October 2017 

Community Connections

Performance management approaches for planning, designing and building transportation projects that promote connectivity, revitalize communities and improve public health and safety.

Many cities now have elevated, sunken or at-grade highways that have reached or exceeded their useful lives. The time is right to consider removal and retrofit options for connecting and revitalizing urban cores and adjacent communities. Performance-based management approaches are available that can help transportation practitioners develop highway retrofitting, rehabilitation or removal options that turn aging infrastructure into opportunities for reestablishing community connections and cohesion.

The fourth round of Every Day Counts (EDC-4) offers tools and strategies for developing transportation systems in a way that is inclusive and interconnected through place-making(planning, designing and managing public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness and well-being) and connectivity.

Connections that Improve Communities

Transportation can play an important role in supporting community revitalization. As multimodal transportation systems connect Americans to employment, education, healthcare and other essential services, these infrastructure investments create jobs and benefit businesses, particularly small and disadvantaged business enterprises. Providing transportation options that connect urban cores with neighboring communities can also offer public health, safety, and air and water quality benefits, among others.

Through modifications in traditional project planning, transportation practitioners can use measurable or predicted performance information to compare options for improving community connectivity while meeting community, project and system objectives.

The EDC community connections framework and tools will help practitioners identify gaps and work to ensure that all users have access to safe, reliable, affordable, connected and multimodal transportation networks.

Community Connections Toolkit

Planners and designers can help connect communities and retrofit transportation infrastructure through a performance-based project planning and design framework that may include visualization tools, scenario planning techniques, public involvement techniques, context sensitive solutions and design and construction techniques.

  • Socio-economic planning data can be displayed via geographic information system models and maps to show highway barrier-caused multimodal system gaps.
  • Three-dimensional design software can generate design alternatives that display a range of before-and-after graphics, incorporating alternative land use and aesthetic treatments.
  • Complete streets design packages can display a variety of road allocation schemes for multimodal movements.

For those communities ready to advance these planning and project development activities, the FHWA is working with state and local partners through EDC to reference innovative strategies for conducting project planning, public involvement, National Environmental Policy Act scoping and alternatives evaluation.

Benefits

Informed Decision-Making. Measurable data provides for planning, designing and building transportation projects that support community revitalization.

Increased Connectivity. Performance-based design provides communities options for overcoming the barriers created by highways.

Enhanced Health and Safety. Targeted resources provide for safer crossings and for parks and other facilities that contribute to public health.

State of the Practice

Community connections examples include the 11th Street Bridge Project in Washington D.C., linking Capitol Hill with the Anacostia neighborhood; a cap on the Long Street Bridge over I-71 that improved pedestrian access to downtown Columbus, Ohio; and the public parks created by capping I-90 between Mercer Island and Seattle, Washington. Other known projects are currently active in Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and West Virginia.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has also adopted new policies to improve highway design standards that encourage greater flexibility to achieve designs that best suit the desires of the community while satisfying the purpose for the project and needs of its users.

 

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