EL PASO COUNTY POLICY PLAN


 CHAPTER 1-B

 SECTION 9.0 TRANSPORTATION

BACKGROUND
 
The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1962 provided the catalyst for initiating the comprehensive transportation planning process in the Pikes Peak Region. In 1967 the Pikes Peak Area Council of Government (P.P.A.C.G.) was formed as the agency responsible for coordinating the continuing, cooperative and comprehensive transportation plans for the region.
 
More recent Federally-mandated changes resulting from the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) have strengthened the role of P.P.A.C.G. and further encouraged the various entities to more closely coordinate their transportation planning efforts.
 
The El Paso County Department of Transportation maintains approximately 1,850 miles of roadways in the unincorporated County. With new development it is normal for the developer to construct on-site roadways and associated improvements and then dedicate them to the County. Off-site and regional transportation needs are addressed through a combination of County-wide financing, districts and developer participation.
 
In 1987 the County adopted a Major Transportation Corridors Plan which delineates the approximate locations and proposed ultimate functional classification of roadway facilities anticipated to be needed in the unincorporated County. The intent of this document is to preserve adequate rights-of-way, but to only construct facilities as the demand for them actually occurs. The County also participates in the Major Thoroughfares and Powers Task Forces. The primary purpose of these entities is to preserve the function and integrity of major corridors through careful control of access.
 
Of the several railroads and streetcar lines which once served El Paso County, only two major lines and the Pikes Peak Cog Railway continue to operate. These both follow the Interstate 25 and the Monument/ Fountain Creek corridor, and provide freight service only.
 
The Colorado Springs Transit bus system provides service to some of the higher-density unincorporated areas. In other unincorporated areas limited flexible-route para transit service is provided to the elderly and handicapped.
 
Aviation planning in this region is also based upon a federally mandated process, with the Colorado Springs owned Municipal Airport which shares runways and navigational facilities with Peterson Air Force Base, being the primary facility. Noise impacts from the Colorado Springs Airport have influenced land uses in some unincorporated areas. Additionally, there are several smaller military and civilian aviation facilities in the County, each with its own unique land use aspects.
 
With the exception of regional trails identified in the El Paso County Parks, Trails and Open Space Plan, more localized pedestrian and bicycle facilities are not planned for or been developed in the County.
 
In the future, the emerging telecommunications industry may afford the opportunity to work and shop from home ultimately reducing the number of single occupancy vehicle trips.
 
ISSUE 9.1 Plan for the mobility needs of the County
Over the past few decades, transportation demand as measured primarily by total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) has increased faster than population growth.
 
While the capacity, extent and condition of El Paso County’s surface transportation system is enviable compared to those of other counties, the recently high levels of population growth have contributed to increased congestion and a backlog of capacity expansion, demand management and maintenance needs.
 
If adequate transportation corridors are not identified and reserved at a very early juncture in the planning process, future system development options will either be eliminated, or their costs will be greatly escalated.
 
Goal 9.1 Plan, develop and maintain a safe and efficient transportation system to meet the present and future mobility needs of people, goods, materials and services.
 
Policy 9.1.1
Identify and preserve the functional integrity of the corridors necessary to meet the County’s potential future surface transportation needs.
 
Policy 9.1.2
Maintain transportation planning flexibility which will allow the accommodation of different potential future systems and technologies.
 
Policy 9.1.3
Achieve compatibility between transportation facilities and adjacent land areas through comprehensive planning.
 
Policy 9.1.4
Coordinate and integrate the planning and development of transportation modes including highways, public transit, bikeways, pedestrian facilities, equestrian trails, railroads, airports, ride-sharing, car-pooling and telecommunications networks with P.P.A.C.G. and the County’s municipalities and military installations.
 
Policy 9.1.5
Coordinate the County’s transportation system with the transportation systems of neighboring counties.
 
Policy 9.1.6
Balance the need for regional mobility with demands for local access onto major transportation corridors.
 
Policy 9.1.7
Maximize the efficiency of the existing transportation system through efficient traffic management and operations techniques including signalization and additional turning lanes which help to regulate traffic flow and thereby increase capacity.
 
Policy 9.1.8
Encourage employers to develop and implement methods such as flexible scheduling and car or van pooling to reduce peak hour congestion on major transportation corridors.
 
Policy 9.1.9
Encourage the planning, development and use of a telecommunication network to reduce the number of work and shopping related automobile trips.
 
ISSUE 9.2 Promote Land Use Efficiency
The automobile is one of the enigmas in our individual and collective lives. Although cars provide unprecedented transportation opportunities, comfort and independence, they also have tremendous land use impacts. In urban environments, as much as 50% of all property is dedicated to automotive-related land uses, including roads, parking, driveways and garages.
 
While County transportation demand has increased at a rate faster than population growth, new roadway capacity has not kept pace. This progression toward increased traffic and congestion is largely unavoidable in growing communities. The situation in El Paso County has been exacerbated because of a relatively dispersed and low density development pattern. The relatively high quality of the County’s regional roadway system has contributed to the development of the County’s dispersed land use and settlement patterns.
 
As the region’s population increases and the financing necessary to meet the demand for increased roadways diminishes, settlement patterns may become concentrated along major corridors and alternative transportation modes may be feasible.
 
Goal 9.2.1 Promote land use planning which maximizes transportation efficiency.
 
Policy 9.2.1
Encourage the development of major activity centers with regional multi-modal access.
 
Policy 9.2.2
Require advance right-of-way preservation and/or dedication for transportation facilities as part of the land development process.
 
Policy 9.2.3
Strictly limit direct access onto major transportation corridors in order to preserve their functional capacity.
 
