Exec. Director Tim Brennan: Let's keep the infrastructure renewal conversation going

11 Jul 2017

At the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC), we have been encouraged of late to hear such a renewed focus on infrastructure in public discourse. While not always the most exciting topic, it seems more and more residents are realizing the critical impact infrastructure has on our region's economy and quality of life here in Western Massachusetts.

Roads and bridges are often the first thing that comes to mind when people think infrastructure – and rightfully so! Our Transportation Section works with state administrators, DPW directors, municipal engineers, and our local leaders to determine what projects get completed each year within our region. This section also has continued to work on rail connectivity – most recently the completed north-south Knowledge Corridor passenger service reestablished to serve Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield. With Connecticut's new commuter rail service connecting New Haven, Hartford and Springfield scheduled for launch in 2018, the Valley stands to gain much greater access to points south, including Bradley International Airport and New York City. Lastly, we remain committed to working with our partners at the local, state and federal levels to establish a reliable rail connection linking Springfield, Palmer, Worcester and Boston.

Our Community Development Section is also no stranger to infrastructure improvements in the Valley. Over the years, they have leveraged federal funding to repair or replace over 250 septic systems, as well as resurfacing 25 miles of roadway – mostly in our smaller, rural communities with routinely tight local budgets. Other infrastructure projects tackled by PVPC's Community Development staff in these towns – primarily the Valley's southern Hilltowns as well as in eastern Hampden county – have included the installation of sidewalks and guardrails, fire safety improvements, water and sewer lines; and a water tower.

PVPC's Land Use & Environment Section also plays an important role in ensuring the Valley's infrastructure well-being. Charged in part with protecting the health of our region's water bodies and waterways – including this region's crown jewel, the Connecticut River – the PVPC's land use & environment staff members have been diligently working to remediate the harmful impact that Combined Sewer Outflows (CSOs) have on the Connecticut River and its tributaries. Partnering with the urban core cities of Springfield, Chicopee and Holyoke as the PVPC and its Connecticut River Clean Up Committee, the Commission continues to implement projects designed to reduce the flow of pollutants into the Connecticut, especially during periods of rainy weather and snow melt. In that same vein, we also have enthusiastically sought to install green infrastructure and promote the planting of more trees and rain gardens in our region's denser urban neighborhoods. As effective and affordable means to boost environmental quality, PVPC staff from this section also conduct a great deal of infrastructure planning as part of the larger Commonwealth-wide Complete Streets program which ensures roadways are designed to sensibly accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists after decades of vehicle-centric policies.

Last, but certainly not least – infrastructure also means ensuring broadband access to many of the Pioneer Valley's rural communities, which lack broadband service or are severely underserved. PVPC's Economic Development Section has continuously advocated for broadband access in the dozens of communities who still are unable to fully attract and retain businesses and entrepreneurs who most rely on high-speed internet to conduct their business, but otherwise would be a perfect and cost effective fit.

In the months to come, we are hopeful leaders in Washington will signal their intentions to significantly boost infrastructure investments here in Massachusetts and elsewhere across our nation. Here at the PVPC, we stand ready to partner with any and all levels of government to continue to improve our region's built environment in the pursuit of a higher quality of life for residents of the Valley as well as a vibrant and competitive economy.

Tim Brennan is the Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission – the state designated regional planning agency for the 43 cities and towns of Hampden and Hampshire county.

Link to MassLive.com posting here

Continuing, Comprehensive, and Cooperative Planning Process

Average Annual Daily Traffic

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

Americans with Disabilities Act (1990)

Average Daily Traffic

American Farmland Trust

Alternative Fuel Vehicles

American Heritage Rivers Initiative

American International College

Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations

Approval Not Required

American Planning Association

Aquifer Protection District

Air Quality Index

Air Quality Index

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (of 2009)

Automatic Traffic Recorder

Average Vehicle Ridership

Barnes Aquifer Protection Advisory Committee

Business Improvement District

Bicycle Level of Service

Best Management Practice

Bridge Management System

Board of Appeals (or Adjustment)

Board of Health

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990

Commercial Area Revitalization District

Community Action Statement

Central Business District

Cape Cod Commission

Cooperating Colleges of Greater Springfield

Community Development

Community Development Action Grant

Community Development Block Grant

Centers for Disease Control

Community Development Corporation

Community Development Fund

Community Development Plan

Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation

Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

Community Enterprise Economic Development

Citizen Housing and Planning Association

Community Housing Development Organizations

Capital Improvement Inventory System

Capital Improvements Plan (or Program)

Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program

Congestion Management Process

Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission

Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area

Compressed Natural Gas

Carbon Monoxide

Council of Governments

Commonwealth Procurement Access and Solicitation System

Community Preservation Act

Citizen Planner Training Collaborative

Capitol Region Council of Governments

Community Service Block Grant

Combined Sewer Overflow

Department of Conservation and Recreation

Department of Environmental Protection

Division of Employment and Training

Department of Housing and Community Development

Direct Local Technical Assistance

Department of Energy Resources

Department of Revenue

Department of Transportation

Department of Public Works

Developments of Regional Impact

Executive Order

Production of affordable housing across a broad range of incomes 

Economic Assistance Coordinating Council

Economic Development Administration

Economic Development Council

Economic Development District

Economic Development Data and Information System

Economic Development and Industrial Corporation

Environmental Impact Report

Environmental Impact Statement

Environmental Justice

Environmental Notification Form

Economic Opportunity Area

Executive Office of Administration and Finance

Executive Office of Economic Affairs

Executive Office of Elder Affairs

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development

Environmental Protection Agency

Environmental Site Assessment

Economic Target Area

Federal Aid

Functional Classification (of roadways)

Federal Housing Administration

Federal Highway Administration - An agency of the United States Department of Transportation that provides financial and technical support to each state for constructing, improving, and preserving America’s highway system.

