAs) in urban areas of over 200,000 people. Most MPOs needed no t only to redefine their relat ionsh ips with their state DOT, but also needed to develop stronger partnerships with the expanding lis t o f stakeholders i n the transportation decision making process More emphasis on meaningful public participation, planning factors. management systems air quality financ i al feas i bility and major investment studies challenged MPO staffs This list of new challenges created a need to educate staff, inform board members and the public to imp lement both the spirit and meaning of!STEA. At the start ofTEA-21 it is appropriate 10 look at what the MPOs believe are their successes areas needing improvement and that if given the chance they wou ld do over. The MPO directors answered the question about their v iew of programs implemented under IS TEA immed iately afte r answering the question about their best practices. The purpose of this juxtaposition was to see how their perspec t ive changed when placing the question in the context ofiSTEA and to see how areas they did well related to the responses to the best practice question Most revealing may be the items they thought needed doing over. The directors' iusig hts into these areas gone wrong can suggest whe r e bes t practice models need developing MPO d irecto rs cited s ix areas (with more than one response) th ey believed they indi v idually performed well to implement ISTEA I. Public Involvement (7) 2. Project Selection Process (3) 3. Multi-moda l Planning (3) 4 Congestion Management System Planning (2) 5. Long Range Transportation Plan (2) 6. Enhancement Program (2) Similarly, the MPOs cited six areas (with more than one response) they be l ieved they would like to imp rove. I. Public Involvement (4) 2. Project Selection Process (3) 3. Enhancement Impleme ntation Process (3) 4 Freight Plann i ng (3) 5. Long Range Tran sportation Plan (2) 6. More use of flexible funding opportunities fo r transit (2) 25


(Note the similarity in the topics in the performed well and lik e to imprO\'C lists. Four additional MPOs who "want to impr ove" add to th e 15 other MPOs which focus on public participation either as a best practice or belief they have performed it well. This reinforces the relationship between public participation and intergovernmental r elations.) The responses to areas the MPOs would like to do over were focused on the MPOs long range plan Half or eight of the MPOs that responded to this question indicated they would like to redo their long range plans. The focus on doing the long-range transportation plans over re lated to different aspects for different MPOs The MPOs cited five general reasons for wanting to redo their long range transportation plans: I. Public Participation 2 Financial Forecasti ng/C onstra ints 3 Model Validation/Use of Mode ls 4. Land Use Alternatives 5. Multi-modal Alternatives The Tallahassee-Leon Cotmty MPO believed it did not get good public participation during the development of the last plan. The Martin County MPO believes its long-range plan has very little support and cites both the technical process and public involvement problems during its developmen t as causes for it. The vision of the plan did not match the vision of the community The Tallahassee-Leon County MPO believes people did not understand the financial plan and because of that, the MPO limited the revenue assumptions used t o current not potential revenues. MetroplanOrlando MPO had a similar difficulty about an anticipated sales tax -which did not pass. Metroplan wou ld have enco urag ed more discussion and debate about whether to add this anticipated sales tax revenue to the plan to raise the awareness of the impacts and tradeoffs to the plan without the tax The Lee County MPO handled a similar problem by creating a reserve f und for revenu es anticipated from developers or impact fees. The reserve fund was too unpredictable as far as revenue stream and t he MPO would like to find another approach. The Polk County Transportation Planning Organization (MPO) believes it should spend less time on model validation and more on evaluating alternatives and improv i ng project priority selection in its next long-range plan update In contrast, the Ocala/Marion County MPO needed more effort on their model validation. Delays in data collection prevented them fro m thoroughly updating their model, which will be corrected in its next update. Although it was one of the MPOs cited for a best practice for looking at alternative land use scenarios, the Tallahassee-Leon County MPO believes the l and use alternatives need more analysis done to assist the MPO to make effective decisions. In a s i milar way, the Miami Urban Area MPO would like to put more emphasis on looking at ways to solve 26


