Best idea: Establishing regional allies

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TERESA SCOTT, PE
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS
GAINESVILLE, FLA.

In 1997, Gainesville's traffic signals were operating on 1980s technology. The city compiled a master plan outlining the need to improve timings and communications. Estimated cost: $18 million.

In late 2003, after several years without funding, Teresa Scott asked her staff to develop a traffic management system implementation plan to present to residents, elected officials, and potential funding partners. “We seized on the failing grade we received from the Institute of Transportation Engineers' National Traffic Signal Report Card,” says Scott.

Because her team maintains signals countywide, they needed to find and work with partners countywide.

Scott's first step was to reach out to the Gainesville Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization, which in 2005 made the system the top priority of its 2025 long-range plan. That encouraged the city's commissioners to issue a $5-million bond the next year.

Then she learned about the Transportation Regional Incentive Program (TRIP), created by Florida legislation in 2005, which provides 50% matching funds for large, multiple-partner projects. It was only a matter of time before she'd enlisted the Marion County/Ocala Metropolitan Planning Organization, Alachua County, and the University of Florida (which must develop master plans that mitigate off-campus transportation impact) to establish the Alachua/Marion County Regional Transportation Plan Executive Committee.

In late 2007, with $9 million and an established regional partnership in hand, the project received matching TRIP funds for the Gainesville/Alachua County SMARTRAFFIC Advanced Traffic Management System.

“We're on schedule for full implementation,” says Scott. “The Traffic Management Center opened in November 2010, and 78% of the signals are online with a projected completion date of fall 2012.”