Transportation and Accessibility
Assessing transportation impacts involves analyzing four sub-elements of transportation:
The user must be able to reach a destination within reasonable limits of time, cost, and convenience.
System design plays a strong role in safety, particularly elements such as traffic signals, turning lanes, and railroad grade crossings.
A balanced transportation system offers and encourages the choice of travel mode, namely, by automobile, bicycle, walking, public transit, or a combination thereof.
Level of Service (LOS)
This addresses several operational factors including speed, travel delay, freedom to maneuver, safety, and frequency/hours of operation.
- Does the project require a traffic study? Has one already occurred? What needed actions did the study identify?
- Do safe and adequate public transportation services serve the project?
- Is the project safely accessible to vehicles? Is vehicle parking adequate, including parking for moving vans/trucks?
- Does the project facilitate pedestrian movement (e.g., sidewalks, pavement markings, landscaping, pedestrian-activated signal lights, or pedestrian overpasses)?
- Do bicycle lanes or trails serve the project area? Does the project provide covered, secure parking for bicycles, employees, and residents?
- Overall, will the existing and reasonably foreseeable transportation facilities and services be adequate to meet the needs of the project?
- Will the project itself cause a significant adverse impact on the local or regional transportation system (e.g., by reducing the level of service of roadways)?
- Are there any barriers to emergency vehicle access?
- Is the project accessible to the elderly and persons with disabilities (e.g., wheelchair ramps, traffic light timing, disabled parking, shuttle services)?
- Does the project design address any special transportation issues (e.g., bridge clearances for trucks)?
- Does the proximity to a highway or high traffic area disproportionately expose low- and moderate-income or minority persons or communities to harmful air pollutants?
- Review project plans to determine the location of the site with respect to transit services (bus, rail, and aviation), regional access (highways), and local access (local roadway network/bike path).
- Consult project data, such as the number of housing units, to determine the type of transportation service for an elderly population, since their unique transportation needs require special consideration.
- Determine the location and adequacy of existing and planned services by reviewing:
- Transit maps, schedules, and timetables available from the local Transit Authority
- Biking and walking maps available from local and state transportation and planning agencies
- Transportation improvement plans available from the local transportation planning agency (usually the metropolitan planning organization)
- Street maps and highway improvement plans available from the state or local highway department or transportation planning agency
- Inventory of public and private parking spaces within the project area
- General plans within the project area to identify immediate local access (designated roadways) to the project site during construction and/or operation
- Regional transportation plans to identify regional access (state routes/ highways) to-and-from the project site during construction and operation
- Consider whether the project needs additional special transportation services, such as Dial-a-Ride van service provided by a social service agency, to serve the elderly and persons with disabilities.
- Note poor public transit access.
- Evaluate safety and adequate parking supply.
- Confirm that existing public transit systems provide sufficient accessibility for persons with disabilities, in accordance with U.S. Department of Transportation Section 504 Regulations.
Based upon that data, determine the impact:
- If transit access is inadequate (e.g., a project is not within one-quarter mile of a bus route and/or buses do not run at least every fifteen minutes), this is an adverse effect
- If a project relocates a facility from a location of relatively good transit access, such as a central business district, to one of poor access, this is an adverse effect
- If a project site has limited local streets and will generate traffic and congestion on local streets, this is also an adverse effect
The Federal Highway Administration and many state transportation agencies have specific capacity and level of service standards for primary and secondary roadways that projects must meet to qualify for federal funds. Consider these standards when determining impact and consult with jurisdictional agencies if it appears that the project will increase local traffic.
The Americans with Disabilities Act Information and Technical Assistance page can be a source to review the laws and regulations regarding accessibility, design standards, and technical assistance materials.
- Work with the local transit authority to add sidewalks, bike lanes/paths, and bus lines to serve the new project
- Work with public transportation providers or social service agencies to add services for persons with disabilities
- Redesign project entry and exit to reduce or relocate traffic impacts on adjacent streets
- If traffic impacts are significant, consider changing the mix of project uses and thus altering traffic generation patterns
- Ensure provision of parking facilities is balanced with other planning priorities like availability of public transportation and viability of alternative transportation
- Reserve parking spaces that are close to the facility for the exclusive use of persons with disabilities
- Include wheelchair ramps in curb and sidewalk designs
- Include pedestrian-activated traffic lights with timing intervals suitable for the elderly
- Use flaggers and signage to halt and direct traffic at lane closures, and to allow traffic to pass when construction is halted
- Schedule any lane closures at off-peak times (generally 6:00–8:00 AM and 4:00–6:00 PM)