Florida transportation stimulus


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Florida transportation stimulus

  1. 1. Collins Center Special Report | May 2011 Stimulus Spending on Infrastucture in Florida An Examination of more than $1 Billion in Transportation Expenditures and the Lessons LearnedBy Robert T. Dunphy May 2011 | 1
  2. 2. TABLE OF CONTENTS ABOUT THIS REPORTAbout this Report ...................................................................... 2 This study is an independent analysis of stimulus spending on transpor- tation infrastructure for Florida’s largest metropolitan regions. It exploresAbout the Collins Center for Public Policy ................................ 2 the rationale for these investments, with a special focus on how they ad-Acknowledgements ................................................................... 2 dress regional development goals and consider disadvantaged communi- ties in their planning and spending.About the Author ....................................................................... 2Executive Summary................................................................... 3Introduction ............................................................................... 4 THE AUTHOR Well-Positioned to Spend................................................. 4 Robert Dunphy is a consultant special- izing in sustainable transportation solutions “Shovel-Ready” Limitations ............................................. 5 and the politics of growth. He is also anStimulus Spending in Florida’s Major Regions .......................... 6 instructor in the graduate real estate pro- gram at Georgetown University. Mr. Dunphy Florida DOT Highway Projects ......................................... 7 established the transportation research MPOs Partner with Others ............................................... 8 program at the Urban Land Institute, where he served as a senior resident fellow. He is Transit Decisions Mostly Local ......................................... 8 also an emeritus fellow of the Transporta-Stimulus Spending by Region ................................................... 9 tion Research Board. His research interests Road Priorities ................................................................ 10 include smart growth and transportation strategies, transit oriented development, suburban centers, and parking. Transit Priorities .............................................................. 11 He serves on the University of California Transportation Center Advisory Shifting Emphasis .......................................................... 12 Committee and the University of Minnesota’s Transportation and Land Use Journal advisory board. Rethinking Regional Growth .......................................... 13Lessons Learned ..................................................................... 14Conclusion .............................................................................. 18 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSAppendix Table ........................................................................ 18 Thanks the Foundation to Promote an Open Society, in partnershipData Sources ........................................................................... 19 with the Open Society Institute, for providing the resources with which toFootnotes ................................................................................ 19 conduct this study. The author would like to thank the Collins Center for Public Policy staff, especially Leda Perez, Ph.D, for her helpful comments and guidance throughout the researching and writing of this report.Cover photo: A toll road connecting Interstate 4 to the SelmonExpressway in Tampa is partially funded with $105 million in federal In addition, thanks to the following individuals for their insights:stimulus money. Photo courtesy of the Tampa Tribune. Southeast Florida – Carla Coleman, ULI; Joe Giulietti, SF RTA; Carlos Goa, Miami-Dade MPO; Greg Stuart, Broward MPO; Stacy Miller , FDOT District 6; Linda Glass-Johnson, FDOT District 4; Lynn Fain, Miami-Dade Transit. THE COLLINS CENTER Florida Gov. LeRoy Collins’ legacy of Central Florida – Shelly Lauten, Myregion.org; Jim Sellen, ULI uncompromising integrity in government Orlando leader; George Lovett , FDOT District 7; Alex Trauten, and business continues at the Collins METROPLAN Orlando; Phil Laurien, ECFRPC. Center for Public Policy. Established in 1988 by distinguished Floridians who Tampa Bay ― Stuart Rogel, Tampa Bay Partnership; Brian envisioned the need for an independent Blanchard, FDOT District 7; Bob Clifford, Tampa Bay Area entity to find impartial solutions to Regional Transportation Authority; Scott Collister , FDOT district controversial problems, the Collins Center 7; Steve Seibert, Collins Center for Public Policy. is known as a think tank with muddy boots. With offices in Miami, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville― Rob Palmer, RPA Group/ ULI District Council; Tampa Bay, our mission is to find smart Jeff Sheffield, North Florida TPO ; Brad Thoburn, Jacksonvillesolutions to important issues facing the people of Florida and the nation. transit; William Killingsworth, city of Jacksonville; James Ben-We are independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit and passionately committed nett , FDOT District 2; Florida DOT, Tallahassee, Kathy Neill,to lasting results. David Lee.2 | May 2011
  3. 3. ExECUTIvE SUMMARy Of the $1.7 billion received by Florida through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) transportation stimuluspackage, $1.1 billion accounted for spending in Florida’s major metropolitan regions in South Florida, Tampa Bay, Central Florida andJacksonville, with the remaining $600 million spent elsewhere. Projects were divided among the Florida Department of Transportation(DOT), local transit operators and the state’s regional Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). The Florida DOT oversaw $592million in stimulus spending while local transit agencies oversaw $266 million and MPOs another $223 million. About $534 millionwent to the South Florida region, about $272 million to the Tampa Bay area, roughly $174 million to Jacksonville and nearly $102million to Central Florida. ARRA Spending by Region and Type of Agency Responsible (Millions) Central Florida South Florida Tampa Bay Jacksonville Total DOT 27.6 256.7 177.8 129.5 591.6 MPO 42.5 107.5 49.2 23.8 223.0 Transit 31.5 169.5 44.5 20.3 265.8 Total 101.6 533.7 271.5 173.6 1080.4By examining these funding decisions and reviewing long-range transportation plans, we can make some key observations: n Florida’s practice of maintaining its infrastructure made it possible to use most of its stimulus funding for new projects, rather than repairs to existing infrastructure. n By completing project development through planning, design and, in some cases, land acquisition while awaiting stimulus funds, the Florida DOT was able to begin construction quickly when the funding did arrive. n etropolitan Planning Organizations are often too limited in authority and geography to have a regional impact. M n lorida DOT District officials offer the best regional perspective in most instances. F n ntegrating land-use decisions with transportation plans is critical because transportation affects growth patterns. I n lthough numerous agencies have been charged with serving the transportation disadvantaged, these agencies are A widely dispersed and are not serving their intended communities to the degree possible. May 2011 | 3
