Managing transportation infrastructure
Thursday, June 28 2012
IT is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that transportation infrastructure is managed and developed consistent with long-term national development, and road infrastructure costs associated with any land development must be explicitly considered when the feasibility of such development is being determined.
Whenever there is any proposed land development not consistent with the approved land-use plan, the developer must conduct and submit a traffic impact study. As part of the approval process, any development project that places unplanned (not provided for by the State) or unscheduled demands on public infrastructure should incur an impact study or assessment. This impact study is required to meet:
(i) Traffic management measures to address the nuisance caused by traffic congestion and pedestrian movement disruption at the site during construction, and
(ii) Creating (if possible) the additional roadway capacity needed to meet the increased traffic generated by the project, in order to maintain the designated traffic level-of-service of the roadway.
The goal of a Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) is to determine (a) what impact that traffic to and from the proposed development will have on the existing and proposed roadway network; (b) what impact the existing and projected traffic on the roadway system will have on the proposed development; and, (c) appropriate techniques to improve the efficiency of transportation systems for the proposed development.
The purpose of the study is to estimate the volume of traffic the development can be expected to generate, and to provide quantitative evaluation of the impact of this traffic on the public roadway system and on the ultimate development, together with an identification of off-site improvements that may be needed as a result of the development.
One critical issue is to determine the geographic area which the traffic impact study should analyse and particularly which intersections to include. The determination of the study area should consider the characteristics of the development in relation to the amount of traffic on the roadway system.
Typically the larger the project, the larger the study area. Generally, the study area should include all site access points, roadway segments, and critical intersections (unsignalized and signalised), where traffic generated by the project may have a significant impact. The study area should be agreed upon at the pre-application meeting or discussion.
It is important to identify the existing traffic operation conditions of the study area intersections and roadway segments to allow comparison to future conditions with the proposed project in place.
Business and industrial development projects undertaken by State companies often ignore this requirement, or they participate in a notional traffic impact study with the recognition that the approving statutory bodies, namely the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure (MOWI) and the Municipal Authority or Regional Corporation will not demand such. These projects usually create much higher road infrastructure demands, and yet it is traditionally accepted that it is the responsibility of the MOWI to provide the necessary infrastructure improvement. This could work if the MOWI is advised well in advance in order to budget for the likely impacts.
As discussed above, the privately-owned proposed developments the study recommendations will demand privately supported expenditure to mitigate the likely impacts.
Chaguanas is the most rapidly developing and expanding urban centre, with recent pronouncements of several Ministry headquarters and tertiary institutions being planned for implementation in the near future.
These are apart from the several intensely arranged State and private housing and associated projects over the last 25 years, which are continuing to be undertaken, and which amount to a few thousand houses. Yet the supporting primary road infrastructure has not been accordingly improved. Exactly what major road improvement has been done in Chaguanas, excluding the highways?
In fact, more and more of the private and State developments seeking out the few remaining publicly-owned parcels of land near to (or as close as possible to) the Uriah Butler Highway and Solomon Hochoy Highway in order create direct access and so maximise traffic operations of their facilities, with no or very little consideration of their impact on the highway traffic system.
Chaguanas needs a major injection of the order of 200 million dollars for road infrastructure expansion, including interchanges. This is exclusive of the other infrastructure requirements, such as drainage management and sewage management. Short-term, piecemeal traffic management strategies, which are the current interests of the decision-makers will not give meaningful solutions, and will only give temporary appearance of improvement, while tempting road-users with a false sense of satisfaction that something is being done.
When will we demand something substantial and comprehensive?