Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the FHWA and FTA Transportation Planning Information Exchange conference call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session. Instructions will be given at that time. If you should require assistance] during the call, please press star then zero. I would now like to turn the conference over to Rae Keasler. Please go ahead.
Rae Keasler: Good morning and good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's webinar on climate change scenario planning. We appreciate you tuning in to today's webinar and apologize for the late delay. Thanks for staying on the line. We have a few poll questions in the webinar room if you wouldn't mind answering them while we go through a few webinar logistics. If you haven't joined us for a webinar before, welcome. We have a chat box open in the bottom left-hand corner. If you have any questions or comments that you'd like to share with us at any time, feel free to include them in the chat box now. We'll try to address them immediately in writing or during the presentation, or perhaps likely during the end of the webinar during our question-and-answer session. If you'd like to ask your questions in person, the operator will be opening in the phone line intermittently and you can ask them then, and she'll give instructions on how to proceed. If you're interested, we have submitted this event to the American Planning Association (APA) for 1.5 AICP CM credits. If this event is approved, it'll likely be in the APA Calendar of Events calendar, probably in four to six weeks from now. Thank you again for your time, and I'm going to turn this webinar over to James Garland, who is the team leader for the Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program.
James Garland: Thank you, Rae. Good morning to those out west and good afternoon to everyone else. As Rae mentioned, my name is James Garland and I'm with FHWA's Office of Planning and the Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program. We really appreciate you all tuning in to today's webinar on scenario planning climate change. We definitely apologize once again for the technical difficulty in getting today's webinar started. We had a technical difficulty that we ran into with loading the final web room, so we really appreciate everyone's patience and hanging in there and sticking with us for the first five minutes of getting that last-minute glitch worked out. A couple of highlights and just brief reminders from our end. All of our webinar series are available on planning.dot.gov. You can access that website and you can take a look at the Events page and take a look at all of the upcoming webinars that we have not only offered from FHWA's Office of Planning but across a number of topics that touch the planning and environmental realm. Coming up soon under the Transportation Planning Information Exchange series are a two-part series webinar highlighting our Transportation Planning Excellence Awards. This is a joint awards series that we have with the Federal Transit Administration, and this year, we're proud to announce eight award recipients that are going to be presented in a two-part webinar series. The first webinar will take place on Wednesday, August 26, and the second part of that series will take place on September 2. Prior to that, we're also plugging under the Every Day Counts 3 initiative―the Regional Models of Cooperation webinar series. They will have a webinar on Tuesday, August 25. Again, all of this information can be found on our website. Without further ado, I'd like to turn it back over to Rae, and we'll get things started. But again, we appreciate your participation in today's webinar.
Rae Keasler: I'd like to introduce our two presenters today. The first one to speak is Ben Rasmussen. He's a community planner with experience in transportation in parks and public land, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and regional transportation planning. In addition to managing the Volpe portfolios for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Park Service Midwest Region, Ben also manages projects for the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and local regional and state transportation planning agencies. Before joining Volpe, Ben worked as a senior program officer for an international environment nonprofit organization, and as a transportation planner for a metropolitan planning organization. He is a member of the Transportation Research Board, Metropolitan Policy Planning and Process Committee, and the special taskforce on climate change and energy. I'd also like to introduce Aaron Sussman, who will be speaking after Ben. Aaron is a senior planner for the Mid-Region Council of Governments in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he recently managed the long-range transportation plan update for the Albuquerque metropolitan area. Aaron is also involved in a variety of transit planning and data collection activities. He led the development of the project prioritization process that helped determine how Federal transportation dollars are allocated in the region. Aaron holds a master's degree in Latin American studies and community and regional planning. Aaron is also an adjunct lecturer at the University of New Mexico. Before we hear from Ben and Aaron, I'd like to talk a little bit about the Transportation Scenario Planning Program. That's the program that is administered by the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration. Just one moment. The Transportation Scenario Planning Program has been around since 2004. In addition to running webinars such as these, we also offer workshops. We try to hold about two workshops per year. We also try to hold about two webinars per year. We also provide technical advice and assistance with scenario planning. One of the recent activities with scenario planning has been involved with the MAP-21 language that recently was developed, which encourages scenario planning among, in particular, metropolitan planning organizations. You'll see soon some language that relates to it, but this is just another reason why we find these webinar series very important and why we appreciate sharing them with you, so we can also encourage the scenario planning process. Scenario planning is a transportation planning process, which creates multiple plausible stories about what the future could be. It helps develop a common understanding of issues and driving forces of change that affect transportation and helps assess and prepare for possible future conditions. Scenario planning integrates transportation and land use planning, helps explain long-term consequences of today's decisions, as well as demonstrates how tradeoffs can lead to desired future, how it actively engages stakeholders as well as similar to visioning and alternatives analysis, but asks questions like, "What if?" and compares and assesses future likely land uses. Some benefits of scenario planning include more strategic transportation and land use decision-making, more active stakeholder involvement, encouraging dialog among transportation and land use professionals and members of the community, as well as encouraging consensus-building. There are connections to integrated planning by more strategic transportation and land use decision-making, active stakeholder involvement, as well as dialog among transportation and land use professionals and members of the community. We also have connections to the Planning and Environmental Linkages through integrated planning as well as linking transportation planning. The scenario planning program encourages workshops and webinars, provides guidance, collects and shares innovative practices and lessons. If you go to the website listed below, you can see there are a number of reports and research studies on scenario planning. This is the language that's currently included in MAP-21, which encourages MPOs to use scenario planning as part of their normal transportation planning process. In 2011, we developed the Guidebook, which was designed to help, generally speaking, participants, interested stakeholders, to go through a scenario planning process. We developed a six-step process, and that included questions like: How should we get started? What could the future look like? How would we reach our desired future? So that was just a little bit about the scenario planning program and some steps that we've been working on in the last few years. These are some contact people, if you should be interested in reaching out, and they can talk to you a little bit more about scenario planning. Without further ado, I'd like to turn this over to Ben Rasmussen.
