Q. 5, Short EAF (Part 2) Traffic & Transportation
Short Environmental Assessment Form Workbook
Will the proposed action result in an adverse change in the existing level of traffic or affect existing infrastructure for mass transit, biking or walking?
Several potential adverse impacts can result when traffic levels increase in a community. More traffic can lead to congestion, which in turn has real economic, environmental, and safety impacts. Traffic congestion is not only annoying to motorists, but can increase economic costs because of extra fuel used, lost productivity, and time wasted. It can also result in higher air pollution emissions, increased traffic accident rates, decreased accessibility to economic centers, and decreased road surface lifetimes.
Like all other topics explored in a SEQR analysis, evaluating the impact of increased traffic levels must be done in terms of the scale and context of the project. Impacts need to be determined through an understanding of the number of new vehicles that will be added as a result of the project, the number of cars already on the road, and the capacity and physical condition of the road.
A proposed action can also increase the demand for public transportation or pedestrian infrastructure. If so, the community may also require additional parking areas, park and ride facilities, or other infrastructure. Proposed actions can also increase the demand for bicycle parking, bike paths or bike lanes. A proposed action may also create the need for more roadway infrastructure than can be maintained.
On the other hand, projects can provide sidewalks, hike or bike paths or trails, or build in park and ride facilities or other infrastructure that serves to promote pedestrian or bicycle movement, which will contribute to healthy communities, decreased reliance on automobiles, and reduce greenhouse gases.
Applicable Part 1 Information
Some of the Part 1 questions that should be specifically reviewed when answering this question are:
In order to decide if impacts will occur, the reviewing agency should look at the available information and ask:
- Will the proposed action result in any change in traffic?
- If there will be new traffic added to the area, how much?
- Do the roads have the capacity to hold the expected level of additional traffic?
- Are there any load restrictions on bridges that will be used for access?
- Are there any safety concerns?
- Are existing and proposed sight distances adequate?
- Is there adequate emergency vehicle access?
- Are there any known or anticipated collision problems?
- Will the proposed action place new or different demands on public transportation?
- Will the proposed action require new public transportation, or expansion of an existing public transportation system?
- Will the proposed action result in added demand for bike or pedestrian infrastructure?
- Does the proposed project include new bicycle or pedestrian infrastructure, or provide for connections to any existing facilities?
Will there be an impact?
If you determine that the project is such that it will not add vehicles to roads and streets, and there will be no effect on existing facilities for public transportation or pedestrians, then there is not likely to be any impact.
If the proposed project does add traffic and potentially affect public transportation or pedestrian facilities, then there may be an impact, and this impact must be evaluated as to its size.
If there is an impact, how big will it be?
If there will be an impact, the reviewing agency must then evaluate the magnitude of that impact. This will depend on the overall scale and context of the proposed project as described in the Introduction to Part 2. The reviewing agency should be reasonable when conducting this review.
A small impact could occur if:
- The project will add traffic to the area but roads have the capacity to handle that level of traffic
- The project will increase the demand for public transportation, but the existing system has the capacity to handle that increase or a minor upgrade to the system can be created
- The project will increase the demand for sidewalks, bike paths, bike lanes and bike racks, but existing bicycle/pedestrian facilities have the capacity to handle the increase, or the proposed project includes new connections, or expansion of existing infrastructure
Moderate to Large Impact
Moderate to large impacts may occur if:
- The project adds substantial traffic to the area (determined in Part 1, Question 8)
- The project adds traffic, but not substantial traffic (as defined in Part 1, Question 8) to the area, but due to current conditions, the road does not have the capacity to handle it
- The project will create a demand for public transportation when none currently exists, what exists does not have the capacity to handle it, or the project fails to take advantage of existing capacity, or
- The project will create a demand for pedestrian or bicycle infrastructure when either none currently exists or does not have the capacity to handle it and the project does not include these improvements
Recording your decision
If you have determined that there are no impacts, or that only a small impact may occur, no further analysis of this topic is needed. Simply check the box under "No, or small impact may occur" next to the question and move on to Question 6. You may choose to include an explanation in Part 3 as to why you decided there were no, or only small impacts, but you are not required to do so.
If you have determined that one or more moderate to large impacts may occur, then additional analysis of this impact will be required in Part 3. You should note what the impacts are, and the reasoning that lead to your decision before moving on to Question 6.
Scenario 1: Construction of a retail and office complex that is proposed to add a substantial number of additional cars each day (as per Question 8 of Part 1).
- It is located in an urban area
- A public bus system exists and a bus stop exists near the proposed development site
- Sidewalks already exist and the project includes re-construction of new sidewalks to link to existing ones
- Access is to a New York State highway that has been deemed to have adequate capacity for additional traffic
Then: The proposed action will not impact traffic, public transportation, bicycling infrastructure, or pedestrian infrastructure. There is not likely to be any impact on traffic and transportation as the result of this action.
Scenario 2: Construction of a 50 unit residential complex
- The amount of traffic per day is not deemed to be significant from Part 1
- It is located a half-mile outside of a village on a 20 foot wide rural town road
- There is no public transportation
- There are no sidewalks, bike or hike paths but there are sidewalks in the village and the proposed complex is near the elementary school
- No sidewalks or paths are proposed as part of the development
Then: The proposed action is not at a level that would require a traffic impact analysis due to the number of projected units. However, if the road needs widening as a result of the project, the potential impacts of that widening should be analyzed. Further, its location close to the village and the school means that there is a need to connect these new dwellings to the village sidewalks and the school. Because there will be new demands for paths and sidewalks, and because there may have to be an upgrade to the town road, this project may have moderate to large impacts.
Scenario 3: Construction of a suburban strip mall.
- In a suburban neighborhood that is serviced by an existing and under-used public transportation system of busses and a nearby park and ride lot
- It is on a vacant lot that has no sidewalks or pedestrian connections nor does it have any sidewalks connecting the lot to the bus stop but sidewalks do exist in other locations nearby
- It is in a neighborhood with young families and lots of children
Then: The proposed action will place an additional demand on the public bus system, but adequate capacity exists to handle new riders. However, the issue is that there will be people walking from the bus stop to the new strip mall and no sidewalks exist. However, the project proposal includes the construction of sidewalks to connect the site for walkers to the existing network. Because there is a demand for sidewalks and the project sponsor proposed to add new facilities, the Planning Board deemed this a small impact.