DVRPC News: March 2020

Volume 41, Issue 9  |  March 2020


DVRPC Talks Regional Investments with WTS Philadelphia

Article 1 In February, WTS - Philadelphia hosted DVRPC: Investing in the Region. This event highlighted DVRPC’s role as a funder, planning advisor, governmental organization, and partner in transportation projects throughout Greater Philadelphia.

Panelists representing DVRPC included; Executive Director, Barry Seymour; Associate Director of Transportation Programs, Elizabeth Schoonmaker; and Associate Manager in the Office of Smart Growth, Andrew Svekla. Jody Holton, Assistant General Manager of Planning at SEPTA, also joined to discuss different transportation investments in the region as well as the future of transportation funding in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The discussion was moderated by Barbara Holcomb, Manager of Capital Grants, Government Relations, Grants Administration, and Security at DRPA.


Attend the Frankford Ave Open House on March 4

Article 2 Help us identify potential transportation and safety improvements on Frankford Ave between Cheltenham Avenue and Rhawn Street. Attend the Frankford Ave Open House on Wednesday, March 4 at Kings Highway Tavern. Stop by anytime between 5 PM and 8 PM. The meeting will address the second of three phases of a transportation study focused on safety improvements for the Frankford Avenue corridor from Cottman Avenue to Rhawn Street.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020
5 PM to 8 PM - stop by anytime
Kings Highway Tavern
7681 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19136

The Frankford Avenue study is a collaboration between the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC), the Philadelphia Streets Department, Philadelphia Office of Transportation, Infrastructure & Sustainability (oTIS), and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC).

To learn more visit:


DVRPC Fellowship Program Now Accepting Applications

Article 3 The DVRPC Fellowship Program provides a unique experience in urban and regional planning to serve in various departments at the Commission over the course of a year. The program is committed to support the development of a pipeline of talented individuals from historically underrepresented minority communities into the urban and regional planning fields, and related fields like GIS analysis or capital programming. The selected fellow will participate in the daily activities of a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), complete special projects, and experience firsthand how regional and local plans are made in the Greater Philadelphia region.

The Fellowship is a paid, year-long, full-time, professional development program, and is open to college graduates who are residents of the nine-county DVRPC region, or have received their bachelor's degree from a program in the region. To learn more, see the full job description and check out the staff profile of DVRPC’s current fellow.


Census Day is April 1

Article 4 National Census Day is April 1, 2020. Did you know that DVRPC uses census data to develop population forecasts for long-range planning? DVRPC’s Data Navigator is a platform for users to access data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, and other public sources, at different geographic scales.

Statistics gathered in a census count are also used in deciding how federal and state funds are distributed, including more than $600 billion per year in federal funds for projects like hospitals, schools, senior citizen centers, and job training facilities. Government and private sectors also use this data to help guide many of their decisions. The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Other ways census data is used:

  • Planners use it to help evaluate community needs and create policy recommendations;
  • Local governments use it for public safety and emergency preparedness; and
  • Residents use it to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality of life, and advocacy for different issues.

Encourage everyone to respond to the 2020 Census to ensure an accurate count and shape our communities! To learn more about the Census, visit


DVRPC Hosts Long-Range Plan Visioning Workshop

Article 5 DVRPC's Office of Long Range Planning collaborated with the Public Participation Task Force (PPTF) to host the first visioning workshop for the 2050 Long-Range Plan (LRP), Connections2050.

The LRP creates a vision for the region's growth, development, and preservation going out 20 or more years. The Plan is updated every four years by identifying trends and forces shaping the region; working with the public and stakeholders to develop a collective vision for the region; and recommending strategies to help achieve the vision.

DVRPC will host several visioning workshops throughout Greater Philadelphia this spring. Public outreach is fundamental to the long-range planning process in order to bring together community members from across the region to share their visions.


New DVRPC Products

Article 6 Eastwick Intermodal Center: With SEPTA’s trolley modernization program comes the opportunity to evaluate trolley extension proposals, including extending the Route 36 trolley to the Eastwick Station. This report studies what that could mean to turn a regional rail station into an intermodal transit center that accommodates several modes of transportation, including bicycle and pedestrian improvements. An intermodal center could also have positive benefits for the Eastwick community it serves.

