Thursday, February 24, 2005

Planning Communities is a Local Process

Today's (February 24) Standard-Examiner carries my response to a recent piece by Al Herring, Chair of the Utah Sierra Club Chapter. Click on Letters to the Editor to find it. I essentially say that if the opponents of Legacy have put forward an alternative for consideration, bring it through the local planning process. Whenever we create or update plans, many ideas are usually brought forward and evaluated. That doesn't gaurantee that all ideas will be accepted by the community, however. The process is still one of the people, by the people, for the people, ALL of the people.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Sierra Club Designs Highway for UDOT!!!

It is very clear that there are a number of folks out there that hate highways. Up until a few months ago I thought that the Sierra Club fit in that category. However, many of you may be surprised that the Sierra Club is actually designing a highway for UDOT to take the place of the proposed Legacy Parkway. They obviously think they are better skilled at designing highways than UDOT and are branching out. Strange!

How many of you out there would have thought the Sierra Club would get into that business. You true highway haters out there might want to cancel your membership. I can picture the Sierra Club working with UTA on designing the commuter rail line throught Davis County or even helping the South Davis Communities design a light rail system, but designing a highway for UDOT? Kind of bizarre. I wish them luck in their new venture.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Cars, Highways, and Freedom of Choice

Now that the oppostion has focused on this blog it is becoming very apparent that there is some real animosity towards Highways out there. However, is it highways, or is it cars that drive on the highways that is so upsetting to these folks? In reality who they are actually upset with are the people driving the cars on the highways. What they really want is people out of their cars and into mass transit. They think the way to accomplish this is to not build highways and build more transit.

Unfortunately this is a very simplistic and unrealistic view of the world. For example, numerous TRAX stations have large parking lots next to them, to accomodate those who commute to the TRAX station. One could argue that Mass Transit doesn't stop sprawl, it accomodates it ( much in the same way it started urban sprawl in the late 19th Century). As long as you have areas to develop that are cheaper than those in the city core they will develop. To get where they want to be (no new highways and less cars) the anti-highway folks will have to limit the public's choice by limiting where development can occur in order to force people to live in densities to support mass transit and prohibit development in areas not serviced by transit. Such a proposal has Zero political support in the State of Utah. So why push a philosopy that allows land to develop in a way that is auto dependent, but not build a transportation system that accomodates autos? Just doesn't make sense.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Accident in Woods Cross on Saturday underscores need for the Legacy Parkway

The accident Saturday was another reminder that another route to move high volumes of vehicles through Davis County is needed. We were lucky that the accident did not occur during rush hour and that our public safety personnell did not have to respond to another major incident during the time I-15 was closed. The local streets in South Davis were gridlocked and it would have been difficult to move public safety personnel around if there was a need to respond to another incident. As I-15 becomes more congested the difficulties become greater.
It is only a matter of time before our luck runs out. We need the Legacy Parkway now!

Make Suburbs Work Better, Writer Says

Part of the debate over Legacy Parkway raised by opponents is that it encourages sprawl and a focus away from the central city. We planners tend to think along those lines, and see lots of benefits from developing our communities with such a single-center focus.

But in reality, most growth in recent decades has been suburban, and whether we like it or not, we must deal with it. Urban affairs writer Joel Kotkin calls for such "reality-based" planning in a recent piece in Architecture magazine.

He says, "Creating a better suburban future is a noble - and potentially very profitable - calling. ... This critical work will do much to define the 21st-century modern city and attempt to meet the challenges laid out by the early visionaries of suburbia...who saw the move to the periphery as a chance to build 'a new civilization.' And it's a project worthy of the creative energies of architects, enviromentalists, and planners -- not their contempt and condemnation."

Our Blog Makes News

Looks like our blogging has resulted in a news piece about... our blog! Read about it in the article in the Deseret News by Nicole Warburton.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Where is it?

At the January 7th hearing the Groupees gushed on how wonderful their "Citizens Smart Growth Alternative" was, and how everyone would accept it with open arms as an alternative to the Legacy Parkway. To this date, more than a month away, the citizens are still in the dark as to what it really is and how it will impact them. It appears the groupees think the only citizens that count are UDOT, The Federal Agencies, the Courts and themselves. Why haven't they taken their plan to the people? Could it be that they are afraid that the citizens may not actually like the "Citizens Smart Growth Alternative".

