Friday, August 03, 2007

TDM responses to I-35W Bridge Collapse

With the tragic collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis comes the need to adjust travel behaviors and patterns. It begs the question if transportation demand management (TDM) programs have specific plans in place for similar emergency responses. If so, what are they? Respond by clicking on the comments URL below.


Peggy Hetherington said...

I began my career in TDM with the public information program done for the construction of the new Mianus River Bridge, which had collapsed in 1983. There will be long-term repercussions of this event (every 5, 10, 15 year, etc. anniversary will bring it up again) where they will scrutinize the state's response and the activities of those who responded with assistance.

The need for public information on alternatives is critical. Not unexpectedly, the local newspaper listed alternate travel routes and bus staging areas the following day for commuters. If they haven't done so already--and, most important, have something specific and helpful to offer--the local group should contact the media.

It is likely that the bridge could be rebuilt in just a couple of years, since it will not have to accommodate traffic. The activity, I believe, is best first done through the larger employers impacted by the collapse, who probably already have their emergency plans in place; using these as case study examples to mail in a special newsletter to all employers in the area, ideally in partnership with the local chambers of Commerce in Minn./St. Paul.

Telecommuting is an obvious choice, and one likely to keep some share once the new bridge is built. Working with the local transit operators to help them identify areas that are not served by the new bus services, or filling in gaps between the work destinations of the buses and the worksite (with or without employer participation or public routes) can be well facilitated by the TDM organization, with vanpools or shuttles.

Carpooling is most likely to happen organically among friends and at the worksite, but can be encouraged through the use of the online ridematching system if one is offered by the local group (I apologize for not getting to the local organization page,they could well be doing much or all of what I am suggesting). I'm not sure incentives are appropriate.

I offer my deepest condolences to my colleagues in Minneapolis and St. Paul. This is a topic that will cast a pall over their operations for a long time. I also have a personal interest in this--my brother and his family live in Minneapolis, and he crosses the bridge daily (but was thankfully in Wisconsin this week).

Good luck; if I can be of any futher assistance feel free to contact me at
Peggy Hetherington

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