  4. 4. INTRODUCTION Congress passed the federal stimulus program in 2009 to help the nation recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. It helped stimulate the stagnant construction industry by addressing needed infrastructure reinvestment. Stimulus grants to Florida for transportation accounted for $1.7 billion in high- way and transit funding: n 1.347 billion for 680 highway and bridge projects. $ n $316 million for 173 transit projects. n $55 million for 22 airport grants. Florida’s largest metropolitan areas received $762 million in highway funds, 57 percent of the total highway spending, and $266 million for transit, about 84 percent of the stimulus money dedicated to transit. Roughly half of the $55 million in Federal Aviation Administration airport stimulus funds went to Tampa International and Orlando International.Well-positioned to spend The stimulus funding in 2009 was welcomed by cash-starved money on new projects. “We have no bridges falling down,” saidtransportation agencies in Florida. An October 2008 review of Bob Clifford, executive director of the Tampa Bay Area Regionalfunding needs in Florida’s metropolitan areas by the University Transportation Authority. Unlike other states, Florida is requiredof South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research by statute to maintain bridges and roads in top condition. Federalestimated a statewide 20–year funding shortfall of $62.5 billion, Highway statistics show that two-thirds of Florida’s interstatesor $3.1 billion per year.1 In addition, Florida’s DOT reduced are rated in the best condition, compared to only one-third of theits 5-year work program by $10 billion. A clear advantage for nation’s interstates as a whole.2 Additionally, the rate of deficientFlorida is that it carefully maintained its transportation facili- bridges in Florida is half that of the national average.3ties and was better positioned than other states to spend stimulus4 | May 2011
  5. 5. INTRODUCTION“Shovel Ready” Limitations To be eligible for stimulus funding, new projects needed to be money into the economy quickly. Structural reforms in federal“shovel ready.” That meant all necessary environmental permits funding, such as selecting projects with national impacts, werehad to be in place, land acquisition completed, and all other delayed so that the money could be delivered expeditiously. As aagreements executed. James Bennett, the Urban Transportation result, the federal stimulus allocated funding to state transporta-Development Manager for FDOT District 2, which covers Jack- tion agencies and local transit agencies as separate accounts tosonville, said that despite being perennially strapped for funding, be spent on available projects, rather than funding high-value“we took steps in advance for right of way, environmental and projects that mixed highway and transit funds. The need for rapidland acquisition, and took steps to have designers update ‘on-the- project development tended to favor smaller, less controversial,shelf plans’ and apply for permits. It was a calculated risk of ex- lower-impact road and transit projects rather than larger, morepending planning budgets if funding for construction did not be- complex developments that could have greater impact on servingcome available, but also a risk if we had not updated plans.” Such travel and shaping development.planning in the face of financial difficulties prepared District 2 touse the stimulus funding to advance many major road projects. This limitation was apparent across the nation, where much ofBy contrast, many other states had fewer “shovel ready” projects. the funding went to short-term improvements rather than long-For transit, however, expansion projects in the state were not as term investments, according to a study by the federal Govern-advanced, leaving transit agencies to fund short-term operational ment Accountability Office. The study shows states spent half ofimprovements rather than major capital projects. the highway funds for pavement improvement, and just 9 percent for new roads and bridges. Similar results were found for transit A central theme of the federal stimulus concept is reinvest- spending, with 88 percent going to maintain operations, noting in the future, but this took a back seat to the need to get the investments for the long term.4 May 2011 | 5
  6. 6. Stimulus spending in Florida’s major regions The Florida experience differs significantly from those of As previously mentioned, the stimulus program restricted theother states. A 2009 study by the Kirwan Institute for the Study types of transportation projects that could move forward. It wasof Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University found one-fourth therefore necessary to establish criteria and responsibility forof the money for highways in Florida was allocated for highway project selection. Transportation plans are conceived as address-preservation efforts, while three-fourths was spent for new road ing many objectives: relieving congestion, promoting economicconstruction.5 Similarly, Florida DOT data finds that for the development, and serving regional growth while protecting theestimated $1.1 billion that Florida committed to the major economy and the disadvantaged. However, the short-term com-regions, about three times more was spent on major road projects mitments – half of the funding needed to be committed in 120(most of which expanded capacity) than on preservation. days – of the stimulus program allowed little flexibility in proj- ects not already vetted. A total of $1.3 billion in highway funds As described in the case studies outlined later in this report, was distributed to Florida DOT by the Federal Highway Admin-most of these projects are for a range of capacity expansion, istration. For areas over 200,000 in population, 30 percent of theincreased technology and expanded services such as managed funding went to projects selected selected by the regional MPOs.lanes. Although this approach required more time to put in place, The remaining 70 percent of the funding went to the Florida DOTbringing criticism of slow implementation, it holds the promise under a statewide flexible funding program, in which FDOTof greater long-term value for the projects. Because there were selected projects with input from the 26 MPOs. For the regionsfew major transit expansion projects “on the shelf,” it appears studied here, the DOT took the lead role in selecting $592 mil-transit stimulus funding focused more on acquiring more buses lion in major highway projects, the MPOs selected $223 millionand improving facilities and equipment than on advancing major in other road and pedestrian projects and $266 million in transitnew projects. funding was delegated to local transit authorities.6 | May 2011
