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3 Planning and decision-Making Processes T he decision-making process about BRAC, and, to a degree, other major military force relocations occurring at the same time, appears to be misaligned with the existing planning and decision-making processes for providing the civil transportation infrastructure that would serve the military in the intended locations. This misalignment has particularly severe implications when military activity is concentrated at bases in metropolitan areas. This chapter begins with a brief overview of how planning for transportation is normally carried out in metropolitan areas. The next section describes how military bases normally plan for their internal infrastructure. As indicated in those sections, communication and coordination between bases and their surrounding communities concerning military expectations for civil transportation infrastructure is insufficient. Perhaps as a result of this misalignment, the BRAC 2005 decisions appear to have substantially underestimated the transportation impacts these relocations would have on their surrounding communi- ties and the military. The third section discusses the implications of the BRAC decisions and the lack of consideration of transportation impacts off the bases. The final section includes the committee’s assessment of the current state of affairs along with recommendations for actions to miti- gate current impacts and observations about how the process might be improved in the future. MeTroPoliTan TransPorTaTion-Planning Process Since 1962, metropolitan areas have had to carry out a continuing, comprehensive planning process in a cooperative manner with affected parties. Each urbanized area must have a metropolitan planning organi- zation (MPO) consisting of elected officials who represent the constituent areas. There are more than 380 MPOs serving communities of 50,000 or greater (TRB 2007). In these communities, the MPO must develop a long-range transportation plan and a shorter-term transportation pro- gram. These plans and programs must be financially realistic and include only projects for which funding will be available. These plans and programs must conform to a number of laws and regulations concerning social and environmental impacts, air quality, citizen participation, civil rights, and so forth (GAO 2003). 47
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Federal Funding oF TransPorTaTion iMProveMenTs in Brac cases MPOs carry out extensive demand and network analyses to find the most effective and efficient way to serve travel demand and meet other goals and objectives for the area. In doing so, MPOs develop multimodal transportation plans consisting of a range of transportation strategies and services, which can include new and expanded highway capacity; increased transit lines and services; expanded use of vanpools, carpools, and bus shuttles; promotion of telework and telecenters; vari- able work hours and schedules; and application of various intelligent transportation system technologies and strategies. Although highway transportation is the dominant mode of transportation in all MPOs, larger areas rely on transit as an essential component of meeting peak- period demand. Expansion of highway capacity in built-up areas can be particularly difficult in terms of the cost of land acquisition, compliance with the Clean Air Act, and citizen acceptance (TRB 1995). Often, par- ticularly in larger metropolitan areas with limited options to expand their transportation networks and issues of compliance with the Clean Air Act, these plans and programs include various pricing and other travel demand management measures. They may also include land use and eco- nomic plans to better integrate development with transportation systems, thereby reducing travel demand. The process of adding capacity is arduous and expensive. It is not uncommon for major arterial roads and transit systems serving major metropolitan areas to be congested during peak periods, with some of them extremely congested beyond the peak period. The case study examples of I-395 near the Mark Center in Virginia and I-5 near Joint Base Lewis–McChord in Washington indicate sections of Interstates that operate in stop-and-go conditions during the peak and that have peaks lasting several hours. The MPOs in the relevant regions are well aware of the problems, but the options for adding capacity are often untenable because of cost, environmental impact, and public acceptability. Even with application of all the above transportation options, how- ever, it is not always possible to develop plans and programs that serve a metropolitan area with a satisfactory level of service while meeting the national ambient air-quality standards and other requirements. Moreover, in the current climate of limited fiscal resources (described in the next chapter), funds are often insufficient to carry out all the transportation projects that are desired by the various jurisdictions within metropolitan areas. Even in less fiscally constrained times than at present, proposed major projects often require years of analysis and environmental review before they can be added to the long-range capital plan of an MPO. Addi- tion of projects is an analytic and negotiation process among regional leaders. For these reasons, the standard MPO process is ill prepared to 48
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Planning and decision-Making Processes accept the relatively sudden travel demands caused in some BRAC 2005 concentrations of personnel. The case study examples suggest particu- larly difficult problems on major corridors serving bases in the National Capital Region, Joint Base Lewis–McChord in Washington, and Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. MiliTary Base Planning and BudgeTing Process Military bases in metropolitan areas are functionally small cities, in many respects similar to the jurisdictions with an MPO. By all appear- ances, however, military base planning is typically done independent of the surrounding communities. Military bases are required to develop long-range plans for their bases (DoD 2005). These plans are to be a continuous analytic process that involves evaluating factors that affect the present and future physical development of an installation. This evaluation forms the basis for