Federal Highway Administration

Franklin Regional Council of Governments

Federal Transit Administration

Greenhouse Gas

Geographic Information System - A system for capturing, storing, analyzing and managing data and associated attributes which are spatially referenced to the earth.

Geographic Information System

Global Positioning System

Housing Appeal Committee


Holyoke Community College

Housing Development Support Program

Housing Innovation Fund

Home Modification for Individuals with Disabilities Loan

Highway Overlay District

Historic Overlay District

Homeownership Opportunities Program

High Occupancy Vehicle

Housing Preservation Grant

Housing Production Plan

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Invitation for Bid

Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991

Intelligent Transportation Systems

Job Access and Reverse Commute

Jacob's Ladder Scenic Byway

Jacob's Ladder Trail

Joint Transportation Committee

Local Board(s) of Health

Limited English Proficiency

Local Housing Authority

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Low Income Housing Tax Credit

Level of Service

Local Option Transportation Tax

Local Pavement Management System

Light Rail Vehicle

Local Technical Assistance

Massachusetts General Laws

Hazardous waste cleanup regulations

Uniform procurement law for local governments


Planning/comprehensive permits

Smart growth zoning and housing production

Smart growth school cost reimbursement

Subdivision control

Expedited permitting

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century

Metropolitan Area Planning Council

Massachusetts Association of Regional Planning Agencies

Massachusetts Department of Transportation

Massachusetts Geographic Information System

Minority Business Enterprises

Massachusetts Development Finance Agency 

Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act

Massachusetts Geographic Information Council

Massachusetts Historical Commission 

Massachusetts Housing Partnership

Massachusetts Industrial Finance Agency

Municipal Incentive Grant

Massachusetts Municipal Association

Memorandum of Agreement

Massachusetts Office of Business Development

Massachusetts Office on Disability

Memorandum of Understanding

Metropolitan Planning Organization

Metropolitan Planning Organization

Montachusett Regional Planning Commission

Metropolitan Statistical Area

Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices

Martha's Vineyard Commission

Merrimack Valley Planning Commission

Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

National Association of Regional Councils

New England Association of Regional Councils

Non-Federal Aid

National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (as amended)

National Highway System

Neighborhood Housing Services program

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Northern Middlesex Council of Governments

Nitrogen Oxide

Nantucket Planning and Economic Development Commission

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System 

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Transportation Safety Board

Old Colony Planning Council

Overall Condition Index (Pavement)

Open Space and Recreation Plan

Pavement Condition Index

Priority Development Fund

Purchase of Development Rights

Peak Hour Traffic (or Trips)

Payment in Lieu of Taxes

[Metropolitan] Planning Funds

Pavement Management System 

Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area

Pavement Management Users Group

Planner on a Disc

Public Participation Process

Planned Unit Residential Development

Pioneer Valley Regional Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund

Pioneer Valley Transit Authority

Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp.

Rental Development Action Loan

Regional Employment Board

Regional Education and Business Alliance

Regional Economic Models, Inc.

Request For Proposal

Request for Qualifications

Request for Response

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Roadway Inventory Files

Revolving Loan Fund

Regional Planning Agency

Regional Pavement Management System

Regional Transit Authority

Regional Technology Corporation

Regional Transportation Plan

Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users

Small Business Administration

Supplier Diversity Office 

State Implementation Plan (for air quality)

Sustainable Knowledge Corridor

Single Occupancy Vehicle

Special Permit

Special Permit Planning

Site Plan Review

Statewide Planning and Research Funds

Single Room Occupancy

Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District

Springfield Technical Community College

Statewide Transportation Improvement Program

Surface Transportation Program

Targeted Brownfields Assessment

Transportation and Community System Preservation [Pilot Program]

Transportation Demand Management

Transfer of Development Rights

Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century

Tax Increment Financing

Transportation Improvement Program

The Literacy Project

Turning Movement Count

Traditional Neighborhood District

Transit Oriented Design (or Development)

Transportation Research Board

Trip Reduction Ordinance

Transportation Systems Management

Urban Growth Boundary

Urban Land Institute

University of Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute

Unified Planning Work Program

Urban Revitalization Development Grant

U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Department of the Interior

U.S. Forest Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Geological Survey

U.S. Public Land Survey

Underground Storage Tanks

Vehicle Miles Traveled

Volatile Organic Compound

Vehicle Occupancy Rate

Ware Adult Learning Center

Weatherization Assistance Program

Women-owned Business Enterprises

Wellhead Protection Area

Western New England University

Water Quality Management Plan

Westfield River Watershed Association

Westfield River Wild & Scenic Advisory Committee

Water Supply Protection [District]

Westfield State University

Zoning Board of Adjustment (or Appeals)