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THE FUTURE OF OUR AREA’S ROADS

As the Nisqually Valley News reported on July 11,
“City takes look at connections to lessen traffic
(T)he City of Yelm will look at possible new bypass connections to help ease traffic congestion in Yelm over the next year.”

“The City Council approved its Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program for 2009 through 2014 without any additions Tuesday [July 8].

Over the next year the city will work on cleaning up and completing current projects on the list.

Mayor Ron Harding said the city hopes to have the Coates Road Project completed by this fall…

The Transportation Plan is the capital facilities document that guides transportation funding for a six-year cycle.

It is based on the Yelm Comprehensive Transportation Plan and is the implementation document for the overall document.

The top five projects currently listed on the Transportation Plan are the 510 Loop project, the Coates Avenue connector, Yelm Avenue West/Killion Road intersection, Yelm Prairie Line Trail and road resurfacing.”

HMMM!
More connections to the Bypass?
What Bypass, as covered here many times, recently on July 8th about Bypass funding in jeopardy.
Also, the Coates Road & Yelm Prairie Line Trail cost overruns were covered here this week, in particular the Yelm Prairie Line Trail cost overruns coming from the reserve fund.

The Olympian reported on July 15 what Blog readers read here on July 8th:
“Gasoline prices cost state tax revenue
Motorists cut back to save money, and that means less for road projects”

“Record fuel costs are forcing people to drive less, and that is cutting into tax collections that pay for road construction statewide.

Overall traffic was down 2 percent in March and 1.4 percent in May compared with 2007, according to vehicle counts from the DOT.

Less travel appears to be cutting into fuel tax collections. The state’s biggest source of money to pay for road improvements is the 37.5 cent per gallon gasoline tax, and expectations for income have been cut by $95 million through next June.

But construction costs increased by 60 percent in five years, as demand in India and China drove up prices for steel and concrete, and the cost of diesel fuel for construction equipment soared.

To avoid canceling any projects, lawmakers spent $3.8 billion in the past four years, said Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island.

Now, with people buying less gasoline, calling off some projects again is a possibility, said Clibborn, who also is chairwoman of the House Transportation Committee.”

HMMM!
The City of Yelm is finding out, too, about construction expenses with road projects all in cost overruns.
They would be wise to increase their contingencies greater than 5-15%.

The Olympian reported that lifestyle changes are altering our driving habits, noticeable in Yelm as traffic has eased as gas prices have escalated. While the inner loop has helped, the major traffic reduction is from higher gas prices causing reduced vehicle trips:

This from July 20 The Olympian:
“A call to action
How higher fuel prices can change our lifestyles”

“The record-setting cost of fuel is forcing folks to drive less. The state Department of Transportation estimates that traffic volumes in the first few months of 2008 dropped about 2 percent, compared with last year. That tracks closely with what’s happening nationwide, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

At the same time, the use of public transit is rapidly rising. Intercity Transit has 13 percent more bus riders in 2008 compared with 2007, on pace for more than 4 million riders.

As gasoline prices climbed the past five years, bus ridership climbed at similar rates, an almost bullet-proof example of cause and effect as commuters look for more-affordable ways to get to work…

Less sprawl

Over time, higher fuel prices should lead to people living closer to work, which would curb sprawl and promote urban living, said Mike McCormick, an Olympia-based planning consultant and one of the authors of the state Growth Management Act.

“The question is: How long is it going to take?” McCormick asked.

Higher gas prices do discourage sprawl,” agreed Thurston Regional Planning Council senior planner Pete Swensson. “Most people won’t move closer to work to save money on gas, but when they’re moving for other reasons, they’ll be influenced by gas prices.”

The percent of Thurston County population growth occurring in the cities is on the rise and could accelerate as gas prices climb, Swensson added.”

[Ed. Note: Yelm’s proposed 5,000 home Thurston Highlands could be greatly affected as buyers are looking
elsewhere rather commuting from Yelm.]

MSNBC reported on July 23:
“Long-distance commuters road to nowhere
High gas prices, housing market downturn leave some workers stuck”

“Traffic deaths fall as gas prices climb”
From the AP reported on KING-5 TV in Seattle:
“Rising prices at the gas pump appear to be having at least one positive effect: Traffic deaths around the country are plummeting, just as they did during the Arab oil embargo three decades ago.

Researchers with the National Safety Council report a 9 percent drop in motor vehicle deaths overall through May compared with the first five months of 2007, including a drop of 18 percent in March and 14 percent in April.

Preliminary figures obtained by The Associated Press show that some states have reported declines of 20 percent or more. Thirty-one states have seen declines of at least 10 percent, and eight states have reported an increase, according to the council.”


WHAT DO YOU SAY?

Posted by Steve on July 26, 2008 at 5:38 am | Permalink

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