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CAMPO proceeds with traffic management plan

Tuesday, March 9, 2021 by Harrison Young

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Policy Board has unanimously voted to allow its executive director, Ashby Johnson, to begin negotiations with a firm to implement the Transportation Demand Management program.

The TDM program is a bundle of strategies aimed at reducing traffic in the CAMPO region. Its main goals are to gather and analyze data, serve under-resourced communities and expand transportation to all travel beyond solely commute-to-work trips.

“If you decide to leave work later to avoid traffic, that’s TDM. If you decide to take the bus, that’s TDM. And if you decide to take another route to avoid traffic, that is also TDM,” explained Nirav Ved, special assistant to Johnson.

The consulting firm that was selected, UrbanTrans North America, scored highest among the four firms under consideration. The firms were scored based on criteria like previous experience, understanding and approach of the project, and past performance.

The amount of $483,820 in funding will come from the Surface Transportation Block Grant, which is awarded to Austin from the federal government, and the program is expected to take just over two years to complete.

The original TDM plan was adopted in 2019 and focuses on moving trips to off-peak hours and encouraging people to use public transit. This renewed version takes into account knowledge gained during the pandemic. The new direction includes essential workers for whom working from home is not an option or those who do not work a traditional nine-to-five job.

The program will identify industries and companies that were not able to quickly or effectively transition to remote work during the pandemic and support them as they move in that direction. Remote work is also part of CAMPO’s larger strategy to reduce road congestion.

The program also aims to “encourage and enhance the use of telework a bit more where it makes sense for those folks,” Johnson said.

The program will be led by a steering committee made up of staffers from CAMPO’s Technical Advisory Committee, though it is not exclusive to TAC members.

Commissioner Brigid Shea raised concern about a recent National Association of City Transportation Officials post that reported increased traffic-related deaths amidst declining traffic on the roads. Johnson explained that the pattern is caused by drivers traveling at high speeds along newly freed-up roads and highways.

“Crashes involving people driving greater than 100 miles an hour went up significantly,” Johnson said, adding that CAMPO and the Texas Department of Transportation frequently consult safety reports.

Board Member Rudy Metayer expressed gratitude to staff for their work on the project.

“We discussed this years ago … and no one expected the pandemic to happen and we moved forward with it,” Metayer said. “I’m pretty excited to see this happen.”

Photo made available through a Creative Commons license.

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