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

New goal and networking opportunity for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises

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.

Learn more about the DBE program and its goal methodology

You are encouraged to comment on the DBE program and its updated goal. Please submit comments by Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018.

  • By mail: Mid-America Regional Council, 600 Broadway, Suite 200, Kansas City, MO 64105
  • By phone: 816-474-4240
  • By email: transportation@marc.org
Members of COMTO Kansas City enjoying the networking event at Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport.

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.

Read more about the COMTO event

New OGL map helps users report traffic signal problems

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.

View the map

MARC planner awarded women in transportation scholarship

Kaitlyn Service, MARC transportation planner, receives a scholarship from Kim Curry, secretary of WTS International.

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.

Congratulations, Kaitlyn!