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Developing a Framework for Prosperity: Michigan

Developing a Framework for Prosperity: Michigan

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This article is a section in the 2014 NADO Research Foundation report Moving toward Performance-based Transportation Planning in Rural and Small Metropolitan Regions.

Michigan’s Regional Prosperity Initiative aims to align and streamline planning efforts, services, and grant resources in a voluntary process involving multiple partners and stakeholders. Beginning with the Fiscal Year 2014 budget request from Governor Rick Snyder, and included in the budget adopted by the state legislature, the Regional Prosperity Initiative provides competitive grant resources to rural and metropolitan planning regions that collaborate with business, nonprofit representatives, local and regional economic development organizations, workforce boards, adult education providers, and higher education. The goal is for designated planning regions to develop a shared vision and plan for economic development and related disciplines.

Networks Northwest, one of the state’s councils of governments and regional planning and economic development organizations, spearheaded the development of a Regional Prosperity Plan for Northwest Lower Michigan in 2014, called Framework for Our Future. It includes several chapters covering diverse topics related to the infrastructure and economy of the region. The transportation chapter is significant for performance measurement because it lays out a framework for local governments to use in the transportation elements of their own local plans and capital improvement programs. The transportation framework introduces performance measurement concepts, including the Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating (PASER) system that the regional planning agencies use to collect pavement performance data under contract to Michigan DOT as part of the state’s asset management program, as well as other metrics such as level of service. Household transportation costs, safety, equity, and transit ridership are a few of the other issues described in the plan in concrete, measurable ways.

The transportation framework contains a useful Local Implementation Checklist with goals and objectives that could be voluntarily included in a local government’s master plan, complete with a matrix of strategies and potential actions to implement strategies such as maintaining the existing road network, supporting transit access, and enhancing the efficiency of other modes such as rail, water, and air travel. Networks Northwest also collects data and makes it available to local governments and other stakeholders throughout the region, supporting their ability to select indicators that already exist as maintained data sets, analyze benchmarks, and integrate them into a performance management approach over time.

Takeaway: Even regions that do not have major role in programming projects can find ways to support performance-based and performance-ready planning, such as through existing planning work and technical assistance to local governments. Michigan’s regional agencies are not required to complete rural LRTPs or TIPs, but they do work closely with local governments and perform several duties to support Michigan DOT’s statewide planning and asset management efforts.

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