The Major Investment Study as a Planning and Policy Tool

Abstract

This thesis considers the Major Investment Study (MIS) requirement, which was established as part of the Federal urban transportation planning process in 1993 to set standards for the investigation of large-scale transportation investments. We first assesses the degree to which the MIS requirement is a useful tool for Federal policy. In pursuing this investigation, the current Federal policy context is established, the major features and intent of the MIS requirement are identified, and factors which affect the degree to which MIS can achieve its intent are explored. Second, by considering the application of MIS to the expansion of Tren Urbano in San Juan, Puerto Rico, we investigate the opportunities and concerns which MIS may present for local planning. Recommendations are offered both for improving the requirement as a Federal policy tool and for guiding the MISs in the Tren Urbano extension corridors. Our analysis finds that the MIS requirement was designed to support three Federal policy principles: increasing local input, introducing non-transportation concerns, and giving fair consideration to transit. The requirement's emphases on collaboration among agencies and the use of broad goals and objectives are particularly useful in promoting these principles. Our analysis also identifies a number of factors which limit the effectiveness of the requirement. Some such factors should be addressed through modifications to the requirement. These include: reconciling the MIS process with NEPA; reconciling MIS with fiscal constraint; and addressing "political reality" projects. Other complicating factors result from broader tensions in the planning process and include: tensions between Federal programs and local decision-making, and persistency of modalism and modal bias. Though the flexibility of the requirement generates substantial short term uncertainty, it should probably not be altered until the longer-run impacts are clear. Our analysis of the San Juan case suggests undertaking pre-MIS analysis followed by a series of MISs to perform system and extension planning for Tren Urbano. The opportunities offered by MIS include: emphasizing non-traditional goals which have local relevance such as improving accessibility and land use planning; and inviting a broad range of institutions to participate. The primary concerns in this application are: negotiating with FTA; asserting locally determined evaluation criteria over discretionary funding criteria; determining the number and timing of the studies; and designing a means of integrating MIS with NEPA. Thesis Co-Supervisor: Frederick P. Salvucci Title: Senior Lecturer, Center for Transportation Studies Thesis Co-Supervisor: Nigel H. M. Wilson Title: Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Salvucci2011TheMI, title={The Major Investment Study as a Planning and Policy Tool}, author={Frederick P. Salvucci and Nigel H. M. Wilson and Mark A. Schuster and Tren Urbano}, year={2011} }