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. 


The New Visions 2030 effort extends the planning horizon to 2030 and seeks to address larger issues concerning regional development patterns and quality of life; resource constraints and “big ticket” ideas; and local planning capacity.  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 led to circulation of the document “Pursuing Quality in the Capital Region” in the fall of 2002.


Throughout 2003, the Quality Region Task Force met to refine the CDTC/CDRPC agenda within the context of many regional development forums – those at the Center for Economic Growth (CEG), A Regional Initiative to Support Empowerment (ARISE), the Business – Higher Education Roundtable and other locations.  A broad consensus emerged around seven principles:


1.          All regional initiatives reflect a belief that there is a need for some degree of economic growth in the region in order to sustain and enhance the region's quality of life.

2.          All assert that, along with nurturing heritage tourism and retaining current industry, growth in the high tech sector offers opportunities to the region for developing a local economy with a range of career-type jobs.

3.          All the initiatives seek to revitalize the region's older urban areas through economic development.

4.          All the initiatives recognize that much of the growth will occur in suburban areas, and seek to have that growth help construct communities that are stronger and better than what was there before, while retaining the character of the community that brought the residents there.

5.          All the initiatives seek to have growth benefit all the region's residents through adequate access to jobs, education and training.

6.          Regarding transportation, all have expressed a desire to find ways to prevent serious loss of the highway mobility that is part of the region's quality of life.  All have articulated a desire to use public transportation, walkable communities and alternate modes to the maximum degree feasible to assure access and travel options.

7.          The best way to address these issues regionally is to assign responsibilities for different facets to different agencies and initiatives.


By January 2004, CDTC determined that the CDTC/CDRPC work would be best facilitated by using small “working groups” and other existing task forces to help the staff analyze in parallel the subjects identified by the Quality Region Task Force and guide the documentation of the analysis.  Working groups include staff, some  Quality Region Task Force members and a few others selected based on their knowledge and interest in the subject. 


The technical reports guided by working group and task force review will attempt to articulate issues and begin to identify on one hand those potential policy responses that are likely to receive consensus support once they are circulated, and on the other hand those policy issues that require broad discussion and debate.


The specific efforts of each task force and Quality Region working group are described below.


Finance Task Force:  The charge is to review and update both the cost for implementing the current (New Visions 2021) plan and the resource expectation.  Their product will guide both discussions of other task forces and working groups and also inform CDTC’s overall policy discussions regarding budget and resources.


Bike and Pedestrian Transportation Task Force:  The charge is to complete the task force’s current effort to update the “Tool Box” and priority bike and pedestrian network adopted as part of the existing New Visions plan.  The product will also suggest new principles/actions and put policy questions on the table for broad dialogue.


Goods Movement Task Force:  The charge is to provide suggested updates to the New Visions plan regarding treatment of goods movement issues, the global economy and trade corridor issues, and any appropriate revisions to the adopted goods movement network.


Quality Region Task Force:  This task force will help coordinate the material prepared by or for the other task forces, receive reports from several working groups and help guide its dissemination for public discussion.  The task force will specifically guide the policy analysis of several travel demand and technology technical reports prepared in 2003-04 for the former Travel Task Force, which has been folded into the Quality Region Task Force.


Working Group A :  The charge is to guide the preparation of a technical report,  “Effects of Alternative Growth and Development Scenarios”.  The technical work will involve building from CDRPC’s 2040 projections, showing alternative higher and lower growth levels and differing development patterns and articulating both quantitative and qualitative issues.  This will primarily be a “what if” exercise.  Some modeling of user costs, social /environmental costs, etc. will be involved.  CEG’s intended development modeling effort should be coordinated with Working Group A’s effort.


Working Group B:  The charge is to guide the preparation of a technical report, “Expressway System Issues and Options”.  The analytical work will confront the fact that the expressway system has reached or will shortly reach the end of both its intended physical and its functional life; identify issues and options surrounding maintaining and rebuilding the expressway system and consider alternative policy treatment of the subject of functional obsolescence in an era of multiple constraints. 


