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News AASHTO Journal May 22, 2002
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"Simplify" was the message delivered by Ken Leonard of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation during testimony before a Sen

"Simplify" was the message delivered by Ken Leonard of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation during testimony before a Senate hearing on transportation planning and smart growth.


Leonard, who is the vice-chairman of the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials' (AASHTO) Standing Committee on Planning, outlined the perspective of state DOTs on freight planning, financial constraints and land use decision making during the hearing held by the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee. He also cited examples of smart-growth initiatives in the states, including AASHTO's work in the area of context-sensitive design.


Noting that international trade will triple and domestic trade will double over the next 20 years, Leonard said it was essential that states and Metropolitan Planning Organizations consider the impacts of such trade in the planning process. He noted that as part of its reauthorization recommendations AASHTO has proposed a $10 million annual program to strengthen freight transportation planning, and an increase in funding for freight research at the federal level. He also recommended the creation of a Freight Advisory Council to communicate the industry's views and needs.


Addressing the "financial constraint" requirements in planning, Leonard said they were intended to avoid the creation of "wish lists" of transportation projects for which funds were unlikely to be available. In application, however, he said the current regulations limit a state's flexibility in reprogramming funds if a project becomes delayed or if additional state resources become available.


Leonard stressed that local governments should retain the decision making on local land use, and added that the current balance of responsibilities should be maintained in transportation decision making.



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