  7. 7. STIMULUS SPENDING IN FLORIDA’S MAJOR REGIONSFlorida DOT’s highway projectsThe DOT chose those projects which: n Had been deferred by the state. n Were tied to concurrency where development is being held up (transportation concurrency is required by the state growth management law).6 n Had the potential to generate revenues and jobs. n Were geographically balanced. n Provided congestion relief. n Were located in economically distressed areas (a new requirement, although almost of the state fell into this federal definition). were geographically balanced. The federal emphasis on economi- n Could be completed in 3 years (priority criteria cally distressed areas seemed to have had little impact in Florida, per federal ARRA legislation). because most of the state meets the federal definition of “disad- vantaged.” While congestion relief was also important, most of The projects studied here were selected primarily because they the major projects had been designed many years ago for thatwere ready to go, they had been deferred in the past and they purpose. The FDOT selected larger projects that benefited regions. For the regions studied in this report, 15 projects accounted for about $592 million in project value. Major Florida DOT stimulus projects Project Cost (Millions) Description ARRA Funds Total Widen S.R. 50 to six lanes in Winter Garden in Orange County $18.5 $28.4 Widen S.R. 434 (Maitland Blvd.) to six lanes in Seminole County $4.7 $5.5 Widen Hoagland Blvd. and reconstruct 1.1 miles in Osceola County $4.5 $7.1 Implement electronic tolling on a section of Florida’s Turnpike $22.0 $22.0 Convert I-95 car pool lanes to managed lanes in Miami and Broward County $104.6 $127.6 Widen Interchange of S.R. 826/S.R. 836 in Miami $89.2 $648.2 Widen Dixie Highway (S.R.811), Broward and Palm Beach counties $40.9 $48.4 Toll road connection between the I-4 and Selmon Expressway in Tampa $105.0 $507.9 Reconstruct U.S. 19 into an urban freeway in Pinellas County $48.3 $141.7 Widen U.S. 41 (S.R. 45) to four lanes in Pasco County $14.7 $17.0 Widen U.S. 301 in Sarasota $9.7 $10.7 Construct S.R. 9B, a new four-lane highway in Duval County $76.1 $82.2 Widen S.R. 212 (Beach Blvd.) in Duval County to six lanes $15.2 $17.0 Construct S.R. 23 overpass in Clay County $8.4 $10.2 Widen S.R. 200 (A1A) to four lanes in Nassau County $29.8 $34.0 TOTAL MAJOR PROJECTS $591.6 $1,707.9 In three of these projects, the stimulus funds supported much larger projects. The total cost of the S.R. 826/836 interchange in Miami was $648 million. The toll road connecting I-4 and the Selmon Expressway in Tampa was part of a partnership with a pri- vate consortium with a total cost of $508 million. The U.S. 19 project in Clearwater was part of a total state project costing $142 million. In these projects, federal funds leveraged more than $1 billion in state and private dollars. May 2011 | 7
  8. 8. STIMULUS SPENDING IN FLORIDA’S MAJOR REGIONSMPOS Partner with Others Florida has 26 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs),more than any other state. When selecting projects to fund withstimulus money, the larger MPOs turned to smaller entitieswithin individual counties and cities. For example, the Miami-Dade MPO (one of three representing the Miami urbanizedarea) sub-allocated its funds by population among its cities andcounties and let those government entities select the projects. Inthe Tampa-St. Petersburg portion of the upper Tampa Bay region,represented by three MPOs, each of them – Hillsborough CountyMPO, Pinellas County MPO, and Pasco County MPO – partneredwith FDOT to jointly fund a regionally significant project in theircounty. This sort of metropolitan transportation planning dividesregions as opposed to uniting them. Economies, labor marketsand housing markets function at the regional level; geographicalboundaries pose no barrier to commerce, commuting, home buy- Florida regions, and 16 percent in the Tampa Bay region. Becauseing, shopping or other connections. Yet, as the previous examples existing transit service is heavily oriented toward the larger cit-illustrate, metropolitan transportation planning in many Florida ies and low-income travelers, this share represents the principalregions is dispersed among county-level agencies, rather than a stimulus commitment to disadvantaged travelers.single organization. At the same time, local plans tend to focuson local traffic and transit concerns, without addressing the larger Transit funding decisions were made at the local level. Thisregional concern. It is essential that there be a component of resulted in separate funding distributions to each transit agencytransportation planning that provides the road and transit and did not allow for a more strategic investment plan, such aslinks to serve entire regions. a greater emphasis on regional projects like the I-95 Express in Miami-Broward. It also means that disadvantaged communitiesTransit decisions mostly local may have also lost out as a result of some of these strictly local funding decisions. A study of MPO plans by the Center for Urban Federal stimulus spending for local transit projects in the major Transportation Research in Tampa found that transit improve-regions amounted to $266 million, about half as much as spent on ments are determined based on revenues available, rather thanthe Florida DOT’s major road projects. Almost two-thirds ($170 estimating needs first and then finding a way to pay for them. Themillion) of the $266 million was spent in South Florida. About transit projects, unlike the highway spending, did not include anyone of every four stimulus dollars spent in the major regions went significant new capital investments, a consequence of the require-to transit, from a low of 12 percent of overall stimulus spending ment to spend the stimulus money quickly, which is difficult within Jacksonville, to almost a third in both the Central and South transit projects because of their complexity. Comparisons The chart below shows population estimates and travel indicators for major areas in Florida. Area in Population density Avg. daily miles Public transit share Urban Area Population Square Miles per square mile driven per capita of commuting Miami 5,431,000 1,499 3,623 24 3.5% Tampa/St. Petersburg 2,326,000 1,072 2,170 27 1.2% Sarasota 673,000 455 1,479 25 .7% Orlando 1,414,000 716 1,975 31 1.8% Jacksonville 1,052,000 696 1,512 31 1.2%8 | May 2011
