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SG-W:/ traffic/sprawl



Here is a message recently received from a fellow county commissioner
who also works for the Sierra Club.

By the way, I don't think we can do this here, since the county doesn't
have authority over zoning.  Might be something to examine for
townships.  I think that the City of Ann Arbor requires traffic studies
only under certain threshold conditions.

Vivienne Armentrout


County Board Can Get a Handle on Traffic

by Brett Hulsey


A new survey by the Pew Center for Civic Journalism is best summed up by
the 
Christian Science Monitor headline: "Forget crime – but please fix the 
traffic." This study shows that most Americans are grappling with the
same 
traffic and out-of-control sprawl that we are here in Dane County. 
Those 
asked rate traffic and sprawl on par with crime and far ahead of the
economy, 
education, and other issues as the most important issues.

To address this growing problem, 18 other supervisors and I sponsored
the 
Traffic Impact Analysis on New Zoning Permits Resolution to get more 
information about how our land use decisions today will create more
traffic 
tomorrow.  The county board will consider this measure Thursday night.

All you have to do is look at the West Beltline to see this information
is 
sorely needed.  Traffic at the Old Sauk Road intersection has doubled in
the 
last seven years and is now 150% higher than the projections for 2015.  
Proposed improvements in the Beltline will only give us a few year's
relief 
in reduced congestion.

The proposed North Beltline and wider Highway 12 will just add more
traffic 
traffic.  The latest information from the Transportation Research Board
shows 
that new and wider highways quickly fill up with new traffic from the
new 
sprawl they encourage.  In fact, almost half of the new traffic on our
roads 
over the next 10 years will be from the sprawl that follows the new,
bigger 
highways.

Cars and trucks are also the biggest air polluters, according to EPA
studies. 
 The doubling of asthma cases in Madison schools may be related to the 
explosion in driving in Dane County.  Highway and traffic pollution
causes 
asthma attacks, according to the American Lung Association.

As last Sunday's State Journal story showed, traffic is also dangerous. 
In 
Wisconsin, you are four times more likely to die by car than be murdered
over 
the last 20 years, according to data from the Departments of
Transportation 
and Justice.

In Dane County, we are opening up 5,300 acres – eight square miles --
of 
farmland and openspace to development each year, according to the
Regional 
Planning Commission.  The county and towns are responsible for
two-thirds of 
this, approving more than 90% of the zoning changes.  

This kind of scattered sprawl generates the most traffic because it
gives 
people no choice but to drive.  Each new house generates 10 trips per
day for 
residents and services, according to the Institute of Transportation 
Engineers.

The good news is that better planning can reduce sprawl and traffic. 
One 
study in Oregon study showed that good planning and giving people more
travel 
choices -- such as commuter trains and clean buses -- reduces the car
trips 
per home 20-40%.

To start to get a handle on this, the county resolution will ask staff
to 
perform a Traffic Impact Analysis on new zoning permits that estimates
number 
of increased trips based on the type of development and number of units,
the 
likely commute routes, current level of congestion there, and perform an 
annual summary of increased trips generated along each travel route in
the 
county.

This will provide better transportation planning information for traffic 
planners and encourage other communities to consider the traffic impacts
of 
their zoning decisions.

While it won't cut the traffic on your street tomorrow, this resolution
is an 
important step toward planning a better future, reducing traffic growth,
and 
protecting our neighborhoods and quality of life.  


Dane County, WI Supervisor Brett Hulsey
Protecting our families, our environment, and our future.

110 Merrill Crest, Madison, WI  53705

Home) 608-238-6070
Work) 608-257-4994
Cell) 608-334-4994
Fax) 608-257-3513
Email) brett4us@aol.com


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