Ben Rasmussen: Thank you, Rae, and thanks everyone for being part of the webinar today. I'm going to talk, along with Aaron Sussman, from the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG), about the Interagency Transportation Land Use and Climate Change Initiative, Central New Mexico Climate Change Scenario Planning Project. The purpose of our project is really four-fold. First is to focus equally on climate change adaptation and climate change mitigation. The second is to use scenario planning as a framework. The third is to integrate the results and findings of our work into a regional long-range transportation planning process, and the fourth is to involve multiple agencies with priorities other than just transportation, perhaps some partnerships that otherwise wouldn't have been made. We have two locations for this initiative. The first was on Cape Cod back in 2010, and after the conclusion of that project, Federal Highways wanted to test the approach in a non-coastal location, so we selected Central New Mexico out of a pool of ten applicants in 2013. The key differences between the two projects has been mainly that Central New Mexico used their existing modeling environment and software, whereas for Cape Cod, they used a new, an additional modeling software tool called CommunityViz, and I think Central New Mexico's approach is pretty novel and better integrates with existing planning processes within the MPO. Also the state of the practice with regards to climate change and climate change planning has advanced quite a bit over the last five years, so we were able to draw upon that in our Central New Mexico project. Some of the partnerships that we had for this project are-- and I'm sorry, I've having a hard time advancing the slides. The partnerships that we had here kind of fell into four different groups. The federal funding sponsors were the Federal Highway Administration, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Parks Service, as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Other supporting Federal agencies that were involved in the planning group that we had meet monthly were the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, FEMA, Sandia National Labs, NOAA, and the Forest Service. Our key regional partner was MRCOG and MRMPO [the Mid-Region Metropolitan Planning Organization], and the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority was also quite involved in the project, and Aaron will talk more about that later. The consultant team for the project was Ecosystem Management, Inc., and the University of New Mexico, who provided key support for this project. The project area focuses on the four county regions surrounding the city of Albuquerque in Central New Mexico, and that region is already experiencing climate change impacts, including increased flooding. Here's a sign along the historic Route 66, right through downtown Albuquerque, where the underpass experiences flooding from time to time. The climate change adaptation process that we followed was meant to first identify regional climate change impacts, study the effect of these impacts on transportation land use and natural resources, and also look at the effect of transportation and land use policy choices on climate change impacts. So we were looking at how the strategies, the growth and development strategies, might be affected by climate change impacts, and the flipside of the coin, how will those strategies improve or reduce regional resiliency. Example adaptation strategies include mixed use/density, the urban footprint or the developed footprint, and buffers around sensitive areas. The climate change mitigation process really focused on a number of different strategies, those being the-- and I'm sorry, I'm having a hard time advancing the slides. If someone who has the ability to advance them for me could, that would be terrific. There are a number of strategies, over two dozen that we looked at. We looked at them both in terms of their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the region and also how easy they would be to model. Some of the strategies we were able to model as part of the scenario planning process and using the existing modeling environment, and in other cases we had to model the strategies off-model. We'll talk more about that later. Next slide. We do have a poll question here to see how many of you are involved in climate change mitigation planning, and if you could take a minute-- I guess the first question is on adaptation planning. Have you been involved in climate change adaptation planning as part of your metropolitan transportation planning process, or through other efforts, or not involved? We wanted to get a sense of people's experience. The other question is on mitigation planning and, again, wanted to see how involved, if you've been involved, in mitigation planning as part of your transportation planning process, or through other efforts, or not at all.
Rae Keasler: And it looks like the results are coming in, and approximately half have been through other efforts with climate change adaptation planning and a little over half have been involved with climate change mitigation planning.
Ben Rasmussen: Great. Thanks, Rae. All right. Well, we'll move to the next slide, which is on the research context that we used, and it's a rich field. We were able to draw on a number of resources, including the Federal Highway Administration's Adaptation Framework and Climate Resiliency pilots, which wrapped up recently; the Federal Highway Scenario Planning Guidebook that Rae mentioned, and peer exchanges; the Cape Code Pilot Project Guidebook, which spelled out the process we used for the Cape Cod pilot project; the National Parks Service, which has a handbook on building scenarios in a different way, which we'll talk about a little bit later; the Bureau of Reclamation's climate change report for the region, which was invaluable, especially with regards to water availability. We at the Volpe Center created a climate futures tool using Parks Service funding-- I'll talk about towards the end of the presentation-- and finally, we drew upon a number-- or actually the consultant team drew upon a number of studies on greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies in the transportation sector. So really, you can think of our project as focusing on the nexus, or overlap, of three major areas: climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, and research on scenario planning. These last two slides are kind of an executive summary, if you will. I wanted to highlight some of the successful methodologies that we feel that we undertook as part of this project-- next slide please-- and that is integrating land use and travel demand models in an existing modeling environment, conducting some successful off-model greenhouse gas emission analysis; the analysis of the effect of different land use patterns on water consumption using data from the local water utility was novel. We were able to integrate climate change analysis into the transportation plan above and beyond what we were hoping for in many ways, and we were able to leverage partnerships and existing studies in the region and make connections that otherwise would not have been made. Next slide. Last, just a few recommendations for future research. One is to plan for climate change beyond traditional planning timeframes. LRTPs are generally 20- to 30-year documents. Climate change has impacts far into the future, as does the infrastructure built over that period of the long-range plan. So if you can look at the impacts to the infrastructure in a 50- to 100-year period, that's ideal. We also noted that it's good to conduct an early exploratory analysis on climate change well before formal plans need to be developed, and also try to develop a complete picture of climate change impact specific to the region before developing conceptual land use and transportation scenarios. And that's in an ideal situation. We latched onto MRCOG's existing long-range transportation plan timeline and structure, and that had many advantages, I think just a couple disadvantages, which I noted, but were ultimately not very significant. I'll now turn this over to Aaron to talk a bit more about integrating climate change analysis into their metropolitan transportation planning process. Aaron?
