Cnu Sustainable Networks Donohue (05 18 09)


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Cnu Sustainable Networks Donohue (05 18 09)

  1. 1. Virginia’s Street Connectivity Policy Nick Donohue Assistant Secretary of Transportation Commonwealth of Virginia
  2. 2. Background • Virginia, unlike most states, is responsible for the maintenance of most local streets • In Virginia transportation funding is a state responsibility • Local governments are responsible for land development and subdivision design • General consensus that state transportation revenues are not sufficient – the legislature has tried to address transportation funding since 2002 • Since June 2008 more than $3 billion in highway construction projects in six year plan have been cancelled 2
  3. 3. Background • Governor Kaine went into office in 2006 – one term governor • First priority was to address state’s transportation needs – New transportation revenues – Improve coordination between transportation and land use – New delivery model – Greater accountability 3
  4. 4. Legislative Environment • Weak consensus on how to address transportation funding. Strong resistance by majority party in one house of legislature to any new taxes – Abusive driver fees – Use existing general fund revenues – Allow local governments to impose taxes for transportation (Dillon Rule) – Impact fees • Concern that providing new transportation funding without addressing the disconnect between transportation and land use would not provide long term solution 4
  5. 5. Transportation and Land Use • Kaine Administration worked with legislature on six initiatives to improve the coordination between transportation and land use – Traffic Impact Analysis: uniform, statewide standards to inform citizens and decision makers – Access Management: preserve public investment in existing highways – Road Impact Fees: assign road improvement costs based on site design and location – Urban Development Areas: promote compact development that incorporate principles of new urbanism – Regional Transportation and Land Use Performance Measures – Secondary Street Acceptance Requirements … 5
  6. 6. Legislative Environment Recognition of disconnect between development approval by local government and perpetual state maintenance of associated new streets • Limited ability of state to control number or layout of new streets accepted for maintenance • Convention subdivision layout increases congestion on major highway network 6
  7. 7. Legislative Environment • One group recommended that state discontinue practice of maintaining subdivision streets and require local governments to be responsible for maintenance of new streets • Governor recommended that state establish standards to ensure that streets accepted for perpetual public maintenance provide adequate public benefit • Governor’s proposal was unanimously adopted by the General Assembly and addressed impact on major highway network without un-funded street maintenance mandate to local governments 7
  8. 8. Subdivision Street Acceptance Standards • Previously streets were only required to meet technical standards to be accepted into the state system for perpetual public maintenance • Governor’s proposal directed the state transportation policy board to develop new secondary street acceptance requirements to ensure: – Connectivity of road and pedestrian networks with the future and existing transportation network – Minimize impervious surface area and stormwater runoff through reduced street widths 8
  9. 9. Subdivision Street Acceptance Standards – Problem Today Current development patterns often rely on isolated street networks • Increased congestion • Wider local streets • Discourages other modes • Impacts on neighborhoods • Unsustainable burden on major roadways 9
  10. 10. Subdivision Street Acceptance Standards 0.25 mi 2.5 m i 10
  11. 11. Subdivision Street Acceptance Standards – Street Connectivity 11
  12. 12. Subdivision Street Acceptance Standards – Overview • Pedestrian accommodations required at urban and suburban densities • Allow use of low impact development techniques • Reduced street widths • Flexible parking requirements 36’ 12
  13. 13. Moving from a Concept to Policy: April 2007 to February 2009 • Initial public comment period held prior to drafting • Secretary of Transportation established a policy committee to review initial VDOT draft – Developers, local government officials, consultants and other stakeholders • 20+ informal regional stakeholder meetings held across state • Solicited public comment on proposed policy, held public hearings • State transportation policy board input sought throughout process 13
  14. 14. Concerns with Policy • My local street will become a high speed thoroughfare • Cul-de-sacs are safer • Market does not support connectivity • Narrow streets hinder emergency response • Sidewalks are unnecessary and costly • Local governments will reject connections 14
