Some Thoughts on Transportation Policy

Below are some of my thoughts on transportation policy, and how they would apply to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in particular.  I wrote this list before Hurricane Katrina hit, but the principles should still apply today.

- Preservation and maintenance of the system *MUST* be fully funded, to include pavement replacement where necessary and bridge replacement of structurally deficient bridges.  Funding for preservation and maintenance should come right off the top, with whatever's left then being used for new/improvement/expansion projects.

- As a management tool, access management needs to be utilized on all Principal Arterials (Hwy 49, Hwy 63, Hwy 90, Cowan-Lorraine Rd, Pass Rd), and even on the minor arterials.  In built-up areas, where ROW may be expensive, access management can be pursued as parcels are redeveloped.  In the rural/suburban areas, access management techniques should be utilized right from the onset.

- If people (especially property and business owners) don't understand what access management is, educate them.  Research has proven that effective access management reduces accidents, increases capacity, and yet
still provides for successful commerce.

- In addition to being fiscally constrained, the plan should also be performance-based.  A series of minimum performance criteria should be developed at least for those roads that are classified Minor Arterial and
above.  If a road fails to meet the performance criteria by the end of the planning horizon, a project should be developed that would bring its performance up to minimum standards.

- Four scenarios should be developed:  an unconstrained scenario, a peformance-based scenario (including only those projects needed to meet performance targets), a fiscally-constrained scenario, and a
constrained-plus-20% scenario (to reflect what could happen with a 20% increase in funding, as an example).

- All principal arterials should be improved to provide full 10' PAVED outside shoulders where possible.  This would not apply to Pass Rd given its urban core nature, but the more rural parts of Hwy 49, Hwy 63, and Hwy 90 would certainly apply.

- All minor arterials should be improved to provide a full 12' driving lane and a minimum 2' paved shoulder (6+' paved shoulder desired).

- All structurally deficient bridges should be replaced, with the replacements being built to modern standards (12' driving lanes, full shoulders if applicable).

- All bridges on principal arterials should provide full shoulders.  Bridges that don't meet such should either be widened (if condition allows) or replaced (if condition warrants).

- A bicycle path/route/trail network should be developed along the Coast.  The desired shoulder widths I recommend above should suffice for much of the network, providing bicyclists a safe, paved route to travel and stay out of the main travel lane.  In those areas where a paved shoulder is not feasible, or safety issues preclude use of the shoulder by bicycles, a separate, off-road path should be pursued.

Many of my thoughts are based on what I've seen in progress in other states, including my home state of Minnesota.  The following two links will give some insight into MnDOT's District Plan updates and access management policies and research:


Page last modified 02 December, 2005