Friday, April 17, 2015

Lee MPO Board reviews framework for 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan decisions

The Lee MPO is in the midst of developing the countywide 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), which sets the direction for the County's transportation future. In preparation for the April 17th Board meeting, on April 13th BikeWalkLee sent a letter to the Board outlining the framework for Friday's discussion.

At the April 17th MPO Board meeting, the Board got down to business on the 2040 LRTP starting with a presentation by Staff Director Don Staff that set the framework for the decisions ahead. Don's PowerPoint, entitled 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan Revenues looked at the revenues from all sources--federal, state, local--that were available in the 2035 Plan (developed in 2010) vs. what is available for the 2040 Plan. It also analyzed how those funds were allocated in the 2035 plan by activity and the allocation in 2040. Below are some of the highlights:
  • The gap between needs and available revenues has widened considerably since the adoption of the 2035 LRTP and is continuing to grow. While the population is projected to increase by 51% between now and 2040, the revenues are projected to decrease overall by 26%.
  • Between the two plans (2035 to 2040), the share of local revenues dedicated to maintenance vs. capital has risen from 52% of all local revenues to 62%, demonstrating that a growing share of our resources are being dedicated to maintaining the existing transportation system vs. building new capacity.
  • A slightly higher share of the revenues in our upcoming 2040 LRTP is coming from federal and state revenue sources because the local revenue sources are declining by a greater percent than the state/federal sources; however, both are declining. In the 2040 Plan, 68% of the revenues are coming from local sources and the remaining 32% from federal/state. 
  • Within the overall 26% revenue reduction, that reflects a 15% reduction in federal and state revenues while the local revenues have fallen by 31%. [Note: the local revenue gap would have been 24% instead of 31% if the County's impact fee policy had remained at 100% vs. their current 45% collection rate.] 
  • Of the local revenue sources available for capital projects in the 2040 Plan, 36% is from tolls, 33% from impact fees, and 30% from gas taxes.
  • Taking into account all federal/state and local revenues for capital projects--a total of $1,975 million is available over the 25-year period of the 2040 cost feasible plan. 
Click here to view the full MPO PowerPoint presentation.

Dr. Margaret Banyan spoke on behalf of BikeWalkLee at the Board meeting making the following comments:
Today’s presentation on revenues are a critical foundation of the LRTP. More importantly, this discussion sets the stage for the decisions that lay ahead.

This presentation and a new approach to the LRTP is a response to trends that we have known – trends that we have been getting ready for. As we have been discussing the last five years – or ever since the 2035 LRTP- the available revenues from all sources are declining. At the same time, our population is growing.

The gap between potential needs and available revenues has widened significantly and will continue to grow. Anticipating this situation, as far back as 2010 the MPO Board began to set in motion a series of policies that would shift the transportation paradigm to a balanced multi-modal system.

The goal was to underscore and value transportation choice, connectivity, economic opportunity, livable communities, community character, safety, and quality growth. The approach was clearly to shift away from "congestion management" as the sole criteria for transportation decisions and embrace a broader range of policy options to deal with growth.

Part of the reason for doing this is that federal laws mandate that MPOs address a broad range of goals, including safety, accessibility, and quality of life. The Federal Map 21 legislation required that the LRTP be developed using performance measures to assess and prioritize projects Because of this you can’t just zero in on eliminating congestion, which, by the way, isn’t even one of the eight factors the feds recommend focusing on.

In fact, in a 2013 CUTR report said that, “MPOs should take greater care to demonstrate and document how the projects contained in their cost feasible plan support the adopted goals and objectives of the LRTP.”

To move in that direction, in early 2013, the Executive Committee of the MPO was tasked to guide the 2040 LRTP process. The Committee has worked with staff over the past two years to develop realistic revenue projections, determine the cost to fully maintain existing infrastructure, project the remaining funds that could be allocated to new/expanded facilities; and reinvent project review and prioritization processes based on the LRTP and MPO Board's goals.

Ultimately, the Committee's work provides the framework for making better decisions and directing scarce resources in the most cost effective way, as one of the Committee's key objectives has been to develop a cost feasible plan that is 100% fundable.

By moving ahead in your current direction, you have not only begun to embrace a process that many other MPOs all over the country are using, but you are setting up your process to be consistent with federal guidelines and engaging in smart planning.

You have already taken significant action already:
a) You have integrated transportation and land use planning (adoption of land use scenario);
b) You adopted a "fix it first” approach that emphasizes maintenance and improvement of existing facilities before building new ones
c) You learned from other successful MPO communities (such as Nashville, Broward, Sarasota, and Hillsborough);
d) You have ensured that the highest priority projects are the focus;
e) You have maximized the use of available resources;
f) and finally, perhaps most essential, you adopted a set of goals and objectives upon which you will measure performance.

The one way that you have developed that still requires implementation is for all of the projects that will be considered in the LRTP to be evaluated, consistent with a performance measurement standard, as required by the federal MAP-21 guidelines.

Your process was for all projects to be submitted by local jurisdictions to the MPO on Project Request Forms. We understand that this process is now getting underway.

These project sheets and the new objective evaluation process are an essential element of the process and a way to keep your eye on the ball – the ball here is a fiscally responsible transportation plan that meets the goals and objectives that you have adopted.

We, BikeWalkLee, look forward to working with you as the LRTP process enters a critical stage.

David Urich (lifetime member of Responsible Growth Management Coalition and member of the MPO's Citizen Advisory Committee) also spoke during public comment and urged the Board to seriously review road projects that have been on the needs plan for a long time. Much has changed both in terms of available revenues as well as community desires and it's time to cut the list down to fit the available revenues. He urged the Board to take a "zero-based budgeting approach", evaluating projects in terms of what gives us the most bang for the buck.

Report by Darla Letourneau
Below are links to related documents that were shared with the MPO Board:

BikeWalkLee Blog April 9, 2015: Road Zombies in Lee County: The Invasion of Bad Planning in the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan

Key MPO Board Decisions to date re: 2040 LRTP:

1. Goals and Objectives for 2040 LRTP
Lee MPO Board Approved LRTP 2040 Goals and Objectives--8/22/14

2. Candidate Project Application Process
Lee MPO Board Approved 2040 LRTP Candidate Project Request process

3. Land Use Scenario C adopted by MPO Board on 6/20/14
Links to the Land Use Scenarios report, along with the consultant's recommendation.
· BWL Blog June 23, 2014: Lee MPO adopts land use scenario C, a great beginning to the development of the 2040 LRTP

4. MPO Board Resolutions adopted in December 2010 as part of 2035 LRTP adoption, that set stage for the 2040 LRTP: MPO Board Resolutions #2010-12 and #2010-13.
· BWL Blog December 11, 2010: MPO Board adopted two resolutions to provide policy direction on LRTP

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