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13th International HOV/HOT Systems Conference: Partnerships for Innovation - Conference Proceedings
September 7-9, 2008
Minneapolis, MN

BREAKOUT SESSION – URBAN PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS AND THE CONGESTION-REDUCTION DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM
Jessie Yung, Federal Highway Administration, Presiding

USDOT Initiatives: Urban Partnership Agreement Congestion-Reduction Demonstration Initiative

Jessie Yung,
Federal Highway Administration

Jessie Yung provided an introduction to the breakout session. She described the USDOT’s Congestion Initiative, the UPA, and the CRD. Jessie covered the following points in her presentation.

  • USDOT’s Congestion Initiative focuses on a six-point plan. The first element is to relieve urban congestion. The UPA and the CRD address this element. The second element is to unleash private sector investment resources. The third element focuses on promoting operational and technological improvements. A “Corridors of the Future” competition was established as part of the fourth element. Targeting major freight bottlenecks and expanding freight policy outreach represents the fifth element. The final element is to accelerate major aviation capacity projects and to provide a future funding framework for aviation.

  • A number of approaches are being used throughout the country to address traffic congestion. These approaches include shaping demand, investing in new capacity, operating the system at peak performance, and bringing supply and demand into alignment through congestion pricing.

  • Congestion pricing is a key component of the USDOT Congestion Initiative element focusing on relieving urban congestion. The UPA targets strategies that integrate the four “Ts” of tolling, transit, telecommuting/TDM, and technology. Tolling is a key element of the UPA. Tolling focuses on direct user charges based on use of a facility. The charge varies based on the level of congestion. Toll collection is by electronic methods, with no toll booths. Approximately $850 million in USDOT discretionary funds were made available for the program. Five urban areas were initially selected through a competitive process. The urban areas were New York, Miami and South Florida, Minnesota focusing on the Minneapolis area, Seattle-Lake Washington, and San Francisco. The state legislation needed to implement the pricing component of the New York UPA was not approved. As a result, New York did not meet the requirements to participate in the program.

  • The CRD represents a follow-on to the UPA, but is a separate and distinct program. Applications for the CRD were due in November, 2007. In April, 2008, the USDOT announced the selection of Los Angeles and Chicago for funding through the program. Thus, there are six metropolitan areas participating in the programs. Chicago and Los Angeles are receiving funding through the CRD. The Seattle-Lake Washington Corridor, South Florida, Minnesota, and San Francisco are receiving funding through the UPA.

  • The congestion-pricing projects in South Florida, Minnesota, and Los Angeles involve the conversion of existing HOV lanes to HOT lanes. The Seattle-Lake Washington UPA includes tolling in the SR 520 corridor. The San Francisco UPA involves parking pricing, and the Chicago CRD includes peak-period parking pricing for goods movement delivery.

  • Future USDOT and FHWA activities include promoting HOV-to-HOT conversions through tailored technical assistance, called the HOV-to- HOT Initiative, and continuing to provide direct support to the UPA and CRD projects. The agencies will also harness and share experiences from the UPA and CRD projects with other areas. Providing general resource materials, including tailored workshops, seminars, and reference materials represent other activities. USDOT and FHWA are also supporting research to better quantify the impacts of the different strategies implemented in the UPA and CRD areas.

South Florida’s Urban Partnership: Travel Choices and Strategies to Relieve Congestion

Debora Rivera,
Florida Department of Transportation

Debora Rivera discussed the Miami UPA projects. She described the UPA partners, the UPA project elements, and the experience to date with the implementation of the 95 Express. Debora covered the following points in her presentation.

  • The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is the lead agency on the Miami UPA. Other partnering agencies include the Miami-Dade MPO, the Broward MPO, Miami-Dade Transit, Broward County Transit, the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX), and the Florida Turnpike Enterprise. The UPA projects focus on the I-95 corridor.

  • The UPA focuses on multimodal, demand-management projects, which combine added capacity, value-priced express lanes, transit improvements, bottleneck removal, and complementary operating strategies. The value-priced express lanes, called the 95 Express, will help reduce, combine, shift or eliminate trips, and regulate traffic flow. Transit elements include BRT, carpools, and vanpools.

