TASK 1 - Define Committee Structure, Interactionand Project Management
To ensure that study guidance, direction, communication and processes would be logical and efficient, the Collaborative, working with the consultant team and using the consensus-building process described previously, used the organizational structure to specifically define the interactions of the committees, subcommittees and consultant team.
TASK 2 - Design and Implement a Public Participation Program
To facilitate consensus-building and gain community acceptance of any resultant transportation and land use strategies, the Collaboratives Public Involvement subcommittee worked with the consultant team to develop a comprehensive public participation program. This program was designed to achieve maximum community outreach and information services to ensure that the needs, interests and concerns of members of the Collaborative, as well as the diverse constituencies of the Route 1 study corridor, were met.
TASK 3 - Refine the Study Area
For the purposes of data collection, problem identification and traffic modeling, set geographical boundaries needed to be established to identify the Collaborative study area.
The Transportation and Land Use subcommittees, working with the consultant team, investigated the various transportation elements (highway, transit, freight, bicycle/pedestrian, regional land uses and major traffic generators) within the pre-described areas to "fine-tune" the study corridor and area boundaries to its final form.
TASK 4 - Collect and Inventory Transportation and Land Use Data
Because of the all-encompassing nature of the study and the extent of the study area, there was a need for a tremendous amount of transportation and land use data.
Fortunately, the Collaboratives diverse membership of both public and private agencies and groups made it possible to meet most of the data needs with existing information, with only limited new data collection necessary. The most arduous parts of this task were collecting all the data, verifying the information (by cross-checking, field investigations, etc.) then assembling it in a logical way that could be easily referenced. The latter was accomplished two ways: 1) a large indexed binder was used to hold all various maps, tables and charts that summarized the data; and 2) a self-installing software package was developed (named Data Retrieval System or DRS) that included all of the datasets, maps and charts on disk for much easier access and use.
Once assembled, these data provided the factual basis for: understanding the nature, magnitude and underlying causes of transportation and land use problems in the corridor; developing strategies and actions to address these problems; and eventually, evaluating the effectiveness of those strategies and actions.
TASK 5 - Identify and Narrow the Scope of Problems to be Resolved
Using the base information developed under Task 4 as background, the Collaborative initiated the Public Participation Program to solicit input from key corridor stakeholders and the general public as to the perceived problems (and causes) that exist in the corridor.
TASK 6 - Establish Overall Goals & Objectives
In order to achieve its vision of creating a sustainable transportation system, the Collaborative established goals & objectives early on in the study process, then refined them to be in harmony with planning polices set forth in existing municipal, county and state plans.
TASK 7 - Establish Performance Measures
To help the Collaborative eventually choose between alternative strategies, a set of quantitative and qualitative performance measures were developed as a means for determining how successful the strategies under consideration were in achieving the goals and objectives. The Collaborative agreed to three levels of performance measures: outcome measures; input measures and output measures.
TASK 8 - Develop a Baseline for Current and Future Trends
The consultant team made a secondary review of the data gathered under Task 4, to establish the current relationships between land use and different transportation elements (transit, parking, etc.). These trends were then extrapolated to the future analysis year for an estimation of a future baseline (i.e., without strategies) to become a benchmark for changes in transportation system performance.
TASK 9 - Identify, Analyze and Evaluate Strategies
The identification, analysis and evaluation of numerous transportation and land use strategies was the most complicated and time-consuming effort of the entire study. Using all of the information and work done to date, the Steering Committee, Transportation, Land Use and Public Involvement subcommittees and the consultant team embarked on a strategy selection process unprecedented in New Jersey. Not only was a complete and comprehensive "regional master plan" achieved, but the resultant effort acted to "raise the bar" for all future transportation/land use planning studies.
TASK 10 - Develop a Promotional Plan
All of the above effort would be for naught if it could not be "sold" to area stakeholders and the general public. The Collaborative knew that in order to be successful, strategies needed to be: first, fully supported by Collaborative members themselves; then, "aggressively marketed to" various corridor decision-makers and the general public. The promotional plan provides the framework to do this.
