Monday, September 30, 2013

Congestion Management Process

In metropolitan areas of 200,000 or more, planning agencies are required to measure and evaluate traffic congestion. (The population of the TMACOG transportation management area which the Census Bureau defines as the Toledo Urbanized Area is 507,643.) TMACOG completed a Congestion Management Process report in August and it will be submitted to ODOT and the Federal Highway Transportation Administration for review and approval.

Congestion is studied to identify over-crowded locations, determine the causes of congestion, and develop strategies to mitigate it. Strategies are then studied to determine their effectiveness. Congestion on area roadways is rated from A to F with A being the least congested and F being areas where traffic is heavy and where accidents may happen more often.

Locations recommended for further study are; Sylvania Ave. at Talmadge Rd., the Maumee-Perrysburg bridge, Monroe St. between Harvest Ln. and Cheltenham Rd., the Anthony Wayne Bridge (the high-level bridge), Erie St. at Monroe St., the Anthony Wayne Trail between Western Ave. and Erie St., and the I-475 off-ramp at Talmadge Rd.

For some of these locations construction has already been planned to alleviate congestion. The 81-year-old Anthony Wayne Bridge will be closed for a complete renovation for up to two years with closure tentatively scheduled to begin in late winter-early spring 2014. The I-475 off-ramp at Talmadge is being lengthened to accommodate exiting vehicles.

There are many tools other than construction that can be employed to reduce congestion: increased use of public transportation, improved signage and signaling, access management (limits on curb cuts and driveways), and freeway incident management programs are some strategies. Keeping roads in good repair also keeps traffic moving smoothly and safely.

Federal regulations require that the congestion management plan include performance measures. For the TMACOG region the measurables are:
• Reduce cost of freeway-related delays in the urban planning area by 30 percent by 2020.
• Increase freeway lane miles in the urban planning area by 5 percent by 2020.
• Develop a regional bottleneck reduction program in the urban planning area by 2016.
• Implement signal progression on Woodville Rd. and Central Ave. corridors by 2020.

Celebrating Ottawa River Restoration

A project to restore habit in the Ottawa River where it runs through the main campus of the University of Toledo was celebrated September 20 by university officials and representatives of the funding agencies. The summer project added features to reduce turbulence, reduce erosion, and create habitat for fish and other wildlife. The strategies employed included placing bendweir stones, simulating undercut bank habitat, and placing locked logs. Excessive invasive plant growth was removed and native plants were introduced. Native plants include burr oak, sycamore, willows, and tulip poplar. Shrubs include buttonwood, fragrant sumac, dogwood, and witch hazel among others. The restoration project is part of a campus master plan for improving the river. Dr. Patrick Lawrence, UT Department of Geography and Planning, find the grants and directs the many efforts to incrementally improve the river. His work and the work of many others who work on other stretches of the Ottawa River have resulted in marked improvement in water quality and fish life.
Cutting the ribbon at an access point to the river are (l. to r.) Jo Ann Banda, Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Matt Horvat, Maumee River Coordinator; and Cherie Blair, Ohio EPA.

Green Infrastructure Workshop

Urban planners, designers, developers, and elected and appointed officials are invited to attend a green infrastructure workshop Friday, October 25, 8:30 a.m.-noon at the University of Toledo, Nitschke Hall, Engineering Connector Room. A series of workshops will look at case studies of green and LEED certified developments. “Green” infrastructure describes strategies that manage stormwater with natural processes close to where the water falls. When rain falls on hard surfaces like roads, sidewalks, and roofs, it picks up grease, fertilizers, bacteria, and other waste. The rainwater carries these pollutants to rivers and streams. Green infrastructure can include rain gardens, vegetated areas along roads and sidewalks, or can be incorporated into a building’s design in the form of rooftop greenery. These attractive and innovative practices are increasingly being used both in place of and in combination with traditional stormwater systems of curbs, gutters, and pipes. The half-day seminar is hosted by the Rain Garden Initiative and the Toledo-Lucas County Sustainability Commission. The fee is $10. For more information contact Cheryl Rice, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 419.893.1966 ext. 3.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Passenger Rail Forum

Business people, elected officials, and economic development professionals are invited to hear how investing in passenger rail can rebuild communities. The 2013 Passenger Rail Forum is Monday, October 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Toledo Club in downtown Toledo.

The forum is an annual meeting where transportation advocates share news about development of passenger rail service in Ohio and neighboring states. It is presented by TMACOG and the Northwest Ohio Passenger Rail Association (NOPRA). The featured speaker is John Robert Smith. Smith is the co-chair of Transportation for America and senior policy advisor for Smart Growth America. His presentation for the forum is titled, “Revitalizing Communities: The Power of Station Renovation.”

 John Robert Smith was an early practitioner of transit-oriented development. When he served as mayor of Meridian, Mississippi, he successfully renovated the city’s historic train station, a project that helped revitalize Meridian’s downtown. That experience made Smith a passionate advocate for the power of station renovation projects to link transportation and community revitalization. He speaks widely, making the case for strategies and policies that support multi-modal transportation and affordable housing to develop our nation’s communities.

Registration is required. Log on to Tickets are $28 for NOPRA members, $33 for non-members, and $20 for students. For more information, contact NOPRA at, or Diane Reamer-Evans at TMACOG at 419.241.9155 ext. 117. 

Good Government Award for TMACOG

Only about six percent of entities subject to annual state of Ohio audits are recognized for excellence in financial reporting. For the third consecutive year, TMACOG has been recognized with the Auditor of State Award for a clean audit: one that contains no findings for recovery, no material citations, material weaknesses, significant deficiencies, or any questioned costs.

The citation notes that clean and accurate record-keeping is the foundation for good government, and demonstrates a commitment to accountability. Congratulations to Bill Best, The finance team on the TMACOG staff, and the Finance, Audit and Administration Committee.

Donovan O’Neill, the Northwest Ohio Regional Liaison for the Office of Auditor of State, presented the award to Bill Best, TMACOG Vice President of Finance and Administration, at the September 18 Executive Committee meeting.