  • The projects focus on long-distance trips. The 21-mile I-95 corridor connects numerous regional facilities. The HOT conversion includes two express lanes. Variable-priced tolls will be used to optimize traffic flow. The BRT element will enhance reliable public transportation in the I-95 corridor.

  • The freeway cross-section included four general-purpose lanes and one HOV lane in each direction of travel. The new cross-section includes four general-purpose lanes and two express lanes in each direction of travel. To accommodate the additional express lanes, all travel lanes are 11 feet wide. Delineators are being used to separate the express lanes from the adjacent general-purpose lanes.

  • The BRT element will eliminate the county line transfer and will expand or extend transit services in the corridor. Miami-Dade 95 Express bus service will be enhanced. Bus service into Miami will be provided on US 441 and University Drive in Broward County. Additional new bus routes and extensions to existing routes may be implemented in the future.

  • The implementation schedule includes three phases. Phase 1A, which includes the northbound lanes on I-95 from SR 112 to the Golden Glades Interchange is almost completed. Phase 1B, which includes the full system northbound and southbound from I-395 to the Golden Glades Interchange, is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2009. Phase 2, which includes the full system northbound and southbound from the Golden Glades Interchange to I-595/Broward Park-n-Ride, is scheduled to be completed in the winter of 2011. Lane closures are currently restricted to nighttime and weekend hours to minimize negative impacts on travelers in the corridor.

  • The express lanes are separated from the general-purpose lanes by delineators. The toll rates customers will pay will be based on the level of congestion or demand. The rates will be displayed before the beginning of the express lanes. The existing SunPass electronic toll collection will be used. Toll-free customers include registered 3+ carpools and vanpools, transit buses, hybrid vehicles, and motorcycles. There will be a significant Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) presence during the initial phases, with citations issued to carpools with less than three persons and trucks.

  • The project is estimated to have a number of benefits. A 50 percent travel time reduction from using the express lanes from the Golden Glades Interchange to SR 112 is projected. The transit transfer delay will be eliminated at the Golden Glades Interchange. No additional right-of-way is needed for the project and minimal construction is necessary. The project allows rapid delivery of improved mobility in the corridor. It also offers benefits that traditional freeway widening alone cannot provide, including encouraging ridesharing, providing incentives for transit use, implementing demand management, and reducing or eliminating trips.

  • Some issues were encountered with the opening of the initial section of the 95 Express, which does not yet include the tolling element. These issues included driver confusion and crashes, resulting in negative publicity for the project. A number of measures were taken to quickly address these issues. Physical improvements implemented included extending the delineators along I-95, reducing the spacing between delineators, and replacing white delineators with orange delineators to improve visibility. Other changes included adding warning signs advising drivers of the distance to the next exit, pavement markings advising “express only,” and removing references to I-595. Enhanced public information is also being provided through additional electronic message boards, highway advisory radio, billboards, public service announcements, and press releases.

  • The experience with the implementation of the initial segment of the 95 Express highlights a number of important lessons. These lessons include performing an operational analysis early in the process to identify potential problems, anticipating needs in contract documents, and conducting more public outreach than normal with an emphasis on operation not construction. Developing a strong, simple, and consistent communication plan is important. The signing and marking plans should consider signing for build-out and intermediate phases. It is important not to sign for elements that do not yet exist. Developing a risk management plan for opening day and beyond is important.

The Minnesota UPA

Nick Thompson, Minnesota Department of Transportation

Nick Thompson discussed the Minnesota UPA. He described the agencies and jurisdictions participating in the UPA, the different projects, and the implementation activities underway. He noted that more detailed information had been presented in an earlier session. Nick covered the following points in his presentation.

  • The Minnesota UPA team includes a number of partners. The lead agencies are Mn/DOT and the Metropolitan Council, which also operates Metro Transit. The City of Minneapolis, MVTA, and Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, and Ramsey counties are participating in different projects. The Center for Transportation Studies and the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota are also partners.