TASK 11 - Develop an Implementation Plan
The development and execution of an Implementation Plan is being accomplished through a reshaping of the Collaborative process. With an administrative "glue" role provided by Keep Middlesex Moving (the local TMA) and a restructuring of the Collaborative committees, this final phase will create the path and momentum necessary to help the Collaborative meet its mission of "...getting things done".
TASK 12 - Develop a Guidance Package
The Collaborative knew that documenting the whole experience - good and bad - would be extremely useful in helping others "do the right thing". Thus, the guidance offered in this report is seen as an invaluable source of information towards achieving successful transportation and lands use planning now and into the next millennium.
TASK 13 - Independent Review Process
Although the Collaborative had a broad-based constituency and a consultant team made up of five different consulting firms, there was always the danger of getting "too close to the work", thereby limiting objectivity and/or forward-thinking. To remedy this, the Collaborative developed an independent review process along two fronts: for the study as a whole; and for the modeling work in particular. This "double-check" mechanism allowed for independent review and opinion of the appropriateness (and pitfalls) of the studys direction and emphasis at key junctures during the study process, ultimately resulting in a much better final product.
For the purposes of tracking the progress of the study work effort in a manner that was more consistent with the actual flow of work, the related and independent tasks (described above) were grouped into phases and time frames. Simply breaking down the effort into logical, manageable "chunks" allowed for better planning and scheduling of joint work assignments, as well as an easier format for reporting status. The breakdown of the work program resulted in four phases:
Phase I: Start-up and Data Collection and Outreach Planning (March to May 1996)
Task 1 - Define Committee Structure, Interaction and Project Management
Task 2 - Design and Implement a Public Participation Program
Task 3 - Refine the Study Area
Task 4 - Collect and Inventory Transportation and Land Use Data
Phase II: Technical Development and Task Integration (June to September 1996)
Task 5 - Identify and Narrow the Scope of Problems to be Resolved
Task 6 - Establish Overall Goals & Objectives
Task 7 - Establish Performance Measures
Task 8 - Develop a Baseline for Current and Future Trends
Task 13 - Independent Review Process (Establish Expert Review Panel)
Phase III: Strategy Selection, Testing and Evaluation (October 1996 to May 1997)
Task 9 - Identify, Analyze and Evaluate Strategies
Phase IV: Preparation for Post-study Marketing and Implementation (February 1996 to June 1997)
Task 10 - Develop a Promotional Plan
Task 11 - Develop an Implementation Plan
Task 12 - Develop a Guidance Package
With the work plan finalized, and study phases and time frames set, the Collaborative and consultant team began "The Journey".
Public Involvement and Outreach
Public outreach was identified as the critical tool for assessing the feasibility and acceptance of proposed strategies. The Public Participation Work Plan for the Route 1 Study was designed to complement the technical work program by providing a coordinated approach for obtaining input and providing information about project activities.
As developed by the Public Involvement subcommittee and consultant team, the Plan called for a proactive public participation process including both public information and interactive activities, helping the Route 1 Collaborative to identify and clarify priority strategies. This outreach process also aimed to involve area stakeholders by providing several different venues for discussing transportation and land use issues. The following section describes the development process, specific techniques and timing of the Public Participation Plan.
Initially, the process began with the kick-off "charrette" that in part helped the Collaborative crystallize the objectives of the Public Involvement Plan. From this foundational work, the P.I. subcommittee worked with the consultant team, and during the next few months developed a comprehensive public outreach package that supported and complemented the technical work program. The final result was a plan that: detailed the mechanisms for public participation as well as for addressing and documenting input; contained procedures for integrating public input into the technical work program; and, described the proactive philosophy that guided the program and supports the mission of the Collaborative.
