From the quibble desk …
This morning, we posted an item on efforts to update the city’s transportation plan and on an environmental assessment of the plan. A few hours later we heard from fellowblogger and Transportation Commission chair John Knox White, who says we missed the boat on a whole mess of things in the environmental report. Knox White, who was instrumental in drafting the transportation plan, was kind enough to put together a quick post highlighting what he believes are some key points in the environmental impact report. Take it away, John!
Thanks for the overview of the EIR process and discussion at last night’s meeting.
The DEIR does not assume any changes in how people travel. Meaning that it assumes that in 25 years Alamedans will drive just as much as they do now. This even while it states that the proposal will result in changes in travel behavior.
The DEIR actually finds that there will be less congestion both at most of the impacted intersections, but also at other intersections throughout the city. The DEIR states that:
“…the project would redistribute and reduce traffic … and this analysis focuses on the effect of the change in traffic that would occur with implementation of the proposed project and the related effect on regional air quality. The proposed project would result in a slight reduction in VMT [vehicle miles traveled]…”
Secondly, of the nine impacted intersections, the city council has already voted to allow congestion to go unmitigated due to the negative consequences of the accommodations, including taking parkland for additional lanes. The DEIR is being extremely conservative in assessing these impacts to the TMP, these impacts are projected to exist and to not be mitigated.
The DEIR actually states that the proposed TMP would protect and improve the quality of existing transportation facilities and neighborhood streets:
“The proposed Transportation Element Update policies would result in positive impacts for residents by minimizing speed limits in residential communities, improving pedestrian facilities and access, connecting pedestrian routes to adjacent land uses, and educating the public on roadway and pedestrian safety. The Transportation Element Update does not propose improvements or new facilities that would create a barrier within existing neighborhoods or result in the physical division of existing communities; proposed improvements are intended to provide improved connectivity and prioritize alternative modes of travel, such as pedestrian, bicycle, and transit. Implementation of the proposed policies would minimize impacts to established communities and improve the quality of existing and proposed facilities for residents.”
Lastly, the DEIR proposes mitigations that may mitigate congestion at a single intersection, but do not address what happens with that traffic once it clears the redesigned area. In the end, that traffic moves up the street a block or two and sits in congestion that is not covered in the DEIR. The overall travel time is unlikely to change over the course of the trip (you may get to line for the 880 metering lights quicker, but the line-up waiting for those lights will much longer).
There is a non-clarity in the DEIR that Planning Board President Kohlstrand mentioned, which is that the DEIR highlights impacts that will exist no matter what and while underplaying that the impacts that are actually reduced under the TMP.
Nearly hidden in the DEIR is the analysis that says that Alameda’s neighborhoods will see less traffic and reduced vehicle speeds under the proposed plan.