Reducing congestion on roadways and transit systems. Providing high-quality transportation options between and within mixed-use Activity Centers. Reducing vehicle-related emissions of harmful air pollutants and greenhouse gases.
These are some of the top regional needs that the Transportation Planning Board is encouraging area transportation agencies to consider when identifying future improvements to fund and include in the 2015 update of the region’s Constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan (CLRP).
The TPB spelled those needs out recently in its 2015 CLRP Call for Projects, which officially kicks off the annual CLRP update process by inviting agencies to submit new projects or to make changes to any projects already in the plan. Under federal law, any regionally significant project that agencies expect to build, operate, and maintain between now and 2040 must be included in the plan. Currently, the CLRP includes hundreds of planned, regionally significant highway, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
The top needs which are to be the focus of the forthcoming CLRP update were identified through a detailed Performance Analysis of how well the future transportation system laid out in the most recent update of the plan, approved in October, is expected to meet the needs of area travelers in 2040.
Under the most recent update, for example, congestion on area roadways is expected to worsen significantly by 2040, with a 62% increase in the number of lane-miles of congested roadway during the morning commute. Transit crowding is expected to worsen, too, with four of five Metrorail lines entering the regional core expected to be at or above capacity by 2040, compared to just one line today.
This year’s analysis also forecast significant drops in vehicle-related emissions of air pollutants between now and 2040, but tougher new federal air quality standards, which are expected in the next couple of years, are likely to require further reductions. And, although greenhouse gas emissions are expected to fall by 21% on a per capita basis between now and 2040, the region will be seeking to achieve additional reductions to mitigate the worst impacts of global climate change.
Several of the other top regional needs identified in the Call for Projects -- providing high-quality transportation options between and within mixed-use Activity Centers, reducing vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) per capita, and increasing the use of travel modes other than driving alone -- all aim to reduce congestion, help further improve air quality, and contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions, among other regional goals.
When agencies submit new projects for inclusion in this year’s update, the TPB will specifically ask them to note how the projects help support or advance the top regional needs identified in the Call for Projects, as well as other regional goals.
In January, once agencies have submitted their projects, the TPB will invite comment from the public and any TPB member or stakeholder before advancing the projects into the next phase of the update process. That phase includes the federally required Air Quality Conformity Analysis, to determine whether future vehicle-related emissions under the plan will remain below approved regional budgets, as well as the Performance Analysis of the plan.
Another formal comment period in September 2015 will provide an opportunity to weigh in on the results of the two analyses and the draft 2015 CLRP update before final TPB approval, currently scheduled for October.
For more information about the 2015 CLRP update, visit www.mwcog.org/CLRP2015.