Regional Models of Cooperation - Air Quality
Webinar TranscriptWebinar Date: August 25, 2015
Kevin McCoy: Good afternoon and welcome to today’s webinar on regional models of cooperation with a focus on air quality planning. This is Kevin McCoy from the U.S. Department of Transportation Volpe Center and I will be moderating today’s webinar. Ken Petty, the director the Federal Highway Administration Office of Planning, and Dwayne Weeks, chief of the Federal Transit Office of Planning and Environment, will be your hosts. Today’s event will feature presentations from the Federal Highway Administration Air Quality and Noise team and the Office of Natural Environment as well as presentations from the MPOs or local governments working on air quality planning and coordination in their regions.
Before we get started, we would appreciate it if you could answer a few quick poll questions to give us a better sense of who is in the audience today. The polls should appear on your screen now. We will give you a few moments to answer and review the results as they come in. So already we see that the majority of us are viewing the webinar by ourselves although we do have some who have two or three or four folks with them in the room, which is great. And we see that we have a good split between metropolitan planning organizations, state DOTs, and local governments, but we also have several representatives here from the U.S. Department of Transportation, from universities, or consultants or other organizations. And that most of you—actually, we have a wide representation, different roles in the air quality process, including program managers, folks working in planning and programming as well as in modeling and data coordination and in other topics. So I think we’ll go ahead and close the polls now here in just a second and thanks to everyone who told us a little bit more about yourselves. And in a moment we will introduce Dwayne Weeks from the Federal Transit Administration to kick us off, but first a few things to keep in mind.
At any time during today’s webinar, please enter any questions you have in the Q and A pod. Questions will be answered at the end of the webinar. If your question is for a specific presenter, please note that when you submit a question. Today’s presentation is being recorded. The recording will be available on the Federal Highway Administration Office of Planning website within a few weeks. If you would like a copy of the slides, you will be able to download them from the download pod when we get to the Q and A portion of today’s event. Contacts and links for the regional models of cooperation initiative will be provided at the end as well. And one quick note: I see that some of you may be experiencing an echo. If you’re on the phone listening to the audio that way, you may want to make sure that your computer speakers are muted as well to prevent that echo. And now, without further delay, I’d like to hand it over to Dwayne Weeks to get us started.
Dwayne Weeks: Thank you very much. Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for joining in on this webinar on regional models of cooperation, part of the Federal Transit Administration-Federal Highway Administration’s Every Day Counts initiative. And I’m just going to deliver a couple of opening remarks and talking points and kind of an overview of recent happenings on the Federal Transit Administration side.
FTA recently issued final policy guidance on the major capital investments program. On Wednesday, August 5, 2015, FTA published final policy guidance for the capital investment grant program. The final policy guidance complements our regulations that govern the capital investments program by providing a deeper level of detail about the methods for applying the project justification and local financial commitment criteria for major capital investment projects evaluation and rating. This includes new light rail, heavy rail, bus rapid transit, subway, commuter rail—fixed guideway new starts, small starts, and core capacity improvement projects. This also describes the procedures and steps for getting through the process as required by law. FTA also issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on the public transportation safety program on August 14, 2015. FTA published a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish a public transportation safety program under FTA’s new safety oversight authorities established by the Moving America Ahead for Progress for the 21st Century. This proposed rule would create an overall framework for FTA to monitor, oversee, and enforce safety in the public transit industry, and is based on the principles and practices of the safety management systems. You know this is one of the several performance measures that the Federal Transit Administration is working on. Another includes the Transit Asset Management Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which should come out within the next month, and an update to the metropolitan statewide and non-metropolitan planning regulations, which would be a final rulemaking that’ll describe the overall performance-based planning framework. And so the Federal Transit Administration and Federal Highway Administration are both working on individual rulemaking efforts to implement performance-based planning and programming as well as the overall individual performance measures for things like transit asset management, safety, congestion management systems, and other performance measures. The other thing is the planning emphasis areas. Now regional models of cooperation are one of the three planning emphasis areas and, as you know, back in April the U.S. Department of Transportation, including Therese McMillan, our acting administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, and Greg Nadeau, the acting administrator of the Federal Highway Administration sent a letter to each of the metropolitan planning organizations to ascertain folks’ program activities in their unified planning work programs and their overall planning work programs that focus on a transition to performance-based planning and programming, regional models of cooperation, and laws of opportunity. And this webinar is going to focus on one aspect of regional models of cooperation: air quality planning. As we all know, most transportation problems don’t begin and end at a political boundary, at a state boundary, or an MPO boundary but encompass much broader areas. And so in this hour webinar we’ll focus on how different areas have addressed regional models of cooperation by looking at air quality planning and analysis. So with that I will turn it over to either Ken or Jody.
Ken Petty: Thanks, Dwayne, and you took my thunder a little bit, but I’ll—I may repeat some of the information that you gave. Good morning and good afternoon, everyone. My name is Ken Petty. I’m the director for the Office of Planning here at the Federal Highway Administration and we’d like to begin today’s webinar with a quick overview of what Every Day Counts regional model of cooperation initiative is really all about. As Dwayne mentioned, regional models of cooperation is a joint planning emphasis area of FHWA and FTA. So it looks to promote best practices and gain awareness for transportation planning across jurisdictions. Overall, this initiative includes state DOTs, MPOs, transit agencies, cities, and other agencies that form or have formal roles in the transportation planning process as we work together to identify opportunities for regional planning where it makes sense and where it can enhance the process, resulting in a better transportation system. For MPOs, it’s really about looking for opportunities where MPOs serving the same or adjacent urbanized areas can work together in the development of many planning products that cross jurisdictional boundaries.
So why is this important? And why is enhanced regional coordination needed? The goal of statewide and metropolitan transportation planning is to produce a seamless, coordinated, multimodal transportation system that meets the needs of a diverse population. Working together to ensure that transportation planning transcends jurisdictional boundaries is, oftentimes, critical in making that happen. As Dwayne mentioned, for historic or political reasons geographic regions may have multiple transportation agencies within the boundaries that may not align. For example, urbanized areas may have multiple MPOs with planning responsibilities for the region divided amongst them; therefore air quality, nonattainment areas, may encompass areas beyond that set MPO boundary and transit service may need to be coordinated across multiple states, counties, or transit authorities. And as urban areas have grown and expanded and new MPOs have been created and formed, coordination is even more important. Issues like air pollution, traffic congestion—they don’t stop at the state DOT and MPO boundaries; however, traditional planning responsibilities oftentimes does. So coordinating planning activities across these organizational boundaries requires a broad vision, persistence, and a shared commitment to achieving the best outcomes for a wider region. A lack of coordination can sometimes lead to project delays, process inconsistencies, and reduce reliability. Increasingly, thinking beyond traditional borders is needed to address modern-age transportation challenges, and is necessary to exploit the competitive advantage that regional planning provides. Regional planning has the ability to spur economic development, improve freight movement, reduce traffic congestion, and support health and quality of life. So coordinating projects across jurisdictional boundaries can also help deliver projects faster and produce consistent system performance and reliability. This is particularly important where more than one MPO serves an urbanized area, or adjacent areas, and where the urbanized area crosses a state boundary in many other complex planning contexts.
