FAST study – a catalyst for accelerated change
- May 13, 2021
- Posted by: Joe Milazzo II
- Category: Blog
Earlier this month, RTA and our regional and state partners put together the finishing touches on the year-long Freeway And Street-based Transit (FAST) study for the Triangle region and North Carolina.
RTA and our funding partners, which included NCDOT, GoTriangle, and the NC Turnpike Authority, recognized that the “FAST” study would provide several complementary and reinforcing elements:
- A rapid research study, that created an illustrative multimodal freeway- and street-based transit network for the Triangle region that could be implemented quickly, in concert with upcoming bus rapid transit investments
- Two “deeper dive” corridors in Triangle cities, with the City of Durham already commencing implementation
- A statewide implementation playbook, also available for download now on the NCDOT FAST vision webpage, that can provide assistance with FAST planning in metropolitan areas across North Carolina
In addition, we and other partners quickly came to realize that FAST is an approach or mindset that focuses on making freeways and streets “transit-ready” — including prioritizing transit operations through targeted, high value for money infrastructure investments — that will accelerate mobility speed and reliability benefits for current and future transit users.
NCDOT highlights the specific actions the Department is taking as a result of the study on the FAST Vision webpage, noting that the Department has “recently updated its Complete Streets policy to more fully incorporate public transportation, and is actively revising the State Roadway Design Manual to include transit-supportive infrastructure elements supported by the results and objectives of the FAST study.”
The bottom line is the FAST study has created both a framework and implementation guidance for reimagining our primary roadways to provide reliable mobility for transit users within an effective multimodal network.
The following quote from J.J. Eden, the executive director of the NC Turnpike Authority and one of our funding partners for the FAST study, speaks to both the impetus and opportunity of the FAST vision quite well:
“The NC Turnpike Authority Board and executive leadership believe there is strong alignment between the Freeway And Street-based Transit (FAST) vision and our goals at the NC Turnpike Authority to provide reliable multimodal mobility.
“We are confident that the expanding 540/147 turnpike system in the Triangle can serve as primary FAST network linkages that provide enhanced transit connectivity regionwide, and we are committed to the partnerships to make that vision a reality.”
– J.J. Eden, North Carolina Turnpike Authority executive director
In addition, the FAST study has served as the springboard for the ongoing I-40 Transit Priority Shoulder initiative effort being led by RTA, NCDOT, and GoTriangle. RTA members AECOM, HNTB, and WSP are actively providing analysis for various elements of this new initiative; we will provide an update in a future blog post.
The strategic goal of a FAST approach is to institutionalize “transit advantage” infrastructure on our state highway system. Based on the results to date, the FAST mindset is quickly becoming a reality for NCDOT and partner transit agencies and municipalities — and transit customers — in our region and state.
RTA thanks all of our local, regional, and state partners for their support and engagement on the FAST effort. We applaud our longtime Leadership Team member VHB for leading the study, as well as the rest of their study team, which included fellow RTA members Stantec and Catalyst Design. You can learn more about the FAST vision for enhanced transit in North Carolina on the NCDOT FAST vision webpage or the RTA FAST study webpage.
Let’s get moving,
Joe Milazzo II, PE
Executive Director, Regional Transportation Alliance
RTA is the voice of the regional business community on transportation in the Research Triangle area.
RTA represents more than 100 leading businesses and 25 member chambers of commerce in central and eastern North Carolina.