TMG Partnership Wins Competitive Contract from Zachary Taylor Parkway Commission

TMG Consulting is proud to announce that the firm has been hired by the Zachary Taylor Parkway (ZTP) Commission to assist in updating the Commission’s Master Plan! TMG will serve as a sub-consultant to N-Y Associates, the prime firm on the contract. Urban Systems will also serve as a sub-consultant. The contract was awarded via a competitive public RFP (Request for Proposals) process, with the TMG team selected from over a half-dozen respondents!

ZTP 2As part of a comprehensive Master Plan Update for the Parkway, TMG’s primary responsibilities include gathering data on economic shifts, creating an economic development plan, developing a marketing and communications strategy, and conducting stakeholder and public outreach. N-Y Associates will create a Parkway “vision document,” gather data on demographic and policy shifts, and develop a Disaster Preparedness Plan, while also coordinating the drafting of the final report. Urban Systems will supply traffic and safety analysis to create a Corridor Management Plan. TMG is thrilled to serve the ZTP Commission with such capable partners.

The Zachary Taylor Parkway is a scenic highway that stretches from Alexandria, Louisiana to Poplarville, Mississippi, traversing eight Louisiana Parishes and one Mississippi County. Traveling through it, motorists encounter a diverse mix of small towns, scenic countryside, homegrown businesses, thriving agricultural areas, historic tourist attractions, and magnificent plantations. The team is confident that the Master Plan Update will provide a roadmap for the renewal and growth of this historic corridor.

Congratulations to the entire team, and stay tuned for updates on this exciting project!

The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use

TMG Assists Baton Rouge Transit System as it Prepares for Big Change

In need of additional resources, the Baton Rouge Capital Area Transit System (CATS) turned to the voters of East Baton Rouge Parish to establish the agency’s first dedicated source of revenue.  Following an extensive outreach campaign that included a coalition of business, faith-based and other organizations, the Baton Rouge community in April 2012 approved a property tax measure which effectively doubled the agency’s budget in order to implement a number of significant improvements to service.  This ballot success was a big win for the future of transit in the Capital and an exceptional event for transit nationwide, representative of a larger trend of new attitudes toward transportation.

In late 2012, CATS retained TMG Consulting to analyze the current state and progress of the organization as it was preparing to implement its growth plans and to make recommendations on what management structure would best meet the agencies goals through transition.  TMG researched data from CATS and other relevant transit agencies of current and future size.  Using gap analysis, TMG was able to estimate what resources and staff capacity the organization was likely to need to meet its future goals.  After vetting a number of management alternatives that ranged from all in-house to fully contracted, or delegated, management, TMG recommended that CATS augment staff by contracting out selected management positions, an arrangement similar to transit agencies in El Paso, TX and Lexington, KY.  TMG also prepared a number of other recommendations, from the pace of introducing new service to technology investment, to enable the agency to stay on track to deliver its ballot goals and bring CATS to the next level.

The CATS Board and staff is currently reviewing TMG’s recommendations as it prepares for what will undoubtedly be a bright new future for transit in Baton Rouge.

Contributed by:

Dwight Norton, AICP

Senior Analyst, Planning

dwightnorton@tmg-consulting.net  

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Disclaimer
The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use.

Land Use Planning During Times of Economic Recovery

Greenville, SC revitalized green space.
Source: http://www.our-odyssey.blogspot.com

With space as a commodity in urban settings, there has been a movement to focus on alternatives for long-established land uses like parking lots, strip malls and vacant land. Not only do these transformations seek to affect the aesthetics and functionality of spaces, they can also have positive effects on economic redevelopment and revitalization.  Check out what’s going on around the country when it comes to re-thinking how we revitalize neighborhoods, generate revenue or increase property value during this post-recession time when ideals are being re-evaluated on a national level. (more…)

Economic Development: Invest in Transit

Source: www.ridemetro.org

Houston’s Light Rail, http://www.ridemetro.org

We at TMG have been working for months to statistically, economically or even anecdotally correlate good public transit to economic prosperity in a city.  Observationally, cities that support strong economies like New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and Boston have a transit system with good coverage and high frequency.  It is unknown whether good transit attracts economic development, or if economic development demands good transit.  We are still working to develop a successful index to correlate these two factors. Here is what we do know: (more…)

Tackling Parking – Alternatives to Building More

Part I: Managing parking supply

In my last post, I discussed broadly the powerful effect automobile parking requirements have had in literally reshaping our communities.  The cost, while not always quantifiable, is usually discernible.  Over the last several decades, city planners and business owners have been experimenting with a number of alternative solutions to a range of parking problems, other than just building more.  I have grouped these solutions into two broad categories: 1) better managing the amount of parking or supply, and 2) better managing the demand for parking.  The first of which is discussed here.