So now that we provided a little more detail about what regional models of cooperation is, allow me to talk to you a little bit more about how FTA and FHWA are supporting states and MPOs in implementing this initiative. We’re hosting a series of webinars, similar to this to promote successful stories of regional—or of regions that have developed innovative and effective ways of working together across jurisdictional boundaries. We’re working with state DOTs and MPOs to host peer exchanges and workshops, highlighting and showcasing where there are opportunities for FTA and FHWA to support specific efforts to build and strengthen regional cooperation. And, lastly, we are looking to develop a handbook that will document these coordination types, include some notable practices and case studies, and some tools and other resources all in a comprehensive guide on how states and MPOs are making multijurisdictional coordination work across the country. And we look forward to making these resources available to you in calendar year 2016.
In terms of today’s webinar, this is the second of eight, which we’ll present through August of 2016. The first webinar provided a more detailed overview of what Every Day Counts regional models of cooperation is all about and featured innovative examples from Utah and Florida MPOs. And you can access this webinar or copy a recording of that webinar on the FHWA Office of Planning website. The next four webinars will feature states and MPOs discussing successful coordination models and other areas of transportation planning including regional transit planning, safety planning, congestion management, and freight planning. The final two webinars will focus on techniques organizations use to make coordination across agencies work or across boundaries, including data sharing systems and tools and joint planning products. We hope that you can join us for the webinars in the series. However, if you’re unable, please be sure to visit the Office of Planning’s website where recordings of each webinar will be posted. And we’ll be sure to provide a link to this website as well as slides from today’s presentation at the end of today’s webinar. Now in terms of today’s conversation, today’s focus is coordination across jurisdictions in regard to air quality planning and the air quality planning process. And we’re going to kick things off with a brief presentation from Cecilia Ho, FHWA’s air quality and noise team leader. Next we’ll have three outstanding speakers for your attention: Pragati from the Memphis MPO in Memphis, Tennessee; Anna from the Charlotte Department of Transportation in Charlotte, North Carolina; and Tanisha from the San Joaquin Council of Governments in California’s Central Valley. All these speakers have great stories to reveal and I want to ensure that we have as much time as possible for your questions. So without further ado the webinar room is yours, Cecilia. Take it over.
Cecilia Ho: Thank you, Ken. Hi, everyone. Good morning or good afternoon, depending where you are. My name is Cecilia Ho; I’m the air quality and noise team leader in the Office of Natural Environment in the Federal Highway Administration. First of all, I would like to make a clarification. Although the title for today’s webinar is air quality planning, our focus actually is the link between air quality and transportation planning through a process I think many of you know is called “transportation conformity.” First of all, for those of you who are not familiar with the term transportation conformity, I would like to use this slide to illustrate the important role that the transportation conformity process plays as the link between air quality planning and transportation planning. The Clean Air Act amendments of 1990 actually emphasize the importance of the integration of transportation and air quality planning processes through the transportation conformity process. Through this process it ensures that emissions coming from the transportation activities within the transportation system will not affect the state goal in achieving clean air. So, as Ken and Dwayne mentioned earlier, regional coordination is key in addressing many issues that involve multiple agencies. In the world of transportation conformity regional coordination actually is conducted through interagency consultation (IAC), which is one of the major requirements and a centerpiece of the transportation conformity process. Interagency consultation actually is required by the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act requires that all parties must consult with each other on the development of air quality and transportation plans and associated conformity determinations. Other agencies involved are required to develop a collaborative process to address key air quality and transportation planning elements. The process itself is required to formally integrate it into an implementation plan and it’s legally enforceable.
Cecilia Ho: Kevin, can you move it back to the interagency consultation process slide? Thank you. The interagency consultation process requires agencies develop specific processes to address a wide variety of items, including the frequency and form of meetings; roles and responsibilities of each of the agencies; the process of circulating or assessing documents and materials or just information sharing in general, and also include a process of responding to comments; evaluating and choosing models or methodologies and assumptions for emissions analysis; and so on. Interagency consultation requirements actually are very specifically spelled out in the Clean Air Act and also in EPA’s transportation conformity regulation. The roles and responsibilities as we—as I think a lot of you know that a number of agencies actually are involved in the interagency consultation process. That includes MPOs, state and local transportation agencies, state and local air quality agencies, representatives from Federal Highway and FTA, and also EPA regional offices. The roles and responsibilities of individual agencies actually vary by area. The MPOs usually have the lead on a lot of the aspects of consultation, while other agencies may have the lead on other aspects during the process. As indicated above, not all of the agencies are required to participate in every aspect of interagency consultation. However, it is very important for the agencies involved to understand and agree upon the roles and responsibilities assigned at each stage and at each stage of the air quality and transportation planning processes, including—sometimes may include who should participate in some very specific technical meetings. There are a lot of good practices of interagency consultations out in the field, including the three agencies that we are going to hear about in just a minute. But, in general, the consultation process works best when the process is continuous and the meetings are scheduled regularly when other key assumptions are agreed upon very early on in the process and with very good documentation. So one of the benefits of a well-executed interagency consultation process, is it provides a forum for state and local agencies to share information. It allows agencies to identify and discuss key issues and to reach agreement very early on in the process. And we also facilitate effective consensus building and decision making processes. If you’d like to see more examples of interagency consultation processes—practices, I would invite you to visit our website, which is listed here. This website actually collects a number of good practices for transportation conformity, and interagency consultation practices is one of many examples that we included. Federal Highway recently completed an update on the conformity practices in complex areas. What we meant by “complex areas” include multistate nonattainment or maintenance areas; nonattainment and maintenance areas that contained multiple MPOs; nonattainment of maintenance areas that include a donut area—(what we meant by “donut area” is the area that is outside of the MPO boundary, but is within the nonattainment area that include the MPO, so it’s kind of a sliver of the area that is in between the two boundaries); and also MPOs with multiple nonattainment maintenance areas for the same pollutant. And also many of these areas contain multiple complex areas. For example, a multistate area can also include a donut area, or a multistate area also includes multiple MPOs within the nonattainment area. So we are talking about some pretty complicated arrangements of areas. I’m going to give you a few examples and actually these examples are the three MPOs that we are going to hear a little bit more about later on.
