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Michigan Department of Transportation/Southeast Michigan Council of Governments Technical Assistance Webinar | November 5, 2015

Activity Report

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) requested the 1.5-hour webinar, or “virtual peer exchange,” for their staff as part of on-call technical assistance offered by the Second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) Implementing Eco-Logical Program, led by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). MDOT and SEMCOG have been coordinating closely throughout MDOT’s Implementing Eco-Logical IAP Lead Adopter project. The webinar was held on November 5, 2015.

The goals of the webinar were to:

  1. Share technical details from other metropolitan planning organizations’ (MPOs) SHRP2 Implementing Eco-Logical Implementation Assistance Program (IAP) projects.
  2. Focus on data—from selecting and obtaining Eco-Logical/Regional Ecosystem Framework (REF) data sources, addressing data variability, keeping the data up-to-date, and sharing with other organizations.
  3. Understand MPO goals for working with their State departments of transportation (State DOTs).
  4. Address performance measurement and how performance measures factor into IAP recipient projects (e.g., are they used for prioritization of projects, cumulative effects analysis, and/or alternatives analysis).
  5. Explore use of IAP projects for identifying mitigation opportunities.

Webinar

FHWA and AASHTO facilitated the webinar. MDOT first presented on its IAP Lead Adopter project and reviewed the goals of the webinar. Several MPOs, also participating in the Implementing Eco-Logical IAP, participated as peers. Peer presenters for the webinar were:

  • Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC)
  • Charlottesville-Albemarle MPO (CA-MPO)
  • North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG)
  • Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI)

Webinar Agenda

The webinar featured 10-minute presentations on the IAP projects using the outline below (see “Topics of Discussion” section). At the end of the presentations, webinar participants held a facilitated discussion on the content of the presentations to provide more technical details to MDOT and SEMCOG about how the IAP recipients approached their projects. Discussion centered on the themes of data, process, and implementation advice.

Webinar Participants

  • MDOT
  • SEMCOG
  • ARC
  • CA-MPO
  • NCTCOG
  • OKI

Topics of Discussion

Presentation Outline and Questions Addressed
Project Background
  • What were you trying to achieve?
  • How did you use the Eco-Logical approach for these activities?
Data
  • What data did you focus on and why?
  • What are the sources of your Eco-Logical/REF data?
  • How did you obtain these sources?
  • How do you keep this data up-to-date?
Process
  • How would you rank environmental factors in the planning process?
  • What are key environmental features from a transportation planning standpoint? How did you identify these features?
  • In connection with mitigation planning, what kinds of cumulative effects analyses are you doing for transportation projects? Are you looking for costs for potential mitigation? How are you working through mitigation in the planning process?
  • How do State DOT and MPO planners in your State coordinate? What are these interactions like?
Performance Measures
  • How are you using your data/REF for performance measurement?
Key Takeaways
  • What insights would you offer to leverage the IAP project?
  • What insights would you offer to other Eco-Logical practitioners or transportation agencies outside of the IAP program who are interested in Eco-Logical?
Facilitated Discussion Outline and Questions Addressed
Data
  • How did you decide what level of information to use for the long-range transportation plan/Regional Transportation Plan/Metropolitan Transportation Plan versus the Transportation Improvement Program?
  • How did you address data variability in quality?
  • Do you make all data available to your member communities?
Process
  • How do performance measures factor into IAP recipient projects?
  • Tell us your story for figuring out how you would rank environmental factors in your planning process.
  • What kinds of cumulative effects analyses are you doing for transportation projects?
  • How are you working through mitigation planning and/or identifying conservation objectives in the planning process?
Implementation Advice
  • What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started this process?
  • How do you engage others to participate in your work?
  • How do you communicate your program goals to your executive staff?

Next Steps

The webinar was the first of its kind requested under the Implementing Eco-Logical Program and served as a 1.5-hour “virtual peer exchange” to further share information about MPOs’ Implementing Eco-Logical IAP projects. Interested in your own “virtual peer exchange” webinar for your Eco-Logical activities? Please submit a request.

Need to request technical assistance for your Eco-Logical program? Please submit a request.

 

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