Policy 9.2.4
Plan, build and manage the capacity of the roadway system to accommodate maximum expected land use densities.
 
Policy 9.2.5
Evaluate land use patterns which place exceptionally large demands on the transportation systems and mitigate their impact.
 
Policy 9.2.6
Encourage carefully-planned mixed-use developments which integrate vehicular and pedestrian transportation modes and which maximize the effective use of transportation infrastructure and parking areas.
 
ISSUE 9.3 Reduce Adverse Impacts
Despite major increases in regional VMT, the County’s air quality, as measured by carbon monoxide (CO) and respirable particulate levels, has not degenerated over the past few decades. This is largely due to the combined effect of federal and state motor vehicle control, inspection and maintenance and oxygenated fuels programs. There is a current debate as to whether continuation and enhancement of these programs will be sufficient to offset further increases in both total traffic and congestion. Site-specific transportation-related air quality impacts will continue to be a major concern.
 
In addition to being time consuming and irritating, traffic congestion has secondary impacts which may include a shift of traffic onto residential streets. Increased traffic on residential roadways contributes to increases in noise and traffic speed which are often associated with reduced safety and quality of life.
 
New or expanded roadways ordinarily enhance mobility but these improvements often consume land, limit access, disturb sensitive environmental areas, contribute to drainage impacts and encourage increased development. Sanding on snow days adds to air pollution , clogs drainage structures and require substantial funding.
 
Goal 9.3 Reduce the adverse environmental impacts of existing and future transportation systems through a combination of careful planning and mitigation techniques.
 
Policy 9.3.1
Place a high priority on maintaining the environmental condition when planning or building roads.
 
Policy 9.3.2
Place a high priority on those system improvements which will substantially reduce risks to public safety including but not limited to signalization and traffic controls.
 
Policy 9.3.3
Encourage the identification, designation and preservation and enhancement of scenic transportation routes and vistas.
 
Policy 9.3.4
Provide for noise attenuation and visual screening along major transportation corridors by incorporating techniques including setbacks, buffers, berms and vegetation treatments.
 
Policy 9.3.5
Plan and provide for mitigation of secondary impacts of traffic congestion including the protection of air and water quality and drainage system enhancements.
 
ISSUE 9.4 Address Funding Issues
Compared with many public facilities and services, roads have generally paid for themselves primarily through fuel and related excise taxes. However, there is a current and projected funding shortfall. This is caused by a combination of increased fuel efficiency, diversion of fuel taxes to other uses, previously deferred maintenance and capacity projects, increased standards, and the higher cost of improvements. The County must now compete with the State and other entities for a share of shrinking Federal funding.
 
Mechanisms are available with which to reasonably guarantee that new development will be financially responsible for its internal transportation needs. However, the issue of how to fund the cost of new or upgraded regional facilities through a user-pay system that equitably allocates cost is much more of a challenge.
 
This issue is complicated by modeling limitations, uncertainties surrounding future land use patterns and phasing, existing deficiencies, overlapping jurisdictions and indirect costs and benefits.
 
Goal 9.4.1 Implement the planned transportation system in a coordinated and cost-effective manner utilizing a fair, equitable and sufficient method of funding.
 
Policy 9.4.1
Base funding for transportation improvements and maintenance as much as possible on a user-pay system while recognizing the unique needs of the transit-dependent along with the indirect costs and benefits of transportation projects.
 
Policy 9.4.2
Utilize transportation strategies designed to improve the efficiency of existing roadways prior to investing in system expansions or additions.
 
Policy 9.4.3
Adequately fund maintenance of existing and future transportation infrastructure to preserve the value of investments made.
 
Policy 9.4.4
Encourage user-pay approaches to funding transportation system improvements and maintenance.
 
Policy 9.4.5
Encourage processes by which development can contribute a reasonable and fair share toward necessary off-site transportation improvements.
 
Policy 9.4.6
Place a high priority on financing transportation improvements which significantly reduce health and safety risks.
 
ISSUE 9.5 Support Alternative Modes
It is recognized that the single occupancy vehicle (SOV) will continue to play a dominant role in the County’s transportation system far into the future. However, as the population increases , the cost of roadway system expansion escalates and the technology becomes more attractive and affordable, alternative forms of transportation may become a more acceptable and affordable choice
However, it is also understood that the land use and related impacts of the continued reliance on single-passenger automobiles can be mitigated through the use of alternative modes and traffic management techniques. This is especially important during peak travel times and along high-use corridors.
 
It is also recognized that there are significant segments of the County population which are wholly or partially dependent upon alternative modes.
 
Goal 9.5.1 Promote the planning and development of transportation modes offering alternatives to single-occupant automobiles.
 
Policy 9.5.1
Encourage the development of convenient, reasonably economic public transit options to serve the mobility needs of all segments of the population to and from major regional destinations.
 
Policy 9.5.2
Encourage the development and maintenance of pedestrian and bicycle networks by identifying and setting aside corridors early in the planning process and by fully integrating these functions into land development plans.
 
Policy 9.5.3
Encourage the use of high occupancy vehicles (HOV’s), buses, vans, carpools and rapid rail.
 
Policy 9.5.4
Promote the conservation of energy resources through enhancement of all modes of transportation and telecommunications networks.
 
Policy 9.5.5
Promote the development of Park and Ride areas to facilitate the use of alternative modes of transportation and coordinate the development of an intermodal system.
 
Policy 9.5.6
Emphasize the needs of the transit-dependent population in the planning and prioritization of alternative transportation systems.
 
Policy 9.5.7
Encourage inter-regional cooperation for the planning and development of alternative modes of transportation.
 


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