The Why and How of Measuring Access to Opportunity: A Guide to Performance Management

Access to jobs, education, healthcare, and other essential services may be regarded as the primary purpose of transportation. Not surprisingly, transportation agencies across the country are increasingly interested in considering this as a key part of measuring system performance. Unfortunately, many transportation practitioners are not sure how to measure how well their system links people … Continued

DOT Innovation Transportation

A transportation engineer on what convinced him to use a Complete Streets approach

west-jefferson“Crazy ideas” in action: Complete Streets features in downtown West Jefferson, NC.

On Tuesday we hosted a panel discussion about Safer Streets, Stronger Economies, new research from the National Complete Streets Coalition on the outcomes of Complete Streets projects across the country. If you missed the event, read our full recap and watch the recorded webinar.

Dean Ledbetter, a Senior Engineer at the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), joined the panel to discuss the Complete Streets project in downtown West Jefferson, NC. There were so many questions about working with transportation engineers, and for Dean specifically, that we said down with him for a follow-up conversation.

Alex Dodds: You mentioned that you initially thought that Complete Streets was a “crazy idea,” but that eventually you changed your mind. What convinced you?
Dean Ledbetter: I don’t know if there was one specific thing. I think I had to go through the [Federal Highway Administration’s] training several times for the reality of something new to overpower the existing “knowledge” I had about what my job was supposed to be. And I have to admit that we only went to those classes to get the free Professional Development Hours not because we really expected to learn anything useful.

Complete Streets

Learn all about the third edition of "The Innovative DOT"

innovative-dot3-cover-thumbEarlier this month we released the third edition of The Innovative DOT: A handbook of policy and practice. The new and improved guide includes tools for state DOTs working to improve safety, alleviate congestion, improve system reliability, accelerate project delivery, preserve valuable assets, reduce environmental impacts, and enhance economic opportunities—all in an era of constrained budgets.

We want to make it as easy as possible to use the new guide, so Smart Growth America and our co-authors the State Smart Transportation Initiative are hosting a free webinar all about it.

Join us tomorrow, January 27, 2015 at 3:00 PM EST to learn about new features of the 2015 edition and to discuss how transportation professionals have applied the manual. Hear from panelists Billy Fields, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Texas State University; Roger Millar, Vice President of Smart Growth America and Director of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute; Adetokunbo “Toks” Omishakin, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Environment & Planning at the Tennessee DOT; and Chris Spahr, SSTI Project Assistant. The speakers will highlight new features in the third edition, and how state DOTs across the country are already putting the manual into action.

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Third edition of “The Innovative DOT” provides new tools for states looking to improve transportation while reducing costs

innovative-dot3-cover-thumbState transportation officials across the country are facing the same challenges: Revenues are falling and budgets are shrinking but transportation demands are continuing to grow.

Innovative approaches can help transportation officials succeed in the face of these challenges, and an updated resource from Smart Growth America and the State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) outlines how.

The third edition of The Innovative DOT, released today, provides 34 strategies that transportation officials can use to position their agencies for success in a new era of constrained budgets. Originally released in 2012 and developed with input from top transportation professionals and agency staff from around the nation, the handbook documents many of the innovative approaches state leaders are using to make systems more efficient, government more effective and constituents better satisfied. The second edition was released in January 2014, and provided three additional tools and 20 new case studies.

“State DOTs across the country are using the tools in this guidebook with great success,” said Roger Millar, Vice President of Smart Growth America. “The third edition contains even more ideas for how DOT staff can lead and improve their agencies’ work.”

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New report examines the fiscal implications of chronic underinvestment in road repair

Repair Priorities

State departments of transportation (DOTs) are spending more money building new roads than maintaining the ones they have—despite the fact that roads are crumbling, financial liabilities are mounting and conditions are not improving for America’s drivers.

$45.2 billion
The amount states would need to spend to bring roads in poor condition into a state of good repair while also maintaining their existing systems.

Those are the findings of Repair Priorities 2014: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads, a new report out today from Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense. The report examines road conditions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, how much states currently invest in road repair and how much they would need to spend to adequately maintain America’s roads.

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Ideas for creating better DOTs at Good Jobs, Green Jobs 2013

How can state departments of transportation (DOTs) cut costs while creating better transportation choices and creating quality jobs?

That’s what Smart Growth America’s Vice President Roger Millar will discuss at this year’s Good Jobs Green Jobs conference, on April 16, 2013 in Washington D.C. Joining Millar for a panel discussion called “Not Your Father’s DOT” will be Eric Sundquist, Managing Director, Smart State Transportation Initiative and Douglas Shinkle, Senior Policy Specialist, National Conference of State Legislatures.

Many state DOTs face falling revenues but rising demand for services. In response to these challenges, DOTs across the country are changing the way they do business. Agencies are taking new approaches to transportation that fit the unique demands of their states and that provide greater benefits at less cost. They are improving existing services in the short term and planning effectively for the long term. They are adopting innovative yet pragmatic reforms. They are reevaluating and retooling traditional practices to ensure that those practices continue to provide users with a robust, economically beneficial transportation network.

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New report highlights laws, policies and program ideas for state transportation officials

The National Conference of State Legislatures has released a new report, On the Move: State Strategies for 21st Century Transportation Solutions. The report is intended to serve as a guide for state legislators, and is filled with policies that promote fiscal and environmental sustainability; facilitate affordable, safe and accessible transportation choices; and achieve shared benefits such as improved public health and economic development.

The new report is broken into four sections, each taking a look at a different aspect of effective policy:

  • Taking the Long View examines policies that exemplify a forward-thinking, sustainable approach to providing surface transportation infrastructure and services over the long term. This includes provision of sustainable transportation funding and consideration of life-cycle costs in transportation decision-making.
  • Using What You Have explores effective and cost-efficient approaches that help make the most of existing infrastructure, such as fix-it-first and asset management, operations and management, and commute trip reduction.
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