First of all, is the Memphis 8-hour ozone area, which is an example of a multistate area. It also contains several MPOs within—and also with donut areas. So Pragati will walk us through how the consultation process works in the Memphis area later on. The second one is San Joaquin Valley. The 2008 ozone areas in San Joaquin Valley is an example of an area with multiple MPOs. I think the nonattainment area consists of about eight MPOs. Tanisha will be discussing all the wonderful collaborative efforts going on in this area later in the presentation. The third area is the Charlotte-Rock Hill, North Carolina-South Carolina 8-hour ozone area. The Charlotte area is an example of a very complex area. It is a bi-state area. It includes multiple MPOs and also multiple donut areas. So Anna is going to present to us all the consultation efforts happening in those very complex areas later on. So, in summary, I want to re-emphasize the important role that interagency consultation plays in the success of the conformity process. It provides the opportunities for agencies to raise and discuss issues early on in the process so as to minimize the disruption of the conformity process. It is also very important for areas to initiate other interagency consultation processes as soon as possible, especially if it’s a brand new nonattainment area, so that you can have a process in place and start discussing issues pretty early on in the process. So that’s all I have for this afternoon and here is my contact information and also the link to the Federal Highway conformity website. I think we are going to hold all the questions until the end of all the presentations. So with that I’m handing it back to Kevin.
Kevin McCoy: Thank you, Cecilia, for that overview. That’s correct: We will be taking questions at the end. And I would like to remind our participants that they can put questions into the Q and A pod at any time during any of the presentations and we’ll get to those at the end. But without further ado I’d like to introduce our first MPO speaker, Pragati, from the Memphis area MPO.
Pragati Srivastava: Thank you, Kevin. Good morning and good afternoon to everyone. I’m Pragati Srivastava and I’m the administrator with the Memphis urban area MPO and today I’m going to be talking about the air quality process that we follow within the Memphis MPO area. Just to give a brief background about us, we are a bi-state MPO covering portions of Tennessee and Mississippi. We have around 1.1 million in population covering the four-county area and apart from Elvis I would say our other main story is that we are a major freight hub almost in the center of the country, FedEx being one of the key players in that. And the other economy is quite dependent on the freight sector within our area. We are part of a larger MSA, which is a tri-state MSA, and within the MSA we have two MPOs that is us and West Memphis MPO on the Arkansas side. Nonattainment-wise we are a designated maintenance area for carbon monoxide and that is only Shelby County, Tennessee. For ozone, we are designated nonattainment in the tri-state area. That covers my MPO as well as the West Memphis MPO.
So, as you can see, it makes things complicated when you’re talking about connecting IAC and also the air quality analysis. Just as mentioned by previous presenters, as required by law every nonattainment area has to follow the interagency consultation process and this just lays out who are the different members who are part of our IAC. We have federal, state, local—from both Tennessee and Mississippi as well as the West Memphis MPO who participates in our IAC process. We conduct IAC consultation process for both when we are working on developing new plans as well as when we are amending the existing plans. Again, as I mentioned, we do have another MPO within the same nonattainment area. So we have an MOU in place with them in which we say it all in the MOU that—what the process is going to be, who will be responsible, and things of that nature. But also then we do work very well together and participate in each other’s planning processes. But at this point we don’t really have an MPO-level budget because for the longest time it was only Shelby County, Tennessee that was in nonattainment and DeSoto County recently became nonattainment. So because of those issues, and we don’t really have a budget on the DeSoto county side, we do have to prepare two separate conformity analyses when we are working on new plans as well as amendments to existing plans.
Pragati Srivastava: As I think most of us are familiar, air quality analysis is a very data-intensive process. There are certain sets of data that we use that are common between both the conformity analysis that we have to do for Tennessee and Mississippi, the main one being our travel demand model, which basically covers the tri-state area as well as a regional land use model. There are some other inputs in the MOVES model that were agreed upon by our IAC in which we used the same values of Shelby County in the DeSoto County analysis. And the reason for that is since they were only recently designated nonattainment there are not a whole lot of data sets available on that side and Shelby County was considered a good surrogate for DeSoto County. But, again, it was agreed upon by the IAC before we moved ahead in that direction. So starting with how we do our IAC consultation for new plans, we first submit a pre-consensus plan to our IAC, separate for Tennessee and Mississippi, in which things are laid out regarding what are the different assumptions, what are the values, etc., that we will issue analysis here and things of that nature that will be considered for the conformity analysis. We also submit a list of the projects for them to review and agree upon and what that project basically lays out is whether certain projects—we’re calling it exempt or non-exempt and why we are calling it exempt and which year it is considered open to traffic and things of that nature. After all those documents are agreed we do prepare the conformity report, and submit it to the IAC along with the plan document for them to review and approve. On the plan amendment side, it depends upon what project we are amending. So for an exempt project, which is like intersection improvement, it is pretty straightforward. It is a much simpler process versus if they submit a capital project in which—either we are relying on the previous conformity or we are required to do a new conformity. Again, once we have agreed upon those details, we prepare the documents and submit it to the IAC for review and approval. This is then followed by us putting it out for public review and comment and, finally, the MPO adopting the amendment or the plan for the conformity reports. And then we forward it to Federal Highway to do the conformity finding. Timeline-wise, I think, we have heard a little bit about timeline in previous presentations as well. It takes around 130 days when we are working on new plans versus on-plan amendments, where it can take a minimum of 30 days to slightly over 100 days. So it is a very involved and time-consuming process. So I think a timeline is definitely—one has to consider that moving on with this process. I’ve included a few examples of some of the documents that we share with our IAC. The top table just highlights the project list that I mentioned early on what it includes, what kind of information we submitted to the IAC so they can quickly review and approve that list. For plan amendments we always submit a summary of the different amendments that we are processing through our MPO board and it just gives them a quick snapshot of whether it is just a minor funding increase versus a major change in the scope of the project. So I think that one-page summary sheet we have found to be very useful in our process. And then right below is an example of our TIP page.
So what makes it work for us? I would say communication definitely is the key here—communication not just between the MPO and the IAC, but also communication within the MPO office. So staff who is responsible for coordinating with the IAC is aware of our deadlines and timelines and also coordinating with our consultants so that they are aware of what we expect of them. And with the IAC we use—email is our most common way of communicating with them, but, of course, conference calls and sometimes we do have to have those one-to-one calls if there’s an issue that needs a little bit more in-depth discussion. Timely: Did we, again—I’m going to repeat here, but I think it’s important to provide them information on time and hopefully before time so that if there are any issues that come up you have sufficient time at the end of the review period to make those changes in your conformity reports. I think most of the members of the IAC—I should not say most I guess—EPA, Federal Highway, and all these other main members of the IAC, they’re pretty familiar with the conformity documents and reviewing things, but I think it also helps us—for them to quickly review the documents if you make it easy to read. And examples that I had in the previous slide providing the one-page summary that we submit and things of that nature really helps them to quickly review things and give their concurrences on our plans. Education is something I think all of the MPOs who at some point or the other—when DeSoto County was included in the nonattainment area EPA actually came to DeSoto County and gave a presentation there. We ourselves do an MPO 101 process in which we talk about everything else that MPO does, but also touch on the air quality aspect of things. We have a very good relationship with the agencies who developed the state implementation plan (SIP) for our nonattainment area, both in Tennessee and Mississippi-side. In fact, we provide them with model input for their SIP development in terms of when they’re amending a SIP or preparing a new one and, in turn, the MPP that they set up impact our plan. So I think that has—it’s not a seamless process, but it’s pretty good in just having those conversations and relationships with those entities. And, finally, there’s one thing that is done in Tennessee—it’s called a statewide IAC call. It’s hosted by the federal agencies, but participants include not only Tennessee, but neighboring states as well, especially with the ones where we have bi-state MPOs and other MPOs and local agencies as well. And that helps people know what’s going on in other part of the states as well as any updates from the EPA.