Aaron Sussman: Okay, thanks Ben, and again, my name is Aaron Sussman with the Mid-Region Council of Governments in Albuquerque, and I think my perspective is to speak to you of what this process actually looks like for an MPO and what it means to really integrate climate change into a metropolitan transportation planning process. So let me begin by giving a little bit of background on the Albuquerque metropolitan area. I'm having the same problem advancing slides, so if I could get somebody to advance those as well for me, that would be great. Okay, thanks. So just a little bit of background on Albuquerque and Central New Mexico, for those of you who aren't particularly familiar. Albuquerque is a city of a little over half a million people, but it's been a very fast-growing city over the last half century or so. It was less than 100 thousand people in 1950. The metro area is around 900,000, approaching a million. It's expected to hit 1.3 million or more by the year 2040. But it's also a fairly sprawling city, and quite a large metropolitan statistical area. It's almost 200 square miles for the city, and more than 8000 square miles in the metro area. There are some kind of interesting geographic and political boundaries surrounding the city of Albuquerque-- mountains to the right and then Tribal lands and sovereign nations to the north, south, and west. Some of those are fairly far from the core of the city though, so there's a fair amount of room to grow still. In terms of the topography, we're on the northern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, which makes for a very arid climate. We only get about 9 inches of rainfall per year. But fortunately, we're about a mile high in elevation, so that has a really nice tempering effect on our weather-- we only very rarely surpass 100 degrees-- and it's a metro area that really has kind of an interesting combination of some urban elements-- you see the picture on the lower right. We've got an International Balloon Fiesta, the Rio Grande River running through, bisecting the middle of the city in the metropolitan area. It's a very varied region. Next slide. But we've also, over the last couple of decades in particular, been facing some challenging environmental conditions. The drought monitoring image is from a couple of years ago. We've had a much wetter year than average this year, but over the last couple of decades, we've been in a prolonged drought period. That's led to much higher than historical average and some incidents of wildfire. Nineteen of the 20 most severe wildfires in New Mexico history have taken place in the last 15 years, and what frequently happens as well when we get the summer monsoons, when you get heavy rainfall after prolonged droughts, you tend to get very severe flooding events, and so that can be a real challenge as well. Next slide. So the Central New Mexico Climate Change Scenario Planning Project was really an opportunity to partner with agencies across the metro area, and you can see in the map on the right, all of the orange lands are Tribal governments, green are Forest Service land. There's a lot of Bureau of Land Management area within our metropolitan area-- national monuments, national wildlife refuges as well. So an opportunity to think about how these climate trends are going to play out, not just the last 20 years or so but into the future, and what that's going to mean in terms of temperature and precipitation levels, and how it's going to impact the region in particular, things like droughts and wildfires and flooding, and water availability in particular, and then through our scenario planning process, give us an opportunity to think about whether development patterns make us more or less resilient to those climate change impacts. Next slide. We also started this project right around the time that we were beginning initial efforts on Futures 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, which was just adopted this last April. So this project was a real opportunity to expand our scenario planning efforts and think about climate change as a framing mechanism, a way to think about growth and the pressures on growth differently, and also a way to expand the kind of measurements and analysis that we perform-- so not just transportation conditions and a little bit of air quality, but greater extents, looking at mitigation emissions consideration, water consumption needs as we grow as a region, and then how development is distributed around the metropolitan area and what that might mean in terms of putting development at risk to climate change impacts. Next slide. So it's been mentioned, there are really two elements to our endeavor. There's the mitigation aspect, thinking about ways that we can grow and invest that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and in particular things like targeting density, mixed-use development, transit investments, as well as perhaps ways to improve roadway efficiency and reduce emissions through improved speed; and then, from an adaptation perspective, thinking about whether our development choices make us more or less resilient to those impacts of climate change, and in particular things like minimizing growth in vulnerable area and the impacts of growth and growth patterns and land use types on water availability and water consumption. Next slide. So again, I think most people have seen this kind of graph showing global temperature changes and the CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere over time. Again, this is-- we've been feeling this very acutely in Central New Mexico and the Rio Grande Basin over this four-decade span from 1971 to 2011. The average temperature increased by 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. That was about twice the global average, and for the reasons that I discussed already, there's a growing willingness to think about climate change impacts and the need for adaptation strategies in the region. Next slide. And fortunately, we also started this project at a time where we could piggyback off of some really interesting and important other work that had been done in the region, in particular a study that was conducted by the Bureau of Reclamation with support from Army Corps and Sandia National Labs called the Upper Rio Grande Impact Assessment, and this was an effort to, in particular, look at the impacts of climate change on the hydrology and water operations of the Upper Rio Grande Basin in Colorado and New Mexico, but ultimately filtering into the Rio Grande, and the water that passes through the Albuquerque metro area. So they produced a series of water availability projections. This became a really important starting point for our agency in terms of understanding climate impacts and how to frame the consequences of climate change to our region over time. Next slide. We also have a poll question at this point to ask everybody who's on the line. I'm going to ask Rae to step in because I'm not sure I saw how you fully composed this final question. So if you don't mind stepping in and asking this. Go ahead.
