Friday, June 13, 2014

BikeWalkLee urges MPO Board to adopt land use scenario C at June 20th meeting

Lee County's regional transportation plan is in the process of its every five year update, which will address the transportation needs of our growing communities. On June 20th, the Lee MPO Board will choose a land use scenario that will be the foundation upon which the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) Update is based.  The Land Use Scenarios report, along with the consultant's recommendation, are now available. On June 12th, BikeWalkLee sent a letter to the Lee MPO Board urging them to support land use scenario C.  For further details and to learn how the public can participate in this process, see BWL's earlier action alert on this issue.

June 12, 2014

Board Members
Lee County MPO

BikeWalkLee is a coalition to complete the streets in Lee County and works for a balanced multi-modal transportation system and sustainable community. BikeWalkLee has supported the on-going efforts to incorporate land use scenario analyses into new modelling techniques and the LRTP 2040. Three such scenarios have been developed and will come before the Board on June 20th for a vote. BikeWalkLee joins the MPO consulting team of Jacobs Engineering Group, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and the Bayshore Community, the TAC and CAC in endorsing Scenario C.

This vote represents the successful culmination of nearly four years of planned and focused work since the December 2010 adoption of Resolutions # 2010-12 and 2010-13 by the MPO
Board, wherein staff was directed “to develop an integrated prioritization directed towards a more balanced multi-modal transportation system that has the capacity to move people and goods in a cost-efficient and effective way.”

Further, these resolutions direct that updates be based on studies including the Lee County Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) and the MPO’s Rail Feasibility Study and “utilize new modeling techniques that will provide scenario analysis and options and will utilize innovative public participation techniques...and incorporate performance measures that will measure and track progress toward goals.”

Of greatest importance, Scenario C most closely embodies the stated goals of the two original Resolutions in that it significantly reduces VMT, beginning the necessary reordering of transportation planning in accordance with a much restricted funding future.  With shrinking federal funding it is imperative that we thoughtfully realign our planned transportation spending to do much more with less by proactively addressing all of our future needs.

Reducing VMTs relieves congestion while providing the greatest access for the most people to transit, shopping and jobs. With its focus on a “balanced multi-modal transportation system”, moving people and goods instead of automobiles, it maximizes the potential of existing infrastructure while supporting the greatest potential return on public and private investment in Transit Oriented Development (TOD).  As well, Scenario C can help Lee County face its unique additional challenge of providing for the future transportation needs of a large elderly population expecting to age in place.

An almost unprecedented amount of public and stakeholder input has been incorporated in these analyses. The scenarios reflect with varying success the community values as clearly expressed in the three year EAR development process, the MPO’s consulting team’s fifteen individual meetings with local staff consultants and advocates and over 1,200 responses from an online survey. Such extensively broad input can give us confidence that the information presented is both an accurate and up-to-date reflection of public will.

Scenario C also aligns closely with the values expressed in the EAR by Lee citizens. It protects coastal and rural areas and excels on every indicator parameter; encouraging more livable, safe, walkable streets, community connectivity, access to public transportation, compact development, and greater variety of available housing with revitalization of existing neighborhoods. It supports the principles and implementation of complete streets as adopted by County policy, offers us much more for less expense and moves us from last century patterns of growth to meet the demands of a new generation.  

Finally, Scenario C offers the greatest potential for inter and intra city/county connectivity. This will assure the greatest equity for Lee County citizens in terms of accessibility regardless of age, ability or automobile ownership. And by increasing regional appeal Scenario C will make our area far more competitive in keeping and attracting a younger, educated workforce, outside business investment, and state and federal mass transit funding.

For these reasons BikeWalkLee fully endorses Land Use Scenario C as the preferred option for inclusion in the LRTP 2040 and FDOT modeling. We ask that Board members consider the broad base of support for this particular choice and adopt Scenario C in its June 20th vote.  

Ann Pierce
on behalf of BikeWalkLee

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