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DVRPC News: March 2016

DVRPC News: The Newsletter of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission

Volume 37, Issue 8  |  March 2016


TCDI Program to Fund $1.8 Million in Local Planning and Development Efforts

Article 1 Photo by Michael Fazio
Local and county governments in Greater Philadelphia will have an opportunity to improve their communities through the Transportation and Community Development Initiative (TCDI). TCDI grants support planning for local development and redevelopment efforts. The program provides a mechanism for local governments to undertake locally-directed actions to improve their communities; implement the goals of the region's long-range plan, Connections 2040; and enhance or improve the efficiency of the regional transportation system.

A total of $1.8 million in grants may be available – $1.2 million for communities in Pennsylvania and $600,000 for communities in New Jersey. Applications must be submitted to DVRPC by 5:00 PM on April 22, 2016. All applicants must attend the pre-application meeting where DVRPC staff will provide instructions on the application process, project evaluation, project selection, and contracting process. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 15 from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM at DVRPC, 190 N. Independence Mall West, 8th Floor, Philadelphia, PA.

Complete application and supplemental information is available at www.dvrpc.org/TCDI.


Deadline Approaching for the Pennsylvania Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program

Article 2 DVRPC is accepting applications for funding through its Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Program. This year, the CMAQ Program will award a total of $20 million in the Delaware Valley's five Pennsylvania counties to projects that will improve air quality and/or reduce traffic congestion.

Examples of eligible CMAQ projects include pedestrian and bicycle projects, transit improvement programs, congestion reduction and traffic flow improvements, diesel retrofit projects, and funding of transportation demand management programs, among others. Public agencies and private-public partnerships with a public agency sponsor are eligible to apply for the CMAQ competitive program funds.

CMAQ program application forms and program guidance are available at www.dvrpc.org/CMAQ. The application period will remain open until 5:00 PM on April 21, 2016. For additional information on how to apply, FHWA created a video about how CMAQ funds are distributed to states, and the types of projects eligible for the CMAQ program.

Please direct questions to Sean Greene, Manager, Air Quality Programs, at sgreene@dvrpc.org or 215-238-2860.


Over 30 TOD Projects Added to Smart Growth Project Database

Article 3 DVRPC's Smart Growth Project Database has been updated to include 32 new developments near transit. The online mapping application tracks three types of smart growth development in various stages of development throughout Greater Philadelphia: developments near transit, traditional neighborhood developments (TND), and conservation subdivisions. Eighteen of the 32 new additions highlight projects in Center City Philadelphia, illustrating downtown's ongoing resurgence.

The updated database, which includes 223 projects, is meant to serve as a quick and convenient reference tool for planners, developers, local officials, and citizens who are interested in learning more about smart growth efforts around the region.

The majority of projects found in the database are classified as developments near transit. Together, these 186 projects represent over 28,000 new and proposed residential units and reflect a renewed interest in investing near the region's transit infrastructure. The database is continually updated with new information as it becomes available.


DVRPC Explores Enhanced Bus Service for West Chester Pike

Article 4 Pennsylvania Route 3 (PA-3)/West Chester Pike is one of the region's most important transportation and economic corridors. Between West Chester Borough and the 69th Street Transportation Center, the corridor passes through ten communities in Delaware and Chester counties. The area within one-half mile of the corridor is home to over 90,000 people and 50,000 jobs, and several regionally significant destinations.

DVRPC provided a blueprint for improving the quality of transit service along the corridor in its new study, Enhanced Bus Service on West Chester Pike. It builds on the findings and recommendations of several previous planning efforts and focuses on SEPTA's Route 104 bus. Enhanced Bus Service (EBS) can improve mobility along corridors where transit options are often limited by providing faster travel times and a more comfortable experience for passengers. The study (link to study page/abstract) explores operational concepts, strategies for enhancing pedestrian access to bus stops, and promotes future coordination between municipalities.


DVRPC Helping to Bring Solar PV to Media

Article 5 DVRPC has partnered with Transition Town Media to bring solar power to the borough and surrounding area. The new program, called Solarize Greater Media, offers discounted pricing for group purchase of solar panel systems to residents located within a five-mile radius of the Media Courthouse. Solarize Greater Media builds upon the efforts of successful solar campaigns across the nation. Under the Solar Ready II program, DVRPC is working with the Delaware County Planning Department to provide technical assistance and training to municipalities and stakeholders on best management practices that reduce soft costs of solar PV adoption.

Transition Town Media is providing free informational Solar Community Meetings from now through April in collaboration with Solar States, the selected installer. Residents can learn how the Solarize program works, have all of their questions answered, and sign up for a free solar assessment to see if solar panels will work for their home. Visit the Solarize Media website to learn more.


