It is probably a good time to take a minute and make some observations about traffic in our Downtown.
Regarding “Vested Concurrency” –
One will often hear that traffic in the Downtown was studied during the creation of the CRA (over 20 years ago), and that the roadways were adequate to support the traffic associated with eight million square feet of development. Thus, when a new building is proposed within the eight million square foot envelope, the traffic associated with that building is said to have “vested concurrency”. In other words, there is no requirement to study the impact on traffic – that was done over 20 years ago.
However, the traffic studies done over 20 years ago assumed that the 8 million square feet of building in the Downtown would be distributed over seven geographic areas. Over and over the square feet from all seven areas have been transferred into the three areas we see being built so rapidly today. Obviously, the roads could not be transferred at the same time. Result? Gridlock in the areas where the buildings are concentrated. The argument that there is “vested concurrency”, when used to minimize the projected impact of traffic associated with a new building, rings hollow.
A possible solution? Run a complete concurrency study on each project. Relying on 20 year old studies based on a map that no longer exists makes no sense at all.
Regarding Traffic Studies –
In a recent presentation to the CRA, the City’s traffic engineer presented the methodologies used to determine compliance with the service levels appropriate for our roadways. To be sure, there is a lot more science in there than many of us were aware of.
However, after all is said and done, there is gridlock! At 8:30 in the morning one can wait through four light changes at Dixie and Camino. Ditto at Palmetto and 5th Avenue – sometimes the traffic is backed up to Mizner Blvd. And Archstone is not yet occupied!
So the science does not seem to agree with reality. Maybe it is time to look at the methodology used to determine concurrency. Better yet, how about a few simple field trips so one can see what’s real, rather than what’s calculated?
One more thought before getting back to work –
The notion that people will abandon their cars and walk or ride their bikes to work or to the grocery store is often cited as part of the justification for achieving traffic concurrency in our Downtown. It is also the basis for a new zoning category called Planned Mobility, which is being implemented in many areas of our city. Stay tuned, I’ll be writing another piece on this subject in the near future.
As always, thanks for reading and listening; comments are more than welcome! Regards to all…Joe Panella