A Look at FDOT’s Defining Role in Fostering Smart Growth in Florida

The latest issue of Florida Planning, the Florida chapter newsletter of the American Planning Association (APA), features an article written by Whit Blanton about the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) increasing role in fostering smart growth outcomes throughout the state.  Whit, one of Renaissance’s founding Principals and a current national APA board member, sites several examples to showcase the techniques FDOT is using to encourage smart growth efforts. At a time of transportation funding challenges, smart growth strategies help make dollars go further with a greater return on investment.  By focusing on collaborative and clever techniques that give the biggest bang for the buck, FDOT is effectively encouraging smart growth principles statewide

Renaissance's Involvement

The article also highlights several recent and ongoing projects Renaissance has been involved with to showcase these techniques including:

I-95 Corridor Mobility Plan

The I-95 Corridor Mobility Plan for District 4 focused on establishing a multi-jurisdictional decision-making framework for developing complete streets policy and evaluating applications.  A working group was established to develop a context-sensitive vision map reflecting roadway functions as well as existing and future land use plans. This District approach meshes well with the statewide complete streets policy, which is also working on ways to define context to set clearing expectations for planning, engineering design and traffic operations in urban, transitioning suburban and rural/small town areas.

Tampa Bay Regional Freight Plan 

The Tampa Bay Regional Freight Plan for District 7, which addressed the compatibility between freight activity and community livability.  The plan mapped the region to identify areas “where freight mobility and community oriented plans may be in conflict and require strategies and require context sensitive solutions to balance competing objectives.”  We are currently working with District 7 to prepare design guidelines that address how freight can function within different environments.

District 4 TOD Readiness Tool 

District 4’s Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Readiness Tool, which assesses how “ready” an area is for TOD based on an analysis of 20 different physical, economic and social measures.  Renaissance worked with District 4 to develop the tool and also established a TOD working group to enhance regional collaboration.

Central Manatee Network Alternatives Analysis

The Central Manatee Network Alternatives Analysis  led by District 1 in partnership with the FHWA and regional and local jurisdictions, will define a set of shared projects and commitments that support broader livability, economic, mobility and safety goals. As a sub-consultant to URS, we are working on an analysis rooted in a broad public engagement process that integrates land use, environmental considerations and transportation analysis.

By focusing on aligning local and regional resources and fostering partnerships that leverage existing resources,  FDOT is setting a great precedent for encouraging smart growth. It really does require understanding and working with communities towards a shared vision for their future, backed by sound technical rationale and an effective communications framework to foster a dialogue and communicate this vision among stakeholders and the public.