  9. 9. Pensacola Tallahassee Jacksonville Lake City Panama City St. Augustine Apalachicola GainesvilleStimulus spending Ocala Daytona Beachby region Orlando Central Florida – The $102 million of federal stimulusfunding in the Orlando region is the smallest among the regions Melbournestudied and the most balanced, with roughly equal amounts for Clearwater Tampa Lakelandhighway expansion, road rehabilitation, and transit. There are St. Petersburgonly three major road projects, two of which would not be clas- Bradentonsified as major in other regions. Each appear to be important inadvancing an ambitious longer-term transportation plan that sup-ports a new vision for development in Central Florida, one with Port Charolttethe potential to be more sustainable, more productive, and more West Palm Beachattractive to future residents. The region’s proposed new SunRail Ft. Myerscommuter rail project is a first step to major transit improve- Boca Raton Deerfield Beach Pompano Beachments, although it did not receive stimulus funds, a consequence Naples Fort Lauderdale Hollywoodof not being “shovel ready.” (A review of the project by the Miami Miami BeachGovernor may eliminate or delay the projected to start). Whilenot part of the stimulus project, another federal program is beingused to expand Orlando’s downtown circulator transit to servea minority community, the Parramore district, part of a broaderrevitalization project there. Marathon Key West Jacksonville – Four major road projects will add capacityto the east, northwest, west, and south of downtown, while the agencies and road, bridge, and pedestrian/bicycle rehabilitationtransit improvements are focused on the existing service area. projects. It occurred concurrently with the region’s evolution toThe new road projects account for six times the investment in a broader regional view of growth. The three highway develop-transit, which is the lowest share of the major regions surveyed, ment projects represent critical projects for the jurisdictions anda consequence not of local choices but rather of federal funding the region as a whole, as well as important statewide connections.formulas. All of these major projects add capacity in suburban They would appear to advance the “connected region” conceptareas beyond the core central area. While seemingly expanding of a 2035 long-range transportation plan and contribute to thegrowth potential, they were planned long ago and do not serve region’s new vision for sustainable development. The Tampaareas where development is limited by Florida’s concurrency project also helps solve a problem of truck traffic in an inner-cityregulations – one of the criteria used statewide for project selec- neighborhood, a beneficial byproduct of this major envestment.tion. “They address existing congestion, and the projects would The transit projects reinforce existing transit in each of the sevenhave been in the five-year Transportation Improvement Program, agencies. However, the “shovel ready” rules and the local focuswhich includes all approved development,” according to Laurie of the seven agencies probably prevented any broader strategy ofKettrell, transportation planning services manager with the city transit investment. During this period, one major transit initiativeof Jacksonville. Their Transportation Planning Organization, the failed at the ballot box in Hillsborough Cªounty.metropolitan planning organization for the region, acknowledgesthat the current regional transportation plan has the underlying South Florida – Stimulus funding helped some criticalgoal of supporting existing trends in development, which consist highway improvements, while the transit and local road projectsprimarily of developing the suburban fringe, with little atten- were distributed in a less strategic fashion, a consequence of thetion given to reinvesting in urban communities. More ambitious dispersed nature of transportation planning and lack of an overallgrowth initiatives are in their infancy. regional institution, with the exception of the Florida DOT, whose own districts are actually divided among the three central Tampa Bay – The federal stimulus program in the Tampa Bay counties. The big projects should yield long-term benefits to theregion has been concentrated into a few large highway develop- region, well beyond the short-term jobs that were the primaryment projects, an array of transit projects scattered among transit rationale for this federal program. May 2011 | 9
  10. 10. STIMULUS SPENDING By REGIONRoad Priorities Jacksonville – The Florida DOT District’s funding was suf-ficient for three major projects, but low bids on those projectsmeant a fourth could be funded. The major project priorities,while established by the Florida DOT, were ones that were alsoamong the top priority projects for the Transportation PlanningOrganization. The TPO was able to use the distribution of localfunding to make sure that “all counties were treated well,” ac-cording to Jeff Sheffield, the TPO’s executive director. Thesemajor projects add capacity in four suburban areas with growthpotential. “The intention was not to create sprawl,” Sheffield said.“They address existing congestion.” Central Florida – The Florida DOT worked closely withMetroplan Orlando, but had the lead in setting the road-wideningprojects through its district office and the central office inTallahassee. These projects were on important corridors sched-uled for improvements. Unlike other regions, the MPO’s boardestablished an equity criterion for distribution of local projectfunds according to the population of the three member counties.Because the MPO traditionally emphasizes capacity projectsto improve regional traffic and serve growth, many resurfacingprojects were not included in the MPO plans, although assur-ances were made to incorporate those projects into long-rangetransportation improvement programs in order to comply with thestimulus requirements. Tampa Bay – The decision-making process was dividedamong the Florida DOT, responsible for big-ticket items worth$178 million, the MPOs and their authority over $49 million inhighway resurfacing and pedestrian/bike improvements, and thelocal transit agencies and their priorities for spending $45 million. Photo courtesy of the Tampa TribuneEach of the MPOs in the Tampa sub-area partnered with FDOT Work began on a road connecting I-4 and the Selmon Expressway in March 2010 and is expected to be completed in 2013.to jointly fund a regionally significant project in their counties.Hillsborough County agreed to jointly fund the I-4/Selmon Ex- travel to downtown Miami and other cities along the north-southpressway Connector , which was 100 percent designed but stalled spine, and the tolls will also help fund enhanced transit service.for lack of funding. The U.S. 19 project is the key arterial serving This project crosses between the two Florida DOT districts, andPinellas County and its major cities, and continues a series of im- it will become part of a larger managed-lane network. The Dixieprovements along this important state road corridor. U.S. 41 (S.R. Highway improvement connects Broward and Palm Beach coun-45) improvements had been continually deferred because of fund- ties. Finally, the all-electronic toll facility on Florida’s Turnpikeing cutbacks, so the Pasco County MPO identified this project as implements an “open road tolling” concept, which eliminates thea top priority and spent its entire stimulus funding on it. delay and congestion from collecting tolls. South Florida – Responsibility for $257 million for five major In contrast to the strategic approach of the Florida DOT, thehighway projects rested with the Florida DOT, Districts 6 and 4, Miami-Dade MPO sub-allocated its $56.2 million funding by aand accounted for 70 percent of the combined highway spending population-based distribution among its 34 cities and unincorpo-in this region. The projects selected represent critical regional rated areas and let these government entities select the projects.needs, especially important given the dispersed nature of met- This resulted in a large number of relatively small projects. Theropolitan planning into three different MPOs. The S.R. 826/836 average resurfacing project in Miami-Dade County had a project(Palmetto/Dolphin freeways) interchange reconstruction will cost of a little over $250,000, in contrast to an average of $3improve a link near the regional core, affecting travel throughout million in Palm Beach County. Broward County considered suchSouth Florida, and done in partnership with the Miami-Dade Ex- an approach, according to Greg Stuart, executive director of thepressway authority, helping leverage an additional $500 million MPO there, with each city getting small amounts that did not addin project costs on top of the $89 million in ARRA funding. Two up to much. Instead the MPO decided to make larger investmentsprojects, known as 95 Express Phase ll, will improve regional into fewer projects.10 | May 2011
