Category: Tennessee

Improved community outreach pays off for Tennessee Department of Transportation

Many state DOTs select transportation projects without much coordination with their local jurisdictions. Recently officials in Tennessee decided to do better. Now, key officials from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) have reinvented how the department interacts with local communities to create better outcomes for projects across the state while saving taxpayer money at the same time.

In our April profile of TDOT Commissioner John Schroer, we explained how Schroer initiated a “top to bottom” review of the department. Part of Schroer’s vision for TDOT is for state planners to work more proactively with local communities in the early planning and design phases of transportation projects. Schroer then created a new team tasked with changing the way TDOT plans, designs and funds transportation projects across the state.

The figure leading this charge for TDOT is Toks Omishakin, Assistant Commissioner of Environment and Planning. In 2011, Schroer appointed Omishakin as Deputy Commissioner with the aim of better coordinating TDOT’s long-range planning and project management. A planner by trade with a degree in Urban and Regional Planning and previous roles with the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Omishakin is rethinking TDOT’s approach to community relations and transforming how TDOT plans and consults with local governments across the state.

Posted in Blog, States, Tennessee | Leave a comment

City of Memphis, TN hosts workshop on how to implement its Complete Streets policy

Picture for past workshops page post- Memphis
View of Memphis’ South Main Arts District. Photo by Henry Turley Company via henryturley.com 

In 2013, Memphis passed the nation’s 500th Complete Streets policy. To help move the policy to implementation, Memphis officials and residents met with representatives from Smart Growth America on June 18 and 19, 2014 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshop aimed to provide the City with tools to not only address the various design elements of Complete Streets, but also to directly communicate the benefits of Complete Streets to the public. Complete Streets are planned, designed, operated and maintained to be safe, comfortable and convenient for people of all ages and abilities, whether they are walking, bicycling, driving, or hopping on public transportation.

Posted in Blog, Complete Streets: Policy Implementation, Technical assistance, Tennessee, Uncategorized, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Transportation Commissioner John Schroer sets ambitious goals for Tennessee Department of Transportation

Over the next few months, we are highlighting state transportation officials that are using new approaches and innovative ideas to help solve their states’ transportation challenges. To follow these updates and other news from our work around the country, be sure to sign up for the Smart Growth America newsletter.

When John Schroer was appointed Commissioner of Transportation for the state of Tennessee in 2011, he immediately took a hands-on approach to helping local leaders find solutions to their transportation challenges across the state while helping to save taxpayer money at the same time.

Within weeks of his appointment in 2011, Schroer initiated a “top to bottom” review of TDOT, including its organization, processes and leadership. “We’ve basically broken down the department and built it back up,” said Schroer in a recent conversation with Smart Growth America. “We looked at everything we did and analyzed it from a production and financial standpoint.”

In 2012, Schroer partnered with Smart Growth America and his TDOT leaders to find ways the department could use its resources more efficiently, create better outcomes and save taxpayer money. The resulting guide, Transportation Process Alternatives for Tennessee – Removing Barriers to Smarter Transportation Investments, was the product of months of collaboration between Smart Growth America experts, TDOT management, regional and community representatives, and transportation advocates. According to Schroer, the project is “intended to serve as a guide for our department’s program activities as we continue to evaluate our transportation needs and priorities with the goals of better stimulating our economy, protecting our environment and building our communities.”

Posted in Blog, Tennessee | 1 Comment

Hear the recap: Repair Priorities 2014 online discussion

Yesterday we unveiled Repair Priorities 2014: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads. The release featured an online discussion with leaders from Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, as well as state transportation department representatives from Vermont, Michigan and Tennessee. Panelists shared insights and strategies for how states are managing their road repair needs in a time of constrained budgets by using tools like asset management practices; focusing repair investments on the most heavily used roads; setting aggressive targets for pavement conditions; and using cost-benefit analysis to prioritize road investments.

If you were not able to join us for yesterday’s event, an archived recording is now available.

Watch the archived webinar
Download the presentation (PDF)

Joining yesterday’s event were Roger Millar, Vice President, Smart Growth America; Steve Ellis, Vice President, Taxpayers for Common Sense; Rich Tetreault, Director of Program Development, Vermont Agency on Transportation, Polly Kent, Administer, Intermodal Policy Division, Michigan Department of Transportation; and Steve Allen, Strategic Transportation Investments Director, Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Thank you to everyone who participated. The event provided valuable insights for how states can improve road conditions for drivers and the financial outlook of America’s DOTs at the same time.

Posted in Michigan, Reports, Tennessee, Vermont, Webinars | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 10 of 2013: Helping state DOTs innovate and excel

TDOT

This month we’re looking back at some of Smart Growth America’s brightest moments and greatest accomplishments from 2013. Today’s highlight: Our work helping state departments of transportation innovate and excel.

States across the country are facing the same challenges. Revenues are falling and budgets are shrinking. Yet state transportation officials have ambitious goals: improve safety, enhance economic opportunity, improve reliability, preserve system assets, accelerate project delivery, and help to create healthier, more livable neighborhoods, just to name a few.

Posted in Michigan, States, Technical assistance, Tennessee, Vermont | Tagged | Leave a comment

Mayor Madeline Rogero on brownfields redevelopment in Knoxville, TN

Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council recently interviewed Madeline Rogero, mayor of Knoxville, Tennessee, to ask her how local governments can catalyze brownfields redevelopment and jumpstart revitalization. In the video above, Rogero discusses how strategic investments by local government have made brownfield sites in Knoxville more attractive to potential developers.

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Learn how Memphis, TN, is creating Complete Streets with new policy and implementation brief

Broad Ave., Memphis, TN
The reconfigured Broad Avenue in Memphis. Photo by Justin Fox Burks.

Earlier this year Memphis, TN, passed the 500th Complete Streets policy in the United States. In a new policy and implementation brief, we detail how Memphis achieved its Complete Streets successes so far, the ongoing efforts in the region and the work that remains to be done.

Posted in Complete Streets, Complete Streets Implementation, Complete Streets Local, Complete Streets Policy, Tennessee | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Complete Streets leaders celebrate 500 policies and look forward to the movement’s future

500-policies

On August 14, 2013, Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition celebrated the 500 communities across the United States that have made their streets safer and more accessible for everyone who uses them with Complete Streets policies, and looked ahead to the future of the Complete Streets movement.

The 500th Complete Streets Policy celebration honored Memphis, TN for passing the milestone policy, and featured a panel of experts including Rich Weaver of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA); Kyle Wagenschutz, Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Memphis,TN; Art Guzzetti, Vice President of Policy at APTA; Colleen Hawkinson, AICP, Manager, Strategic Planning Branch, DDOT; Darren Smith, Policy Representative, National Association of Realtors and Jeff Miller, President & CEO, Alliance for Biking and Walking. The panel discussion was moderated by Roger Millar, PE AICP, Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition.

Posted in Complete Streets, Complete Streets Coalition, Complete Streets Policy, District of Columbia, Events, Tennessee | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment