Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Tying Vision to Process

Today's Trib has a story about the upcoming open houses for the Wasatch Vision 2040 process, conducted by Envision Utah. The Vision 2040 process is the first step in updating the long range transportation plan for the Wasatch Front and Mountainland Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). These bodies are required to have in place adopted long-range plans in order for us to receive federal transpotation dollars.

The Wasatch Vision 2040 process is the first formalized attempt at several things -- tying land use and transportation together, using a vision process in the long range transportation plan (LRTP) for the region, and the first time these two MPOs have co-operatively worked toward updates of their LRTPs. So for many reasons, this is a landmark effort.

I have been part of the working group that has been guiding and fostering this process, and it has been a great group of people to work with. For once, we will actually see the realization of long-range planning efforts in the selection and funding of transportation projects for our metro area.

I am a believer in the concepts expressed in Alex Marshall's book, How Cities Work. Marshall writes, "transportation is the most visible and active (factor) in shaping a place. It's a simple rule: how we get around determines how we live. But it's a rule we still haven't grasped. Transportation determines the form of our places.

"...a city's internal transportation system -- the layout of its streets and roads, the layout of streetcar systems and subways -- determines the character of the city, how its citizens live and work. ... Build subways and people will live in dense neighborhoods and walk to corner stores; build broad suburban boulevards and they will live in subdivisions and drive to Wal-Mart. The choice is a matter of taste, as expressed through political decisions, more than economics."

So -- if we want to make a difference in how the Wasatch Front region develops and grows, if we want to change its character, if we want all the things that Envision Utah put forward as part of its vision and plans a few years ago -- we can be most effective in the transportation systems we plan and build, according to this view.

And making a difference in what transportation systems we build starts right now, with the Wasatch 2040 Vision. So get thee to one of the four open houses planned over the next few weeks, and have some input! It may be the best comprehensive regional planning we can do.


At 8:56 PM, Blogger Prof Simmons said...

Wilf, do you know of any data to back up the claims about subways producing dense neighborhoods? BART did not do that. The visioning people far too often hear what they want to hear and do not look for data. The data I know tell me that building rail systems is a complete waste of money. Davis County, for example, will be far better off with dedicated bus lanes than trains. Commuter rail only functions with huge subsidies and generally servies the upper middle class. Buses serve everyone, especially the poor. Trains are a system that relies on a Central Business District but what city in Utah has one anymore?


At 11:24 PM, Blogger Former Centerville Citizen said...

Ha, I definitely agree on needing dedicated bus lanes. There's nothing more exciting than waiting at a bus stop for 45 minutes, especially when two buses are scheduled to come by within that time, and don't. Not that I'm speaking from personal experience or anything...

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