  11. 11. STIMULUS SPENDING By REGIONTransit Priorities Transit agencies tended to report stimulus funding as a single nities. Stimulus grants also went to suburban transit operators.line item in their budgets. The following analysis was based on Sarasota and Manatee counties received about $ 5 million apiece,reports from agencies, some more accessible than others. Over- and Pasco got about $1.7 million. Modest amounts went to Citrusall, the stimulus funds appear to have been spent on near-term and Hernando counties.operational improvements rather than longer-term investments,a consequence of the need to spend the money quickly. Transit South Florida – It received $170 million in transit funding, al-investments are often complicated and require a longer lead time. located to the three county transit operators and the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA). The largest share, Jacksonville – The regional transit operator, the Jacksonville $75 million, went to Miami Dade Transit, with Broward CountyTransportation Authority, received $20 million in stimulus funds. Transit and Palm Tran each receiving almost $40 million, andThe largest items were new buses and improved fare collection SFRTA receiving $16 million. The money was distributed widelyequipment, which accounted for about half. The remainder went to 28 municipalities in proportion to their populations.for a wide range of improvements, including repairs to Jackson-ville’s downtown people mover, facility improvements and some While politically popular, this approach created many smallbus service. grants, and difficult grant administration for Miami Dade Transit (MDT), which knows the Federal guidelines and regulations, Central Florida – Transit received $31.5 million, and it went while the smaller municipalities do not. The local governmentsto the regional transit operator, LYNX, which operates service for selected a range of projects, typically bus stop improvements andthe three counties. Over two-thirds of this was spent on vehicle purchase of trolleys and buses, but MDT was left with the respon-purchases and bus shelter improvements, with the remainder on a sibility of managing these projects and reporting to the federalvariety of smaller items, and $2 million for rural transit service. agencies, because these smaller agencies were not qualified to handle such project management. Most of the Miami Dade Tran- Tampa Bay – A total of $45 million in transit funding went to sit funding was spent on improving and rehabilitating infrastruc-the region, which is served by transit operators for each of the ture for Metrorail and Metromover, $43 million, with $12 millionseven counties, although the majority was for Hillsborough Area allocated to implementing Bus Rapid Transit on Kendall Drive, aRapid Transit in Hillsborough County and the Pinellas Suncoast transforming suburban center in South Miami. SFRTA, the onlyTransit Authority (PSTA) in Pinellas County – $15 million each. true regional transit agency, offering commuter rail service inAbout half of the funding went for new buses, $5.4 million South Florida, plans to spend its funds on new locomotives andwas used for a GPS tracking system, and the rest for a range of rail cars to upgrade an aging fleet.service improvements, facility improvements and passenger ame- Share of Households in Transportation Disadvantaged Florida Regions with some form of transportation The transportation disadvantaged, according to the Florida Commission for the Trans- limitation portation Disadvantaged, are travelers whose physical or mental disability, income status, or age, make them unable to transport themselves and dependent on others to Transportation Urbanized Area Percent Limitations of Households1 obtain access to health care, employment, education, shopping, or other life-sustaining activities. They represent a surprisingly large group, as shown in the table below. The Miami Tampa Orlando Transportation Disadvantaged Commission served 8.9 million one-way trips, at an Households average cost per trip of $12.90 in Fiscal Year 2007-08. In addition, the Commission 11% 9% 7% reported that other services for the transportation disadvantaged in Florida provided without cars 50.3 million trips to more than 680,000 passengers in the same year, sixty-four percent Seniors living 11% 11% 7% of these on fixed-route services such as buses and rail systems. alone Living in 14% 11% 11% Estimates for different components of the population unable to drive were compiled for poverty the largest urbanized areas in the country, including three in Florida. These are broad- Transportation er measures than strictly transportation disadvantaged, and in some cases overlap. 14% 17% 7% disabilities However, in aggregate they suggest the relatively high percentage of the population 1 Committee on the Role of Public Transportation in Emergency that is unable to drive and dependent on others for transportation –either specialized Evacuation, “The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation, transportation services or conventional transit service. It is important that metropolitan special report 294”, Transportation Research Board: Washington, transportation planning recognize and plan for these populations.1 D., 2008, Annex 4-1 May 2011 | 11
  12. 12. STIMULUS SPENDING By REGIONShifting Emphasis Jacksonville – A disconnect often developed between trans- grades, polling shows even opponents of the referendum want theportation plans and land use. Projects that added road capacity transit improvements, so the challenge is how to pay for them.to support growth often led to more auto-oriented development Communities far away from downtown Tampa are moving ahead,and increased traffic congestion. The current plan broadens the changing local planning regulations to allow increasing densities,transportation goals by emphasizing transit. Laurie Kattreh, pedestrian connections and mixed uses that will support Transittransportation planning services manager with the city of Jack- Oriented Development (TOD) once the transit system is actuallysonville, acknowledged that, “today we would not be widening built.roads, but creating more options for transit and balanced commu-nities where people do not have to drive so much.” In addition, South Florida –The plans call for a transportation system thateconomic development considerations are much more prominent. emphasizes greater options, reinforces transit and creates placesThere is recognition that the impacts of the Port of Jacksonville that encourage walking. Even a Florida DOT district secretaryhave benefits to