Wednesday, December 20, 2017

My report on Maryland transportation performance measures is out

I’m pleased to say that my report on Maryland transportation performance measures is now available here.
This is work that I have done for 1,000 Friends of Maryland and the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, two excellent nonprofit advocacy groups that have been leading the struggle to defend and improve good transportation decision-making in the state.
The back story (very condensed) is that as a result of the last gubernatorial election, Maryland transportation and land use decision-making took one of its periodic steps backward (elections have consequences!).  The Legislature, with outside leadership supplied by 1,000 Friends and CMTA, enacted a law requiring a quantitative, transparent project selection process for transportation capacity increase projects as a way of preventing too much slippage.  The law specified a set of goals and performance measures and directed the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to adopt implementing regulations.  MDOT said – rather incredibly – that these performance measures were too difficult to implement.  As part of the ensuing hullabaloo (you don’t want to know all the details), I was brought on board to demonstrate that implementing these performance measures is, in fact, very doable.  Hence, the current report, which is an expanded version of legislative testimony submitted previously by 1,000 Friends and CMTA.
The report reviews each of the statutory performance measures and identifies best practices which MDOT can bring in to implement the law.  (Interestingly, MDOT is now circulating a draft report that aims at getting back in the game.)

This controversy is not over, but I think the takeway is that advocacy groups, if they stay focused and bring in expert help, can hold agencies to a higher standard.  DOTs do better when they have energetic, well-informed, and well-equipped groups engaging with them.

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