Together with FSU and UF, USF MURP and the Center for Urban Transportation Research – CUTR received the APA Florida Student Project Award for research in support of the FDOT Future Transportation Plan update
USF Student Planners Earn State Outstanding Student Project Award
This September, students from the USF Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program received the Outstanding Student Project Award from the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association. The Award jointly recognizes students from USF MURP (led by Dr. Evangeline Linkous, AICP) and the USF Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) (led by Kristine Williams, AICP), as well as students from UF and FSU. Students from each of these universities collaborated on a project for the Florida Department of Transportation entitled Assessment of Planning Risks and Alternative Futures for the Florida Transportation Plan Update.
In an initial phase, students from each university worked independently in project teams to identify risks and opportunities related to long-range transportation planning with likely impacts to Florida. Through a literature review, the project team identified risks and opportunities in four categories: 1) population/demographics, 2) economic/revenue, 3) technology/energy, and 4) environment/natural disasters. The research team also surveyed Florida Metropolitan Planning Organizations—responsible for regional transportation planning initiatives—to identify factors they believe will impact long-range transportation planning in the state. Some of the “change factors” considered included an aging and increasingly multilingual population, automated vehicles, sea-level rise, and reduced revenue from gas taxes as electric vehicles gain in popularity.
Using this information, a CUTR team developed a set of analytical tools designed to assist in dynamic, adaptive policy-making. Unlike typical planning and policy processes that assume a predictable, static future, these planning processes and tools call for a feedback loop approach to policy-making that continuously shapes and responds to evolving futures. These tools included a risk register to analyze scenario planning processes and an asset vulnerability tool to determine how vulnerable multimodal, highway, real estate, and other FDOT assets are to threats.
In a final stage at USF, students participated in a studio course to analyze alternative futures contained in FDOT’s Future Transportation Plan and identified new processes and strategies for planning for an uncertain future. A major finding from this phase of research is that scenario planning must look less at fixed or predicted visions, but rather should be calibrated to a set of identified internal and external driving forces—such as the policy orientation of state leadership and levels of technological change. This allows for adaption because the drivers of change are explicitly considered.
After each university completed independent research, USF, UF, and FSU came together through a series of strategic planning events organized by FDOT. Students presented individual white paper research and collaboratively discussed group findings. The project findings are now being incorporated into FDOT planning processes. The project represented a unique opportunity for USF students, both because they were able to take part in a challenging, exciting, and impactful project at the cutting-edge of transportation policy-making, but also because they were able to collaborate across universities and learn from one another.