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Public/Private Development Unit (PPDU)

The Public/Private Development Unit (PPDU) operates within the Office of Transportation Planning and acts as an interface between developers and MassDOT. The mission of the PPDU is to balance the goals of preserving and enhancing the capacity of the state highway system while encouraging economic development throughout the Commonwealth. The PPDU prepares responses to private development proposals that are subject to the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) and require state highway access permits. Through the MEPA review process, PPDU negotiates with developers to establish an equitable mitigation package for each project; which may include both structural capacity enhancing measures and Transportation Demand Management (TDM). TDM consists of specific measures aimed at reducing the number of single-occupant vehicle trips to the development. During the conceptual stages of projects, PPDU works with developers, MassDOT Highway District offices, cities and towns, transit agencies and authorities to ensure that projects are planned and designed not only to minimize state highway traffic impacts, but also support multi-modal transportation goals, in accordance with MassDOT’s GreenDOT Policy Directive.

What we do:

PPDU’s ongoing work falls into the following categories: 

  • Technical review and evaluation of transportation impacts of development projects through MEPA and MassDOT access permit processes.
  • Mitigation, transportation demand management, and monitoring programs for development projects.
  • Coordination and consultation with developers and project stakeholders.
  • Support of MassDOT policies and incorporation of inter-agency initiatives.
  • Canvasses for sale or lease of MassDOT-owned land or railroad rights-of-way.
  • Representation for MassDOT on certain transportation issues of statewide importance; such as brownfield redevelopment and expedited state permitting.

Background

MassDOT is granted authority to issue both vehicular and non-vehicular highway access permits under the Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 81, Section 21 (the Highway Access Statute). Highway Access Permits are issued by MassDOT Highway Division District Offices, in collaboration with the PPDU. A vehicular highway access permit is required for new access within the state highway layout, a physical modification to existing access within the state highway layout, and property abutting the state highway layout that substantially increases traffic above MEPA thresholds. A non-vehicular access permit may not have a direct impact on the state highway, but may increase traffic volumes on nearby state highways.

Projected traffic from proposed development projects is presented to the PPDU through a Transportation Impact Assessment (TIA). The PPDU has worked closely with the State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) and the MEPA office to draft revised TIA guidelines to govern the content and construct of these assessments. These guidelines are applicable to development projects that exceed MEPA transportation thresholds and are subject to review. A well-prepared TIA should present MassDOT, partner agencies, and the general public with the information needed to properly assess the adequacy of transportation infrastructure in accommodating the proposed development. The revised guidelines are the result of an extensive outreach effort that included a variety of stakeholders, and is anticipated to provide predictability for project proponents as well as a better product for MassDOT and public review.

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