DVRPC News: June 2015
Volume 36, Issue 11
Tell Us: "What Do You Love About Greater Philadelphia?"
DVRPC Celebrates 50 Years With a Photo Campaign and Public Event
To commemorate 50 years of planning and share what we love about our region, DVRPC is launching an online photo sweepstakes during the month of June. Submit a photo that answers the question, "What do you love about Greater Philadelphia?" on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and use the hashtags #OurRegionMyHome and #DVRPCis50. You will automatically be entered to win one of two GoPro cameras. Visit www.dvrpc.org/50 in June for details.
On June 30th, the Commission will celebrate its 50th Anniversary date and signing of its bi-state compact with a public event from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM at Dilworth Park in Philadelphia. We anticipate hundreds gathering to celebrate civic engagement through our interactive photo booth and commemorate regional planning in the metropolitan area. There will be a brief press conference at 9:30 AM, followed by a photo op for DVRPC Board Members. Hope to see you on the 30th!
New Program Brings LED Streetlights to PA Municipalities
LED streetlights present an excellent opportunity for municipalities to reduce energy use and operating costs while improving public safety. Through the Regional Streetlight Procurement Program (RSLPP), DVRPC is working with municipalities in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties to assemble the resources needed to design, procure, and finance the transition to LED street lighting tailored to each municipality's specific needs.
Municipalities participating in the RSLPP will have access to resources that enable a thoughtful design and retrofit entire streetlight systems. The program leverages the Pennsylvania Sustainable Energy Finance (PennSEF) program, which facilitates the cost-effective and technically-sound advancement of energy performance contracting and provides access to low-interest energy efficiency financing backed by the PA Treasury. The energy performance contracts developed through this program must provide an energy savings guarantee whereby the energy cost savings will exceed the financing costs for each participant.
All municipalities in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties are invited to take advantage of this opportunity. Those interested in participating should contact Liz Compitello, Senior Research Analyst in the Office of Energy and Climate Change Initiatives, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-238-2897.
Forces of Change
What trends do you think have shaped our region since DVRPC was founded 50 years ago? What forces will shape the way we live and travel over the next 50 years?
Changing demographics and preferences, fast-changing technologies, climate change, and new economic drivers may shift regional trends in the future. Tell us which forces you think have and will shape Greater Philadelphia in this one minute survey.
Upcoming Webinar: Planning Office of the Future
DVRPC is hosting the viewing of a free APA webinar as part of the Municipal Outreach Program this month. On June 3, we will explore the Planning Office of the Future. Hear what practitioners have to say about recent changes, current conditions, and the shape of things to come. The event provides 1.5 CM credits for AICP members.
Visit dvrpc.ticketleap.com/the-planning-office-of-the-future/ to register.
Votes are in! Chester County Takes the Spotlight
The public narrowed down their favorite photos tagged with #iloveclassictowns to a top ten, from which a panel of judges then selected the First, Second, and Third Prize winners.
Dan C., of Oxford, PA, took first place with his serene shot of The Miss Oxford Diner's welcoming neon lights during a snowfall.
Bennett N., a native of West Chester, PA, received the second highest total votes for his time-lapse photo of West Chester's High Street at night.
Sharon H., of Phoenixville, PA, won the third spot with her artistic view of Steel City Coffee House's muraled exterior wall.
The contest was sponsored by DVRPC's Classic Towns of Greater Philadelphia program and was designed to engage the community in showcasing the region's unique neighborhoods in both the city and suburbs.
At present, there are 18 towns designated as Classic Towns by DVRPC. They are: Ambler, Collingswood, Germantown, Glassboro, Haddon Heights, Jenkintown, Kennett Square, Lansdale, Lansdowne, Manayunk, Media, Merchantville, Moorestown, New Hope, Oxford, Phoenixville, Souderton/Telford, and West Chester.
To learn more, visit www.classictowns.org/meet-winners-2015-iloveclassictowns-photo-contest.
DVRPC Staff Profile
Jesse Buerk, Senior Transportation Planner,
Office of Transportation Safety and Congestion Management
What drew you to the field of planning, and how did you end up working on managing traffic congestion?
It's been a strange and winding path. As an undergrad at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I double-majored in Film/Television Communications and French, and my goal was to become a screenwriter after graduation. I visited Los Angeles, but it wasn't for me. Then I worked a series of miscellaneous jobs, but eventually wanted to do something that would have an impact. I found the Masters of Environmental Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, enrolled there, and ended up taking a lot of classes in the Planning Department. One of the lecturers spoke about the impacts of sprawl and how planning could make things better, and I was hooked. DVRPC's role in planning was featured in the lecture, and I applied for an internship that happened to be working on congestion management. I kept the internship during my two years in grad school, and then a permanent position opened up in congestion management, and here I am.
Tell more about the congestion management process and its purpose:
The congestion management process, also called CMP, is a federal requirement for MPOs like DVRPC. The process requires that we first work to improve the infrastructure that we have in place before we expand road capacity, which only gets done as a last resort. And if we do expand capacity on the road network, then we have to work to make operations, transit, bike, and pedestrian improvements at the same time, so that we protect the investment and get the most long-term value out of the project. Otherwise, we know that we can never build our way out of congestion.
Who participates in the process?
We work closely with an advisory committee made up of our counties, PennDOT and NJDOT, FHWA, our transit agencies, our Transportation Management Associations (TMAs), and other offices within DVRPC, such as freight, smart growth, and operations.
What is the biggest challenge?
Getting involved at an early stage in project planning is really important so that we ensure that all the alternatives to widening have been thoroughly examined and our work can have the biggest impact.
What is your Office's biggest accomplishment?
It's three things, actually. The strong relationships with our advisory committee, our in-depth analysis of data identifying the magnitude of congestion in various locations, and our big picture approach that is essentially mode neutral as it looks at the best way to get from point A to point B.
What will change in Congestion Management in the future?
In the future, we will have vast archives of data collected in real time, which will give us more insight than ever into the dynamic nature of auto and transit vehicle travel times, transit trips, and movements of people and goods. We will also have more emphasis on performance measures such as the travel time index, which uses data collected in real time to show how much worse peak hour travel is compared to non-peak periods. Setting performance goals and tracking progress toward them will become increasingly important. Demographic changes like millennial preferences for urban living and not driving will impact travel patterns dramatically. And down the line, changes in technology such as driverless cars will also change the way we address congestion issues.
Are there places that you envy because of the way they deal with traffic and congestion?
In Sweden, as well as other countries in Europe, they are far ahead of us in terms of displaying real time information at transit stations and allowing purchase of bus tickets with cell phone texts, for example. I've visited Stockholm several times to visit a close friend, and was very impressed with the quality and extent of their transit service and their amenities for bicyclists and pedestrians. They've even implemented a congestion pricing program.
You were recently recognized as a top TDM Professional under 40 by GVFTMA. What led to this recognition?
We have a team of people doing a lot of work to help employers and commuters adjust to the reconstruction of I-95. It's a coordinated approach with several TMAs, SEPTA, and PennDOT, and will involve messaging about taking transit, shifting travel times, working from home, etc. in an effort to get people off of I-95 as much as possible during peak times.
What is your mantra?
Break down silos, work across units and disciplines, and talk with people. Collaboration leads to innovation!
What is something most people don't know about you?
I still like to write fiction, particularly science fiction and fantasy short stories, although now my work is often focused through a planner's lens. One story I wrote is about a future with autonomous vehicles, and another tale featured the comeuppance of someone who refused to pay his tolls!