surrounding counties and beyond. has said that building more roads is not the solution, and to many the DOT of the past has been a roads-only agency. The business Central Florida – The long-range plan has more emphasis on community sees transit as the spark, so the South Florida Region-transit than any previous plan. It shifts the conventional focus al Transportation Authority was created through strong supportfrom serving ever-expanding suburban fringes to enhanced ser- by the business community, which was able to be a more effec-vice to established areas and urban centers. It calls for expanding tive advocate to the legislature than public officials had been.the bus fleet, creating bus rapid transit routes, constructing Sun- The commuter rail operator called Tri-County Commuter RailRail, a 61-mile North-South commuter rail system, and develop- Authority (Tri-Rail) was merged into the South Florida Regionaling an East-West Light Rail line. Transportation Authority (SFRTA) in 2003, with a mission to coordinate, develop and implement a viable regional transporta- Tampa Bay – Although Hillsborough County voters said no tion system in South Florida, including the coordination of theto a local sales tax increase to fund transportation improvements, existing three transit agencies – Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palmincluding light rail, expanded bus service and major road up- Beach Transit.12 | May 2011
  13. 13. STIMULUS SPENDING By REGIONRethinking Regional Growth Jacksonville –The projects funded under the stimulus program and the fostering of distinct, attractive places to live. Noting theare generally consistent with current growth plans. But grow- impact of the alternative land use identified during the planninging concerns over the unintended consequences of growth led to process, the MetroPlan Orlando Board developed its 2030 Longthe convening of a long-term visioning exercise in 2009, Real- Range Transportation Plan.ity Check First Coast, at which government, civic, and businessleaders looked at growth trends and plans for accommodating Tampa Bay – Bob Clifford, executive director of the Tampathe expected doubling of population by 2060 in an area includ- Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority, said “We cannoting seven counties and 27 municipalities. A Region First 2060 continue to sprawl this way. It is unsustainable from an envi-group is intended to help develop a growth compact among the ronmentalist, local governments, and development perspective.participating governments. A new Northeast Florida Regional This discussion started in transportation and expanded to water,Transportation Study Commission was initiated to develop a sustainability, and land use under the title ‘One Bay.’” Develop-Regional Transportation Authority for the seven counties. Most ment impacts were studied and four potential growth scenarioscommission members agreed with the need for economic growth were created. A 2009 survey found residents soundly rejected theand an expansion of transit. They emphasized the need to protect “business as usual” scenario when considering future growth. Athe agriculture and the environment, in particular the St. Johns plurality of residents support a scenario that focuses on protectingRiver. Finding the right balance was the most common concern. water resources, followed by one that emphasizes compact designThe Transportation Planning Organization introduced an exercise along transportation corridors to preserve open space.to test an alternative land-use scenario for its impact on transpor-tation projects. It was believed that “the TPO board was ready toexplore but not ready to adopt such aggressive planning, so this South Florida - There is a new organization created to pro-was an opportunity to plant the seed,” said Jeff Sheffield, execu- duce a long-range transportation plan for the region, although ittive director. The mood of the public may be ahead of the of- focuses primarily on what are considered to be regional links, andficials, however. In a survey that asked “what’s the best solution lacks implementation. Another group called Southeast Floridato reducing traffic in north Florida?” there was wide support for 2060 has been established to create a vision for growth, theimproving mass transit (30 percent) and developing communities economy, and the environment within a much broader region,where people don’t have to drive as much (26 percent), compared consisting of seven counties along Florida’s Atlantic coast. Southto only 28 percent for building new roads.7 Florida is the recipient of a $4 million U.S. Department of Hous- ing and Urban Development Sustainable Communities grant to Central Florida – The group “Myregion.org” developed a the South Florida Regional Planning Council which will enableshared community vision for growth in Central Florida. Resi- the Planning Council to put in place the regional plan (2060dents and local leaders identified several principles to guide Southeast Florida Regional Plan for Sustainable Development)transportation decisions, including the preservation of open space and the regional partnerships to advance this agenda. May 2011 | 13
  14. 14. Lessons learned Adding a billion dollars in federal funds to Florida’s major regions with the requirement that it be spent quickly represented a major challenge. This extraordinary circumstance produced stress in what should have been a slow-paced, collaborative and deliberate process. The following thoughts are offered as poten- tial improvements: Fix it first. Florida takes care of its infrastructure through regular maintenance and timely repairs, despite limited finances. A failure by other states to follow this principle is a rudimentary cause of America’s deteriorating infrastructure. Infrastructure is not “sexy” and calls for maintaining it often fall on deaf ears among officials and a public more interested in building new projects. When political winds change, and there is support for additional funding, having a state highway system in good repair means new funds can go to new projects. An important lesson for Florida, after the stimulus is spent, is to hold to the “fix-it-first” principle – it is a good practice for the long run. Metropolitan Planning Organizations divide, rather than unite regions. One of the enduring conflicts in transportation policy, as in many other areas of public life, is finding the proper level of governmental action for regional issues. Just as there is tension between the federal government and the states, there is a similar conflict between states and local governments. This issue becomes more complicated because of the interaction between transportation policy and land-use decisions, which are tradition- ally the closely guarded responsibility of local governments. Florida’s experience demonstrates a clear recognition of the need for regional-level action, although the institutions created to do so, the MPOs, are often too limited in authority and geography to have the desired impact. This is especially true in the largest two regions, South Florida and Tampa Bay, where MPOs often function as county-level institutions. The most recent develop- ment has been the Northeast Florida Regional Transportation Study Commission, initiated