III. PLAN APPRAISAL

 

TASK 3.77 New Visions 2030 / New Visions for a Quality Region

 

The New Visions Plan largely revolves around regional consensus, incremental changes, and fiscal constraint. The strength of the plan is in the degree to which consensus on key principles was found, and in the affordability of the recommended actions. It shifts the transportation investment program's emphasis, but largely works within available resources.

 

Issues left unresolved in New Visions because of a lack of urgency, lack of consensus or lack of resources will come back to the table sooner or later. It is CDTC's intention to revisit these issues regularly to work toward consensus and identify resources before urgency becomes critical.

 

Unresolved issues from the existing (New Visions 2021) plan are to be addressed in the following manner. Listed below are the assignments of key remaining questions to various components of the CDTC structure.

 

         Referred primarily to the Travel Futures Task Force: What will future demands be on the transportation system? How are demographics changing? What are the various travel market segments (by household type, income, vehicle access and location) and what are the needs and constraints on each? What are the implications for transportation policy? What will an aging population require, and how will our land patterns and transportation system respond? How will technological and economic changes affect all of this? How should CDTC and its members institutionalize its understanding of uncertainty in travel forecasts?

         Referred primarily to the Finance Task Force: How are CDTC's forecasts of financial need and resource availability holding up? Is the 2021 Plan still affordable, given reduced state transportation budgets (compared to those anticipated in 2000)? What financing options exist?

         Referred primarily to the Quality Region Task Force: How can the region address the strong local interest in aesthetics (streetscaping, site design, underground utilities and trail development)? What can be done about the noise exposure identified in NYSDOT Region 1's recent study? What about such notions as converting I-787 to a boulevard, Hoosick St. as a parkway? Is there a compelling reason why the quality community movement should be considered at the regional level? (That is, is a quality region anything other than a collection of quality communities?) What has transpired in recent years to inform our position on rail transit (or advanced technology) and is that critical to the concept of a quality region? How can future land use become less auto-dependent than recent development?

         To be addressed by special studies, with results to be incorporated into work by each of the task forces: Has the urgency changed since 1997 regarding addressing Northway congestion issues? Do recent experiences with electronic tolling (HOT lanes) provide more options for Northway treatment? How much would the various highway or transit actions in the corridor cost? Is the Northway only the first of many capacity issues on the Interstate system in the Capital District? Can any of these be fully addressed even if funds were available?

 

Work on these fronts will continue during 2003-04, toward adoption of a New Visions 2030 plan in 2003 or 2004. In February 2002, a new task force was launched to oversee a visioning exercise for the 2030 plan. The effort implements the New Visions' recommendation for an update to the Capital District Regional Planning Commission's "Regional Development Plan". Labeled the Quality Region Initiative, work will pick up intensity in the 2003-04 program year and material will be developed for public review and discussion by the end of the year.

 

The Travel Task Force will resume discussions and pick up the new issue of policy treatment of possible growth-related travel increases. The New Visions for a Quality Region / Visioning effort will continue, moving to a focus on transportation system issues and local planning tools in 2003-04. Involvement in ARISE, CEG and other regional efforts can be expected to require significant time and attention over the coming year.

 

The Finance Task Force will also reconvene in 2003-04 for critical aspects of the 2030 planning effort.

 

In conjunction, the NYS MPO Association is hopeful that it will be able to initiate the planned shared cost study of the expected impacts on travel of demographic and technology changes. A total of $100,000 is committed to this cooperative effort, and FHWA's Washington office has recently committed an additional $100,000 to complete the budget.

 

TASK 3.01 Safety and Congestion Management Systems

 

The approach for the safety effort will be modeled after the development of the New Visions plan. A Safety Advisory Committee will be created with representatives from each county, various federal, state, and regional agencies (including CDTA, NYSDOH, NYSDOT, and NYSDMV), the region's business community, neighborhood groups, and the police departments. The committee will oversee and guide the safety management effort and will assist CDTC staff and the Planning Committee on the development of the work program. Members of the advisory committee will also participate in a small number of task forces, which will focus on important issues identified by the advisory committee for further study. CDTC staff responsibility will primarily be in the areas of research, data collection, and coordination of the task forces and advisory committee. The task forces will develop products that provide guidance on project development and other issues related to safety. The schedule of this effort depends on the quality and timeliness of GIS-based crash history data and full staffing at CDTC; a completion date is not known at this time.

