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Q 13 - Full EAF (Part 2) Transportation

Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF) Workbook

The proposed action may result in a change to existing transportation systems.

New development can generate or change traffic, or create a new demand for public transportation. Several potential adverse impacts can result when traffic levels increase in a community. More traffic can lead to congestion, which in turn may have 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, decreased road surface lifetimes, and increased vehicle maintenance costs. A proposed action can also increase the demand for public transportation, parking, sidewalks, bike paths, or bike lanes.

To answer this question

Review Part 1 questions D.2.j.

Part 1, Question D.2.j. in this workbook includes a table defining thresholds for significant traffic increases. That table uses the number of new vehicle trips made during peak traffic hours (early morning and late afternoon) to help determine if a substantial increase in traffic is likely to occur as a result of a proposed activity. It assumes that a project generating fewer than 100 peak hour vehicle trips per hour will not result in any significant increases in traffic.

Use of the table is intended, however, to identify projects that may potentially have traffic related impacts and require a traffic study. Once triggered, the impact assessment should continue in the context of the project in order to understand possible traffic impacts. For example, a multi-family development or a retail shopping center of 6,000 square feet on a busy commercial street may not have a large impact in a more urban environment.

Identifying potential impacts

The reviewing agency should evaluate the following sub-questions and decide if there will be any impact. If there will be an impact, the reviewing agency must then evaluate the magnitude of that impact, and decide if the impact will be small or moderate to large. 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.

  • If the proposed project exceeds a numeric threshold in a question, it is presumed to be a moderate to large impact.
  • If the proposed project does not exceed a numeric threshold in a question, the reviewing agency should consider the scale and context of the project in determining if an impact may be small or moderate to large.
  • These sub-questions are not meant to be exhaustive. The reviewing agency should use the "Other impacts:" sub-question to include any additional elements they feel need to be analyzed for potential impacts.

a. Projected traffic increase may exceed capacity of existing road network.

Capacity is defined as the maximum number of vehicles for any given unit of time, which can be accommodated on a road. Capacity is semi-independent of the demand for roads and it considers the traffic conditions, road way characteristics, and traffic controls such as the signing or signals at intersections. It addresses the physical amount of vehicles and pedestrians a road can handle and does not depend on the total number of vehicles demanding service, but is influenced by the relative distribution of vehicles by lane. The geometric design of the road influences capacity. For example, a curved road has lesser capacity compared to a straight road. Increasing the proportion of traffic turning left on a shared lane may reduce capacity.

A term closely related to capacity and often confused with it is the level of service (LOS). While road capacity gives a quantitative measure of the amount of traffic that can be handled, level of service gives a qualitative measure of how well that traffic flows. For a given road, capacity would be constant, although it may vary at intersections. But actual traffic flow will be different for different days and different during a day itself. The intention of LOS is to relate the quality of traffic service to a given flow rate. LOS is a term that designates a range of operating conditions, based on delay, on a particular road or at an intersection.

LOS is the typical measurement included in a traffic study and this information may be needed to answer this question. The reviewing agency will need to know if an LOS of the road network is to be substantively worsened. Some of this information may be obtained from Part 1, Question D2j. Other information may be provided if a traffic impact study has already been submitted. If there is likely to be a substantial increase in traffic and a traffic impact analysis has not yet been conducted, the reviewing agency may need to request such information prior to answering this question. See Part 1 D2j for additional information on the recommended components of a traffic impact analysis. If a traffic study is needed and not prepared as part of the submission, the lead agency may indicate the potential for an adverse impact in its Part 3 analysis and inform that a traffic study will be needed as part of a scope for an Environmental Impact Statement.

Applicable Part 1 Information

D.2.j.

Analysis

  • Is there a perception that the action will result in long vehicle delays or reduced operating speeds?
  • Is there an increase in traffic substantial enough to alter level of service on roads to be affected by the proposed project?
  • How much additional traffic is expected as a result of the proposed project?
  • Will the additional traffic volume result in a change to the level of service for affected roads?

Will there be an impact?