to develop a Regional Transporta- tion Authority for the Northeast, the only major region not to have one. In the present context, the Florida DOT has the only truly regional perspective, as well as a broader responsibility for travel between Florida’s regions. The selection of infrastructure projects demonstrates how the DOT is able to concentrate on a few, high-impact projects with long-term benefits, while much of the local spending was more widely distributed and directed to smaller projects and maintenance with less of an impact. This may be a short-term expediency, but metropolitan planning needs to emphasize strategic goals for the long run. While this is an obvious inconsistency, there is no easy answer. There are several good examples in Florida of creating organiza- tions to present such a regional view, but these are overlays to ex- isting MPOs, which may find it difficult to give up responsibility. Another option is to acknowledge the importance of the Florida DOT district officials as key regional players, possibly with new functions. The way in which funding is divided, as seen in this14 | May 2011
  15. 15. LESSONS LEARNEDstudy, might be a simple answer – find the right mix of local/re- Many urban regions have ambitious transit dreams. Part of thatgional versus state funds, and let the organizations use their funds ambition is rooted in a desire to offer options to their residentsto reach the optimum goals. and part is rooted in a competitive envy toward new transit projects in Denver, Charlotte and Houston and the belief that a Link transit investments to corridor development (and re- similar project may hold the key to becoming a world-class citydevelopment). Transit serves two important roles: for those who and region. However, making transit work also requires a recon-have no choice; and for those looking for a choice. The first and sidering of traditional suburban development plans, the sameforemost is that of a social service to “transit dependents,” those ones responsible for developing much of Florida since World Warlacking the finances or mobility to drive. This service is expen- II. Perhaps even more surprising than the flowering of interest insive to provide, costing an average of 87 cents per passenger mile public transit has been the wave of civic and business initiativesin Miami-Dade and Tampa Bay for transit, and fares must be kept directed toward finding a new development pattern, one that willlow to serve low-income travelers. Revenues for these two transit serve future Floridians better and avoid some of the unwantedoperators pay only one-fourth of the operating costs. Transit’s consequences of suburban sprawl.second role is to get drivers out of their cars and help reducecongestion for “choice riders,” those with cars as an alternative. Recognize a broader transportation role in communityThis latter function is playing a more important role in all of the building. Nine regions have embarked on some form of regionalmajor regions studied here, as communities create transit-oriented visioning exercise, covering most of the state and virtually all ofguidelines for development projects planned around future transit its population. Such futurist processes are intended to develop aextensions. This strategic role of transit is difficult for agencies consensus around a range of future goals involving growth, thethat serve a single county and lack a broader regional view of the economy and the environment. Long-range transportation plan-resources needed to develop a new transit project. Interestingly, ning requires this same kind of thoughtful deliberation, but hasthe new commuter rail in Orlando will be run not by the local often been treated as merely an exercise in projecting the locationtransit agency, which actually does have a regional service area, of future residents and jobs; little more than inputs to mathemati-but by the Florida DOT for the first seven years. cal travel models. Critics denounce such procedures as “predict and provide” extensions of current trends many communities May 2011 | 15
  16. 16. LESSONS LEARNEDwould like to change. In this sense, transportation planners have Each of these regions represents a rethinking of Florida’sbeen cast as involuntary allies in perpetrating the status quo. traditional reliance on the automobile and an expanded future for transit, walking and bicycling. Each region has ambitious transit The oldest of these regional visions, Central Florida’s “How plans. While the “love affair with the car” may not be over, citi-Shall We Grow?” began 10 years ago. Such visions try to zen surveys and a growing number of elected officials are takingreinvent people’s view of the American Dream, which revolves a more expansive view of travel options.around a family, a car and a house in the suburbs with a conve-nient drive to work. Fueled by evolving demographics and chang- Integrate services for the transportation disadvantaged.ing preferences on where it is considered “cool” to live, future Much of the stimulus spending on transit is scattered among adevelopment visions will move beyond large suburbs that do wide range of local operators faced with cutting services becausenot serve workforce housing or the economically disadvantaged. of declining revenues. Public transit is but the tip of the icebergSprawl, the dominant development pattern for the past half cen- when considering the wide range of transportation servicestury, was fueled by deliberate government policy decisions, such devoted to elderly, low income, and persons with disabilities.as the Interstate Highway System and Federal Housing Admin- Serving the disadvantaged might work better by organizing ser-istration (FHA) mortgages that steered people away from cities. vices around the needs of users, with funding allocated to publicA more holistic approach will expand the need for transportation transit providers and social service agencies, and possibly evenchoices and ensure new transit projects are supported by strong contracted private services.ridership rather than struggling to survive. The One Bay initiativeserves such a role for the Tampa Bay area, as does the Southeast Because there is a multitude of transit agencies, critical issuesFlorida 2060 in South Florida and Region First 2060 for Jackson- like serving the disadvantaged can get scant attention. However,ville’s First Coast region. this study identified a few special examples of regional transpor- tation projects that assist the disadvantaged:16 | May 2011
