Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lee County’s Community Sustainability Advisory Committee (CSAC) makes recommendations to commissioners on sustainability and transportation projects

The purpose of the Lee County sustainability committee is to provide recommendation to the Lee County BoCC to achieve community sustainability, livability and smart growth. The County’s Complete Streets Resolution adopted by the Commission in 2009 was drafted by this committee and presented to the Board for action. Part of the committee’s mandate is to oversee the implementation of complete streets. To accomplish this, the CSAC set up a complete streets working group to collaborate with staff and bring recommendations to the Committee for their consideration.

As part of that process, over the past 18 months, the CSAC working group (Dr. Margaret Banyan, Chair of CSAC, Darla Letourneau and Dan Moser) has reviewed resurfacing contract projects for complete streets opportunities. As part of the revised transportation and planning process finalized this Fall, the complete streets review is now moving into road projects on the county’s Capital Infrastructure Program (CIP)—LeeDOT’s 5-year funding plan. Last month, the group reviewed two LeeDOT road projects-- the Alico Road Alignment Study, and the Veterans/Santa Barbara Blvd. interchange options--and reported to the committee at its December 14th meeting. Through this process, it became clear to us that implementing complete streets requires a variety of planning tools, including those that can assess projects for their sustainability. As a result of this discussion, the CSAC passed the following motion on December 14th:

Lee County should:
1. Develop and incorporate transportation sustainability criteria and measures to evaluate and guide the funding, planning, design, and implementation of each new and substantial/major widening projects through the Sustainability Assessment; and
2. Prioritize adoption of sustainable transportation criteria and measures in the sustainability planning process (Milestone 2 – Set Sustainability Goals); and
3. Specifically for those projects that must be planned in the interim
a) The Lee County BoCC fund a plan for the Research Diamond area that outlines a future vision for land use and transportation prior to selecting a design option and
b) Lee DOT study and present to the public at future meetings the ‘no build’ option for the Veterans/Santa Barbara interchange, including, i) what other changes could improve traffic flow; ii) a detailed analysis of traffic projections by peak/non-peak hours and days; and iii) present information in a way that clearly outlines the choices between congestion and livability. The Lee DOT study should also factor into each option the implications for pedestrian crossings.

We look forward to working with Lee County and appreciate the hard work of the Complete Streets Team and LDOT. This is a challenging, but exciting, learning process that promises innovative and beneficial outcomes.

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