  15. 15. Concern: Connectivity = High Speed Thoroughfares • Perception based on conditions on through streets today where lack of connectivity forces all trips to use a single through street • Through street of tomorrow will not be the same as the through street of today as policy will create a network of local streets to disperse traffic – Network of connect, narrow streets will reduce traffic volumes and speeds on through streets • Connected street networks do not increase the number of trips generated by development – A detached single family house will generate ~10 trips regardless of street network 15
  16. 16. Concern: Connectivity = High Speed Thoroughfares 16
  17. 17. Concern: Cul-de-sacs are Safer • Disconnected networks cause increased emergency response times and costs • According to federal government, the leading cause of death for children in US is automobile accidents • Disconnected street network requires most residential through streets be designed with widths that encourage higher vehicle speeds • All vehicle trips and most pedestrian trips require use of the these streets to reach a destination 17
  18. 18. Concern: Cul-de-sacs are Safer Residential Street Typology and Injury Accident Frequency; Peter Swift, P. E., Dan Painter, AICP, Matthew Goldstein Wider Streets → Increased Speed & Crash Rates 18
  19. 19. Concern: Cul-de-sacs are Safer Speed Impacts Safety in Neighborhoods 19
  20. 20. Concern: Cul-de-sacs are Safer • Recent study by University of Virginia found that traffic fatality rates were significantly higher in localities with disconnected networks • For the Richmond metropolitan area the study found: – Rates in Chesterfield and Henrico Counties were – 111% greater than the City of Colonial Heights – 56% greater than City of Hopewell – 9% greater than the City of Richmond – Rates in Hanover County were – 333% greater than Colonial Heights – 210% greater than Hopewell – 123% greater than Richmond 20
  21. 21. Concern: Market Does Not Support Connectivity • Market is regulated and previous policy provided indirect financial support for cul-de-sacs • New policy removes subsidy where streets that only provide private benefit will be privately maintained • Original street networks developed in a grid pattern • Federal Housing Administration adopted policies in the 1930s that influenced street network away from grid pattern – ‘Cul-de-sacs are the most attractive street layout’ 1 – ‘Subdivisions that are regarded as specially good by FHA will receive a more favorable loan rating’ 2 1. Michael Southward and Earn Ben-Joseph, Streets and the Shaping of Towns and Cities (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997), p. 84. 2. Marc A. Weiss, The Rise of the Community Builders (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987), p. 215. 21
  22. 22. Concern: Narrow Streets and Emergency Responders • All government agencies promote public safety • More than 80% of incidents for emergency responders are non- fires incidents such as accidents, medical emergencies, etc • Disconnected, wide local streets encourage vehicle speeds that result in more accidents and more severe accidents • Connectivity improves emergency response times and reduces costs – Lack of connectivity can leave emergency responders stuck in traffic – Street design to promote appropriate vehicles speeds essential to community acceptance of connected streets • Bulb-outs and other design features can help address site specific needs 22
  23. 23. Concern: Sidewalks and Pedestrian Accommodations • Walking accounts for 10% of all trips nationally • Appropriate accommodations are often not provide as an area develops or are discontinuous • Experience has shown that demand exists in developed and rapidly developing areas • Reduced street widths and flexible parking requirements can offset cost of facilities 23
  24. 24. Concern: Local Government Reaction to Connectivity • In the past, there were not any consequences for removing long planned connections from plans • Improved connectivity and street design will help address citizen concerns related to through streets • If a long planned connection is removed from plans VDOT will make that connection the #1 priority for local highway funds – Cheaper to build missing local street connections than widen the major highway network to accommodate the same traffic 24
  25. 25. Subdivision Street Acceptance Requirements • New policy is intended to improve coordination between transportation and land use planning as well as: – Reduce future construction needs and vehicle miles traveled – Reduce future operational costs – Improve emergency response – Reduce stormwater runoff – Improve safety for pedestrians and vehicles • Policy represents a “first step” and implementation will need to be monitored to identify deficiencies • Committee has been established to review implementation 25
  26. 26. Lessons Learned • Discuss and challenge long-standing perceptions – Are residents concerned about the concept or existing characteristics of through streets? • Address and balance stakeholder concerns to the extent possible – Connectivity, street width, safety and emergency responders • Do not let perfect be the enemy of good – “Perfect” policy is not a sign of a balanced compromise • Focus on policy goal – ‘Ensure adequate public benefit for expenditure of taxpayer funds’ 26
  27. 27. Virginia’s Street Connectivity Policy Nick Donohue Assistant Secretary of Transportation Commonwealth of Virginia