NCHRP Synthesis 337: Cooperative Agreements for Corridor Management

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Williams, K., NCHRP Synthesis 337: Cooperative Agreements for Corridor Management, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, National Academy Press: Washington, D.C. (2004)
This report reviews the state of the practice in developing and implementing cooperative agreements for corridor management, elements of such agreements, and best practices or lessons learned. It includes several case examples of cooperative agreements. Below are a few excerpts from the report relative to effective agreements.
“Corridor management involves the application of strategies in one or more of the following areas: access management, land use and subdivision management, right-of-way needs and preservation, operational strategies, intergovernmental coordination, and/or financing of corridor management improvements. The policy, programmatic and funding actions needed to carry out these strategies generally transcend the authority, resources, or jurisdiction of any single group or unit of government. Therefore some level of cooperation is necessary between governmental entities, and often with private entities as well, to accomplish corridor management objectives.

The need to formalize cooperation has led many state transportation agencies to enter cooperative agreements with local governments and other affected parties that are aimed at strengthening land use and transportation linkages.

These cooperative agreements often require each involved party to verify their level of commitment to managing the corridor and to specify their respective roles and responsibilities. Cooperation between agencies may take the form of resolutions, memoranda of understanding or agreement, intergovernmental agreements, or some combination of these methods. Public/private agreements relating to corridor management objectives may also be pursued between state or local agencies and property owners.
Continuity of enforcement was a clear issue in current practice. One suggestion for improving enforcement was to encourage local governments to incorporate the necessary policies, design standards, and regulations into local comprehensive plans, design manuals, and codes. The same was true for state and provincial transportation agencies. Outdated or ineffective state corridor management codes and policies could impede local government efforts to cooperate for corridor management.
Enforcement could also be enhanced through a joint approval process for amendments. For example, several of the agreements reviewed required approval by more than one if not all partners for an amendment to an access management plan. Establishing an administrative structure through the agreement, such as a committee to administer the corridor management plan or a provision for multi-party approval of amendments, can help formalize the decision making process, strengthen intergovernmental coordination, and facilitate resource sharing and technical assistance. Another benefit is that multi-party approval may help provide a buffer from political pressures to approve amendments that conflict with corridor management objectives.
Another suggestion for improving enforcement is to establish a monitoring or renegotiation clause to address changing circumstances or unforeseen issues. This could also involve creating a body whose role is to monitor progress and report back to the participating agencies. It could also involve a formal mechanism for revisiting an agreement within a specified period of time. Establishing a regular timeline for discussing salient features of a cooperative agreement can proactively address unforeseen changes and head off problems or escalation of concerns. This is particularly beneficial for corridor access management plans, which may need to be revisited if land use or transportation changes occur that significantly impact the plan.

Another common theme in developing effective agreements is that the tough issues need to be resolved through direct involvement of affected parties.

Maintaining a spirit of mutual compromise, treating all participants as equal partners, and keeping all parties to the agreement apprised of substantive developments throughout the process were other suggestions from respondents and the literature. A related theme in current practice is the importance of establishing a shared vision of the corridor and for each party to look at the corridor as a whole – not just from within or outside of the right-of-way. A willingness of each party to work toward a common vision and to compromise for mutual benefit can form the basis of a lasting and effective agreement on corridor management issues.”

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