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Thread: Planning for development in a congested area

  1. #1
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    Planning for development in a congested area

    How does your community/regional/reviewing agency plan for and allow development review for areas in congested transportation corridors? Often reviewing agencies have particular Level of Service targets that determine when additional capacity (most often adding highway lanes) is required in order for the project to move forward.
    The conflict comes when:
    1) the costs and scale of the improvement to meet Level of Service or other operational targets far exceed the size of the development. Often this is a symptom of the ‘last one in pays’ issue with development.
    2) The scale of the improvement is out of scale with the character of the area. While the development may work within the landscape or allow infill development, the highway improvements create situations that has a lot of negative externalities.

    How has your reviewing agency addressed these problems? Please be as detailed/long-winded as you like!
    Specific questions:
    • Do you allow partial payment for improvements?
    • Do you allow TDM measures to be used? If so, how to do you quantify the benefits?
    • Do you just allow the development to go forward?
    • Do you make the development pay for other improvements somewhere else in the system?




    Thank you for your insights!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    Partial payments (proportionate share) can get you moving. Sometimes this can be a more or less complete item (a pair of turn lanes, signal, etc) or cash that is pooled to provide a biger improvement. Sometimes improvements to an alternative route are allowed.

    TDM can beapproved, but it only really works for the trip attraction uses. Can't really work for residential projects. The development order can spell out conditions but for some uses the developers don't like the requirements tied to the lease or property.

  3. #3
    maudit anglais
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    I have found the practice varies greatly from place to place. The definition of "congestion" also changes from one city to another. Typically, larger cities with complex transportation systems are much more likely to allow development to proceed even if roads or at or near capacity, particularly if it is a small infill development which isn't going to make a huge difference. There are also many more opportunities for providing mitigation in the form of pedestrian, cycling, transit and TDM improvements. You can usually justify much lower trip rates as well.

    I find smaller communities are much more restrictive and will try to get substantial (and sometimes non-related) improvements made as a condition of development, basically because they have no other way of paying for roadway improvements, and developments are far and few between. One small town insisted that it would not except anything less than LoS 'C' for intersection operations. Pretty difficult to mitigate to that Level of Service when existing conditions are already above that!

    TDM, while mandated in the two jurisdictions I have the most experience in, can't actually be used in a quantative analysis...another case of engineers and planners not being able to agree.

    Here in Ontario, if proper zoning is already in place it can be very difficult for a municipality to require any off-site improvements from a developer.

  4. #4
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    Additional questions

    I appreciate the feedback.

    Have you seen any of the smaller communities willing to look at the benefits of not installing the additional infrastructure and forcing mode shifts? Perhaps a reduction in GHG's emissions and increasing transit utilization.

    We have seen in Vermont the cost of infrastructure is often out of scale with the needed improvement to mitigate to LOS to "C". The mitigation is often too costly or the scale of the improvement is not desired by the community.

    Can anyone point me to policies that are written that document some of these compromises in improvements? Cost sharing agreements? Or stated exceptions to LOS?

    Thanks

  5. #5
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    The community I work for is in a congested area. We are doing a new Comp Plan and are amending our zoning and had to scale back our projected build-out when the traffic analysis came back showing LOS F all day on the main artery that runs through town. There's no room to build any new roads because the community is in a river valley and has a river on one side and very hilly terrain on the other. The result of all this is that we're scaling back the max number of dwelling units/acre so that the road can continue to function as it is now, which is LOS F during peak hours and about a C otherwise.

    Although we are a classified as a village, our population density (7,500/sq mile) is more like that of a city. We're trying to mitigate the inevitable traffic problems that new development brings by encouraging transit oriented development down by the commuter rail station. The truth of the matter, however, is that the folks who would live in condos near a regional rail station still want to have their cars with them, so we are back to square one with the traffic issue.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by VSDesign View post
    I appreciate the feedback.

    Have you seen any of the smaller communities willing to look at the benefits of not installing the additional infrastructure and forcing mode shifts? Perhaps a reduction in GHG's emissions and increasing transit utilization.

    We have seen in Vermont the cost of infrastructure is often out of scale with the needed improvement to mitigate to LOS to "C". The mitigation is often too costly or the scale of the improvement is not desired by the community.

    Can anyone point me to policies that are written that document some of these compromises in improvements? Cost sharing agreements? Or stated exceptions to LOS?

    Thanks
    The EPA has a model called COMMUTER that helps give a rough estimate of trip reduction due to TDM measures. I've used it for several projects. It has an add-in program to calculate emissions savings- have not used that though. A state agency I do work with accepts the TDM estimates generated by the program.

    I was at a conference last week and a researcher from University of South Florida presented another model- supposedly more accurate than the EPA's. It looked interesting, but I have not used it yet. You can find it on USF's CUTR website.

  7. #7
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    Commuter TDM program

    Quote Originally posted by Greenescapist View post
    The EPA has a model called COMMUTER that helps give a rough estimate of trip reduction due to TDM measures. I've used it for several projects. It has an add-in program to calculate emissions savings- have not used that though. A state agency I do work with accepts the TDM estimates generated by the program.
    Thanks. I have also been looking into this program. My current firm is working with the GHG and other Air pollution elements aspects of it as well.

    Do you have any specific language that I may reference as I will try to encourage Vermont and other agencies to start looking at these programs?

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