That’s a wrap on the 11th annual Green Commute Challenge

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MARC’s RideshareKC and Air Quality programs held the 11th annual Green Commute Challenge from June 1 to Aug. 31. The challenge is a friendly competition for employers in the Kansas City region with the goal of taking vehicles off the road during the height of ozone season by encouraging the use of alternatives to driving alone, such as carpooling, riding the bus, bicycling, walking and telecommuting.

The 2018 Green Commute Challenge by the numbers:

  • 44 employer teams
  • 631 participants who took 45,471 trips
  • 508,336 driving miles reduced
  • $102,468 in money saved

Teams compete based on number of employees. This year’s winning teams for the each size category:

  • 500+ employees — City of Kansas City, Missouri
  • 250-500 employees — The University of Kansas Medical Center
  • 50-249 employees — Kansas City Public Library
  • Under 50 employees — Confluence

During the challenge, RideshareKC staff held daily, weekly and monthly drawings and gave away more than $3,500 worth of prizes to participants.

Thank you to all the participants, to the businesses that donated prizes and to our official sponsors: Hallmark, JE Dunn, KC Streetcar, UMB, Enterprise and Stinson Leonard Street for providing funds to purchase prizes. And a big shout out to our partners at RideKC, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and KC Streetcar for their help in raising awareness with area businesses and providing support.

More than $880,000 awarded to advance sustainable development

Fourth round of Planning Sustainable Places grants will fund 12 area projects

In September, the MARC Board of Directors and Total Transportation Policy Committee approved the allocation of $883,375 in grant funds to 12 local projects — one bi-state project, four in Kansas and seven in Missouri — that advance sustainable development in the region. These projects were chosen through a competitive process from 23 total submissions.

The Planning Sustainable Places (PSP) program aims to further the creation of vibrant places that offer a mix of options for housing, jobs, services and recreation; connected places with a variety of transportation options; and green places that support healthy living and a healthy natural environment. These concepts are promoted in the region’s long-range transportation plan, Transportation Outlook 2040, and in many city and county comprehensive plans. The PSP program was created in 2013 as part of the region’s Creating Sustainable Places initiative.

This marks the fourth round of PSP funding, and brings the program’s total impact to $4,580,000 awarded to 69 projects.

The 2018-2019 PSP grant awards include:

  • City of Gardner: Destination Downtown — Placemaking and mobility enhancements for multimodal connections within the downtown core, including streetscape improvements, transit amenities and trail connections, awarded $72,000.
  • City of Gladstone: North Oak Complete Streets — Complete street design including bike facilities, pedestrian facilities and integration of high-capacity transit on a commercial corridor that has safety issues and high motor-vehicle volumes, awarded $102,200.
  • City of Independence: Truman Connect — Complete street concept that connects multiple activity centers in the city and improves safety, connectivity and congestion, awarded $96,000.
  • City of Kansas City, Missouri and Hispanic Economic Development Council: West 31st Street Corridor — Multimodal and connectivity study for the Westside neighborhood, including a multimodal hub at Southwest Boulevard and 31st Street, awarded $100,000.
  • City of Kansas City, Missouri:
    • 63rd Street Corridor — Mobility and connectivity solutions for three activity centers along 63rd Street between Troost and Wornall, awarded $50,575.
    • Linwood Corridor Complete Street and Bikeways Connections — Complete street plan linking the Rock Island Trail with downtown Kansas City, awarded $90,000.
  • City of North Kansas City: North Kansas City Bike Master Plan — Plan for bicycle facilities, including associated supportive infrastructure and policy framework, awarded $58,000.
  • City of Olathe: Downtown Olathe Active Transportation Connectivity Plan — Creates connections for bikes and pedestrians downtown and near city hall, awarded $60,000.
  • City of Roeland Park: Roe Boulevard and Johnson Drive Corridor Plan — Multimodal plan for Johnson Drive and multimodal hub at 47th Street and Roe Boulevard, awarded $80,000.
  • City of Shawnee: RE-Imagine 75th — A pedestrian, streetscape and amenity corridor design guide and multimodal improvements, awarded $48,000.
  • Kansas City Area Transportation Authority
  • Multimodal Branding and Wayfinding System Plan — A bi-state project to establish branding and wayfinding signage for bike connections and multimodal hubs, awarded $68,375 in Kansas funds and $35,625 in Missouri funds.
  • Woodland Plaza: Planning Equitable Transportation Investments in a Redeveloping Community — Multimodal linkages and infrastructure to connect neighborhood institutions with residents, employees and the greater community, awarded $22,600.

The projects are classified into three categories: initial planning for a study area without previous planning, project development, and planning for project implementation. Nine of the currently funded projects fall into the initial planning category, which require meaningful community engagement.

Funding for these grants comes from the Missouri and Kansas Surface Transportation Programs. Project sponsors are required to provide a local match of at least 20 percent.

Are you interested in impacting your neighborhood through small-scale development?

MARC is sponsoring this upcoming workshop on small-scale development. Consider attending and passing the information along to someone who may be interested.

As urban neighborhoods around the country experience a resurgence, the observable market for walkable, small-scale development patterns has sparked local and national attention. As an entrepreneurial city, Kansas City is uniquely positioned to steer neighborhood growth towards nurturing local capacity in our existing communities.

On Oct. 15, the Incremental Development Alliance will be presenting a day-long workshop geared toward current and future small developers in Kansas City. Experts will introduce the mechanisms behind small development projects, defined as 1-3 story buildings with less than 20 units, and offer specialized training on how to create residential, commercial or mixed-use projects.

