to: Roger L. Stancil, Town Manager
from: David Bonk, Long Range and Transportation Planning Manager
Steve Spade, Transit Director
Kumar Neppalli, Engineering Services Director
date: April 8, 2009
The purpose of this report is to describe the relationship between the Chapel Hill Long Range Transit Plan and the development of the Carolina North Transportation Impact Analysis and to describe the process being employed to provide further detailed planning and recommendations.
The Chapel Hill Long Range Transit Plan was initiated in 2007 with the following objectives:
The consultant has prepared a final draft Plan which in currently being reviewed by Town staff.
The Long Range Transit Plan (LRTP)
The Long Range Transit Plan is intended to provide a framework transit network within which the Town can respond to future growth throughout the community. Using population, employment and trip forecasts from the Regional Transportation Model the draft plan identifies major transportation corridors serving the Chapel Hill, Carrboro transit service area (Attachment 1). These corridors, referred to as gateways in the Plan, were analyzed for future travel demand and transit ridership projections were prepared. The corridors are areas in which high transit ridership is projected resulting in the need to a higher order of transit than the current fixed route bus service that is being operated today. These higher orders of transit service include express bus service, Bus Rapid Transit and light rail. Specific transit improvements are recommended in each corridor intended to accommodate the future transit ridership.
LRTP and Carolina North
The Chapel Hill Long Range Transit Plan analysis includes assumptions about the future development of Carolina North. These land use projections were prepared in 2006 based on preliminary information about the schedule for the development of Carolina North and assumptions regarding employment, housing and travel. Due to the location and anticipated size of the Carolina North project the Chapel Hill Long Range Transit Plan addresses the major transit impacts of the development.
The Plan recommends that a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor be established along Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, between I-40 and the University of North Carolina main campus, which provides the principle access to Carolina North. The Plan recommends that the Bus Rapid Transit system within the Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd corridor provide separate bus lanes between I-40 and Estes Drive and the provision of additional park ride spaces.
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
Bus rapid transit is defined by the Federal Transit Administration as a “rapid mode of transportation that can provide the quality of rail transit and the flexibility of buses”. The main features of bus rapid transit systems include:
The recommendation for development of Bus Rapid Transit along Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. includes a phased implementation, beginning with improved transit service, limited improvements to the traffic signal system to enhance transit service efficiency, expanded passenger amenities and pedestrian safety improvements.
The Transportation Impact Analysis
The Transportation Impact Analysis for Carolina North will assess the impact of additional travel related to the development on the local transportation system including streets and transit. The scope of work for the development of the Carolina North Transportation Impact Analysis includes the evaluation and refinement of those elements of the Long Range Transit Plan that are directly related to the proposed development. The Transportation Impact Analysis will use the analysis and recommendations of the Long Range Transit Plan as a base and provide more detailed analysis of travel impacts for shorter term improvements. (See Attachment 1)
The Chapel Hill Long Range Transit Plan provides a useful framework for the development of the Carolina North Transportation Impact Analysis. While the Transit Plan includes analysis to 2035 the Transportation Impact Analysis is focused on two interim timeframes, 2015 and 2025.
The TIA will provide an analysis of transportation impact on developments of 800,000 square feet and 3,000,000 square feet which correspond to the 2015 and 2025 milestone years. The TIA will also estimate the total trips generated by the varying levels of development.
The data generated by the TIA can be used to develop a Short Range Transit plan that can be tied to the varying levels of development. The transit plan will identify transit services necessary to support development goals. It is anticipated that these plans can be incorporated into the Development Agreement.
The Carolina North Transportation Impact Analysis can be completed independent of the completion of the Long Range Transit Plan. The LRTP established a vision of the transit system in 2035. The TIA will provide detailed data that can be used to project service needs for the early stages of Carolina North development and provide data for the development of a Short Range Transit Plan for Carolina North.
The Long Range Transit Plan will be presented to the Policy Committee for review and in late April or early May, 2009. After review by the Committee the LRTP will be presented to the Town Council and Carrboro Board of Aldermen for consideration. The plan will also be presented to the public in a series of public meetings for comment. It is anticipated that the Long Range Transit Plan review and comment process could be completed before December 2009.
Short Range Transit Plans
Once completed a series of short range transit plans will be developed to phase the implementation of the Long Range Transit Plan. Short range transit plans will be community wide and corridor focused. The short range plans will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis in order to be responsive to changes in existing conditions.
Data from the Carolina North Transportation Analysis will be used to develop a short range transit plan for the Martin Luther King Corridor. The plan will cover a 5 – 7 year horizon and will be updated in coordination with the Updated Transportation Impact Analysis. The short range transit plan will include: