Good news, everyone: PennDOT has been listening to advocates around the state, including the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and will start collaborating earlier with local municipalities on transportation projects that have yet to be designed.
What that means: PennDOT will no longer decide on transportation projects without asking, say, local cyclists if they think a bike lane would be feasible. It’s a project called PennDOT Connects.
This is due in part to the good work of new PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards, who noted in a recent press release, “We know that transportation plays a huge role in community identities and economies, and we take our responsibility as stewards of the system very seriously … Through PennDOT Connects, we’re putting innovation, local resources and strong partnerships to work so we can have the most sustainable, inclusive transportation assets possible.”
Also noted in said release,
The new approach to project planning and development expands the department’s requirements for engaging local and planning partners by requiring collaboration with stakeholders before project scopes are developed.
PennDOT Connects aims to transform capital and maintenance project development by ensuring that community collaboration happens early, and that each project is considered in a holistic way for opportunities to improve safety, mobility, access, and environmental outcomes for all modes and local contexts. Earlier collaboration will ensure that projects meet current and projected needs as much as possible, and can reduce costly changes further in the project development process.
The new program requires PennDOT specifically meet with local governments and planning organizations on new projects on the state’s 2017-2020 Transportation Improvement Programs. There have been examples where PennDOT has already done this, but now, happily, it’s official policy.
“Collaboration will occur for projects without previously defined project phases, those that haven’t started Preliminary Engineering or started Preliminary Engineering after July 1, 2016. This equates to roughly 280 projects worth $2 billion,” notes PennDOT.
That’s right, everyone: Good news.