 

In the context of the New Visions 2030 exercise, CDTC will revise its CMS principles and its articulation of critical congestion corridors. CDTC and NYSDOT will work together to try to develop procedures for the "tradeoff analysis" specified in CDTC's congestion management principles. The tradeoff analysis is required in considering capacity aspects of highway projects, particularly infrastructure reconstruction projects. CDTC also remains committed to examining the actual congestion relief benefits achieved from CMS projects; much of this work, however, will need to wait until such projects as Albany-Shaker Rd. are implemented in coming years.

 

TASK 3.02 Air Quality Planning

 

New York State has requested reclassification of the Capital District as a "Maintenance Area" for Ozone. CDTC will assist with any documentation of air quality plans required for the US Environmental Protection Agency to concur with this request.

 

Work in 2003-04 will include completion of air quality conformity determination for the 2003-08 TIP and New Visions 2030 plan. CDTC will also respond to any change in air quality attainment status that results from EPA's adoption of revised standards.

 

TASK 3.05 Infrastructure Planning

 

The New Visions 2030 outline triggers the need to review long-range state and local infrastructure financing. Staff activity will include examination of the components of recently experienced increases in unit costs for infrastructure work and estimation of the long-range fiscal impacts of these higher costs.

 

TASK 3.06 Goods Movement Planning

 

During 2002-03, quarterly task force meetings continued under CDTC sponsorship. These have been successful in engaging the freight community in a continuing fashion on regional issues, TIP development and the New Visions planning.

 

Regular meetings will continue in 2003-04, including a particular focus on contribution to the New Visions 2030 effort.

 

TASK 3.10 I-87 Study / Champlain-Hudson Trade Corridor Planning

 

Progress in this trade corridor work has led to renaming the effort as the "Quebec - New York" Trade Corridor. Funding for implementation of key projects has been secured by Congress in recent years. Meetings of the coalition will continue.

 

Congressional action in the FFY03 Transportation Appropriations Bill earmarked $2,000,000 toward study of the I-87 corridor from New York to Canada. A kickoff meeting of the advisory group was held by NYSDOT in December 2002; the consultant effort is anticipated to run through 2003. The state-level examination is expected to identify appropriate candidates for in-depth examination early in the year and complete work by the end of 2003.

 

 

TASK 3.11 REVEST

 

The second edition of the REVEST document was published in April 2001 and the REVEST working group continued to meet during 2002-03. Progress toward implementation of the REVEST initiatives continues, with additional funding secured during the year for the Rensselaer Amtrak, Saratoga Springs station and Scenic Train elements. The Commuter Rail demo was discontinued and funds reprogrammed to other REVEST elements in 2003, namely the Saratoga to Corinth scenic train piece.

 

During 2003-04, the REVEST working group will continue to meet quarterly to monitor and help guide the pursuit of the various REVEST elements.

 

TASK 3.12 Transit Service Design Guidelines/ Performance Monitoring

 

This effort will be conducted as a collaborative CDTC-CDTA project using CDTC, CDTA and CDRPC staff resources as well as reliance on consultants. CDTA has assembled significant data is support of this effort. The effort will seek to provide guidelines for appropriate transit treatment throughout the region, based upon development densities, corridor orientation and available funding. The study will build upon work to date to provide the basis for CDTA's operations plan in coming years. It will also provide guidance to CDTA regarding the appropriate vehicle mix for its fleet, well in advance of the next major scheduled fleet replacement.

 

The majority of the work on this task has shifted to 2003-04.

 

TASK 3.86 Continuous Aviation System Planning Project (CASPP)

 

2002-03 activity by CDRPC included an economic impact analyses for the Albany International Airport and the Schenectady County Airport. This effort will continue in 2003-04.