Driving change: preparing the region for autonomous and connected vehicles

In June 2017, MARC launched a regional effort to examine autonomous and connected vehicle (AV) issues and create a policy framework that will help the region position itself to maximize opportunities and minimize negative impacts of these new and potentially disruptive transportation technologies. MARC formed an AV Task Force and convened a broad group of stakeholders, including seven work groups that each focused on a key policy area and identified priorities for moving forward:

  • Travel demand management and system performance.
  • Infrastructure, planning and investment.
  • Data management.
  • Environment and land use.
  • Equitable access and mobility services.
  • Economic and workforce opportunity.
  • Certification, liability and insurance.

As the working groups completed their discussions, common themes emerged. These overarching themes — each identified by two or more working groups — are recommended for initial action.

  • Identify ongoing opportunities to provide AV information, education and training to a wide range of stakeholders in the region.
  • Research, develop and build regional consensus on land-use policies related to AV implementation.
  • Develop pricing strategies to address shifts in revenue sources.
  • Develop agreements for sharing and storing data.
  • Ensure equitable access to the opportunities provided by AV technology.

Read the whitepaper

Report provides update on transportation system condition and performance

What is the condition of Kansas City’s roads and bridges? How are roadway fatalities and serious injuries trending? What modes do people use to move around the region? The answers to these questions, and others, tell the story of how our transportation system is performing. The 2018 Performance Measure report provides current and historical data in hopes of painting an overall picture of the system.

The report is organized according to goals in the region’s long-range transportation plan, Transportation Outlook 2040 (TO2040). The plan’s policy framework is based on a shared vision of a more vibrant, connected and green Kansas City. TO2040 includes a set of performance measures that help MARC and other transportation stakeholders better understand and evaluate regional progress in meeting the plan’s goal. 

The performance measures included in the report have evolved over time, as federal laws have required the addition of specific measures and targets. The 2018 report includes performance measures defined specifically for Greater Kansas City, as well as measures required by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

More than $57 million allocated to transportation projects

In its role as the designated metropolitan planning organization for the Kansas City region, MARC has solicited applications and awarded funds for several transportation funding programs this year.

CMAQ, STP and TAP grant programs

  • Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) — funds for transportation projects that improve air quality.
  • Surface Transportation Block Grant (STP) — funds for roadway projects on the federal-aid highway system, capital improvements for public transportation and other multimodal projects.
  • Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) — funds for smaller-scale transportation projects such as pedestrian and bicycle facilities, recreational trails, community improvements such as historic preservation and vegetation management, and environmental mitigation related to stormwater and habitat connectivity.

Funding for these three programs is estimated to total $55 million in fiscal years 2021 and 2022. MARC received 100 applications for projects seeking a combined $223.6 million. After initial evaluation and scoring of applications, transportation planning committees reviewed proposals and made recommendations to fund 51 percent of CMAQ requests, 25 percent of STP requests and 38 percent of the TAP requests.

Section 5310 grant program

In June, MARC issued a separate call for projects for the Federal Transit Administration Section 5310 grant program in partnership with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority. This grant program funds projects that advance mobility services for older adults and individuals with disabilities. More than $2.4 million was allocated to projects that will purchase handicap-accessible vehicles, continue three local taxi voucher programs, support an online information resource and create a travel training program.

The federal funding projects and Section 5310 funding projects were approved by the Board of Directors and Total Transportation Policy Committee (TTPC) at their October meetings. The projects were recently added to the TIP. See the list of projects.

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.