There will be no impact if the proposed project does not add traffic to existing roads. Check 'No, or small impact may occur."

Small Impact:

A small impact could occur under one or more of these circumstances:

  • The project will add some level, but not substantial traffic to the area, and existing roads have the capacity to handle that level of traffic without reconfiguration.
  • The project will add some level, but not substantial traffic to the area, and minor access management techniques can be successfully used to control minor traffic issues.
Moderate to Large Impact:

A moderate to large impact could occur under one or more of these circumstances:

  • The project adds substantial traffic to the area.
  • The project adds some level of, but not substantial traffic (as defined in Part 1, Question D2. J.) to the area, but due to current road, traffic, and intersection conditions, the road does not have the capacity to handle it.

b. The proposed action may result in the construction of paved parking area for 500 or more vehicles.

Issues related to large parking lots include stormwater runoff, loss of vegetation, impaired aesthetics, increases in surface heating (the urban heat island effect), and traffic congestion. Different impacts may arise from parking garages, automated parking facilities, and parking. A paved parking area for 500 or more vehicles generally corresponds to the parking requirements for a non-residential structure having 100,000 square feet of gross floor area. This is the threshold contained in 617.4(b)(6)(iv). However, the reviewing agency should review impacts of all sized parking lots because all paved parking lots have the same types of potential impacts. Paved parking lots used for both temporary and long-term events would be included in this evaluation. Parking for large numbers of vehicles where no paving, grading or land disturbances are required (such as at special events using a lawn or field for parking on a temporary basis) is not be considered in this question.

Reviewing agencies should also consider if the proposed parking is or could be shared. Shared parking is when adjacent property owners share their parking lots to reduce the number of parking spaces that each would provide on their individual properties. Often, sites with large amounts of parking are located next door to other sites with equally numerous lots. If adjacent sites serve different purposes, each parking lot may lie empty for long periods of time. When parking is somehow connected and shared, there is less space given over to parking. This reduces environmental impacts and creates opportunities for more compact development, more space for pedestrian circulation, or more open space and landscaping.

Applicable Part 1 Information

D.2.j.

Analysis

  • Is any internal and external landscaping in the parking lot planned?
  • How is stormwater from proposed parking being managed?
  • Does lighting use downward directed fixtures to reduce glare and light pollution?
  • What are the plans for ingress, egress, stacking lanes, traffic control, pedestrian safety and walkways, and the general design for location of the parking lot?
    • Is the location to the front of a building or to the side, and what impact does that have on the visual streetscape of the area?
  • Will vehicles enter or leave all at one time of day, and if so, will this cause traffic congestion?
  • Will turning lanes or street lights be required to manage traffic from the parking lot?
  • Is the location of the parking lot sited in a manner consistent with the aesthetic character of the community and neighboring uses?
  • Are there connections with, or future connections planned to, adjacent properties?

Will there be an impact?

If no parking is proposed, or if proposed parking needs can be met by using existing off-street parking or existing on-street parking, then there will likely be no related impacts. Check 'No, or small impacts may occur.'

Small Impact:

A small impact could occur under one or more of these circumstances:

  • Small parking lots that have landscaping and downward directed lights, or no lighting needed.
  • Infrequently used parking lots that have permeable surfaces, exterior landscaping for screening, minimal lighting, and placed to the side or rear of a structure.
  • Small expansions to existing parking lots or facilities.
  • Shared parking may have smaller impacts than those that are not shared in terms of stormwater runoff, lighting, traffic, safety, energy use, and operation.
Moderate to Large Impact:

A moderate to large impact could occur under one or more of these circumstances:

  • One or more parking facilities (including lots) are planned for 500 or more cars.
  • Parking lots of any size that require construction of turning lanes or traffic lights are proposed.
  • Parking lots of any size that are used on a regular basis and that have other design features that may result in impacts such as all-night illumination, disturb one acre or more of land, or is located within a residential zoning district.
  • Parking lots of any size or type that creates a streetscape that is in sharp contrast to the existing character of the community or neighborhood.

c. The proposed action will degrade existing transit access.

