Wednesday, July 18, 2012

MAP-21 (or, as I sometimes call it, ATLAS-T 1000 ½), Some Good News on the Grid

Now that the Reauthorization bill has been signed, many of us are looking through it to identify the good bits (more than we might have thought a few months ago), the bad bits, and the head-scratchers that we will need to see play out.
We will start with some good news.
A provision that has gotten little attention is the one that makes projects on minor collector roads eligible for STP funding where those projects improve level of service on an adjacent NHS highway and meet other conditions (see Section 1108).  Although there are still more limitations than I would like (and why can’t NHS funding be used?), this is still a step in the right direction.  Smart Growth planners have known for a long time that improvements on the local grid are often better and more cost-effective than improvements on the mainline highway.  Improving the connectivity of the local grid disperses and tames traffic and supports neighborhoods.  Expanding capacity on the NHS highway often stimulates sprawl development and divide towns without doing a very efficient job of improving traffic flow.  I hope that state DOTs take advantage of this opportunity and that FHWA encourages it!
What is ATLAS-T 1000 ½?  AT Least it’s an Authorization bill for Surface Transportation (although 1000 days late and ½ the size it needs to be).

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