Learn About Creating Age-Friendly Communities on March 10

Article 6 DVRPC will be holding its Healthy Communities Task Force meeting on March 10, 2016 from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM and this meeting will focus on age-friendly communities. Amanda Lehning, Assistant Professor at UMD School of Social Work, will present on her recently published book, Creating Aging-Friendly Communities; and Karin Morris, the Manager of DVRPC's Office of Smart Growth, will highlight lessons from her recent German Marshall Fund fellowship on age-friendly initiatives in the United Kingdom. The meeting will also feature a panel discussion about current efforts to make Greater Philadelphia more age-friendly, as well as a conversation about what communities can do to encourage age-friendly places.

Refreshments and lunch will be provided. The event is free, but registration is required. Please RSVP to health@dvrpc.org by March 3, 2016 in order to reserve your spot. Go to www.dvrpc.org/Health to learn more about DVRPC's healthy communities planning efforts.


Safety Task Force and Incident Management Task Force to Hold Joint Meeting on March 11

Article 7 On March 11, 2016, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, DVRPC will host a special joint meeting of the Regional Safety and I-76/I-476 Crossroads Incident Management task forces at the Montgomery County Fire Academy in Conshohocken. The meeting will discuss strategies to prevent run-off-the-road crashes—one of the Regional Task Force's special emphasis areas—and then present a case study of a response to one such crash along I-76. There will also be a special presentation on PennDOT's upcoming I-76 Schuylkill Expressway Integrated Corridor Management project. Attendees will learn about opportunities to foster coordination and collaboration between regional safety stakeholders and traffic incident management emergency responders.

This event is free and lunch will be provided. To register or for more information please visit dvrpc.ticketleap.com/admin/events/modify/joint-safety-tim-meeting. Registration closes March 8, 2016.


Upcoming March LTAP Classes

Article 8 The PennDOT Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) provides technical information and technological expertise to help municipal governments use transportation funds more effectively, improve road maintenance, and increase roadway safety. Two LTAP classes will be held in March.

Pavement Preventative Management (Bucks County)
Northampton Township Complex
55 Township Road, Richboro, PA 18954
March 23, 2016 (8:00 AM – 12:00 PM)
This course will teach the proper planning and execution of two important pavement preservation techniques: Micro-Surfacing and Ultra-Thin Friction Course. Local government agencies will be provided with information on selecting the correct treatment to the appropriate pavement at the right time to extend the useful life of roadways.

Traffic Signs (Montgomery County)
Lower Gwynedd Township
1130 North Bethlehem Pike, Spring House, PA 19477
March 29, 2016 (8:00 AM – 3:00 PM)
This course reviews the basic regulations and guidelines for properly establishing and posting regulatory, warning, and guide signs. It presents examples of improper signing so participants can better understand the basic concepts and principles associated with sign selection and placement. It also discusses the installation and maintenance of signs and supports, along with sign management techniques.

To sign up, please visit www.dot7.state.pa.us/LTAP.


Staff Profile: Liz Compitello, Senior Research Analyst

Article 9 What's your educational background and how did you end up practicing planning at DVRPC?
As an undergraduate at Skidmore College, I unexpectedly fell into a major of Religious Studies – it was a great opportunity (and a lot of fun) to learn how to think critically, read and write analytically, and dive into debating ideas. But I actually thought I would go on to a degree in architecture after college – I've always been drawn to the concept of "place," the spaces we live and work in, and how we get around – and particularly the environmental and societal impacts of those choices. I minored in Studio Art and Environmental Studies, and, in a class on Sustainable Energy Choices, my professor matched me up with an internship at the New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA). There, I helped create a program offering energy efficiency assistance to local governments. That experience led me to pursue my Master's in Regional Planning at SUNY at Albany, where I kept my internship with NYSERDA and also took on a fellowship with the NYS Office of Climate Change. I helped develop the state's "Climate Smart Communities Program," where I was further exposed to how municipalities make decisions and how complex it is to shape and implement policy on climate change and energy at all levels of government. After I graduated, I landed at DVRPC, working on energy and climate change programs with municipalities.

Do you have a project that you are extra excited about?
Yes! I'm really excited about the Regional Streetlight Procurement Program, an effort to convert municipal streetlight systems to LED street lights. Street lighting is typically the most expensive energy cost for a municipality, and converting to LEDs reduces energy cost 60-75%. It also saves time and money in maintenance, because LEDs last significantly longer than the streetlights they replace. LEDs provide broad spectrum lighting, providing a safety benefit, too. But the LEDs are an expensive investment, so the key to the program is that it brings many communities together (currently over 40) to gain economies of scale in buying power, and access to technical resources and low-interest financing to make the project possible for many municipalities at once.

What has changed in energy and climate change since you began working?
There is a more pervasive and holistic awareness of energy use and its implications, whether that is costs, environmental impact, or how it's sourced and distributed.

What do you do in your spare time and on a Sunday morning?
I like taking long bike rides with friends exploring our region. On a Sunday morning, I like drinking coffee, reading the New Yorker, and baking – my specialty is lemon curd cake.