October 16, 2006
The Honorable Denver Stutler, Jr. P.E.
Secretary, Florida Department of Transportation
605 Suwannee Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450
RE: Corridor Meeting Points
Dear Secretary Stutler:
1000 Friends of Florida very much appreciated the opportunity to participate in the October 4-5 corridor meeting in Tampa. We left the meeting somewhat better informed about the thinking leading up to this process, but remain very concerned about the direction and timetable as presented. As you may know, 1000 Friends has spent a considerable amount of time directly assisting FDOT in the preparation of the 2020 FTP, its update, the 2025 FTP, and the SIS – we remain very interested in seeing the positive planning goals and policies established in those plans carried forward into the corridors initiative.
We wrote on July 27, 2006, and suggested five (5) criteria we felt were appropriate in considering the designation of any future corridor. After the meeting, we remain convinced the principles and concepts outlined there are very appropriate. I want to recount why we believe those suggested criteria should be given very careful consideration in light of the discussions at the Tampa meeting.
Our first recommendation was that each initial concept/feasibility study should be prepared as part of a regional vision plan consistent with the FTP policy of “Enhance Regional Mobility” (within the FTP Goal of “A stronger economy through enhanced mobility for people and freight”). I heard, without exception, from the various breakout groups and final plenary speakers, that regional visioning was the key so that the corridor does not become a default vision for the area.
Our second point suggested that prior to initiating PD&E studies and preliminary engineering for any corridor, all regional environment systems within 10 miles of the proposed new corridor that are identified for preservation in the regional vision must be permanently protected by acquisition and/or conservation easement. My sense was that there was general agreement on this point (not specifically the ten miles). Although there was discussion that the ETDM process would deal with this, several people suggested that as shown, ETDM needed to be moved up earlier in the process to make certain that environmental features were properly identified and protected. There was also agreement among the conservation groups that funds to mitigate and/or protect sensitive natural areas must come from FDOT and not state environmental land acquisition programs.
In our third point, we felt that prior to initiating PD&E studies, each local government should adopt a comprehensive plan amendment(s) and land development regulations to implement the regional vision to ensure that new development and preservation are consistent with the vision. While this is clearly a policy found in the FTP, it remains to be seen if such an approach, even if required, would be successful. I heard good agreement that any new corridor process must be able to ensure the long-term protection of the corridor if we are to avoid the sprawl that has occurred along other state corridors. I also believe that as much as growth management advocates are disappointed with the on-the-ground results of many local comprehensive plans, FDOT shares a similar disappointment with the inability to protect existing corridors from poor local land use decisions. Clearly, some additional governance considerations must be added in order to make this a successful process.
Our fourth point recommended that prior to constructing any interchange, all local and regional road networks within 10 miles of the interchange that is identified in the regional vision be constructed so that all new land development has several local road alternatives for making daily and weekly trips – interchanges should be spaced at least 15 miles apart. This recommendation underscores the critical importance of a regional plan for connecting and integrating local roadway networks before any corridor designation takes place.
The fifth and final recommendation was that prior to construction of any portion of the new corridor, at least 80% of the lane miles of roadways parallel to the new corridor must operate below LOS D. This reflects the FTP goal that all facilities operate as efficiently as possible before constructing new systems.
Many other excellent recommendations by various participants were made, and it is our hope that FDOT will incorporate all of these recommendations in the draft that is due on December 1. We look forward to working with you, FDOT staff, and the Florida Transportation Commission, in successfully developing corridors that address each of these important considerations.
Charles G. Pattison, AICP
Cc: 1000 Friends Board Members
Bob Romig, OPP