mobility pro b lems in suburban areas versus orientating the sol u tions to downtown access mobility. The Indian River MPO would like to spend more effort to analyze non highway expansion solutions to its mobility problems It appears tbat more MPOs need to develop best practice examples relating to the most significant produc t they develop the MPO long-range plan C L OS I NG The J uly 1997 CUTR stu dy,A Review of the Long-Range Transportation Plans of Florida's Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and this white paper on MPO best prac t ices are directed at helping MPOs identify areas to improve the MJ>O process and plans. The descrip t ion of the bes t practices will provide examp l es that MPOs can emulate to make their programs more effective. A best practice by tbe MPO directors standards is one that is innovative different from tbe usual; that meets goals in an effec t ive efficient and beneficial way reached through engaging and reaching a consensus witb tbe pu b lic, and may be t ransferab l e to other MPOs. A sample of several of t he MPO directors definitions of best practice further helps o u r understanding of a best practice: A planning practice thai works well in your local area and has elements that are transferable around the sla t e ... and works wel/1o efficiently mee1 your planning goals ... One that provides a framework or a forum for the best decision-making process possible ... One that is innovative and accomplishes a goal in a cost-effectiveefficienl manner .. Where you are doing something different or uniquesomething others are not emphasizing -which benefi/S people and is a step forward in 1he way lhings are don e ... Analyli c al process that produce s an answer that achieves the greatest consensus possible ... The resulting census ofMPO best practices provides the direc tors' views of the successes and prob lems witb tbeir own planni n g processes AREAS TH A T NEED BEST PRACTICES Several areas n ot high li ghted need further efforts to create examp les of best practices. One of the areas tbat was strongly stated in tbe discussion of successes and fai l ures under ISTEA, that appears t o be a major concern ofMPOs is the need for improvements i n tbe preparation of the MPO long-range plans However, ano t her int erpretat ion oftbe MPO responses could be that the production of the MPO p l ans is a complicated-multifaceted 27


process that is bound to have some components that are not as successfully implemented as others. Nevertheless for that reason alone it needs more attention. In addition, not all of the II suggest ions from the previous C UTR stud y for improving t he long-range p l ans have best exan1ples for MPOs to emulate. The areas needing examples include: Incorporating a strong visioning process Incorporating strategic planning Incorporating disc us sions of current prob lem s Standard reporting of performance measures, financial, and cost dat a Systema t ic consideration of safety and hurricane evacuation As MPOs continue to refi n e their p l anning processes, examples of each oftbese will be forthcoming. PROFILE OF A BEST PRACTIC E MPO The combi ned best practices ofMPOs can set the framework for the profile of a successful MPO. The list provided below provides a summary of what MPOs believe are their top best practice areas, which if taken togethe r can represent a best practice MPO. Fourteen of the MPOs interviewed cited intergovernmental coordination as a bes t practice example. Ten MPOs cited public participation as their area of best practice. Most of the MPOs that chose public in v olvement as "done well" selected inte r governmental coordination as their best practice. T hese strong relationships suggest that MPOs good in working w ith other agencies will also b e good at working with the public. The success of an MPO to fac ilitate decision-making and coordinating activ ities are by far the most significant features of a best practice MPO. This compilation of best practice responses from MPO directors creates the profile for MPOs t o emul ate Best Practice MPOs will : 1. Have the willingness to reach out t o cooperate with other organizations that have mutual interests or interrelationships. The best practice examples suggest that MPOs realize that reaching beyond their geographic and organiza t ional boundaries in a cooperative manner helps them achieve their goals. The results of this cooperation are often greater than the products the mselves and lead 10 quality programs and efficient implementation 2. Have the w ill i n gness t o encourage the pri\at e sector to participate in the planning p rocess. MPOs are getting involved i n partnerships o uts id e of other governmental agencies A lso private-sector and other partners, through involvement with the process, are empowered 28


with infonna tio n and understanding of actions needed to bring about solutions to problems. Because of their involvement, these groups can act on their own to help solve problems. 3. Integrate public invol vement in all aspects of the MPO's program Successful public involvemen t programs include the use of many techniques and approaches that work best i f designed to reach the intended audience. Creativity and type of delivery seem to be two important features of best practice programs. The public participation programs include t echniques tbat: Seek a broader participation from the public Go where people already gather Use existing organizations Tie public opinions to the analysis process. Maintain an on-going and continuous relationship w ith the public 4. Use consensus-driven decision-makin g in balance with techni cal work MPOs are shifting their resources to increase the emphasis on consensus-driven decision making and to decrease the traditional reliance on models. The concept is that the technical tools should assist in decision-making and not provide the answer absent of other inputs. 5. Use special task forces and ad hoc committees to solve problems MPOs are appoin ti ng task forces and ad hoc committees to refocus the discussion of solutions from the policy board or staff to those who are affected by them. This approach places the MPO into the role of facil i tator versus opponent. Solutions brought forward by use of specia l committees are more likely to happen. 6. Integrate MPO and local governmen t comprehens i v e planning processes Developing the long range transportation plan in conjunction with the local government comprehensive plan is an integral part of planning for a well designed transportation system that will be adequa t e t o meet future land use demands The advantage in this arrangement is that the whole spectrum of p lanning issues. including transportation impacts on l and uses and the shaping o f land use by transportation decisions are conside r ed. This cooperative approach should not only integrate the planning activities of MPOs and local governments but also but also should consider to the maximum extent possible consistency in policy, programs and format. 7. Develop a planning process that the public CliO understand and participate in effectively, and continues to include priority s etting, funding tracking and guiding implementation. 29