Rae Keasler: Sure. Thanks everyone for filling in this poll question. Do you feel that there is an interest or willingness to address climate change-related issues in your region? And there are three choices: No, as focusing on that issue is not likely to result in policy action. The second response is: Yes, climate change is a critical issue in my region and there is support for necessary actions. And the third is: Yes, but only if we focus on co-benefits for other policy issues without discussing climate change specifically. Thanks for taking the time to answer this. It looks like about 57 percent said yes, but only if we focus on co-benefits or other policy issues, while about 36 percent said yes, climate change is a critical issue and there is support for necessary action.
Aaron Sussman: Okay, thanks Rae. I think even with all the efforts that we conducted through this project, I think we probably largely fall into that latter category of thinking about things-- impacts strategically and co-benefits. But let me kind of go through again some of the impacts that our region is expecting, and also why there's a greater, I think, willingness to at least think about the consequences of climate change impacts. So, again, drawing from the upper Rio Grande Impact Assessment, one of the things that was really useful and appealing about this particular study was the way that they plotted out projected temperature and precipitation changes over time using 112 emission scenarios, and you can see in the chart on the screen, temperature differences are on the X axis. This is future midcentury, 21st century, compared to the baseline, and precipitation levels are on the Y axis. They mapped it out, identified four different quadrants in the central tendency box, and on average-- and if you look at the central tendency-- by midcentury, average temperatures are expected to increase by two to three degrees. In all 112 of these scenarios, we see increases in temperatures. What's important though is not just the temperature but precipitation, and this is where we see a lot of variability, and the conclusions that the study drew from that variability is that we're likely to see more intense droughts followed by more extreme rainfall events that will also impact things like whether precipitation falls as snow or as rain, when snowmelt occurs, and then influencing runoff and river flows, which ultimately impacts water availability in our metro area, where we pull more than half of our water from surface water sources out of the Rio Grande. Next slide. Ultimately the study concluded that as temperatures increase, as precipitation becomes more variable, that there really are significant impacts to water supplies across Central New Mexico and also for the Albuquerque metro area. By 2100, the Rio Grande flows are expected to decrease by about a third. The San Juan-Chama system, which diverts water-- where water is diverted from into the Rio Grande to feed the Albuquerque metro area flows are expected to decrease by about a quarter. Next slide. We're also very fortunate to work with the project team from Reclamation and Sandia National Labs to adapt their work to our planning horizon for our metro area. So we were able to not just think about 2100, but also think about the year 2040, and group river flow data by those same emissions groupings, and if you look at the central tendency on the right you see that ultimately, even in the next few decades, we're expecting to see a quantifiable decrease in river flow along the river systems that provide drinking water and potable water to the Albuquerque metro area. So this became a really important way to frame some of the policy choices that we wanted to propose in terms of how we grow and what sort of resource needs we're going to have over time. Next slide. So in addition to thinking about declining water sources and environmental pressures, we also have population pressures to think about and to try to accommodate in our metro area, where we're projected to grow by about 50 percent out through 2040. The recession has been very slow to pass here in New Mexico, but we're still expecting a fair amount of growth long-term. And so again, this study was an opportunity to think about these two things collectively, the environmental pressures, the water availability pressures, and then the growth pressures, and figuring out how to accommodate all of these things collectively. Next slide. And part of the reason that the growth pressures are really important to think about is when we look at our trend scenario, the approved scenario for our 2040 MTP, and you look at the distribution of population growth on the left and the distribution of employment growth on the right, we see that population growth is still tending to gravitate to more peripheral parts of the metropolitan area, if you assume existing plans and policies continue into the future. And then from an employment perspective, it's a little bit more evenly distributed, but there's still a lot of employment growth in the core of the metro area. So you have that increasing distance and gap between employment sites, service sites, and residential locations. Next slide. So all of this really proved the need to go through an extensive scenario planning process, and for us, this is something that spanned about 18 months. It began with efforts to identify the challenges facing the region, including the climate change-related challenges, through a questionnaire, through workshops with agency stakeholders and public meetings. We were able to identify a series of challenges facing the region. Interestingly, even though we're a transportation planning organization, and even before we presented any of the water resource concerns, water was the number one issue that everybody identified across pretty much all stakeholder groups. It was then our task to take those challenges and translate them into scenarios that we could test and model and ultimately refine. So there were two workshops last summer where we went through an iterative process to create initial scenarios, present them for review, discussion, think about policy changes we might want to consider, and then refine those scenarios over time to ultimately produce a preferred scenario, which was approved as something of a vision, and alternative vision for growth, in our Metropolitan Transportation Plan, to accompany the trend scenario. Next slide. The principles that were ultimately employed in our preferred scenario-- a lot of these will look familiar to folks who have gone through metropolitan transportation planning processes-- but a lot of these were important and kind of revelatory positions and principles to stand behind in a western city that's very car-oriented, and I think that part of the really benefiting utility of our project was getting people to think about even making that land use and transportation connection and policy decision-making to a greater degree than had been in the past. So some of the principles that were really paramount in our preferred scenario included concentrated development and activity centers and along transit nodes; not just concentrated development but a mix of uses to promote alternative modes and shortened trip lengths. We identified a real need to increase not just transportation choices but housing choices as well, so there are options for the increasing number of senior citizens and single-person and zero-child households that may not want single family housing, or may want to take advantage of the single family housing stock, which we have in abundance. Things like expanding the transit system, but then also maximizing the utility of our existing infrastructure and reducing the demands for new roadways. Next slide. So if we look at this spatially, this map shows the locations that were emphasized and prioritized for additional development. The stars represent activity centers. The blue corridors represent commercial and transit sites, and then there are small blue triangles in there as well that are transit nodes that were emphasized for additional development. A couple of key points. We utilized the same levels of population and employment growth for both the preferred and the trend scenarios, so we're really talking about different distributions of growth here. Because this was part of our metropolitan transportation planning process, we felt compelled to use the same roadway network, but we did include a much expanded transit network in our preferred scenario that was based on a proposed but not yet approved growth receipts tax increase. Next slide. For those of you who are interested in the modeling component to this-- let me talk about this briefly, and it's also important to understand what makes our scenario planning and modeling process different from some others. So first of all, we use a land use forecasting tool-- it's a market-based tool called UrbanSim-- to project and simulate growth over time. We have a four-step