All new roads lead to 'routine accommodation' for bikes, peds
Transportation planning typically emphasizes motor vehicles. If bike and pedestrian facilities are considered at all, they are usually added as afterthoughts to an
But, in an important policy shift, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) has adopted a new planning goalthat the regional transportation system must be planned and designed to serve all modes effectively, efficiently and safely. The policy calls for "routine accommodation" of bicycles, pedestrians and transit.
From now on, the sponsors of all transportation projects in the five-county region should consider bicycles and pedestrians in the planning and design of their proposed project. In particular, sidewalks, shared use paths, street crossings (including over- and undercrossings), pedestrian signals, signs, street furniture, transit stops and facilities, and all connecting pathways should be designed, constructed, operated and maintained so that all modes and pedestrians, including people with disabilities, can
The following is the actual language of the NOACA policy:
NOACA's Transportation Plan, the framework for action 2025, contains four tiers of projects:
Tier 1 projects are at an advanced stage of planning and have identified federal funding. These projects are on the fiscally balanced part of the Plan and are used to perform the federally required air quality analysis. They are capacity and non-capacity projects that are expected to encumber funds within the next four years. Projects in this Tier are normally also on the Transportation Improvement Program.
Tier 2 projects are those at an advanced stage of planning and includes the following projects:
Projects that have successfully completed an MIS (if required). This includes capacity projects whose funding has been guaranteed by the project sponsor, but no federal funds have been identified at this time. Since the project sponsor has agreed they will finance these projects, they are also on the fiscally balanced part of the plan and are used to perform the federally required air quality analysis. The projects are major regional transportation investments that are expected to be constructed within the next six to 20 years.
Non-capacity projects that are expected to encumber funds within the next six to eight years. To be placed on this Tier, the non-capacity project must have undergone successful scope review (See Section III.C.)
Tier 3 projects are those capacity projects undergoing an MIS (or equivalent) or needing an MIS (or equivalent). Tier 3 projects also contain Board approved non-capacity Plan projects that are currently undergoing additional planning and design prior to successful scope review.
Tier 4 projects are projects or concepts that may be part of a visionary plan.
Section II: Multimodal planning policies
D. As per NOACA plan goals, the regional transportation system must be planned and designed to serve all modes effectively, efficiently and safely. Below are bicycle, pedestrian and transit planning policies for all project sponsors.
Bicycle/pedestrian planning policies
Sponsors are required to consider bicycles and pedestrians in the planning and design of their proposed project. In particular, sidewalks, shared use paths, street crossings (including over- and undercrossings), pedestrian signals, signs, street furniture, transit stops and facilities, and all connecting pathways should be designed, constructed, operated and maintained so that all modes and pedestrians, including people with disabilities, can travel safely and independently.
To this end, project sponsors must:
Below are specific planning and design guidelines to assist project sponsors in the consideration of bicycles and pedestrians. To expedite the above coordination requirement, it is strongly recommended that potential project sponsors use these guidelines in planning for and designing their projects. The guidelines will be used by NOACA staff and committees as a proposed project is processed through Project Planning Review (Section II.C.)
1. Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established in new construction and reconstruction of road and bridge projects unless one or more of four conditions are met:
1.1. Bicyclists and pedestrians are prohibited by law from using the roadway. In this instance, a greater effort may be necessary to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians elsewhere within the right of way or within the same transportation corridor.
1.2. The cost of establishing bikeways or walkways that meet applicable standards would exceed twenty percent of the cost of the larger transportation project. In this case, the project sponsor may propose an alternate design or spend 20 percent of the project cost of the larger project to improve bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.
1.3. There are extreme topographic or natural resource constraints.
1.4. The ADT is projected to be less than 1,000 vehicles per day over the life of the project.
1.5. The project is limited exclusively to resurfacing.
2. The design and development of the transportation infrastructure shall improve conditions for bicycling and walking by:
2.1. Planning projects for the long-term. The design and construction of new facilities should anticipate likely future demand for bicycling and walking facilities and not preclude the provision of future improvements.
2.2. Designing context-appropriate facilities to the best currently available standards and guidelines. The design of facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians should follow commonly used design guidelines and standards such as the AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, AASHTO's A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, the ITE Recommended Practice "Design and Safety of Pedestrian Facilities", and the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines.
2.3. Addressing the need for bicyclists and pedestrians to cross-corridors as well as travel along them. Even where bicyclists and pedestrians may not commonly travel along a corridor that is being improved or constructed, they will likely need to be able to cross that corridor safely and conveniently. Therefore, the design of intersections and interchanges shall accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians in a manner that is safe, accessible and convenient.
Section II.E. Planning for Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) Projects
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is not required to suballocate CMAQ funds to the region. Therefore, NOACA has a cooperative agreement (WIN Agreement) with ODOT and provides them with an annual report of CMAQ use in the region. NOACA manages its CMAQ financial account in cooperation with ODOT, consistent with STP and TE account management policies and practices.
It is the intent of NOACA to use CMAQ funds to help achieve Transportation Plan goals. That is, NOACA works to advance CMAQ eligible projects and activities that help achieve Plan goals, while giving additional consideration to projects that significantly help maintain and improve the region's air quality.
Any project that can demonstrate the potential to reduce mobile source emissions is eligible to apply for CMAQ funds. At the same time, project sponsors are discouraged to plan and develop their projects solely on the availability of CMAQ funds. Many projects are eligible for multiple federal-aid categories.
NOACA annually assesses the maintenance of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). This assessment is incorporated in the State of the Region Report. If air quality conditions warrant, projects eligible for CMAQ funding may be recommended to ensure the greatest possible air quality improvements from this limited funding source. Based upon this assessment, NOACA may strategically advance CMAQ projects to help ensure long-term air quality. Therefore, CMAQ-eligible projects on the Transportation Plan or Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) may need to be rescheduled at times to help ensure Transportation Conformity, or to augment efforts to attain or maintain the NAAQS. Project sponsors will be notified of any potential changes in scheduling.
Sponsors are encouraged to develop creative proposals that both achieve multiple Plan goals and reduce mobile source emissions. For example, project proposals can include land use actions designed to establish long-term reductions in future mobile source emissions, i.e., intermodal freight projects, etc. (Please check NOACA for more information on creative approaches for CMAQ.)
If a high cost project is scheduled to use CMAQ funds and circumstances change (such as the elimination of the CMAQ program at the federal or state levels), NOACA will make every effort to help finance the project.
If the CMAQ program is reauthorized in the upcoming TEA21 update (and ODOT agrees to continue suballocation of CMAQ funds) NOACA will do the following:
Section III.H. Emergency expedited plan and TIP amendments
As previously noted, the plan and TIP are amended according to a published schedule. However, the plan and TIP may be amended outside the published schedule in the case of emergency expedited projects. Emergency expedited projects are defined as those projects necessary for the safety of the traveling public and or projects of regional significant economic impact. In all cases the burden of proof rests with the project sponsor.
Emergency Expedited projects are reviewed by NOACA committees and recommendations are made to the Governing Board.