  17. 17. LESSONS LEARNED n he Pinellas county MPO conducts an environmen- T n he Jacksonville Transportation Authority is a part- T tal justice demographic analysis with maps showing ner of the Northeast Florida Mobility Coalition, a low-income and minority populations. It produces a regional cooperative partnership formed to enhance “State of the System Report” that tracks the perfor- access to transportation for all persons throughout mance of the transportation system and the long- Northeast Florida, serving elderly, disadvantaged, range plan in serving these populations. and persons with disabilities. It brings together state agencies and human service agencies, transporta- n he Hillsborough County MPO created a Ride T tion planning organizations, consumers and com- Guide brochure with a comprehensive listing of munity transportation coordinators for each of the services that may be of use to the transportation seven counties of Northeast Florida. disadvantaged. n ne of the benefits of connecting the I-4 and Sel- O n he City of Orlando received a USDOT Tiger grant T mon Expressway is that it will eliminate the intru- to assist in a plan that calls for reinvesting in the sion of truck traffic headed for the Port of Tampa Parramore community, a low-income neighbor- through Ybor City near downtown Tampa. Reme- hood cut off from downtown by the freeway. The diating such impacts is a concern to port operators plan offers expanded transit services to support the nationwide, and this is one example of finding a redevelopment and housing assistance. successful solution. May 2011 | 17
  18. 18. Conclusion This review of the use of federal stimulus funding for transpor- funding. While the pressure to spend on “shovel ready” projectstation in Florida’s major regions has found significant differences is partly to blame for diverting resources from transit, Floridain approaches for the three primary institutions responsible for ur- also had challenges with integrative planning. Generally speak-ban transportation. On one hand, the Florida DOT emphasized a ing, institutions of long-range planning in Florida are narrowlyfew strategic major highway expansions in each region, while on focused on their own missions. Instead, what is needed is athe other hand the metropolitan transportation organizations and broader vision.transit agencies emphasized short-term, low-impact rehabilitationand repair projects. The good news is that this broader, sustainable vision is begin- ning to spread throughout the state. It is important for key federal Part of the challenge in Florida has been the pressure to spend and state officials to help reinforce this more sustainable view ofthe money quickly, making a task that required holistic planning Florida’s future.even more difficult. One of the casualties of this has been transit The Rise and Fall of the Orlando to Tampa High Speed Rail Line The state’s rejection of a high-speed rail line connecting Orlando and Tampa dominated the headlines in Florida in early 2011. Although that project was not part of the stimulus funding examined in this report, it bears mention. Planning for high-speed rail connecting Tampa, Orlando and Miami has been under way for decades and appeared to be nearing reality when President Obama announced a national high-speed rail program. The U.S. Department of Transportation selected Florida’s Orlando to Tampa project as one of the initial segments, agreeing to fund $2.4 bil- lion of the $2.6 billion cost. However, the project was canceled in February 2011 as one of the first actions of incom- ing Governor Rick Scott, who said he was skeptical of ridership projections and concerned that the state would be responsible for cost overruns. The decision infuriated the project’s suporters, including many politicians and business leaders who argued it would create thousands of jobs, help ease highway congestion and provide better access and conectivity between the state’s largest metro areas for millions of residents and tourists. When completed, they said, it would be a boon to the central Florida economy. They complained the governor based his decision on political ideology rather than fact. Furthermore, a study released by the Florida Department of Transportation after the gover- nor’s decision estimated higher ridership and more profitable operations than previously projected. A New York Times story reported that the project suffered from several flaws: Tampa and Orlando are only 84 miles apart, too close to benefit much from the train’s high speed; and, both cities lack good local transit connections. Would riders opt for a train when they would need a car when they arrived at their destination? In a special session called by then-Governor Charlie Crist in 2009, the state Legislature approved the SunRail project, a commuter train designed to at least partial- ly solve that problem and sealing the eventual selection of Florida as one of the initial federal grants. The high-speed rail project appears to be dead, however, at least for the time being. The SunRail project could be in danger, its future depending on potential reconsideration by Scott.18 | May 2011
  19. 19. APPENDIx TABLE Summary of Stimulus spending by county and project type (millions) Type of Stimulus Project County Add Capacity Road Rehab Bridge Pedestrian and Bike Transit Traffic Control Total Orange 18.5 12.3 5.4 31.5 67.7 Central Seminole 5.0 9.9 0.8 4.2 19.9 Osceola 4.8 9.0 0.2 14.0 Total 28.3 31.2 6.2 4.2 31.5 0.2 101.6 Miami-Dade 126.0 44.9 4.0 10.2 74.9 22.0 282.0 Broward 125.4 0.5 0.5 39.8 166.2 South Palm Beach 2.6 24.8 2.7 0.8 38.7 69.6 TriRail 16.1 16.1 Total 254.0 70.2 6.7 11.5 169.5 22.0 533.9 Hillsborough 105.0 0.3 15.2 120.5 Pinellas 48.3 1.3 15.4 65.0 Pasco 18.2 1.2 4.4 23.8 Tampa Bay Hernando 2.3 6.6 1.1 0.01 10.0 Citrus 9.7 0.5 10.2 Manatee 6.3 0.7 0.6 4.6 6.1 18.3 Sarasota 9.7 4.6 1.4 3.0 4.9 23.6 Total 183.5 27.5 2.1 7.7 44.5 6.1 271.4 Duval 91.3 9.4 19.4 120.1 Jacksonville Clay 10.4 3.8 0.2 14.4 St. Johns 1.4 3.3 0.2 0.6 0.9 6.4 Nassau 29.8 2.5 0.4 32.7 Total 132.9 19.0 0.2 1.2 20.3 173.6 All Regions 598.7 147.9 15.2 24.6 265.8 28.3 1080.5SOURCESThree major sources were used for this research; Florida DOT’s database of stimulus projects; reports from regions, DOT districts and transit agencies;and interviews with experts from the Florida DOT, metropolitan planning and transit officials, and members of the business and civic communities.Footnotes1 Jeff Kramer and Alexander Bond, The 2008 Review of Florida’s MPO Long Range Transportation Plans, The Florida Department of Transportation, October 20082 FHWA Highway Statistics, 20093 FHWA, Deficient bridges by state highway system, December 20104 GAO report GAO-10-231, Recovery Act: Status of States’ and Localities’ Use of Funds and Efforts to Ensure Accountability, Government Accountability Office, Washington, D.C., issued on December 10, 20095 Building Opportunity: A Call for Florida to Assure Transparency, Accountability and Equity in the Use of Economic Recovery Funds KIRWAN INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF RACE AND ETHNICITY, THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY, 20096 “Concurrency” is the Florida term for “adequate public facilities controls,” indicating that facilities need not necessarily be in place at the time of project approval but that they must be scheduled to become available “concurrently” with demand from the proposed development. Intended to promote better planning, it has done the opposite by preventing development in established locations with pedestrian connections, which because of their greater density and urban locations, tend to be located in areas with greater traffic volumes.7 2008 North Florida Transportation Survey, cited in “Connecting Florida: Transit and Florida’s Economy”, Urban Land Institute, 2010, page 26 May 2011 | 19
  20. 20. For more information contact: Thomas M. Arthur Director of Collins News and Information 727-599-9245 Miami | Tampa Bay | Tallahassee www.CollinsCenter.org20 | May 2011