Pragati Srivastava: So I talked about quite a few things about the benefits, or how things are working, but this process is not without its challenges. And I mentioned education is really critical to ensure everybody’s participating at an equal level. But even with that we continue to see there’s a different level of understanding when it comes to folks to understand how the process really works. I’m just going to mention an example for clarity: At the DOT level if an adjustment is made that, from their point of view, is just a matter of moving the money, but from our point of view it can require us to do a full conformity analysis, because the opening year of the project has now changed. So it doesn’t happen that often, but it has happened. So it does require that continuing education to them as well as making sure they reach out to us ahead of time. To ensure everything is working fine you do need to have dedicated staff to make sure they are coordinating with the IAC as well as the consultant and making sure everybody’s on the same page. Sometimes timeline—again, I’m mentioning that—is interpretation over that and the project is exempt or non-exempt—can take some time and those are the issues that could delay an amendment and we might have to push it out for a future date. And, finally, in my slide where I showed it takes almost 135 days during development of the plan as well as almost 100 days for a major capital project amendment that those entities cannot move forward with their project because—till we get the conformity finding letter from Federal Highway. So not only when they submitted the request to us, but it might take some time to get this amendment processed, too, and meanwhile, they just have to wait on that. But bringing it back to the benefits that we had seen: I think the main one was we recently conducted a household survey for the tri-state area in which TDOT and MDOT participated with us and that project really worked out successfully for us. We were able to get it completed on time. The data that we collected was—both the DOTs were working on updating their statewide models as well, so it just directly fed into their models. So I think that was a good example in which, beyond the IAC, I think this continued coordination helped all the three entities out. The image that I have at the left-side of the slide demonstrates one of the online web maps that we have established that when shared with IAC they liked it quite a bit because it was easy to use and they can quickly go and check things as well when we are submitting things for them to review. So, finally, coming back to the takeaways, I think it’s important to read the SIP. That is the main document that will dictate what process you have to follow.
We were lucky in the sense that since Mississippi—the only nonattainment area is part of the Memphis MPO, we were able to work it out with NDEQ in which they agreed to have the same review periods as Tennessee so we don’t have to follow two different timelines. I think that was important. But it still is really critical to be aware of what is included in the SIP. Timelines—again, I can’t emphasize it more: Have something in the front end and the back end for yourself so you can address those changes that might come up at the very end many times. Rules and responsibilities are also critical. One needs to have a clear understanding of who is doing what and there’s nothing left in limbo. Because, like I mentioned, this process is very time intensive. It takes a lot of time. It’s very data intensive as well, so it needs to be really clear upfront who is going to be doing what. Data-wise if there is a way, like I mentioned, our travel demand model provides the input for the SIP development for the local agencies here and then in turn that helps with our MPPs. I think that’s a good way to have consistent data being used in multiple documents. Education: Again, I think that’s an ongoing process. You can’t just say, “I’m done with education at this point.” You have people coming in, changing, and I think to make sure everybody’s participating at the equal level we do continuing education. And then, finally, I would just mention communication. I think that is the ultimate key: Keep everybody informed. Make sure you’re available if they have any questions. Make sure your consultant is available, if you do use a consultant for your air quality analysis. And just ensuring that things are getting done on time. So with that, this is my contact information, our website as well if anybody wants to contact me later on. And I think I’ll give it back to you, Kevin.
Kevin McCoy: Thank you, Pragati. And thanks for sharing how you and others are collaborating on your air quality planning in the Memphis region. I do want to mention, again, as we go, please remember to put them in the Q and A pod. It’s helpful sometimes to put those in when you first think of them, as opposed to waiting till the end. And one more thing to mention: There are some detailed slides in some of these presentations so I do want to remind folks if you’re not familiar with Adobe Connect in the upper right-hand corner of the share pod there’s an icon with four arrows pointing in opposite directions and if there’s a detailed slide and you want to get a closer look at it, you can press that button to get a full-screen view of the slides being shared. We’ll move now to our next speaker and that’s Anna Gallup from the City of Charlotte in North Carolina’s Department of Transportation.
Anna Gallup: Thank you, Kevin, and good day, everyone. As Kevin said, I’m Anna Gallup with the Charlotte Department of Transportation. I’m the program manager for the North Carolina regional travel demand model in this area. The North Carolina region is a region of approximately 2.5 million people in approximately 5,000 square miles. We’re fast growing. We’re a bi-state region that’s centered around the City of Charlotte North Carolina, which is one of the nation’s top 25 most populous cities as well as the largest city in both North and South Carolina. Our region includes four MPOs and one RPO, which is the North Carolina rural equivalent of an MPA. The Charlotte regional transportation plan organization, the Gaston-Cleveland-Lincoln metropolitan organization, the Cabarrus-Rowan metropolitan organization, and the Rocky River rural plan organization are all located in North Carolina. The Rock Hill-Fort Mill area transportation study is located in South Carolina. Each of the MPOs developed a separate but coordinated MPP. Our region was first designated as a regional nonattainment area for the 1997 standard for a slightly larger area than what you see here. The area on the map is our designated area for the 2000 standard. We’re very fortunate: We recently received notice that the North Carolina portion of our bi-state nonattainment region is being redesignated as an attainment area with a maintenance plan, which will actually be effective in a couple days on the 27th, and shortly we expect to have the same designation for the South Carolina portion of our region. As those of you that are also in a multistate nonattainment or maintenance area already know, the state line does matter. Because we are a bi-state area we have two state implementation plans for conformity, thus the need for the two separate actions for redesignation by EPA. We also have two state transportation improvement programs on the transportation planning side. Because we have two SIPS and have a single MPO-based SIP for the South Carolina portion and a multi-MPO- and RPO-based SIP for the North Carolina portion: this means that on the North Carolina side when we do conformity for the first time after a SIP is developed North Carolina MPOs and RPOs have to demonstrate conformity together. The South Carolina MPOs can demonstrate their conformity separately because of that state line. Although we do have to demonstrate conformity together the first time around on the North Carolina side, as a region we do have four separate MPO-based budgets that allow us the flexibility to conduct separate regional emissions analyses and make separate conformity determinations at other times if needed. Even though we can do these separately we do try to coordinate each of these as much as possible. Currently, the MPOs on the North Carolina side are on the same MPP development schedule and we do maintain the same horizon years. Right now, the South Carolina MPO is on a slightly different schedule. They’re actually a year ahead of the North Caroline side due to a delay on the North Carolina side a couple cycles back that did make us get on different schedules across the state line. That being said, however, we do still coordinate the processes, we do make sure that each area has information and data that it needs to complete a coordinated process and use the latest planning assumptions.