travel demand model through Cube, and we also have an integrated modeling environment, which allows a feedback loop and allows accessibility to drive the desirability of land for development, and we do this by running our land use from our 2012 base year out to 2025, feeding that information into our travel demand model, feeding the travel demand model outputs back into UrbanSim, and again having accessibility and congested conditions impact the desirability of different locations for development, and we repeat that process out to the year 2040. Next slide. I also want to emphasize that our scenario planning process is different than some in that we applied much more of a carrots rather than sticks approach to modeling and anticipating future development. So rather than some sketch planning tools where you can allocate growth manually or force growth in different locations, we applied through UrbanSim a series of shifters to represent development incentives-- so actual policy choices, things like reducing impact fees or other development incentives. We really wanted to see, can we emphasize growth in different locations? Does growth respond in meaningful ways? And then ultimately, if we emphasize growth in different activity enters and near transit, can we reduce development in at-risk locations and locations perhaps in more peripheral areas? And this allows us to kind of represent policy choices and evaluate the distribution of growth and the resulting transportation conditions, but then we can extend that to also look at the relationship between growth and locations that may be at risk to climate change. Next slide. So let me first kind of walk through just our transportation performance measures and what this ultimately looks like in terms of our bread and butter, the roadway conditions in the metro area and that kind of analysis in our MTP. So the map on the left shows the difference in volume for the trend scenario versus the preferred, where we see the blue colors are locations where there are higher traffic volumes in the trend scenario than the preferred, and in orange and red we see locations where there are higher traffic volumes in the preferred scenario and the trend scenario. So then if we look at the map on the right, what's important is that where we see all of those orange and red colors, where we see increases in traffic levels in the preferred scenario, we don't see increases in congestion levels. And so this lent a lot of credibility to our process, because what we could do is we could demonstrate thinking about growth and development and transportation planning collectively, especially if you allocate growth in locations or emphasize growth in locations where you've got the infrastructure to handle it. That buys a lot of-- or creates and allows a lot of buy-in for some of the other considerations as part of our planning process. Next slide. Ultimately we did see that as part of that redistribution of trips, overall we saw an increase in average speeds, a decrease in commute time, a decrease in hours traveled, and a decrease in vehicle miles traveled of about 4 percent between our trend scenario and our preferred. Next slide. So we did see some important transportation improvements. We also saw some changes in distribution of growth and development. So this is kind of a typical performance measure that's a kind of easy way to think about climate change impacts and development and distribution. It's just the pure footprint, the number of acres consumed. So this is one of the first measures that we looked at, and we did see in our preferred scenario, in spite of a 50 percent increase in population, we were able to reduce the overall amount of land consumed in the preferred scenario by about 5 percent, and then about 12,600 fewer acres of residential development in the preferred than in our trend. Next slide. We also wanted to expand off of that though, and this is where the Central New Mexico Climate Change Scenario Planning Project provided not just some resources but an opportunity to think about climate change impacts in broader ways rather than just the development footprint and more than just emissions reduction. So there are a series of other evaluation measures that we were able to develop and utilize as part of this process, and in a lot of cases we took advantage of existing tools-- most of this is done through spatial analysis-- but it was a real opportunity to think about the relationship between where growth takes place and the locations that are at risk to climate change. And again, our starting point was if we look to emphasize development in certain locations, if you think about this from a smart growth perspective, do we minimize the amount of new development in these affected areas? And so again, we weren't precluding or preventing development in some of these areas, but we wanted to emphasize development in others. And so the at-risk locations that we looked at were wildfire risk areas through the Wildland-Urban Interface Tool, FEMA-designated 100-year floodplains to look at flood risks, Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool to look at areas that are home to sensitive habitats, water consumption needs, and then back to greenhouse gas emissions or CO2 emissions. Next slide. So the first of these is the wildland-urban interface, and if you look in particular at the intermixed areas, which are shown in kind of the reddish color on the map, we wanted to see, again, how much development took place in each of our two scenarios, our trend and our preferred, and what we did see is that there's a pretty significant reduction in the amount of new growth that takes place in the preferred scenario compared to the trend, and that's really as a result of emphasizing development in the core in the preferred scenario, and thereby minimizing the amount of new development in some of those locations at risk to wildfires. Next slide. We also looked at 100-year floodplains, and this was an interesting one that I think there are opportunities for a lot more research. One of the things that we'd hoped to do was to quantify the potential increase in flood risks and identify areas that will be at risk as climate conditions change, and then measure the change in current and future development in those new high-risk areas, and we were able to do that in a particular case study-- if you'll go to the next slide, please. Modeling exists for one particular system, the Calabacillas Arroyo to the northwest of Albuquerque. You can see the image on the far left, that these floodplains are prone to shifting over time, particularly as conditions change and through erosion. So with this, we know that these impacts are potentially there. With at least this one particular system, we could model it. And so as a proxy for those potential increases in extreme events, we looked at what happens if we increase precipitation by 10 percent, what happens to flow. We see a big increase in flow that way. If we increase the extreme precipitation event from a three-year, 24-hour event by 25 percent, then we see a 75 percent increase in flow along this arroyo. And so the picture on the right, in the middle of the screen shows the enlarged boundaries of that floodplain, and you can see how, if we do experience more extreme events than we have in the past, there are a number of structures that would be at risk. While all arroyos and systems are unique and it's hard to extrapolate this is something that applies to all of those cases, it definitely presents the connection and something that needs to be considered on a wider scale. Next slide please. In terms of our regional analysis, we decided ultimately to look at the amount of development within existing 100-year floodplains and then look at the amount of future development in those floodplains, again through using the same kind of mechanism measuring future growth in these locations. We do see a bit of a reduction in new growth in the preferred scenario compared to the trend. One way to account for adaptation needs was to reduce the zoning capacity in floodplains by 20 process. That actually had less of an impact to reduce the zoning capacity in those locations than purely emphasizing development in other locations. So the pull effect, the carrot effect, towards development in closer-in locations and activity centers was greater than the stick effect, in a sense, in terms of reducing the development potential in those locations. Next slide. A third measure is the Western Governors Association Tool called the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool. This provides rankings for one-mile hexagons. We could overlay this tool with crucial habitat scores so we could-- I'm sorry, overlay the tool with our land use, observed land use, and measure the difference in growth between scenarios. We didn't see a lot of changes from scenario to scenario here. One of the reasons is that the most critical locations for habitat in our metropolitan