Friday, September 21, 2012

MPO Board approves land use scenarios project

At the Sept. 21st MPO Board meeting, both BikeWalkLee's representative, Margaret Banyan, and the Estero Council of Community Leaders (ECCL)'s representative,
Jim Boesch, spoke  in support of draft scope of services for modeling land use scenarios ahead of next major LRTP update.  The Board unanimously approved the scope of work.

  BWL has been strong supporter of scenario analysis of options to better inform decision making on transportation planning.   This is consistent with MPO Board adoption of 2035 LRTP that: “the 2035 LRTP update will utilize new modeling techniques that will
Provide scenario analysis and options and will utilize innovative public participation techniques.”

·         As stated in the staff issue paper, this task is intended to "help determine possible land use alternatives that would reduce vehicle trips, vehicle trip lengths, and increase the viability of various transit alternatives and ultimately transit usage in Lee County."

Banyan pointed out that scenario planning now can assist the county and local jurisdictions in finalizing local EARs and Comp Plan amendments, as well as assisting the MPO's upcoming 2040 LRTP by showing how various land use options can affect transportation goals & plans.
      For example, the scenarios could show that by mixed use development along a specific corridor, it could make transit plan work better, which could mean the need for less additional road capacity.

·         BikeWalkLee is pleased to see that the goals and objectives of this study will be linked to the excellent work done by the County as part of its Evaluation and Appraisal Report over the past two years.
 Banyan pointed out that the Lee MPO's efforts to better link transportation and land use planning
  is consistent with best practices and the national trends:

·         The new federal transportation legislation, MAP-21, provides a further push in this direction.  For the first time, the federal legislation includes a section encouraging MPOs to undertake scenario planning.

·         In addition, earlier this month an excellent national study was jointly issued by State Smart Transportation Initiative (including 11 State DOTs) and Smart Growth America, focused on how to stretch transportation funds through innovation.  The report highlights the need to reconnect land use and transportation in order to lower costs and improve community and economic development.  Innovative communities are working to ensure that land use and transportation solutions are complementary, and one of the tools to help guide these decisions is scenario planning.

·         As the new national report states, "successful implementation of the chosen growth scenario requires widespread community buy-in."  Thus, the ultimate success of this Lee MPO effort will depend upon the willingness of all the jurisdictions to participate in the development and evaluation of the alternatives and the selection of the preferred alternative.

The Board was urged to commit its jurisdiction and its staff to participate in the successful development and implementation of this collaborative effort.

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