This project was funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC; grant number 1518), a U.S. DOT University Transportation Center, and with additional support from Salt Lake City Transportation Division; Wasatch Front Regional Council; Utah Department of Transportation; Utah Transit Authority; University of Utah; Salt Lake County, Regional Planning and Transportation; and the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
The “Community Transportation Academy” model seeks to break down the barriers for community members to participate in transportation decision-making processes. Since 1991, the Portland Traffic and Transportation Course has held at least one course each year, connecting Portland residents with top planners, engineers, and decision-makers from agencies working on transportation in the region, with the goal of conveying the factors professionals consider, ranging from technical considerations, legal and policy mandates, other tradeoffs, and how the community can engage with and influence decisions. This project sought to implement a transportation academy in the Salt Lake City region inspired by the Portland course, using a handbook and report developed as part of a prior NITC-funded study. This report details the implementation of the Wasatch Transportation Academy.
Using a curriculum handbook developed in 2015 based on the Portland course, this project sought to adapt the curriculum for the Salt Lake City region. The project brought in partners from the region’s municipalities and regional and state transportation agencies to create the first of what is hoped to be a continuing community-based course in transportation planning and decision-making.
The course ran for eight weeks during January-March 2022, reaching a total of 49 students and concluding with a suite of 18 student-led project presentations and a field trip of a local transportation project in the process of being implemented. Student feedback from a post-course survey showed a high degree of satisfaction across a number of pedagogic factors, with a strongly positive net promoter score, indicating a likelihood of continued success for the course in future years.
Experiences from the first run of the course suggest improvements to course structure and curriculum that would extend the course to a 10-week format (like Portland’s), and a shifting geographic focus to capture differing substantive foci and engage a broader set of students and stakeholders.
McNeil, Nathan; Bartholomew, Keith, and Ryan, Matthew. Launching the Wasatch Transportation Academy. NITC-TT-1518. Portland, OR: National Institute for Transportation and Communities, 2022. https://doi.org/10.15760/trec.279