Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Mobility Plan RFP underway

Davidson has another RFP underway, but unlike the Beaty Street RFP which has caused a lot of controversy, this one hopes to address an issue many (maybe even most) can agree on - Mobility.

The Mobility Plan RFP was posted to the town website with a date of June 12th.   Responses are expected by June 30th.

While Davidson has done a lot of mobility related studies in recent years including the Walks and Rolls Plan and various downtown parking studies (3 since 2011 by aShortChronicle's count), this RFP is for putting together an overall guide around mobility similar to the Town Comprehensive Plan.

"The Davidson Mobility Plan will propose transportation enhancements, programs, development policies, and projects to enhance connectivity for all modes of transportation in town. This plan will also evaluate and incorporate traffic management strategies / programs, evaluate car / bike sharing programs and investigate other innovative transportation solutions. This plan will serve as Davidson’s comprehensive transportation plan and be used as a guiding document for mobility as the town grows. Projects recommended as a result of the Davidson Mobility Plan will be prioritized and funding will need to be determined and allocated."

According to the town, unlike the Beaty Street RFP which was initially sent to a pre-selected group of developers, this RFP went to a wide audience.  According to a response from town staff
"no firms received the Davidson Mobility Plan RFP directly.  It was listed on the NC Planning List Serv, the town’s website, and Charlotte's RFP website."

As for a tentative timeline for vendor selection, the Town "will select a vendor 2-3 weeks after receiving the applications. This may change depending on the number of applications received and NCDOT timelines."

The plan is expected to cost $125,000 with $25,000 coming from the Town of Davidson as local match funding and $100,000 from the CRTPO / UPWP.  The Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) is a Federal program administered locally via the CRTPO that doles out money from the FTA.  (No, more obscure transportation planning acronyms could not be put into that sentence.) 

As is typical for Davidson, the plan covers way more than automobile mobility.  As a nod to that fact, the order of the sections in the requested response is as follows: Pedestrian Mobility, Bicycle Mobility, Mass Transit, Roadways, Parking.

There is also a section for "emerging technologies". for covering things such as:
• Additive manufacturing (3D printing)
• Advanced analytics
• Automated vehicles
• Hyperloop
• Infrastructure inspection robots
• Innovative concepts for protecting pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists
• The Internet of Things
• On-demand ride services (transportation network companies)
• Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)
• Pedestrian Safety and Promotion

Davidson has a long history of spending money on things of questionable value for the town.  While the overall concept of a Mobility Plan seems like a good idea, this last section provides ample opportunity for that unfortunate tradition to continue.  Can anyone else hear Davidson Commissioners justifying "infrastructure inspection robots" or an "unmanned aircraft system" to monitor the Town greenway network?

As with all of these types of things, Davidson says it wants lots of public input and the RFP requires input sessions and input from stakeholder groups as part of the plan buildout.  However, as has been seen with the Beaty Street RFP, saying the Town wants public input and listening to and accepting that input can be very different things.

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