Outreach Techniques & Timing
In this plan, several different outreach techniques were developed to be employed at different stages of the study: a large-scale telephone survey of area residents to get a general read of transportation and land use perspectives from "the common man"; in-depth interviews with representatives of key organizations located in the corridor, to gain insight into their perceptions of the problems and their priorities for the study; Officials briefings to engage corridor mayors and key staff into the overall process and the shaping of recommendations; and focus groups to "test the public waters" with acceptance (or rejection) of different strategies and ideas. A speakers bureau and media plan helped support these efforts. Specifics of each one of these public involvement techniques is provided below.
A 400-person telephone survey was conducted in October and November 1996. The purpose of the Route 1 Collaborative Public Opinion Survey was to obtain more information on residents transportation mode choices, gauge public perceptions of the roads convenience, safety, and mobility, and obtain public reaction to specific strategies that could reduce congestion on Route 1.
The survey was conducted randomly among residents within a 10 mile radius of the intersection of Route 1 and I-287 in Edison Township and results were presented to the Collaborative in November.
During May and June 1996, 16 interviews were held with key stakeholders in the Route 1 Corridor. In order to reflect the diversity of interests represented by project constituencies, the interviews were conducted with representatives of a broad spectrum of organizations, including public agencies, civic and public interest groups, businesses, and transportation advocacy groups.
Although the interviews were designed to help identify critical concerns, opportunities and barriers, they also helped to achieve several other objectives:
Three Officials briefings kept local municipalities informed of the studys progress. These sessions targeted the mayors and key staff of the five corridor communities as well as other interested parties, including elected officials and Chambers of Commerce. The meetings were held in June 1996, and again in January and June of 1997. Each of the three briefings had a different objective:
In conducting the briefings, collaborative members emphasized the need for local and regional cooperation in shaping and directing the process, reviewing potential projects, and providing measures
for assessing the reasonableness of proposed strategies. Collaborative members also discussed the benefits of participating in the Collaborative in terms of improved communications and greater awareness of alternative perspectives and mutual interests essential to developing a comprehensive implementation plan.
Four focus groups were held in December 1996 and April 1997. The purpose of the focus groups was to obtain feedback on the proposed strategies and potential methods of implementing the strategies. Focus group participants were recruited from among the stakeholder interviewees, survey respondents, and the public-at-large. The focus groups were conducted along two tracks. The first session, in December, was comprised of major employers (private sector and government) located within the study area. The second track, implemented in April, consisted of three sessions geared toward consumers, or the general traveling public. Overall, the focus groups aimed for a mix that was representative of the corridors diversity. Discussion guides were developed for each of the four sessions that clearly defined the information being provided to the participants and stated the goals of the discussion.
Several members of the Steering Committee volunteered to participate in a Speakers Bureau, an "on-demand", scripted forum to present a study overview, answer questions and receive input on key issues pertaining to the project. Each volunteer attended an orientation session conducted by the P.I. Subcommittee, so that there would be uniformity in everything from information dissemination ("the message") to documentation of specific concerns - there was even a brainstorming session to anticipate most of the typical questions so that there would always be consistent answers. Two presentations about the study were convened in September 1996 to two targeted audiences: the Middlesex County Transportation Coordinating Council and the local Chambers of Commerce.
Newsletter, Fact Sheets, and Mailing List
Newsletters were developed and mailed to Corridor Officials and others on the projects mailing list to keep them advised of progress on a monthly basis. Numerous study documents and materials were mailed out to Collaborative members and the broader mailing list to keep interested parties abreast of project activities. The names, addresses and phone numbers of the Steering Committee were circulated in order to provide access. To promote awareness of regional and local transportation issues, fact sheets were also prepared for distribution through the Speakers Bureau.
Finally, a series of press releases were developed, beginning with the issuance of a press release announcing the start of the study in July 1996. Subsequent releases at various points during the process announced upcoming events and reported on the outcome of public outreach activities to keep the public apprised of the studys progress.
Relevant information and opinions derived from the telephone survey, stakeholder interviews and focus groups helped drive strategy formation and are referenced in various sections throughout this report.
Continue on to