This July, residents of Mecklenburg, Union, and Iredell Counties had the opportunity to comment on transportation projects proposed for state funding by the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO). At a time when the state transportation funding process has become very data driven, it's more important than ever for residents to voice their support for transportation projects that meet the needs of our rapidly developing region.
Sustain Charlotte staff wrote a letter in support of more funding for pedestrian, bicycle, and transit projects. We invited all individual and organizational members of the Transportation Choices Alliance to sign it, and submitted the joint letter below on July 31.
**Click here to read the CRTPO's response to these comments.**
Dear CRTPO members:
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the Draft 2016-2025 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) within the CRTPO jurisdiction.
Our major areas of concern are:
The extensive amount of proposed funding for road widening projects is likely to promote further sprawl into undeveloped areas, and thereby further increase our region’s reliance on single-passenger motor vehicles. The CRTPO’s current project list focuses almost exclusively on managing travel supply rather than demand. Although some of the highway projects include bicycle and pedestrian elements, they also induce demand for motor vehicle travel. A recent study found that the expansion of alternative modes of transportation could lead to reduced congestion and other benefits, and identified the types of transportation suited to a city or suburb. (Infrastructure USA’s Smart Mobility: Reducing Congestion and Fostering Faster, Greener, and Cheaper Transportation Options.)
The extremely low amount of funding (less than 1 percent) for stand-alone bicycle and pedestrian projects in the draft STIP is absolutely inadequate to meet the transportation needs of our region. It is inconsistent with the following goals in the CRTPO’s 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan:
Goal #1. “Provide, manage and maintain a safe, efficient and sustainable transportation system for all modes, intended to serve all segments of the population.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data indicates that since 2003, that bicyclists and pedestrians accounted for 12.6% of all traffic fatalities nationwide. Since that time, the percentage of nationwide traffic fatalities that are bicyclists and pedestrians has gradually increased to 15.8% in 2011 (Alliance for Biking & Walking; Bicycling and Walking in the United States 2014 Benchmarking Report).
Since 2007, Charlotte has averaged 315 collisions annually involving pedestrians and motor vehicles, with an average of 12 crashes per year resulting in a pedestrian's death (CDOT). The Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia area ranks 10th most dangerous metro for pedestrians, according to a study, Dangerous by Design, by the National Complete Streets Coalition and Smart Growth America. Researchers calculated a Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) for each of the 51 largest metro areas in the United States. The Charlotte metro’s PDI (pedestrian deaths per 100,000/percentage who walk to work) was 111.74, more than twice as high as the national average of 52.1. The annual rate of pedestrian fatalities in Charlotte was 1.65 per 100,000 people. We suggest that the CRTPO follow the models of Nashville MPO, which devotes an amount of funding to bicycle and pedestrian projects that is equal to the percentage of crashes involving non-motorized modes. The same is true for Georgia DOT’s safety funds.
Over 5% of area residents commute to work by transit, bike, or on foot (CDOT and CATS data). 30 percent of our region’s residents do not drive a motor vehicle (americawalks.org), resulting in a critical mismatch between our resident’s safety and mobility needs relative to proposed funding on transportation infrastructure to meet those needs.
Goal #2. “Encourage walking, bicycling and transit options, integrated with motor vehicle transportation, by providing a transportation system that serves the public with mobility choices.” In order for residents to have mobility choices available, our region must invest in mobility choices. We need a comprehensive multi-modal regional TDM strategy to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population.
Although it is not part of the 2016-2025 Draft STIP, the lack of a public involvement process at the state level for the Prioritization 4.0 (SPOT 4.0) work group is very concerning to us. In light of our dissatisfaction with the lower than anticipated level of proposed funding for non-highway projects that came out of the SPOT 3.0 process, it is disappointing that there is no formalized process for the public to provide input at a stage where there is still genuine opportunity to incorporate those suggested changes into the final SPOT 4.0 funding criteria.
While we understand that the decision to not offer a public comment period for development of P4.0 funding priorities was not made at the MPO level, we ask that the CRTPO would pass along this comment to NCDOT. We commend CRTPO staff for providing regular informative updates on the decisions being made by the P4.0 work group.
We recognize and thank the CRTPO for efforts at the local level to improve the public education and input process throughout the development of the 2016-2025 Draft STIP. The education sessions immediately prior to MPO meetings and the stakeholder meeting for the Transportation Alternatives Program methodology are commendable. The updates given during meetings and on the CRTPO website have been consistently clear and high-quality.
Shannon Binns, Founder + Executive Director of Sustain Charlotte
Terry Lansdell, Program Director of Clean Air Carolina
John Cock, Davidson NC
Eric Zaverl and residents of the South End Neighborhood
J. Patrick George, Owner/Proprietor of Heartwood Tree Service LLC