Tuesday, October 25, 2011

BikeWalkLee views on Transportation Concurrency

One of the most important issues that the county will be addressing this year is how to change its transportation concurrency policies and methodologies. Changes in Florida law last year has given local jurisdictions a golden opportunity to remove one of the largest obstacles to planning for a balanced multi-modal transportation system and creating sustainable communities. The law now allows each local government to decide how to address congestion. The current “black box” models (traffic and level of service(LOS)usually result in high-speed over-designed roads that are useful only during the very heaviest travel periods. This planning is then carried out at tremendous expense, to the detriment of those who would prefer more options for transit, walking and bicycling and to the detriment of those whose neighborhoods now face over-scaled highways.

The Lee County administration recently reported to the commissioners that they were proposing to retain an amended form of transportation concurrency. They are recommending changes be made as part of the Comprehensive Plan amendments being developed to implement the Horizon 2035 Plan (EAR). The county administration is developing a white paper to present the issue and options, which will be presented to the Local Planning Agency (LPA) in January to the Community Sustainability Committee (CSAC) in February 2012.

As some may remember, the Lee County MPO adopted a resolution calling for a 2012 update of 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) that would reflect better methodologies for modeling and scenario planning. It is critical that these two organizations work together so that the new methodologies are consistent. The outcome should be concurrency tools in the Comp Plan and the LRTP that no longer work against balanced, multi-modal, and sustainable transportation and land use planning.

At the 10/21/11 Joint Lee/Collier MPO meeting, BikeWalkLee’s representative, Darla Letourneau, urged the officials to change these methodologies so that they support the county’s vision. She also urged the entities to collaborate and coordinate among the various agencies working on these issues. The County and the MPO must seize this opportunity to radically change these policies and methodologies so that they support the new vision our policymakers have for the future of Lee County. The county needs to explore multi-modal and sustainability metrics to replace the current crude reliance on LOS for roads.

The state has returned control on a key issue to local governments and it’s important that we use this opportunity to make transportation concurrency support our local vision and our community plans. Adjusting the “black box” to match our community’s goals is one of the most important actions that can be taken to effect changes in land use and transportation here at home.

By Darla Letourneau

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