Developing a Unified Tri–State Performance–Based Planning Process
KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission
- KYOVA is a tri–state MPO, and is the lead agency for the Huntington, WV–KY–OH Transportation Management Area (TMA).
- The Ashland MPO area recently merged with KYOVA to create a unified tri–state agency.
- A unified performance–based planning process is desired for the MPO area.
- KYOVA has to respond to federal and state performance measurement requirements, along with regional priorities.
The KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission (which is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Huntington, WV/ Ashland, KY/ Ironton, OH metropolitan area) chose to explore the performance–based planning process in more detail through the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2). SHRP2 is a research program conducted through the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the Transportation Research Board (TRB) designed to focus on applied research in four areas (Safety, Renewal, Reliability, and Capacity). KYOVA was awarded SHRP2 Implementation Assistance Program funding to improve its project prioritization process for all the major planning efforts within this tri–state metropolitan area. This process afforded the opportunity to conduct a two–day Assessment Workshop with major stakeholders within the region, which included KYOVA, the Regional Intergovernmental Council (RIC), three State Departments of Transportation (State DOTs), the Tri–State Transit Authority, and FHWA. Workshop participants were able to review and discuss existing practices from the tri–state region and explore how SHRP2 products could assist in establishing a performance–based framework for the region.
A significant deliverable resulting from the Assessment Workshop was the development of an Action Plan outlining how best to develop a program–and plan–level performance measurement/management process for the KYOVA region. A series of Action Plan recommendations introduced the steps needed to move toward a prioritization process that builds upon previous plans, draws from ongoing statewide efforts, and borrows from techniques being applied successfully elsewhere in the country. The Action Plan also attempts to monitor the effects of new or improved data sources and how best to incorporate them into KYOVA's current and future performance measurement process.
In developing a performance–based planning process, the KYOVA MPO faced a series of challenges.
- The TMA includes two MPOs (KYOVA and RIC), with each of these MPOs using separate planning and modeling tools. Efforts have been made in previous metropolitan transportation plan (MTP) and travel demand model updates to standardize prioritization criteria and forecasting methodologies across the two agencies.
- During the development of the existing MTP, KYOVA served the West Virginia and Ohio portions of the urbanized area as a bi–state MPO. The Ashland MPO served the Kentucky portion of the urbanized area and had separate planning documents. The Ashland MPO has merged into a single agency with KYOVA, creating new opportunities to standardize data and performance metrics.
- As a tri–state MPO, KYOVA frequently works with disparate data sources. Frequent issues that emerge include different levels of detail, different attributes, different state requirements, and different data update schedules.
Following the review of Federal and State guidance, as well as feedback received during the November 2015 Assessment Workshop, KYOVA arrived at an approach for the development of performance measures that best responds to the needs of the MPO. Performance measurement can take place at the programmatic/agency level and at the project level. Programmatic or agency performance measurement allows for an overarching review of the plans in place for the MPO. It can also serve as a sort of mission statement for the agency by highlighting those areas that are of greatest importance to the region. Project–level performance measurement applies these same concepts but at a finer–grained level. Assessing potential projects for their progression into the financially constrained MTP or into the transportation improvement program (TIP) enables the MPO to produce plans that respond to local needs and are defensible to project stakeholders and the public.
The Action Plan proposed a two–phase process to help guide KYOVA's performance measurement efforts. First, KYOVA is introducing a set of program–level guiding statements. These guiding statements are based on stakeholder feedback, current regional plans, best practices, and PlanWorks resources. Following the finalization of the program–level guiding statements, KYOVA will move to project–level performance measure development.
This Action Plan includes the following steps to move this process forward:
- Finalize the program–level guiding statements. Timeframe for initiation: immediate. Duration: 2–3 months. Participants: November 2015 Assessment Workshop attendees.
- Develop the project–level performance measures. Timeframe for initiation: following conclusion of program–level guiding statements. Duration: during and following the MTP development process. Participants: KYOVA staff, FHWA and WVDOT/ODOT/KYTC representatives, members of the KYOVA Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), and other relevant groups.
- Establish regular MAP–21/FAST Act updates. Timeframe for initiation: immediate. Duration: continuing on an as–needed basis. Participants: KYOVA, FHWA, WVDOT/ODOT/KYTC representatives, and regional transit agencies.
- Create a maintainable data gathering strategy. Timeframe for initiation: immediate. Duration: no end time identified. Participants: KYOVA and WVDOT/ODOT/KYTC representatives.
- Maintain the Action Plan. Timeframe for initiation: following development of project–level performance measures. Duration: no end time identified. Participants: KYOVA, FHWA, and WVDOT/ODOT/KYTC representatives.
