Burgess & Niple (B&N) has been serving Maricopa County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) for over a decade. In 2017, B&N completed MCDOT’s Transportation Systems Plan (TSP) 2035 which established a framework for future transportation needs of County residents, outlining a vision for the planning and construction of transportation facilities for all users through the year 2035. Recently, MCDOT changed the TSP update cycle from a 10-year cycle to a 5-year cycle, starting with TSP 2040.
A New & Improved Holistic Transportation System Plan
As part of this improved TSP 2040 effort, B&N was contracted by MCDOT to expand upon prior planning-to-programming efforts that were previously focused on only capacity projects to include active transportation, structures, drainage, safety, intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and preservation/maintenance projects. The TSP 2040 is a holistic transportation system plan that includes planning efforts focused on Complete Projects. The Complete Projects approach prioritizes high-priority projects as well as those that address multiple needs. To achieve MCDOT’s vision of providing connections that improve people’s lives, required a plan with many components:
B&N and MCDOT conducted a robust public and stakeholder outreach effort, receiving more than 500 comments across various platforms. This outreach effort included the utilization of an online interactive map to show identified needs and proposed projects throughout unincorporated Maricopa County. The public was invited to comment on the needs and projects using the interactive maps, online survey, Facebook posts, or by email. B&N and MCDOT also conducted three youth outreach events, which included a student field trip to MCDOT, a hands-on experience in developing project alternatives, and discussing how students believe transportation will change in the future.
Not all transportation system needs need to be addressed by a project – new policies can help guide development and improve systems without construction. B&N reviewed several peer agencies of similar size to MCDOT for roadway, active transportation, and emerging technology policies and plans to better understand how to develop future solutions. Through this process, B&N identified possible goals, objectives, and strategies that can be used to review the impact of policies as they are implemented.
“Scenario Planning” is an investigative process that evaluates the effects of alternative plans, policies, and programs on the future of a community. B&N conducted a series of scenario planning workshops with MCDOT and MCDOT partners to develop probable futures for the region and explore the benefits and trade-offs from such futures. Through this process, B&N and MCDOT identified many common themes throughout the different scenarios for which MCDOT and its partners can develop policies and guidelines. The process also explored different funding scenarios and how MCDOT and its partners can continue to fund improvements and maintenance into the future.
B&N developed a Life Cycle System Cost analysis for MCDOT for the short-, mid-, and long-term planning horizons. Based on information provided by MCDOT on the most likely revenue projections and cost information, B&N identified a funding shortfall over the 20-year horizon. A Recommended Investment Choice model was developed to allow for flexible spending and account for the uncertainty in funding, emerging technology and TSMO investments.
The 2020 Curveball
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, B&N and MCDOT quickly shifted to virtual platforms to continue the development of TSP 2040. Stakeholder meetings were conducted over Zoom or Teams and public outreach efforts included an increased online presence, recorded presentations, online public open houses and more. The sudden and widespread impact of COVID-19 also highlighted the importance of the scenario planning exercises, as MCDOT and its partners were able to adjust to the shifts in the workforce based on the knowledge gained from the exercises.
Despite the 2020 curveball, the TSP 2040 represents MCDOT’s commitment to creating a transportation system that benefits all users. From shifting to a shorter update cycle to addressing needs beyond just capacity, TSP 2040 takes a holistic approach to transportation planning.