Monday, June 06, 2005

Regional Rigor Mortis

The 2005 Urban Mobility report confirms what we all know: Traffic congestion is steadily getting worse, says EM Risse in today's column published in Bacon's Rebellion. Risse worries that Virginia's transportation infrastructure is heading toward "regional rigor mortis," or systemic failure, with the Mainstream Media cheerleading the forces that are driving the system to ruin. Writes Risse:

The first page of the TTI summary notes that there are three things that will improve mobility: expand facility capacity, improve system management and change travel demand. The media coverage focuses on the first two. Almost all the quotes are from those who are paid directly or indirectly to expand or manage transport facilities. In other words the media quotes those who get paid directly or indirectly by “autonomobility” advocates.

The media coverage acknowledges the need for “land-use planning” but not Fundamental Change in the pattern of trip origins and destinations or balancing travel demand with transport system capacity, much less the imperative of creating Balanced Communities in sustainable New Urban Regions.

Hopefully, Bacon's Rebellion's "Road to Ruin" project will provide the editorial balance that has been lacking so far in Virginia.

2 Comments:

At 8:54 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

By his own comments, Ed says he doesn't drive very much. If he did he would know we have long since reached regional rigor mortis. Isn't that what wasting illions of hours sitting in traffic while waiting to conduct business amounts to?

 
At 10:36 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

This is classic Risse-write. First he says that the TTI report means that he won't have to re-write his previous comments and then brings in the tired old dog-in-the-fight argument.

"The tragedy is that, while there is ample opportunity to easily improve the report, the authors could not even if they wanted to because the annual study is paid for by the organizations that are responsible for creating the immobility problem in the first place."

If I were the authors, I'd be highly insulted. If I'm an auditor and someone pays me for my opinion, I'm not bound to provide an opinion they would like. Particularly after what happened to Arthur Anderson, people are sensitive to that idea.

All I can draw from this is that if Risse and PEC paid for the study that they would expect to get exactly what they wanted.

It gets worse.

"The TAMU staff notes in the study that it does not evaluate some “strategies (i.e. Fundamental Change in human settlement patterns) that present opportunities for improving transportation.” "

The portion in parentheses is not part of the quote and Risse should make it plain that it is not. This is just misrepresentation.

"Also, there is the red herring that the Commonwealth has only increased the lane miles of asphalt by seven percent since 1986. Seven percent may not seem like much but Virginia has such a huge system--the third largest in the United States--and was so overbuilt with four-lane roads from nowhere to no place, that seven percent actually represents quite a lot of new roadway."

Seven percent is next to nothing compared with the amount that business has increased since 1986. But if we built roads from nowhere to noplace instead of where they are needed, then congestion is our own fault. Shouldn't we move some jobs to where the roads are so we at least get some use out of our investment? Where is the red herring? As I see it the reason people voted against new taxes for roads is that they had seen enough of roads going where the votes were instead of where the need was, and the new tax plan offered no change in the existing system.

"But the Subregion did not go up in national ranking in most categories, indicating that immobility is growing in every other large, prosperous New Urban Region too."

And there you have it. If road constructione does not keep up with the business demand for it, then either congestion increases, business goes elsewhere, or both. If congestion is the issue, then the answer is go someplace else: sprawl.

In the world according to Ed the answer seems to be neither. ????

 

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