Guidance for Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities at Expressway Interchanges in Southeastern Pennsylvania: The improvement of safe bicycle and pedestrian facilities along arterial roads is imperative to increasing local mobility in dense urban areas and suburban centers. This report provides a detailed approach on improving comfort and providing safety benefits for cyclists and pedestrians. It also provides funding mechanisms, emphasizing low-cost and fast-turnaround improvements that can be leveraged to improve interchanges when a full redesign is not possible.

2018 Aircraft Operations Count Program: This report shares takeoff data based on observations conducted for four non-towered airports in the Delaware Valley aviation planning area. During the course of eight weeks, Doylestown (DYL), Heritage Field (PTW), Pottstown (N47), and Quakertown (UKT) airports were surveyed.


Staff Profile: Spencer Gober, Planner, Office of Community and Economic Development

Article 7 What did you want to be growing up?
A garbage collector, because I loved the idea of riding on the back of a truck and going all over town.

What was your first job?
In high school I worked in the local ice cream shop, and was also the janitor at the church where my mom did bookkeeping.

What did you study in college?
I majored in Landscape Architecture, with a concentration in urban design. I was less interested in the detail of what pavers to use or what species to plant, and more intrigued by the higher level ideas in urban design.

How did you get into planning?
After college my partner, Thomas, and I moved to Ft. Lauderdale and I worked for a firm doing high-end resort design as a landscape architect. But six months later the recession hit, and I was out of a job in a tight labor market. We then moved to Philadelphia, and I worked as a bank teller here in the city until the bank was shut down by the FIDC because they had too many bad mortgages in their portfolio. With the tough labor market, I thought it’d be a good time to try grad school, so I went back to my interest in urban design and started Penn’s City and Regional Planning Program in 2013.

How did you end up at DVRPC?
In grad school, I got a summer internship at DVRPC in 2014 and stayed on through the summer of 2015. After graduation, I worked in the private sector here in Philly for a year and a half, and then Thomas was transferred to Boston for work. So, I moved as well and worked as a planner for the Town of Belmont for three years. Thankfully, Thomas was transferred back to Philly, and I was super excited and thankful to land back here at DVRPC in the fall of 2019.

What’s a project you’re working on that you’re excited about?
I’m updating the 2013 study on suburban retail districts, rebranding it to look at current challenges, such as how local districts can successfully compete in the digital age.

Which three words best describe you?
Outdoorsy, determined, dependable

What’s your favorite place in the region?
Forbidden Drive and the Wissahickon - it’s fantastic to have a slice of wilderness so close to the city. I’m also a big fan of Independence Beer Garden.

If you could be King for a Day, what would you declare?
Everyone must take the day off from work and get outside.

Do you have a life or work philosophy?
Always make plans and a have a goal, but expect deviations to occur, and be Ok with it.

Is there something about you that colleagues might not expect?
I bought a pretty rustic cabin with no indoor plumbing in the woods in Maine and fixed it up, and had it added to the National Register of Historic Places last summer.

What’s the last book you read?
The Cabin at the End of the World. I found it in the local authors section at a small bookstore back in Belmont. I thought it was described as science fiction, a genre I like, but it turned out to be a horror story. I’m glad I wasn’t reading it in my cabin in the woods.

Are you a dog or cat person?
I’m allergic to cats, so definitely dog. At one point Thomas and I had 3 dogs, a Weimaraner and two pugs. We’re down to one pug, Bella, who has no teeth, a too long tongue and a deformed mouth. But beauty is in the eyes of the beholder!

Where would we find you after hours?
At a beer garden, or outside somewhere.


Upcoming LTAP Classes in PA and NJ

Article 8 The Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) provides technical information and expertise to help municipal governments use transportation funds more effectively, improve road maintenance, and increase roadway safety.

An upcoming PennDOT class in Pennsylvania is:

Traffic Signs Basics Safety Class
West Grove, PA
April 02, 2020 (8:00 AM – 12:00 PM)

Visit PennDOT's LTAP website to view the course descriptions and register. For any questions, contact Linda McNeffer at or 215-238-2872.

Visit Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation to see the 2020 schedule of LTAP courses in New Jersey.