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Integrating Conservation and Long-Range Transportation Planning Using a Strategic Assessment Framework

  • Craig, Casper
  • Melissa A., Landon
  • Patrick J., Crist
  • Doug, Walker
Published Article
Publication Date
Sep 12, 2009
Road Ecology Center John Muir Institute of the Environment
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The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments Moving Forward metropolitan transportation planning process introduced a Strategic assessment planning framework to the Pikes Peak region. This framework was selected because it integrates multi-disciplinary qualitative and quantitative information from technical experts and regional stakeholders to determine and weight objectives and indicators within the evaluation process. In order to implement this framework the regional modeling system was updated and several new technical tools added; including Natureserve‟s Vista forhabitat conservation, and Placeways‟ CommunityViz for community impact evaluation. PPACG received funding from the FHWA to investigate integration and initial application of these planning tools at the regional level. Both the biological impacts of potential transportation investments and potential locations of regional mitigation sites were determined by integrating conservation planning concepts, planned land uses, and transportation planning concepts using Vista software. A matrix was created to describe the compatibility of each conservation species (selected to represent a larger conservation objective) with each land use class. The analyses found that, given current urban development, there should already be serious concerns about the long-term viability of some species and that some rare and imperiled species face significant threats from planned developments. The initial output was reviewed and refined by Colorado Natural Heritage Program ecologists in order to map ecologically relevant areas of conservation importance. This information was then incorporated in the CommunityViz growth scenarios. Several future socioeconomic scenarios and their respective conditions were developed. The analyses in CommunityViz showed two key factors in the growth and development pattern of the study area. First, it showed that increasing density to support an increased transit system can concentrate growth around transportation corridors meeting or approaching transportation, social and economic goals from public input within the timeframe of the long-range plan. It also showed that a conservation plan could be applied in conjunction with this transit-oriented development to achieve publicly stated conservation goals. Combining transportation and conservation planning could successfully focus development around city centers while relieving development pressure on land that is necessary to meet conservation goals. The best scoring alternative was not adopted by the elected leaders in the region due to its dependence on changed land uses. The reason for this is that land uses are outside the purview of MPO. However, several smaller projects resulted from the enhanced communication, including the CDOT and the Colorado Springs Stormwater Enterprise each moving water quality mitigation project locations to co-locate with a developer‟s project. This mitigation effort will create more total ecological benefit and an additional cultural amenity. The primary outcome of the PPACG process is that both citizens and decision-makers are better informed regarding the tradeoffs between transportation investment decisions and other planning and development decisions that were previously made in isolation.

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