Sunday, January 23, 2011

News-Press Editorial: Transit will be needed as traffic grows

Editorial •• January 22, 2011

Traffic congestion may not be too bad these days in
Lee County, partly because the economy is so weak.

But congestion is coming back slowly, like the

This county is going to start growing again, and it
will be brutally expensive in dollars and disruption
to try to build enough roads to keep up with
increased traffic. It may be impossible.

In the longer run, we are going to need alternatives
to the car - more bus service, maybe even light rail.

The future prospects for traffic here also make it
imperative for planners to include bicycle and
pedestrian use in road designs, and make it safe for
those users to coexist with motor vehicles.

Public transit is heavily subsidized now, and
probably always will be. But the trade-off in reduced
congestion can be worth it.

A study released Thursday by the Texas
Transportation Institute found that drivers here lost
7.5 million hours to traffic delays in 2009, up from
7.2 million the year before. With 5.9 million gallons
in wasted fuel, the study put the cost of traffic
delays in Lee County in 2009 at $183 million,
ranking 69th of 439 areas studied.

"We're only seeing free flowing traffic today because
of the downturn in the economy," Commissioner Ray
Judah said. "That's going to build back up and
necessitate more public transportation."

The Metropolitan Planning Organization, which
develops regional transportation plans, last month
wisely rejected flyovers along the busy Colonial
Boulevard and Veterans Memorial Parkway corridor.
They pushed instead for investment in public

A recent MPO study found that creating a system that
would attract wide ridership would cost 2.5 times
the current budget.

But roads are costly, too, especially when they are
congested. We need to keep subsidizing and slowly
expanding Lee Tran, and planning for a mixed
transportation system.

Also read News-Press article: Lee County traffic delay cost
adds up

By Brian Liberatore • bliberatore@news-press.
com• January 21, 2011

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