The Central Transportation Planning Staff has recently produced a comparative study of traffic mitigation efforts associated with some of the major developments in the Boston Region. It builds on the Core Capacity study that documented the need for greater public transit investments.
The new study highlights that, as regional congestion increases, it becomes more difficult to successfully mitigate traffic impacts. Mitigation may occur within the development, at the edge of development or at more distant locations.
Some key quotes:
Traffic growth has made it more difficult to achieve roadway level-of-service targets.
Switching drivers to transit stresses the transit system.
Locally mitigated projects add congestion at distant locations.
The study raises the important question of whether major developments should be directly contributing to regional transit improvements.
Government responses to the gradual increase in regional traffic and the emergence of severe transit system bottlenecks has been funded primarily through user charges such as federal and state gasoline taxes, roadway tolls, and transit fares, supplemented by broad-based taxes, notably a dedicated portion of the state sales tax. Investment programs funded through these sources have not kept pace with the gradual growth in regional travel demand. The question naturally arises as to whether mitigation programs that are effective in addressing the local area impacts of developments might be augmented and redirected to help address stresses on transportation systems on a regional basis.
I am hopeful that in the coming session we’ll make progress towards putting in place a better funding stream for regional transportation improvement. Development mitigation can play a part in this, but development goes in waves and we will need more consistent and sustainable revenue sources as well.