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Thread: Staff review: traffic and parking layouts

  1. #1
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Staff review: traffic and parking layouts

    On my review team, I have a traffic engineer. He claims he has no authority on the team because all of his "regulations" are recommendations and best practicies. Because of this, he feels afraid to recommend parking layouts, circulation changes, or even, minimum drive aisle widths. I want him to feel as if his comments on traffic are as important as mine with zoning. I gave him a traffic study for a new 150,000 square ft retail center and he said, "What am I supposed to do with this?" He went on to say, even if I think the study will cause extra impact on our streets, I can't do anything about that.

    Short of making changes to the zoning code and city code, what can I do to inspire him and show I'll support his comments?
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  2. #2
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    On my review team, I have a traffic engineer. He claims he has no authority on the team because all of his "regulations" are recommendations and best practicies. Because of this, he feels afraid to recommend parking layouts, circulation changes, or even, minimum drive aisle widths. I want him to feel as if his comments on traffic are as important as mine with zoning. I gave him a traffic study for a new 150,000 square ft retail center and he said, "What am I supposed to do with this?" He went on to say, even if I think the study will cause extra impact on our streets, I can't do anything about that.

    Short of making changes to the zoning code and city code, what can I do to inspire him and show I'll support his comments?
    Ask him for his comments privately, and then bring them up yourself at the review team. Once he sees that his ideas are being taken seriously by the group, he may be more apt to speak up. I guess what I'm saying is you need to work to boost his confidence and help him understand his value to the team.

    It sounds like he may be damaged goods from another job in which his opinions were often dismissed or caused him to earn the wrath of his superiors and elected folks.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  3. #3
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    On my review team, I have a traffic engineer. He claims he has no authority on the team because all of his "regulations" are recommendations and best practicies. Because of this, he feels afraid to recommend parking layouts, circulation changes, or even, minimum drive aisle widths. I want him to feel as if his comments on traffic are as important as mine with zoning. I gave him a traffic study for a new 150,000 square ft retail center and he said, "What am I supposed to do with this?" He went on to say, even if I think the study will cause extra impact on our streets, I can't do anything about that.

    Short of making changes to the zoning code and city code, what can I do to inspire him and show I'll support his comments?
    The proof must be in the pudding. He's right in one sense he may not actually have any authority as far as the codes go, but he'll get inspired and feel like he's part of the team once he sees you going to bat for him and supporting his efforts. Make it a point to demonstrate his input is being taken seriously by twisting arms and pushing to implement his recommendations. Once he sees you walking the walk all doubts should go by the wayside and his confidence will grow.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  4. #4
    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    On my review team, I have a traffic engineer. He claims he has no authority on the team because all of his "regulations" are recommendations and best practicies. Because of this, he feels afraid to recommend parking layouts, circulation changes, or even, minimum drive aisle widths. I want him to feel as if his comments on traffic are as important as mine with zoning. I gave him a traffic study for a new 150,000 square ft retail center and he said, "What am I supposed to do with this?" He went on to say, even if I think the study will cause extra impact on our streets, I can't do anything about that.

    Short of making changes to the zoning code and city code, what can I do to inspire him and show I'll support his comments?
    He needs to get a sack . I (as traffic engineer) have gone so far as to re-draw up simple site plans for mom/pop businesses, as they take me 5-10 min to do. I often draw my recommendations on top of others site plans (often maximizing parking of a site) and make markups on them, recommend elimination of driveway cuts, restrict/limit access to sites and ensure proper geometry (turning radii) for driveways to sites. I ensure the ADA parking requirements are met, as well as the city standards for parking dimensions and aisle widths.
    Don't you have standards he can enforce? If not, have HIM make up your city standards so that he has something to stand behind. Otherwise it sounds like he is a useless tool in your review process.
    Maybe the Engineering Dept. needs to come up with rules/regulations regarding site development and how each will be treated, so it will be uniform. Such as developer requirements for turn lanes/signals/traffic control due to their traffic impact. Sounds like he needs some Policy/Regulations regarding design behind him so that he feels comfortable making recommendations.
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  5. #5
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    He obviously has been beaten down a few too many times - tell him it's his JOB to give comments

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Are your recommendations strictly advisory as well? If so, then no he has no say, and I can feel his pain. Do you have a Twp engineer that reviews that does have a say?

