DVRPC News: July 2014
Volume 35, Issue 12
DVRPC Awards $7.5 million to 11 TAP Projects
DVRPC has awarded $7.5 million to local projects in Southeastern Pennsylvania through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). The federal program funds community-based "non-traditional" projects designed to strengthen the cultural, aesthetic, and environmental aspects of the nation's intermodal transportation system. This money allows communities to fund bicycle and pedestrian facilities, the conversion of abandoned railway corridors to trails, and stormwater management projects. The statewide TAP will distribute approximately $26 million by September 2014 for all eligible projects.
The eleven projects awarded funding will help implement multi-use trails, connections to SEPTA stations, safe routes to school and pedestrian pathways, bike lanes and bikeway projects, as well as a significant investment in the Philadelphia Bike Share program.
Barry Seymour, DVRPC Executive Director notes: "The federal TAP program is a tremendous opportunity for the region to further invest in bicycle and pedestrian facilities that help to build out The Circuit, our plan for an interconnected nine-county trail network. Support for the Bike Share program will provide new access for residents and visitors to Philadelphia."
FY 2015 DVRPC Board Officers Elected
The DVRPC Board has selected Leslie Richards, Montgomery County Commissioner, to lead the agency as Board Chair through the next fiscal year. Commissioner Richards takes over this leadership role in July, and will serve until June 30, 2015.
The Board also elected the New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner (to be determined) as Vice Chair; Dana Redd, Mayor, City of Camden, as Secretary; and Ronald Henry, the Pennsylvania Governor's Appointee to the Board, as Treasurer.
Symposium Draws Top Transportation Safety Experts and Legislators
On June 10, over 175 transportation safety experts, legislators, researchers, and planners from Pennsylvania shared their accomplishments and discussed some of the most pressing transportation safety policy matters at the Pennsylvania Safety Symposium in Harrisburg.
The event was sponsored by the State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC), in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Pennsylvania State Police, metropolitan planning organizations from the Commonwealth, and others. The day began with opening remarks by Paul Jovanis, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Pennsylvania State University's Larson Transportation Institute; Thomas M. Louizou, Regional Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Region 2; and Tony Furst, Associate Administrator, FHWA Office of Safety. Two breakout sessions were held in the morning as well as in the afternoon, and featured panels of elected officials and safety experts. The sessions highlighted DUI issues, automated speed enforcement in work zones, seat belt laws, and young driver safety.
The lunch keynote address featured Barry J. Schoch, Secretary of Transportation, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He stressed that "there is nothing more important than the safety of the users of our system." The day culminated with a keynote by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett. He emphasized the importance of public safety as an issue Legislators focused on during the debate and successful passage of the recent Transportation Bill, Act 89. Governor Corbett is passionate about passing a bill to enforce no texting while driving and he said that we need to continue to educate young drivers about the critical importance of seat belt usage.
To view presentations, photos, and the program from the symposium, Click Here.
Improving Air Quality in Latino Communities Discussed at Roundtable
Local and environmental factors can cause or worsen conditions such as asthma, as well as heart attacks and cancer. The elderly and children are particularly vulnerable, and children living within two miles of a highway are twice as likely to develop asthma. The synergistic impacts of pollution, when multiple factors negatively affecting air quality come together, can be particularly dangerous. However, barriers to improving health impacts in Latino communities can include language differences, inadequate cultural literacy of healthcare providers, misinformation about home cleaning products, and poverty.
Congreso de Latinos Unidos, a multiservice non-profit organization that focuses on the well-being of the Latino community in Eastern North Philadelphia, provides various education, employment, health, and safety programs. The American Lung Association leads outreach campaigns in the region to educate people about the relationship between air quality and health, such as their Fighting for Air campaign. Their other programs include Open Airways for School, an asthma education website called Lungtropolis, a free summer camp for children with asthma, Better Breathers support clubs, smoke-free policies in multi-unit housing training, and a national lung health helpline.
You can take steps to address air pollution, too. Joe Minott, Executive Director of the Clean Air Council, gave the following advice to community members who want to take charge of their health:
- Remember that this is your community
- Do an inventory of pollution sources
- Do your research – look at online environmental databases
- If a pollution source is large enough (e.g. a refinery), get a copy of its permit
- Talk to the agency involved in enforcement of the pollution source about your concerns
- Determine who can give you what you want
For more simple steps to protect air quality and your health, visit the Air Quality Partnership's website at www.airqualitypartnership.org, where you can also sign up to receive alerts on days when the air is forecast to be unhealthy.
