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What do Americans get in return for their transportation investments?

It’s a simple enough question on the surface, but digging for an answer yields a gnarled knot of information.

NITC investigators Rebecca Lewis and Rob Zako of the University of Oregon explored six case study states to try to get some clarity on the answer. They worked with metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) in California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia to examine how livability goals were embedded in funding processes.

A toolkit for practitioners, developed with the assistance of Transportation for America, explores how to integrate performance measures, especially measures of outcomes, into all phases of transportation decision-making. 

The efforts of three leading states—California, Oregon and Washington—will be examined in a panel discussion at the 2017 Transportation and Communities Summit at Portland State University next week.

Zako will moderate the panel, which will also include Roger Millar of the Washington State Department of Transportation, Tammy Baney of the Oregon...

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The 2013 Oregon Transportation Summit will take place this fall, on September 16 at Portland State University. The summit brings together transportation professionals to shape the agenda for future research, and this year's plenary speaker addresses new federal legislation which will have a direct affect on that agenda.

Adie Tomer of the Brookings Institution will deliver the remarks at the summit's morning plenary session. The topic is MAP-21, a new act which was passed by Congress in 2012. Short for "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century," the act redistributes the scope and responsibilities of transportation departments at all levels, from municipal to federal.

"What MAP-21 essentially did is, it enhanced the evolution that's available within the federal program," Tomer said. "Because it is an overarching policy, it touches on every actor in the system in a unique way." For example, "MPOs (Metropolitan Planning Organizations) are now tasked with collecting performance measurements ... and state offices are pushed to do a little more planning when it comes to freight."

In general under the new law, "states have more authority to spend federal money in the ways they want than before," Tomer said. 
This flexibility at the state level is the answer Tomer would give to those who worry that the new act will cut funding for bikes and walking. Although there is less funding designated for bicycling and...
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