As part of this process, the three states, FHWA, and other representatives were brought together for a two–day Assessment Workshop. This diverse group included national and state FHWA staff, WVDOT/ODOT/KYTC representatives, local transit agencies, and other West Virginia MPOs. The performance measures workshop allowed for the opportunity to gain feedback from regional and agency stakeholders. During the workshop, FHWA and each State DOT provided an update on the performance measure development processes they have underway.
In order to dig more deeply into the issues, opportunities, and strategies that are a part of the performance measure development process, Assessment Workshop participants were divided into a series of five break–out groups. The workshop break–out groups were organized around five themes: safety, infrastructure condition, congestion reduction/system reliability, freight movement and economic vitality, and environmental sustainability/reduced project delivery delays. Stakeholders within these break–out groups identified elements for each theme such as agency participants, key issues, proposed strategies to move forward, and priority action items.
These stakeholders were engaged following the workshop to share their opinions on meeting outcomes, the development of the Action Plan, and next steps.
As a result of implementing the C02 process, KYOVA was able to recognize the following outcomes:
Gaining a better understanding of available data and tools. This process allowed for a sharing of information across regional, State, and Federal levels. As a result, KYOVA was able to share its current and ongoing planning work and see how it related to the work being done at other levels.
Reaffirming the value of past planning efforts. During the stakeholder workshop, KYOVA was able to gather feedback on its previous planning and modeling efforts. The past MTP cycle saw the introduction of a performance–based prioritization process. Subsequent efforts such as the Congestion Management Process and the Spatial Decision Support System have added capabilities in the application of data for performance–based planning. Feedback from the stakeholder workshop reaffirmed these efforts and helped KYOVA make decisions about how best to build on these tools moving forward.
Creating a common vocabulary. The formulation of program–level guiding statements allowed KYOVA to incorporate the performance–based planning process at all planning levels. The ongoing update of KYOVA's MTP will reflect these guiding statements and consider their application in project–level prioritization.
As a part of the C02 process, KYOVA learned two key lessons that will assist in future planning efforts.
- The Federal performance management process and its application at the State level was identified as either a major opportunity or a major challenge. KYOVA has the challenge of working within all three member States' standards while also producing a consistent set of planning products across its region. The Action Plan developed as part of this process allowed KYOVA to explore what this means in more detail and how the region's performance measurement process can best respond to these changing standards.
- The importance of the stakeholder–based Assessment Workshop conducted near the beginning of this effort cannot be overstated. The Assessment Workshop provided an invaluable opportunity to learn about upcoming requirements, review best practices, and explore potential roadblocks to implementing a performance measurement process. While KYOVA regularly communicates with all of the groups involved in this Assessment Workshop, the ability to have them all in a room at once provided a new perspective. As a result, one of the action items in the Action Plan is to continue to have these types of conversations moving forward.
Decision Guide: LRP–3, PRO–4, COR–5, COR–8, ENV–5 Assessment: Partner Collaboration Application: Performance Measures Library: Performance Measurement Framework for Highway Capacity Decision Making
The next steps for implementing the C02 process are detailed in the Action Plan. In order to ensure this process is dynamic and adaptable, the following important steps have been identified:
- Incorporate the concepts from the Action Plan into the KYOVA MTP.
- Incorporate State performance measurement guidance as it becomes available.
- Revisit project–level performance measures.
- Create a maintainable data gathering strategy.
- Maintain this Action Plan.
Connections to PlanWorks
During the development of the Action Plan, KYOVA drew upon PlanWorks in the following ways:
Since the performance measurement process is intended to span all forms of long and short range planning and project types, this Action Plan drew upon decision points from all four phases in the PlanWorks Decision Guide. These include:
- LRP–3: In order to identify and ultimately approve evaluation criteria for the MTP development, the Action Plan identified program–level guiding statements that serve as a common vocabulary for this process.
- PRO–4: The common vocabulary from the program–level guiding statements will serve as the foundation for approving evaluation criteria for programming projects.
- COR–5 and COR–8: A discussion of project–level evaluation criteria accompanied the program–level exercise. This was done to ensure the broad concepts outlined were supportive of the corridor planning process and all potential modes being addressed.
- ENV–5: The discussion on program and project level performance also encompassed the environmental review stage of project development.
By leveraging the Partner Collaboration Assessment, the C02 process was able to explore the best ways for KYOVA to gather feedback from all stakeholders. This assessment process placed stakeholders in groups according to performance measurement categories, and allowed those groups to play a lead role in defining the issues and opportunities that informed the program–level guiding statements.
The Performance Measures Application was referenced in the development of the Action Plan. The measures checklist was consulted to help identify potential performance criteria. KYOVA walked through the Diagnostic Tool and project development stages to determine what direction to take at the outset of Action Plan development.
KYOVA routinely utilized the Performance Measurement Framework for Highway Capacity Decision Making document throughout this effort to establish a regional performance management framework.