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Enhance the region’s approach to transportation programming

Enhance the region’s approach to transportation programming

The scarcity of transportation dollars demands that they be spent wisely and transparently. In the CMAP region as well as the rest of the state, transportation funding is largely allocated via formulas set in law or simply adhered to by custom. Even if these formulas once had a strong basis in transportation system size or condition, they are not responsive to changing conditions, can spread funding too thin for any individual agency to accomplish more significant projects, and can prompt decision makers to focus on the money itself rather than on how individual projects address or do not address transportation needs. Performance-based funding promises a more accountable process for programming transportation projects, using a variety of measures to allocate scarce resources. Performance measures reflect the use, condition, and impact of transportation elements and are publicly reported for illustrative purposes or to demonstrate progress made toward established targets.

One of the most significant policy changes in the federal Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) transportation law, enacted in 2012, was to institute a national performance measurement system for the highway and transit programs. Implementation of this new system is just beginning, and it requires state DOTs, MPOs like CMAP, and transit agencies to work together to set targets that define the performance they want to achieve. Select infrastructure condition, safety, congestion, and emissions federal performance measures are closely aligned with recommendations in the Mobility chapter. These measures are plan indicators and are referenced throughout the Mobility chapter and described in more detail in the Draft ON TO 2050 Indicators Appendix. More detail on all of the federally required performance measures is in the Draft ON TO 2050 2018 System Performance Report.

Tying programming to quantifiable targets helps demonstrate the effectiveness of performance-based programming. MAP-21 and the FAST Act, the two most recent federal transportation authorization laws, require state departments of transportation and transit agencies to implement asset management practices. IDOT is responsible for implementing asset management on the NHS. CMAP, IDOT, and county and municipal departments of transportation will need to collaborate to define the NHS and set appropriate targets for its condition. CMAP, RTA, and the transit agencies should continue to collaborate on achieving asset condition targets for the transit system. The long-range planning process offers an opportunity to place a high priority on meeting federal asset management requirements and moving the system toward a state of good repair.

[GRAPHIC TO COME: An illustrated graphic will show expenditures needed to meet transit asset state of good repair, pavement and bridge condition indicator targets.]

Improving system condition while minimizing costs requires nuanced decision making. Rather than prioritize the repair of assets in worst condition first, asset management seeks to optimize lifecycle costs of achieving and sustaining a desired target condition. Implementing asset management can help improve system resilience in the face of changing climate or challenging economic conditions. These practices can be applied to a wide range of infrastructure, including freshwater, wastewater, signals and communications, vehicles, transit facilities and equipment, and pavement. Pavement management programs in particular have a demonstrated ability to stretch scarce funding farther. For additional recommendations about asset management, see the Governance and Environment chapters.

[GRAPHIC TO COME: An illustrated graphic will show benefits of asset management.]

The following describes strategies and associated actions to implement this recommendation.

Continue to implement performance-based programming region-wide

As transportation revenues remain constrained, performance-based programming can help identify the most cost-effective way to meet local and regional priorities. There is room for all transportation implementers to improve data and methods for incorporating performance into processes for allocating funds and selecting projects. For example, IDOT has made recent progress in using a performance-based evaluation system to rank capacity projects for the state highway program. Rather than programming many conversions of two-lane to four-lane facilities that remain incomplete, the state is trying to “right-size” projects to address specific needs more cost-effectively, such as by making less expensive intersection improvements rather than expanding capacity on an entire segment. In another example, the Council of Mayors and City of Chicago have recently revised the way local STP funds are allocated to emphasize transportation need.

IDOT should apply its new performance-based programming criteria, evaluate outcomes, and continue to refine the criteria.

IDOT, transit agencies, counties, local councils, and municipalities should incorporate the ON TO 2050 indicators and federal performance measures into their project selection and funding allocation decisions.

CMAP and partners should continue to evaluate the outcomes of regional transportation prioritization efforts, screening for equity and other desired outcomes and making iterative improvements to criteria for achieving those outcomes.

RTA and transit agencies should commit to a performance-based competitive approach for a portion of existing transit capital funding.

CMAP and partner agencies should work together to define how the TIP demonstrates the effect of transportation investments toward meeting the performance targets.

Expand asset management practices to the entire transportation system

There is great potential value in expanding asset management beyond the transit system and the NHS to local roads and local jurisdictions. As of 2016, only 40 percent of the region’s municipalities used a pavement condition measure as part of a pavement management system and set long-term targets for pavement condition. While fully implementing pavement management systems can sometimes reduce maintenance expenditures, these plans have also provided convincing evidence of the need to devote more resources to preventing long-term declines in pavement conditions. Because their budgets are so limited, many communities with pavement management systems prioritize fixing the worst conditions first rather than undertaking preventive maintenance. But this practice only drives up costs in the long-term and limits their capacity to undertake preventive maintenance.

More uniformity in data collection and analysis may help decision makers understand and prioritize pavement conditions. While IDOT collects pavement data for the National Highway System, there is limited pavement data for the remainder of the federal-aid system, consisting of collector streets and minor arterial highways. Furthermore, there is no uniformly adopted measure of pavement condition within the region. Improving the consistency of pavement condition data will enable the first region-wide pavement condition data system for all federal-aid roadways not on the NHS.

Local agencies should implement pavement management systems and base pavement management decisions on minimizing lifecycle maintenance costs.

CMAP should pilot asset management plans employing lifecycle cost principles with local communities.

Transit agencies should continue to invest in systems that allow for tracking and evaluating the impact of investments on asset condition.

CMAP should work with partner agencies toward uniformity in pavement data collection.

COGs and CMAP should develop trainings to assist all of the region’s municipalities in implementing and improving asset management systems over the long term.




 
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