An important phase in the development of the region’s Visualize 2045 long-range transportation plan kicked off October 18 with the Transportation Planning Board’s approval of the Technical Inputs Solicitation—a call for area transportation agencies to submit or update all regionally significant projects, programs, and policies they expect to implement between now and 2045.
The Technical Inputs Solicitation is a key step in the development of Visualize 2045 because it gathers together all of the inputs necessary for the TPB to test the Constrained Element of Visualize 2045 for “fiscal constraint” and “air quality conformity”—two federal requirements designed to ensure that the region’s long-range plans are financially feasible and that they support long-term air quality improvement goals. These inputs also allow the TPB to perform analyses of future travel patterns and conditions to help decision makers and the public “visualize” the region’s future under current plans.
The stage of the process also provides an important opportunity for board members, stakeholders, and members of the public to review and comment on the inputs before they are approved for use in the air quality and other analyses. This includes commenting on whether and how the inputs support or advance shared regional goals and priorities, like expanding travel options and supporting compact, mixed-use communities known as Activity Centers.
What kinds of inputs is the TPB soliciting?
Among the inputs required as part of the Technical Inputs Solicitation are system expansion projects like new or widened roadways, new transit lines, or expanded transit service on existing lines. These projects are all required because they add or remove roadway or transit capacity and could therefore affect air quality.
Agencies are also required to identify the operations and maintenance programs required to keep the planned transportation system in a state of good repair. This includes major rehabilitation or replacement of aging roadways, bridges, railcars, transit stations and stops, and other infrastructure as it nears the end of its useful lifespan. Funding for day-to-day operations and maintenance activities, like repaving roadways, inspecting and maintaining transit vehicles, and paying train and bus operators, must also be identified.
Another key required input is transit service and fare assumptions—the “policies” that will affect the operation of the transportation system and could therefore affect travel patterns and air quality. This includes new or updated route, frequency, and fare policy information for the region’s rail and bus systems, as well as new or updated lane restrictions and hours of operation for HOV and HOT facilities.
Finally, agencies are invited—though not required—to submit bicycle and pedestrian projects, especially those that support local circulation within Activity Centers or are part of larger regional facilities.
What will happen next with the inputs?
The deadline for agencies to submit their inputs is November 15. After that, staff will review the information provided and prepare it to be shared with the public. A 30-day public comment period will take place from December 14, 2017, to January 13, 2018. During this time, TPB members, stakeholders, and the public will have an opportunity to comment on the inputs, including whether and how they support shared regional goals and priorities. At its January 17 meeting, the TPB will be asked to approve the inputs for use in the air quality and other analyses.
Once the inputs are approved, the TPB will carry out the federally required Air Quality Conformity Analysis, which must show that future vehicle-related emissions under the plan remain below approved regional limits. The TPB will also carry out analyses of future travel patterns and travel conditions, which are designed to help decision makers and the public “visualize” the region’s future under current plans.
The TPB is slated to approve Visualize 2045 in its final form in October 2018.