Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hence, better transportation options for MTC depend on increasing density on, sprawling development around, & bigger roads & more bridges to the Bend

Is there another way to interpret the following sentence in the Planning Department's newly received traffic feasibility study of Bells Bend and the May Town Center proposal?
Given MTC’s relatively isolated setting, small amount of adjacent supporting development, and lack of transportation connectivity the effectiveness of multi-modal considerations on external trip making is limited.

Even with the limitations, the new traffic report attempted what the Bells Landing developers-sanctioned report from last summer failed to do: to propose a list of "forward-thinking" travel demand management strategies that might reduce external traffic. I've argued before that the developers might soften public opposition to MTC with some progressive transit proposals that limit the spread of congested car culture across the Bend.

While laying out progressive proposals for mitigating external traffic, the new report's list contains at least three options that are subject to Metro budget plans not currently in place: regional transport authority van pools, Metro Transit EasyRide, and high-capacity service, including river taxis and bus rapid transit. The strategies also include the option of a 2nd bridge to bisect the Charlotte Park neighborhood, which would bring reductions of traffic above 20%.

Without a second bridge, traffic could only be reduced by 14%, but that level assumes government funds for the three forms of public transit, which are cumulatively 11% of the one bridge traffic reduction scenario. Given the economic downturn, it is not clear that public funds would be forthcoming in the future.

Moreover, mass transit is one of the few items that Karl Dean did not slash like others in the proposed Metro budget. Therefore, the Mayor may be less likely to commit limited funds to mass transit in the future, unless he intends to make transportation his myopic hallmark and underfund other programs perpetually.

Traffic reduction to and from MTC largely depends on taking the risk that public funds may be unavailable. If those funds are not forthcoming, then we will see traffic congestion in the Bend that rivals any major choke point ringing Nashville right now, and development of more agricultural land will follow as will a second bridge, which will be funded by taxpayers and will cleave a west Nashville neighborhood.

The developers have promised only one bridge will be needed, and yet they fail to provide any strategies for minimizing traffic outside of the development itself. Is it because they realize that the actual math on the real reduction of traffic for MTC would make a second bridge inevitable?

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