VDOT can’t keep up with the state’s transportation needs, but Virginia’s building lobby wants the taxpayers to shoulder even more of a burden by pushing more traffic onto arterial roads that are already choked with traffic.
Today VDOT is asking the Commonwealth Transportation Board to reduce the street connectivity and sidewalk requirements approved after the 2007 General Assembly session. In layman’s terms, this means there could be only be one road connection per 200 houses in a suburban development.
The Connectivity Index was supposed to result in more external connections and options for drivers, which would reduce traffic on arterial roads. The piece of legislation is a no-brainer: It’s been shown that more interconnected street networks reduce traffic and offer more options for shorter car trips, walking, and bicycling.
Because new developments will have less overall connectivity, the builders will be forcing most of the traffic onto just a few roads, which in turn will push the cost of expanding those roads onto the public.
These changes are pushed by lobbyists for the homebuilding industry through a VDOT committee with the support of VDOT staff even though, as a result of the recession, the existing connectivity regulations haven’t been tested. In addition to the weakened connectivity standards, the proposed changes would reduce the number of cases where sidewalks need to be provided on both sides of the street, and would reduce Traffic Impact studies.
Let’s hope Commonwealth Transportation Board doesn’t get bullied into this. We have enough traffic without adding more, so let’s keep the plan for connectivity and not pass on the costs of increased congestion to taxpayers.