Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Best Friends Demand Transit First, Eight Lane Gridlock Later

Transit First, Eight Lane Gridlock Later

Our Plan Your Transit Map used in schools
Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit will oppose construction of any part of an extended or enlarged I526 until the long promised, planned and voter approved bus rapidtransit line connecting Summerville, Lincolnville, Ladson, N. Charleston, the Neck and Charleston is constructed and operating.

Notice of this opposition will be delivered to James Mattox, Project Manager for the SC Dpt. Of Transpiration on Thursday, Nov. 21 at their West 526 Corridor Community meeting at the Charleston Area Convention Center by a delegation of advocates.  The visit will be webcast live on Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit’s Facebook Page and announced shortly before it begins to local media by email and on the groups Facebook page and Twitter feed. You can signup to participate as a Trans Ant on Facebook. Visits by our swarm of Trans Ants start at noon. 

A printable broadside to share or present to the DOT with this content is available for download now. 

If Charleston County, the BCD Cog and SC Department of Transpiration act now, assuming some useful work has been accomplished under the 4.7 million dollar study and design contract signed with HDR over a year ago, this should result in no delay to work on the interstate. The BCD COG has spent over seven million dollars on planning and study for a rapid transit line between Summerville and Charleston over the past 20 years.  Every drainage tunnel, curb cut and intersection has been mapped. Work on the BRT line could easily be completed now with no delay to the Interstate project. A detailed proposal for the BRT was included in the COG’s 2015, half million dollars, I26alt study. While the study is no longer available through its original web location, we’ve archived the preferred alternative plan for the BRT at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1P6iqS3cSpbYDMXKfZTnPr7u3FEGusZRlCusYMGCiGMF5aEmckRO5kBgFV0Hqrc8arlaRWarVbw1VHVEW/view?usp=sharing

Success and Failure in the Lowcountry's Future

Making Calls for the 2016 referendum
The Bus Rapid Transit line will increase the quality of life for people living near it in the Lowcountry, including the half of the population which does not have a driver’s license, in particular the young, the elderly, the disabled and the working poor for which the interstate will be little more than an obstacle. The transit line will create a twenty five mile long region, approximately two miles wide in which the automobile will become optional for residents. The result will be a chain of connected communities which are safer, quieter and more mobile at a lower cost to the community and the environment.

Enlarging I526 into an eight lane monster roadway will degrade the quality of life throughout the region. Over 100 families will lose their homes. The amount of pollutants, including gasoline and diesel exhaust and tire particles in areas around the enlarged and extended road will increase. New development spawned by the road will increase flooding and drainage problems, particularly West of the Ashley. Traffic throughout the area will increase. The expectation of and later the creation of additional road capacity will induce increases in automobile travel and development. A few years after these Interstate projects are finished at a cost of over 2 billion dollars, traffic in the Lowcountry will be worse and slower than it is now. The new road capacity will stimulate more traffic than it can move at the current level of service, both on the new roads themselves and on surrounding roadways which can’t be expanded.

This has been the result of nearly every major urban connected road project in the United States over the past 50 years. The construction of the original I526 thirty years ago certainly didn’t solve our traffic problems in the Lowcountry. The Two billin dollars expansion of 26 lane wide Katy Parkway in Houston, Texas ended with longer commute times than the road had before construction started. “Houston’s official traffic monitoring agency (found) . . . that travel times increased by 30 percent during the morning commute and 55 percent during the evening commute between 2011 and 2014.” https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/09/citylab-university-induced-demand/569455/ When a hurricane threatened Houston, congestion had become so hopeless evacuation was impossible. Elderly citizens were forced to shelter in place, wading through retirement communities knee deep in sewage contaminated water.

Dana Beach, founder of the SC Coastal Conservation League has already warned the Lowcountry that the I526 expansion will produce more traffic and congestion. https://bfltransit.blogspot.com/2019/11/lets-not-level-up-or-sprawl-billion.html  Beach has also commented on our lack of progress on our planned transit line in this controversial Quintin's Closups Video

Transportation, Equity and Democracy

Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit recognizes that the decision to enlarge I526 is the result of the same democratic process which approved the transit system. We don’t believe it is our prerogative to prevent the community from making the same mistake Houston did. However the secretly approved “pay go” plan adopted after the referendum violates  commitments made to devote 600 million dollars of the referendum proceeds to transit improvements. “Pay Go” has already robbed local transit of over 25 million dollars in needed improvements to basic bus service on CARTA and LINK routes in Charleston County. The Pay Go plan has also resulted in every increasing delays to the Bus Rapid Transit project as money which might be building Rapid Transit is turned into an interest free loan fund for road projects. Over a billion and a half half penny sales tax dollars are available to pay for more roads from the half penny sales tax, in addition to funding from an increased gas tax and federal matching fund.

At least five billion dollars will be spent on road construction in Charleston County over the next decade. Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit and our supporters merely ask that the small amount of funds devoted to something which can actually work and produce a higher quality of life (particularly for those most oppressed by a landscape dominated by the car and traffic} be spent as it was promised.

Indianapolis completed work on its red line BRT in in two years and ten months, approved by voters the same day Charleston county voters approved our Bus Rapid transit project. It currently carries seven thousand riders a day. Planning, construction and the start of operations of the Pulse line in Richmond, VA took less than four years. Operations there started on June, 24, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GRTC_Pulse#History. Worldwide, construction of BRT type systems seldom take more than four years.

We can build the Bus Rapid Transit system and improve regular bus service as was promised before the 2016 referendum. If we begin now, no significant delay in the effort to build the massive roadway which is sure to fail will be necessary. Later, the Lowcountry can discover if it will be the first community in the United States, of hundreds, that somehow managed to expand an urban highway without making traffic and congestion worse.

For more information contact:

William J. Hamilton, III
Executive Director,
Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit
171 Church St. Ste. 160
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 870-5299

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