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November 16, 2012

Volpe Center Releases Report on CMAP Peer Exchange

The Federal Highway Administration/Federal Transit Administration Transportation Planning Capacity Building program recently released a report describing the performance-based funding peer exchange hosted by CMAP last summer. On July 10-11, 2012, officials from six peer agencies, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Advisory Council, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), and CMAP met to discuss the use of performance-based evaluation criteria in transportation funding. The peer agencies included the Minnesota DOT and Metropolitan Council (Minneapolis-St. Paul-area MPO), the North Carolina DOT and Capital Area MPO (Raleigh-area MPO), and the Pennsylvania DOT and Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (Philadelphia-area MPO).

As described in this Policy Update, the main findings from the peer exchange focused on five themes:

  • Transparency: All the peer agencies illustrate exemplary transparency both in their use of performance data and throughout the programming process. On the data side, peer agencies reported extensive and ready data sharing among DOTs and MPOs, as well as public and regular performance reporting of key indicators. On the process side, peer agencies presented straightforward, intuitive explanations of the programming process to the public through websites, booklets, and other publications.
  • DOT-MPO Relationship: Peer states demonstrate a healthy working relationship between the state DOT and MPOs, and their processes formalize MPO and local agencies' input.
  • De-Politicization of the Process: Because outreach and collaboration are genuine, the process is seen as credible and accountable by DOT and MPO staffs, state legislators, local officials, and the public. Data is transparent and the process is well-communicated -- all stakeholders know the "rules of the game" and can see why some projects were chosen and others were not.
  • Implementation: Peer agencies reported that strong commitment is required from leadership of the state DOT, including the allocation of appropriate staff capacity. The peers also noted that it is important to start with manageable steps and to view the implementation of performance-based funding as a process.
  • Measures and Targets. Some peers organize funding into broad programmatic "buckets" such as highway maintenance, highway modernization, and highway expansion. This approach can allow tailored evaluation criteria and a focused level of review commensurate with a project's scope and impact. For example, MPOs' input may not be as necessary in evaluating routine maintenance projects, but could be critical in evaluating expansion and modernization projects.

To continue the conversation, CMAP hosted a regional peer exchange in September. That event convened metropolitan Chicago regional implementing agencies, both highway and transit, to discuss the use of performance measures in their capital development processes. Participating agencies included the IDOT District 1, the Illinois Tollway, county DOTs, the North Shore Council of Mayors, CMAP, the Cities of Chicago and Naperville, RTA, the Chicago Transportation Authority, Metra, and Pace.

GO TO 2040 recommends that transportation funding decisions be based on transparent evaluation criteria, and that IDOT and the region's transportation stakeholders develop and use necessary performance measures. CMAP remains committed to the implementation of performance-based funding for the State's highway program. At their joint meeting on October 10, 2012, the CMAP Board and MPO Policy Committee voted to ask IDOT to convene a state-level technical advisory group to implement performance-based funding. This group would consist of IDOT and transportation stakeholders and would be charged with developing performance measures and applying them to funding decisions. CMAP will continue to work with IDOT at a staff level and to advocate for the implementation of performance-based funding in Illinois.