area are along the river, which are closer to the historically settled parts of the metro area, and the lowest risk areas are also those subject to potential sprawl. But ultimately we concluded that it was better to develop more intensively in areas where some development already exists than to encourage development in locations where no development currently exists. That would have a greater impact on wildlife habitats. Next slide. We also looked at water consumption over time, and this is where I think we were able to introduce some really innovative analyses and make some new connections through our long-range plan. And in particular, we were interested in how would growth patterns and land consumption and housing types and housing mixes impact water consumption, and so we had some good resources to draw from-- data from the water utility authority. We know that over the last 20 years that per capita consumption has dropped substantially from 250 gallons per day per capita to about 135. That's still well above the national average, but it's pretty reasonable by Western city standards. And then we could also look at things like water consumption patterns by housing type, whether it's multifamily or single family, and lot size by large lot and small lot. Next slide. And we did see some meaningful impacts when we looked at the data. We found in particular that multifamily housing units consume less water on a per capita basis-- so not just on a per unit basis but on a per capita basis. There's also a correlation between lot size and water consumption for single family homes, and we were able to demonstrate this through the observed data, and then project this out into the future as well by looking at the residential land consumption over time and applying a value for water consumed per residential acre, and ultimately we found in our preferred scenario that, again, in spite of a lot of additional population growth, we do see a reduction in the preferred scenario in terms of gallons consumed for residential needs, about 5.5 billion gallons per year in water savings. Next slide. The last climate change-related performance measure that we included in our Metropolitan Transportation Plan was related to emissions reduction and CO2 emissions in particular. There were some clear strategies in our preferred scenario to reduce CO2 emissions, including expanded transit service, transit-oriented development; from a land use perspective, increasing density through zoning, encouraging infill, the development incentives that I mentioned in terms of our modeling environment. There are a number of other strategies that are discussed in our plan but they're not included in our modeling environment, and Ben will talk about a number of other analyses that we conducted later on that do help quantify the additional benefits that might be gained from some of these complementary emissions reduction strategies. Next slide. When we do quantify the differences between our scenarios, we saw, again, emissions increase from mobile sources in our preferred sources but not by nearly as much as they do in the trend. That's all as a result of the fact that we see a reduction in vehicle miles traveled, vehicle hours traveled, vehicle hours of delay, a reduction in trips across the Rio Grande and increase in system-wide speed, reduction in trip length and increase in transit usage. All of these things contributed to lower amounts of growth in CO2 emissions over time in our scenarios. Next slide. One more bit on performance measures, and just in terms of comparison between our preferred scenario and our trend. We did, again, see a decrease in new land developed in our preferred scenario, a decrease in vehicle miles traveled and emissions and water consumption at a residential level and growth in flood risk areas, a pretty substantial reduce in growth in fire risk areas, and these are 2040 versus 2040, not necessarily changes in the percentage growth rates, but 2040 versus 2040, and then a little bit of reduction in development in crucial habitat areas. One of the things that we heard again and again from our stakeholders was that we wanted to see more dramatic changes, and so you can go onto the next slide. That speaks to two of the points and two of the lessons learned from our particular scenario planning process and the way we introduced and integrated climate change into our MTP. So first of all, we have this existing MTP structure, which is great to build off of because it ensured that our scenario planning could be immediately linked to policy decisions; we could present a preferred scenario for approval by member governments. The city of Albuquerque is working on an update to their comprehensive plan. They're drawing to a great extent from the findings of our MTP and our preferred scenario and that comp plan update, so that's a really clear connection that we could introduce by doing this all as part of our MTP. The MTP is also a little bit constraining in the sense that ultimately you need to get your plan approved, and we needed to present scenarios that were reasonable, that were tied to clear policy and investment decisions, and so that doesn't allow quite the same level of experimentation with scenarios as you might if you were conducting this kind of analysis in a vacuum. The other component to this-- and this goes back to the types and degree of benefits that we observed-- or the changes in performance measures in particular, the benefits of the preferred scenario. Because we used a market-based land use modeling simulation tool rather than a sketch planning tool, we developed scenarios that we feel like were much more-- that were very realistic, that immediately generated a lot of respect and credibility and buy-in because they were reasonable. But these tools are not great if you're looking to diagnose how much you need to change the region to achieve certain desired outcomes, and because you're not forcing growth or allocating growth manually, growth does gravitate to places that are not the most desirable from a transportation perspective, or may put that development at risk to climate change impacts, that will happen. So purely using the kind of incentives-based approach that we described rather than precluding development through manual allocation of growth and preventing growth in different locations, we didn't create quite the same magnitude of differences as some other scenario planning processes have observed. But we did feel like we created some very reasonable scenarios where we did get a fair amount of buy-in. Next slide. So a few points in terms of lessons learned. Ultimately the use of spatial analysis was quite useful. It was very straightforward. Land use and transportation scenarios are built for this kind of thing, if you can identify tools or create your own tools, but all of that analysis requires a good understanding of the changing climate conditions and what sort of natural phenomena to anticipate and what to prepare for from an analytical perspective. We also came to the realization-- it seems almost silly and mundane as an observation-- but there really aren't that many agencies linking climate change impacts with development policies, and certainly with transportation decision-making, and certainly at a regional level. So we asked ourselves at a lot of points during this process, "If we don't look into this, then who is?" And there was just a real clear indication that the MPO has a role to play in this. But how you frame that discussion can be challenging, and whether we talk about climate change directly or talk about co-benefits and talk about the need to preserve agricultural land versus the need to preserve water resources, all of these things can be contradictory sometimes, and how we frame that today can be really challenging. Next slide. And so I just want to close with a few project benefits. We really did feel like climate change was useful as a framing device for scenario planning, a way to introduce new measures, a way to create a sense of urgency for some stakeholders, but also a way to create some connections that hadn't been made in a planning process in our region before, and certainly not in a way they could be measured and evaluated the way an MTP and a scenario planning process lends itself to. So we felt like those were very clear benefits. There were a lot of new connections that we were able to build and expand upon our network of stakeholders through our planning process. That was a real benefit as well. So folks like the Bureau of Reclamation, Army Corps of Engineers have a much greater presence in our planning process now. The Water Utility Authority was invaluable, and I think we made some important strides in expanding that relationship. So that was ultimately a real benefit as well, to enlarge the conversation and the types of considerations as part of this planning process. So with that, I'm going to pass it back to Ben Rasmussen and the Volpe Center.
