Friday, October 12, 2012

"The Silos of the Status Quo"--need to integrate transportation and land use planning

 This is a great piece by Strong Towns (aka Chuck Marohn's group--APA FL conference keynote speaker) about a Minneapolis project, which brings together the points about need to integrate land use and transportation planning, take a corridor approach, look at a grid system,  and how to do mixed-use development so it works. These are all issues that need to be addressed in Lee County's Comp Plan rewrite process, currently underway, and the Lee MPO's upcoming Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) update. Darla

For a great summary of the key points, check out related Streetsblog article.

The Silos of the Status Quo

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 | Nathaniel M. Hood

Here are some of the key excerpts.  Click here to read the full article. 

The status quo of planning is that of professional silos. That needs to change. It’s about time we consider a Department of Transportation and Land Use. The two shouldn’t be divorced.
Transportation and land use planning are intricately linked, but the process is ultimately detached.

The majority of the transportation decisions are made at the Federal and state levels, whereas land use is left to local governments. This isolated decision-making has yielded places like Hiawatha Avenue.

... It can be frustratingly slow trekking up Hiawatha Avenue, a road with an identity crisis, that is not unlike many other places across the country: it’s trying to be a highway and city street.
But everyone is doing their job. That’s the problem. It’s structural. Otherwise it’d be clear that it’s lunacy to develop a dense, mixed use, transit and pedestrian oriented corridor and design a multi-lane highway to travel right through the middle of it. There needs to by some other way.

.....Will making traffic flows better on Hiawatha Avenue improve congestion? It’s clear that congestion hasn’t acted as a disincentive to over 55,000 cars traversing it each day. Will induced demand merely bring those taking alternative routes, such as the employees described above, back onto Hiawatha? History would indicate so, and I’m skeptical the project will do more than temporarily improve traffic congestion – especially considering that more people are slated to move into the neighborhood, and hence, creating more daily trips.

The Hiawatha corridor will take a long time to develop into the mixed-use hub many predicted and with expensive signal re-timing projects that only enhance car traffic, development along the corridor is likely to take longer. What better way to dis-incentivize people from using a $500 million light rail investment than to continue to subsidize its competition and create an environment contradictory to land use plans?.....

It all boils down to having a backwards approach to transportation and land use planning (and Minnesota isn’t alone). We operate within the same environment, but these professions work separately – and they shouldn’t. We spend millions building light rail in hopes that it will create mixed-use urban development and then we attempt to move cars as fast and conveniently as possible through an area where we expect increased pedestrian activity.

The reality is that there is a long history showing how these two components of our urban environment don’t interact well. In the meantime, we’re getting the worst of both worlds as we try to have our cake and eat it too...

Ultimately, we need to find a way to combine transportation and land use. It goes beyond zoning and road mismatches, principles of induced demand and the quixotic nature of subsidizing competing interests. Transportation and land use planning are intricately linked, and our planning process needs to reflect accordingly. Otherwise, we’ll likely be experiencing more roads with personality disorders.

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