III.  PLAN APPRAISAL

 

TASK 3.77          New Visions 2030 / New Visions for a Quality Region/ New Visions 2035 or 2040

 

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.

 

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.  CDRPC staff is providing technical support and working group administration support in an integrated manner with CDTC staff.

 

In August 2004, CDTC adopted a new regional plan via a New Visions 2025 Amendment.  This action will provide the time necessary to allow the new working group analysis and discussion to play out prior to adoption of New Visions 2030.

 

The technical reports guided by working group and task force review have attempted to articulate issues and 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.  Substantial documents have been prepared regarding each of the issues assigned to the working groups.  By the end of 2005-06, CDTC has moved to the beginning of a period of broad public discussion through presentations, booklets, media coverage and web involvement. Next steps include circulating a summary document of this material, working through various means to add detail to the hypothetical big idea / big ticket initiatives from Working Group C, and updating CDTC’s estimates of resource availability and unit costs through a Transportation Finance Task Force.  The task force will also review CDTC’s 1989 Public-Private Highway Financing Policy.

 

CDRPC will continue to coordinate the effort between the work between the work being prepared under separate contract with the Center for Economic Growth, Estimating the Fiscal Impact of Alternative Futures for the Capital District, and the New Visions document.  The study will estimate the fiscal investment for selected infrastructure necessary to accommodate each of four alternative regional growth scenarios.  This study is intended to provide the basis for a constructive regional and community dialogue about policy options to manage future growth in the region.

 

The discussion and debate will continue in 2006-08, with the conclusion being a draft plan circulated for public review and adoption by CDTC.  The target for completion of New Visions 2030 is October 2006.  Efforts will be made to coordinate CDTC’s schedule with that of the Adirondack – Glens Falls Transportation Council.  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.

 

A New Visions 2035 or 2040 effort will be initiated during the 2006-08 period.  It will be the first to fully reflect SAFETEA-LU requirements for early participation of outside resource agencies (NYSDEC, EPA, SHPO, etc.).  CDTC will make efforts to bring the New Visions 2030 work into compliance with SAFETEA-LU to the extent possible.

 

 

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 has depended on the quality and timeliness of GIS-based crash history data; a completion date is not known at this time.  NYSDOT has been exploring ways of facilitating CDTC staff access to NYSDOT’s internal crash information systems for the past year.  Recently, data streams are beginning to work and CDTC staff has begun the technical work on the Rensselaer County data.  The effort will be extended to all four counties and integrated with NYSDOT’s state system analysis during the two-year period.  A major staff commitment may be needed to achieve this goal.

 

In addition, 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 continue to 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

 

The Capital District remains an ozone non-attainment area under the final, eight-hour standards.  CDTC completed conformity determinations for the New Visions 2025 and 2003-08 TIP in 2004.  This effort will be repeated for New Visions 2030 and the 2005-10 TIP.

 

TASK 3.05          Infrastructure Planning

 

The New Visions 2030 outline triggers the need to review long-range state and local infrastructure financing.  In conjunction with the Transportation Finance Task Force, staff activity has initiated 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 2005-06, 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. 

 

In the coming year, CDTC will explore moving to an annual event – a conference or workshop on emerging issues.

 

 

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.

 

Final products are expected in late 2005-06 or early 2006-08 and will be brought into the New Visions 2030 process.

 

This task also includes continuation of the REVEST working group meetings as a subset of the trade corridor coalition transportation committee meetings.

 

TASK 3.12       Transit Development Plan (carryover)

 

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. 

 

During 2005-06, CDTA adopted New Visions-compatible principles for service planning and completed a Saratoga Springs service plan.  Development of the remainder of the TDP will follow.

 

CDTA adoption of the resulting plan is anticipated, as well as CDTC adoption as appropriate.  Products will feed both TIP and New Visions processes.  Completion of the effort is expected in 2006-08.

 

TASK 3.86          Continuous Aviation System Planning Project (CASPP)

 

This CDRPC-led effort will continue in 2006-08.