Ben Rasmussen: Thanks, Aaron, and I'll try to be quick through these last slides so we have time for Q&A. But I wanted to touch on the climate futures tool that we developed for the National Parks Service, and we used the same data set that the Bureau of Reclamation created or used and downscaled to develop four, actually five climate futures. Next slide. And these futures we kind of broke up into quadrants based on these 112 model runs, and the model runs are colored here according to various greenhouse gas emission scenarios, but essentially we grouped them into these five areas and then we could-- we termed them simply either warm wet, hot wet, hot dry, warm dry, or central, meaning drier-- or warmer and maybe a mix of hotter or drier or wetter. But regardless, we did see that the region was going to get warmer, it was just a matter of by how much, and should the region plan for one of these futures, all of these futures, a couple of these futures-- we wanted to pose that question as we conducted this project, and I think it did inform the process. Next slide. We did this-- you can do this analysis-- and this is similar, I should mention, to the Federal Highways CMIP tool, which is an Excel-based model. We took it and made it more spatially and graphically robust, if you will, and we started with one grid cell-- they're 8 by 8 miles, and this one's centered on the southern part of the city of Albuquerque. Next slide. The result for that cell was this kind of infographic that gives an average increase or decrease in precipitation and temperature, and so here we're looking at, under the warm wet scenario, it being at least 2.4 degrees warmer, but under the hot dry it perhaps being 4.3 degrees warmer, and we line this up with the horizon of the MTP, so the year 2040. We also looked at-- you can look at daily time-step data, so we could get down to a pretty fine grain of specificity with regards to a 24-hour period of precipitation or number of days over 100 degrees, which has implications for pavement and railways. Next slide. But we realized that cell was in the valley, and in an area like Albuquerque there's a lot of elevation changes, so we looked at six cells in total, some at different elevations, some at different latitudes, and we then determined, "All right, what are we going to see in the region as a whole?" Next slide. And we came up with a number of graphs, and this one kind of represents what we found in general, and that is that we saw more changes in some of these metrics, like total days over 100 degrees, in the lower elevations, which makes sense, and in the higher elevations we didn't see that change. However, if we change that threshold to 90 degrees, then you do start to see some of those changes even in the higher elevations. Next slide. Now I want to shift gears a little bit to the mitigation component and give a little more detail there since we worked closely with the University of New Mexico and EMI on this. The University of New Mexico team was headed by Dr. Gregory Rowangould with two PhD students. The strategies really kind of fell into three groups: either analysis that we were able to complete during the scenario planning workshop phase, strategies that were evaluated post-workshop, and then strategies to be discussed in the final report. Next slide. Again, here's that list of strategies. We grouped them into higher priority ones that we would try to evaluate either as part of the modeling process or off-model, and then lower priority-- we just didn't think they had a lot of potential or they were too difficult to model at this time. Next slide. As part of the workshops, we did look at zoning changes, infill development, transit-oriented development, and improving public transportation, and all those changes had impacts on vehicle miles traveled, and therefore greenhouse gas emissions under each of the scenarios. So those were part of the process, part of the scenarios, as we went along from workshop to workshop. Next slide. We also looked at some strategies that we had to model outside of the workshop and scenario planning process, and that was urban growth boundaries, VMT tax, bicycle infrastructure, incident management, traffic signal enhancement, and roadway connectivity, and I'll touch upon each of these briefly. Next slide. Urban growth boundaries, as you know, the idea is to prohibit future development outside the existing metropolitan area footprint. We used the EPA MOVES model and the travel demand model for this analysis, and compared to the preferred scenario, we noticed additional reduction in per capita of VMT by 2 percent, which translated into roughly a greenhouse gas emission reduction by 3.8 percent. Next slide. VMT tax. Here we played with scenarios, if you will, looking at different increases in what a locally implemented VMT tax could raise, and as you may know, this kind of tax is being piloted in Oregon. So there is some possibility this could come to pass at a local level or perhaps nationally, depending on a variety of factors. But commonsensically, again, the higher the VMT tax the more impact it will have on driving, the more it disincentivizes single vehicle occupancy. You see more carpooling, you see more transit usage or walking or biking, or people living closer to their destinations so that they're able to make those trips without using an automobile, and we could model that and get a sense of what kind of greenhouse gas emission reduction was associated with each kind of additional VMT tax. Next slide. Bicycle infrastructure had a modest-- or a small impact on the greenhouse gas emissions, a 0.4 percent decrease over the trend, but it is important to note the cost of providing bike lanes is relatively small. Paths can be more expensive but still are relatively inexpensive, especially if it's a gap connecting two linkages, or two segments. Next slide. Incident management. We weren't able really to get into this in much depth but we wanted to get a sense of, "All right, if there's an incident on the highway network and speeds are reduced and there's more congestion, what does that mean in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, and if we're able to clear it quicker, what kind of impact might that have?" We just couldn't get our hands around how to model that exactly, but we did find this graph that was helpful, and as you can see, if the average speed is faster, I think as we all know, the greenhouse gas emissions will be less. So you do want to keep the network moving as best as