The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s 2007-2010 Transportation Improvement Program and Surface Transportation Plan 2010-2030) again favor expanded highway transportation at the expense of improved mass transit, light rail, and bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly planning. The plans are available on the LVPC website.
It is important to speak out, even though the Planning Commission is not known for paying attention to anyone who disagrees with a highway-intensive plan. Please submit (by mail or email) your comments emphasizing the need for a plan that responds to real needs.
Following are some potential talking points. Choose one or two that appeal to you and go to it! Addresses for the LVPC are at the bottom of this message
Peak Oil – The Transportation Plan doesn’t even mention Peak Oil or the declining supplies and increasing cost of fossil fuels. The U.S. Energy Department’s Hirsch report clearly shows that we face many years of fuel and power shortages, but the Planning Commission’s plan for the next 25 years doesn’t even consider how this will impact motor vehicle use and traffic patterns. (You can download the Hirsch report from the Alliance website — go to the bottom of the Energy page in the In Depth section.)
Global warming/global climate instability – The Transportation Plan doesn’t mention global warming / global climate instability caused by the burning of fossil fuels — or the need for all people to work together on solutions to this growing problem. The mayors of our major cities are all considering signing the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, but the Planning Commission didn’t even mention this critical issue.
Local sustainable economy – One important element of a plan for declining fossil-fuel supplies is developing and strengthening a local living economy that reduces long-distance transportation and encourages local production of essential goods, especially organically-grown food products. The Plan fails to address these needs at all.
Public transit – The Plan needs to take public transportation seriously and consider how it could be improved, not just take LANTA’s narrow view and call it a plan. The Plan needs to emphasize the importance of making the transit system something that people will want to ride, with convenient schedules and comfortable stops.
Light rail – Any serious look at transportation in an era of declining fuel supplies and global warming must look at light rail as an essential component. Here, we need to look at transportation along the Lehigh Valley and to other cities. LVPC mentions light rail but consistently discounts it, a position that is short-sighted at best. In community planning, it’s generally accepted that development follows infrastructure: if we continue to emphasize highways, we get ever more sprawl; attention to public transit — including light rail — will help revitalize our cities and preserve our farms.
The recent experience of Salt Lake City, which was almost totally car-dependent, is a good example. Opponents said nobody would use light rail but after only 6 years, “the 19-mile system is drawing more than 58,000 riders a day — more than double what was expected. [The system is] changing the city’s pattern of development…. More people than ever live downtown. “Areas that are near a Trax stop are now more valuable to develop, not less,” says Heileson… “If you can do that in Salt Lake City, you can do it anywhere.” — Sierra magazine
Bicycles and Pedestrians – The Transportation Plan gives virtually no thought to improvements that would make the Valley more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly. On many area roads, shoulder improvements and sidewalks are desperately needed, and intersections continue to be built with no pedestrian crosswalks whatsoever. As a result, people are forced to drive even when walking or bicycling would actually be more convenient.
Lack of Leadership – The most important question may be why the so-called Planning Commission does not take the lead on all relevant issues, instead of ignoring them until ordinary citizens come forward and point out all the things they are missing!