UCC discusses predicted transportation trends

Debate at the Urbana City Council meeting Monday focused on the Champaign-Urbana Urbanized Area Transportation Study. The study is released every five years and predicts trends in transportation for Champaign, Urbana, Savoy and Bondville communities over the next 25 years.

Eric Halvorsen, transportation planner, said the focus for personal vehicles will be on reducing miles traveled, improving mobility and connectivity, reducing greenhouse gases and developing new interchanges to improve flow of traffic.

The plan also calls to implement existing plans for improvement of pedestrian and bicycle paths, he added.

“We need a well-connected and efficient network that is also safe for everyone,” Halvorsen said. “We want to encourage people to bike or walk instead of drive.”

He said he predicts the population of the area encompassed by these four cities will increase by 48 percent and the miles traveled in personal vehicles will increase by 84 percent.

Charlie Smyth, alderman for Ward 1, said he does not believe the accuracy of these predictions since they do not take into account the change in cost of fuel.

“There’s a lack of quantitativeness to this report,” Smyth said. “There’s point after point where things were just glossed over.”

He said he believed there should be more focus on improving existing roads instead of building new ones and creating “sprawl.”

Halvorsen said federal dollars are allocated for new construction and to receive funding needed to build new roads.

“If you build those roads people will build and move out there, and then they will be driving more,” Smyth said. “The federal government has it backwards.”

Brandon Bowersox, alderman for Ward 4, also said the focus should be on improving existing roads and not expansion.

“This plan projects an 84 percent increase in miles traveled in the number of years when we want to reduce greenhouse gases by 80 percent,” Bowersox said. “We need to improve our existing roads; there’s No Child Left Behind, there should be No Road Left Behind.”