Friday, July 13, 2012

An Overview of DVRPC's New 3-Year Transportation Improvement Plan for Pennsylvania

Just four days before Congress quickly assembled and passed the watered down version of the MAP-21 Transportation Bill, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission adopted the 2013 -2016 Transportation Improvement Program for Pennsylvania.

The TIP in its current form reflects the state funding reductions (from the I-80 tolling fallout) and PennDOT's focus on deficient bridges. This has deferred many projects across the spectrum. For example, the expenditure of construction funds for the Schuylkill River Trail to Pottstown and the Montgomery County portion of the Schuylkill River Trail have been pushed back to fiscal year 2016. It's possible that money from other sources could speed up either timeline, but the odds of connecting Philadelphia to Exton and Pottstown by 2014 is now a longshot.

With so much guidance available (AASHTO, NACTO, MUTCD) and so many local examples of on-road bicycle facilities, it is remarkable that such facilities are absent from almost every suburban road project. To add insult to injury, the term "bicycle improvements" is routinely abused in the TIP document. Many projects appear to claim bicycle improvements because they include sidewalk work. Other projects note that the Bicycle and Pedestrian Checklist will be used in the project, yet the project description specifies a bike-unfriendly design such as two foot shoulders. More than a dozen projects are listed as being part of the Delaware County Bicycle Plan but only one road project describes a marginal bike improvement (wide outside lanes) and some projects actually degrade the bicycle environment (intersection widening) - a dozen missed opportunities to implement an adopted bicycle plan.

So what's the good news? Well, it's the power of The Circuit trail network. The $250 million estimated price tag to complete The Circuit is a tangible funding goal, which planners, DOT's, elected officials and philanthropists can wrap their heads around. We consider The Circuit to be the region's newest mega-project and it offers the potential to break free from the dependence and uncertainty of the competitive funding ghetto. Bicycle projects are eligible for a large swath of Federal Transportation funding categories. We hope that the next TIP update (FY 2015?) will indicate projects that are part of The Circuit in the project description.


  • Total 4 Year TIP - $3.7 Billion
  • SEPTA - $1.37 Billion
  • Interstate Management Program - $536 Million
  • Transportation Enhancements - $23.9 Million*
  • Safe Routes To School - $4.4 Million*
  • State Funds - 23% (2011 TIP - 30%)
  • Federal (FHWA and FTA) - 68%
  • Local - 9% (2011 TIP - 4%)
*Will be replaced by Transportation Alternatives funds, with total amounts unknown.