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Seven metropolitan areas selected to participate in yearlong transportation training academy

Continuing T4America’s dedication to cultivating local transportation expertise and knowledge, we’re proud to announce the selection of seven local groups of metropolitan leaders to participate in a new yearlong training academy focused on performance measurement to better assess the impacts and benefits of transportation spending.

This 2016 Transportation Leadership Academy is the second such training program for local leaders created by T4America in as many years. (Our first academy was created in partnership with TransitCenter in 2015. -Ed.)

What is performance measurement?

Performance measurement — more carefully measuring and quantifying the multiple benefits of transportation spending decisions to ensure that every dollar is aligned with the public’s goals and brings the greatest return possible for citizens — is an emerging practice that forward-looking metropolitan areas of all sizes are beginning to use.

The transportation law passed in 2012 (MAP-21) created a nascent system for states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to measure the performance of their investments against federally-required measures. Some metro areas were doing this for years before MAP-21 passed; others are now trying to determine how to incorporate this new system into their process of creating plans, selecting projects, and measuring the effectiveness of each transportation dollar that gets spent. This yearlong training program will provide these local leaders with tools and support for this endeavor.

The academy is particularly timely considering that the U.S. Department of Transportation is working to finalize a new set of transportation performance measure procedures and regulations — possibly as soon as this year — which we’ve been writing about here regularly.

Why performance measures?

“It’s never easy to raise money to invest in transportation, and more than ever before, citizens want to know how the decisions are being made to spend their money,” said Transportation for America Director James Corless in our press release today. “A more accountable system that sets tangible goals with input from the community, chooses transportation projects that will help the community meet those goals, and then measures the outcomes in a feedback loop will be essential to rebuild public confidence in transportation agencies and for ensuring that we get the best bang for the buck going forward,” Corless said.

This program, created in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), will educate these seven teams made up of local business, civic, elected leaders, and transportation professionals, prepare them to act on opportunities within their communities and plug them into a dynamic national network of like-minded leaders throughout the country.

The yearlong academy will consist of in-person workshops with participants from all seven regions — Boston, MA; Cleveland, OH; Des Moines, IA; Indianapolis, IN; Lee County, FL; Seattle, WA; and South Bend, IN — ongoing technical assistance throughout the year, regular online training sessions, and expert analysis of their plans and progress on deploying performance measures.

What the participants had to say

“The benefit of being selected for this is program allows Central Indiana to have access to best practices in the industry as they’re being developed,” said Anna Gremling, executive director of the Indianapolis MPO, in their official release today. “Our team will use what we learn through this process to assist in the development of the 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan that will begin in mid-2016.”

“This is the future of transportation in an era of aging infrastructure and limited revenue – continually measuring the performance of the transportation network to ensure we’re making the smartest investments possible,” Des Moines Area MPO Executive Director Todd Ashby said. “We are thrilled to be included in cutting-edge thinking on the best practices in this field.”

“Our entire team is honored to be selected by Transportation for America for this first-ever transportation leadership program, particularly with groups from such a diverse cross-section of the country,” said Brian Hamman, Lee County Commissioner and Chairman of the Lee County MPO. “The knowledge this team will gain, and the national network we’ll create with other forward-thinking leaders, will serve Lee County’s transportation efforts well into the future.”