News Highlight

Heart of COG: Eric Randall

Nov 2, 2016
Eric Randall at Metroway opening

COG Transportation Engineer Eric Randall (COG)

Eric Randall is a metropolitan Washington native. According to Randall, he decided to become a transportation engineer after “growing up getting stuck in traffic on the Beltway.”

“I knew there had to be a better way,” he said.  

An alumnus of Vanderbilt, MIT, and Johns Hopkins, Randall is a Navy veteran, and came to COG after working in transportation planning and engineering roles throughout the region and in London.  

Here are three things you might not know about Randall’s work that supports COG and its members.

Randall managed $58.8 million in federal TIGER grants, which has enabled five agencies to complete 15 bus projects in key transit corridors in metropolitan Washington.  

Created under the Recovery Act, TIGER grants (Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery), have been used over the past six years to improve bus transportation along priority corridors across the region, and create better connections between buses and other forms of transportation.

Randall was brought on as a Transportation Engineer at COG to coordinate the project at the regional level. Although five local governments or transportation agencies are responsible for carrying out the 15 projects, it was Randall’s job to facilitate interaction between these agencies.

One important TIGER project has been the installation of transit signal priority technology. This technology helps keep buses on time by changing or extending green traffic lights to make it easier to pass through an area.  This improvement is only possible through interagency cooperation, said Randall. A traffic signal is operated by the agency that owns the road (like the District of Columbia), while a bus might be operated by a separate agency (such as WMATA). Once all parties agreed to the installation of transit signal priority technology, they had to also agree on a common technology to make it happen.

The federal TIGER money expired at the end of September, and the region was able to use every last dollar. Finishing touches are being put on the last project—the Takoma/Langley transit center in Prince George’s County.  

“It’s been challenging work, but it’s nice to see things completed,” said Randall. “Throughout the next couple of years, I’ll be working on some ‘after’ analysis and reporting. It will be interesting to see the results of this technology and new construction.”

MORE: U.S. Transportation Secretary, Area Leaders Sign TIGER Grants for National Capital Region

Randall staffs the Transportation Planning Board's (TPB) Regional Public Transportation Subcommittee, which helps local agencies think about transportation planning from a regional perspective.   

High-quality public transportation hinges on a system that’s seamlessly linked—where it’s easy to transfer between different services. Maintaining this sort of system can get complicated in the multistate metropolitan Washington region, so the subcommittee serves as a hub for coordination among principal planners from the region’s 15 public transportation agencies. 

The subcommittee helps connect the local concerns of these agencies with the strategic picture of the metropolitan planning process, and the TPB’s work on the region’s long-range transportation planning, and advises on tasks such as regional bus surveys and Metro’s own rail and bus surveys.

A big portion of Randall’s work at COG involves evaluating federal requirements for transportation planning in the region.

Federal agencies are now publishing required performance measures—in areas such as safety, pavement conditions, and highway conditions. COG staff and the subcommittee are working together to figure out how to collect that data—from developing the measures, to reporting performance against targets, and forecasting performance going forward.

“This is the way of the future,” said Randall.  “It is federal law (MAP-21 and the FAST Act), and it is a movement toward an objective, measurable way of choosing and advancing transportation projects.” 

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