Maybe it’s just me but if a restaurant lot is full at night, I immediately look to the empty office lot next door.  Most parking requirements are a flat rate specific to each type of land-use – 2 per thousand square feet of a bar, 4 per thousand square feet of a health club, etc. There is no regard to where these uses are located relative to each other, or when people are actually using them. (If you want to know more about the history/impact of these requirements, there are a couple of great academic resources here and here).

As many downtowns, including New Orleans, begin reinvigorating themselves with new/converted residential buildings, I have encountered numerous folks who live and work within 8 blocks, but still drive!  Thanks to readily available supply on both ends, this behavior is reinforced and puts pressure on both residential developers and employers by continuing absorbing parking costs.

Whether in the city or suburbs, one doesn’t have to be a professor to observe how much parking already exists and often sits unfilled for much of the day.  The question is can we use available and new parking more efficiently?

Shared parking – this idea has many different iterations but the basic principle is that different land uses can share their parking requirements with adjacent or nearby land uses because they have different parking peaks.  For example, an up-and-coming chef wants to build a new restaurant that is located next to a bank.  A bank and restaurant have very different parking needs during the course of the day.  As the bank is closing its doors around 4pm (and on weekends), a restaurant is just getting started.  The restaurant might only need half the spaces on-site while still meeting parking requirements by sharing parking with the bank.  Those savings get passed onto the customer or invested in the business itself.

No minimum parking – pushing the parking requirements issue even further is the idea of no minimum parking.  If you’re a free market advocate, there is no more appropriate solution to parking then letting the market decide.  By requiring parking, one can easily argue that cities put an artificial force on the markets.  Developers would be incentivized to figure out exactly how much parking they needed to satisfy customers.

Parking maximums – parking maximum also allows a developer or owner to determine their own parking needs up to a set amount.  Maximums can also be employed to correct for an artificial force imposed by the lending community on developers.  Many downtowns throughout the country have no parking requirements for new projects.  However, the lending community imposes minimums because of a reflexive understanding of parking as necessary for the viability of a project.  This intervention can be argued to be uninformed or unjustly imposed as it is unlikely the lending community has any experience in estimating the appropriate demand for parking on a specific project.

PILOP (payment in-lieu of parking) – this is a relatively new proposal but the idea is straightforward.  A developer or building owner pays the city a fee per parking space not included in the project.  The fees collected could be used to build public parking garages as an alternative to meeting minimum parking requirements.  The solution would also complement shared parking practices.

Remote Parking – In many cases a community already has remote parking garages that need to be better promoted either through subsidies, shuttle service, or simple marketing.  In other applications, the construction of remote parking garages is necessary.  Cost can be supported by taxes, developer fees or event PILOPs.  Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade has been a lasting success that is supported by six structure garages on parallel streets (of course, Santa Monica also benefits from other enduring regional attractors including a vintage amusement park boardwalk pier and a fantastic beach).  Of note, its retail success has driven out independent stores for national chains to the chagrin of most locals. New Orleans has flirted with remote garages including one on Rampart Street at the edge of the French Quarter, but never fully implemented the strategy (vestigial surface lots remain on the downriver edge at Elysian Fields) that would encourage a “park-once” strategy for visitors driving to its historic center.

For more details on these and other concepts, the Victoria Transport Policy Institute will satisfy any policy wonks needs here.

In part II, we’ll shift to strategies that are focused on managing the demand for parking.

Contributed by:

Dwight Norton, Senior Analyst, Planning

dwightnorton@tmg-consulting.net  or (504)569-9239 x 24

Disclaimer
The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use.

Uncertain Future for Transportation Funding

Who is going to pay for the next transportation reauthorization bill?  This was the big question posed at the APTA Expo 2011.  The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century authorized the Federal surface transportation programs for highways, highway safety, and transit for a six-year period that expired in 2003, and has since operated on short-term extensions. (more…)