  • The Minnesota UPA consists of 14 transit projects, seven highway projects, and a major new telecommuting program. It represents a $183 million investment. The projects represent a mix of new concepts to match the UPA focus and accelerating innovative strategies, which had received consensus through the planning process.

  • A key highway component of the Minnesota UPA is the I-35W managed corridor. A 16-mile section of I-35W south of downtown Minneapolis will include expanding existing HOV lanes to HOT lanes, constructing new HOT lanes, and implementing a PDSL. There is also a commitment to future extension of the HOT lanes. Active traffic management and speed harmonization will also be used. New auxiliary lanes are being added in two sections to address bottlenecks.

  • The HOT lanes area being implemented in different segments. Approximately 10 miles of existing HOV lanes will be expanded to HOT lanes. Four miles of new HOT lanes are being constructed in the Crosstown Commons section. The PDSL will be approximately two miles in length, providing a northbound connection from the HOT lane into downtown Minneapolis. A future two-mile extension of the HOT lanes to the south is also anticipated.

  • The concept of the PDSL is based on the use of dynamic shoulder lanes in the United Kingdom, including the project in operation on M42. Active traffic management, including speed harmonization and additional incident response, will be used with the PDSL.

  • The transit elements include adding parking spaces to existing park-and-ride lots, constructing new park-and-ride lots, and purchasing 26 buses. New and expanded bus service will be provided in the I-35W corridor. The MARQ2 dual bus lanes in downtown Minneapolis represent a major component of the UPA. A lane guidance system for shoulder-running buses is being developed and will be deployed on Cedar Avenue. Transit signal priority will be implemented along Central Avenue. Real-time transit information signs will be installed at park-and-ride lots and in downtown Minneapolis. Real-time traffic and transit information will be provided at strategic locations along the I-35W corridor.

  • The state legislature provided funding for the telecommuting component of the UPA. The telecommuting elements focused on expanding the use of the ROWE, telecommuting, and alternative work arrangements. While these alternative work schedules and arrangements will be promoted throughout the region, a target of 500 new telecommuters in the I-35W corridor has been set.

  • State legislation was needed to implement the PDSL. Legislation was approved allowing vehicles to operate on the shoulder and providing Mn/DOT with the authority to toll vehicles for use of the shoulder. The legislature also provided the funding needed for the local match and the telecommuting project. Most of the Minnesota UPA projects will be implemented between September and December 2009. Due to the previously established construction schedule, the HOT lanes in the Crosstown Commons section will be completed in October 2010.

The Seattle-Lake Washington Corridor UPA

Mark Bandy,
Washington State Department of Transportation

Mark Bandy discussed the major elements of the Seattle-Lake Washington UPA. He highlighted the participating agencies and communities, the various projects, and related activities underway in the area. Mark covered the following points in his presentation.

  • The USDOT awarded $154.5 million to apply innovative approaches using transit, technology, tolling, and telecommuting to reduce congestion in the SR 520 corridor in the Puget Sound Region. The three major agencies involved in the UPA are WSDOT, the PSRC, and King County. Local communities and other transit agencies are also participating in the UPA.

  • The SR 520 corridor is located in the northeastern portion of the Seattle metropolitan area. SR 520 includes a floating bridge across Lake Washington. The University of Washington is located on the western side of the bridge. The community of Kirkland and other smaller cities are located on the eastern side of the bridge. SR 520 is one of two routes crossing Lake Washington. I-90, located to the south of SR 520 is the second crossing. I-90 connects Seattle, Mercer Island, and Bellevue.

  • The UPA technology elements will build on those already deployed in the Puget Sound Region The current system includes 135 ramp meters, real-time traveler information, 475 traffic cameras, 179 electronic message boards, seven traffic management centers, 55 incident response trucks, and 884 timed traffic signals. There are also approximately 200 miles of HOV lanes and 20 miles of HOT lanes in the region.

  • New elements to be funded through the UPA include overhead signs, variable lane control signs, and travel-time signs. The variable speed limit and lane-control signs on SR 520 will be used to alert drivers of traffic congestion ahead. The variable lane control signal will alert drivers of problems and close lanes to provide emergency vehicle access when needed. Travel-time signs will allow drivers to make trip decisions based on real-time information. The UPA will build on existing commute trip reduction programs to encourage telecommuting and flexible schedules, educational campaigns, employer subsidies, and carpooling and vanpooling.