you can; we just couldn't get a sense of how to do that via incident management. Next slide. Traffic signal enhancement. There was one study already done on Alameda Boulevard in Bernalillo County, so we were able to take those results and project them out a little bit wider, and we could see that with traffic signal timing changes, you can realize a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of around 6 percent, or a little bit less in these other corridors. So that's insignificant but it does take some work; sometimes you have to convert your traffic signals to a new technology and that can be a little pricey. Next slide. Last but not least, looking at roadway connectivity, there have been a number of studies showing elasticities between vehicle miles traveled and intersection density and proportion of four-way intersections, and we've found that to be the case in the Albuquerque region as well, that when there's more intersections and there's more density in terms of intersections per acre, then you see greater greenhouse gas emission reductions because there's higher connectivity. People can get more quickly, more directly from Point A to Point B. Next slide. So in sum, we put together this table of the off-model strategies and we found that the urban growth boundary has perhaps the greatest impact in terms of something that is more politically feasible than a VMT tax, which is politically third-rail these days, and the greater the tax certainly the harder it would be to stomach, but at the same time the greater impact it would have on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Next slide. To wrap up, we have a number of resources available on our websites, and I'll give you those URLs in just a minute. But we developed a final report and guidebook, much like we did for the Cape Cod project, called Integrating Climate Change and Transportation Land Use Scenario Planning. That's the screenshot at the lower left corner. There's also a technical report-- and I should say the guidebook kind of steps through the process that we took in Central New Mexico and lays out steps that other regions can take to follow suit should they want to pursue a similar type of project. The technical report is a report that really gets into the details on how some of the modeling was done with regards to the climate change metrics that Aaron talked a bit about, and also some of the other modeling enhancements and work that was done as part of the project. That's called the Central New Mexico Climate Change Scenario Planning Project Final Report. It's that second screenshot below. That was created by EMI and the University of New Mexico. We also developed an integration plan for MRCOG that spelled out next steps, how to take this information and build upon it in the region, both as an MPO and with partners, and that document was recently uploaded onto our websites. The last two were reports developed for the other funding sponsors, BLM and Fish and Wildlife Service. For BLM, we kind of outlined potential climate change impacts on the BLM Rio Puerco Field Office's transportation system. We did some of that analysis that Aaron mentioned for the Rio Puerco, and we also developed two kind of case studies slash fact sheets for Fish and Wildlife Service on climate change impacts in the region and also building regional partnerships, and Fish and Wildlife has a new urban refuge called Valle de Oro in the metropolitan area, so they were a strong partner in this work. Next slide, which is our last slide, and that's our contact information. If you do have any questions that you'd like to follow up with us on, please feel free to email or call us. These URLs are both available. The Volpe site has just those deliverables that I just outlined. The integration plan I think is not yet up there, but on MRCOG's site, those deliverables and other resources relating to the MTP and the scenario planning process in general, or this project in general, are available on that site. So I might refer you there if you're looking for broader information. If you're looking for something specific that I just mentioned, come to the Volpe site. With that, I'd like to say thank you, and we are now available for any questions.
Rae Keasler: Great presentations, Ben and Aaron. Thanks again. Before we ask the operator to open the phone line or ask anyone else to enter questions into the chat box, we do have one question pending, and this is either for Ben or Aaron. Denise Brunswick with North Florida TPOS: Did you consider how automated vehicles may disrupt land use and transportation over the life of the plan? Did either of you have any responses you wanted to share?
Aaron Sussman: I have a very short answer to that, and that is no, we did not.
Ben Rasmussen: And I think part of that is perhaps that automated vehicles really seem to have come on the scene as a consideration very recently, within the last year or two. Certainly they were on the radar before that, but as we were gearing up for this project, it wasn't considered.
Rae Keasler: Fair enough. Thank you. Operator, would you mind opening the phone line for questions?
Operator: If you'd like to ask a question, please press the star key followed by the digit one on your touchtone telephone and make sure your mute function is turned off to allow your signal to reach our equipment. Again, that is star one to ask a question, and we'll pause for a moment. And no one is queued up, but I'd like to give you another opportunity, if you do have a question, press star one at this time, and we'll pause again for just a moment. And Rae, it appears we have no questions today.
Rae Keasler: Alrighty. Well, thanks again to everyone who joined us this afternoon. Wanted to share again that there will be two webinars about the Transportation Planning Excellence Awards program on both Wednesday, August 26, and Wednesday, September 2. There were eight projects that were awarded within the TPE program, and the first four will be highlighted in the first webinar on August 26 and the second four will be highlighted in the second webinar on September 2. You'll be seeing an announcement come out shortly on that, but if you have any questions you can contact James. His email address is already in the chat box, or you can contact me as well. I'll put my email address in the chat box as well. Well, thank you very much for your time and we look forward to seeing you online soon.
Operator: And that concludes our conference for today. Thank you for your participation.