determining development objectives and planning proposals to solve current problems and meet future needs on the base. The process includes the assessment of existing operational and environmental conditions at the installation and the planning rationale used to determine the installation’s long-range goals and objectives. The primary products are master plan reports that accommodate an instal- lation’s existing and long-range operational requirements. This process involves data collection and analysis, which lead to development of con- cept plans and finally to definition of long-range plans for the physical development of the installation. During planning, an installation’s facility requirements are derived from the installation’s mission. The need to acquire additional facilities is determined by an assessment of how existing facilities meet the installa- tion’s facility requirements. If additional facilities are needed, construc- tion projects may be undertaken to build new facilities or to upgrade existing, substandard facilities to accommodate new missions, accept technological changes, and improve operational efficiency. This planning process focuses primarily on the capital facility requirements at the base and not on the expectations the bases have of the infrastructure and of the surrounding communities. And, as a result, most planning is directed at identifying military construction (MILCON) and operations and main- tenance budgets for physical infrastructure, rather than other funding sources to mitigate ongoing traffic congestion impacts through measures such as mass transit subsidies and flextime policies. Each base submits annual construction requirements, which are a summary for correcting facility deficiencies, to headquarters as part of the military construction budgeting process (DoD 1996). This summary 49
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Federal Funding oF TransPorTaTion iMProveMenTs in Brac cases provides a 6-year construction program for the base. The facility require- ments are reflected in an installation master plan. This document is the installation’s long-range strategy for development. It prescribes overall facility quality standards and architectural themes and addresses areas such as land use, utility systems, roads, and parking. It also identifies unprogrammed requirements that can be reasonably deferred. The bases’ main requirements are given a priority ranking and placed in competi- tion with other projects for available resources within the MILCON bud- get. The project definition effort begins at the installation level and moves through the chain of command until the project ultimately is included in the budget submittal. To the extent that this planning and budgeting process is carried out at each facility, it is apparently done with little coordination and coopera- tion from surrounding communities (GAO 2007). (The Fort Bliss example cited in the case study chapter stands out as a counterexample.) Communi- ties are generally left in the dark about the military base actions that affect them. They receive little information and, to the extent that they do receive information, it is generally too little or too late to allow adequate planning and programming on their part. They are often left with addressing prob- lems after they occur. This lack of coordination between military bases and surrounding communities has been a long-term problem and continues to this day (GAO 2007). To the extent the base public works directors are not engaged in the MPO process, presumably they are not fully aware of the carrying capacity of regional transportation infrastructure and its potential (or lack thereof) for expansion. iMPlicaTions For Brac 2005 decisions The legislation that established the BRAC 2005 round defined the cri- teria that the Commission was required to consider with regard to base closures and realignments.1 The first four criteria cover the value to the military the Commission must evaluate. Four other criteria relevant for this report are also considered, which include “potential costs and sav- ings,” “economic impact on communities,” capability of receiving infra- structure, and environmental impact. Criterion 7 states, “The ability of the infrastructure of both the existing and potential receiving communi- ties to support forces, missions, and personnel.” The BRAC analysis and decision-making process takes place largely behind closed doors. Given the intense political interest in the outcome of these decisions, the pro- cess presumably could not work any other way. In the case of consider- http://www.brac.gov/docs/criteria_final_jan4_05.pdf. Accessed Dec. 30, 2010. 1 50
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Planning and decision-Making Processes ing BRAC consequences for civil transportation infrastructure, however, it appears that the lack of communication between military bases and MPOs may have hindered flows of information that could have influ- enced the outcome of the decisions. The committee’s understanding is that information is gathered about infrastructure around bases for BRAC determinations by “data calls,” which come from Department of Defense (DoD) staff support- ing the Commission; these calls are directed to the bases to ask for basic information about infrastructure carrying capacity. Information about these data calls is closely held during the analysis and decision-making process because of political sensitivity. This required level of secrecy may compound the problem of getting reliable information about trans- portation capacity back to the Commission. Given that bases typically are not involved in the MPO process, they may be unaware of the true status of the major corridors upon which the bases rely or the difficulty of expanding them in response to concentrations of military personnel. The difficulty of meeting transportation demand on routes serving Fort Belvoir and Joint Base Lewis–McChord, for example, suggests that the Commission either lacked good information or, if it was aware of the limited and constrained transportation capacity, was unaware of how difficult and expensive it would be to expand the capacity to avoid creating gridlocked conditions. Of concern to the committee are the implications of the lack of information about transportation and environmental consequences of BRAC and similar fast-paced military