Building traffic

It feels like its “EIR Week” at SD&R. I’m hoping that this will be the beginning of an exciting marketing extravaganza, like Shark Week.

But first, breaking news from the world of Alameda Point. Last night, the city council voted unanimously to empower staff to negotiate a revised Agreement with SunCal for Alameda Point. This despite the directed discussion regarding SunCal’s very specific plans to move through a public planning process with plans that will need voter approval. Councilmember deHaan confirmed with SunCal that they would continue to have interest in developing Alameda Point even if the voters rejected their preferred plans, but it was clear that there wasn’t a lot of excitement for it on SunCal’s behalf.

Second, the council recognized the city’s Climate Protection Task Force for their great work on the city’s award winning Local Climate Action Plan. Stay tuned, the next big steps are coming, we’ll talk about them after Labor Day.

We now return to EIR Week, already in progress.

…the EIR on the Transportation Element Update is already released and taking public comment now (you can email your comments to the City’s Planning Department until 9/22/08), it seemed like a good time to write a few things I’ve been meaning to write for a long time. Today’s exciting topic: “Induced Traffic.”

The concept of “induced traffic” (page 5 is it doesn’t open to it automatically) says that as you add more traffic capacity, the free flowing lanes actually encourage more people to drive and in the end leads to further congestion, just on bigger roads. Quite literally, research (including this 2000 study) shows that trips are actually added that would not have happened otherwise.

“After accounting for other important determinants of travel and for potential simultaneity bias, the estimated elasticity between VMT and lane-miles is estimated at 0.2 to 0.6. This implies that a 10% increase in lane-mileage can result in anywhere from a 2 to 6% increase in total VMT.”  [p. 13]

In Alameda, this encouragement has a major impact on smaller residential streets. While traffic on Otis Dr or Park Street might flow more freely in particular places, there will be more traffic on them, travelling at higher speeds, not to mention more traffic on streets leading to them.

This is one of the reasons I question whether a new bridge (if it was actually feasible) would be in the best interest of our community. The end result would be more traffic on all streets. More crosstown traffic, meaning major impacts on Santa Clara, Buena Vista, Lincoln, etc.