The core of our regional cooperation really centers on having a single regional travel demand model. Our model was developed in the late 1990s and the early 2000s largely in anticipation of our region being designated as a regional nonattainment area, but also simply in recognition of the regional nature of our travel patterns. Our regional travel demand model is governed by an MOA that establishes both agency participation and responsibilities. Possibly what might be somewhat unique to our area is that the model is managed and housed by local government, the Charlotte DOT, and this is established through our current MOA. Our model is jointly funded by each of the MPOs in the areas as well as the two state DOTs. We have an annual budget of approximately $160,000 for staff time, development, and maintenance of our regional model. This doesn’t, however, apply to the application of the model or to the work done for the regional conformity. And when we have additional needs such as collection of survey or land use data, those needs are funded outside of that $160,000 annual budget.
Anna Gallup: We have a multitude of partners that work together throughout our transportation and air quality and planning process. They include MPOs and RPO for the region, the Charlotte Department of Transportation as program manager of the regional travel demand model, the regional Councils of Governments (COGS) in both states that provide assistance with various regional initiatives, as well as some of the data collection for the model, both state DOTs, both state air quality agencies, FHWA, and EPA. We have four main venues for our regional cooperation: the MPO and RPO technical and policy committees; a regional technical organization, the Charlotte Regional Alliance for Transportation that we mostly refer to as CRAFT; the technical and policy committees for our Metrolina regional travel demand model; as well as, of course, our interagency consultation process. Because we don’t have an overarching regional decision-making organization, the MPO and RPO technical and policy committees are where our decisions are made and our actions are taken for the metropolitan transportation plan, for the TIPs as well as for the conformity determinations. CRAFT was created back in 1999 in response to concerns that were expressed by the media as well as elected officials around the state that our MPOs weren’t coordinating. The development was done on a volunteer basis and it was to formalize what was really already occurring. The various MPOs were coordinating, but that just wasn’t happening in a public venue where it would be recognized by others. CRAFT was organized after the model of an MPO where it had both the technical and a policy committee. It provides us with the venue to discuss our regional venues as well as the work that’s occurring in each of the individual MPOs and across the state, such as any legislation that affects our region or others across the state, regional planning initiatives, and any highway or transit projects that are of interest to others or may cross MPO and RPO borders. As I mentioned this is a voluntary committee. It isn’t a regional decision-making committee. It provides us with the setting to bring together the regions and both the technical and policy levels to have those regional discussions and take that information back to the individual MPOs and RPO committees where those decisions can be made. We have two committees, a technical committee—it typically meets every other month and includes staff from each of the partnering agencies. The policy board meets a little less frequently, on average a couple of times a year. That being said, they do meet certainly when a need arises. If there’s an issue that needs to be discussed as a region at the elected-official level, a meeting will be scheduled. As a region we are beginning to look at how CRAFT can move beyond being an information-sharing platform to explore more options for regional partnership and cooperation through this committee.
Anna Gallup: The crux of our air quality planning, coordination, and cooperation really occurs with the regional travel demand model committee. We have three committees; a model team made up of Charlotte DOT, North Carolina DOT, and South Carolina DOT model staff; a planning committee made up of MPO and RPO staff, as well as folks from Charlotte DOT, North Carolina DOT, South Carolina DOT and FHWA, and an executive committee made up of upper management of these agencies. The committees somewhat describe the functions. The model team is responsible for ensuring that the model is developed and maintained in a timely manner so that we’re ready to meet the needs of the planning process. The planning committee deals largely with cross-jurisdictional discussions regarding the MTPs and the TIPs as well as providing insight to other planning activities that need to be taken into account when we’re developing or maintaining the model. Our executive committee acts as a policy committee. If there are decisions that are more policy-oriented or decisions regarding funding, particularly funding that falls outside of our annual maintenance budget, those discussions, though they begin with other committees, they’re ultimately—decisions are made and acted upon by the executive committee. Through each of these committees we develop annual and a five-year work plan that guides our process to ensure that we meet our MTP, TIP, and air-quality planning needs for each of the MPOs and RPOs as well as the region as a whole. I mentioned that this really is the crux of our planning, coordination, and cooperation process. As many of you know, the end product of this work provides a technical basis for the development of the MTP, the TIP, the conformity process as well as the SIP. So we feel that having these discussions early on in this part of the process is very beneficial.
Anna Gallup: Of course, just as other nonattainment and maintenance areas are required to do, we have our interagency consultation process. By the time we reach the point of holding the official interagency consultation process meetings it really is a formal venue. We’ve often already worked through the coordination that we need to have to go through the conformity process as part of our travel demand modeling discussions and our metropolitan transportation plan update discussions. These meetings, for us, largely focus on the decisions regarding the specific inputs, those inputs that are outside of what’s already provided by the travel demand model, as well as focusing on schedules. For instance, it’s a good opportunity for us to be able to touch bases regarding the metropolitan transportation plan updates to make sure that each of the MPOs is maintaining the schedule that they had identified and that those schedules work with the other schedules identified to each of the other MPOs. It, of course, is also where the formal notes are taken, documenting each of the decisions.
Anna Gallup: Finally, it does also provide an additional opportunity for coordination of other planning inputs. There may be instances where there’s new information that was not able to be addressed as part of the earlier processes with the travel demand model and we would address those here.
Anna Gallup: As a region we’re continuing to look for various ways—seeking other opportunities to improve our regional collaboration. And I wanted to take this opportunity to share one of our latest efforts that will feed into our air-quality conformity process. We were fortunate enough to receive a HUD sustainable communities grant for a project that we called “Connect Our Future.” Connect was completed for a slightly larger area, as you can see here, than the area of our nonattainment and travel demand model regions. It was led by our two regions’ council of governments. The grant helped us develop a framework for guiding and investing in the region’s growth. And this really is, I think, an example of our greatest regional collaboration to date. It brought together not only the MPOs and the RPOs to the overall transportation and growth planning processes, but also each individual and town as well as all of the counties. And I think this is something that’s new for our area. How will this feed into our air quality planning process? As a travel demand modeling region we are now working with each of the MPOs and RPOs together to incorporate the CommunityViz land use model that was developed through the Connect process into a regional socioeconomic data process that feeds our travel demand model. We hope that this will provide better information and more coordinated information for the air quality and transportation planning process.
Anna Gallup: Of course, we have had our challenges. Although regional cooperation is key to the success for our region, these challenges are just that: They are challenges. Just simply the sheer number of entities makes for a longer approval process than if we were in a nonattainment or maintenance region governed by one regional entity. Of course, this also magnifies the regions or the need for regional cooperation amongst MPOs. Probably our biggest challenge that we face is our—that our regional cooperation is accomplished through voluntary participation. Although for the most part it still works well, we do sometimes run into a challenge, particularly when there’s additional funding that’s needed, for example, for the work that we’re undertaking for the CommunityViz land use model. The majority of the region is participating, but we do have one MPO that will continue to move forward with their current methodology rather than undertaking the efforts with the CommunityViz model.
