Our region is buzzing with excitement about innovative mobility — autonomous vehicles, multimodal transportation, mobility-as-a-service and connected infrastructure. But technology and innovation are a means to an end — a transportation system that works to meet the needs of our community.
These topics, and others, will be front and center at Transportation Camp Midwest on Saturday, Aug. 25 from 8:30 a..m to 4:30 p.m. at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
But this is not a traditional conference. The session topics and activities are suggested by the attendees. In addition to talks and presentations from regional experts in transportation and technology, Transportation Camp provides an opportunity for every attendee to be a participant in shaping and leading the event.
TransportationCamp is a nationwide series of unconferences, bringing together transportation professionals, technologists, academics and others interested in the intersection of urban transportation and technology.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program is designed to assist small businesses that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, including minorities and women, in participating in contract opportunities created by USDOT financial assistance programs. The program also helps small nonminority owned businesses participate in contract opportunities. The three major DOT operating administrations involved in the DBE program are Highway (FHWA), Aviation (FAA) and Transit (FTA).
MARC is required by the USDOT to have a DBE Program because it is a FTA recipient of planning, capital or operating assistance and awards prime contracts. Among other things, DBE regulations require recipients of USDOT financial assistance to establish goals for the participation of DBEs. Our current DBE participation goal is 20 percent, which we’ve consistently met.
Every three years, we must recalculate our goal based on an established USDOT goal calculation methodology and make changes to the program as necessary. After running the numbers, MARC’s proposed goal for 2019-2021 is 22 percent. Related agencies’ current DBE goals include the city of Kansas City, Missouri, at 24 percent, Kansas City Airport at 22 percent, MoDOT at 15 percent, KDOT at 10 percent and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) at 15 percent.
In June, the Kansas City chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) held their second annual Triple Play Networking Event in partnership with MoDOT and Bellewether LTD. Representatives from DBEs mixed and mingled with representatives from COMTO core businesses, DOTs and other organizations at Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport. The DBE’s included several engineering and engineering consulting firms as well as a few business consulting firms with ties to corporate construction companies who work with DOTs and airports.
Five different organizations — MoDOT, KDOT, KCATA, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, and MARC — shared information on upcoming projects, their funding patterns with DBEs last year and their current DBE goals. They also disclosed where firms could go to get more information on upcoming projects.
The mission of COMTO is to ensure a level playing field and maximum participation in the transportation industry for minority individuals, businesses and communities of color through advocacy, information sharing, training, education and professional development. COMTO’s vision is to see the diverse faces of America equally reflected in all levels of the transportation industry.
With 119 cities in the Kansas City region, it can be difficult to know which city is responsible for a specific traffic signal. The Operation Green Light team worked with MARC’s GIS team to develop an interactive online traffic signal map of the entire metro area.
The map contains (to the best of our accuracy) every traffic signal. When you click on a particular signal, a pop-up box provides the intersection, the agency that owns and maintains the signal and contact information. The hope is to make it easier to accurately report traffic signal problems.
Each year, the Greater Kansas City chapter of WTS International offers scholarships to young women pursuing graduate or undergraduate studies in transportation or related fields, including engineering, planning, aviation and logistics. At their annual awards banquet on April 25, the group awarded Kaitlyn Service, transportation planner at MARC, the Helene M. Overly Graduate Scholarship. Kaitlyn is currently pursuing graduate studies at the University of Kansas.
“I’m incredibly honored to receive this scholarship,” Kaitlyn said. “It’s going to allow me to grow in this profession and continue working toward improving the way people move through the city, especially using nonmotorized modes. Walking and biking offer a unique way to interact with the community and I want to make it easier and safer for people to do that.”
Adeyoyin (Tobi) Ima, an undergraduate student studying civil engineering at the University of Kansas received the Sharon D. Banks Undergraduate Scholarship and several WTS-KC members were honored for their leadership in 2017.
WTS International was founded in 1977 by a group of pioneering women in transportation who realized that women’s careers would benefit from professional development, encouragement and recognition to support their advancement in transportation professions. Now, after more than 40 years of growth and development, WTS is an international organization with more than 6,500 members (including women and men) and 79 chapters, including the Greater Kansas City chapter.
As the metropolitan planning organization for the Kansas City region, MARC works with many partners to allocate funding for transportation improvements in the region. You have an important role to play in this process, too. Your tax dollars help pay for the federal and state programs that fund many of the projects, and which projects get funded may affect you and your community. We invite you to share your opinions about proposed projects.
We recently asked local governments and other organizations to submit projects for funding from the federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) program, Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STP) and Surface Transportation Block Grant Set Aside funds (formerly known as the Transportation Alternative Program, or TAP). We received 100 applications totaling about $221 million, and there is only about $55 million available in this round of funding, so some hard choices will have to be made. (Check out this infographic that breaks down the project submissions.)
You can browse application summaries by organization, city or county, project category, or requested funding source. There’s a comment form at the bottom of each project page. Please share your thoughts with us by Friday, May 4, 2018. Our transportation planning committees will review your feedback as they evaluate all applications over the summer and make final funding recommendations.
When Whitney Morgan, a transportation planner with MARC, is not busy helping the region plan for its transportation system, he serves as the president of the Kansas City Chapter of Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO). For the past three years, he has helped plan and participated in a shadow day program named after Garrett A. Morgan, who invented the traffic signal, among other things. The program is designed to expose students of color and young women to the various careers available to them in the transportation industry.
This year’s shadow day took place on March 21. Students from Topeka, Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, experienced a bus driver simulation at RideKC and tours of the Streetcar Authority facility and the air traffic control tower at Charles B. Wheeler airport. The day concluded with a tour of Burns and McDonnell and an engineering panel.
“These are tomorrow’s leaders and we want them to be aware of all the opportunities within architecture, engineering, planning and construction,” said Morgan of the day’s events. “We need to begin growing a workforce now that will meet the technical demands of the 21st century.”
The event is a collaborative effort between various public and private entities in the region, including the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, Burns & McDonnell, WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, COMTO and MARC.