By James Wolfe, PE
Transportation investments provide mobility for people and goods, building economic vitality for both businesses and communities. Businesses expect that the transportation system will provide for the efficient and reliable delivery and distribution of goods and services to all markets, and that it will serve employer needs for recruitment and retention of a high-quality workforce. People want to live and work in places with a high quality of life, including reasonable commutes.
Transportation mobility in southeast Florida is currently at a crossroads where the conditions and solutions of the past cannot continue with reasonable results. We must make different choices. The big issues include:
- The primary transportation funding source, the gas tax, is failing as fuel economy improves and tax receipts fall.
- Population is increasing about ten times as fast as we expect to add high- ways. Our most developed areas have limited room for roadway widening.
- Premium transit is hampered by a shortage of local funding for operating subsidy and by development patterns that do not create enough density to support transit ridership.
A solution is to optimize our highway capacity while increasing the portion of trips that use other modes. On the highway side we are adding an Express Lane network to our limited access highways and are using advanced traffic management methods called Transportation Systems Management and Operations. This highway approach will fail to maintain mobility unless we also increase premium transit options including express buses, commuter rail, and street cars which create better options for getting between home, jobs and stores. Premium transit will support denser land uses, which will be vital to making that transit a success.