Anna Gallup: Overall, I believe the region as a whole and each MPO and RPO as individual entities have reaped many more benefits than they’ve faced challenges. Although it can be a challenge to be a region of multiple entities, the cooperation leads to a more efficient process from data gathering to decision making. This saves both time and money and helps to maintain important schedules. Through the cooperation we developed consistency at the regional level while still addressing the individual needs and visions of the local communities, and this applies to both the data and the methodology. Our regional cooperation has definitely led to more opportunities to pursue regional initiatives. Connect Our Future, of course, is a prime example of this. As a region we’ve also completed regionally managed lane studies in the past and are at the beginning stages of a regional freight study. Regional cooperation has also enabled us to share information and data in a more seamless manner than if we were operating individually. All of this leads us to be enabled to respond more quickly when there are project changes that trigger the conformity process. Even though we have many agencies for decision making, it’s still a quicker process than if we were operating separately. And, ultimately, our regional cooperation has resulted in providing better results; this is through both technical analysis and plan development. Thank you for the opportunity to share our story and, with that, here is my contact information in case you’d like more information later. And I’ll turn it back over to Kevin.
Kevin McCoy: Thank you, Anna. That was really great. Thank you for your presentation and for sharing your insights with the group. Okay, next up, we have our last presenter, Tanisha, from the San Joaquin Council of Governments who will talk about air quality coordination throughout the San Joaquin Valley in California.
Tanisha Taylor: Thank you, Kevin. And good morning and good afternoon. My name’s Tanisha Taylor and, as Kevin’s indicated, I’m with the San Joaquin Council of Governments. I am the coordinator for air quality as well as the senior planner within my agency. One of the things to note about the San Joaquin Valley is that there are eight MPOs within the San Joaquin Valley with three air basins covering those eight MPOs. The San Joaquin Valley is home to approximately 3.9 million people and the counties range in size from just over 150 thousand people to just over 930 thousand people in the largest county. We’ve coordinated our efforts since the 1990s and what started out as a necessity grew into so much more, which I talk about during my presentation. Just a brief overview: I’m going to go through the basics, who are the players, air quality designations applicable to the Valley, why we coordinate, an example of coordination, other coordinators’ efforts within that have resulted—as a result—have come about as a result of our coordinated efforts on the air quality front. So the basics: Who are the partners in our interagency consultation process? The first, San Joaquin Valley MPOs: There are eight MPOs within the San Joaquin Valley starting with Fresno Council of Governments, the Kern Council of Governments, King’s County Association of Governments, Madera County Transportation Commission, Merced County Association of governments, the Stanislaus council of governments, San Joaquin Council of Governments—the agency which I reside [in], and the Tulare Association of Governments. In addition to the MPOs, we have four air quality agencies that we work with, the first being U.S. EPA, the second being the California Air Resources Board. Eastern Kern—because Kern Council of Governments covers three air basins we have two air districts as well. And the second air district being the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. Lastly, we have the federal and state departments of transportation. For California, it’s better known as Caltrans and that includes—for the federal side it includes FHWA and FTA. It’s these partners who participate in our interagency consultation process. We meet quarterly and have, as necessary, calls to discuss the assumptions and schedules that go into our planning processes. As we have eight MPOs with eight individual boards we have eight regional transportation plans and eight TIPs, one for each of the agencies listed before you. We also have a directors committee, which is comprised of the executive director of each MPO in the San Joaquin Valley air district, which meets monthly, as well as the policy council, which is comprised of two elected officials from each of the MPO regions and the air district, which meet quarterly.
Tanisha Taylor: The San Joaquin Valley is one of the most complex nonattainment areas. We are essentially nonattainment for almost all pollutants you can be designated nonattainment for: For PM10 we are in maintenance; for the 1997 PM2.5 standard, we’re nonattainment; 2006 and 2012, PM2.5 standards for nonattainment; the 8-hour ozone standards we’re nonattainment; and carbon monoxide we have a maintenance plan for select urban areas throughout the San Joaquin Valley. We do have sub-area budgets for each MPO. All the new standards like the 2008, 8-hour ozone standard or the 2012 annual PM2.5 standard do require that we demonstrate conformity at the same time, all eight together, hence the need for coordination of our schedule and our amendment processes. So why coordinate planning efforts? The first is kind of Captain Obvious: it takes all eight for us to conform. Not one MPO can conform if another MPO is not in conformance. We have the same requirements. We have a consistent conformity document across the MPOs, which contains language summarized in the conformity requirements as well as quantification methodologies. The requirements are the same and it just doesn’t make sense to have eight separate documents and processes. It helps to reduce the overall cost and avoid duplication of efforts. It reduces risk and provides a coordinated voice. Air quality issues are—and constraints generally have the same impact across the eight agencies and can have very high risk associated with them, which you’ll see as I talk about one of the examples from one of our processes in 2012. It is very easy to have eight different messages from eight different MPOs; having a coordinated voice helps reduce the risk as one agency’s decisions generally have the potential to affect all eight. Coordination of delivery schedules also helps reduce the risk associated with state implementation plan budget development updates and helps facilitate the coordination of air quality and transportation planning schedules to minimize the risk for all eight agencies. It allows us to have effective decision making—the coordination of efforts provides a forum for discussion, consensus building, the MPO staff and directors committee play active roles in decision making to ensure we agree to the same speaking points or at least acknowledge when and where we may not.
