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Providing Technical Assistance in an Environment of Uncertainty: A Case Study in Coordinating Transportation and Land Use by John S. Miller and Arkopal K. Goswami, Virginia Transportation Research Council, 530 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903; (434) 293-1900 (Virginia Department of Transportation, 1401 E. Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219; vdotinfo@virginiaDOT.org) (Feb 2005)


Collaborative effort is feasible provided adequate staff resources are dedicated.

The biggest challenge is maintaining momentum, especially when staff have other duties.

The need for better coordination between transportation and land planning has been noted in the popular press, legislative bodies, and academic literature. Proponents of coordination have cited benefits such as satisfying the demand for housing, accommodating commercial and retail developments through provision of adequate transportation infrastructure, and improving air quality.

There is also widespread agreement among practitioners that in Virginia, decisions for transportation and land development are not controlled by the same entity. Local governments control land development decisions through the county comprehensive plan that is implemented through zoning ordinances, subdivision ordinances, and site plan reviews. In all counties except Arlington and Henrico, the state (through the Virginia Department of Transportation [VDOT] under the Commonwealth Transportation Board) controls transportation infrastructure investments for interstate, primary, and secondary road systems. This sharp division of responsibility is tempered by individual acts of coordination across the transportation and land

use spheres. For example, counties prioritize secondary road projects and often voluntarily include VDOT in the site plan review process by offering VDOT a chance to comment on development proposals before approval.

Technical assistance was offered to Botetourt County as a case study. Botetourt noted that a primary transportation problem facing the county was operations at Exit 150. In close proximity to this exit are two major routes (Routes 11 and 220), heavy truck traffic, and a large number of commercial access points, all of which contribute to congestion in the vicinity of the interchange. VDOT's expected redesign of the interchange as part of a series of improvements to I-81 presented the county with an opportunity to improve operations and to coordinate transportation and land use, since the redesigned interchange would generate new land uses and displace or remove existing ones. The county was interested in knowing how different types of zoning in the affected area would affect the roadway network in the vicinity of Exit 150.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the feasibility of VDOT providing technical assistance to local governments. The project had four objectives:

1. For the short term, provide a scenarios analysis that illustrates the transportation demand resulting from various land development possibilities based on a preliminary estimate of the Exit 150 design.

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