Modernizing our transportation system.
A safe and high-performing transportation network is the foundation upon which we can build a prosperous and productive region. Due to age and under-funding, we are now at the point where our entire system requires significant investment to ensure the safe and efficient movement of people, products, and services.
With a $45 billion funding gap between identified needs and available sources, finding the money to maintain and modernize our transportation system remains our greatest obstacle. State budgets are strained. Local budgets are limited. As a region, we must take it upon ourselves to develop an innovative and self-sufficient funding stream that will supplement existing sources and allow us to optimize our transportation system to serve the needs of all of our region's residents and businesses.
We can close the funding gap and generate the money to modernize the transportation system in many ways, including:
- Establish a local funding mechanism to contribute to the financing of transportation projects of regional significance.
- Ensure transportation projects are 'right-sized' in order to scale the solution to the size of the problem and tailor the approach to the specific project.
- Select transportation projects for capital programming based on sound long-range strategic planning considerations, life-cycle investment analyses, and system performance and condition data.
DVPRC and its partners are actively pursuing a number of projects that will enable us to achieve our funding goals and develop a modern, multi-modal transportation system.
DVRPC conducts studies and prepares reports on congested transportation corridors in the region to improve mobility and safety, and relieve congestion. A multimodal approach is taken in identifying practical solutions to corridor issues. Road Safety Audits conducted in close coordination with municipalities, counties, and state agencies, use focused analysis to make high-crash road sections safer for all users.
The CMP identifies congested corridors in the region and multimodal strategies to mitigate the congestion. Where additions to capacity are appropriate, the CMP includes supplemental strategies to help get the most long-term value from the project. Additionally the CMP provides information about the performance of the transportation system and identifies inexpensive strategies that are appropriate almost everywhere to minimize congestion and enhance the mobility of people and goods.
DVRPC brings together traffic, transit, and emergency management operators from throughout the region to work on better management and clearance of incidents and accidents and improve the operation of the transportation system. This group developed the region's Transportation Operations Master Plan, which contains operations policy management guidelines.
The DVRPC freight planning program seeks to fully incorporate freight into the transportation planning process through technical studies and public education. Freight planning is conducted on a continuing, comprehensive, and coordinated basis. The Delaware Valley Goods Movement Task Force, allows the local freight community to participate in formulating regional policies, plans, and programs.
The River LINE
The River LINE is a 34-mile light rail line connecting core cities of Trenton and Camden with a number of regional town centers such as Bordentown, Burlington City, Riverside, and Palmyra. It was completed in 2004 using state-endowed financing and a private design, build, operate, and maintain (DBOM) consortium. By the end of 2008, the line was operating near capacity with daily ridership of 9,000 passengers, far exceeding initial forecasts. The River LINE's success has been creating a viable transit option to lure people out of their cars. The economic impacts have been tremendous as the route has helped to revitalize a number of the historic communities throughout the Delaware River corridor and has spurred more than $1 billion in private market investment in Burlington County alone. Renovation of this line has also benefited the freight trains that use the track overnight.
US 422/R6 Extension
Montgomery County Planning Commission is currently exploring the feasibility of establishing tolls on US 422 to fund multi-modal transportation improvements to the 422 corridor. Revenues would support significant roadway improvements as well as the restoration of passenger rail between Norristown and Wyomissing. Rail service would create new mobility options for a portion of the region that is currently underserved by transit and add multimodal capacity to the 422 corridor.
Lafayette Street Extension
This $125 million project is being conducted through a partnership of Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) and Federal, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Montgomery County governments. The PTC is funding more than half of the total cost, while the County is contributing an additional $12 million. The Lafayette Street Extension will create a direct access between the Pennsylvania Turnpike and downtown Norristown, Pennsylvania. Currently the Turnpike bypasses this regional center, which has hindered its economic competitiveness.
Ben Franklin Parkway Capital Improvements
The Ben Franklin Parkway is a critical component of the city's cultural and tourism infrastructure as well as a major thoroughfare. Currently there are plans underway leveraging more than $21 million worth of improvements to the Parkway by Federal, state (Department of Transportation, Department of Community and Economic Development, and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources), local (City of Philadelphia, Fairmount Park Commission, and Center City District), and private foundations (William Penn Foundation, Pew Charitable Trust, and Knight Foundation). This project consists of rehabilitating seven structurally deficient bridges over the Vine Expressway, traffic lane improvements, upgraded sidewalks, bicycle lanes, safer pedestrian crossings, and streetscaping.
CSX Trenton Line
This 25-mile track clearance project will be funded by Federal ($10.1 million), state ($11.1 million) and private ($10.2 million from CSX Corporation) sources. The project will remove overhead capacity restrictions on the CSX line between West Falls in Philadelphia and Woodbourne in Bucks County on tracks that serve CSX's intermodal facility in South Philadelphia and all points north. When completed the new direct link will cut travel time by 5 hours from the current route through Norristown. To achieve this, the project will lower the track under 15 bridges and elevate one bridge, giving clearance for double stacked container trains. This will create a new direct north-south link in the region's doublestack rail network. One doublestack freight train carries as much as 250 trucks, which will reduce future demand for new interstate highway construction.
Traffic congestion in our region consumes an average of 38 hours per traveler per year - the equivalent of a week's vacation - and costs the region over $2.3 billion annually in lost productivity costs. Smart investments in transportation save time and money, improve the environment, and enhance the region's economy [ * ].
Additionally, establishing a modern, multi-modal transportation system will:
- Allow for greater mobility of people, products, and services.
- Save drivers in vehicle maintenance costs.
- Provide safer conditions for all modes.
- Reduce automobile congestion, dependence, and associated pollution.
- Preserve open space and natural resources that would be lost during the construction of new roads.
- Improve air quality by reducing emissions.
- Generate added revenue via freight distribution channels and increased productivity.
- Create new jobs by attracting business that benefits from a high performing transit system, educated workforce, and centralized location.