The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) has been awarded a 2017 Transportation Planning Excellence Award from the Federal Highway Administration for the project, “A Strategy for a Sustainable Region: Plan Bay Area and the One Bay Area Grant Program.” Plan Bay Area is the long-range transportation and land use plan for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area while the One Bay Area Grant Program channels the region’s federal transportation funding to make the vision of Plan Bay Area and its successors a reality.
The Transportation Planning Excellence Award Program is a biennial awards program started in 2004 by the Federal Highway Administration and co-sponsored by the American Planning Association. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the program “provides a unique opportunity to recognize and celebrate the outstanding transportation planning practices performed by planners and decisions makers in communities across the country.” This is the fourth Transportation Planning Excellence Award won by MTC, and the second time MTC has been honored for its long-range transportation plan, having previously received the award in 2006 for its “Transportation 2030 Plan.”
“This is a great and prestigious honor that confirms MTC’s commitment to excellence and inclusiveness in transportation planning,” said MTC Chair Jake Mackenzie. “We are extremely proud of the work we have done and are continuing to do on behalf of all the residents of our region.”
MTC was one of 11 award winners nationwide – including the San Diego Association of Governments, who were honored with “Best of the Best” recognition in the same category. Projects were judged by a distinguished panel of experts on a wide range of criteria including 1.) Community, public involvement, and partnerships; 2.) Context sensitive solutions; 3.) Innovation and effectiveness; 4.) Equity; 5.) Implementation and implementation strategy; 6.) Multimodalism; and 7.) Potential for long-term benefits. The Federal Highway Administration will be showcasing the project at a later date in a variety of ways, including a digital brochure and webinar sessions.
Adopted in 2013, Plan Bay Area was the first long-range regional plan to integrate land use and transportation while showing how the Bay Area can meet state-mandated reductions in per-capita CO2 emissions from passenger vehicles and provide sufficient housing for a growing population. The project was developed jointly by MTC and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) over a three-year period, from April 2010 to July 2013. The plan directed more than $292 billion in transportation spending and contained several distinctive elements including a strong performance-based project prioritization process, a “Fix It First” investment strategy, mandatory and voluntary performance targets, and a land use element focused on locally designated Priority Development Areas, or PDAs. This term refers to locations within Bay Area communities that present infill development opportunities, and are easily accessible to transit, jobs, shopping and services. Plan Bay Area was the result of a robust public process, with MTC and ABAG holding scores of public meetings and dozens of workshops across all nine counties.
One of the core implementation elements of the plan was the One Bay Area Grant Program (OBAG), which linked transportation and land use by tying flexible transportation funding from the federal government to local and regional housing production. With OBAG, MTC became the first metropolitan planning organization in the country to link funding from the federal Surface Transportation Program and the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program with housing production to incentivize “focused growth” in PDAs — a core strategy in the plan. The OBAG program further allowed local governments the flexibility to determine the type of transportation investment needed to support development in an area — whether it be planning, repaving, streetscape improvements or transit enhancements.
The award comes as MTC and ABAG are in the process of completing Plan Bay Area 2040, a limited and focused update of the original Plan Bay Area which is slated for final adoption in July 2017. The next five-year cycle of OBAG funding is set to begin on October 1, 2017.
MTC is the regional transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.