Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fixing failed regional transportation planning

I wrote an op-ed yesterday in the Idaho Statesman about Boise's failure to integrate land use and transportation planning.  Boise is a rare city in that its roads are owned by a regional agency, the Ada County Highway District, which might be the poster child for what can go wrong with regionalism.  An excerpt is below:

Here is the crux of the problem. [The Ada County Highway District] purports to have “exclusive jurisdiction” over all the roads. However, when ACHD does its transportation analysis, all it considers is how many vehicles are going down that road as compared to how many vehicles it believes that road can handle. It seldom considers pedestrians and bikes, and never considers noise, effects on neighboring property values, or how other nearby landowners and their property rights are affected by the transportation from a particular project. In the language of planning, those are the “land use effects of transportation,” and in ACHD’s mind, that is the purview of the city. However, at the city, staff, the developers and everyone else will tell you that the city does not own the roads, and thus, the city cannot impose any mitigations on those roads owned by ACHD. In short: None of the land use effects of transportation are ever mitigated because of this broken system.

This result is bad for all. It is bad for the agencies because developers play ACHD and the city off each other; at ACHD, they say that land use effects of traffic are for the city to decide, but at the city, they say that the city has no jurisdiction over roads. It is bad for developers because the city can require a traffic mitigation as a condition of approval that ACHD refuses to implement, which leaves a developer without a usable entitlement. It is also bad for the community because the land use effects of transportation are the ones that affect the community the most.

The whole op-ed is here.

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