Additionally, Working Group B will guide the preparation of another technical report, “Concepts for Operational Efficiencies”.  This work will incorporate current ITS system planning and the explore the maximum potential of operational and traveler information initiatives to address future system issues.


Working Group C:  The charge is to guide the preparation of a technical report, “Costs and Benefits of Potential Major Investments”.  The subject includes enumeration of plausible high-scale candidate investment for the Capital District, drawing from initiatives viewed as successful in other regions of the nation.  These range from rebuilding I-787 as a riverfront arterial to urban rail systems (ala Raleigh-Durham).


Additionally, the group will guide the preparation of another technical report, “Transportation System Design and Regional Settlement Patterns”.  The work will involve a review of land use – transportation interrelationships with a particular emphasis on the likely influence of transportation policy on broad patterns of suburban development, urban revitalization, open space protection.


Working Group D:  The charge is to guide the preparation of a technical report, “Larger-than-Regional Policy Concepts”.  The document will enumerate and amplify upon the many policy issues have emerged at CDTC and other forums that require state or federal intervention.  Many but not all of these issues relate to “leveling the playing field” by addressing unequal treatment of older urban areas and new suburban areas.


Working Group E:  The charge is to guide the preparation of a technical report, “Concepts for Assisting Local Decision Making in a Regional Context”.  The effort will articulate approaches to both improving the capacity of municipal planning and approval processes and improving the external support structure provided to local planners.


Additionally, CDTC will review all other aspects of the existing New Visions plan to suggest updates, revisions or extensions for subjects that are not the specific focus of a task force or working group.  These aspects include special needs transportation, safety and arterial management.  Also, CDTC will coordinate examination with NYSDOT of the New Visions 2030 elements on the attainment of goals of the New York State Energy Plan.


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.


The schedule for the New Visions 2030 effort is challenging.  Completion of all work and public dialogue leading to preparation of a new plan is not expected to be completed until late in 2005.  For air quality conformity purposes, CDTC may need to adopt an interim plan prior to, or in conjunction with, the approval of the 2005-10 TIP.


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; 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 Road. are implemented in coming years.


TASK 3.02           Air Quality Planning


New York State expects the Capital District to remain an ozone non-attainment area under the final, eight-hour standards.  CDTC will assist with any documentation of air quality plans required for the US Environmental Protection Agency  in conjunction with this designation.


Work in 2004-05 will include air quality conformity determination for the 2005-10 TIP and New Visions 2030 plan.


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 2003-04, 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 2004-05, including a particular focus on contribution to the New Visions 2030 effort (see Task 3.77). 


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.  With a $500,000 state match, this effort began in early 2003 on a two-phased effort to explore multi-modal issues from New York City to Montreal.


Products in 2003-04 have included goals and objectives, existing conditions review, a list of corridor concept candidates and a recommendation for examination of seven concept packages.  A phase 2 exploration of the concept packages is expected in 2004-05.  Products of the effort will be brought back to CDTC for consideration in the New Visions and/or TIP processes.


TASK 3.11        REVEST


During 2003-04, the REVEST working group met quarterly through the fall of 2003.  At that time, the group was folded into the transportation committee of the QuebecNew York trade corridor coalition.  Further REVEST activity will occur as part of  Task 3.10.


TASK 3.12        Transit Service Design Guidelines/ Transit Development Plan (carryover, expanded scope)


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 effort will be more substantial than anticipated when programmed in the 2003-04 UPWP.  CDTA staff effort will be approximately $100,000; a marketing and research effort will total $100,000; customer


research $50,000; and consultant professional assistance, $250,000.  The total $500,000 budget for this effort is shown under CDTA’s aggregate budget item for Task 4.62, with the exception of a $50,000 component which is data collection administered by CDTC under Task 2.25.


CDTA adoption of the resulting plan is anticipated, as well as CDTC adoption as appropriate.  Products will feed both TIP and New Visions processes.  A 12 to 18 month schedule is anticipated.


The majority of the work on this task has shifted to 2004-05.


TASK 3.86           Continuous Aviation System Planning Project (CASPP)


2003-04 activity by CDRPC included an economic impact analyses for the Albany International Airport and the Schenectady County Airport.  This effort will continue in 2004-05.