I believe it is as we have suspected all along. This is just a ruse to justify their delay tactics of litigation.

Local Communities Ignored in Redwood Road Alternative

Fellow blogger BuildItNowDude's piece on how the local communities have been ignored by the Sierra Club in the "planning" of their Redwood Road alternative to the Legacy Parkway was published recently in the Standard-Examiner and the Salt Lake Tribune.
Dude says, "...the battle over the Legacy Parkway is centered around who has the right to determine the future of this region -- those elected to represent the people in the region or a small group of elitists who think they know best for us all. ... How many citizens have had input into (the so-called "Citizens' Smart Growth Alternative") development and actually how smart is it?"

Also, the letter war between Davis County Commissioner Alan Hansen and Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson continues. Read about it in the Salt Lake Tribune and the Standard-Examiner on Thursday, February 10.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Adding Traffic to Parrish Lane

I've been doing a little study on my own with regard to the Redwood Road alternative proposed by the Sierra Club and how it would work. Let me state a couple of disclaimers right up front, so no one gets the wrong impression.

First, I am not doing this for or with UDOT or the federal agencies that are tasked with studying these proposals. I am simply looking at the published numbers and reaching my own conclusions. More detailed work will obviously be done by the agencies and consultants responsible for that work.

Second, we have not seen the detailed plan for the Redwood Road alternative as proposed. For all their touting of this plan as an alternative to Legacy, there is remarkably little detail out there to react to.

The alternative proposal, from what I can see, would bring Redwood Road north to Parrish Lane in Centervile and tie in to that street. Traffic would then have to cross I-15 on Parrish Lane, then turn left and continue up the Frontage Road through Centerville to Farmington and tie in to Highway 89 just north of Lagoon.

I have looked at the detailed traffic studies that were done for Parrish Lane recently as part of the Wal-Mart controversy on-going there. Those studies show that currently, at Parrish Lane and Frontage Road, there are 3,184 vehicles on that road during the afternoon peak hour.

If you've driven Parrish Lane during the afternoon peak hour, you know how congested that street is, with traffic moving very slowly, working its way through the various traffic signals. It is pretty darn congested.

The Legacy Parkway SEIS shows that in the year 2020, Legacy (if it is built) would be carrying 17,876 vehicles during the afternoon peak hour. Is it the intention of the Legacy opponents that that demand be accomodated on the Redwood Road alternative? How could you possibly add that volume of traffic to Parrish Lane and think that it would work? How would you accomodate that volume of traffic having to turn left at Parrish Lane and Frontage Road? Even if you were to double the width of Parrish Lane (which would be quite an accomplishment, with existing businesses all along the way now), how could it accomodate more than 5 times the current traffic volume?

This is but one example of how I just don't think the alternative proposed by opponents can realistically work. And if I have the it wrong, let us know! We haven't seen the details yet.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Planning the "Citizens'" Communities

Gary Uresk, aka "BuildItNowDude" in this blog, let me read an opinion piece he is submitting to the local papers on how the Sierra Club has put forward a plan for transportation in south Davis County, but has never run that plan by any of the local communities.

Utah State Code stipulates that cities and counties have the authority to prepare and adopt plans for the development of local communities, including transportation plans. UDOT learned very early on in the Legacy planning process that the views of the local communities must be taken into consideration, when south Davis elected officials put a stop to the Legacy planning because they had not been consulted.

While UDOT technically had the authority to go ahead without local review and buy-in, they quickly realized that the people being impacted needed to be part of the process.

Now along comes the Sierra Club with its plan for how transportation should work in south Davis County. They call their plan the "Citizens' Smart Growth Alternative." But the Sierra Club has not met with any local community officials to present or discuss their plan, to receive input from local planning commissions, city councils, or citizen groups. They have been invited by these groups, and they have never responded. These are the groups that develop and adopt local community master plans.

So who are the citizens that developed the "Citizens'" alternative? Certainly not those living in the corridor. Who knows? Maybe some of their ideas would win acceptance with the local communities. But they've never come through the process set forth in the state code for such community planning.