Posted on September 20, 2007 10:22 PM
Weekly Update, 9/21/07
Congestion report. On Tuesday, September 18, 2007, the Texas Transportation Institute released its new Urban Mobility Report (http://mobility.tamu.edu/), based on analysis of congestion on freeways and major streets in 85 cities. To coincide with the report, CMAP issued a press release (http://tinyurl.com/yu7e28) and fact sheet (http://tinyurl.com/236cgn) -- developed in partnership with the Metropolitan Planning Council -- with strategies for addressing congestion, some of which were echoed by the TTI report. CMAP was featured prominently in coverage that included the Chicago Tribune (http://tinyurl.com/2e76dk), the Daily Southtown (http://tinyurl.com/2s2fhu), the Daily Herald (http://tinyurl.com/ynqhtu), and the Joliet Herald News (http://tinyurl.com/yskprp). My interview with WGN-AM is now on the web (http://tinyurl.com/3exm5z), and on Sunday, September 30, I'll appear between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m. on ABC Channel 7's Newsviews (http://tinyurl.com/ynpzj8). Many of us take issue with how the TTI data get interpreted, because it should be no surprise that metropolitan Chicago -- as the third-largest U.S. region -- should rank near the top of the list of most-congested cities with population over 3 million. But the report gets intense news coverage that we've tried to capitalize upon in bringing attention to the need for new transportation investments and novel approaches to addressing congestion.
Visioning summary part two. We've posted photos on the web (http://picasaweb.google.com/chicagoareaplanning/CMAPVisioningEvent91207) from the event on September 12 at IIT. As promised in the previous update, here's a short summary of the participatory aspects of our visioning event.
Following our invited speakers' presentations, attendees at 20 round tables considered the draft vision themes that were included in the event program (http://www.chicagoareaplanning.org/news/pdf/visioning_program_9-12-07.pdf). Each table was assigned a particular theme, and divided into small teams to review and suggest modifications to each bullet point within this theme. Each small team then presented their modified bullet point to the entire table, and through a facilitated discussion, general consensus was reached at each table on the content of the overall theme. CMAP staff facilitators captured these inputs, which were quickly typed in and shown on a projection screen so that the entire room could view the results of each table’s work.
Keypad polling devices were then used to let each attendee rate each theme statement. This technology, which we have used at past events as well, lets participants in large meetings vote anonymously and quickly on questions that are asked, with the results of the voting available instantaneously. The use of keypad polling gave participants and staff immediate feedback on how well the vision statements that were crafted met participants’ expectations. Some theme statements that were developed at the event – most notably, on the topics of Environmental Health, Education and Workforce Development, Economic Competitiveness, and Quality of Life – received strong support from the audience as a whole. Other themes were more challenging, and require more work by us and our partners. (Please note, however, that this means only that attendees approved of how those themes were expressed and were not stating a preference for one theme over another.) We also gathered input about current aspects of the region that attendees consider most valuable, as well as collecting ideas about combining or grouping theme categories.
Our staff is now revising the vision themes based on the event's complex qualitative input (i.e., text written by participants and facilitators) and quantitative input (i.e., polling results) to develop new versions that will be reviewed by CMAP working committees in October. Also in October, we will post a web survey and create a comparable paper survey that will let any resident of the region rate and comment on the current vision themes. At the same time, CMAP staff will be meeting with stakeholders across the region to describe the draft vision and our process that will culminate next spring, when we will ask the CMAP Board and the MPO to endorse the regional vision. This document will guide the remainder of our work on the Regional Comprehensive Plan, leading to its publication in 2010.
Regional Water Supply Planning Group. The RWSPG meets next Tuesday at 2.30 at the CMAP offices. The agenda and meeting materials can be found on our website at http://tinyurl.com/2qlgzb.
Planning and environment web. The Federal Highway Administration has created a new website (http://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/) to show how links between planning and environment can improve transportation planning. According to FHWA, "Planning and Environment linkages represent an approach to transportation decision making that considers, environmental, community, and economic goals early in the planning stage and carries them through project development, design, and construction. This can lead to a seamless decision-making process that minimizes duplication of effort, promotes environmental stewardship, and reduces delays in project implementation."
Full Circle resolution. The City Council of Chicago recently passed a resolution honoring CMAP's Full Circle community planning and mapping project (http://www.fulcir.net/), which is an important part of our community and technical assistance efforts. In particular, the Council and Mayor Daley recognized our partnership with Uptown United, a community development corporation that uses Full Circle tools to collect precise data about infrastructure and employment in the Uptown neighborhood.
SAFETEA-LU planning provisions. FHWA and Federal Transit Administration have issued a report documenting examples of state and local implementation of new federal transportation planning requirements (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/metro/sftluexamp.htm). The report is intended help implement provisions of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) by providing current examples from state transportation agencies and metropolitan planning organizations. The examples illustrate a range of approaches for addressing several planning provisions and are intended to help other agencies comply with the law, according to an introduction to the report by FTA planning official Charles Goodman.
Active Aging RFP. The U.S. EPA is seeking proposals for funding through its Building Healthy Communities for Active Aging program (http://www.epa.gov/aging/bhc/about.htm), which seeks "to raise awareness across the nation about healthy synergies that can be achieved by communities combining Smart Growth and Active Aging concepts." Awards will be presented to communities that demonstrate the best and most inclusive overall approach to implementing smart growth and active aging at the neighborhood, tribe, municipality, county, and/or regional levels. Applicants must be public-sector entities in the United States and coordinate with their local Area Agency on Aging. Public-sector entities include all levels of elected governments, from city councils to state legislatures and their subdivisions such as planning departments and other executive branch divisions. Applications are due October 19, 2007. Winners will be announced next February at the 7th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth: Building Safe, Healthy and Livable Communities Conference in Washington, D.C.
TIP comment reminder. CMAP is seeking public comments on a proposed amendment (http://tinyurl.com/2gat23) to the FY 2007-2012 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and the accompanying conformity determination. This 30-day review will continue through Sunday, September 23. The proposed amendment is for adding lanes on I-355 and on portions of selected arterials with entrance/exit ramps to I-355.
Fox River summit. On Friday, October 5, the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership (FREP) will host the Fox River Summit 2007: Creating Lean & Green Communities. To be held at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, the summit will address issues facing municipalities and large corporate and educational campus communities in the watershed. CMAP's own Holly Hudson will participate in a panel on how to raise funds for community environmental projects. On-line registration (http://foxriverecosystem.org/) is open through October 1, and see the summit brochure (http://www.foxriverecosystem.org/PDFs/eventsinfo/Summit07brochure.pdf) for more information.