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Massachusetts is attempting to lead the way on a performance-based system for selecting transportation projects.

Last year, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed a landmark bill to fund urgently needed statewide transportation investments over the coming years. But how will the state ensure that those dollars go where they’re needed most and can have the greatest impact? Advocates, state officials and other stakeholders in Massachusetts are in the midst of figuring that out.

To support and encourage them in pioneering a more inclusive, sophisticated approach to picking projects, we partnered with Transportation for Massachusetts this month on a conference in Boston called “Measuring Up: Getting More Bang for the Buck in Transportation Project Selection.” More on the event in a moment, but first a bit more context.

Why institute a process for picking better transportation projects in the first place? With public confidence in the process at alarmingly low levels, it’s more important than ever to quantify the public benefits and let voters know what their money is going to buy — especially when attempts are being made to raise new money for transportation to fill the gap.

Massachusetts’ 2013 funding bill established a new council to develop criteria for selecting projects, with the purpose of ensuring that new state funding will go to the most deserving projects across the commonwealth, not the ones that have simply been in the pipeline the longest.

T4Mass Performance Measures Event

That panel, the Massachusetts Project Selection Advisory Council (PSAC), has been hard at work gathering public input for their report of recommendations to the legislature. The Measuring Up event brought together members of the PSAC, transportation planners, local leaders and advocates to discuss criteria for evaluating the priorities the PSAC has identified: improving safety, lowering congestion, and helping connect workers to their jobs. Their report of recommendations is due by December 31st.

The keynote speaker, Massachusetts’s Secretary of Transportation, Richard Davey, noted his department had set a goal — known as Mode Shift — to increase walking, transit and biking trips by one-third by 2030. Realizing that goal “will require a strategic approach to project selection,” said Davey. “We just can’t do what we’ve always done.”

“We are honored to convene a group that will tackle this challenge and help balance regional priorities with transportation, environmental, economic, and social concerns,” said Kristina Egan, director of Transportation for Massachusetts. “With limited resources but knowing that transportation investments must last for generations, we have to make smart choices.”

Transportation for America is proud to support this kind of work at the state level that will improve accountability for our transportation dollars and help drive and fund transportation and infrastructure projects based on performance and data.

If you would like to know more about what PSAC has accomplished since they have started working, we have listed some resources below including a handout (pdf) and powerpoint presentation (pdf).

1 Comment

  1. LM Wilson

    2 years ago

    I believe in a simultaneous sector development observation platform while were wishing to see through the scope of what were needing to review with the congestion of selected concerns while at this very moment meeting the standards of our environmental quality and funding potential of existing state to federal priority projects that support full safety measures of quality in our national defense aim. Its also important to try and support job forecasting to seek a position where we can bring down the cost while at the same time were assisting the companies and communities concerns as the affording aspects of their needed growth to be sustained. While we saw growth in our peaks in real estate it is our will to seek safety in design and our will to seek policies that are smart ones and don’t become a magnet for no support.

    We owe it to people and the most simple need of getting food and water circulated. Law requires anyone today to get their children to school and schools do have open enrollment available so were looking at another picture. People need to get to their jobs and at risk of possible strikes. We may not be able to prevent these scenarios but we can with road design, policies and mode potentials, in and when we craft a plan on how transportation needs to look and run for us to get the adequate funding to sustain and maintain the needed resources and labor. Transportation is every single day 24 hours a day and 365 days of the year and year after.
    A good transportation plan plants a seed that no matter how we wish to invest in the world the risk might be there but never in the heart of transportation where there is enough evidence that we and our future will require the funding of our Transportation to influence our much needed platform that supports the every aspect of livability and our rights to live and see a growing America.
    I am a full supporter for safe routes for children. They don’t know road design so its important to improve the design of our roads and the need to see the mode potential of making communities shift to healthier ways of getting around that accommodate this picture to be mapped as safe and inviting.

    We start with safety and our obligation to it. I believe we have learned that people are smarter on what they see in their communities and the social media is the window that is used for people to voice concerns. There is enough support to get a transportation plan especially if it is aimed at safety and the changes they make to keep people safe while also building preventive measures that will be seen as user friendly.