New Tools Help Target Bicycle Facility Investments around the Region
DVRPC and partners have recently introduced two new tools that enable users to visualize bicycle use in the region. CyclePhilly, the free app launched in May, has had over 5,000 bicycle trips recorded. The data resulting from this app's use in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey will help guide planners in prioritizing bicycle infrastructure investments by helping us understand where and how people ride. The application is available for download in the Apple and Google Play app stores. More information can be found at www.cyclephilly.com.
DVRPC also launched its RideScore tool this month, which will allow transit agencies, trail advocacy groups, and municipalities to strategically target stations for bicycle facility investments by measuring the strength of a given station's bicycle and transit connections. Ten distinct characteristics are used to determine a station's unique RideScore. DVRPC invites you to use this interactive map to see how your local station measures on transit volumes, connectivity, cultural resources, Circuit proximity, outdoor destinations, walkability, proximity to bicycle facilities, surrounding population, employees, and non-parking passenger boards. To learn more and see RideScores for stations throughout the region, visit: www.dvrpc.org/webmaps/ridescore.
Transportation Officials Meet to Improve Efficiency on Corridors
PennDOT officials focused on highlights of the Comprehensive Transportation Funding Plan (Act 89) which was passed in November, and the impact of the Regional Traffic Signal Retiming Program that is funded through DVRPC's TIP, allowing them to increase efficiency on corridors such as Rt. 100. Officials from the City of Philadelphia focused on the Citywide Corridor Retiming Project, while NJDOT officials spoke on their innovative implementation of adaptive traffic signal control operations, which involves using cameras to help time signals based on the flow of traffic into an intersection.
The benefits of signal retiming can have a large impact on improving traffic movement through the region, and providing a more pleasant commute with less wait time at signals. The low-tech and high-tech options of simple retiming and adaptive signal control can both be implemented with impressive results.
For more information about DVRPC assistance to transportation providers in system operations management, visit www.dvrpc.org/Operations.
655 Bus Changes Route to Better Serve Central Jersey
On June 21, 2014, NJ Transit's Route 655 bus, also known as the "Healthline," began tracing a new path between Princeton and Plainsboro, connecting many of the important cultural amenities and businesses in the community.
This bus route is the product of a history of coordination between NJ Transit and the Central Jersey Transportation Forum, a joint project between DVRPC and NJTPA. The Forum has been meeting since 1999 to address concerns of municipalities in Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset, New Jersey counties, focused on the US 1 and US 206 corridors. Improving transit service in this high growth, congested area is one of the Forum's primary goals. The Forum has worked with NJ Transit since 2006 to help develop and implement the transit agency's US 1 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plan, and the Route 655 Bus was the first feeder route from the US 1 BRT near-term concept plan to advance to reality. It was first launched in 2012 and was partly funded through DVPRC's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Program. The route is a Public–Private Partnership, with funding being provided by Princeton University, University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (UMCPP), Greater Mercer TMA, Middlesex County, DVRPC, and NJTPA.
With the new routing, residents will be able to access places to shop, work, and play, such as Positano Restaurant, the UMCPP, and Princeton Community Park Pool. The service will also benefit Princeton University students who may live in Plainsboro, as well as employees of various business campuses between the two towns. The bus route changes were made to provide more direct access to destinations in Princeton and Plainsboro, with stops in the heart of each.
The low fare is set at $1.50 one way, and buses will run approximately every 45 minutes during the day and 90 minutes in the evening. Visit 655route.com for a map of the new route, schedule, fares, and more. For information about the 655 bus route changes, call GMTMA Commuter Services at 609-452-1491.
DVRPC Fiscal Year 2015 Work Program Now Available Online
The FY 2015 DVRPC Unified Planning Work Program is now available online. This document outlines all of the federally funded planning projects slated for the nine-county region from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. The listing includes all planning projects undertaken by DVRPC on behalf of our member governments and transit organizations. The Work Program is developed annually by DVRPC with its planning partners to reflect the region's short-range planning needs.