Safety project development capacity for small communities in coordination with Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) center.
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Safety project development capacity for small communities in coordination with Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) center.

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      The goal of Florida’s 2012 Strategic Highway Safety Plan is to reduce serious and fatal crashes on all of Florida's road system, including small rural communities. However, there are a few challenges in the way: most small communities lack technical expertise and crash data systems; Florida Department of Transportation's (FDOT) manpower to provide this support is limited; and the necessary funding is lacking. Given the long-time Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) experience in assisting local communities, the purpose of this study was to research options to find a structured and sustainable solution that would address the challenge above by involving LTAP and in coordination with FDOT. To accomplish this goal, the research team reviewed existing efforts in Florida and in other states, surveyed small counties in Florida, and developed a case study for a selected rural (Union) county. Several findings emerged. First, for small agencies a "hands on" support with studies and analysis is required, which will need additional resources to accomplish. Second, some of the safety issues identified could be corrected through maintenance practices and training. Third, there is a need to incorporate the systemic approach with low cost countermeasures, and therefore, further development of systemic analytical tools is needed. Fourth, continued efforts are needed to develop ways to expedite the implementation of safety projects after they have been approved for federal funding. The following recommendations are proposed for a successful application of these findings: (1) establish a program and plan resources to conduct and execute safety studies for small local agencies through LTAP; (2) inform the larger agencies about the safety program through safety summits; (3) expand the outreach program at the state level by reaching out to various relevant professional associations; (4) enhance tools for systemic analysis; and (5) expand methods for expediting implementation of safety improvements.
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