Participants will take a big picture view of neighborhood-based development to analyze what makes a good project, how a building makes money and how small developers interact with the broader ecosystem of professionals in the built environment. By the end of the workshop, developers will feel more prepared to take the next steps on their own project.

Who is this workshop for?

  • Aspiring or lightly experienced developers, individuals, business owners, or property owners who want to become more effective investors.
  • Individuals in construction, design, planning or real estate looking to either enhance their current practice or make a career transition.
  • Volunteers or professionals in business associations, main street associations, historic preservation groups and neighborhood improvement groups looking to champion incremental development in their communities.
  • Public sector professionals in city management, economic development, planning and related agencies who are looking to make it easier for small development projects to occur in their town.
  • Professionals in non-profit development organizations, churches and community or housing development organizations who need new strategies for small lot development.
  • Private banking professionals specializing in mortgages, commercial real estate loans or SBA loans and professionals at Community Development Financial Institutions and Community Foundations who want to more effectively support their customers.

Discussion topics

  • Business models and skill sets.
  • Right-sizing a project.
  • Market research and site selection.
  • Zoning.
  • Project pro formas.
  • Hands-on application of site planning.
  • Financing a project.
  • Buying a property.

Register and apply for a scholarship

Thank you to sponsors

This workshop would not be possible without the support of our sponsors including AltCap, First Missouri Bank, Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Unified Government of Wyandotte County and KCK, LISC, Kansas City Public Library, Mid-America Regional Council, Gould Evans and Vireo.

Operation Green Light practices response to major highway incident

No one likes being stuck in traffic. MARC’s Operation Green Light (OGL) program works hard to make your commute a smooth one. OGL monitors and manages the transportation system through safe and efficient traffic signal operations to reduce travel time, fuel consumption and air pollution. In addition to setting the most efficient timing for traffic signals on a day-to-day basis, the program adjusts signals on the fly to respond to incidents that have major traffic impacts.

On Sept. 7, 2018, OGL conducted a tabletop exercise that allowed participants to walk through a sample incident and practice the process of responding. They worked on their decision-making process and identified what works and what needs improvement. The mock incident allowed them to clarify roles and responsibilities, identify additional mitigation and preparedness needs, and evaluate communication between organizations.

Participants in attendance represented the Federal Highway Administration, the Missouri Department of Transportation, KC Scout, the cities of Independence, Lee’s Summit and Kansas City in Missouri and the cities of Shawnee, Overland Park, Olathe, Prairie Village, Lenexa and Kansas City in Kansas.

The practice scenario: During a typical weekday, an incident occurs involving three cars along southbound Interstate 35 between 87th Street and 75th Street. The incident is blocking the right lane only and there is an estimated cleanup time of one hour. The weather conditions are clear with no wind. A secondary crash occurs near Shawnee Mission Parkway along I-35. Emergency vehicles are currently at the scene of the initial incident and have closed a second lane of traffic. Traffic has backed up past Johnson Drive.

The group had to determine where and how traffic should be diverted, what agencies should take the lead in decision-making, and how to communicate with one another and the traveling public. Exercises like this allow OGL and its partners to continue to develop a process to better respond should a major interstate closure impact the Kansas City metro area.

Learn more about OGL

Peer Cities Transit Report shows how Kansas City transit stacks up against other cities

The Peer Cities Transit Report serves as a benchmark for our regional transit system and how it compares to peer transit systems in terms of funding, ridership, service area and density. The majority of data was collected from the National Transit Database, the 5-year American Community Survey and a custom survey sent to the transit providers included in the report. It strives to provide insight into the factors that affect transit agencies around the country.

Read the summary report

Mobility Advisory Committee funds transportation projects for older adults and individuals with disabilities

On Aug. 8, the Mobility Advisory Committee (MAC) approved a list of projects to receive federal grant funding to improve the mobility of older adults and individuals with disabilities in the Kansas City metro area.

MAC, a joint committee of the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), is comprised of transportation providers, community representatives, and human service groups that work together to provide transportation services to those who need it most.

The Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Section 5310 Grant Program provides supportive transportation services for people who routinely experience difficulties accessing medical care, employment opportunities, and opportunities to visit friends and family. The Kansas City metro was apportioned nearly $2.5 million for FY 2018 and FY 2019 combined through this program.

Through a cooperative agreement with the KCATA, MARC released a call for projects for these funds on June 7. Fifteen applicants submitted project proposals to advance mobility services for older adults and individuals with disabilities.

On Aug. 8, committee members deliberated over various funding scenarios, ultimately reaching an agreement on a Program of Projects, which will be submitted to FTA later this year.

The Kansas City metro area’s 5310 apportionment will be used to support the new RideKC Freedom service’s expansion into a truly regional service, and a travel training program to help users learn how to use it.

It will also support the valuable LinkForCare.org website, which connects users to regional transportation, housing, nutrition services and more.

Three taxi voucher programs in Johnson County, Kansas and Cass County, Missouri will also receive funding as they continue to coordinate operations with the RideKC Freedom program.

Finally, 22 handicap-accessible vehicles will be purchased for various service providers around the region to provide critical mobility services to those in need.

The list of projects will be formally approved by the Regional Transit Coordinating Council before being added to the region’s short-range transportation plan. The next round of FTA Section 5310 grants will be available in the spring of 2020. Interested and potential applicants are encouraged to attend MAC meetings to learn more.

The next MAC meeting will be held on Oct. 10 at 9:30 a.m. in the MARC Board Room. More information on this grant and other committee activities can be found at the MAC webpage.

Transportation Camp focuses on intersection of mobility and technology

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.

Find out more and register