  • The UPA includes the use of variable tolling on the existing SR 520 Bridge. The existing highway would be tolled, with no new highway lanes added. All electronic tolling and variable tolls will be used. The tolls will be lower in non-peak periods and higher in the peak periods. Revenue will be invested in the SR 520 corridor for replacement of the bridge and other improvements.

  • Funding from the UPA will be used to purchase 45 additional buses, make improvements to park-and-ride facilities, enhance passenger facilities, and install real-time transit information signs. New passenger waiting shelters and improved lighting represent examples of enhancements that will be made to existing transit facilities.

  • A number of activities are currently underway. A Request for Interest (RFI) on the tolling technology has been issued. The RFI focused on assessing the state-of-the-industry for a complete electronic toll collection system the size and scope foreseen on SR 520. Responses to the RFI have been received and are being analyzed. An RFI for the ATM components has also been issued to assess the state-of-the-industry. Responses to this RFI were due in early September. Contract developments for toll back office services, toll in-lane systems, ATM gantries, and ATM components have begun. Toll authorization on SR 520 will be the top transportation-related issue in the state’s upcoming legislative session.

The Los Angeles CRD

Stephanie Wiggins,
Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Stephanie Wiggins discussed the Los Angeles CRD. She described the background to the CRD, the project elements, and the outreach activities conducted to date. She noted that more detailed information on the different projects was presented in an earlier session. Stephanie covered the following points in her presentation.

  • Los Angeles Metro is the lead agency on the CRD, with support from Caltrans. The agency had initially submitted an application under the UPA program. The UPA proposal did not include a tolling component. As a result, the proposal was not selected for funding by the USDOT. Based on this experience, the Metro Board supported the tolling elements of the CRD proposal. The application was selected for funding by the USDOT. A press conference with Governor Schwarzenegger and USDOT Secretary Peters was held to announce the award. This press conference was important because it showed support for the project, including the tolling elements, by top officials.

  • Outreach activities have been a major focus over the first five months of the project. Under the terms of the CRD, state legislative authority for the toll elements must be in place by October 15, 2008. The amount of the federal award, which is $210 million, helped focus the attention of the legislature. This deadline highlights the importance of the outreach activities.

  • The I-10 and I-210 corridors were initially considered for the pricing elements of the project. The I-110 corridor was added in place of the I-210 corridor, however, due to the need to increase the vehicle-occupancy requirements from 2+ to 3+ on the I-110 HOV lanes. The pricing component focuses on expanding the HOV lanes on I-10 and I-110 to HOT lanes.

  • Transit is an important component of the CRD. Los Angeles has a very active environmental justice (EJ) community. Both the I-10 corridor and the I-110 corridor are EJ corridors. As a result, equity and EJ are important concerns, and it is anticipated that consultants with expertise in assessing EJ issues will be added to the team assisting with the UPA projects. Information on HOT projects in other areas is not enough for this analysis. Additional work will be needed to identify possible EJ concerns and to develop and implement strategies to mitigate these concerns.

  • The bill approved by the legislature providing the needed authority for the tolling elements of the project also requires Los Angeles Metro to study the impact of the projects on low-income groups and to provide mitigation measures. The legislation requires the development and implementation of a formal outreach plan. The governor has until September 30 to sign or veto the legislation. The bill becomes law after September 30 if he takes no action.

The National UPA/CRD Evaluation

Katie Turnbull,
Texas Transportation Institute

Katie Turnbull discussed the national UPA/CRD evaluation being conducted by the USDOT. She summarized the purpose and focus of the evaluation, the team conducting the evaluation, and the current status of activities. Katie covered the following points in her presentation.

  • The national UPA/CRD evaluation has three main purposes. First, the national evaluation will assess the impacts of UPA/CRD strategies in a comprehensive and systematic manner across all UPA/CRD sites. The second purpose of the national evaluation is to generate information and technology transfer materials to support the deployment of similar strategies in other metropolitan areas. Third, the national evaluation will generate findings for future federal policy and program development related to mobility, congestion, and facility pricing.

