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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bike Walk TN Participates in Transportation Planning

With the forecasted bankruptcy of the Transportation Trust Fund, the loss of revenues from user fees, and the inability of Congress to arrive at a Transportation Authorization Act, current funding for transportation is in a critical state. It is evident that more will be required with less and that projects will have to verify the economic benefits outweigh the cost. With this challenge Smart Growth America ( (SGA) and Gresham, Smith, and Partners are leading the national efforts to re-think transportation funding and decision making nationally.

In early April TDOT staff, transportation leaders, and stakeholders from across the state participated in the TDOT Reform Demonstration Project meeting being coordinated by SGA. Commissioner Schroer opened the meeting by stating that TDOT must undergo review and change dramatically. Economic development is to be part of every transportation decision. Federal funds need to be used more creatively. Examples offered were: Off-system use of funds for safety and mobility, DOT's establishing public/private agreements to broaden the base of available funding, up-front challenge funding and loans to communities to stimulate critical projects, land use in TDOT’s decision process, and attention to the disproportionate costs to manage Transportation Enhancement projects.

Smart Growth policies and project decision making should take in the complete community model that is central to economic growth. It must involve a wider base of stakeholders. Toks Omishaken, Chief of Environment and Planning, spoke of the strong need for wider public input as TDOT is undergoing review. Along that thought Tanisha Hall, Director of Long Range Planning, announced that TDOT is forming a Department of Community Transportation

Two more meetings of this stakeholders group will be held in May and June. Internal work by Smart Growth America and Gresham, Smith, and Partners will use this feedback and other technical input to recommend needed changes in the agency. Some of the proposed changes will necessitate change at the USDOT level. A website will be forthcoming for on-going developments and for public input.

Click here for Stakeholder List

Dan Reese

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