LDDs And Transportation
Best practices listed below are taken from the March 2009 NADO Publication: Local Development Districts: Pursuing Transportation-Led Economic Development.
I-86 Coalition - New York
Since facilitating an economic impact analysis in the late 1990s on the importance of upgrading the I-86 corridor, the I-86 coalition comprising three ARC LDDs—Southern Tier East, Central and West Regional Planning and Development Boards, along with the Hudson Valley Regional Council—have been directly involved with advocating to New York legislators and collaborating with the New York State Department of Transportation to improve transportation access to the area. Upgrades to the Southern Tier Expressway will remedy capacity constraints for transporting freight, as well as provide a restructured east-west thoroughfare essential to tourism, commerce and job growth across the region.
Aerial View of the National Alabama Corp. railcar plant.
Shoals Area Metropolitan Planning Organization - Alabama
Northwest Alabama is perhaps best known for its contribution to American music: “Father of the Blues” W.C. Handy was born in Florence, and Muscle Shoals is home to two famous sound studios. In a tough economy, however, it is no longer the blues that is making music to people’s ears, but the sound of the National Alabama Corporation, a subsidiary of National Steel Car, bringing 1,800 rail car manufacturing jobs to the historically distressed area.With a $350 million manufacturing facility nearing completion at the Barton Riverfront Industrial Park located on U.S. Route 72, city officials of nearby Tuscumbia teamed up with regional and local leaders to ensure that the corridor is able to handle the additional capacity. The Shoals Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (staffed by Northern Alabama Council of Local Governments—an ARC LDD) committed $50,000, and the Appalachian Regional Commission committed $12,500—with another $12,500 from local matching money—to conduct a corridor study for U.S. 72.
For the study, NACOLG has partnered with a consultant to manage the data collection and analysis of the corridor and to facilitate conversations with local stakeholders. This includes publicly held meetings to discuss anticipated growth as a result of development and offering local governments and citizens the chance to air issues and concerns. Based on the data and these discussions, the study will offer ideas on segments of the corridor where development should be targeted—urban activity centers—and places that should remain rural.
Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission – Virginia
After almost three decades of talk about a highway that would connect the economically
depressed coal counties of Southwest Virginia with the rest of the central Appalachian region, headway is finally being made on the Virginia Coalfields Expressway (U.S. Route 121).
Two key state initiatives have made the Coalfields Expressway a reality. The first was set in place by the Virginia General Assembly in the late 1990s to identify economic competitiveness issues within the state. This made it possible, through an annual $300,000 Regional Competitiveness grant, for the Virginia Coalfield Coalition, a partnership of two ARC LDDs—the CPPDC and neighboring LENOWISCO Planning District Commission— to conduct studies on the anticipated positive economic impacts the 51-mile highway would have on tourism and industry.
Another win came with the state’s Public-Private Transportation Act and subsequent Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) guidelines that allow for innovative partnerships on roadway initiatives. This allowed Alpha Natural Resources and Pioneer Group coal companies to recently be awarded a $5 million Transportation Partnership Opportunity Fund grant by Governor Tim Kaine to begin the Phase 1 planning and construction on the Expressway.
The proposed highway will connect Interstates 64 and 77 in West Virginia with Route 23 in Virginia, which links to interstates in Kentucky and Tennessee. It also connects to the ADHS Corridor Q, another route significant to the region’s economic development. But with 70 percent of the land above a 20 percent slope, construction across the hilly expanse is expected to be a feat of engineering. By coordinating the roadbed development as part of an active surface mining operation, however, the total cost of the roadway is estimated to be cut nearly in half from $4.7 billion to $2.6 billion, according to VDOT.