Resource sharing: We do have a coordinated contract for one air quality coordinator, which is my position as well as consultant support for a total of $170,000 annually to coordinate our efforts. That does not include the cost of modeling or updating our regional transportation plans or the actual conforming analysis itself. It is purely for coordinating across the many agencies that I discussed in that first slide. It is significantly cheaper than if each of the eight agencies carrying the same message coordinated with EPA, FHWA, the California air resources board, and the air districts separately. We had increased efficiencies and cost sharing, as we talked about. And economies of scale can be utilized. It facilitates coordination on other mutual interests as well, which I will talk about in a later slide. So now we’ll talk about a coordination example. This is a real-life example from the San Joaquin Valley. It highlights why it’s so important for the eight agencies to coordinate across their boundaries to help minimize risk and articulate the issues in a very clear and concise way. So the example is in 2012 we had a new emissions model. In the other 49 states it’s mobile. In California it’s EMFAC. EMFAC 2011 was the new model at the time. And as a result, the MPOs anticipated a need for updated 1997 PM2.5 and 1997 8-hour ozone standard conformity budgets to conform their plans and TIPs. Updating the budget required a minimum 90-day EPA adequacy process and budgets needed to be updated prior to MPO adoption of 2008 ozone conformity demonstrations. EPA required all eight MPOs to demonstrate conformity to the 2008 ozone standard by July 21, 2013. Federal approval of all eight MPO performing analysis was required at the same time no later than July 21, 2013, to prevent a lapse. And the San Joaquin Valley 2012 PM2.5 plan needed to be submitted by December 14, 2012 to prevent the imposition of highway sanctions, which were anticipated to begin in early 2015 if that did not occur. Each of the eight MPOs was in the middle of an RTP update and coordination of conformity budget updates was vital for the success of the MPOs. So the question—obviously, that’s a lot. It’s clear as mud, right? Really, it’s not. The question then becomes how to articulate the issue in an easily understandable manner for us across eight individual agencies, EPA, the California resources board, so that there’s the ability to brief MPO staff as well as management and boards as well as staff. So what we’ve come up with—we’ve actually taken the picture that you develop in your mind when you start to talk about five different schedules and how they overlay and actually turned it into a physical picture so that you can see how the different pieces relate to one another. And so when you start to look at this picture, it may not make sense, but as I start to run through it, it starts to take those very long, bulleted points with five or six different schedules and it starts to help them—help you visually see how they fit within each other. So the first piece, the 2012 PM2.5 plan, that plan needed to be approved before that next arrow you see, which is the 2014 RTP update to prevent a lapse in early 2015, the far right dotted red line. The next piece of the schedule was the 2007 ozone plan budgets and the 2008 PM2.5 plan conformity budgets. Those budgets, as it was articulated on the last slide that was clearly clear as mud, needed to be approved before the 2013 TIP amendment in order for us to be able to conform all eight of those plans and TIPs that are required for each of the MPOs. If we couldn’t do that, you’ll see another red line, which is that July 21st date, we would lose $20.5 billion. If we could do that by July 2013, we would be able to spend $1.5 billion before our next potential lapse of early 2015.
These types of pictures help us articulate the issues within our reach and they help us communicate and bring the MPOs into the same discussion plane when we talk about schedule. If, for example, the 2014 TIP amendment—if an MPO adopted it sooner than that star you see, which would be the April-May timeframe—say, they adopted it in February, it wouldn’t have allowed EPA enough time to find budgets adequate and it would have created an issues where an MPO potentially would have lapsed. So in coordinating our schedule we eliminate some of that risk with having eight different schedules as we’re talking and moving through our air quality planning process. One of the things that we’ve learned and in coordinating our efforts is that we have built significant trust across the agencies and we have actually endeavored across other coordinated efforts because of that trust we’d built, because of the structure we built with the directors committee that I talked about before. And so some of those other efforts include the San Joaquin Valley green print. The green print was an effort, which identified places where we could limit growth in the rural areas of the San Joaquin County. We also embarked on the San Joaquin Valley blueprint planning process, which similar to the green print except for it identifies urban growth principles across the eight counties of the Valley. Lastly, we have the updated State Route 99 business plan, which actually resulted in a billion-dollar bond for upgrades to State Route 99 throughout the San Joaquin Valley and that was the result of the coordinated effort of the eight MPO directors in agreeing to which project on Highway 99 should be built in which order and which project should be funded first because there was obviously not enough money to fund all of the projects. There are still some unfunded projects from State Route 99, but the billion-dollar bond really did help and that was the result of a coordination that we worked through. The last piece is we do have a model improvement program. We received $2.5 million from Proposition 84, which allowed us to upgrade our models, and bring our models into a consistent platform across the eight individual MPOs. And we were so successful with that that we actually began Phase II of our model improvement program. And so that’s—those are some highlights of the San Joaquin Valley process. As you can see, it’s very complex; it’s very technical. But we do try to use a lot of pictures, a lot of visuals, to try to help people understand what is happening as the various different schedules move at the same time. And so with that I’ll turn it back over to Kevin. There is my contact information, but I believe Kevin will take over for the Q and A.
Kevin McCoy: That’s right. Thank you, Tanisha. Another great example of the benefits of coordination in air quality planning. And I know that we do have a question and answer period coming up here. So I’m switching our view here, but nothing has changed. Everyone can still submit questions via the Q and A pod and then I’ll read those questions and go ahead and assign them to our presenters. Let me just advance the slide here. So those instructions are there on your screen now. We didn’t receive any questions submitted in advance, but if folks on the line have questions, please go ahead and populate those into the pod so that we can pitch those to our presenters today. And just to get things doing I think I’ll start with a question of my own and, Anna, this is for you. I’d like to know—you talked a little bit about the voluntary coordination process you said exists in the Charlotte—the greater Charlotte region, the CRAFT group and the modeling coordination group, and I’m wondering if you can talk a little bit more about what happens when there are disagreements within the group and how those are resolved.
Anna Gallup: That’s a very good question. When we have disagreements it doesn’t usually happen at the CRAFT level, because that is more of an informational setting. It keeps it a little more low-key and just good discussions. Anything that might come up for disagreement typically happens during the travel demand modeling committee meetings. By the time we get to the interagency consultation process we have everything typically resolved. And those disagreements typically center around funding. I think as a whole from a technical perspective that most of the agencies recognize the value in moving forward with our modeling process. When money is at stake that becomes a little larger of an issue because we are, of course, multi-MPO. We’re also pretty different size MPOs. Our funding structure actually is that $160,000 budget that I mentioned is funded half by the two state DOTs, the majority of that is based on population. So the majority of that falls into the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The other 50 percent of that is funded based on the population of the MPOs as well. So that means that the Charlotte regional transportation planning organization is the next largest funding contributor. So when we do have disagreements regarding funding we try to, from a technical recommendation standpoint, I think just as MPOs tend to operate—when we’re looking at it from a technical perspective we try to the degree possible to leave the funding discussion out of it. That’s not entirely possible because it certainly does come into play. But we try to truly make a technical recommendation to the executive committee and leave the really, I guess, the harder conversations to that committee. I mentioned that they deal with decisions that have more to do with policy and funding. And so we let that kind of lie with those folks. Those folks are, I mentioned, upper management and are supposed to be able to make those kinds of decisions. Quite honestly, typically, when it comes down to it if there is a slight disagreement, meaning that the majority of the region is in agreement, we do go more on consensus. We don’t take single, individual votes. It doesn’t have to be unanimous; if the majority of the folks agree, then we move forward. Each of the state DOTs do expect as part of the 3C process that each of the MPOs provide what’s necessary to create a tool with the travel demand model that will benefit our planning process.
Kevin McCoy: Okay, great. Thank you very much. We do have a question here in the Q and A pod from Cathy Luther. The question is “For those of you in bi-state nonattainment areas, do the states coordinate SIPs and emission budgets? And how do you divide up those emissions or do you end up just having to meet the lowest emission budgets for the whole system?” And maybe we can start with Pragati if you’re still on the line.
