Munson Hospital’s growth isn’t the traffic problem
Sunday’s Record Eagle editorial tackled traffic complaints coming out of the neighborhoods. In particular, lending support for the complaints associated with the proposed Munson expansions and fears of an increase in the number of cars running down Monroe St. and Elmwood Ave. An alley and City owned land sale for the project is on the City Commission’s agenda for this evening (PDF).
The attention to genuine concerns about traffic is appreciated, unfortunately our paper’s solutions are reactive and may even make matters worse. In part, because they buy in to the natural fallacy that economic growth must and will induce more motorized traffic. Certainly, if we treat it as inevitable, more motorized traffic is what we will get.
However, we need to be real. As long as we are all addicted to driving as a default for transportation needs, and continue to encourage the habit by building for it, complaints from the neighborhoods are going to continue. To efficiently serve that without destroying other parts of town, we need our grid system left intact, not turned into cul-de-sacs as the RE proposes. Cutting off streets will only increase the frustration levels in other locations and will only serve to lengthen driving trips and the number of cars on the streets.
As other traffic concerns in the City, if a reduction of vehicles per day is the goal, shifting traffic elsewhere does nothing but postpone the issue and create other problems, many of them economic.
There is no solution, but there are choices.
Munson’s expansion may or may not increase over-all traffic, and that may or may not be a doomsday scenario, but Munson is one of the largest businesses in town that does actively support smart-commuting amongst employees–how can the City further incentivize this effort? What can the City do to support increased transit use between Munson West, NMC, and Munson East?
This discussion also showcases why it is so important for the City Commission to support and be champions of a commitment to developing a city-wide traffic calming program. One that isn’t complaint driven, but part of the ongoing re-construction and maintenance of the public rights of way. Often, it isn’t the number of cars that people notice on their streets, but the behavior of the drivers who are racing between stop-signs with no regard to the context. Last year, Elmwood Ave. north of W. Front St. was narrowed and treated with some minor tweaks; it’s a good start, and the next re-do of a street needs to be more aggressive, regardless of what neighborhood it is in. The same concerns out of Slabtown are the same concerns across the City.
Also needed is a comprehensive bike-ped plan, as called for in the City’s master plan. This plan needs to be integrated with a more robustly supported transit system backed up by smart-commute lots on the edges of the city. This needs to be embraced and funded as a real transportation solution.
We can no longer continue to build for an auto-centric world and then turn around and complain about it. At a certain point, the community needs to recognize that every trip we can encourage to be taken not in a single-occupant-vehicle is an action that will save us time, money, and head-aches.
What can we shoot for–10%, 20%, or 30% of Munson employees arriving by other means than an SOV?
What about city-wide?