Metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and transportation planning organizations (TPOs) find themselves in the position of planning 20+ years into the future through long-range transportation plans, but not having the information they need to confidently plan around automated vehicles and other emerging technologies. The River to Sea TPO sought to answer questions such as:
– How can we develop a plan for updating aging infrastructure over time?
– What policies and procedures should we be setting now to set ourselves up for new and future technology?
– In addition to investments on our roadways, what investments should we make in our staff to prepare for the future? What kind of training do we need?
The River to Sea TPO engaged Kittelson to conduct a readiness study and technology transition plan to prepare for impacts from transformational technologies, including connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), ride-hail services, micro-mobility, and electric vehicles. Drawing from our experience authoring NCHRP Report 972, Kittelson helped the TPO conduct a self-assessment, in which we looked at their regional plans and the state of their infrastructure and identified gaps and barriers to readiness for emerging technologies. We then created an action plan that married the River to Sea TPO’s goals, vision, and needs with short- and long-term strategies. The plan addresses data needs, staff resources and training, regulations and policy, infrastructure and equipment, enforcement, equity and accessibility, and financial prioritization.
Planning Today for the Technologies of Tomorrow
Having their resource needs put into writing clarifies what infrastructure investments need to be made, what policies need to be revisited, and where staff training is needed. All of this, combined with ongoing monitoring of data and performance indicators, contributes to keeping the River to Sea TPO vigilant and prepared. Additionally, this study will inform the next long-range transportation plan (LRTP) that the River to Sea TPO develops. The next LRTP will be able to more thoroughly embrace technology, and prioritize funding for the partnerships and projects that we recommended in our study.