    However, there is alot professional courtesy in the engineering field, and most comments better be backed with a response that says this doesnt work because.....not simply I dont like it.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    I agree with most of what has been said. If there is nothing in the ordinance regarding traffic lanes, parking space dimensions etc, than changes should be made to the ordinance, otherwise you are inviting some severe consequences. If this is the case, then in the mean time build his confidence by using his expertise as "remarks" or "something they may wish to consider" in a report format. or include it in your report.
    If the ordinances are in place and he does not want to commit, then you have only one option. Or alternatively you can write a "contract" with him that he will meet certain goals to succeed at his job to keep his job. If he doesn't than he has terminated himself. I f he agrees to the contract have him sign it and have a witness present and have them sign it. Meet with him weekly with a witness present to review his progress. Naturally there has to be a reasonable time frame in place for this to be accomplished or he will not be motivated and it will go on forever. If this is the scenario than you are ultimately doing him a favor by making him do his job, and he will continue to do so. If he doesn't than you have tried. I have had only person terminate themself using this process. I have used it a few times over the years.
    Good Luck!!

  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    Are your recommendations strictly advisory as well? If so, then no he has no say, and I can feel his pain. Do you have a Twp engineer that reviews that does have a say?

    However, there is alot professional courtesy in the engineering field, and most comments better be backed with a response that says this doesnt work because.....not simply I dont like it.
    In our site plan reviews, Should is a recommendation (in the developers best interest) , Shall is mandatory (in the general public's best interest).
    Most comments that can be backed with City/State/Fed policy/regulations is ample enough. They can always request a variance to avoid any recommendation to the ever-powerful Planning commish.
    I once had a shall requirement to pave near the driveway at a scrap steel yard. The owner appealed to planning commission and even brought his attorney citing financial hardship (although his project was expansion of facilities - so he wasn't hurting too bad). The planning commission waived the paving requirement and now I get calls daily in the summer and after any dry spell or unusually wet spell, when the semis that enter and exit daily drag mud or dust out into the roadway and hiding or eradicating all striping in the nearby road. I just tell complainers that I agree with them and that planning commish allowed the gravel parking lot/driveway.
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian permaplanjuneau's avatar
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    OK, I can relate to the concern regarding traffic impact analysis, because our code is similarly weak (we can require a traffic impact analysis study only if the development will result in a change of two grades in the Level of Service at an intersection used to get to/from the development, but can't require any mitigation or other action besides the study unless a Conditional Use permit is required. And how the heck can we know if the LOS will be changed by two grades if we don't have an impact analysis to tell us that in the first place?)

    But really, you don't have standard aisle widths to use in plan review? Wow. Like ssnyderjr, I often draw up site plans for small projects, because they just don't seem to be able to figure out how to "play Tetris" with parking spaces and aisle widths. There is one architect who does a lot of work in town who seems incapable of drawing anything more complicated than a box with doors on it, and I am constantly doing his site plan work for him because I can't bear to watch him flail about and waste his client's and my time. But at least I know that parking spaces at 90 degrees to a drive aisle require a 24' wide drive aisle, and that parallel parking spaces must have drive aisles at least 13' wide for one-way traffic and 19' wide for two-way traffic. Some basic rules establishing these minimums would be a big help in your plan review, and would ensure uniformity in review.

    But, short of adopting new regs, I'm with the majority of responders--if you start recommending and pushing for his suggestions, he'll gradually grow that sack ssnyderjr mentioned a need for.

  10. #10

    Also

    If he's a P.E., he likely won't stamp the plans or recommendations, so he needn't worry about the licensing board coming after him for his recommendations/requirements of a site development.
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    On my review team, I have a traffic engineer. He claims he has no authority on the team because all of his "regulations" are recommendations and best practicies.

    I gave him a traffic study for a new 150,000 square ft retail center and he said, "What am I supposed to do with this?" He went on to say, even if I think the study will cause extra impact on our streets, I can't do anything about that.

    Short of making changes to the zoning code and city code, what can I do to inspire him and show I'll support his comments?
    The whole idea of review is to recommend "best practices" in order to improve the submission to the benefit of the applicant and the general public. I can't understand why anyone who calls himself a traffic engineer would be hesitant to make comments.

    If a traffic engineer had the nerve to ask me what he was supposed to do with a traffic study, then that would be the last time I would bother him with it or anything else. I would just review it myself and move on. And when he decided he was interested in doing his job, I would step aside.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Jess's avatar
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    Is your traffic engineer an intern and new in your team? If not, he just don't want to take responsilibity for it. Seems like he don't like his job anymore, find a better replacement whom you can have confidence and takes responsibility who's a solution rather than a problem. Remarks like "[I]What I gonna do with this?" is said by neophytes not by professionals.

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