realignments of personnel. Deci- sions to locate in a metropolitan area may be inadequately informed about the carrying capacity of civil transportation infrastructure and the consequences the military’s decision would have on the surrounding community and, potentially, on the military. conclusions and looking Forward Although the MPO process is the institutional mechanism through which regional transportation planning is conducted, by all appearances the military bases in metropolitan areas are not typically engaged in this pro- cess. The bases have master planning requirements, but they apply only to the bases and not to their connections to and reliance on surrounding civil transportation infrastructure. This lack of engagement by the mili- tary in MPO processes may have contributed to the lack of information about the carrying capacity of transportation infrastructure expected by the military to support bases with large influxes of personnel over a short time. 51
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Federal Funding oF TransPorTaTion iMProveMenTs in Brac cases Although it is too late for the BRAC 2005 round, future decisions about base realignments could be enhanced by improved communication and planning among bases and MPOs. Improved communication and planning would allow regions to better appreciate the capital plans and expectations of military bases and work the base needs into their long- range plans. The new process needs to be cooperative and collaborative, taking into account the requirements of military missions and the goals and objectives of the surrounding communities. Because MPOs are legally responsible for planning and developing a metropolitan area’s transportation system, they are the logical point of contact for the bases and the surrounding communities. The master plan- ning for the military base and that of the MPO could be coordinated to create consistent long-range plans and shorter-term capital improvement programs. The planning process needs to be carried out continuously and updated regularly. One special issue that may come up is the secret nature of some base operations and the need for MPOs to have staff certi- fied to be privy to secret information and to have processes in place to protect sensitive information. Accomplishing this shift in the planning paradigm may require new regulations and new guidance on the part of the U.S. Department of Trans- portation (USDOT) and DoD. USDOT needs to revise FHWA–FTA joint planning regulations to explicitly require MPOs to include the transpor- tation requirements of military bases in their planning process and to add military representatives to those consulted in the planning process. DoD needs to change its guidance to require military bases to work directly with MPOs in developing and implementing bases’ transportation access needs. It is important for bases to provide complete and timely informa- tion about changes in base personnel to MPOs to allow them to develop transportation plans and programs. Analyses of the impacts of base transportation requirements need to recognize that impacts to a specific node in a transportation network can occur over a wide area. Transportation system analysis takes into account the ripple effects of these impacts. To the extent that base personnel live substantial distances from the bases and that military activities occur away from the bases, there will be some impact on the metropolitan area. These wide-ranging impacts need to be recognized in the analyses carried out by the MPO and in the environmental assessments of military base expansions. These analyses should also consider physical infrastructure capacity improvements funded through MILCON and other capital programs and ongoing access and congestion management programs that may be funded from sources such as operations and maintenance or employee compensation accounts. 52
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Planning and decision-Making Processes This cooperative planning process would likely require that base personnel responsible for planning be updated and trained in this approach and in developing guidance to base commanders. DoD’s Office of Economic Adjustment has the capabilities to assist bases and commu- nities in this area, and its role could be expanded in this regard, as also recommended recently by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA 2009).2 Moreover, it may well require the development of planning manuals, website resources, and training to move this process forward. Some materials could be adapted from existing USDOT materials. Train- ing courses could be developed in concert with USDOT and some mili- tary personnel could benefit from courses provided by FHWA and FTA. Direct technical assistance to base personnel will likely be necessary as this process takes shape. reFerences Conference Proceedings 39: The Metropolitan Planning Organization, Present and Future: Summary of a Conference. 2007. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C. National Academy of Public Administration. 2009. Strengthening National Defense: Encountering Encroachment the Military-Community Collabora- tion. Washington, D.C., September. Special Report 245: Expanding Metropolitan Highways: Implications for Air Qual- ity and Energy Use. 1995. Transportation Research Board, National Research Council, Washington, D.C. U.S. Department of Defense. 1996. Financial Management Regulation, Vol. 3, Chapt. 17, Appendix C, Phases of Military Construction. Washington, D.C., DoD. Dec. 5. U.S. Department of Defense. 2005. Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC)—Installation Master Planning. UFC 2-000-02AN. DoD, Washington, D.C. March 1. U.S. General Accounting Office. 2003. Highway Infrastructure—Perceptions of Stakeholders on Approaches to Reduce Highway Project Completion Time. Report to the Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Environment and Public Works, U.S. Senate. GAO-03-398. GAO, Washington, D.C. April. U.S. Government Accountability Office. 2007. Defense Infrastructure—Challenges Increase Risks for Providing Timely Infrastructure Support for Army Installations Expecting Substantial Personnel Growth. Report to Congressional Addressees. GAO-07-1007. GAO, Washington, D.C. September. See Recommendation 4 of the NAPA report. 2 53
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