Our High-Tech Future?

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Does this conceptual reversible lane system represent part of our high tech future? Comment below with your ideas.

When I was growing up, movies and TV shows depicted a high-tech future (now) of automated transportation and fast mag-lev trains.  It seemed that the high-tech future was always around the corner.  Some of these images were artistic license in order to make movies look interesting.  Other predictions were overly optimistic concerning the technical challenges involved.

However, due to real advances in automated systems, Google’s forays into self driving and driver assist vehicles are just one example, some version of the high-tech future for transportation may actually arrive within the next 20 years.  As we are developing the next regional Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), we would like to hear from you.  Which technologies do you think will impact transportation and travel in the next 20 years.  What are the “game changers” in your opinion.  Use the comment boxes to put forth your ideas.

Beginning with the End in Mind!

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Image courtesy of the following blog: http://in-the-flow.com/beginning-mind/ Fair use standard assumed for informational and educational purposes.

I am a book on CD fan.  I mainly listen to business, leadership or other “nerdy” books.  In several leadership and self-improvement titles the concept of “beginning with the end in mind” is wholeheartedly advocated.  To give credit where it is due, this concept is especially prevalent in the late Stephen Covey’s work.

Let’s try a version of “beginning with the end in mind” with regards to the next regional long-range transportation plan (LRTP 2040), which will be completed in the summer of 2015.  In planning “beginning with the end in mind” does not mean deciding plan recommendations ahead of time. Plan recommendations are developed throughout the process with public and stakeholder involvement.  However, “beginning with the end in mind” can mean thinking through the structure and form of the final end product – the plan itself.  In that spirit, below is a screenshot of the draft table of contents for the plan.  Please comment with your own feedback and suggestions in the comment boxes below.

Why do we have a long-range transportation plan?

We are about to kick off a process that will update the regional long-range transportation plan (LRTP) for the urban area.  The updated LRTP will be completed by the end of summer 2015.  This begs the question “Why do we have a regional LRTP in the first place?”  There are two good, straightforward answers to this question:

1) Every urbanized area with a population over 50,000 in the US must have a regional LRTP in order to get federal transportation funds

2) The process of planning itself brings forth the questions, discussions and tradeoffs necessary to make better decisions.

According to the website Wikiquote, President Dwight D. Eisenhower made the following assertion in a 1957 speech:

I tell this story to illustrate the truth of the statement I heard long ago in the Army: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of “emergency” is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.

Although this quote states that plans are worthless, it makes the point that the planning process that leads to the plan is absolutely necessary and extremely valuable.  I suspect that the plans are worthless part of the quote was probably said for effect, and it is unlikely that Eisenhower only valued the process and not the outcome.  Rather, I think that Eisenhower wanted to emphasize that extremely important decisions, such as where durable long-lasting transportation infrastructure is built, should not be the subject of arbitrary, knee-jerk, go-with-the-gut, or spur-of-the-moment decisions.  And, we should not expect planners to predict the future with infallible accuracy and precision. 

After all, few of us would actually expect private sector Wall Street Analysts to predict exact stock prices for individual stocks 20 years from now.  Rather, we should expect planners to anticipate scenarios, envision possible trends in the future, and to lead us through a process that helps us make the best decisions we can today given uncertainty and limited resources. It is just such a process that we are kicking off from now through the summer of 2015.  We will need your participation and feedback, in order to, advise our local elected officials on wise and prudent decisions regarding transportation funding.  Please stay tuned and stay engaged.

Wayne Strickland Receives VAPDC President’s Award

Wayne Strickland was recently honored to receive the Virginia Wayne StricklandPlanning District Commission’s first ever President’s Award during the VAPDC’s 2014 Winter Conference in Richmond, VA. The award recognizes an individual for:

‘exemplifying with distinction, the ideals of regional cooperation, planning, and development within the Commonwealth of Virginia.’

For over 25 years, Mr. Strickland has served the Roanoke Valley and Alleghany Highlands as the Executive Director of the Regional Commission. He is currently the longest tenured Planning District Commission Executive Director in the state, further solidifying his track record in creating, supporting, and sustaining a spirit of collaboration and cooperation throughout our region. 

The VAPDC represents the 21 planning districts throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and works to bring diverse resources together at the regional level in partnership with local, state, and federal entities to strengthen all regions and the Commonwealth. 

 

Region’s First Ever Congestion Management Process (CMP) Plan Approved

The region’s first ever Congestion Management Process (CMP) Plan was approved by the Roanoke Valley Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (RVAMPO) on January 23, 2014.  The CMP Plan is a new federal requirement for the RVAMPO, due to the fact that we became a Transportation Management Area (TMA) status MPO.  This new TMA status is a result going over 200,000 in population within the urbanized area according to US Census Bureau definitions. 

The Regional Commission and its staff viewed this new requirement as an opportunity to get ahead of future traffic congestion and to discuss multi-modal strategies to address current and future congestion.  We feel that we broke new ground with our first ever CMP, compared to examples from similar sized regions that were already TMA status MPOs.  Our first CMP is truly multi-modal in nature and incorporates strategies directly from local comprehensive plans, regional corridor, greenway and bicycle plans so that the strategies and suggestions from these plans can live on in our region’s first CMP.  In addition, we developed a new way of internal collaborative document development where more than one staff member can work on a plan simultaneously.  This allowed us to be both efficient and effective within our limited time and budget constraints.  We feel that we developed a much better plan than would have been the case if we would have approached the process in a traditional manner.

You can download the CMP here. (warning large file size 19.2Mb)