Transit services or facilities include bus, taxi, train, park and ride lots, parking lots, and subways. Placement of public and private transportation services or facilities more than one-half mile distant means that pedestrians will be less likely to use those facilities. One-half mile is the distance that reflects the typical walking distance pedestrians would use. Transit services can be degraded by overcrowding a system so that it becomes harder to conveniently use it. Degrading access could also mean either eliminating a bus stop or limiting access to a bus stop, such as making it harder for pedestrians to reach a transit stop, forcing a reroute of a railroad, transit route, or reducing access to such, relocating a transit stop, or removing an area that is used as a park and ride location.

Applicable Part 1 Information

D.2.j.

Analysis

  • What transit facilities will serve the project site and how much capacity do they have to accommodate new users.
  • Does the proposed project remove bus or train stops?
  • Does the proposed project make it more difficult for people to use the transit system (e. g. parking, access, congestion, too many people)

Will there be an impact?

If the project does not create a demand for transit facilities, or remove or degrade access to transit, then there will likely be no related impacts. Check 'No, or small impact may occur.'

Small Impact:
  • 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.
Moderate to Large Impact:
  • The project will create a demand for public transportation when none currently exists, or what exists does not have the capacity to handle it, or the project fails to take advantage of existing capacity.

d. The proposed action will degrade existing pedestrian or bicycle accommodations.

This question explores the potential impacts on pedestrian or bicycle accommodations including but not limited to sidewalks, crosswalks, trails or paths, bike paths, dedicated bike lanes, or bike parking areas. Some proposed actions may remove entirely, or limit access to these pedestrian or bicycle opportunities. Other projects may not include adequate plans for pedestrian or bicycle accommodations.

Provision of pedestrian accommodations (sidewalks and paths), or bicycle routes (trails, paths, sidewalks, bicycle parking, or bike lanes) can work towards improving health and reducing impacts on the environment by offering alternative transportation routes to the proposed site. This could reduce traffic volumes and air emissions.

Applicable Part 1 Information

D.2.j.

Analysis

  • What pedestrian or bicycle accommodations are included in the plan?
  • Does the proposed project limit access or remove to existing accommodations? How?
  • Will the proposed project create a demand for pedestrian and bicycles facilities but not provide new or improved opportunities?
  • Is there a planned vehicle or pedestrian corridor in the area?
  • Is there an existing facility such as an abandoned rail line or trail that could expand the existing non-motorized network?

Will there be an impact?

If the proposed action provides adequate pedestrian or bicycle accommodations, or is a project setting or location where pedestrian or bicycle accommodations are not appropriate, there will be no related impact. Check 'No, or small impact may occur.'

Small Impact:
  • 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 facilities.
Moderate to Large Impact:
  • The project will create a demand for pedestrian facilities when either none currently exists or do not have the capacity to handle it and the project does not include these improvements.

e. The proposed action may alter the present pattern of movement of people or goods.

Alterations of traffic patterns include both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. This would include changes including but not limited to re-routing, creation of one-way streets, installation of round-abouts, construction of new streets, addition of new intersections or ramps, etc., to streets, roads, intersections, sidewalks or other pathways.

Applicable Part 1 Information

D.2.j.

Analysis

  • How will the modification of existing roads, creation of new roads, or change in existing access impact current motorized and non-motorized traffic patterns?

Will there be an impact?

If no alteration of the existing pattern of movement of people or goods is proposed, then there will be no related impact. Check 'No, or small impact may occur.'

Small Impact:
  • Existing roads and transit systems exist and have the capacity to handle added traffic but minor signage and traffic signal changes may be needed.
Moderate to Large Impact:
  • New or altered roads, intersections, transit facilities, access control, or signal systems are required to handle the additional demand related to the proposed project.

f. Other impacts:

There may be other impacts identified by the reviewing agency that are not addressed by the above questions. If so, they should be identified and briefly described here.

Back to Part 2 (FEAF) Identification of Potential Project Impacts || Continue to Part 2 (FEAF) Question 14 Impact on Energy


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