Pragati Srivastava: Sure. Yes, for us, we do coordinate to that SIP that’s developed on the Tennessee side by our local health department in Shelby County. So they develop the SIP on the Tennessee side. On the Mississippi side, it is the state department, actually, who does it and, like I mentioned in my presentation, this is the first time they’re developing a SIP. So as far as emission budgets are concerned we provide what the emissions would be from a travel demand model as an input to them. And so that they have a frame of idea based upon our fiscally constrained long-range plan what kind of emissions are we really expecting? So that helps them set up the budget accordingly and the same case is for Mississippi. In fact, one thing I forgot to mention was right now both states are working on submitting maintenance SIPs to EPA separately, but the MPO and the two entities as well as the other state departments we all coordinated with each other to make sure that—how they were planning to set up, they were and the other parts of the SIP were in line with what we plan to do in the future. So I’m not sure if I answered it directly or not, but it’s done separately, but it is coordinated.
Kevin McCoy: Okay, great. Thanks, Pragati. And I’ll ask the same question of Anna, but before I do that I’ll just note that, Pragati, I know you need to leave a little bit early today. So if there’s any questions that come in for Pragati, then we’ll make sure we get those to her after the event so that you can get your answers. But, Anna, same question for you. Did the states coordinate the SIPs and emission budgets and how do you divide up your emissions?
Anna Gallup: Short answer is yes, they are coordinated, but as Pragati mentioned for her area, ours is also—we do have two separate SIPs. We’ve just this past fall gone through the modeling process to produce new SIPs. The divisions of air quality for both state agencies are the ones that do that work. We provided coordinated modeling from the one regional travel demand modeling for the inputs into MOVES models. The MOVES models will run independently of each other for North Carolina and South Carolina. So there’s the one SIP, one budget that’s developed for the South Carolina MPO. And then on the North Carolina side it is one SIP; the modeling is done by county, and then for budgeting purposes it’s aggregated. The county budgets are basically aggregated to MPO levels. So they’re basically whole or partial county depending upon how the nonattainment area falls in that county.
Kevin McCoy: Okay, good. Thank you. We have a question in the pod from Craig Butler and I think this is for all of the speakers. So anyone who’d like to answer this please jump in. The question is do you incorporate any scenario planning into your air quality planning work?
Tanisha Taylor: Kevin, I can take this. This is Tanisha with San Joaquin Council of Governments again. I think for California we’re in a bit of a unique situation where we have SB—Senate Bill 375, which actually requires that we do scenario planning on the land use side. And so for each of eight MPOs in the valley, they went through a very robust scenario planning exercise, which then fed into the modeling for their regional transportation plans. They went out to their local jurisdictions to build those land uses as well as the public and several very interested interest groups as well as their boards. All of that effort and public comment led into the development of the regional transportation plan, the land use modeling, as well as the project lists. That was developed and then conformed for each of their plans.
Kevin McCoy: Okay, great. Anna or Pragati, any scenario planning informing this work?
Anna Gallup: This is Anna. We’re just barely beginning to dip our toes into scenario planning. The Connect Our Future work did that for the region as a whole looking at, you know, I think we had a 2050 horizon year at what—based on local elected official input, staff input, as well as public input, what folks wanted to see our region looked like by the year 2050. With the incorporation that we’re undertaking now to use the land use modeling component that came out of Connect Our Future, 3 of our 4 MPOs and the RPO are looking at—we basically had the—what they considered a preferred growth scenario. We’ll look at that as well as our community plans scenario, which is much like a business-as-usual: If you continued on with the way each area operates what would you look like in 20, 30, 40 years? So we’re starting that process. We certainly—I don’t think we’ll have as robust a process certainly as in California, but we do hope to at least be able to begin to work that into our planning process.
Kevin McCoy: Okay, great. Thank you. I have another question for everyone. In your presentations you mentioned several other planning efforts like the Connect Our Future that you were just talking about, Anna, you at least implied that those efforts were built on the same coordination infrastructure that was put in place maybe initially to deal with air quality coordination. So I’m wondering if you can elaborate on that a little bit more, but also talk about whether or not you think those efforts would have happened if the air quality coordination processes hadn’t already been put in place. So I’ll start with Tanisha.
Tanisha Taylor: Sure. I think the San Joaquin Valley blueprint is a great example of that. I think it was a result of the air quality planning and the continued discussions for that last 30 or so years across the MPOs and forcing us to really look at how the Valley grows and how we communicate across our agencies. I think when we started air quality planning we knew we had to do it, but like I said in my presentation it grew into so much more. And it became “What is the vision of our Valley?” recognizing that transportation doesn’t stop at our county lines. And “How do we provide goods and services to the rest of the nation to keep the Valley prosperous?” became significant in the discussions that we were having. And so I think air quality coordination and the trust that was built in terms of the MPOs working together and forcing them to start to talk and not operate in their silos absolutely helped us to get to that process.
Kevin McCoy: Okay, great. And, Anna, do you have any thoughts on that?
Anna Gallup: Yes, I do think that the coordination that we’ve had over the past 15 years and the trust building over those 15 years was definitely beneficial and led to us having a successful outcome with the Connect project. Back as long as probably about 13 years ago, maybe, again, a few years later there were a couple of starts and stops with projects at the regional level. Not the same as Connect Our Future, but similar, that really didn’t get traction to make it through to the end and be implemented. I think as we’ve moved through the years and had continued coordination and have built trust amongst the different MPOs that provided a base, a springboard, for the Connect Our Future Process to be successful.
Kevin McCoy: Okay, thanks. Those are really encouraging examples. I think just showing how air quality coordination, which is necessary to demonstrate conformity, you know, it has multiple potential other benefits as well. Looking at the time I think that that’s probably all the time that we have for questions today. So I do want to thank everyone for submitting questions, but I think I’m going to go ahead and turn things back over to the Federal Highway Administration Office of Planning now to close things out.
Jody McCullough: Thank you, Kevin. This is Jody McCullough. I’m the coordinator with the regional models of cooperation initiative here at Federal Highway Administration. I want to thank our speakers today: Pragati Srivastava, Anna Gallup, and Tanisha Taylor. I’d also like to thank Cecilia Ho, who is with Federal Highway’s air quality and noise team. And I just wanted to let you know that we found your presentations really valuable today and I hope that our listeners found them valuable as well. And I remind you that this is part of a series of webinars that we’re going to be having for regional models of cooperation and we’re planning to host these webinars about every two months. The next one that we’re planning will be on transit coordination and that’s scheduled for October; more information will be sent as it becomes available. And we do have a web page on Federal Highway’s regional models of cooperation website that does have information about the webinars. And the recordings will be posted there and they should be available in a couple weeks at the latest for you to listen if you have any questions about what was said today. So I want to thank everyone for participating today. And if you have any questions, my contact information is on the screen. Please contact me. And thank you, everyone.
Kevin McCoy: Thank you, Jody. That’s going to conclude our webinar for today. So, again, I’d like to thank all the presenters and all the participants. And we hope to hear you participating on the next regional models of cooperation webinar. Thanks. Have a good afternoon.