CAPITAL DISTRICT TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE
Chapter 1: Executive Summary
The Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC) is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Albany-Schenectady-Troy and Saratoga Springs metropolitan areas. Like MPOs nationwide, CDTC produces and regularly updates our region’s long-range transportation plan. All federally-funded or federally-approved transportation actions such as highway or transit capital projects must derive from the regional plan. CDTC’s regional plan, called New Visions for a Quality Region, considers the future of our region’s transportation system in the next 25 years. In 2013, CDTC began a two year effort to update the New Visions 2035 Plan. The updated plan is called New Visions 2040.
CDTC used existing advisory committees and formed new task forces to assess the 2035 Plan against recent events and current circumstances. The following nine subcommittees were charged with developing recommendations for the Plan update:
- Quality Region Task ForceFreight Advisory Committee
- Regional Operations & Safety Advisory Committee
- Complete Streets Advisory Committee
- Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee
- Environment & Technology Task Force
- Infrastructure Task Force
- Regional Transportation Coordination Committee (Human Services Transport)
- Transit Task Force
The subcommittees included Planning Committee and Policy Board members, as well as a variety of stakeholders and subject experts. Each subcommittee prepared a draft white paper which made recommendations for public review and Planning Committee approval. The final approved white papers are included in the New Visions 2040 Plan as appendices.
The CDTC New Visions 2040 Plan includes a set of principles to guide transportation planning and investment in the region for coming years. It also articulates a series of short-range and long-range recommendations and actions to help achieve broad regional goals, and provided an innovative budget approach to ensure implementation of the plan. Listed below are some of the highlights of the Plan.
New Visions offers an integrated and effective approach to reduce risk and enable safe access for all users of the transportation system — especially bicyclists, pedestrians, children, and the elderly. CDTC will examine traffic safety data, identify high crash locations, and characteristics across roadway systems that are common to locations with a crash history, analyze potential mitigation measures and solutions, and develop a competitive funding process to make these improvements. Where the data may not be available, CDTC will work to educate all users to “coexist” and to develop strategies to improve safety.
New Visions works with our regional transit provider, CDTA, and incorporates CDTA’s 5-year Transit Development Plan. Beyond the 5 year period, CDTC will examine future population growth trends, forecast transit ridership, and identify future needs. This will improve and grow a variety of transit services for the Capital District, increasing mobility and supporting economic development and smart regional growth. Transit should accomplish multiple objectives besides transportation, including transit-oriented and urban development, neighborhood revitalization, connecting communities and cities, and others.
Highways and Bridges
New Visions makes a strong commitment to keeping the region’s highway and bridge system in good condition, providing billions of dollars for highway rehabilitation, reconstruction, and design and for bridge maintenance, repair, and replacement by 2040. Maintaining and replacing our existing infrastructure will be our highest priority, and will require most of our existing resources. New highways and bridges will need to compete for funding which is becoming less and less available.
New Visions explores ways to manage congestion and to ease daily commutes by using existing technology such as incident and traffic information systems, and new technology such as traffic routing systems, new traffic signal monitoring technology and someday automated vehicles. The Plan also encourages support for more transit, pedestrian and bicycle travel, carpooling, vanpooling, carsharing and bikesharing, which can all reduce the number of vehicles on our roads.
New Visions endorses local Complete Street policies and resolutions which encourage streets that are designed and operated for all users of all ages and abilities, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, transit users, freight deliveries, children, elderly and people with disabilities. A properly designed “Complete Street” will improve safety, encourage walking and biking, slow traffic, improve air quality, promote local business, and even encourage social interaction.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation
New Visions encourages development that incorporates bicycle and pedestrian accommodations into highway and bridge construction and city, village, and town plans. It also provides for recreational opportunities through creation of bike/hike trails. The health and recreational benefits of bicycle and pedestrian facilities are well documented.
New Visions supports energy conservation and air quality in the region by advocating sustainable development patterns and site design, urban reinvestment, and community-based land use planning. New Visions also encourages transit, bicycle, & pedestrian, carpooling, carsharing, and bikesharing investments & strong participation in the U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities program.
New Visions advocates congestion management and infrastructure investments that will support the movement of goods throughout the Capital District. Freight movement is about how goods get to your doorstep and to the stores’ shelves, but it is also about freight’s positive impact on the regional economy, growth, and employment.
New Visions ensures that both the positive and negative impacts of transportation planning conducted by CDTC and its members are fairly distributed and that defined Environmental Justice populations do not bear disproportionately high and adverse effects. Eliminating, reducing and mitigating conflicts between land use, development and transportation are critical strategies to promoting environmental justice.
Human Services Transportation
New Visions works with the many human services transportation providers in our area to identify the transportation needs of individuals with disabilities, older adults, and people with low income. CDTC then works to improve services for these transportation disadvantaged populations by identifying gaps and overlaps in services, and providing recommendations and funding for improvements.
New Visions acknowledges the importance of land use & development, and of reducing conflicts between land use, development and transportation. CDTC sponsors the Community and Transportation Linkage Planning Program, which provides funding for cities, towns, & villages to prepare & implement community-based transportation & land use plans consistent with New Visions principles.
New Visions seeks public participation and input in every stage of the planning process. It is one of the primary objectives of this plan because without public participation and input, the plan will not have public support. And without public support the other plan goals and objectives will never be implemented. CDTC receives public input from the 9 New Visions committees and their members, from the public meetings held in each of the 4 Counties, from meetings with stakeholder groups, from our website, surveys, and polls, from social media, and from other CDTC projects’ meetings.
Big Idea/Big Ticket Initiatives
The New Visions 2040 Plan reaffirms support for consideration of potential “big ticket” initiatives. These initiatives would be supported by higher growth scenarios, yet they could be pursued with trend growth as well. Funding is not identified, yet the plan puts forward the vision of bold investments that could be feasible if the public supports the vision and funding can be found.
About the Capital District Transportation Committee
While its initial mission was to develop a long-range transportation plan for the area, CDTC’s current efforts are much broader. The CDTC sets its own agenda for planning activities, and with a small professional staff funded primarily with FHWA, FTA and county funds devoted to this purpose, and with the assistance of other member agencies, it investigates issues critical to the future of the Capital District. CDTC’s planning efforts are intended to be action-oriented, answering questions such as: “How will the expectations and role of the transportation system be different in the year 2015 from what they are today? What type of future development pattern should be encouraged through strategic transportation investments? How can the transportation system be managed or improved to enhance the quality of life, protect the environment and sustain economic vitality in the region? What are the financial requirements to provide the desired system and how can they be secured?”