  • The focus of the UPA/CRD national evaluation is on assessing the congestion reduction impacts from tolling, transit, technology, and telework strategies. The associated impacts and contributions of each strategy to reducing congestion will be examined. Lessons learned related to outreach activities, political and community support, institutional arrangements, and technology deployment will be documented. The overall cost/benefit of the deployed strategies will also be analyzed.

  • The UPA/CRD national evaluation is using a partnership/team approach involving USDOT, the local agencies, and the national evaluation team. The participation of representatives from the local agencies throughout the process is a key element, as is ongoing communication through workshops, meetings, conference calls, and e-mails.

  • The national evaluation is covering all the UPA/CRD sites – Minnesota, the Seattle-Lake Washington Corridor, San Francisco, South Florida, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The national evaluation team’s role is slightly different with the South Florida UPA. The schedule for deployment of the South Florida UPA projects preceded the national evaluation schedule. As a result, the national evaluation team is providing review, monitoring, and technical assistance to the local evaluation in South Florida.

  • Battelle Memorial Institute is the lead contractor on the UPA/CRD national evaluation. Other team members include TTI and CUTR. The Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Policy and Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota are also on the team. Eric Schreffler, Transportation Consultant, and Susan Shaheen and Caroline Rodier from the University of California, Berkley are the final team members.

  • Brian Cronin from the USDOT ITS Joint Program Office is the manager of the national evaluation. There is a USDOT Evaluation Team, with representatives from different agencies, offices, and groups. There is a national evaluation team for each site. Each team includes a site leader and an expert on tolling, transit, telecommuting/TDM, and technology. The national evaluation team also includes individuals with expertise in statistics, economics, and public policy. Each site team is working closely with representatives from the local participating agencies and the USDOT.

  • The work plan for the national evaluation includes five major tasks. The first task, evaluation planning and project kick-off, has been completed. The second task, development of the evaluation framework, is underway and will be completed in early 2009. This task includes the development of the national evaluation framework, site-specific evaluation strategies, site-specific evaluation plans, and site-specific evaluation test plans. The third task, evaluation monitoring, and support, is scheduled to occur during 2009 to 2010. The fourth task focuses on data analysis and reporting. This task will be accomplished from 2009 to 2011. The fifth task is technology transfer. Activities in this task are ongoing throughout the evaluation.

  • A number of activities have been completed on the national evaluation. A kick-off meeting with representatives from the USDOT was held on May 8, 2008. Kick-off conferences calls were conducted with representatives of the Minnesota UPA and the Seattle-Lake Washington Corridor UPA. The national evaluation framework site visits and workshops have been held in Minnesota and Seattle. The draft evaluation strategies for these two sites are being developed.

  • The national evaluation analyses focuses on the four questions posed by the USDOT. How much congestion was reduced? What are the associated impacts of the congestion reduction strategies? What are the lessons learned? What is the overall cost/benefit of the strategies? The evaluation analyses areas include congestion, the specific strategy performance (tolling, transit, telecommuting, and technology), equity, environmental, goods movement, business impacts, safety, lessons learned, and cost/benefit.

  • The analysis approach includes identifying hypotheses or questions for each of the evaluation areas. Associated measures of effectiveness and the data needed to assess the measures of effectiveness are also being identified. An example of a safety-related hypothesis is that congestion-reduction strategies, including strategies that reduce the width of travel lanes and/or shoulders and introduce unfamiliar signage, will not adversely affect highway safety. One possible measure of effectiveness with this hypothesis is the percent change in the crash rate by type and severity. Data needed to assess this measure include the number of crashes by type and severity.

  • Next steps in the national evaluation include scheduling and conducting the kick-off calls and workshops in San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The national evaluation framework will be finalized and work on the site-specific evaluation plans will be initiated. Development of the detailed test plans will follow. The national evaluation team will also be monitoring the implementation of the projects, providing technical evaluation support, and assisting with technology transfer activities.

November 2009
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