- This research analyzes the potential impacts of a development scenario and to determine whether it is a sustainable way to grow in the future.
- The methods employed in this project follow the conventional sequential process for estimating transportation demand, named the “four-step” process, Trip Generation, Trip Distribution, Mode Choice and Trip Assignment.
- The commercial software Cube was utilized to develop and run the four-step model.
- There would be an expected increase in the number of congested and nearly congested roads, which will lead to more emissions, increase in commuting cost and some serious public health hazards.
- In order to mitigate these undesirable effects, CCRPC is encouraged to adopt the Transportation Conformity Act, increase transit service and encourage active transportation, and implement “smart growth” policies and the congestion tax.
Discussion of Sustainability
The travel demand model results show that the population and employment growth will affect the modal shares, the vehicle miles and hours traveled, and the congestion status. The auto person trips will increase by 38 percent in 2040, while the transit trips will rise less than 18 percent (see Table 1). The auto person trips will still occupy the total trips, more than 95 percent (see Figure 1). People in the region will travel more miles and spend more times to travel, but households will decrease both their miles and hours traveled by roughly 20 percent in 2040 (see Table 2). The four-step model also depicts the notable increase in the number and miles of nearly congested and congested roads (see Table 3). In 2010, not congested roads occupied the area by more than 99 percent (see Figure 2). The Campus Town area will experience the notable increase both in the number and miles of nearly congested and congested roads (see Figure 3).
The population and employment growth may affect the environmental sustainability, economic development, and public health within the area. The growth may increase development pressure on naturally productive land or parks with an influx of new users. The employment growth may put more weight on the roads as the majority of businesses tend to require people to work on-site (Jepson & Weitz, 2016, p. 69). The emissions caused by human activity can compromise the air quality in ways that pose serious threats to public health (p. 99).
A region’s land resources are an important source of raw material. With the aim of preserving these resources, sustainable development extends concern beyond what the land is used for to how the land is used (p. 98). The increase in both transit and auto person trips, as well as congestion, will lead to the increase in the fossil fuel consumption and Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the Urbana-Champaign area, especially in the Campus Town central Urbana and west Champaign. The increase in the fossil fuel consumption will encourage more mineral extraction which can denude the land. Moreover, the (CO2), part of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, that emitted through transportation can affect air quality. It threatens public health and well-being indirectly,
through increased risk of cancer and other health maladies (p. 99). However, the GHG emissions do not seem to affect the new industrial development growth near the Willard Airport area. It is probably because of the education industry in this town will still dominate and attract more cars and transit compared to the new industrial location.
The U.S. Department of Transportation states strategies adopted to reduce congestion that can alleviate GHG emissions. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the increase in MT in 1990-2006 increased the GHG emissions by 24 percent (U.S. Department of Transportation, 2010). Hence, our plans to help CCRPC develops sustainability also aims to reduce congestion and VMT. Moreover, CCRPC may promote active transportation through the development of bicycle and pedestrian routes and trails to provide an alternative to automobile transportation. It will reduce the fuel consumption as well as emissions. CCRPC may also want to increase the public transportation service as road construction may be controlled and restrained for
environmental reasons. Economic Development By 2040, Champaign-Urbana will have a 49 percent increase in the number of households, and a major industrial complex will be built around the Willard Airport. This development tends to increase the tax base, tax revenue, clustering of businesses serving the industrial center, and the increase of employment (Slaper & Ortuzar, 2015). A development site at the boundary of the
urbanized area would create relatively fewer disruptions to the urbanized area, and it would stimulate growth at the less-populated area. In addition, it would not enhance the sprawl of the urbanized areas. However, our analysis also indicates the increase in congestion and traffic, which may increase the cost of commuting around the potential development site.
Due to the expected increase in the GHG emissions, there will be excessive pollutants in the air which may cause heart and lung-related diseases. Campus Town would be the primary location where people might be at a high risk as the expected high levels of GHG emissions would be in these locations. Despite the aim to reduce the emissions, parks, greenways, and other public space can be strategically placed and managed to improve air quality.
In order to mitigate the undesirable effects of the population and employment growth, the following policies are recommended: First, CCRPC needs to adopt the Transportation Conformity Act which states that any transportation improvement plan or transportation project must meet the state’s air quality requirements (U.S. Department of Transportation, 2010). Illinois Department of Transportation mandates Urbana-Champaign’s air quality requirements (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1997). Next, CCRPC can further improve the transportation sustainability from three aspects: land use, expansion of alternative transportation service, and reduce emission. CCRPC needs to expand the road network to add capacity, increase transit services, encourage
developers to make more accessible sites for the pedestrians and cyclists, build the complete streets, or a compact development. These policies will not hurt the economic viability of the potential developments. In fact, they will increase the capacity of existing network and provide the alternative ways for commuters to access their destinations.
Based on the analysis above, we found significant congestion in the Campus Town area, and one segment of roads around the potential development site would become “nearly congested.” Based on the land use concerns, expansion of road network is a feasible way to improve sustainability (U.S. Department of Transportation, 2018). Expansion of road network can take place near the Willard Airport, but not at the congested downtown area. For the industrial center, the expansion of road network can divert trucks and other traffic from major arterial roads, further integrate this center with the urbanized areas, and does not encourage the sprawl of the urban center. These expansions would increase the road capacity and alleviate congestion. CCRPC can implement “smart growth” policies. These policies would encourage the mix of land use, take advantage of the compact design, and provide multiple modes of transportation. These policies are would be effective in downtown due to its built environment. For example, in Urbana-
Champaign, the most congested areas are around the intersections at W. University Ave. and S.Neil St., E. Springfield Ave., and S. Neil St., and exits of I-74 Interstate Highway. The downtown has a variety of residential and business land use, but the built environment severely limits its capability of road network expansion. Compact designs and increased access to public transit around these congested areas would encourage people to seek active transits. The key is to decrease the demand for traveling around major residential and business areas. The creation of an environment that promotes various modes of transportation besides driving is much sustainable (U.S. Department of Transportation, 2018). Our analysis shows that transit trips would increase by 17.5 percent by 2040, and auto person trips would increase by 38.3 percent by 2040. Transit services are affordable, environmentally friendly, and easily accessible. The expanded transit network would serve more people, alleviate congestion, and produce less pollution. For the industrial center, currently, there are no transit services serving that area. Therefore, an expansion of transit network would bring significant improvements. Making the downtown area and industrial center more pedestrian and cyclist friendly can encourage the residents near this area to take commute modes besides driving.
Another way to improve the transportation sustainability is to increase the cost of driving to discourage this behavior. CCRPC can implement a congestion tax or set a maximum parking space requirement at the Central Business Zones. Studies have shown that congestion tax or congestion pricing is a simple and effective way to discourage driving and increase tax revenue (Ridder, 2016). CCRPC can advise the City of Champaign to set a maximum limit of parking spaces for certain zones (e.g., CB-1 Central Business Zone). Providing adequate alternatives of driving, developing a congestion tax, and increasing the difficulty to find a parking spot will reshape the decision calculus of choosing transit modes (Chicago Metropolitan Agency of Planning, 2013). There is a low administrative cost by implementing these policies which would not adversely affect the developers. Thus, they could encourage people to take public transit, walk, and bike.