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Funding and Resource Sharing

Funding and resource sharing refers to a variety of arrangements by which transportation and other operating agencies collaborate to submit funding requests, develop pooled funding mechanisms, or share equipment and facilities. As a linkage mechanism, this also refers to efforts to increase the consistency between transportation systems management as discussed in plans and the associated regional funding policies and commitments.

A number of funding sources can support management and operations activities and equipment. In practice, however, funding for system management and operations must often rely on the discretionary budgets of individual jurisdictions and/or agencies.

Federal policies allow several funding sources to be used for regional systems management and operations programs including the use of Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) funds and federal aid highway program for traffic monitoring, management, and control.

The structure of resource sharing arrangements may evolve over time in response to changing regional needs and changing relationships between agencies. Initially, sharing may be limited to supplying staff, equipment, or facilities in support of regional meetings or other regional collaboration activities. If appropriate, participating public and private organizations may develop more formal sharing arrangements, including pooling of funds and other resources to sustain cooperative regional efforts. In some regions, agencies may provide funding to support a regional entity charged with leading regional collaboration or an entity that owns and operates regional transportation system assets.

Getting Started: Approaches to Funding and Resource Sharing

All regions lack sufficient funds to implement the full spectrum of transportation projects and programs desired by the region. Sometimes, competition for resources between and within agencies can hinder regional coordination and prevent the region from achieving the full benefits of system-wide M&O strategies. This section discusses some approaches to funding and resource sharing that can help to build bridges between planning and operations practitioners.

Link Funding to Planning Goals and Objectives

Increasingly, local and regional transportation plans include language supporting improved transportation systems management, promoting more efficient use of existing infrastructure, and adopting a more customer-oriented approach to transportation service provision. Yet the funding and staff resources to support the implementation of such planning objectives are often lacking. For example, a plan might state that regional coordination to maximize efficiency of the existing system is a top priority, but no funding is then allocated toward regional incident management programs, corridor management strategies, or regional traveler information systems.

Some regions employ a project prioritization process that deliberately assigns more weight to projects that support regional management and operations objectives, as outlined in the region's long-range plan. This approach encourages planners and operators to cooperate when assessing the cost-effectiveness of management and operations strategies.

Develop Innovative Operations Funding Sources

New funding mechanisms can help to create bridges between planners and operations managers. One strategy is to fund certain M&O efforts as part of an initial capital investment, for example ITS equipment that enhances corridor management activities. Planners and operators increasingly recognize that the best time to secure funds for management and operations is at the moment when funds are allocated to major new construction or rehabilitation. Working together, planners and operators can make the case that proper management of new transportation facilities will maximize the long-term benefits of the initial investment. Some areas have required consideration of M&O by developing a checklist for project sponsors.

In the search for funding for system operations, some regions have turned to land developers. The practice of requiring developers to fund transportation improvements as a way to mitigate the transportation impacts of their projects is well established, but relying on this as a source of management and operations improvements is relatively new.

Planning and operations coordination can also be strengthened when transportation management strategies are viewed as a potential source of transportation dollars. Pricing mechanisms are an effective tool for managing transportation demand and achieving more efficient use of existing facilities. Moreover, new technologies, such as electronic toll collection, can enable greater use of pricing while reducing collection costs. They can also serve to generate funds for both management programs and new infrastructure. As such, these transportation management strategies naturally capture the interest of planners and decision-makers, opening the window for a broader discussion between planners and operations managers.

Build on Emergency Response Needs to Create Regional Momentum for Collaboration

The recent focus on improving emergency preparedness and response has heightened the need for coordination between planning and operations. Increased transportation resources are available to conduct emergency response exercises and planning.

Prioritize Multi-Jurisdiction Funding Requests

A number of MPOs give preference to collaborative funding requests in the project prioritization process. This encourages funding requests for ITS and other systems management initiatives that are coordinated between organizations and jointly submitted by different agencies and jurisdictions. Inter-jurisdictional collaboration is frequently a stated objective or strategy in regional transportation plans, so preference for these funding requests is well justified.

Integrate Capital Investments and M&O within One Budget Process

State and regional management and operations activities are often lumped under broad operations budget categories. These operations categories are usually assessed through a process that is separate from the capital investments planning and budget process. Where this is the case, MPOs might consider ways of incorporating specific management and operations activities as individual budget items within the capital investments budget.

Share Office Facilities

Sharing office facilities inspires enhanced collaboration. In some cases, office sharing is intended because there is recognition that transportation agencies must be working in the same space to do their job more effectively. A common example is a traffic management center shared by traffic operators, transit staff, and public safety personnel. The increased efficiency and professional ties that can grow from such cooperative arrangements suggest that they this should be a more conscious part of institutional consideration.

Use Funding as a Tool to Attract Participation in M&O Discussions

Funding is a powerful tool for promoting participation. In some cases, MPOs have attempted to create training programs or other forums to promote the consideration of management and operations strategies. There are inevitably difficulties in getting some jurisdictions or stakeholder groups to the table, particularly when a forum or activity is not part of an established regional process.

Resources

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